Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 The Year of Proceed


Instead of doing New Year's Resolutions I have been doing the One Word thing.  It cuts out a lot of the clutter and discouragement that resolutions bring in about, oh I don't know, February.  The word I picked for 2013, Proceed.  I did the work and whittled down my choice to proceed and progress and as you now know, proceed won.  It was a good word that really describes the year.  I proceeded from maintaining the status quo with my heart to actually feeling good and more energetic after the ablation in March.  Then on August 31 I had a monitor put inside my chest that reads the beats and relays them to the doctor office.  Once I proceeded in this area, I proceeded to the Orthopedic and began the injections and meds regimen to bring relief from constant knee pain.  

Spiritually, I proceeded in abiding in the Word and making it my constant source for life.  Facilitating a group in Community Bible Study has brought such joy and discipline.  Being able to do things in my spiritual giftings combined with natural talent given by God has brought much contentment and purpose to me in this year.  Asked to speak and teach, to laugh and write by other strong and confident women has been so encouraging but along with the encouragement are the challenges given to make me strive in knowing Him. 

Relationally, I have proceeded to keep away from the presence of those who I will never ever be able to please or those who have to be paid by undying allegiance to receive any type of blessing or favor.  We all have toxic people in our lives and these toxic people may not be toxic to others or maybe we have found ourselves in the role of toxic person number one.  Graciously, the freedom from these toxic, insecure people and being able to proceed in life has been welcoming, healing, freeing and relieving. 

2013 found me proceeding into more reading and creativity of expressing thoughts and ideas. 

This year held in it various trips and travels.  The year began in Israel and the year will end in Rancho De Five.  And that is good.  I was able to visit Biltmore three times this year, I've never done that before.  Conferences and training came too in these days of trips and travels.  There are those relaxing drives to Brenham to see a good friend, Mimi. 

2013 was a year of reunions and finding friends from long ago and going on like years of time had not gone by.  It was a year of making new friends and becoming friends with those so opposite of me.  The year has blessed me with three good friends moving out to the Rancho De Five area, Emily, Dena and Dana.  And of course my partner in crime being so close by is a blast. 

Roy and I proceeded to make several major decisions this year.  We spent a lot more time together and aren't mad that we did.  :)  We proceeded to love and honor one another and want the best for each other in 2013 and beyond.  We proceed to make plans for the years ahead after Roy joins me in retirement. 

2013 brought many opportunities to proceed in thanksgiving and gratefulness.  Gratitude and generosity. 

I know many who are so thankful to have this year be finally over.  This year has held more than enough hurt, misunderstandings, lost opportunities, loss and pain for many but 2013 will always hold a special place in my memory of days gone by.  2013 and the word for the year, proceed, brought me much contentment.  I think this year has been one of the most contended years of my life.  And for this I am thankful, for this I am blessed. 

On our trip, I had a lot of time to think and pray for the One Word for 2014.  The One Word came to me out of the blue, it wasn't even in the top five.  When I saw the word in an article, it jumped out at me.  I researched all the meanings and the forward direction and look it possessed.  I'll reveal it later this week and no, the word is not Nordstrom. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meeting Up With Nancy, Megan and Erin

The Christmas/New Year season is beginning to wind down.  We began phase one of packing away outdoors Christmas decorations and lights.  I will begin in earnest putting away Christmas inside stuff tomorrow.  But, we had one more fun day to experience before turning our attention to packing up Christmas, Roy's return to the office and back to a regular schedule for me beginning next week.  This morning we drove out to Kingwood to meet Nancy, Megan and Erin at the Cracker Barrel.  Who knew that Kingwood had a CB?  Well, I guess Nancy did because she suggested it as our meeting point.  We were so grateful that this worked out since we had been out of town and they are heading back home today.  In fact, they should be almost there.  We think our server thought we all might just be a little crazy, crazy fun!  Erin takes after her Aunt Foo Foo with her sense of humor, quick on the feet type thinking and her ability to "work" an on going story.  Erin and I share our favorite phrase...moments, memories, mmmmmmm......  What has become one of our favorite things to do, moments, memories... came from a person who is skilled in stating the obvious. This person will say something so mundane and banal, kind of like the GEICO commercial where they say, everyone knows that, and this person does the pause after saying something obvious for that dramatic effect.  I was on the way to meet the girls several years ago for a Nordstrom fun day.  I happened to be on the phone with this person and they said to me, "Nancy, you are making memories."  Well duh!  Of course we were and when I told the girls at lunch that day about that statement, complete with dramatic pause, we cracked up.  So Erin and I began framing and picturing memories...to make memories.  We drive Megan crazy with it but I don't know why she feels this way.  Megan will be graduating from Rhodes in May.  Girl got to be smart to graduate on the four year plan.  She works at the Metal Museum, Google it, in Memphis.  We got to see a picture of one of her first commissioned works of art.  Beautiful, I might add and of course I felt it was appropriate, to show her my Christmas Buzzard so she would know where her artistic talent came from.  
 Roy and I found these great ornaments on our trip.  You probably can't see it in the picture but Erin's ornament says, I'm the Normal One.  Megan's says, I'm the Smart One.  Nancy's says, I'm the Wicked One. 
 Of course we do not think she is wicked, yet it is hard for us to understand why she doesn't want to celebrate Bloody assassination of Caesar Day in March and insists that day should be known for her birthday. 
 A lovely picture of Erin and Megan
A thoughtful gentleman at the CB volunteered to take a picture for us and he thought it would be lovely to pose in front of the fireplace. 

Our time was short but it was so much fun.  Nancy just called to let me know she has tried to use the trip to de-brief the girls from my influence.  On the contrary, she was not successful. 

I wore my new boots this morning.  This is the year of plaid and boots for me.  When I put them on, the left boot felt tight and uncomfortable.  That is so unusual because Born boots and shoes fit like a glove and don't need a lot of breaking in.  Right before we left I made the decision to look into what might be causing the pain...uh, yea, I hadn't taken out the plastic insert.  That would cause pain and comfortableness. 

On our way home we stopped by Kroger and got a few things, then came home to put our purchases away and pick up shirts to take to the cleaners.  After we did that, Roy and I took a ride on the wild side....we drove on the new part of the Grand Parkway. 

This is us on Waze.  As you can see GPS doesn't even have 99 on the map.  We stopped in at T Jin's for lunch and headed home.  I think all the fun, driving, laughing, late nights and early mornings caught up with me this afternoon because all my plans were shelved due to my long two hour nap and the groggy hour afterward trying to wake up.  I don't think I will have trouble falling asleep tonight. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Depart, But We Will Be Back

We are home!  We love to go but even more so, we like to return.  Buddy was thrilled when I walked through the door, even forgoing the usual "I'll ignore you for a while attitude."  In fact, she let me pick her up and walk about the house with her.  She lets Roy do that, but I think she knows what an unsure journey it will be with me.  I cannot say enough good about our house and Buddy sitter, Katie D.  She is a thoughtful and kind sitter, sister and daughter.

On Friday morning, we said our goodbyes to Edward and a fond farewell to Biltmore.  Our week was everything and more.  Roy and I relaxed and we did a lot of reading by the fireplace.  Not that we can't do that at home and we have beautiful scenery here too but not the mountains and no one refers to us as the Monarch Party.  We were able to return to Black Mountain and Montreat but because of the cold temperatures and our uncertainty in winter precip, we hung around the house and the Inn quite a bit.  I didn't even do as much shopping.   I loved our room.  We were not able to get a mountain-view this trip but I think I would exchange the view, because we had an okay view, for the spaciousness of the room.  It truly felt like being a princess in a tower because we didn't have rooms beside us.  Only the bathroom wall connected with another room.  The first night we were there Roy heard an argument going on in the bathroom next door. 
 That is room 701 at the very top, but itself.
Here is a closer view
You didn't feel like you were on top of one another in the evenings.  I could sit in the chair with the ottoman and Roy was clear across the room, with the TV turned to his chair.  Even then there were several nights he didn't even turn on the TV because we were both engrossed with our books.  When something exciting happened in the stories we were reading, we would stop and tell the other one what we had just read.  So it was like having two books going.  Yes, we are such nerds, such book nerds.  The valet man that Dena and I have named Scrumptious, seemed to be the valet that brought Sequisha around.  Ah, such eye candy and he remembered me from other trips.  So it would be fitting that Scrumptious brought us Sequisha for our journey homeward.  Roy had gone back in the lobby to get a cup of coffee and I noticed that a light on the dashboard was on, one I hadn't seen before.  I am going through the car manual trying to figure out what the heck was wrong.  As we discussed options on the drive out, we were once again treated to the sight of deer and wild turkeys that welcomed us on our Saturday arrival, out in the fields once again on our departure.  Roy was able to get some pictures this time.  North and South Carolina wildlife agencies came to the Biltmore to ask if the near extinct wild turkeys of the area could be put on the estate in hopes of replenishing their numbers.  Like all things both wildlife and human, once you arrive, you don't want to leave.  The wild turkeys are doing quite well in reestablishing their numbers.  The geese that have found the Biltmore fields and waters, don't fly further south for the winters.  They arrived and took up residence.  The deer must know they are in a safe zone except every once in a while, they do have to cull the herds and that is hunter talk for kill.  Doesn't cull sound so much nicer? 
Back to the eventful departure....Roy realized the gauge was merely low tire pressure in one or all tires.  So in 19 degree temps, we stopped at a station and began putting air in the tires.  Neither one of us is good at this kind of stuff and while I was searching the car for plenteous quarters, since I knew we would not get all the tires done in one 75 cents worth, I figured Roy was reading the directions of the air deal.  Ha!  Men don't read directions.  Dang, it was cold and it took quite a bit of time for my fingers to have feeling again.  We were able to get the tires taken care of on two 75 cent worth.  Our start on the road was delayed by about 30 minutes, yes that is how good we are at this stuff, and we were back on the road.  We didn't have a time schedule in mind which is a good thing because neither of us pulled out the saying of long ago, "we've got to make good time."  We went through Chattanooga later than usual and hit all kinds of traffic but once we were in Alabama, the traffic let up and driving through those now familiar cities, B'ham, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Jackson, Brookhaven, McComb....well you get the picture, went quite fast. No, I wasn't speeding.  We stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, that I don't think I will ever stay in again.  You feel like it is one of those places where you check in but don't check out.  Saturday morning was a rainy one and we had opted to get on down the road and make a CB breakfast stop, rather than eat at the scary Holiday Inn.  As we left the clerk at the front desk asked us if we were going to eat or at least get coffee.  I said, let us get our bags in the car.  But we did not go back in.  I think that particular location runs on a shoe string budget.  Our room smelled so musty from the lack of air circulation. 
I must leave this mesmerizing post now.  Always so much to get done to get back into the groove but this time, Christmas decorations add a little more to the mix. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Now It's Time to Say Goodbye....

Cue Sound of Music...The hills are alive but I conquered one today by climb every hillside...  Anyway, I'm back from my hill adventure with energy to spare.  If I were to show the picture of this little hill, you would be so disappointed to know I haven't been able to walk up it for more years than I would rather admit.  I didn't get winded only stopped once because I lost my balance.  Roy took lots of pictures, so I will post some when we get home.  Speaking of home, I have been so good and haven't text Katie until today letting her know our plans.  Buddy has been good, so that is a relief.  I know Buddy has been much happier at home rather being at "camp."

We have had a wonderful day.  Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we had breakfast.  Then we scored primo chairs in the lobby and then scored the couch in front of the fireplace.  The lobby was organized chaos at its best.   The girl that did the turn down service last night told us that yesterday was a banner day at the Inn, no one checked out and no one checked in.  The Inn was completely 100% full.   By the look of things, most people checked out this morning.  This afternoon looks like a lot of people are checking in.  Thanksgiving through New Years is the busiest time of the year and January through April is the slowest.  I think I could totally come back here in January and enjoy the leisure pace.  We both have done a lot of reading this trip.  Roy has read two novels and just downloaded another one onto his Kindle.  He rarely has time anymore to do that kind of reading.  I also think he is more apt to watch TV at home rather than read.  We have both come to the conclusion that having the TV on as background noise sucks hours and hours of time that could be spent more productively.  

Yesterday, I talked with a man on the elevator.  I asked how his Christmas had been and his face radiated joy because he said this had been the best Christmas in a whole lot of years.  He remarked that he and his family were going to come back again, he was sold on the place.  Biltmore does do things right.

Edward was back at work today and we were able to visit with him briefly.  He is such a joy and has great stories.  He was upset with the table we'd been seated at but we liked it.  We had a wonderful view of the mountains and the vibrant colors of the morning.

It's that time to pull out the suitcases and begin to put things together for the trip home.  It is always sad to leave here and return to the real world, but our real world is not a bad thing to return to.  All the road time will give me a chance to think through my One Word for 2014.  Also a few stops at some CB to see what Christmas markdowns are left.  And as always Roy and I discussing and solving all the world's problems.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.  The sun is bright and the air has a chill but it is managable with the right amount of coats, scarves and hats.  Oh yes, gloves.  How could I forget gloves?  We started our day with breakfast and had a windowseat to the beauty that is the Smokey Mountains.  Truly, they were fog encased as the sun rise caused a pinkish hue coming from behind the mountain tops.  I have seen this many times in photos or in paintings but I had never experinced this until today.  Roy was able to get out before breakfast and take photos of the majestic sunrise.  It was strange having an Edward-less breakfast but he had the day off to spend with his family.  After breakfast, we decided to read and have tea in the lobby.  The only chairs open were those with the direct sunlight but that didin't matter to us.  We had secured our spots, the tea was close by and we both are reading books that have our attention.  Once again, being in a large public area, one cannot but overhear conversations.  Miffed family members waiting on the ones who are always late were quite plentious.  Phone conversations from the grandchildren that all sounded alike...what did Santa bring?  Did you like what we sent you?  One very stately, very proper Southern grand dame held court in the chair across from us.  She, still living in a world of long ago where new clothes from Grandmother were looked forward to by young girls.  It was a right of passage to have your clothes from a certain, proper store that sold quality goods but the one sided conversation and responce  of Grammy seemed to tell the story that what she had chosen wasn't really this granddaughters style.  At the conclusion of her conversations with each grandchild, she revealed that they were each getting their own magazine subscription that would come each month.  The magazine would be filled with games, questions and stories and they could remember their grandmother once a month when it arrived.  No one seemed too interested in that either and before she could ask to speak again to their mother, that last child hung up on her.  Her resolve wavered for a little second but she picked up her book and read until her gentleman friend came to escort her over to tour the Biltmore House.  The couple that we saw last night at the Christmas carol sing were sitting near us in the lobby.  It is obvious that the wife has cancer.  Her husband devotes his full attention to her even while she read the newspaper.  They decided that she was up to a little walk around outside and she gathered her scarve a little closer to her neck, adjusted the hat that slipped a little because there wasn't any hair to help hold it in place and said to her husband that she wanted to take it all in.  She wanted to experience all that she could possibly have the strength to do because she knew this would be her last visit to the Biltmore.  She wanted it to be special and to keep with her in the upcoming difficult days that awaited.  People came and went, sat and read and admired the tree.  We sat there totally content to be sitting near one another, thankful for one another and doing what we wanted to do, relax and read.  Not to be scheduled.  Not having to rush here and there, not to have to please the unpleasable.  It stuck me that maybe we were in observation just like these others had been to me.  What were they thinking?  Did they wonder what is their story.  How come no one had come to rouse us off the couch onto the next activity.  Did people feel sorry for us?  The quiet couple sitting there now having moved from hot tea to the Diet Coke portion of the day.  We spoke to each other in low tones, so there wasn't a clue that they could take.  Maybe no one noticed that we sat there the greater part of the morning and a little into the afternoon.  But I am content and happy, no joyful.

Roy has gone into the balmy 32 degree afternoon to take photos.  We have dinner reservations, well not dinner but late lunch reservation at 4:30.  Last night was the fancy dinner and today is the fancy buffet.  Actually, Roy has just now returned with wassail and the dress up report for the buffet.  Still have to dress up, we were hoping for a little bit of a dress down but what were we thinking, we are in south.  Tomorrow we will still try to see a few more things and then begin to wrap things up here and start for home Friday morning.  This has been a nice reprieve .  Our drive back will not be done at the same pace of our trip here.  We might make a few stops here and there.

Like I said, we had the fancy dinner last night.  The Inn knows how to create a mood, that's for sure.  The funny thing is, all the fancy smancy stuff is kind of wasted on us.  I accidentally took a bite of some kind of roasted Brussels sprout that was an accompaniment to the filet minion.  I don't like sprouts but of all the ones I have had to eat as a child, this one was the best one.  That is not saying much.  I had an appetizer of blue crab gnocchi  and an estate green salad.  Everything was really local.  After dinner we went upstairs to check out the Christmas caroling.  The lady leading it was enthusiastic but it's hard to get everyone between kids and drunks to sing.  She also needed a pianist.  I gave it the old college try but after singing 55 verses to We Three Kings, 52 of them I had never heard of, I gave up.

For a couple of hours there was snow.  None of it stuck, so there wasn't any snow on snow.  Related to snow on snow, I have heard In the Bleak Mid Winter more times this year than in any year past.  Much be a fav up here.  Oh, and Shepherd's Pipe Carol.  I mean you might here it once or twice but we have heard it everyday.  I still say the altos kind of got the short end on that song.

Hope you have had a wonderful Christmas Day.  We have, that's for sure.  Hoping to hear Merry Christmas Darling one more time before the day is over.  Then the countdown begins next year CourtneyS.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Day

Here we are in Asheville where it is 30 degrees and the windchill is 18.  For a most joyous time this afternoon, little flakes of snow descended onto the trees and cars and ground.  It didn't stick but the snow added that little bit of Christmas into the day.  We tried to get a few pictures of it, but weren't successful.

Our Christmas Eve Day started early.  After seeing and experiencing full shuttles last night after dinner trying to get to house for the candlelight tour, we decided that in order to get done what we had planned, we needed to start off when most of the Inn's guests are sleeping.  This place is packed! There is no room in the Inn.  We had an early breakfast and then executed our plan of taking the first shuttle over to the house.  Roy went through Biltmore and I went shopping before the hoards decended.   I was disappointed to learn the white chocolate covered pretzels that we love were all gone and they won't have any for a couple of weeks.  My sadness turned to joy when I found sugar free candy sticks.  I had bought some in May and loved them.  When we came in September, they were out, but Christmas miracle, they had three jars...and I bought them all.   Roy and I finished up at the house at the same time, so we came back to the Inn only to turn around and leave via our car to Antler Hill Village.  It is on the estate but the full shuttles persuaded us to drive.  Again, Roy took pictures while I shopped in Traditions.  About 45 minutes later I picked up frozen Roy by the farm and we drove around a little on the estate until he warmed up a bit.  The sheep were grazing again today, so he got out and took a few more pictures for me.  We've been back at the Inn enjoying a relaxing afternoon.  I am wassailing this afternoon and Roy is having a bit of both, eggnog and wassail.  Our dinner reservations are for 6:30 in the dinning room.  So, we won't have to get out and brave the cold this evening.  At 8:00 in the library, everyone is invited to sing Christmas carols together,  Santa will be here tomorrow in the lobby and a candy counter will be set up at 6:00 tomorrow evening.  The Inn knows how to do things right.  There are a lot of families here but there also is a good representation of those of us without children or family ties.  On the shuttle you get to hear and not by choice conversations.  On the shuttle this morning a family that is supposed to be in Memphis by church service time isn't going to make it on time.  They decided as a family to spend a little more time around the Biltmore before heading over to Memphis.  In fact, they called the grandmother to let her to know of their delay.  From this side of the conversation, she didn't sound too happy about it but not because she wouldn't see them soon or that she has missed them, she was more concerned they were going to miss the church service.  The family discussed among themselves extended family that would be or not be in attendance at the grandmother's home.  By their manner and dress and conversations, it didn't seem they were heading for a Christmas in a double wide or out in the burbs.  These people discussing all the particulars had accents that dripped honey and magnolia.  I could only imagine that they were going to a grand house full of  everything one could ever want.  The mother talked of gifts she had purchased in Austria for the family and upon learning that a lonely, longtime friend of the family was eating Christmas dinner with the family, put her in a dither that she'd need to purchase a gift for them before arriving, late, to Memphis, attending church in their travel clothes to make the grandmother happy, yet they knew she would be upset that they hadn't changed into church clothes before arriving.

Because only the buffet was offered this morning at breakfast, we got to see a little more of Edward.  He is in charge of the menu items.  We brought him a little Christmas gift from us and Dena.  He was so surprised and so overwhelmed.  He is such a fine young man who loves The Lord, his wife and his children.  To help pay off his car quicker and to be able to do some extra Christmas giving  to people in need, he has taken on a second job.  He cleans 23 bathrooms in a building full of Doctors.

Yesterday, we drove a little on the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopped at the Welcome Center and went to the Folk Art Center.  There are so many beautiful artisan crafts and pottery but the display lights send me into hot flash overload.  Roy looked at me and saw sweat running down my face.  With the meds I am on, it doesn't take much....  Then we went back to Black Mountain and Montreat.  Checked in at the Church of the Prodigal and got the ok for about another 40,000 miles.  We also enjoyed a delicious lunch of fatted calf while we were there.  While Roy was wandering about taking pictures, I got to be up close and personal to a make out session in the front seat of a jeep.  We were on the campus of Montreat College, so I assumed, ah, college life.  But Roy told me later he thought it was an older couple in a secret meeting.  Man, he should have run up to the car window and taken a picture.  I mean really, they hadn't selected a secluded spot.  Guess they were more horny than smart.

Christmas celebrations are made of those things that sound good at the time but realistically, isn't that great of an idea.  On Christmas night it is fun to drive around to watch others looking for something to do or looking for something that helps them escape from all that family love.  I wonder what the percentage is really of families that really want to be together for all that time.  If you come from a family with control issues or passive aggressive issues or anger issues or just about any issues, you know you are going to run smack dab into those issues or maybe you are the one with the issues that complicate familial relationships.  There should be some good family watching in the lobby about this time tomorrow.  Too bad the celebration of Jesus' birth is the catalyst for so many unhappy moments.  His coming is the best news for those unhappy moments.

Well, I have a book to occupy me until it is time to get ready for Christmas Eve dinner.  Merry Christmas friends!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in the Mountains

Greetings from rainy and foggy North Carolina.  Even the rain cannot diminish the joy of being here at my happy place.  We did all our hard driving on Friday and made it to Chattanooga around 7:30 pm.  Our day began at 3:00 am and we were on the road by 4:15 am.  We stopped for lunch and breakfast at CB.  The weather wasn't too bad on the way up and thankfully so.  When we went in September we had hour after hour of hard rain to deal with.  Once we got everything into our room in Chattanooga we walked over to a Mexican restaurant that we like.  Even though I made some hot chocolate when we got back to the room, it didn't hinder me from falling right to sleep once my head hit the pillow.

Since the rain wasn't too bad and the temps were moderate, we were able to take the back way to Asheville which is a scenic drive.  Because of the weather we didn't stop at the usual spots to take pictures and it was our fastest time getting to Bryson City.  There is a gallery there that we like and we usually come through on Sundays and they are closed.  We had a delightful time with Jennifer, the agent that represents Charles Heath and she was in a holly jolly mood so Roy was able to negotiate prices on the different pieces we purchased.   Across the street was the local diner and we had lunch there.  Then we hit the road but stopped in Waynesville to go through the Mast General store.  We picked up a few winter things on sale and we continued on our way.  But first, we had to make another stop at the DQ in Canton.  Dena has told us how good the candy cane blizzard is, so we had to give it a try.  Oh yes!  It was the bomb or the bliz.  After the September run in at the check in point, I was very cautious and got through with nary a scratch.  When we made the right hand turn to the approach road, the fields were filled with wild turkeys and deer.  What a beautiful sight.  I love it when we first pull in at the Inn.  We have lots of days ahead but it is so sad on the last day when we bid our goodbyes until the next time.

We are not usually here on Saturday nights and we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies in contrast to the well dressed and well heeled crowd languidly adorning the lobby with drinks in hand.  Friday and Saturdays are little more well dressed because of weddings and such.  This morning at breakfast everything returned back to normal in a relaxed style.  It was so good to taste those Biltmore cheese grits once again.  After breakfast we went to the library for a little more coffee and the couch in front of the fireplace wasn't occupied.  So we read the paper and drank coffee as the rain continued to drench everything and everyone in it.  We thought we were going to be so smart and head into downtown Asheville to go to Malaprop's Bookstore.  I love this bookshop just about as much as I love Square Books in Oxford, MS.  Maybe I like it even a little more.  Maybe everyone else had this same idea because downtown was crowded and parking spaces were at a premium.  I took a lot of time in the bookstore and did not come home empty handed.  Roy got a couple of books but he mainly stayed in the coffee shop area drinking hot chocolate.   We tried to go to the Mast store in Asheville and even drove around the block several times, but nothing opened up except the heavens with harder rain, so we drove on back toward Biltmore Village.  We walked around and looked in at a few shops.  We also ate a great place in the village and then headed back to the friendly confines of the estate.

You would think that being in such a beautiful place the Christmas spirit of peace would be abundantly in supply.  Sadly no.  This is our second visit at Christmas, we've been here at Thanksgiving and spring and fall and in any of those visits there hasn't been a creature stirring not even a mouse but at Christmas we have been next door to two spectacular fights.  The one in 2010, the Biltmore police had to be brought in to stop the way over the limit drunk husband from yelling and screaming and threatening.  Last night the couple in the next room were arguing in the bathroom which acts like a megaphone or something.  Once again the husband was drunk and he wasn't none too pleased with his wife.  Even in such a pastoral setting, the pressure of being merry and bright overwhelms.  Probably lots of wild turkey involved but not the same as those turkeys eating in the fields.  Around here and in Biltmore Village, Christmas is in the air, lots of outdoor decorations and inside as well.  There wasn't one Christmas decoration in downtown Asheville.  Nothing draped across the streets, no wreaths on the light posts...nothing.  There was an editorial in the newspaper today bemoaning the changes that Asheville residents have let happen in who they vote for and whose agenda is being proclaimed the loudest as winter solstice is the more celebrated of the holidays.   It doesn't matter if you are surrounded with the decorations of the season or in a place where Christmas is proclaimed because if you aren't proclaiming Christ, there isn't peace.  There isn't joy, there is a lot of looking like and acting like life is good and everyone is happy.  It was a great sermon preached to my heart without the benefit of a pastor.

Well, these books need to be perused and read.  Roy has been asleep but is going to make a walk through the lobby to see if it is time for wassail and gingerbread men.  Dinner is at Cedric's Tavern tonight in Antler Hill Village.  We are contemplating where and what we will do tomorrow as the rain is supposed to end by afternoon.  There are a couple of places we like to go to on the Blue Ridge Parkway and since Tuesday is looking like a cold and sunny day, we will make a return to Black Mountain.  And this is news for sure, I have not bought one t-shirt so far....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

We Need a Little Christmas But Not This Very Minute and a Stick Figure Family for Sequisha

Last night was my panic point and as panic goes, it was rather mild this time.  Five and a half years of living more on the calm side of life has done its work.  For this I am thankful.  Although before you think of me too saintly, I still get a little cranky in the panic point.  Working on that.  Last night was the culmination of packing, crossing things off the to do list, making sure everything is taken care of and wrapping up a few loose ends.  Now that I have closed the suitcase I'm wondering, did I pack that pair of leggings?  I know I did but I bet instead of going through the hassle of getting the suitcase open after my really good packing job, I will just add some leggings to the mix.  Since we have done the dinning room experience in the evenings at the Inn, when we travel there any other time of year, we pack casual and resort casual clothes cause we aren't doing fine dinning.  I learned that term resort casual at The Grove Park Inn.  I take it to mean clean clothes.  So Roy is packing a suit and I have a festive Christmas dress that really isn't festive or Christmas but when you add a velvet jacket. and boots plus a red scarf..festive Christmas!   Both of us were thrown a bit off kilter because there are a couple of warmer type days in the midst of our stay and the rest of the days look to be the normal cooler to cold temps.  I think we resolved our dilemma.  Hey, I closed my suitcase, that settles it.  Now to pack meds, makeup and the like. 

It is now later in the afternoon.  We left something on a friend's porch which sounds like we left dookie or something but it is a nice Christmassy kind of thing.  Since we will be away from authentic Mexican food for a while, we ate lunch at Lupe's complete with a bowl of queso.  Then we stopped for Roy to buy a Big Gulp but I am telling you here and now, there will be no Big Gulps on this road trip.  Too much PTSD with that.  After a delicious lunch what goes better with a huge Diet Coke?  A chocolate peppermint shake from Chicky, no whip.  We came back home and started back to work but Roy has a button emergency on his winter blazer and since he married a Proverb Route 44 woman, he had to take his jacket to a seamstress who apparently is a Proverbs 31 type.  I used perfectly good tape behind the button but somehow, I don't think he was confident in that.  When he gets home he will be faced with the daunting task of seeing if I broke the printer.  All in all, it has been a good afternoon. 

After nearly being run over by three mini vans in the Target parking lot and two motorized carts inside the store yesterday I have again taken up the crusade to avenge my honor against minivans because these two things are my arch enemies.  So where does one buy stick figure family for the back of the van?  Do they sell them with the minivan? 

Roy was able to fix the printer, so all is well.  Now, I must get back to getting those last minute things and then we can sit back and relax and then go to bed like really, really old people. 

And yes, I added a pair of leggings......

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This Time Next Week is Christmas

The last thing I should be doing right now is sitting at the computer reading Facebook and Twitter.  Checking on a few blogs I like to read and wondering to myself what great subject will Monablog tackle today?  Great subject is subject to great hyperbole. 

Yesterday my medicine snafu was resolved and our house sitter came by for keys and actually got to meet Buddy.  Buddy didn't even run which is Buddy's usual response when someone comes into our home.  She stuck around, so that is a good sign.  Roy was in meetings and got home later than usual but it worked out because Dena and I grabbed a quick bite to eat and then looked at Christmas lights in and around Rancho De Five.  Some neighborhoods go all out and then there were the ones that almost seemed dark.  Our last stop of the evening was at Chicky for a peppermint chocolate shake. 

I also made a return to KT Antiques although some might think I am there every week...no, not usually.  I had gone there Sunday to be out of the house when the electrician came to look at the fireplace.  Strolling through the store is such a relaxing endeavor looking at things made way before I was born and those things that remind me of my grandparent's home.  There are bowls and glasses and such just like those my mother had in her kitchen.  The last two years KT has been a great place to find things for our home.  My life is defined by themes it seems and so are my visits to KT.  There were the trips looking for antique hand tools, decorative window glass and frames, Christmas décor and fallish finds.  Here of late, old books have had my attention and I have found some wonderful treasures and some that will be pulled apart for pictures.  Several times in the past few months I have been drawn to some books from 1912, Boys and Girls Bookshelf.  The dealer had marked them down to $9.00 a piece.  I did some research on these books which originally were a set of 21 but then recalled due to an error.  They reissued the set but now it contained 17 books in all.  Through the years the set had been updated and I think the last books published were in 1960.  Back to Sunday, so after a lovely and leisurely stroll, which can only be done when I come alone...when Roy comes he sits at the soda fountain counter, eats cookies and visits with the ladies working the register that day.  I know this is not his favorite thing to do, shopping.  He loves the cookies though and I try to limit my strolling to a minimum with him.  Once again I found myself drawn to these books.  I took some time with each book and began stacking up the ones I was interested in.  I came home with three books, A Journey Through Bookland (you KNOW that was coming home with me) and the other two are about history and wonders.  Later Sunday evening I sat with those books mesmerized by their complexity of subject matter but the simplicity of breaking it down for children to understand.  As I read the thought comes to me that all this material brought together was done before WWI and WWII.  There are several words that were used in 1912 that has total different meanings in 2013.  The artwork and attention to being well rounded in history, arts, humor, books, and outdoor interests filled in hours of attention because no TV or games or FB or any social media for the children back in the day.  As I read and browsed through the books, I wasn't content with just three, I wanted to add a few more to what I already had.  I'm not interested in having the whole collection.  Tuesday, I went back and picked up a few more books.  I'm tempted to bring one on our trip but I think I will read current matter. 

This afternoon included returns to Coldwater Creek, a Target run, The Fresh Market, and a few other places.   I was rather happy to find Chris had left when I returned home.  Tonight, Roy and I have been getting everything together and tying up loose ends.  We've checked the weather multiple times as we decide on what to wear.  Having several dress up occasions adds more to pack than usual.  Buddy is upset by suitcases and she'll really be upset when she goes for her mani/pedi in the morning but she will be so happy to stay at home with our house sitter and not be at camp. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Translative Christmas...What Can Turn Something Into Beauty?

Once upon a time, a long time ago there was a girl who wanted to be artistically talented more than just about anything.  Her brother could create on a whim, but everything she tried her hand at in the art and creative process looked the same, bad.  Her specialty; stick figures.  Every Christmas  her mother and brother made colorful and whimsical decorations.  She kind of felt like Rudolph only, instead of not playing any reindeer games, it was not playing with glitter and glue.  In the seventh grade it was required that students take a half year of art.  In a way this girl was kind of excited about it but deep within her she knew it wasn't going to be a wonderful experience.  In one semester students were to participate in all forms of creativity.  Carving out potato stamps wasn't too hard but creating something on the canvas of colorful stamps was difficult.  Her teacher felt sorry for her total lack of drawing skills and penciled in a horse that would be easy for the girl to paint and fill in.  Then came the ceramic/clay portion of study.  As she contemplated what she would design, it came to her....Christmas.  By the time everything was fired and finished, it would be close to the Christmas holidays.  Now was her chance to contribute something Christmassy but what was Christmas and easy to make for one so artistically challenged?  A penguin.  Really, how hard could that be?  As they began the work of forming and shaping, the teacher reminded the students to texturize and add depth to their creations.  That teacher probably shouldn't have said that to the girl, because if a little texture was good, a whole lot would be so much better.  The penguin had texture where no texture had ever been before.  Finally, the day arrived.  The penguin was fired and finished.  The girl was overjoyed with her creation, because it did actually have the characteristics of a penguin, well, kind of, sort of.  She brought the penguin home and planned to do the unveiling at dinner with the whole family present.  The unveiling didn't go the way she had imagined it time and again.  Everyone laughed and made fun of her hard fought C level art work.  The girl's spirit was crushed as her mother took the penguin that had been renamed the buzzard by the family and put it in the hall closet, behind the tablecloths.  She was humiliated and hurt because in a swift second her creation had gone from something made for Christmas to it being called something that only eats dead things, road kill.  The little buzzard resided hidden in that closet for several years, forgotten by everyone, even the girl.  Life sped by and soon the girl was in college and away from home.  When it came time to return back home for the Christmas break, her mom and one of her mom's friends came to school to bring the girl home for the holidays. 

I don't remember much of anything about the ride home but as I came in the house loaded down with suitcases and no surprise here, all my books, something caught my eye.  My mom stood by the table beaming where the once prized creation was now placed, it was the Christmas buzzard with red and green yarn tied into a bow around his neck.  It is funny how absence, plus decorative seasonal yarn can make a lovely addition to the family Christmas treasures.  From that point on that old penguin now with festive yarn,from long ago, dubbed a buzzard, along with time made something so ugly and hideous, something beautiful and treasured.  He found his rightful place every year after that. 

When my parents moved for a brief time to Georgetown, the Christmas buzzard disappeared.  My mother called me when she was putting out Christmas decorations and she was near tears because the buzzard was no where to be found.  His absence was felt that Christmas. We were saddened by his loss which actually was our loss.  Later that year while mom was going through some things, she came across CB and the next time I visited her, she gave him back to me.  She had been so upset that she had temporarily lost track of him and she thought it was time for Roy and me to enjoy CB in our own home.   Now, he is even treasured more than just for Christmas.  Since that day, CB has been out on display for the whole 365, still with that red and green yarn tied around his neck by my mom.

What a story of something created with the best intentions that  so quickly becomes something of ridicule and disdain. and purposely put away for a time and rediscovered quite by accident.  An ugly duckling with a little dressing up and a new found appreciation was just like that ugly little Christmas tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Not appreciated by the crowd or maybe it was just Lucy who wanted an aluminum Christmas tree, which was all the rage back in the '60's. Then when that little, broken down, tree was festively adorned with Linus' blanket and the winning Christmas decorations from Snoopy's  dog house it became something worthy of cheer and singing. 

 CB and penguin.  Am I the only one who sees the resemblance?  OK, I know, there is none but humor me. 
 There is the obvious parallel to our lives before and after knowing Christ but this particular story of a penguin changed to buzzard and then becoming something of joy would be very symbolic of my life story.  But, that is for me to ponder and it is for you to enjoy my 7th grade creation, which by the way is alive with texture, buzzard. 
Oooooooo, big breath,O oooooooooooo
I also vow to stay away from clay and all things pottery for the rest of my life.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Picture Re-cap of the Week

Monday morning.  Monday morning after a full and very fun weekend. Actually, all of  last week was fun. 
On Thursday morning Peggy and I went to Living Proof to be a part of their Christmas breakfast for their volunteers.  Mildred and Gertrude are usually complaining about volunteering but this time they wanted to volunteer at Living Proof, specifically.  The thought was M&G would surely fit in if we just showed up and to add to it, neither Mildred or Gertrude recognized who Beth was.  Great fun all the way around.  Then we showed the group our version of getting ready for Christmas on a budget or how to do ministry on a budget.  In all the years we have done Mildred and Gertrude, I don't think Beth had ever seen our gingerbread house, turkey and nativity cookies routine.  I also enjoyed our time there because I got to see friends that I don't see on a regular basis.  Peggy and I had fun catching up with each other on the ride over and then if push came to shove, we worked on our script lines in the car on the way over. 

 We even got reserved parking

Sunday morning we went to church.  This is Celebration 2013 weekend, our Christmas experience/performance.  It was the perfect Sunday morning.  We heard a great sermon on encouraging one another and God's provision.  We were led in worship by worship leaders from all campuses, a rich experience for sure.  On our way out of the building, we stopped so I could take pictures of the sheep.  Y'all know how I am a sucker for lambs.  But, we got an ever better surprise out there in the make-shift barnyard.  

 Claude, our friend from France was in town on business.  He saw us from inside and came out to greet us.  We were thrilled to see him and send some hugs home to his wife and our beloved friend Ria.  They were in the states and lived in THE STATE, because of Claude's job.  They were here for four years and this family has left an impact on all of us and we are much better for knowing and being loved by them.  Truly, I think of the Pelzers everyday and after I wonder what they are doing, I remember the time we all spent together in choir, at church, in their home and with all the rest of their thousands of best friends who all miss them terribly.  Then I pray for them. 
 Please do not be afraid that I have posted a picture of a donkey because I have become a democrat.  No, this little donkey bears precious cargo at every performance, Mary and the Savior of the world.  For a donkey, he is a rather friendly fellow. 
 When I saw this picture that Roy had taken of me with the donkey It reminded me of a picture taken of me when I was 2 or 3 at the Brookfield Zoo.  No, I didn't want to cry when I petted the donkey but the way I leaned over and my hand is almost the same in both pictures.  So glad I got over my fear of petting the animals.  Or maybe I got over my fear of llamas?  Who knows?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Re-Cap

Last night after Celebration, the parking lot was wet and fog was forming from the mist and I knew that the prairie would be fogged in on Saturday.  I've watched the fog burn off with a hint of sun and clouds streaking across the sky.  This is the kind of Saturday I love, nothing on a time schedule and no place that we have to be.  Roy will be home from Bible study soon, then he will do a few errands. 

The fireplace guy was supposed to come yesterday and he never showed.  Roy stayed home and didn't go to Celebration just in case he would be making an evening appearance.  Dena and I left early for dinner because of the traffic and rain and so we wouldn't have that rushed feel to get to Celebration for a parking spot.  We tried the Longhorn Steakhouse for the first time and now it is easy to see why the parking lot is always full at the one out here.  Great food and atmosphere.  Sometimes at Salt Grass it is difficult to talk when the joint is jumping and even in the heat of the summer, the atmosphere and furnishing gives a cold feel.  Longhorn has booths and great western décor, tending not to be rustic, nor does it feel like Ruth Chris.  It is somewhere right in the middle.  Celebration was awesome!  So well done, so well thought through and executed.  I could go back and see it again.  The choir and orchestra sounds so good.  The young kids rocked it, as well as everyone else.  I love the closing talk Pastor Gregg did to tie everything together.   The only thing that kind of bugged me was the black curtain thing that showed up before almost every scene. Afterwards, Dena and I went to see Peggy and Kathleen and then out to the main lobby where we each got to visit with friends.  All in all, a most wonderful night.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Roy awake and watching TV with an early Saturday morning coming up when I arrived home. 

I braved the crowds at La Centerra yesterday for what was to be a quick stop for fleece on sale at Eddie Bauer's for Roy.  Why, there were so many pretty things to look at and I am a sucker for emergency lighting.  All the gear type stuff was on sale too.  I also found a couple of things for me so the quickness that was original to the day, turned into a little longer excursion.  The bravest thing I did that morning was to venture into Target.  The most laid back store, Office Max.  Guess not many would like office supplies for Christmas...well, I know a few who would. 

So, I just got back from La Centerra before the Saturday crowds hit.  I ordered a sweater from Coldwater Creek and somehow at UPS there was a mistake made and the package was handed off to the USPS and now...it is lost in the mail.  Since this sweater figures into Biltmore Christmas attire, I bought a back up one in case they don't find the package and I know that by buying this sweater this morning, that means the package will show up. 

This week while preparing for M&G at Living Proof, I got out the ol' Mildred wig and put it with a few things that are necessary for me to be Mildred.  I had forgotten how much Buddy loves that wig.  She pulled the wig off the bed and was running around with it on her head.  It's really a cute thing to see but I had forgotten this love affair with the wig.  So, I was just doing stuff around the house and out of the corner of my eye I see this big hairy thing scooting across the floor and I screamed and jumped onto the chair.  It's amazing what adrenalin can do since I haven't moved that quickly since 1966.   It scared Buddy and she dropped the wig and my brave cat ran under the bed.  Ah, yes...cold weather and vermin looking for someplace warm is always in the forefront of my mind during winter, whether it be bleak or not.  Thankfully, it was nothing more dangerous than an old lady wig but it was quite the adventure.  Bet the heart monitor thing in my chest sent a HUGE reading to the Dr office. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Faith and Humor...Makes Life Good!

The day began at 5:30 am.  Now, I know for some of you that is sleeping in but for this retired gal, it can be considered the middle of the night.  Peggy and I had a Mildred and Gertrude thing across town and we weren't quite sure how long it would take us to get there, we wanted to err on the side of caution.  We did arrive early but we ran through script lines sitting in the parking lot.  It has been a little over a year since we've done one of these.  We've had invitations but the timing didn't fit with our schedules.  We were asked to do one other one during the holidays, but I told the person asking us that there would be someone in attendance that didn't like Mildred and Gertrude and because this person had some say in the program, they should run it by them.  I pretty much put that one out of my mind because there were red flags all over the place and just as I anticipated, the person was not pleased about including us in the program.  I think this was the first time that this had ever happened in our twenty five years plus of doing M&G.  There are times when I regret accepting an invitation but usually once we get on the stage, my regrets are few.  I remember years ago doing something for a senior adult church group.  A gentleman came up to me afterwards and said, see these tears?  I responded yes...  He then began to tell me that he had recently become a widower and he almost didn't come because his wife loved these get togethers.  He thought it might be too much for him but he came.  He pointed to those tears and said, these tears are the first tears of joy I have cried in several months.  He was so appreciative of our humor and giving him some reprieve from the months of grieving his wife's passing.  Today an older woman came up to me and said she had seen us one time before at a retreat and we had been the best thing about the whole retreat.  Truthfully, I don't like costumes and I get bored sometimes with M&G, but it is these moments that energize my spirit.  It is more about encouraging someone and not being the funniest person in the room or stealing the thunder of someone who wants to be the funniest person in the room.  I truly realize that humor is a gift from the Lord and He uses us however He might be inclined to.  Today was a blast and so much fun.  It was a smaller group and it is so fun to be able to interact with the audience.  Now after my delicious lunch of pimento cheese, I feel a nap coming on. 

Recently I have been a little more consistent in feeding the birds.  The doves hang out by the feeder and my guard mockingbirds still visit as well, but there have been a few different species of birds coming over for the good stuff.  There is a little, tiny bird out there now and it hasn't given up since several of the doves keep trying to chase him off.  The little bird quit trying to eat at the feeder but discovered all the seed that drops to the ground while birds pick and chose the type of seed they want to eat.  That little fella was one happy bird.  He ate and danced around, hopping with wild abandon as falling seed hit him.  I am too entertained with these birds. 

We re-upped on our two nuns we have adopted.  We got the kindest note from them the other day.  It is on my bucket list to meet our adopted sisters one day face to face.  We "met" our nuns by attending Late Night Catechism in Chicago.  Their order Sisters of the Living Word were the recipients of the  money collected for their ministry after the show.  Love Late Night and love our nuns. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Smokin' Hot and Fabulous....Sign

I took a little trip out to the country yesterday.  Well, guess you can't call Brenham the country but the drive on 36 has a very pastoral look about it in different sections.  Each time I drive this road I try to find something new that hasn't had my attention before.  Yesterday, I saw for the first time some of the intricate brick and stone work of small drainage ditches underneath the railroad track that is parallel to the road .  It was Biltmore worthy and I say that because the brick and stone work from long ago are works of art.  On the drive there, I worked on some Mildred and Gertrude lines and on the way home I listened to Christmas Pops on Sirius XM, the highbrow music of Christmas but I do still enjoy a Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer song.   I went to Brenham to see my friend Mimi.  Lots of fun and I had my first hot cocoa of the season with her.  We visited, ate lunch at Nathan's and did a little shopping in downtown Brenham.  They are blessed with a plethora of cute local shops and I was blessed to bring home a couple of Christmas things.  In The Cottage store I came across a little sign that came home with me, Don't Count Sheep-Talk to the Shepherd.  I also saw this little sign and was so tempted to buy it, but for me smokin' hot is not a good thing because only my meds make me feel hot and not smokin hot but more like sweating, hot flash hot.   

 But I wasn't going to buy this for me, but for any of my preacher friends who refer to their wife as smokin hot in their sermons which I think as you know, those who have read Monablog for a while, drives me bonkers.  Preachers preach from the pulpit don't lust or covet another person's spouse-yet they offer up this description of their wife, which seems counterintuitive.  Maybe some man hears this and thinks, oh yeah, now that I think of it, he does have a smokin hot wife and sins in his heart.  Of course on that fabulous part, I'm guilty as charged. 

I also wore my new Born black boots.  Born shoes are the only shoes I will wear without first breaking them in.  These boots are so comfortable, they are like tennis shoe comfortable.  I will be ready to climb every mountain in North Carolina....strike that, I will be able to admire (from the car) every mountain and looking good in my black boots.  Please refer to fabulous in the paragraph before. 

Peggy came over Monday and we worked on our script.  We had three pretty good run throughs.  I even made her lunch which you know came from the fine folks at Whole Food Market.   Of course we got off task because that is what we do, but because of time restraints this week, we were a little more focused. 

I love quotes, have several notebooks full of favorite quotes, so I loved getting a book of illustrations and paintings with the artist's favorite quotes beneath the picture.  So much fun to look through and wish I had an artistic bent, but since I don't....I enjoy what others can do. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Fun Football Weekend

Attending church in the study this morning with a cup of coffee, roasty toasty in the house and in my jammies.  Love that we have a webcast of our services.  Makes taking a sabbatical Sunday not so bad.  I mean taking another sabbatical Sunday doesn't make it feel so bad.  We made the decision late last night to stick around home this morning. 

Yesterday was a very fun football day.  The morning started out with the garage door guy finishing up a few things he wasn't able to do on Friday.  After he left Roy needed about thirty minutes to rest and then we were out the door.  A stop at the cleaners, a visit to K T Antiques, and then a quick stop in at Spec's.  Yes, another visit because we are thinking about making this bourbon pecan pie.  It is funny, we are there looking for the smallest bottle and we are surrounded with those whose carts are full and maybe possibly their lives are empty.  It is a challenge to go in there and it wasn't always that way.  There were those days it was so easy to pull up and go into a liquor store but as we went in, it was an entrance of prayer.  Then as per usual I announce to everyone who is helping me, this is only for baking needs.  They don't care but I do.  We did score an overpriced find of Diet Sierra Mist with a splash of cranberry.  We were pretty excited about that.  Our next destination was the Target on Fry Road.  Yes, were are crazy to go into a Target, on a Saturday a few weeks before Christmas.  But, we are on a mission or maybe it is just my mission.  Most of you know my love of notebooks and journals and no I really don't need another notebook, but Mead doesn't make these particular notebooks anymore and Target is the last bastion.  So being diligent, I have looked online at the Target's in the area to see if they have any stock of these particular notebooks.  That is how we came to visit Fry Road on a busy Saturday before Christmas.  They had one notebook.  So Roy did his job and he is so gifted at this, getting in the correct line.  That Target is still set up with the old design of staggered checkouts, so sometimes it is difficult to see that any of the front registers are open.  We also got to witness a Christmas shopping meltdown in customer service.  Words were flying and most of them would have to be bleeped if I attempted to tell you what this young woman was saying.  I realized then I should enter Target with the same attitude of prayer like when I go into a liquor store.  We left Target and headed straight to Tony's for some comfort Mexican food on a cold day.  Neither one of us usually orders a plate of enchiladas, but we both did just that.  Nothing like a cheese enchilada on a winter day.  This whole paragraph was supposed to be about a fun football day but I guess I felt the need to report in on the morning's activities.  I left out, I found some really cute things at K T Antiques and Roy found a cookie and a good conversation with his favorite lady there, Bonnie. 

Back to football.  Loved watching Baylor beat Texas and win the Big 12 Championship.  Baylor fans should be very thankful for Oklahoma.   Happy that Auburn won. In fact, Auburn went to the National Championship the last time we went to the Biltmore around Christmas.  If they win again this year, someone from Auburn should pay for our visit every year.  Surprised that Michigan State beat Ohio State but again, happy about that.  A good Saturday for football and a good Sunday for football too.  That's only because the Texans had already played and we didn't have to feel compelled to watch, since they are our home city team. 

Roy found the errant bulb in our last string of lights for the front hedge.  So now our hedge has the complete look.  We moved JOY into the walkway of the courtyard because the solar spot lights couldn't work with all the lights on the hedge. 

Something that I realize more and more is that I could possibly be an introvert with extrovert tendencies.   I have settled in the thought this year of wanting to stick around home.  I am never bored here and there are slices of time I love to sit here in the quiet and listen to the wind chimes outside.  But I am also very comfortable with my extrovertness, if that is even a word. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Oh the Weather Outside if Frightful and I Love It!

Friday night on the prairie.  The wind still howls but not as loud or as often as this afternoon.  Once it became apparent that I would be waiting for the garage door man and knowing there were several letters I needed to be mailed, I took a brisk walk to the mail boxes.  There was the light sprinkle of rain but not enough to curtail my mission.  Walking back toward home was much easier because the wind was behind me and the cold fingers of the north were not brushing me to walk forward in frustration.  The man who came to fix the door was really nice and he will be back in the morning to complete the work.  Our keypad outside the door has never worked, so he is putting in one that will work.  Roy got home right before the guy finished up and got to talk with him a little bit.  Meanwhile, I was out the door for my haircut and added some extra time because finding a parking spot at 10:00 is a lot easier than in the afternoon.  You also get into Jr. high and high school traffic at that hour, so after fighting through that mess I decided to just head home instead of stopping off at a few places.

With the cold day and with Roy watching TV in his study I was ready to settle down in the living room with a beautiful fire...only the fireplace would not start.  Roy called the people who installed ours and I began the Google search of our situation.  Roy had someone on the speaker phone explain to him the process of manually starting the fire but neither one of us could locate the switch she was talking about.  The first appt. they had open was February 24 to come and check out the situation. Are you kidding me?    While I was consulting technician Google, I found out that you are supposed to have a tune up of your gas fireplaces every year, just like you do for your heater or A/C.   We are going to get that on the list of our to do's.  We do have a tech that was recommended to us coming out next Friday.  Meanwhile, I walked past the fireplace and got the remote to see if we could still hear the click on.  Just as I was doing that, I asked Roy if he prayed and as he was saying no I prayed.  Roy said look, there is a little blue flame and the next thing you know, there was a nice gas log fire going.  I am so grateful for this little joy because it seemed so sad to have to spend this next week of cold, overcast days without a fire going in our fireplace.  All is well.

This must be the year of plaid and the plaid shirt is becoming my go to "uniform."  Yes, plaid has replaced my love of denim as my go to "uniform."   Really, there is such a limited time to wear plaid and that time is winter and sometimes it is more tied to Christmas by certian colors.  Anyway, I am enjoying wearing festive plaids.  I bet you are glad that this information was in a short paragraph.

There was this huge mug at Home Goods that lives at our house now.  I mean really, the thing is $3.99 and the quote on the outside of the mug isn't bad; 'Strive for excellence not perfection.'  This quote doesn't really apply to me because I am not a perfectionist and I really feel sorry for my friends who are.  That is a heavy burden to carry.  This would have also been a great mug for me when I worked at church cause we had those three word sayings like Biblical, Relevant, Community and Gather, Grow and Go.  We had one that had excellence as one of the words and not for a lack of trying I cannot remember what the other two words were.  With my brain, the One Word thing works.  This giant mug holds two Keruigs worth of coffee.  Nice for those ease into the day mornings. 

Saturday is Roy's turn to bring breakfast for the Bible study he attends.  For the holiday season they have scraped the rule of a hearty breakfast like bacon and eggs etc....  Roy is taking sausage kolaches and boudain kolaches with a few donuts thrown in.  They guys were really excited when he told them last week this is what he plans to bring.   

I loved Beth Moore's Patriarch Bible study and I am loving Genesis in CBS.  We all marvel at the things we are learning and have never seen before in previous studies we've participated in.  I have never really ever thought about, what other stories could have been told about Abraham because his life has become so interesting to me.  We knew we would learn a lot of history but the spiritual truth has been spirit blowing.  On Thursday the area director of CBS sat in with our group.  At first I was a little nervous but soon we were going through the questions and discussing just like we always do.  She told me afterwards what a wonderful group we are and the multi layers of trust and friendship that are forming around God's Word reflects how core groups should grow and love.  We are a diverse group of ages.  I love after our group time I struggle to get these ladies to stop visiting and move on into teaching time.  A great picture of this was on Thursday as one of the younger members helped a, let's see, yes, a more mature member know the nuances of iPhone 5 and iPhone 5 S for optimal communication with her daughter and family.   This is how the Body of Christ works and loves.  I have been blessed with two of the best groups ever in my two years of facilitating.  For this I give thanks. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thursday Morphs Into Friday

This morning when I went outside it was rather warm and humid.  I was wearing a flannel shirt.  When I came inside, I rolled up the sleeves to be a little cooler and then when the cooler temps arrived around noon, it would be nothing to roll the sleeves down again.  What a difference 15 minutes makes.  When I went back outside to get the paper, the wind felt a little cooler.  By the time I got to Bible study, it was rainy and cold.  So today, I am celebrating my most favorite kind of weather. 

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the afternoon at The Galleria.  Now that I am a prairie girl, the traffic bothers me more than it ever did. It just didn't seem the same without the piano at Nordstrom.  I especially enjoyed the music at Christmas.  Across from The Nord, a condo or apartment project is being built.  At one point in life, that would have been my dream address.  Live across from The Nord?  It would be too much happiness.  But trying to come and go to other places, it would not be so much fun.  Got some Christmas stuff taken care of and then I went to The Fresh Market and loaded up on a few things.  There is a small window of time before traffic builds up almost to the unbearable stage and traffic that is tolerable.  I was able to catch that small window of time to head back to the prairie.  Stopped at Target and Home Goods.  Then hoped against hope that Chris was finished here at the house.

Now it is Friday morning.  Later on I get to get out in all this wonderful weather for a haircut and no I am not being sarcastic.  I am going to enjoy as much as possible these days of blistery cold, but not really wanting the freezing rain.  Just put a pot roast in the crock pot and maybe while I get ready I will sing some Christmas songs.  Or just maybe hum some because that's what I find myself doing in stores, humming along to the music. 

I really, really tried to watch The Sound of Music last night and if you have read Monablog for anytime, you know that SOM is not one of my favorite things.  It was a bad night for TV and I wish I had done something else, but Wednesday night I had a little heart episode in the middle of the night and was so fatigued.  Yesterday, after Bible study, I went to Whole Foods to pick up dinner and a few other necessary items.  I came home, put the groceries away and ate lunch.  It wasn't too long after that I was down on the couch and woke up when I heard the doorbell ringing at 6:20.  It was Roy, standing in the dark with his arms loaded with his back pack and some folders of paperwork.  So I flipped around the channels and finally watched The Bishop's Wife only I wished it was The Preacher's Wife just to hear Whitney sing Joy to the World.  Before finally finding The Bishop's wife, I tried to watch a little of the Texan game...No, it was worse than the SOM.  I remembered that last night was this season's first episode of Mob Wives.  Nothing has changed except there are a few new friends in the mix.  Just more of loud talking, bleeped swearing, and a few physical fights....oh and the justification of said words or actions. 

The garage door sensor is out of line and the garage door repairman is on his way.  Thus, I had to reschedule my appointment with Stevie for a haircut.  She has a rare opening this afternoon and I am so thankful for that.  There were a couple of things I needed to get out in the mail, so I took the brief walk to the mailbox in windy cold temps and a few sprinkles of rain.  Invigorating!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Yep, It's Tuesday

 As you can tell by these pictures I have cold temperatures and the Biltmore on my mind.  I loved what my friend Peggy W told me to do today.  I had commented on FB with overcast skies and fog, it looked like a cold winter day but I knew when I went outside heat and humidity were just going to slap me upside the head and taunt me.  Peggy W recommended I turn the A/C down, get a book, a throw and Buddy and pretend I was sitting at The Biltmore.  Believe me, if I could have, I would have done just that thing, but I had a leadership council meeting and couldn't stay home and play pretend.  But I will be seeing Biltmore soon enough, although no snow might be nice.


I saw a list the other day of: you might be a book nerd if.....  I am a book nerd.  One in particular hit me square on, I take too many books on trips and I love having a Nook but I truly love the feel of a book in my hands.  I am looking at two books for future purchase.  Neither takes place in the south.  That's unusual for me. 

I nearly killed myself in the garage this afternoon.  No, I didn't leave my car running, it is more like I was afraid of my own shadow kind of thing.  Since this is the time of year when vermin are looking for a warm place to stay, I am on the alert and just a bit ago, while taking groceries out of the car, I saw something move.  I about knocked myself out trying to jump into the backseat of the car and not squish the bread.  The more I looked at the spot of movement from a safe distance, I realized that it was the light above and my movement that caused me to nearly knock myself out. 

Back to the mundane of laundry and putting up groceries. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Falls On My Head

With the warm up this week until Thursday, I felt I needed to post a picture of something cooler than 80 degrees.  This is from Christmas 2010 when it snowed on Christmas Eve and Day, nine inches of snow.  It was wonderful to be in, look at and experience.  It was not so fun trying to drive out of the Estate and onto the Interstate but we did have to spend an extra night because of road closures.  For this we give thanks. 

Life here on the prairie is back to normal and by normal I mean....well, whatever is normal for us.  That means Roy is back at the office, the house is quiet, Buddy is on her second nap of the morning and I am easing into the day by doing some online shopping on Cyber Monday.  Nordstrom is giving 10 points per dollar spent for Fashion Reward Members.  I am taking advantage of that because for the first time since the opening of the store here, I did not register for the Customer Appreciation Night of shopping.  You also get 10 points per dollar spent on that evening.  While you shop there is live music and lots and lots of treats to eat and drink.  That and lots and lots of people, mainly women, who by the end of the evening are hopped up on vino and fancy drinks.  It is a sight but I will not be seeing it this year. 

I am giving serious time and consideration for my One Word next year.  I have whittled down the choices to about five but need to prayerfully approach this.  My word this year is Proceed.  I feel it has lived up to its definition.  On so many levels using the word Proceed helped me make some tough decisions and some easy ones.  Proceed certainly has been the word for me health-wise and I hope to build on this foundation.  Proceed also gives credence to the term "voting with your feet."  Not everything I have walked away from fits in this category. Choir certainly is not included in this because I hope to come back when it starts up again in January. 

Last night Christmas fell onto my head and cut me to the quick.  Yes, really. Since it happened at dusk, Roy was quick to come to the rescue and bind my wound.  Last year at the Brookwood Clearance on outdoor Christmas items, we pretty much cleared them out, metal tree, the word JOY, and red and green metal packages.  We also bought a rustic Merry Christmas sign that came in two pieces.  Because Roy isn't too willing to let me drill a fastening hole in the brick or stone, I had to get all Redneck up in here and go with duct tape.  I thought it would work because Christmas was anchored to an outdoor window sill but silly me, when the temperatures vary, the stickiness of tape gives way.  So as I was trying to remove Christmas from our house, it grazed my head and cut my hand and knocked over a lighted Christmas tree at the door.  I've come up with a more decorative redneck idea burlap ribbon.  We will see if it holds and hopefully doesn't get stolen.  The lights on our hedge are pitiful but our decorating theme style is kind of like a Charlie Brown Christmas.  Most everyone in the cul de sac has big air blown Santa sleighs, snowmen and such.  No, we choose classic Christmas with a not so good DIYer.  In other Christmas decorative news, the rustic wooden pieces attached to a rope for the fireplace is missing an R.  No wonder it was on sale and quickly bought by a doesn't pay attention to details all the time.  Doesn't matter, it is going to stay up and of course you know I am going to try and come up with something to replace that R.  It will be so cute, for sure a pic will be posted. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Suffices

We are wrapping up a busy yet fun-filled week.  The extra decorations have been loaded and stored back in the storage unit.  The lights out front have been re-worked and a few more decorations have been added in the mix.  All the extension cords have been taped down for safety.  We had Chinese food for lunch and we are making the majority of our holiday dinner tonight.  Extendomatic Thanksgiving.  Roy even got in some weed pulling for the back flowerbed.  He is relaxing watching football and I am contemplating working on homework or working on my project in the casita.  Maybe I will do a little of both. 

This morning I was working on something that Peggy and I will be doing later in December.  And as I was thinking through some of the weirder worlds of women's ministry in the long ago, I had this brief thought.  If women's ministry sponsored a BBQ team in competitions, I think the name "Rib Team" would be appropriate.  It is biblical and relative to the BBQ community. 

 What is the deal in church world that everyone refers to their family as Team_______?  Really?  It feels a little sport/business ease, not so much churchy le-femme.  Family of God or Team of God?  If Roy and I began to refer to ourselves in team vernacular we would either have to be playing doubles in tennis, pairs in figure skating or two person bobsled.  Bobsled is out for us because of my knees but in an economical move, the bobsled could be a sled and after the run a coffin.  There you go.   Don't think we are the figure skater types and besides when we would be referring to ourselves as Team Mon, neither one of us would be able to use the skater terms, double camel, axel, salchow,  or death spiral with a straight face.  So guess, we will have to go with doubles, nah, let's just refer to ourselves as family.  In sports you have to have umpires or referees or officials for teams.  The rules for the starting five in basketball is different than for rest of the team.  No one wants to be a bench warmer in a family or team family.  Yet, head coaches come and go...on teams.  It is not supposed to be that way in families, but it happens.  If calling yourself a team is a rallying cry for you or for your family or team or group, that's great.  I don't think we will buy into the latest trendy, churchy vibe.  We are still so thankful we didn't get into the hysteria of  the prayer of Jaybez although I have heard Jaybez underwear comes up on eBay from time to time. 

It is now Sunday.  Good football games interrupted good writing.  Oh my goodness, you know I tend not to use the word amazing since it is one of the most overused words ever, but that Alabama/Auburn game was amazing....it was amazing, amazing.  We jumped and hollered and yelled the whole 108 yard last play of the game.  I couldn't help but think of so many Auburn friends who are filled beyond happiness.  Maybe Nick will leave for Texas after this one.  Then we watched the A&M game which Missouri won.  So it was a trifecta for SEC Tigers this weekend and an all Tiger SEC Championship game.  Good thing Auburn has War Eagle to distinguish themselves. 

We slept in this morning.  Roy will be back at it tomorrow and for me, loading and toting Christmas decorations about did me in the past few days.  My knee has been hurting and it hasn't bothered me too much since the injections and the meds.  We didn't even stay up late but it felt good to sleep late.  The only thing that made us stir was Buddy.  She has discovered that she can sit on Roy's bathroom countertop and knock things into the wastebasket which just happens to be metal.  So there is a loud metallic ring.  She's been doing this when she wants us to be up and awake with her.  Cats are rather smart. It has been an ease into the day kind of day.  I need to finish up CBS homework.  We are in Genesis 20 and 21.  Isaac has finally been born and Hagar has once again been put out to pasture.  When she ran away on the road to Shur and was focused on getting back home.  Now in these chapters she seems dazed and confused and is wandering about in the wilderness.  This time, she isn't as focused, so I am thinking this last banishment was quite the surprise. 

No surprise for me but today Sunday suffices.  We've given thanks and continue to give thanks.  We are turned more into the Christmas journey and the joy to the world.  Then after Christmas, we make that last gasp of the year and turn our thoughts and focus to the new.  This year's word for me was proceed.  I've been thinking and praying on what next years word will be.  But today, it is sufficient.