Wednesday, January 17, 2018

cold temps warm thoughts hodgepodge

Thanks to Joyce for thinking up these questions every week!  Copy and paste the questions on your blog and answer. Link up at From This Side of the Pond.

1. What keeps you blogging?
I have a couple of reasons.
a. Sometimes there are words in my head and heart that almost burst forth and I feel like my fingers are itching to type those words down. This happens rarely but when it does happen, I feel like those are my best blog posts. I always hope that it is the Holy Spirit guiding me and that those words will help one person.
b. Some of my blog posts have no real meaning at all except I think that someday my memory might be shot and I can reread the blog posts and enjoy looking at the pictures. I hope my family will enjoy reading the posts many years from now.

2. Some people like to travel in the winter months. Do you enjoy the beach in winter? According to Southern Living the best U.S. beach towns to visit this winter are-

St Simons Island (Georgia), Hilton Head (South Carolina), Bald Head Island (North Carolina), Seaside (Florida), Bay St. Louis (Mississippi), Cape San Blas (Florida), South Padre Island (Texas), Folly Beach (South Carolina), Chincoteague (Virginia), Duck Key (Florida), Nags Head (North Carolina), and Fairhope (Alabama)

Have you been to any of the towns listed (in any season)? Which on the list appeals to you most this winter? 
I enjoy the beach anytime of the year! I'm not sure that I've actually visited the beach in actual winter -- I've been at the end of October; I've been several times in March; and one time I went to Galveston in February so that is sort of winter. I've been to Fairhope several times. Duck Key sounds like it might be way down in Florida where it is really warm - take me there today!

Here are a few pictures from our beach trip back in September and we made a stop in Fairhope - these aren't on the actual beach but in town - it is a great place to visit!!!!

3. What's a song you're embarrassed to know all the lyrics to? Are you really embarrassed or do just think you should be?
I'm HORRIBLE at song lyrics. The one song that popped into my head was Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It!) by Beyonce. I don't know ALL of the lyrics but . . . this is the picture from Glee that pops into my head when I think of the song:

4. When you were a kid what's something you thought would be fantastic as an adult, but now that you're an adult you realize it's not all that fantastic?
I thought I would be a great singer but as you can see by my answer to number 3 - ain't gonna happen!

5. Share a quote you hope will inspire you in 2018.
If you can't fly, then run; if you can't run, then walk; if you can't walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I think my second one would be, "A friend loveth at all times." -- I want to be a better friend in 2018!
I've not done a great job for the first 17 days!!

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Everything shut down here in town yesterday due to the prospect of a repeat of Snowmageddon 2014. It was quite a disappointment - we had a few snow showers with a light dusting. What is totally bizarre is the snow blanketed everything south of us. Our daughter lives an hour and a half south of us and three inches of snow fell at her house.

Monday, January 15, 2018

I did it!

For several months, I've been wanting to go on a hike with my son but the timing has not been just right. He emailed me on Friday and said, "Interested in hiking to the waterfall today? Should be good waterfall with the latest rain." I quickly reviewed my "things I MUST get done today" list and figured out that I MAYBE could meet him. I was working from home on Friday and son gets off work at 1:00 so I knew he would want to go around 1:30.  At a few minutes after 1:00, I texted him that I did indeed want to go but he might have to wait just a few minutes on me.

The temperature dropped about 40 degrees from Friday morning until Friday afternoon - seriously. I don't have a lot of clothes that fit right now but I dug around and found an old pair of jeans but there was a tiny problem -- I needed a belt to hold them onto my body. I don't own any belts . . .well, I own ONE belt that is black patent leather and goes on a dress I wear to work.  Guess what? That belt totally worked! Who cares about the fashion sense, right? I was going to be in the woods with my son and three dogs!!

I layered up - shirt, scarf, warm thin jacket, big sweatshirt, leggings under the jeans, socks, tennis shoes. Good grief, that was a lot of clothes!

We struck out on the gray afternoon. The second we left the car, the dogs were off and running. They were so happy to be outside and they knew how to lead the way.

son is bundled up against the cold, too

We saw some GIANT rocks

As I mentioned earlier, the day was gray and dreary and it was so cool to come upon a patch of BRIGHT GREEN moss - it would be a beautiful pop of color at the base of a tree or on a big rock

We had to cross a stream - I couldn't do the pipe walk so we went across on the slippery rocks - got one foot a tad wet at that point.

I kept saying to son, "I can hear the falls." I'm not sure I could. An interesting fact is this nature preserve is right by our house. You feel as if you are deep in the woods and then you will hear something and realize it is a car on a main road not too far away . . .and then silence again. It was "spitting rain" and that rain felt icy!!

You can tell that I'm all layered up - I said, "take my picture - I DID IT! I made it to the falls." Can you tell that I was proud of myself?

The falls are beautiful - there is one more fall up even higher that spills into the middle one that spills into the bottom one. Son said there is another fall that is much smaller in the preserve and people hike to it and are disappointed - evidently, everyone doesn't know about this series of falls. It was so cold and those dogs kept getting in the water. Finley is the youngest GSP and her lips were quivering! I've never seen a dog do that before!!

Dakota is gorgeous - she stuck with me the whole time - 
I think it was one old lady hanging with
the other old lady!

On the way back, I got the other foot wet and I ALMOST slid in but I didn't - whew! Glenn caught me!! This was a good hike and I felt so healthy and good!! Now, I'm not going to lie . . .I was up five times during the night on Friday night with leg cramps (old!) but it was worth it! Our hike was one of the longest spans of time our son and I have spent together - just us - talking in a long time. I enjoyed the cold air. I felt alive. I marveled at God's creation. I laughed at the dogs. It was good!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

funerals and memories

I think I mentioned that this Christmas/New Year's season has been hard. There have been wonderful moments but there have been some extremely sad moments, too.  We've had a large number of deaths in our church family and I mentioned a post or two ago about the loss of another friend.  I was asked to be one of the speakers at the memorial service for Inez Lane yesterday. When I got up in front of everyone, I could not get the notes to pull up on my phone for some odd reason . . .so I had to wing it. This is what I originally planned to say . . .I covered most of this and I think I added some. On another day, I may share some memories of my friend, Gayle, that died last weekend.  I'm hoping that the act of writing down these memories will be a sweet balm to my spirit.

Karen and Inez

When Karen asked me to share a memory, my mind went into overdrive trying to remember every single thing I could about Inez. I even asked my sister for some of her memories of Inez.

As we've already heard today, Inez was indeed a generous person and I was one of the recipients of her generosity.
One of the first memories that popped into my head was how I always called Hub – “Hub” and I called Inez “Mrs. Lane.” One day we were sitting at her kitchen table at the house in paragon in Huffman and she looked at me and said, “why do you do that? Why do you call him Hub and me Mrs. Lane?” I said, "because you are Mrs. Lane!"  She said, "you can call me Inez." I said, “I don’t think so.” I can’t remember but I’m assuming that may be the day she became Mama Lane. 

I think the next memory that flooded my mind was of her teaching 3 year old Sunday school with my mom. For those of you who don’t know, my mom died when I was 15 and Inez/Mama Lane stepped in as my surrogate mother. She and Hub fulfilled that extra parental roll very well. Hub and Inez dragged me on just about every one of their family vacations – we spent time in the mountains and at the beach and even spent a week together on a cruise ship. They took me to Maplesville and Andalusia with them almost every time they went and I remember sitting on a big front porch (I had to verify with Karen that was Mamie Ruth's house) and shelling peas!

I can remember all the countless times I spent the night with them. I still remember the set of books that she purchased and “hid” from us about the facts of life. This was when they lived in that house in Roebuck that felt like it was way back in the woods. Karen and I thought we had found a treasure trove in the bottom of that linen cabinet in the bathroom and we kept it secret.  Fast forward many years and we were grown ups getting together for some reason or another and Karen and I were laughing about finding those books and Inez said, “you know I did that on purpose. I knew if y’all thought you weren’t supposed to look at those books you would sneak and read them!” She was a smart one!

When I think back over my life – especially those years from 3 – 30, Inez is woven into the tapestry of my life – into my very being – into who I am today. She was often the golden thread that kept me together. Mama Lane was so many things to me -- mother, friend, party hostess – she hosted several parties/meals/gatherings in my honor over the years, meal preparer – countless meals at their house and sandwiches on vacation – I even remember when our twins were born 31 years ago and she showed up to cook dinner for us one night and she brought peas – she remembered the smallest details -- those peas that we shelled all those years - my favorite thing from the garden -- she remembered that I LOVED peas from the garden and brought some from her very own freezer to cook for us.

Inez was a spiritual guide, GA leader, chaperone on every church trip, and a wonderful example of a Christian who lived her faith. She loaded us up into her car, along with a birthday cake, and drove us down to Spain Rehab at UAB to have monthly birthday parties for the patients.  She helped us memorize scripture. She was ALWAYS doing something for someone else.

Inez Lane helped shape me into the wife, mother, friend, and follower of Jesus I am today. Thanks be to God for creating such a special woman.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Unstuck in 2018 hodgepodge

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 335 Welcome to the first Hodgepodge of a brand new year! Thanks so much to Joyce for thinking of these questions each week and for allowing us to connect with other bloggers!!

Here are the questions to this week's Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then connect back over on Joyce's blog.

1. It's that time of year again...time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words (or phrases) they'd like to see banished (for over-use, mis-use, or genera uselessness) in 2018. You can read more about the decision making process and word meaning here, but this year's top vote getters are- unpack, dish (as in dish out the latest rumor), pre-owned, onboarding/offboarding, nothingburger, let that sink in, let me ask you this, impactful, Cofefe, drill down, fake news, hot water heater (hot water doesn't need to be heated), and gig economy
Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?
I'm so very tired of fake news - I'm tired of hearing fake news and I'm tired of hearing about fake news.  I would love to live in a world where the news is reported accurately.

Sort of related - one of my favorite Halloween costumes this year was a teenager (boy) wearing a suit with news clippings all over the suit. I asked him what was his costume and he turned around and on the back of his suit there were giant letters, "F A K E  N E W S." Awesome costume!!

2. What's something you need to get rid of in the new year?
a.  20 more pounds. At the beginning of 2017, I decided to make a change in my health because of several reasons - one was that I couldn't buckle a pair of shoes when I was getting dressed (ticked me off that I couldn't bend over my giant belly!!) and another was the ability to play with our sweet grandbaby. I could get IN the floor to play with her and I could get UP from the floor BUT I felt like once I was there, I couldn't move around and I wanted to be able to fully enjoy spending time with her. I've been successful losing weight and getting in better health this year but would like to be in the ideal range for my height. I don't have to be thin at this age but I do want to be healthy.

b.  the mess in my office - I've thought about renting one of those giant dumpsters and having it located right under my office window and I could just open up the window (brrrr!) and clean out things!!

3. Where do you feel stuck? I'm not sure I have a separate answer to this question. It actually ties into my number two answers.

4. January is National Soup Month. When did you last have a bowl of soup? Was it made from scratch or from a can? Your favorite canned soup? Your favorite soup to make from scratch on a cold winter's day?
I love a good bowl of soup and make soup quite often and freeze it in individual serving size containers. It is cold this week here in the deep south and I ate a bowl of soup from the freezer for dinner last night. I have four soups that I really love:

taco soup made with 97% fat free ground turkey

chili, white bean chicken chili, taco soup, Butch's chicken noodle soup
I can make the first three very low fat, etc. and enjoy eating them often. Butch's chicken noodle soup is ANYTHING but low fat, low calories. It is scrumpdillyicious.

For canned soups, I still love a good bowl of Campbell's Tomato Rice soup or Campbell's Vegetable Beef soup.

5. Tell us one thing you're looking forward to in 2018.
just one thing???  how about two? I'm looking forward to my trip back to Israel on January 31 and I'm really looking forward to our daughter's wedding in May!!

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I've had so many things rattling around in my brain for the last week or so. I would love to sit down and blog some of my thoughts but can't seem to be able to pull them together for a good post. January is going to be a hectic month but I'm hoping for a slower February (after return from Israel) but who am I kidding?

One of our goals as a couple this year is to entertain more friends - maybe once a month. We enjoyed spending time with two couples on New Years Eve and we even made it to midnight for a champagne toast!!

we played multiple rounds of this game
and had so much fun. Mark is not a game
player but he and the guys were doing a 
bourbon tasting in between rounds so EVEN
Mark had a good time playing. Some of the cards are 
a little risqué so you might want to consider
with whom you are playing before
choosing this game

Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 2017

Where has this month gone? Actually, where has 2017 gone?  Surely I was just sitting here typing an end of the year post for 2016. What a busy month we've had! This post is probably only interesting to my sister(s) so my feelings won't be hurt if you move on :-).  We started out the month with a visit to Laura to see the new house that she and Scott purchased. On that same day, Mark and I went to see the Shakespeare Theater version of A Christmas Carol. The production was amazing!

We had a freaky snow storm the following week - I was home alone while Mark was hunting. We had deep snow for Alabama.

We saw a totally different version of A Christmas Carol by a local group. It was set in the Appalachian mountains and was delightful, as well.  Even Mark had a good time! When you are with good friends, everything is fun, right?

We attended our Sunday School Christmas party and had a great time. We always play dirty Santa and I brought home a deer head (not real) this year. Mark hung it on the screen porch and we may leave it out there year round.

We hosted the Young Professional Christmas party and really enjoyed spending time with those wonderful young adults.  We count that group as one of our largest blessings.

We played dirty Santa with that group, too, and the alcohol (bottles of wine, etc.) were the heavily traded items!  Mark ended the game with a box of Dominoes. The folks who have known us a long time know that Mark said to me when we were dating, "I don't play games." Of course, I wasn't sure how he meant that all those years ago (and I still don't!) but I do know he doesn't play games!  BUT . . .we have played Dominoes every night this week.  Lord Have Mercy! We must be getting really old.

We also had our office Christmas party and Santa came!
 Pat was an awesome Santa and I so appreciate his willingness to take time out of his day for all of us!

The month was not all parties. My friend, Inez, died this month.  She and my momma were friends. They even taught 3 year old Sunday School together - when I was that age! She and her husband took great care of me and put up with a whole lot. They dragged me on every vacation with them. They were indeed second parents to me for many, many years.  Karen (daughter of Inez), Kaye, Faye and I were inseparable for a large portion of our lives so our lives were interwoven. These pictures were taken YEARS ago on a cruise - Inez and Hub paid for a large chunk of a 7 day cruise so that I could go, too.  That is me - front left side of the table, then Hub, then Inez.  Inez is pictured below on one of the day cruises on that trip.  I think she was younger in that picture than I am now. She was a good woman.  I imagine that God said, "well done good and faithful servant" upon her arrival.

We attended one of the Christmas Eve Eve services at our church. Sitting with this sweetheart was extra special. Herdaddy (my handsome son) is beside her.
 In the middle of church, she insisted on putting on that pink bib!!

We attended Christmas Eve morning worship - packed house - and we stopped on the way into church to pick up deli trays, chips, etc. for the preachers and maintenance folks to eat that evening. We attended Christmas Eve service at 5:00 p.m. Our church had a children's service at 3:00 and three candlelight services at 5, 7, and 11. We broke all attendance records. How wonderful that so many people heard an amazing sermon that night about Hosea and Gomer.  Yes - Christmas Eve - Yes - Hosea and Gomer. Yes - we are like Gomer - God loves us so very much that he gave all he had - his son - as a tiny baby. He sent him into this world. No cost was too much.

There are things that happen when you work on staff at a church. You tend to pay attention to details during a worship service.  I noticed that our senior minister (remember - he is my boss) kept going out the side door taking empty communion trays and returning with full trays so I knew that people were frantically replenishing cups. I sneaked out of the sanctuary and went back to the sacristy to see if they needed help. They had an assembly line going and refilling of cups was covered. So I went around the corner and another faithful servant was frantically filling baskets with candles. I stopped and helped and gave him a head start for the next service.

This was taken through the glass door looking into the sanctuary. This is one of my favorite worship moments of the entire year - the lights are low - the congregation is singing Silent Night and everyone lifts their candle high into the air at the same moment.

When I rounded another corner to try to sneak back to my family, I walked into a sea of people. There were four rows of chairs set up in the narthex and people were sitting up the stairwells. It was an amazing sight to see. I do know that some people left because there was no room in the inn.

We went to George and Alice's house for pizza after church (tradition) and then Santa came during the night (actually before we went to bed - how did he manage that??). I love that we added another stocking this year - Scott!

After our immediate family opened our gifts, Mark's mother and brothers and sister-in-law and niece arrived. We ate breakfast together and opened gifts. Having a little one this year made everything so much fun. She loved her gifts and was so excited to play with those gifts.

We had to take a picture to text to the Delaware branch of the family. We weren't able to be together this year but we sent pictures!

Our day wasn't finished -- we headed to Mark's momma's house around 4:00 on Christmas day and prepared to have 40 people for dinner. She had people at the dining room table, the breakfast room table, and two tables in the den. Her theme this year was nutcrackers. I made the invitations for her and she mailed them out several weeks ago.

In the den, she also had a table for the little ones and didn't our little one look cute in her smocked dress? I bought it at the Junior League sale a few weeks ago.  I know that my daughter-in-law doesn't like smocked dresses but I am so thankful that she will let me buy her one every once in a while.

I took some days off this past week and one afternoon, Mark and I went over to see Emma and she loved playing with her pretend food and kitchen and grocery cart and baby doll.

Mark and I also ventured out shopping one day.  This is unheard of in the Elliott household :-). We bought a new mattress - woo hoo! You really wanted to know about that mattress, right? While we were out, he wandered into Joseph A. Banks and picked up some shirts at awesome day-after-Christmas-sale prices!

On Thursday, Laura came to Birmingham and we went shopping for her wedding dress and she said "YES" to the dress!

We enjoyed spending the day with family and friends (who are like family!). Aunt Alice treated all of us to lunch (Lauren had to go back to work). Laura has been such an easy bride-to-be. Now if I can just lose 20 more pounds, I'm going to go and buy a dress for ME  to wear to the wedding!!

Here we are on the last day of 2017. We are having friends over in a little while for steaks grilled outside (Mark is going to freeze while he cooks those steaks!). I'm sitting upstairs in my craft room wishing I could keep on these comfy clothes for the evening (I may keep on my furry slippers!!). Our friends probably wouldn't care if  I still was wearing yoga pants, a very old t-shirt, a sweatshirt jacket, striped socks, and slippers with deer on them . . would they?  I think I'll freshen up to welcome in the new year (we may have to move the clock forward so that we can say we made it until midnight!)

Happy New Year!