Thursday, December 29, 2016

start to finish

Disclaimer: I did not finish this project in one day. In all honesty, I did not exactly do it start to finish.

In the midst of my semi-organized chaos called a sewing room and calendar filled with holiday events, I've actually both started and finished a project. Yes. That is so spectacularly amazing that it bears repeating: I've both started AND finished a project.

Sometime this fall (maybe November) I bought the needed materials for a bench cushion. The kitchen table we acquired from Bobby's aunt came with a bench seat that needed a very deep cleaning. We had guests over for supper one night and the kid sitting at one end kept saying "I'm sticking to my chair!"  Not long after that, a friend gave me a lecture at our house, and I was sitting in that same spot. When it came time to get up and go to the firing range, my pants were stuck to the seat. It's only that end of the bench that does it. I've cleaned and scrubbed it again, but I'm afraid only sanding and restaining the bench will solve the problem. And that's not something I want to do. After online shopping for bench cushions and seeing there wasn't one the size I needed and custom ordering was so expensive, we headed to JoAnns the next time there was a sale. My goal was to have it completed before my family came for the wedding, but that didn't happen. But I did finally get it done this week. I measured and cut one evening, then ironed (adhesive strips) and sewed (hand sewed the ends) the next evening.

It's a very small red check. My 13 yr old niece saw the fabric when visiting and said it looked like something from an old farm. I'll take that as a complement. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Top 10 Reasons Why a Quilter who has a room full of fabric and patterns Would Buy a Quilt Kit

  1. It was on sale.
  2. No, not on sale - on CLEARANCE.
  3. It's a queen size.
  4. Incredible color selection.
  5. The pattern is traditional with a modern twist.
  6. It looks really cool.
  7. Anyone who sees it will think it is AWESOME.
  8. Even my husband agreed it was a great price.
  9. 65% OFF!
  10. Who needs a reason to buy fabric?!
I think I may need intervention here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

and it's over

As of 11am today, the holiday festivities are over. The last of the family that has been rotating through since December 10th has finally left. The wedding was great. Having my family here was wonderful. I feel as if my birthday and Christmas have been celebrated for quite some time. And having Bobby's family come and visit and have get togethers immediately afterward was nice. A small part of me would like to have a few more days to enjoy the decorations and Christmas music before jumping back into the craziness of life, but the other part of me wants to starting putting things away and prepping for the new year.

Despite predictions from the road crew that our road would be paved by Christmas, it's still not completed. Personally, I think there's still some work to be done before they start paving. I'm not thrilled with the steepness of our driveway now, nor that our driveway now comes out in the middle of a turn lane. The landscaping has been done on the border of our property and the school. Not thrilled that someone chose pine trees (enough of those pollen creating creatures already!) as one of the trees, but overall I am pleased with the placement and planting. Not sure someone thought out the reality of placing an oak tree where they did. Within ten years it will be extended to our yard, but we'll deal with that when the time comes, provided we're still here.  The large oak tree in our yard that the school purchased and said would be gone is still standing, though I expect they'll lop half the limbs off in a few years as its limbs will soon be hanging over the turn lane in the road. I think I'd rather they go ahead and cut it down than chop pieces of it off like that.

Today is my parents' 54th anniversary. Mom says it saddens here that when people find out how long she's been married they act shocked. That used to be common. And today is also the anniversary for a college roommate - except her husband died the week of Thanksgiving. I simply cannot imagine being a Mom to a senior in high school and losing your soul mate a few days before the holiday season begins. The thought of losing a spouse at any time is absolutely horrible. But losing one around the holidays just seems extra cruel.

And the holiday loss didn't stop there. My older sister spent a week before Christmas break (and her daughter's wedding) counseling students and organizing counselors as her charter school dealt with the disappearance of an 8th grader. She was found murdered, along with her mother. Her step-father and his brother are in jail without bond awaiting trial.

Then my cousin Gary, in his 50's, died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. So my Dad was here for the wedding while his family gathered in AL for the funeral.

Meanwhile Bobby's friend and friend's wife, both whom have cancer, are learning a new normal as the wife returns home from what seems like 2 months in the hospital/rehab. She's now taking radiation 4x a week while he does his weekly maintenance appointments. And the list goes on and on....

Perhaps that is why my soul is ready to return to its busyness. It helps distract a little from the heartache surrounding me and gives me a reminder that life does not stop. People are lamenting on facebook today about how rough 2016 has been because of the number of entertainers who have died. And I'm thinking "So?"  I know that sounds calloused, but those people have never been in their home for a conversation, never eaten a meal with them, never posted on their blog or Facebook page, never sent them a text, and yet they're carrying on as if the world has ended. The reality is, nothing in their life is going to change one bit because of that person's death, whereas the people who are actually close to them whom they can help and impact are all but ignored while they mourn the life of a person they don't truly know.

And that's my rant for today.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

a good busy

Well, I still have one more tree to put up. I'm not fighting with our outdoor nativity since our yard is in a state of upheaval (official as of this morning). And then there's the mess/clean-up that comes with dragging things out of closets. And then the official clean-up. I still don't know when my parents are coming for next week-end's wedding. I've about decided it's okay if nothing in the house is clean except the kitchen and their bedroom/bathroom.

I spent the day working on bills, running some errands for tomorrow night's kids' caroling activity, shopping for an elderly friend. My plans for the evening had been to do a little cleaning and laundry, but that quickly changed. Bobby's cousin has been in the hospital for the last week. Tonight his wife, who is also a little person, had a massive heart attack. So their 17 yr old daughter is at the hospital with her boyfriend while her Mom is in cardiac intensive care and her Dad is in a different wing of the hospital with a contagious infection, awaiting discharge to rehab. The 91 yr old aunt is currently home alone. There's a lot of backstory and subplots in this scenario. Prayers for wisdom would be appreciated.

Meanwhile, I have 4 roosters I need to rehome. Fried chicken anyone?

Monday, December 5, 2016


And as if 2016 has not been a whirlwind enough, this month is here and racing by. I want time to slow down.

My camera battery went out over Thanksgiving. I've not only not charged it since I've gotten home, I've also not taken any more pictures.

Good things:
1. We had our first service in our new church building. It was exciting, overwhelming, and amazing.
2. Bobby's nephew helped me get the entertainment center put together.
3. The television is installed, and I think I may have figured out how to make the DVD player work.
4. Almost half of my Christmas decorations are up.

The Bah-Humbug moments:
1. Realizing my family won't have any time to relax or enjoy Christmas time at my house. ("Bob's Bed-n-Breakfast" as my brother-in-law calls it will open once again for a niece's wedding.)
2. Recognizing that with this upcoming birthday, my child-bearing years are almost over.
3. Having our house rattle and shake half the day as work on the road begins in front of our house. They've not tackled our yard yet, but if not this week, definitely next.
4. Praying for my sister and brother-in-law today as they assisted with a memorial service for an 8th grade girl at the charter school where my sister teaches. After a week of searching, the remains of the girl and her Mom were found. My sis came home from an emotionally trying day to find the news revealing autopsy reports and the girl's stepdad being charged. A horrible reminder of how broken our world is.

So tomorrow I hope to finish with the decorating and commence with the cleaning...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Saw a lot of postings today about damage from tornadoes in AL. I've heard my Dad's voice on the phone, but he didn't have time to talk. I assume all is okay in Walker County.

Had the opportunity to meet with three former co-workers today for lunch. It was neat to catch up and hear all the things (some good, some bad) in their lives. So much has changed since the days we were all working at the same place. While it's neat that life moves on, sometimes I still miss it.

I might have help coming tomorrow night to help with the entertainment center. If not, I might get a little desperate and just start making phone calls. Jobs that require help always make me feel isolated and alone.

Roadwork will likely be moving in front of our house either Friday or the first of next week. A part of me greatly dreads it; a part of me is ready to have it over with. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the possibilities of what our yard is going to look like when it's all finished.

Judges ruled late yesterday that even though the Justice Dept approved our state's voting maps (as required by the Voting Rights Act) before they were enacted, they are racist and can't be used. So now new maps must be drawn and approved AGAIN, and a new primary and general election must be held yesterday. Can't imagine those races will have big turn-outs or they'll use trainers and workers as much for this small of an election. I am now, more than ever, of the opinion that judges and legislatures who make rules concerning elections should have to work as a poll worker or board election official for four consecutive elections, including local elections, before they are allowed to make any decisions about the process.

1.5 weeks before my family comes, and this is house is SO not ready!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Today has been one of those days when the gratitude attitude has been constantly slipping out of my grasp. With the weather front moving through (thankful for the few tiny raindrops we've had), I've had a bad headache. Not a full fledge migraine, but one of those I've taken meds 4x today and then loaded on caffeine before it finally went to sleep. (And yes, I tried resting before I tried caffeine, but when the house is shaking with the blasting and road work going on outside, that doesn't exactly work.)

We've also been waffling all year on whether or not to get a new tv. The one we have in our living room is the one my parents bought when I was in middle school. And it still works. But it's to the point I'm having a difficult time finding cords to replace for the DVD player (that actually attaches to our television). The sound was a little crazy on it for about a month. The day I decided it was okay to replace it...the problem corrected itself. No joke. And it would be nice to have a really clear screen. But then my inner child whispers "But this one still works." Why would we replace a tv that works?
But last night, we did. We went to look at the televisions still being offered at Black Friday prices, found one that was at a discount because someone had returned it, and got an entertainment stand for it to sit on. And today I was going to get everything out and ready. Except by the time I got home from a dr's appt and errands, I spent AN HOUR unpacking the pieces for the entertainment center. I should have known when I saw the letter P that I was not going to be able to do this one by myself. But silly my persisted. We took a supper break after hour 2. At nearing hour 3, the piece I had been exasperating myself with screwing in to another part fell off. As in, 3/4 of the screws I had in place simply pulled out. I cried. And I'm hoping Bobby's nephew will be able to come tomorrow night and help me put it together so we can reclaim the construction zone that is now our living room. I'll even miss church to do it if it means I can have my house back.

And the Christmas reading my Mom wanted to be mailed out today? I'm still not finished with it. I'm not even sure she knows what she wants.

So life is good, my health is good, we're adjusting hubby's meds again, I'm already behind on my cleaning/decorating schedule (my family comes for another wedding in 2 weeks), and I should be the most grateful person on earth. Except that I'm a sometimes grateful person with a good bit of grumpiness thrown in. Not exactly the gratitude attitude I think God wants, but that's where I am today.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

half day

Bobby has a cousin who is a little person. He got engaged the same fall we did, and they also got married in 1999, a few weeks after us. They live near us, though like with most of the family who lives in this area, contact is sporadic. About 6 years ago Paul had a stroke. He was the primary driver for the family, and since he was the taller of the two, he did most of the grocery shopping (she's too short to reach inside a buggy) and the laundry (she also can't reach down into the washing machine). So their life was radically upended. Since then Jill has learned to drive again, though she greatly struggles with it. I've watched her drive, and it makes me nervous to no end. So when she asks me to drive her somewhere that requires being on the interstate or somewhere she's never been, it's hard for me to say no. It's truly safer for everyone if someone else takes them.

Today was one of the appointments in Chapel Hill. It wasn't too early of a morning, and while traffic was bad, it was nothing out of the ordinary for I40 morning traffic. And yet, I was exhausted. I actually read a little while they were with the doctor, but after two short chapters my eyes were watering and I was starting to nod off. While I was home by 1:30pm, I still felt as if I had been gone all day. The crazy thing is that I was mentally prepared to be gone all day. Many times when appointments are at the hospital, it is truly an all day event, even if the appointment is in the morning. Hospital dr visits are so unpredictable that way. I was more than a little relieved to discover on the way that it was an actually dr's office and not part of the hospital wing we were heading towards.

There's so much I take for granted. Sometimes I get very frustrated that people don't understand what our life is really like with Bobby's disability, and yet, there's so much about Paul & Jill's life that I don't fully grasp. The few times I've driven them to the dr and helped out with things have given me some very eye-opening glimpses into how routine things for me are monstrous challenges for them. I take so much for granted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

when progress isn't all that progressive

With all the media hype surrounding the campaigns before the election, there were many fears that the elections themselves would be a little more hostile than normal. Thankfully, that turned out not to be the case.

One thing I've learned over the last twelve years is that there are two elections where people when turn out en mass to vote. One is always the presidential election. The other is an election where there is a controversial election. So everyone was fully expecting extreme chaos.

We did have long lines. The first few days of early voting I was able to work in Garner. We had lines when we opened, and those lines never ended. We "closed" the lines with a line. (When closing time arrives, a worker stands at the end of the line with a sign. Everyone in front of the worker is allowed to vote, which means closing time and finishing time are always two different things.) After seven days in my hometown, I moved to my assigned workplace in a rural town that's a 40 minute drive away. While we had a steady stream of voters, the lines were nothing compared to what other sites were seeing. It wasn't until the last three days of early voting that we experienced lines with wait times of 30 minutes or more.

Our number one issue, besides fatigue (17 days of 8am-8pm work is crazy) was voters enraged over the state's ID requirement for voting being struck down by the courts. I don't mind people complaining or running their mouths. What I do mind is the belligerent voters who demand workers look at their ID, some going so far as to shove it within 1" of your nose. What does that serve? So you want people to break the law. When the courts tell you NOT to do something and you force someone to disobey, that's exactly what you're seeking. In your self-righteous anger you demean and insult people who volunteer to make almost minimum wage for insane hours at a time just so you can exercise your democratic right to vote. And for what purpose? Because you are angry someone disagrees with you? To add even more irony to the situation, most poll workers actually liked the ID law. It often made finding people in the system much easier.

Thankfully, we didn't have more than 2 of those a day, but encounters of the kind leave you on edge, with your blood boiling more than a little, and a growing dislike for the general public. It also makes me ponder how it is that we can process 925 kind and reasonable voters, yet when our day is done, our mind lingers on number 926 who was a jerk. Why does my mind reflect on the minuscule minority with no manners?

Despite all the talk from people about how far our society has advanced and how much better we are than our ancestors, when I read memoirs and excerpts from the past, I realize we've not really progressed. Oh sure, there are certain evils and vanities that society is no longer "trapped" by, but in mindsets and attitudes and behavior towards one another, nothing has really changed. I have liberal friends who are just as mean-spirited and hateful as some of my conservative friends. The only thing different about them is the side of the fence they throw their rocks from.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Today is what I hope will be the last day to cut grass for 2016. The leaves are falling. I'm wearing 3/4 sleeves and pondering pulling on a jacket. The pecans are screaming "Fall is here! Fall is here!" (Okay, they're simply beginning to open their husks which means the pecans are almost ripe and they will start dropping in a few weeks.) There are no insects flying around and stinging me, nor mosquitoes irritating me, and I'm not sweating. It's the perfect time of year to cut grass.

And since I mentioned my sister yesterday, I'll mention her again today.

Cutting grass always makes me think of her.

Growing up, my dad had very bad allergies. Every time he cut the grass, he would barely be able to breathe or talk for the next 24 hours. So once I learned how, I joined my older sister in cutting the grass so he wouldn't have to. On those really hot days, we'd alternate. I'd take two rows, she'd take two. And on we'd go. And after we'd both finished 4 rows, Mom would be there with a glass of ice water for both of us.

Now, I have a self-propelled push mower for the trim work. But we do have a big yard. I tell myself while I'm working that this is nothing compared to what it was growing up. But I have to confess, the hotter it is while I work, the more I wish I could trade off with my sister and Mom would show up with ice water. Sometimes we truly take things for granted and don't realize how much those little gestures help and mean until they're not there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

a fast update

I'm on limited time so if there's a lot of typos in this post, please know there was no time to proof and I was typing quickly.

In case you've not watched the news, there's a hurricane coming this weekend. And to some degree or another North Carolina will be impacted. Which means I'm beginning to field phone calls or messages from folks back home who've never lived through a hurricane but see all the dvestation they cause on television. I've only been through one small one here, so I'm certainly no expert, but here's what my family needs to know:

  • Rain and lots of it, along with a lot of noise. That's what it will mean for me.
  • :) The pond behind our house as both a drain and a spillway. Our house is on the highest point of our property. The hill behind us to the pond is somewhat steep. We're in no danger of flooding.
  • We're more likely to face flooding three roads away at a nearby bridge which is very old, forcing us to drive a different direction, or wipe out on a slippery, muddy dirt road than we are to drown or lose our house to flooding or wind damage.
  • Stocking up for us means having enough water on hand in case the power goes out. That's what non-city people have to do since we have well water.
  • EXCEPT, we have a generator. So as long as we have gas, our electric well pump will work. 
  • And yes, this generator will also operate the charger for Bobby's wheelchair.
  • We have a gas grill, and a pantry and freezer well stocked.
  • I might bake cookies the day before it hits. And if any bread is left in the store tomorrow, I may buy a loaf.
So our biggest issues are medical supplies, which I keep well stocked, and having adequate water and power to operate and tend to medical needs. The generator my in-laws gifted us with takes care of the majority of those needs. 

But if you just really feel the need to worry, my older sister is 3 hrs away in a town called Washington (NC) which is prone to flooding. I suggest you spread your concern on down the road to her. And she'll be glad to dramatically tell you all about it. :)

Friday, September 30, 2016


Happy Friday.

It's thundering. The type of thunder that is so continuous we're not sure if they're blasting down the road again or if it's the weather.
It's raining. A torrential downpour, then just a soft, steady rain.
And I'm sick. Again. I don't know if it's allergies like before, or a cold, or what. And I don't care. I just want it to stop. I'm thankful it's now, the one week I have off before my schedule picks back up, and hoping it's cleared up before my next class next week. I'm not sure if they'd tell me to go home or not if I show up with a bass voice and watery eyes.
Like the last umpteen years, my temp has dropped well below normal. I have the routine conversation "well, maybe your baseline temp is below average" with people like my husband and nurse and dr (and for the record, it's not). If I were to go to the dr today, which I won't, the nurse would stick the thermometer back in my mouth and say "Well, it's clearly not had enough time." and when she takes it back out a few minutes later will just shrug. After all, who runs a fever of 96.6? I think I can count on one hand the times in the last 20 years I've felt bad or feverish, checked my temp and found it above normal instead of below (shingles, bronichal infection, and a flu-like virus). Otherwise, if I feel bad, I can almost guarantee you that my temp will be below 98.4
So we're not heading to the mountains for a day or two, we're not going to the bluegrass festival in downtown Raleigh tonight, and I'm not even quilting. But I'm up, and that's a huge improvement over yesterday.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

taste buds

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Dr. Pepper is the drink of choice for many people in Alabama. In college, I tried drinking coffee for a week. I was totally miserable.  Every morning, I tried a different suggestion from someone how to make it drinkable. None of them worked. By Saturday, I decided there was sweet tea, milk, hot chocolate and Dr. Pepper available. Who needed coffee?  So imagine my surprise when I discovered that my non-coffee drinking husband also dislikes Dr. Pepper. WHAT? We both dislike coffee!! How could he not savor a Dr. Pepper? He claims it tastes like medicine.

A few years ago I wound up with a cherry coke. How, I don't know. Bear in mind, I don't like cherries. My husband does. Being the loving and gracious person that he is, he said if I didn't like it he would trade with me. (He normally drinks water and avoids soft drinks like the plague.) But once I tried it, I found it was very similar to Dr. Pepper. I had him try it, and he totally agreed (which meant he didn't like it).

So how is it that the drink I like the most has a cherry flavor to it...the fruit I hate the most? Bobby laughs and says I should try cherries again as my taste buds I have obviously changed. I have tried them, and while they're not as detestable as I remember from my childhood, they're not something I desire to put in my mouth.

But it is nice to know when I walk into a store or restaurant that doesn't sell Dr. Pepper, if they have cherry flavored Coke or Pepsi, it's almost as good. Almost.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


A few years ago after a Bible study a lot of the group continued to sit and talk and simply relax. One of the ladies felt like she was being mistreated by her boss. She was always given extra tasks or asked to assume responsibilities that no one else was asked to do. She felt it was unfair. As she was listing off some of the extras (she worked in a cafe for a plant), I was in flashback mode. My last year of college I was a shift manager at a fast food place. One of my many duties was to ensure that certain cleaning jobs (extra duties) was assigned and done properly. We were inspected by company headquarters once a quarter, and 3 of their 4 visits was ALWAYS a surprise visit. When I handed out those extra assignments, I had three things in mind: Who will do this job without making a bigger mess? Who can quickly do this job so we don't impede serving customers? Who will do this without the most drama? In essence, I wanted the best person for the job. Use the teenager who griped and complained about every single thing so the whole crew had to hear even more whining and griping? I had a hard enough time working with her on a normal night. Have the kid who trips over his own two feet and drops half of what he touches climb overhead and dust the bins where we stored the stacks of plastic wrapped caps while on a ladder? No, don't feel like having extra paperwork and a trip to the ER tonight. So who was I going to ask for help? One of my better workers. The ones who do their jobs right the first time, without complaining. Preferably the ones I don't have to constantly check on to make sure they're not goofing off. And it never once crossed my mind that the worker would feel like they were being picked on. I was simply thinking about inspections and who could do the best job. We had a job that needed to be done, and I chose the people who could do it the most efficiently. It never once crossed my mind that someone would feel targeted or picked on.

I was reminded of that last night as I was reading my niece's blog. She was sharing some very personal thoughts and feelings, and one of the things she included was a time when she and her sister both tried out for a play, and she was chosen to be a paper mache ham that danced while her sister took the main role. And prior to that section, I was feeling absolutely HORRIBLE at some of the things I read. But the made me laugh. If I had to pick a cast of background people for a play  I would look for people who could follow directions, not steal the spotlight but do such an incredible job in a small role that everyone would be talking about it later - and she has both of those qualities. If she's not enthusiastic about something, she simply doesn't do it. She has always been an all the way or nothing person, even as a toddler. She's extremely smart and seldom has to be told more than once how something needs to be done. She looks at an average scenario and has all these creative ideas for how to make it spectacular. Her energy level as a child often left me totally drained. And if I needed a dancing anything...she has the grace to make it look good and fun. She is/was the one you could stick at any position in a play and not worry about whether or not she'd learn her lines or give it all she had. So from a teacher's perspective...she would have made an incredible backstage character.

And it's gotten me to thinking about all those times I've been tired and struggling just to focus on an overwhelming to do list and someone has asked me or reminded me to do something for them. I may not actually physically scream "Can't you see I'm already overwhelmed and stressed out without you piling more on me?!?!" but I'm sure my attitude or expressions convey it. And yet, I'm being asked not because the person is trying to overwhelm me, but because it needs to be done and they think/know I can handle it. And in two weeks as I step back into 17 days of assigning responsibilities and placing people in jobs they may not prefer, I hope I remember to take an extra moment to let them know how much I appreciate their abilities and work. We all need that edification.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


One of the patterns Quilts of Valor quilters often use is the Carpenter's Star. It's nice, has a different look with different colors, and while fairly simple to piece it looks elegant. It also works well as a group project, which our local group has been doing a lot of the last two years. Last fall, in an attempt to use up some scrap fabrics and get ready for a group project, I stitched all my scraps together to use for the basic blocks. It turned out even better than I hoped, and I was quite pleased with the result. I think our group and our longarm quilter did a great job in putting this one together. We often don't get to see the quilts awarded to the veterans, but I do hope to see this one presented.

Monday, September 26, 2016


The house/farm that is considered "the homeplace" to the Bob Bryan family sold this year. It had been in the family for almost 200 years. Even though the house is obviously not that old, it is the house Bobby's Dad grew up in. The new owner is a developer who is going to tear the house down and put in a subdivision. The large oak trees near the house are going to be left, and there will be a roundabout placed around them. Bobby's siblings got permission from the new owner to go in and remove some of the fireplace bricks, doors, cabinet shelving, and door frames. We might have taken more, except we didn't want to take off all the doors and leave the house totally exposed (and we were all short on time the one morning we did work).

My brother-in-laws graciously took down two door/window frames for me. The one I'm about to show is from "the parlor" or "the sitting room" that Bobby's aunts always talked about but which I never saw until after the death of the last aunt.  One of the things mentioned over and over while we went through the house was the rich heritage this family has received from being taught the truth and Scriptures from childhood up. Deuteronomy 6 comes to mind and was mentioned often while we worked that morning.

I am great about starting projects, but as most of you know, not so good at finishing projects. I was determined that this was a project that would be completed. I'm happy to finally say that one is totally finished and is now hanging over the door in our bedroom.

The second one I've got to re-sand (my first background paint job didn't go so well so it has to be redone). It will hang in our kitchen with a saying my father-in-law often quoted.

It's been a crazy year. And while many of the things I had hoped to do this year aren't happening, I am getting a lot of things finished!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bryan Rd Elementary School

One evening last week we took a walk down the closed part of Bryan Rd to look at the school and all the developments. Even with the closed signs up in the road, we still had to dodge quite a few vehicles.

I'm not sure what all the drilled holes in the road are for...testing for rock? Prepping to remove this section of the road? Supersonic sized moles? They go down quite a ways and are spaced along regular intervals from where the school drive will begin to a ways past Mr. Goodrich's driveway.
The view from view from the road (as opposed to the shots from our yard).
"The mountain" (it's what we call the huge mounds of dirt they created at the end of the Elem. Sch section of property) seems a little smaller these days - maybe because it has grass, maybe because part of it is gone, or maybe we've just gotten used to it.
Fire hydrants! And there's more to come. :) But I don't know why they're yellow, unless they just wanted a cheerful color.
The view from Mr. Goodrich's house...quite a different look!
One of the fence posts from the days the property was farmed by the Bryans. Hard to believe these 50+ old posts are still in good shape. Some of them still have the barbed wire attached.  
Rock piles (middle left) are still showing up everywhere. This is near where the gated entrance was by the Stancil place.
One of the many trees being hauled out. This one was as high as my waist.
The view look back towards our house (not visible) from near Ackerman Rd.
My camera doesn't capture night shots very well. It was nowhere near this dark. The light at the bottom was one of the security lights from the building (all 3 floors are now wired), and the light in the top was immediately above the building and was just a sliver of light protruding from the clouds. By the time we got home the moon had fully emerged from behind the clouds. I wish I had a better shot. It was truly neat and beautiful, especially the way it was positioned over the school.
Judging by delivery trucks, I'd say more walls and windows are going up this week.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

kitchen update



When I first saw the color on the wall, I thought "Oh no! I didn't go as dark as I wanted." But I think it looks good, and I'm ready to start putting things back where they go. Well, let me reword that. I'm putting things back in the kitchen, and I'm playing with where things go and purging a few items. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

book reviews

There's an online forum for missionary women and Christian women who live and work overseas. I know two of the women who helped create that wonderful online community. Even though I'm not working overseas anymore, many of their posts still resonate. One of the many fellowship venues they offer is an online book club. They read 3-5 books a year and have online discussions. I've never participated in a discussion or small group since I'm not truly part of the community. But this past year one of the discussions on a book they read jumped from my "books I want to one day read" list to an Amazon purchase. Yeah, I know. I sometimes ignore the book and fabric moratorium I placed myself under.

So...A City of Tranquil Lights by Bo Caldwell. I LOVED reading this book. Even though the time frame is years before the China I knew, so much of it still resonated. I cried and hurt and nodded my head and laughed some as I read through it. And then I get to the end, read an excerpt by the author and discovered it's actually a novel, though based on the life experiences of several missionaries. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by that, but the book was/is very well written. While the author does not go into a lot of detail about the feelings of the characters, he does touch on many issues and thoughts that people working in China have. And I like the fact that he covered the entirety of the life, not just the pleasant parts.

And then a friend of mine suggested a book to me called Same Kind of Different as Me  by Hall & Moore. For some reason, I thought this book was fiction, until I got to the end and discovered it was a true story. And that made me stop and think even more deeply on the topics it mentioned and thoughts about it subjects (wealth, poverty, homelessness, education, societal roles & obligations). I actually enjoyed reading the book, even though parts of it were hard to read. I commented to my friend the other night that I really enjoyed it, but didn't think my mother would. Turns out my friend was actually offended by the book. It was interesting hearing her viewpoint, which was totally different from mine, of the book.

And the last book is not a review of the whole book, but just one comment from chapter one. The ladies at our church are reading through None Like Him (10 Ways God is Different From Us) by Jen Wilkin. And rather than retell what she wrote, I'm just going to post it here.
This is why the Great Commandment takes such care to instruct us how to love those who are "only human." It tells a limited human to love God and others as limitlessly as possible. But to love self and others as limitlessly as possible, we must learn to die daily to our propensity to measure and compare our limits...
She then goes on to point out the God counts our sorrows and uses Psalm 56:8 as an example. I've heard this verse quoted SO many times by people who are struggling and hurting, finding comfort that God is aware of their struggles to sleep when overcome with despair, that He has counted EVERY SINGLE TEAR we will shed in our lifetime, and has a record of them. But yet, I've never considered this in relation to the fact that there is a limit to the amount of hurt and sorrow we experience, but his sorrow (He bore all of ours, after all), cannot be counted. Neither can we count his mercy nor his grace. So our infinite God asks us to love others the way he loves us...without counting. I've never looked at this passage this way before. I've often thought about I Corinthians 13 and how we're not to count the wrongs of others if we love them, but I've always limited that to wrongs. I've never stopped to consider that "measuring" or "comparing" people is one way to NOT love them. I hope I can remember that when those situations that rub me the wrong way arise and I can focus on them as the person God created and not what I want or how they're measuring up to my expectations of them. I fear this is going to be much easier said than done.

So that's what I've been reading/finishing lately.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

the crazy side of chaos

It seems life is a lot like a hurricane. There's the eerie quiet before the chaos, the chaos, a total peace, total chaos, and then just a mess.

I've been trying really hard not to over-commit (something I'm bad about doing) and am working on reserving more time at the house for things that need doing. And yes, I'm aware of the irony here as I'm typing on my blog instead of prepping for my lesson in a few hours.

Back in May I called a painter. He came out, looked around, and in a month was supposed to e-mail an estimate and time frame for coming. We never heard back. He didn't respond to text or phone. The second painter we called never even returned my initial phone calls or e-mails. So finally in August I gave up with going with private people and called a painting company.  They were scheduled to send a carpenter out this week and a paint crew next week. Yesterday I got the phone call that due to the rain, they can't do their outside project this week and were to show up today. So my list of things that needed to be done yesterday got pushed aside and I took down the kitchen curtains, cleaned off counters, moved everything off the kitchen table and bar. I didn't realize how much stuff I had on my kitchen counters. I'm thinking that everything stacked and piled on my dining room table at the moment will not return to the kitchen. And as I sit here in the study, I'm also realizing how central our kitchen is to our house, and how much of a challenge the next 3-4 days will be as they paint two rooms and repair the ramps outside before painting them.

On the flip side, once the chaos is's done!! And I'm thankful this happened now and not the end of next month when everything will be crazy. I actually snapped a few pictures before the arrived this morning, so hopefully one day next week I'll be able to post before and after pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2016

sausage balls

My niece is getting married in December, and for the reception they are having typical holiday finger foods. I volunteered to make sausage balls, and maybe one other item. Since my sausage ball recipe does not have a "yield" amount on it, I decided I'd make a batch for gathering and see just how much it made. After all, I need to know how many items to buy when the time comes.

So I spent yesterday afternoon making sausage balls and deviled eggs for a luncheon we were having during our  Quilts of Valor group today. I learned my recipe will make 60 decent sized balls, but they were also very dry. I told Bobby I may try another batch in the next week or so for something else and experiment with the recipe to see if I can make them better. I'm debating whether to try a different sausage or to simply cut back on the amount of Bisquick.

December sounds SO far away, but it's really not. I know if I don't get this done soon and organized in my mind, it will be here before I know it and my calendar will be overbooked (which I'm trying really hard NOT to do).

Sausage ball tips anyone?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

not all bad

Tuesday we met with some workers and contractors and Wake County Dept of Education staff to discuss all the stakes in our front yard and what they meant. I'm a visual person, and I'm having a very hard time processing what our yard is going to look like when all is said and done. It's a bit overwhelming. I don't like thinking about all the hours we spent researching and planning, then planting, watering and pruning. It's not like you can just replant a new tree when that section of the yard is totally gone, and fruit trees take 3-5 years after planting before having a strong enough root system to truly bear fruit. I still need to call the underground fencing company and see how much they'll charge to redo the fence line, which is hard as we're not exactly sure where our new property boundaries will be. I hate seeing stakes in our yard, daily reminding me that we're losing almost 1/3 of our front yard. Not sure how the dogs will react to losing that much run space.

On the upside, the contractors told us it would be closer to March before our road was paved (there's still debate about whether our section is phase 2 or phase 3; phase 1 has started now), but that they may start working in the yard later this year. So at least now we have a time reference for what is going to happen. And the overgrowth on our property line, they'll be removing almost 1/2 of it. I'm not exactly thrilled about losing all the trees before it, but cleaning the briers and wild shrubs? That will be one less job on my future to do list. So there is a small lining in all the upcoming mess.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

a whole new world

With the opening of a new high school one mile away and construction next door to us for an elementary school, our world has been slowly, and yet rapidly, changing.  For several weeks in July, no matter which of the three routes away from our house we took, this is what we saw:

And this view from our road is about to no longer exist:
The section of the road past our driveway is now closed to the public and is being re-routed and prepped for paving. The section of the road shown above will be paved in phase 2, which we think is scheduled to be completed before the year is out. We're hoping to find out more this week about exactly what impact that will have on our property. In the meantime, my car battery is dead, my first poll worker training class is Saturday, and the chicken pen needs some work. Life never stops.

Friday, September 9, 2016


There's a group I joined in January called "Gatherings" where everyone meets to work on a chosen quilt pattern. I've only been able to make half of the meetings so far, and I'm woefully behind on my blocks. A few people are piecing their tops together. But that's okay. I'm doing what I can as I can. Like so many other things, I'll finish one day. :)

Hopefully by the end of this month I'll have at least one more block finished!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I about had a heart attack one day last week when I closed the chicken house door, turned sideways, and saw this:

It's the largest spider I've ever seen. Bobby said they're common in gardens and they're harmless, outside of the fright they give everyone when they first see it. He saw them a lot in the fields growing up. And I don't know how he did it, but he made it disappear for me. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Labor Day

I had planned to spend Labor Day, well, laboring. Our grass needed cutting, there was laundry, election work, church stuff, and other things we needed to take care of. But we had a pleasant surprise of family we don't see very often showing up to fish. So today has been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get caught up. My yard doesn't look great, but it's not a jungle. And the last load of laundry is in to wash now, and a lot of my paperwork stuff I'm going to take with us on our trip, so I'm just not going to stress about it.

But here's a few snapshots of yesterday's fun:

Uncle Bobby and Annie

Annie offered to trade her Mocha for Little Dog. If we ever have to get rid of our dogs, I know who is getting them. :)

Sophia, who was really reeling in the bream, and her Granddaddy Paul.

Gentrie, who will reel in a fish, but not touch it or get near it. But she's a great cheerleader for everyone fishing!

Annie was interested in anything BUT fishing, and spent quite a bit of time trying to get in the hammock (and even more time getting flipped out!)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Where has the time gone?

Earlier this summer we hatched about 19 eggs. (Same old story - broody hen snatches up all the eggs and it's too hot and too long of her sitting on them to eat but we need to make her stop and we're left with 10+ eggs that wee need to do something with so we incubate them.)

Chicks hatching (seems like an eternity ago)

Chicks in brooder box...and we had some of the cutest ones!

Pullets and Cockerels running around
At stage 3, when we moved them to the little hen house, we hit our first snags. At first we only let them out with supervision, but as they grew we felt like they need more time to roam and graze. So we began letting them out more. And they started disappearing. No feathers, no mess. Just no birds. One day it would be one short. The next day two. Then one day the birds were inside acting terrified. Not long after we left them locked up and came outside to see a hawk sitting outside the door staring in...trying to figure out how to get one. We lost 10 teenagers during this time. The last one we lost, I came outside and startled the hawk. The teenagers were too big at that point for the hawk to leave with it, so it had to abandon it's dead prey. As far as I know, that was the last one we lost.

Freckles has done exceptionally well with the birds running all around her. She's wanted to chase one or two, but hasn't. She has tried to stop the rooster from attacking a hen. I yelled at both of them and they both backed down, or we might have had a very bad fight on our hands. And last week started the process of integrating the two flocks. They've not merged yet, but each night has been a little easier of getting the young adults into the big pen. I don't think they've slept in the large hen house yet, but they are going inside to eat some. It's a start.

Unfortunately I think the majority of our remaining young birds are roosters. I'm not sure what we'll do with them yet. I laughingly told Bobby last night I'd love to get a bunch of hens for each one of them, but we don't need that many birds, nor do I want to feed that many birds. We'll deal with that in a few months...unless some of you readers want a Roo to start your own flock?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

my poor mom

It's not overly clear or visible in this photograph, but my legs are COVERED in band-aids. (I'm the one on the right.) And I hated them.  But what I did love doing in the summertime, was raking up mounds of leaves and making small "houses".  Basically it was a waist-high maze that was the outline of my pretend house. And leaves, especially old wet ones from the previous fall, are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. (As was the pond behind our house.)  As long as I can remember, I have been a food magnet for mosquitoes. And their bites leave HUGE whelps. This particular summer was exceptionally bad. And when things itch; I scratch. Scratching creates scars, which I scratched. And that summer, which seemed worse than any other, my mom, in her desperation to get me to leave all the bites and scabs alone, slathered me in band-aids, forbid me to take them off, and placed any and all leaf piles around our property (which was very wooded) on my list of restricted places. Looking back as an adult, I realize this was as much (maybe more) a punishment for her as it was for me. I did find other things to do, but those bites seemed to take FOREVER to heal. It's a wonder my Mom is still sane after all I've put her through.

This summer has reminded me so much of that summer. My legs and arms have been COVERED with bites and whelps like no other summer in my adult life. It's been so bad I've quit counting the bites, have been washing my legs and one arm in hydrogen peroxide to help relieve the itch, and have been wearing pants in public (yes, even in this heat!!) because my legs looks SO bad.

My mother-in-law, after visiting Alaska, claims that cold weather does not kill of mosquitoes. She said Alaska was full of them. Sometimes I think maybe I should live in a colder climate in the summer, but then I remember that, and realize it wouldn't make a difference. Early in our marriage, Bobby was amazed at how we could go to the pond at night. Within 10 minutes, he would not have one bite at all, but I would have 10-15 whelps appearing on my arms alone. Mosquitoes are not my friends, and am I greatly looking forward to fall and winter.


This past Saturday I started my temp work with the Board of Elections. I am SO thankful that my schedule is very organized and reasonable. Unless I need to fill in for a different trainer, I should only have one class to teach each week and one class to take each week AND they've given me several days in a row off before early voting starts. Starting Oct 27, I'll be working every single day until Election Day. And the day after that? I plan to crash. As I get older, I wonder how many more years I will keep doing this. It's not a difficult job, I enjoy the interaction with people, and it's a great public service job. And yet, the hours on election day are c.r.a.z.y. I'm trying not to focus on the future or what's ahead, because it's constantly changing. But for now, my goal is to be the best Help Table trainer I can be, and be a fair and kind supervisor on election day. People always turn out on Presidential election years, and this year has been a record turnout for Wake County. I don't expect November to be any different. So if I don't blog a whole lot in September and October, you'll know I'm trying to balance getting ready for class and daily life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

sheer genius

When I was a child, I would beg for Mom to let me stay with Dad at work while she shopped for groceries. I would have been 4 at the time, as I was not in school and Dad had not yet become a preacher. He was a pharmacy tech, and the pharmacy where he worked at the time was behind the grocery store. It's name was Geriatric Pharmacy and it always bothered me to no end that they spelled his name wrong on the door. (His name is Jerry, and I was convinced it was named after him.)

Thanks to a game called Chutes and Ladders, I knew how to count to 100, and my older sister had taught me to count by 5s. So Dad would let me help him "push pills".  Medicine came in these HUGE bottles, and one of his many jobs was to drop two/three pills (depending on the order) at a time into a machine that looked like a huge rotary dial machine, and it would seal them into little packets. Dad would hand me a large bottle. My first job was to count out 100 pills. When I finished I would turn and tell him how many I had left over. I was always amazed when he'd frown, come over, look at the pills and go "Hmmm. I think you better count again. I think you might have 96 pills there (or 98, or 99). And when I recounted, I was always amazed that he was right. (And keep in mind I often lost my count and had to start over.) I was convinced that my Dad was a math genius. Now when I have to buy a bottle of vitamins or pills, I laugh inside when I see the count on the outside of the bottle. My Dad might not have been as much a math genius as I thought he was, but he was a genius at keeping me occupied. When I had finished counting and had finally reached the number he said I should have, he would turn on the machine and I could drop them two at a time into the slots. One time I dropped a bottle and it spilled into the machine. Too many pills went into a slot and jammed. He not only had to clean up my mess, but he had to sort out all the mispackaged pills and redo everything. I had to draw and sit in a chair the rest of that trip. I'm not sure, but that may have been the last day I counted and packaged pills as well.

I'm not sure who took this photo of my Dad at work, or why, but I'm so thankful to have a digital copy of it. It brings back a LOT of memories.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Last winter our neighbor recognized that a persimmon tree near his mailbox would be destroyed when they started construction or paved the road this year. So he saved quite a few seeds.  Earlier this week, some of Bobby's great nieces and a great nephew came over and helped me plant the seeds into cups. I didn't get pictures of the action (or of one saying "Mom painted my nails last night" as she refused to get near the bag of dirt. Did I mention she's not quite 3?!) or of the final result, but I'm hoping in a few weeks to see sprouts. At that point the sprouts will be replanted into larger containers. Hopefully by next spring we'll have decent seedlings. 

Most kids know which room in our house is the "toy" room, and they tend to gravitate toward it. Their grandmother told them to pick up, and I couldn't help but laugh when I walked in the room later that evening and saw this:

There's not a toy in the floor. I've not bothered to go in and straighten the box up so the lid will close. But it made me smile, and not just because the floor was clean. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

coming changes

About ten years ago, a small section of the farm that bordered our property was sold to the Wake County School System. We've known since then that both an elementary school and a middle school were going to be our neighbors. We also knew that when that happened, this view would change:

I know nostalgic people think I'm crazy, but I'm not an overly huge fan of living on a dirt road. The state does "maintain" the road, meaning that when the potholes and washboard effect get too bad they scrape it (and almost always cut our phone line) and add new gravel (which teenagers drive through super fast and sling everywhere). But that is not all that often. And we don't get a whole lot of rain, which means we have an incredible amount of dust. Sometimes in the summer it seems to just hang in the air. So I always thought I'd be glad when the road became paved.

But then ten years passed, and the layout of the school property changed, as well as requests from the town of Garner for the property. The long and short of it is that there will now be a town walking path that is right on the border of our property (and we have a pond), and immediately next to it is the school driveway. And the school wants a turn lane. So we were QUITE shocked two weeks ago when surveyors showed up in our yard, unannounced (by law you're supposed to have a 30 day notice), and started putting stakes around our 20 year old oak tree (in the picture below), our well, and in the opposite corner of our yard from the school property, all the way down into 1/3 of our yard. The stake they placed in the middle of our driveway I promptly removed.
We have yet to receive an explanation on any of the stakes from the BOE or DOT, no one will answer any of our questions, and their promised "we'll contact you next week" has now gone two weeks without happening. So we don't know if the paving of the road will require the removal of four trees, a huge section of our yard, relocating the dog's underground fence and our well, or not. I know that the person we've dealt with over the years left her job sometime in May. I don't know if the person who replaced her is overwhelmed in the new position, or simply inconsiderate and incompetent. But one of our neighbors is being treated even worse. And it makes me angry. Eminent domain is one thing, but this taking this much is arrogant and unnecessary.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

moving out of summer

With the crazy humidity we've been having it certainly does NOT feel as if we're moving out of summer, but as back to school posts are showing up on Facebook news feeds and the tomatoes in the garden are fading and drying up, I have to accept the reality that it really and truly is August. This year seems to be disappearing before my very eyes.

And August means it's time to start transitioning from the garden to the fruit trees. The hard frost we had back in April/May (I can't remember which, just that it was bad and very late into spring) killed almost all the leaves and bud on our trees. Even our pecan trees took a horrible hit. So we weren't expecting much produce from our trees at all. Last week I started seeing squirrels running across the road with apples and pears in their mouth, so I had to admit to myself it is time. Yesterday I picked one bucket of both apples and pears (together), which is the lowest amount of fruit our trees have ever yielded. I've not checked the grape vines yet, though it should be time for the grapes to be ripening as well.

I decided to do apple jelly this year, which I've never made before. I didn't finish with all the apples yesterday and had planned to finish up today. Unfortunately, my sinuses/allergies triggered a bad headache that was nearing migraine status. So my day has mostly been a wash. It was almost five before I could get rid of the pain, and I am totally wiped. I've managed to get a little bit done (I actually stayed home from church tonight), but am mostly taking it easy. But hopefully before the weekend is out I'll actually have some completed apple jelly to show you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


We're nearing the end of a study at church on our attitudes (mostly the sin of negative and complaining attitudes). The first week and this week of the study seems to have been the most challenging.

- We lost phone/internet due to construction stuff in our area for almost 12 hours...again.
- Some friends of ours are facing some really tough stuff right now, and there's not much we can do but listen and pray.
- They're surveying for the road, and we now have stakes up through the middle of our yard. Grumpy me actually pulled one up out of the middle of our driveway so I could go to the grocery store. We've yet to hear from one official person about easements, right of way, payment, etc. They just showed up this morning and started staking up half our front yard and a good chunk out of the far corner.
- I'm not feeling great again.

So in the midst of all my grumpiness and negative mindset, I am trying to count my blessings (we're getting a paved road, I got a lot of work done yesterday, it's only sinus mess not hives this times) but it's been a constant struggle

So if I don't get around to posting the rest of this week, know our internet connection is probably cut up or dug up or blown up or washed out or one of the other crazy scenarios that can happen when new turn lanes, sidewalks, two schools and two red lights are being put up withing a 5 mile radius of your house.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I only planted 5 things this year: squash, peas, green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. My pepper plants and peas have not produced. The chickens demolished one of my squash plants and a 2nd dried up. The third is producing, but not a whole lot. My green beans, which my husband tolerates, is doing quite well (for the small amount of plants we have). And tomatoes are just so-so this year...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why do I even bother?

The mat in our garage has desperately needed to find its new home in the garbage can.  So I finally broke down and bought a new one. Around 9pm I swept out the garage and put the new welcome mat in its place. Around 8am the next morning, this is what Bobby found:

What? Us? You think WE did that?

By day 2 the rug was in big chunks, missing half of the word, so now all but the little pieces are in the garbage can. We are going rugless for the time being. They are now in the process of destroying the mats on the front porch, so they'll be the next to be discarded. I hope there will come a time when we can have rugs again, but the foreseeable future has no welcome mats in store.

Monday, July 25, 2016

the "greatest" generation

When I was in college I had the opportunity to work for a lady from my hometown. She grew up during the Great Depression. For months, I thought the woman was crazy. Then on a trip home I was telling my Dad (who knew the woman) about her and some of the things she did. He laughed, and then started sharing stories about relatives the same age as her who did some of the same exact things (recycle coffee grounds - as in you use the same grounds for five days in a row and only add half a pinch of new days 2-4 and on day 5 drink it with milk, etc)

This month I've been assisting Bobby's aunt, who is almost 91, in cleaning out her house as she moves this week. As we packed up the kitchen, I removed the towel from the dish drainer and found this:

Yep. She had washed her Styrofoam and plastic pieces. My grandmother used to do that, too. I simply can't imagine what life was like during their formative years that they absolutely waste NOTHING. Every time I wash dishes, I can hear my Granny scolding me for using too much water. When I see things such as this, I'm reminded of the irony of the younger generations talking about being "environmentalists".  They really don't have a clue.

But I'm thankful for the small dent they've made in my life. I like to think that should things every become so bad as what they experienced that I will survive with the dignity and grace they did.

Friday, July 22, 2016

engagement party (a catch-up post)

The weekend before Father's Day we had the privilege of going to Washington, NC for my niece's engagement party. We had a good time.

Instead of a placemat, each place setting had a small card with a pen. Each person was to fill out the quiz, and then after the meal and all the sentimental, parental comments, they went over the answers. I don't know her fiance Kevin very well, so I had to guess at the answers based on what little I know of grown-up Ellen.

One of the funniest things was when Kevin stood up to do his part of the "thank you for coming" speech. Ellen had commented to Kevin early in the evening (as the crowd became bigger than expected), "Oh, look Kevin. All these people came just because they care about us so much." Kevin's response was, "Oh, no. They only came for the free chicken."

Regardless of why people came, it was wonderful to share in their "official" announcement. Sometime between now and November I need to figure out exactly how many sausage balls come from one recipe. For some strange reason I never wrote that down on my recipe card, and that's my contribution to their wedding reception in December. I guess Bobby will be having that for breakfast sometime soon so I can begin to plan ahead. Congratulations Ellen Marie!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

one bite

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

I love the above African proverb. The first time I heard it was in middle school. I thought it was dumb, along the lines of a first grade knock-knock joke. You know the kind, where the kid comes up and the joke makes no sense whatsoever (Knock-knock. Who's There? Orange. Orange who? Pineapple.) but the kid doubles over in laughter and then says "Isn't that the best joke EVER?"  But then I reached adulthood. And now I get it. 

So today I'm just going to share one bite of life. Not quite two weeks ago Bobby went to get the oil changed in his van. The young man decided to squat and drive with the hand controls (as opposed to using the folding chair I keep in the back so I can drive with the foot pedals when people block us in). Bear in mind this vehicle has zero resistance steering (meaning the slightest touch makes the wheels turn) and one hand control manages BOTH the brake and the gas. While Bobby is watching, he hears the van VROOM  (it's much funnier to hear him make the noise, unless he's talking about me driving his van), and then plunge off the edge of the mechanic's lift and into the wall. The mechanic was okay. Bobby's van, not so much. The funny thing is he's been able to drive it the first week while we waited on all the parts to come in before taking it Monday morning and no one has noticed there was anything wrong, despite several thousands worth of damage. We're in a rental van until the repairs are all done, which means I've been driver. And today was Rules Review Commission day.

Thankfully it was a short meeting, and while I found it very interesting and educational, I found myself wanting to verbally comment on a few situations that happened. Yes, I am Marie Guyton's granddaughter. But I refrained, and peppered Bobby with questions on the way home. (And for those who will ask, a state agency had a delay in following all the required steps for submitting rules, and there was a disagreement about allowing an extension for a subset of their rules or not. It's more detailed than that, but that's a very simplified summary.)

So we're now back home, and hoping the van will be ready tomorrow. I've really enjoyed driving a new van with new features, but I've also really missed Bobby driving. We laugh sometimes because I forget he can't open the doors on this van and I've stood there a minute or two waiting for him to open the lift and get in. The tie downs in the new van are SO much easier to use than when I have to drive our van. I'm seriously tempted to call and see just how much a set of the new ones cost or if they'd do a trade-in between the levers we have and the new kind. But hopefully he will continually to do well and there won't be a need for me to drive his van again for quite some time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

when things go awry

So far I'm batting 3 for 3, as in not getting things right. Yesterday I was taking a meal to a friend from church. Sometimes when that's on my schedule, I'll make extra and we'll eat the same thing. When we sat down to eat, 2 of the 4 things I prepared did not taste all that great to me. My husband, who is bluntly honest about things, said it tasted okay to him. I'm hoping my tastebuds are just off, but I've spent today pondering whether or not they liked the meal. It's the first time I've ever prepared food for this family, so that made me want it to be extra special.

And tonight I was supposed to call the courthouse to find out about my assigned arrival time for jury duty tomorrow. It's been 2.5 hours since I was supposed to check in, and I STILL cannot get through. All I get is the recording operator, and when I finally make it out of the loop, it either hangs up or I get a busy signal. This is crazy!!!  Several years ago when I had duty, I called, entered a number, and it told me everything I needed to know. So basically, tomorrow morning I'll now have to drive downtown, find a place to park, and hope that I'm supposed to be there in the morning instead of the afternoon. Wake County clearly needs a better system.

Last week, while cutting grass, I began breaking out in a strange rash. And for the three remaining days after that, I'd have new places pop up. It was weird. On day four I called and made an appointment with the dr. Long story short, she wants me to try OTC allergy medicine any time I'm going to be working outside, and I have a prescription back-up just in case it happens again. I often will develop whelps or small swollen spots with mosquito bites, so that I expect to see. But this is unlike anything I've ever had before. Thankfully after I called the dr it quit spreading, though not all of them have gone away.

It has been a busy, although good, summer. Saturday was the first morning since mid-June that we've not woke up to an alarm clock (and that's only because I incorrectly set it the night before and we overslept) and I'm really looking forward to a day when we can simply wake up.

At some point pics will come...just not this week.

9:57pm update...finally got through to the jury duty tomorrow. Yard work instead.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Row by Row

The last three years North Carolina quilt shops have participated in an event called Row By Row. During the summer months (between June 21 and the end of August), wherever you're traveling you stop at a participating quilt shop and get a free pattern that is 9"x36". Many quilt shops sell kits to go along with the pattern (from just the fabric to laser cuts pieces to accessories like buttons). Most shops have a fabric "license plate" with their store name and saying or name on it. Once you collect 8 patterns, you make a quilt using those patterns (it must be quilted, bound, and labeled) and return to one of the stores that you picked out a pattern from. If you're the first one to bring your quilt in to that store, you'll receive a fabric prize.

The last two years we've actually planned our vacation route around quilt shops so I could hit up certain stores for the pattern. I've completed some of the rows, but never enough of them to actually complete the quilt. So this year I said I was NOT going to participate. I need to tackle the projects I already have going. And then last month all these pictures of store's rows in NC started showing up on my Facebook feed. Let's just say that NC stores have a LOT of row patterns that I like. So yesterday I stopped and got two (actually four as both of these stores have 2 different patterns, but only one from each store will count in the row tally).  Thursday we'll stop at the Clayton store on the way back from Marilyn's funeral to get another one. I've plotted the store patterns on a NC map that I like, so we may take a short road trip in the next few days. I was planning to do 3-4 in a day and spread it out over the summer, but I think Bobby would rather do it all in one trip. He gets to see more back roads and small towns that way.

Maybe this year will be the year that I actually finish the quilt before the year is out. Maybe. Life has a way of interrupting hobbies.

Monday, June 20, 2016


This morning I opened Facebook and saw an unexpected announcement that Marilyn, owner of Bernina World of Sewing, a member of our local Quilts of Valor group, and someone I consider a friend, died Sunday. I know she's no longer suffering, and that these last few months have not been easy on her, her family, or her staff, but it's still hard to hear. Post after post mentioned her kindness, her ability to remember customer names. And all of that is SO true. But for me, I remember her pulling me aside during a non-busy quilt group meeting and asking me if she could ask some personal questions. She was tactful in everything she asked, but by some of her questions I could tell she had some experience with being a caregiver. She then opened up and talked about her first husband and his illness, and then her life with John and how she believed God truly brought him into her life. No matter how busy she was in the store, if I ever walked in, she always asked about Bobby. While I will enjoy my quilt groups and friends in the future, they won't be the same without her.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago my cousin who has MS, went to urgent care one night with extreme swelling in her feet. They told her she was 6 weeks pregnant and needed to see her doctor. So the following week she did and found out that while she was expecting, she was 34 weeks along with boy and one girl. Mom texted today that they're going to take the babies due to complications. I cannot imagine finding out that what you thought was impossible was happening and not having time to prepare for it. She owns a hair salon, so her whole life has just been thrown a curveball. I mean, really, other than an adoption/foster care scenario, who finds out that in 2-4 weeks your whole life is about to turn topsy-turvy with two children!

And this weekend we moved all 19 biddies outside to the little hen house. We're running the heat lamp to it at night. It's hot enough in the day time that they don't need it. They seem to be a lot happier, though they're a little bit timid about the whole situation.

So that's Monday in the Bryan household. Hopefully pictures of earlier events can come later this week.