Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Thank God for Rainbows Hodgepodge


Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 404

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop over to From This Side of the Pond to add your link to the party. See you there!  

1. What's something we'd find you doing most afternoons? Due to covid, we've been closing the office at 4:00 each day and I actually feel like I have an "afternoon" because it is still daylight when we get off! I drive home and immediately put on comfy clothes. I usually start supper and then I go upstairs and ride the bike for 30 minutes. Sometimes I burn supper. Seriously. 

2. Who do you take after? In what way(s)? I look a lot like my mom. My Uncle Henry (now deceased) used to whisper in my ear every single time he saw me, "you look like your momma and I love you!" Since my mom died when I was 15, I have no idea whether I'm like her in actions or not. She had a strong faith in God and she did pass that on to me. I think I'm more like my daddy in regards to my temper. I can lose it in an instant and I don't like that about myself. I actually think I've picked up actions from my mother-in-law, too. I've been her daughter-in-law since 1984 and she has been my mother for all intents and purposes. I take after her in the kitchen because she taught me how to cook a lot of things. She, too, is a strong woman of faith much like my own mother.

3. 'After every storm comes a rainbow' or 'the calm before the storm'...which phrase do you relate to more right now? Tell us why? Surely there is a rainbow coming, right? Actually, yesterday was a pretty crappy day. We buried my aunt and a man literally fell out at the graveside service and had no heartbeat. The people standing near him did chest compressions and someone called 911 and all along, the funeral kept happening. They got his heart restarted and I don't know how he is doing now. I was pumped full of adrenaline when I drove back to the office and then I crashed around 3:00 so I started home. We hosted (via zoom) the young professionals group last night, as we've been doing for many years. My co-worker (who is an Old Testament scholar - really!) led the study (and it was excellent) but I could feel myself continuing to free fall. At the end of the session, one of our sweet young women asked if she could share the screen. The young adults had made a video for us thanking us for continuing on through the pandemic. They recorded themselves telling us how much we mean to them and that they thank us and love us. Let me just tell you -- a true rainbow after the storm. God uses people in the most amazing ways to let us know that he is still there - he is still with us - always.

4.What are your plans for the day after tomorrow? I'm assuming that you mean Friday? I'm going to work half a day and then I'm getting a much needed haircut and color!

5. Complete this sentence-"After all is said and done_____________________." After all is said and done, I still need Jesus. After all is said and done, my life is good and we are blessed. After all is said and done, I want Jesus to say to me, "well done good and faithful servant."

6. Insert your own random thought here. It has been too cold to walk outside so I've been walking on the treadmill every morning. I think I told y'all that I made a goal during the pandemic to exercise 365 days in a row. I think I'm on day 290+ at this point. This morning it was a balmy 44 degrees outside at 5:30 and I walked outside. Walking outside beats treadmill every day PLUS I got to see this.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday Stealing

I haven't participated in Sunday Stealing in a long time. Bev scours the blog world for questions and combines them for a fun Sunday blog post.

a. annoyance: people who make lots of chewing noise when they eat. I may be more annoyed at the fact that lately people seem to think that rules don't apply to them - especially traffic rules. Examples: There is a stop sign here - it is not for me! This is a no passing zone - well, I think I'll pass.

b. bestest friend (s): I met my friend, Phella, when my twins were 6 weeks old and we've been close friends ever since . . .and my twins are 34. I also have several other really close friends. There are four of us that normally meet for lunch once a month. Covid has screwed that up. I also love the other wives in our supper club. Covid has also messed that up! Then I have a couple of really close friends in the office plus a few other great friends. I feel truly blessed with friendships. I know most married people will say that their husband is their best friend and I will say that especially over the last few years Mark and I have become even closer. I can't imagine my life without him.

c. car: I bought a black Lincoln Nautilus a little over a year ago and I love it. Mark drives a black pick up truck.

d. day or night: I'm definitely not a night person. I think I'm a morning person, not necessarily a day person. We get up at 5:00 and before I arrive at the office at 8:30, I have exercised, usually completed at least one load of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, cooked breakfast (simple), packed a lunch, possibly done some meal prep toward dinner. I guess you now understand why I said morning, not necessarily day.

e. easiest person to talk to? this is a tough question because I have several folks that are easy to talk to in my life. (see b above)

f. favorite month: Maybe June? I have seasonal allergies and they usually get better in June plus my birthday is in June.

g. gummy bears or worms: I don't have a preference. My daughter-in-law and granddaughter love gummy bears so I'll go with that!

h. hair color: Naturally, my hair was very dark. I started getting a lot of gray hairs in my early 30's and started coloring it blond and my eyebrows are naturally very light and I have green eyes so blond works.

i. ice cream: homemade (custard cooked on the stove) vanilla

j. jewelry: I usually wear my engagement ring and wedding ring but I don't remember to wear them every day. I like lightweight earrings - usually something that is somewhat dangly (is dangly a word?)

k. kindergarten: I didn't go to kindergarten. I don't think we had public kindergarten in my hometown. I think that maybe you had to go to private and I imagine tuition of any kind wasn't in the family budget.

l. longest car ride: does a bus count? We drove across country to Denver for a church youth choir tour when my kids were in high school. It took 30+ hours and I have never been so happy to arrive in a place!!

m. most missed person: My mom died when I was 15 and my dad died when I was 25 and I would love to have some adult conversations with them. We've also lost a couple of close friends to cancer and sometimes I miss them so much that it is a physical discomfort.

n. number of siblings: I have two older sisters. One is 8 years older and the other is 13 years older.

o. one regret: I try to use "regrets" as lessons and learn something and move on. I will say that I regret telling my kids to "hurry" all of the time. I also regret some other choices from when my kids were growing up. I don't think I was a good mom all of the time. I think I yelled way too often and lost my temper when a calm and loving attitude would have worked wonders.

p. part of my appearance I like least: I used to hate my nose but I've finally decided it goes with my face. I don't like the loose skin in the middle of my body that remains after losing all of this weight but I'm not having skin removal or a tummy tuck at this age. I wish you had asked what part of my appearance I like - I like my smile and I like my eyes and I like the muscles in my legs!

q. quote: Mark and I have still been quoting Christmas vacation. We've had a cold snap here and one of the quotes is the one where Clark is at the counter in the store with the beautiful woman. I won't actually quote it because I don't want to offend anyone.

r. reality TV show: I'm sitting here watching Home Town right now and I really enjoy this show. Is that considered a reality show? Mark watches a couple of shows about living in Alaska and they are pretty interesting.

s. shoe: flip flops -- all of the time! I would truly wear them ALL of the TIME if possible.

t. time I woke up: Normally we get up at 5 but we actually slept until 6:30 this morning! 

u. unpredictable: the weather in Alabama! I have no idea what is unpredictable about me - my mood, perhaps?

v. vegetable I hate: beets!!

w. worst habits: I have too many to name! I think one of my worst habits is not listening enough - or maybe I should say that I'm listening but I'm forming my answer which then often causes me to interrupt the person who is talking. 

x. x-rays: A few years ago, I did a hop, skip, and a jump over a basket in my office and I felt like I had surely broken a hip. Brian (boss/senior pastor) drove me to the ER and I had an X-ray. It wasn't a broken hip but a torn hamstring. It was painful!

y. year I was born: I'm old - not as old as some!

z. zoom: yes! I've been using zoom since week 2 of the pandemic. I teach Sunday school via zoom and I facilitate on Tuesday nights via zoom. We have several meetings a week on Zoom calls.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue Hodgepodge!

Thanks to Joyce for the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then link up here to share your answers!

1. When were you last a guest at an event or in someone's home? Tell us about it. Do you enjoy having guests in your own home? I haven't been a guest in anyone's home since January or February pre-covid. I'm not counting family - we've been to our daughter's home and our son's home. We go eat with my mother-in-law every Sunday. These are the people in our bubble. We've been invited to sit on a neighbor's porch and a neighbor's back yard and we did that. Back in February when we were in Israel, we ate dinner in the home of a Palestinian family. We signed up pre-trip and paid the extra $'s. Our tour guide told us to meet up in front of the hotel at a certain time that evening and he told us that we would have a different tour guide. The appointed time arrived and we boarded the bus with a few folks we knew and some folks from another church located in our hometown with our hostess gifts in tow. We drove from Jerusalem to Bethlehem which requires crossing the border at night. The bus LITERALLY PULLED into a parking lot and there were several cars waiting. We were told to go get in the appointed car for our group WITH A TOTAL STRANGER IN ANOTHER COUNTRY. Y'all - I'm going to be honest. It was an unusual feeling. I kept telling myself that the tour company surely knew these people! We made small talk with our driver who took us to his parent's home. He actually lived nearby. We ate "upside down chicken" which is the national food of Palestinian families. I found this blog that describes it. I don't think ours had cauliflower in it. We sat around the table with a grandmother, her granddaughter, and the four of us. The grandfather came in and met us but he chose to eat in another room. She served fresh whole fruit for dessert and Mollie and I both had an orange and we both agree that it was the best orange we have ever eaten. Here we are in their home with the grandmother and daughter. Mollie brought them a t-shirt from our church. That was a memorable and eye opening dinner.
I do love to entertain in our home and this is one of the things I have missed so much during COVID. I love to have people around our dining room table.

2. What has you 'tied up in knots' currently or recently? Are you any good at tying actual knots? Knots are not my thing - ha! My emotions are tied up in knots this week due to the current political situation PLUS my sweet Aunt Faye died of COVID this week. I am so very thankful that she and I spent at least half an hour on the phone just a week and a half ago. She hadn't even been diagnosed at that time.

3. What's something you've been wanting to do and have decided 2021 will be the year you 'take the plunge'? I want to reach my goal weight. I've been doing WW (weight watchers) for several years (3) and have lost a lot of weight but I still need to lose the last 20 pounds. If I would get my butt in gear (actually, I exercise every day so another expression would be better) and eat exactly my points for the day and not any extras . . .I could do it.

4. Something in your home that's old? Something new? Something borrowed? Something blue? We have this really cool bookcase that we bought at a family estate sale back when we were dating. It was old then so it is really old now. Our coolest "old" thing is this door. Mark is refinishing it and will replace the glass panels with screen and the bottom panels with screen and we are going to use it on our screen porch. We know it is over 100 years old. Mark found the skeleton key that fit perfectly in his daddy's stash of stuff with a handwritten tag on it! I want to laminate the tag because his dad has been dead for many years and to have his handwriting is cool.

I shared our cute chair/bed with y'all last week and it is new and blue.
I'm sure I have something that is borrowed but I cannot think of what it might be. In the past, we have borrowed a rocking chair from my mother-in-law for when our youngest granddaughter spends the night but we have returned it.

5. Share a favorite quote, a verse of scripture, and/or a bit of wisdom for couples getting married in this challenging and seemingly unpredictable season we're currently/still experiencing.  Last year, a young couple from our Tuesday night group was to be married and before Lent, they asked their friends to send advice and they planned to discuss during the 40 days of Lent. Here is what I sent (first) and the second part is Mark's addition:

Here are some nuggets of wisdom from the Elliott household. I’m copying Mark on here in case he wants to add any wisdom from his perspective.

Never go to bed angry (really). If you can, at least come to a peaceable place before bed and finish working it out tomorrow.

Never discuss anything important after 9:00 p.m. Wait until daylight.

Get couples counseling when needed (I wish we had done this when we were young – things might have been easier).

Always remember the vows you make to each other and to God – those vows are until death do us part (yes – I know I was married before and divorced . . .but Mark has always been so good to remind me that we are in this for the long haul even when I started packing a suitcase many years ago).

Take care of your own spiritual health. If you need to get away for something like an Emmaus weekend, do it.

Know (in advance) that there are going to be some things that drive you totally nuts about your spouse.  

Find some couples (it is nice if they share your faith because you can always discuss things) that y’all both like and be intentional about hanging out together – do life together. Eat together once a month.

Be intentional about saving money (Mark did this for us and I am so glad because I’m horrible with money).

I’m sure there are a million other things that will come to me as soon as I hit send . . .know this – marriage is NOT easy for most of us but it is so worth it. I truly cannot imagine my life without Mark . .who always makes me laugh (that is important, too – laugh a lot!!)

From Mark

Don’t discuss important thing after 7:00 not 9:00.    If your spouse packs a suitcase tell them that they are not going anywhere because you both were  given a life sentence.  Ha Ha

Don’t call attention to little things you do not agree with but talk out the big things over a couple of beers.

Don’t spend time on social media when you are suppose to be spending time with your spouse.

Listen first and talk second.

I am not saying we do these all the time but it is a good goal to shoot for!!

6. Insert your own random thought here. It is so cold here (cold for Alabama!). Usually, our winters consist of a few cold days and then warm days and then rain and then cool again. We've been in a cold spell pretty much since Christmas. Yesterday, the high was 36. Today the high is 41. This morning we had frozen fog and it looked almost like snow on the ground. It looked like the heaviest frost I've ever seen. The weather man said we have also had graupel today! I borrowed this picture from our favorite local weatherman's facebook page -- this is what "rime ice" from frozen fog looks like!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Hodgepodge in a new year!

Thank you to Joyce for the questions this week. Answer on your own blog then hop back to her page to share answers with the world wide webbers. See you there! 

From this Side of the Pond
1. What advice would you give yourself as we begin this new year? I need to remind myself to keep my eyes on God - to not allow the things of this world to suck the joy right out of my life. My other advice to myself is to remember how good it feels to exercise every day. Back in late spring/early summer, I made a goal to exercise every day for 365 days. I've completed 277 days -- I ride the stationary recumbent bike at least 30 minutes and I walk a mile and a half every day. My advice is to keep going!!

2. If you could throw a themed party for yourself what would the theme be? I love a good party with margaritas and tacos and quesadillas and chips.

3. Tell us where you were and something about what life was like when you were 20- 21. I was newly divorced (yes, I made a huge mistake and married when I was 18). Back then, there were not many LGBTQ people in Alabama and my ex was a tortured soul trying to fit into a heterosexual world. We were married 18 months. At 20, I was working full time at South Central Bell (pre AT&T), going to UAB at night, and partying hard on Wednesday nights and Friday nights.

4. What's on the menu at your house this week? We had pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and veggies on Monday night and last night we had hamburger steak (93/7) with onions, broccoli, green beans, and carrots. I think I may drive through Chick-Fil-A tonight for salads!

5. What should you do more of this year? Less of? I need to keep reading and I need to spend less time scrolling on my phone at night. I need to be present with people when I'm with them. I need to do more listening and less talking and more exercise and less eating!

6. Insert your own random thought here. I love book recommendations and since last week's Hodgepodge, I have read The Dutch House and American Dirt. Thanks for the recommendations, Joyce!! I finished American Dirt last night and I did not want to put it down. It may be my all time favorite book. I enjoyed The Dutch House but I'm glad I read it first.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Christmas 2020

I originally started this blog because I needed a way to remember life - good and bad - and to write down the bajillion thoughts that popcorn around in my head. I wrote the first post on June 4, 2009. For a while, I blogged often and there have also been times where I've stopped writing all together. The pandemic has actually given me more time to stop and think and jot down a few thoughts. I wanted to take just a few minutes to remember this Christmas. Our granddaughters are so cute right now and I want to remember!

Even though Christmas 2020 was different in many ways, there were some wonderful moments. We decided to go ahead and celebrate with my mother-in-law, who is 95, BUT DO NOT LET HER KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THAT FACT! We stayed away from her for several weeks back in the shut down but she was so lonely that she begged us to come. We've seen her every week at Sunday lunch - yes, she still cooks for her family. Mark has lunch with her one day a week and I've been dropping off Wednesday night suppers from the church when our chef has prepared them. Mark's twin brother goes and checks on her every morning and every afternoon.
We decided that we could safely (hopefully) celebrate with her. We met at her house before lunch on Christmas day and ate lots of good food that we all prepared. We opened presents.

Evie with her new baby doll from great
grandmother - she was rocking the baby!

Emma was sweet - I'm not sure what she is
opening in this photo

My son's favorite family tradition is
this one. The family plays croquet
on Christmas day! My mother-in-law has
a large flat front yard and we've been 
playing all these years. This was THE
COLDEST game of croquet ever. I didn't play
because I was supposed to rock Evie and put 
her down for a nap . . .but yes -- that is Evie
in the cute red coat. Naps didn't happen
on Christmas day. There was too
much going on to sleep!

Emma played this year! Our son-in-law had never
played croquet BUT he plays golf. He whacked it
so hard on his first swing that he broke the
mallet!! Everyone is still chuckling about
his swing!

It is rare to get a photo of the two
of them together since they
live in two different cities.

Emma usually has Pops all to herself and she 
wasn't thrilled with the fact that she
had to share Pops with Evie BUT she
was very sweet. These little girls
love their Pops so very much and
he loves them right back!! If you ask
Emma, "who is the best Barbie player?" 
Her answer is, "pops!" He tells these
wonderful stories and the barbies
act them out!

We celebrated with our children/grandchildren on
December 26. We've done that two years now and
it really works. I hope we can continue that tradition. 
Watching the "kids" (all ages!) open their gifts is much fun.
We had lunch together after opening gifts.

Not only was there some jealousy between
the girls, but Harvey is usually in either
my lap or Mark's lap and there was
someone else in Mark's lap!

We have multiple parks in our neighborhood
and after lunch, they all loaded up in the
golf cart and went to Emma's favorite 
park. No one texted any pictures of Emma to me!
She likes this park because
there is "bigger" kid stuff.  She was probably
in constant motion so there may not be any
photos of her!! Thank goodness
for little swings, too. It was a cold day again!!

We always eat the leftovers on the Sunday
following Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Laura and Scott and Evie were able
to stay through lunch and we were able
to snap a photo of the oldest and the
youngest together. This is such a special


Kick 2020 out the door!

 Thanks to Joyce at From This Side of the Pond for the questions. Copy the questions and answer and link up!

1. Tell us about your favorite moment or share one of the bright spots from the year we're leaving behind. There are probably many good moments and bright spots from this crazy year but one of my favorites is the fact that I know many more neighbors by name! I'm taking a few days off this week and when I was out walking today (it was 62 degrees with sunshine!), I spoke to numerous people and called them by name! I didn't know them before the pandemic. When I worked from home (mid March through the end of May), I walked for 10 minutes every day after I ate my lunch. I had a short little route around our circle and down a few blocks and back. I met so many people! I've expanded that walk to a larger area in our neighborhood and it feels good to be known and to know others.

2. What do you wish you'd known at the start of 2020? Elaborate. I hope I'm always learning and growing and 2020 has certainly required learning and growing. I wish I had known that I needed to spend every moment I could with friends because we miss our friends! I'm going to be honest. If you had told me that we couldn't hang out and have supper club or have friends over, I wouldn't have believed you. Even in mid-March, I truly thought it was going to be over in a couple of weeks.

3. Best book you read this year? If you did not read any books this year, what's the best thing you ate all year? We've all eaten, right? I have read SOOO many books this year! I enjoyed Fannie Flagg's newest book - The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop (I live in Alabama!). Some of my favorites were All The Light We Cannot See and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. How about The Girl with the Louding Voice?? I liked The Giver of Stars, too. I read some more books by James Patterson and some by John Grisham. Oh my goodness -- have you read Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral. Ok - I should be embarrassed. I did it again. You asked for one book and I told you about a WHOLE bunch of books. I also read some wonderful and silly cozy mysteries - they are my secret reading pleasure. I've read over 100 books this year for pleasure. I'm not counting the Bible, commentaries and books I've read in order to facilitate on Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings. 

What is the best thing I ate this year? I can't answer that with one thing either! I had falafel straight out of the grease in the Old City of Jerusalem and it was DELICIOUS.

 I had lots of wonderful hummus and pita bread, too, and an orange at a home in Palestine that was divine! 

We've been ordering meat from Evan's Meats - a local company in town that usually sells to restaurants. Due to the pandemic, they have opened up to the public. You can go online and order and pay and then drive through and they will load the meat in the back of your car - contactless pick up! We've had some amazing filets and I've eaten my weight in Alabama shrimp since March.

4. The Pantone Colors of the year for 2021 are ultimate gray and illuminating yellow (a bright shade)...are you a fan? Would we find either of these colors in your home or wardrobe? When we purchased our home, the decorator wanted to show me all of the gray paint chips. I think it looks lovely in someone else's home but I think I would begin to feel "gray" if I lived in it all of the time. Illuminating yellow sounds fun and to be honest, it probably looks great with the gray. I have a small yellow sofa in our loft area upstairs and some yellow pillows and a yellow throw. I don't think they are "illuminating yellow" though.

5. If you were/are making a list of 21 things to do/accomplish in 2021 what is one thing that would be on it? Dadgum - I am not doing well with these "one thing" questions. I want to travel. I want to be with friends. I want to sit around our dining room table with friends and family and laugh until I hurt! I want to be back in fellowship with our church family. I want to kneel at the altar rail and take communion the real way - not from a disposable "peel the lid" cup. I want to eat at Hot and Hot Fish Club (wonderful local restaurant with an award winning chef). I want to hug people (and I'm not a hugger!).

6. Insert your own random thought here. Many years ago, I felt like God was calling me to the foreign mission field. I applied through the denomination where I had grown up and I was rejected because I was divorced. "Man" might not have thought me worthy to spread the gospel but God had other plans. Today I was reminded of the fact that we are all called to the priesthood of believers - we are all called to be ministers in different ways. I love when you finish something and you realize that God was right smack in the middle!

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood . . .but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter Chapter 2)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Random Christmas Eve 2020

Isn't this an unusual year? Normally, we would have attended church tonight and celebrated with pizza with family after church. Instead Mark and I took his mom to drive-through communion at 1:00. My mother-in-law kept asking us if the wafer was to be eaten. She kept saying that it tasted like paper. Yes, Gmom . . .it does indeed taste like paper! We then watched the pre-recorded Christmas Eve service at 4:00, the livestream of the service at 6:00

and then we rewatched the Contact Christmas service from Sunday night (our contemporary service). While we watched we sipped some Bailey's. Yes, it is indeed a strange Christmas. Now Christmas Vacation is on! I worked a couple of hours this morning and this afternoon (after communion), I made cookies (M&M cookie recipe from The Turquoise Table - which I am reading).

 and Cherry Polenta Cake (except we used blackberries). The "cake" is very similar to a clafoutis and has an "egg custard" taste. Mark loved it!

We watched Chef Symon and his wife make this recipe the other night and both wanted to try it! 

We've texted and talked with some out of state family. We've texted with some friends. We've had several thoughtful gifts dropped off on our porch today from bourbon balls (Mark's favorite) to popcorn to warm socks.

Santa just drove by on the firetruck (that is a normal thing!!). Of course, I ran outside and took a quick picture and you can't see Santa - I'm thinking that he is inside the firetruck because it is so cold here. The firetruck was moving rapidly - I imagine those firefighters were cold and tired  - it was almost 9 p.m. and they had been driving around for hours!

Last night (Christmas Eve Eve), I finished decorating our dining room table. I've never been a "flower arranger" but right before the pandemic I went to a wonderful women's conference and one of the breakout sessions was flower arranging. I know this sounds totally stupid but I have always thought I could NOT arrange flowers. I wouldn't even attempt it. I made one arrangement in the breakout session and for some reason it gave me enough confidence to try several things this year. I'm never going to be an expert and don't aspire to be . . .but if I can decorate my mailbox or my dining room table, I'm happy!

So how was your Christmas Eve? Did you do what you've always done?