Monday, November 30, 2015

I'm Back......

Well, it has been a while since last posting on the blog but a lot of life has been happening so I jotted down notes of things I might want to ponder about on the where did those notes go?

I am now in the throes of Christmas decorating. We brought all the Christmas up here, so we thought but I am missing a few things. In years past I have not done much decorating so little surprises of things forgotten have been newly discovered. All progress came to a halt when I found the Christmas stockings my mom had made for Roy and me. There tucked among other decorations I also came across the stocking my mom made for Tiff, our miniature Schnauzer. I put my hand into my stocking to feel the stitches thinking about my mom and that she had touched them when I felt something down in the toe of the stocking, a piece of ribbon that had been tied around a stocking stuffer and it was tied in that little way my mom tied ribbons that made the tear dam break and shut me down for a few moments. What a special gift. I knew I would use the ornaments my mom had made or ornaments she brought back from trips to Branson and had prepared emotionally for that....Ours is a very simple tree this year, one like I remember with simple ornaments that have great meaning. One ornament that must be back in Katy is the last of the salt dough ornaments that I made for our first Christmas tree. We had NO money to spare and could afford a tree but not much else, so I the never crafty one used cookie cutters to make salt dough ornaments. The last one I purposely kept is the the one that I had painted Roy and Nancy 1977.

In the midst of decorating I am reminded that we had our last official guests to our Ander Home over Thanksgiving. Emily and David came up for the holidays. I have made some mental notes of what works and what needs tweaking. I do know this, you have to be self sufficient with food preparation because that totally is not even in my mindset. I am kind of good on meals that I'm good at preparing but the rest.... I always have lots of stuff to choose from so that's a good thing. I am going to tweak sight-seeing too. Before the popular months of visiting roll around again I plan to do some exploring of the area north of us. Beautiful country. Also, if there are things people want to see and want to give extended time to, I am recommending they do a rental car or do a road trip up here. They will have the time to take it all in and I will have the energy to do other things with them or actually prepare a meal for them...well, let's not be too optimistic.

Roy and I knocked a lot of things out like getting new eye frames and lenses for him...well at least ordered. He cleaned out the dryer vent and we also did the well filter. He got Charter out here and they have found the source of our TV problem and he put outside Christmas decorations up. He pulled out the Christmas boxes so I can get to them easier.

Saturday morning I picked up Darlene and Patsy for a whirlwind tour of the area. I took them to one of my favorite stores and while there found out they have sold their property and moving into south longer. I had a feeling when they had on FB everything is marked 35% off except for consignment pieces. We took the back way to Bat Cave and did a drive through Lake Lure and Chimney Rock before heading to the store where we all found somethings to our liking enough for purchase. We ate a late lunch at Moose Cafe and more satisfied eaters and likers of the cafe confirmed. Then we headed over to our house with a little tour of our area thrown in for good measure. The icing on the cake was having Darlene, Patsy, Vivian and Aunt Mary to meet. Vivian rode with us to the Biltmore to keep me company and on the straight and narrow. Or maybe I was supposed to keep Vivian on the straight and narrow? Such a fun day!

Well, I need to continue working here, run a few errands weather permitting and most importantly...wash my hair.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Rainy Day on Wednesday

Vivian and I just texted one another thinking this is a stay inside kind of day. Great minds think alike. Our area is getting the rain that moved through Texas yesterday. Before the rains began in the early morning the wind blew something fierce. I considered for just a second last night to go out in the dark and move a few things as they might be blown over but reality brought me back to my senses and I decided instead just to prepare for hearing things being blown over in the night. In the early morning light I scanned the backyard from upstairs and nothing had blown over. From my couch side seat I have watched the rain today almost be blown sideways. The eerie sound of the wind last night made us a little nervous but finally we were able to fall asleep. Along with the beauty of each season comes the noise of the seasons and there are new sounds to interpret in this transeasonal time.

Since I knew the rains were on the way I went to Canton yesterday to place the order for supper on the 4th. is called a progressive dinner but here maybe it should be called a progressive supper. The manager at Dickie's BBQ is so helpful and you know the cornbread dressing has to be good when she says it is only second to her mother's. Got everything taken care of there and then stopped at a local produce stand that is still open for some apples....not that I need more but the price was very good.

Canton has a huge paper mill and the wind was just right yesterday to let you know its existence before seeing it. I love the drive through the town. The homes remind me of my grandparent's neighborhood. There are also many beautiful stone built homes in the midst of vintage homes with large covered porches and the yard full of huge trees. Such a mix of neighbors..American flags with a mix of pirate flags and the co^fed#rate flag spotted along the road to downtown and past the paper mill.

The rain and wind have continued all day with the wind not being as forceful. I think the heaviest rain is still ahead. I'm reading a book on the history of the Pisgah National Forest. Very interesting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Treasured Searches and a Crazy Lady

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there wasn't an internet to run searches for books. I discovered Square Books in Oxford, MS back in that long ago time. If we were going to be in the state of MS, almost every time to navigate a stop in Oxford when it was so out of the way. It was a mad dash to the mailbox during those weeks I knew the newsletter from the store would be waiting for me inside the mailbox. If there wasn't a trip planned in the future for passing through, I would call and order the books I wanted because they were the source for all books written by southern authors. When the box arrived because usually it was more than one book ordered, it felt like Christmas because each book was individually wrapped in tine bound brown craft paper. Maybe if felt more like a step back into time. Over the days I would unwrap a book and read till I was finished and then with anticipation pick the next wrapped book for those afternoons of living in a huge city reading stories more rural by design. Heaven I tells ya, heaven!

Of course we all know how search engines changed our world and now it takes a lot less effort to search out and find books. Sometimes the books from Amazon are wrapped in shrink wrap, but that is not the same as untying a string and opening paper. This morning while reading Psalm 104 this memory from the long time ago came to mind and it complimented perfectly these months and experiences here in the mountains. It is and has been with the same anticipation to unwrap these experiences here in the mountains, in a valley on a hill. Last night several of us got together at church and made cookies for the volunteer crew that keeps our lovely church lovely. I have to be honest I didn't have much to do with the cookie making, but I brought pizza to keep up everyone's strength and ran the timer for baking cookies. It is true for me that I can't stand the heat, so I stay out of the kitchen. But when you have such wonderful and talented bakers in the kitchen...this pilgrim stands back in awe at their talents. I tasted an oatmeal raisin was good!

Certainly there have been a few experiences that I didn't greet with expectancy and anticipation...that being snakes and raccoons gone wild. Also include the underground deck railroad and anything to do with a crawl space. But the wonderful has outweighed that saying of "well, this is life in the country." I was reminded again about the kindness of most people around here. We need a little Christmas tree, right this very minute...well before the weekend so I would have help. We debated the merits of a NC fresh Christmas tree but we also discussed the demerits of a fresh NC Christmas pre lit tree from Lowe's became our choice. Nothing too big but nothing really small and hopefully finding a tree in our determined budget that didn't scream fake! I was able to find just right tree and began putting the box into the backseat of the truck when an older man...parking in the handicap parking asked if I needed his assistance in getting the tree into the back seat. Oh my how kind, but his movements were about the speed of sorghum. I assured him I could get the box into the truck and he responded with, well then I will help you by taking that cart. We had a few moments of conversation that left me with a huge smile that lasted until I had to go into Walmart...

When I picked up the gas station pizza yesterday the clerk gave me a discount and believe me these pizzas are already cheap but they are so good, because he had to take longer in making them. He normally works the morning shift and rarely do any pizza orders come in that early. You can tell by this piece of information we do not live near a college or university.

Psalm 104 also made me reflect on the long ago of work since it is mentioned in the psalm. I hadn't thought about this in forever but one morning as I was in the office of a co-worker, another co-worker with a bit more authority than the two of us announced her presence by banging the already open door against the door stop. We had been discussing a work related matter but she thought by the tone of our discussion we were being light-hearted and she assumed off task. Now this woman had the reputation of being so nice and wonderful, sweet even but I had seen the other side of her many times. I don't know why I was so privileged to experience these tantrums and her unrealistic belief that her job could be on the line. She expressed too many times that she had the gift of discernment yet I never knew her to discern anything positive. She would throw out an attempted proof from time to time as she made guesses about me. Never guessed anything right. A couple of times she prepared an ambush for me with our boss but I stood up for what I knew was right and countered back with facts, not embellished fantasy. So many days of walking on eggshells and trying not to hurt her feelings. For the first time I loved my work but disliked the people I worked with. For me usually I didn't care about the work but always had fun at the job because of the people. Finally, a few things happened where I could leave this job and hopefully escape from this "mad" woman. I wanted to give plenty of notice because they had given me a chance to do work I hadn't really done before but the days became unbearable and the slamming of the open door in my coworker's office and literally dodging spittle as she melted down...over what she assumed to be a conversation that left her out became a breaking point. Really? We were discussing the report that had to go into the Texas Railroad Commission about some wells that recently started producing again. Now that is a boring subject so one must be light-hearted or one will fall asleep while learning which form is the correct one.  OK, how many of y'all just went to sleep over that last sentence? Come know I did. The spark that set my early exit in motion was a phone call from a tennis friend who was so wishing I could be in this game with her...and that moment I told her, I can make that game. So the next morning I dressed up in my office finery, drove into downtown Houston with a happy heart, went up to the 17th floor...did not stop at my desk...and walked straight back to her office and laid down my office keys and parking pass...and said yesterday was my last day. I caught her dumbfounded...I felt like Edward G Robinson from one of those long ago biblical movies where his line is..."where's your messiah now" when I you have the gift of discernment, where is your discernment now?...this sooner exit shouldn't have surprised you at all. You knew this was going to happen didn't you. For the first time she was speechless and only could counter back with, you have to turn in your parking pass...and I'm not giving you the money to pay for your parking...which happily I responded, parking is on me today and you don't even have to cut a check for the days I have gift to you. I began leaving the office when she followed me like a sick little puppy....telling me how much she liked me, how much she had enjoyed working with me...wouldn't I consider my decision? Would I still be her friend? I opened my purse and pulled out a pocket calendar and acted like I was looking things up...and said, well my slot for crazy friend is full but if an opening becomes available, I will let you know.  Yep, I said that and lived...she followed me out of the building and to the parking garage saying all kinds of nice things....ugh. I finally told her to go back to the office, no one was there answering the phones.  I drove home, changed into my tennis togs and resumed my tennis life for several more years.  Even that time working at that horrible job became like a book wrapped in twine and brown craft paper because not only did I learn perseverance, I worked there longer than anyone else had ever done with this woman but I also learned how to use a computer....which profited me from then on...a gift although at the time, I didn't see it as a gift or something to anticipate opening. Oh by the way my tenure with them was three months...  An epilogue to this story, because this too was also before the days of caller ID, she would call and hang up the phone when answered. Several times I saw her following me in her car as I walked our dog...finally on one of those phone calls I told her I knew it was her, stop calling me! That did it...never heard from her again, although she lived in the same apartments as one of my good friends so I was always looking over my shoulder because I didn't want to run into that crazy lady.

Well that is it for today kiddos. I need to place my order for December 4th and since I have been writing about back in the day, I too will practice a back in the day. This is such an important order, I don't trust the phone or online ordering. Going to go in person to make sure it is done right...with no surprises.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunday Reflections on a Monday Morning

The Sunday morning drive to church is a favorite. It is a rather short ride but filled with many visuals that frankly coincide with the need to drive safely. The temperatures had reached the upper 20's overnight and we were still below freezing in the middle of the morning and frost still visible in the lower hollows and valleys. Picturesque scenes of houses with curls of smoke from wood stoves or fireplaces adding a layer of quaintness on the already layered scenery. Just a few weeks ago the mountains were covered with brilliant reds and orange leafs. The yellow and green gave the canvas for the brilliant and explosive color but now the mountains are making that trek into winter silhouetted  dark gray against lighter gray overcast skies. The cows in the fields huddled together for one of the first into many days of cold beginnings. The backdrop usually covered by leafs are now being revealed discovering houses and scenes covered three quarters of the year. New discoveries being made daily on the routine drives that I make as daily life takes residence.

The bird feeder traffic is picking back up just like spring. Such a choreographed beauty are the incoming birds both small and large as they take turns at the feeder. Although Mr Cardinal can clear a feeder when he wants to. I still need to identify several of the new birds coming to visit but in the morning and before dusk this is a happening place from tiny wrens all the way to even a crow or two. Doves come at off times and even the notorious blue jays are playing nice with the other birds.

Friday I took Buddy for her annual shots and physical. Oh dear friends, Buddy wasn't happy at all with the morning. I took her back to the vet who only treats and sees cats thinking this would be better for Buddy. I am rethinking this. There is something or perceived threat from her point of view in that office. My fear is entering the porch and letting one of the resident cats out...there is a warning sign posted not to let them out and of course the sign just makes entrance and exit that more stresful.  Now back to Buddy. She never acted this way for the vet in Fulshear. She was feisty but not in total attack mode. The vet took time to get Buddy to relax but Buddy is particular about her food and treats and the treats they were trying to bribe her with weren't anything she took an interest in. The vet even got down and sat on the floor to help Buddy but Buddy wasn't having any of it. She inspected and kept close to the walls or underneath the chairs and bench. I put my hand out toward Buddy and she took a couple of swipes at me but only with her paws, not claws. That's when the vet asked, does she treat you this way at home? Now to be honest she doesn't but that doesn't mean she hasn't taken a swipe or two or a bite or two at me but it is seldom and mostly done as a surprise move not being defensive and protective...So I responded no but I thought to myself and I'm thankful I didn't say what I thought because this vet is a hard nose, competent vet who just happens to own twelve cats. But I wanted to respond to her, well at home I'm not chasing her around, trying to put something up her butt, trim her nails or give her a shot. They finally had to do the swaddling method with towels but it didn't calm Buddy at all. No Buddy began to make the sound of a siren or an old time full gospel woman full of the spirit. After the ordeal the Dr had a talk with me about Buddy's food even though she had declared that Buddy's teeth were in pristine condition for a ten year old cat. She had never seen such beautiful teeth on a cat that old. She wants me to change Buddy over to more wet than dry food. I tried to explain that Buddy never shows any interest in wet food, not even tuna that drops from a sandwich. I also mentioned that Buddy stays very hydrated and is a self grazer that knows portion dice... She went on to help me understand the percentages of protein and the like and that is where she lost me...all the sudden taking care of Buddy had turned into math and my brain was shutting down but my mouth kept saying, uh huh, uh huh, oh yes...uh huh....Brain on major shutdown and the vet is sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher. At least she wrote down what she was saying...Knowing that the food she wants to me to give to Buddy cannot be found at the grocery store, I still looked when I went because finding something comparable to experiment will be much cheaper than ordering food. So I found this organic cat food...and bought three cans of flavors that Buddy likes. When I placed them before the queen for dinner she looked at me like what is this crap? Where are my treats? What about my regular dry food? So mixed a little in...still got the look.  Before the night was over, I had cleaned out the dish and put in dry food. Happy, happy kitty cat. So Saturday morning while working outside the black and white one eyed cat came to say hello. That poor cat is so skinny and the idea came to me, give her the open can of cat food and maybe with hunger abated she won't be as intent on catching a bird. That cat scarfed down the organic cat food that Buddy snubbed and being a good hostess I also gave it some water to drink. Cat wasn't interested in hydration, guess since it ate wet cat food.

/Roy is so happy that I put up the cushions from the outdoor furniture and assembled the chairs in one spot to be covered with a tarp. I also put more lights out around the deck and did so successfully without falling amongst the wheat straw.  I disassembled boxes and got them ready for recycling.

Since I took off the one sabbatical Sunday, I was very ready to get to church. Red Box loaded and ready to be delivered, LSU t-shirts for friends (I doubted if they would even want them after Saturday) and of course my Bible and quarterly. So happy to walk in with my friend Inez and then enter into the warmth of our Sunday School class. Warmth on many levels...friendship and love warmth and we also are in the hottest room of the whole church for our class.  Yes, there in freezing temps we turned on the ceiling fan. Gale had got the class to settle down when Larry came in to advertise the Christmas Luncheon for seasoned adults...I am not going to write Senior Citizen...opps, I just did. Anyway, since peer pressure is always a factor I signed up and then asked Gale to be my dining friend. After church I ran to CVS for a prescription and it dawned on me that I had read DQ had their Christmas Blizzard ready for serving...since October 26th. Oh my, the peppermint and Oreo blizzard so welcomed , so delicious. Then I came home and had salad for lunch. It was the right thing to do...Then back to church for an afternoon Christmas music rehearsal.

Usually the drive home from choir practice is in the dark now that we are off of DST but it was dusk and the beauty that greeted me that morning was now in new light of subdued tones of evening. Life settling in and ready for Monday. Children getting in that last bit of play before going in. The cows not huddled but moving closer preparing for the coming night. Once again my heart overflowing with thankfulness that we have a home here in the beauty of the mountains, that I got to experience my first real autumn, thankful for a hubby who has made all this happen, and for friends here and there, friends I've known for years and for friends who feel like I have known them for years....for all of this my heart and life exclaims...thanks be to our God.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Thursday Kind of Day

Easing into the day this morning. It is a bit overcast with cooler temps heading this way and a wind advisory has been issued. According to Ray's Weather, the ultimate authority of WNC, we haven't had the normal amount of windy days this fall. I have to believe him cause I wouldn't know this being our first fall here. Mike the Mower Man and I met briefly yesterday morning and he will begin work next week on the stone steps down to the flat part of the yard.  Next spring, we will be able to use and access the flat portion of the yard. Included in the plans will be the installation of a small decorative ditch to continue to take rain water down and out into the yard. We have experienced rain lately and nothing pools too much but we are getting ready for a downpour day or days that are surely in the future.While we were talking about the steps I also learned a little history of the house and a history with the neighbor above us. Now there was a story and it will be so helpful when we plant trees next spring. Very interesting and informative which explains a few loose ends. Mike also related why there are problems with the back deck. It was the ex husband that was the husband at the time that built the back deck...only thing...he is a musician. No wonder I have had my doubts about that deck but I digress and feel a little more informed about the process of life before we came onto the scene.

Left Mike with the yard and headed over to Barnes and Noble and to Target...with a quick stop in Lifeway. I tried to go to Home Goods but holiday parking has already started and since Sequishaun is so difficult to park, I just eased on down the road only to be harassed by a minivan from Texas who in typical minivan ways pulled out in front of me only to go slow and then at the stop vehicles coming from the other way, we sat, we waited for the bus driver to move that huge minivan onto the ramp of the freeway. Thankfully, I got around them but could see in the rear view mirror that traffic was piling up behind them. A quick stop at Fresh Market and I was on my way home and returned to freshly cut grass and the wonderful fragrance that it brings. Since it has dried out a bit I worked on the lights on the back deck railing. I picked up a remote control plug for the outdoors at Lowe's, so on/off is a breeze.

Roy's safety moment from his company is something I can use. It is about poison oak, sumac and poison ivy. I need to memorize what each plant looks like and don't say the three leaves thing cause there are a lot of plants that have three leaves. The best thing is to just stay away from yard work and the potential occurrences meeting up with the poison family. Maybe the snakes and poison sumac could meet up and just take care of one another's presence.

I have a mind for trivia, so sometimes the strangest things come to mind. I know this is a shock to most, maybe...haha! Yesterday, in the bookstore I noticed several different things. First off, Starbucks still has Christmas on their Christmas Blend coffee. Gee whiz! Then I noticed a redundancy in titles or words in titles...light, girl, little, various modes of transportation in fiction but in both fiction and nonfiction alike, the un_______ fill in the blank, seems to be trending.  The pastor at First Baptist Houston has his new book out Unstoppable Gospel, which is on my to be read list and I read yesterday that Steven Furtick has a book coming out in 2016 called Unqualified, which is not on my to be read list. I know mentioning two titles doesn't seem like a trend but I saw a few books yesterday and of course my trivia brain can't remember the titles. I never been good with titles.  Two books I bought yesterday, a history of the Pisgah Forest and The New Yorker-1950's addition.

Made a quick trip to the Post Office and then to fill up the truck. Such a beautiful day so when I got back home I worked in the backyard again. Tomorrow is bringing colder temps. We are excited that our friends David and Emily are spending Thanksgiving with us. Trying to get thing taken care of for their arrival and then also some of the things that just need taken care of.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Red Cups and Red Boxes

Here is an update to yesterdays post on the remaining suspects being at large...ok, there were five all together and sometimes it was four and at first they thought three. Then the authorities said everyone that had been in that minivan had either been captured or were far away. Later on, the report that they had captured the two remaining suspects at 11:30 am oh just about seven or eight miles from here. I don't know but that seems to be in the vicinity more than far away. I am happy to hear they have been caught and now detectives and sheriffs are looking for all the jewelry tossed out from the minivan in Canton.

This morning the sun is out and the temps have moderated up from yesterday. The next few days look like perfect chamber of commerce weather. Our yard now holds more leaves than the trees but the maples across the way and down the road are holding tightly with leaves and color. The calves from the herd across the road have been culled and the herd is down in size. A mournful moo is still heard several times throughout the day. My little calf that I cared about has moved on with the other calves.

I read a lot yesterday and so loved the down time doing so. Books and magazines with a few Twitter and FB articles thrown in. This whole red cup thing with Starbucks has gone beyond viral. It wasn't that long ago that I would plan to get a Starbucks to partake in the rather new tradition of Christmas coffee in a red cup. So everyone is dividing up on sides. There are those who say if this is all that bothers're not persecuted. Others bring up valid biblical points of taking care of widows, orphans and the loving the disenfranchised being more important than a red cup. Many don't care and think it is a social media driven thing planned out by some super brain marketing person. Then there are those who will just continue to drink the coffee whether the cup be white or red. The funny thing about this entire Starbucks debacle is it wouldn't really be on the radar except churches, not all but a lot, have bought into the whole coffee=good church experience thus trickling into the mindset of church experiencers. Because we are sheep in so many ways, churches have taken bits and pieces of Starbucks to incorporate into the Sunday/Wednesday night/fellowship experience. When I was on staff at a church we were so thrilled to get our hands on the corporate Starbucks employee handbook because the thought and information contained therein made sense as a good business plan. So we took this business plan, played around with it and made it churchy lefemme because lawd knows we couldn't be creative enough to come up with something. Even though I don't have a dog in this show it still bothers me how the church grasps wildly at corporate business plans to be more effective but shield themselves with the Bible when business plans aren't working, rather not working for "their" desired result. But if we just wait a while this whole red cup thing will just drift into the land of themes and buzz words.  Soon prayer of Jabez, missional living, being purpose driven, mission statements,  authentic selves and other fads will welcome the red cup to the land of discards and after thoughts. And the church isn't the only one to have discards and after thoughts. Remember the ALS water challenge, Bring Our Girls Back, Game of Thrones, risky behavior filmed and posted, deflate gate...I could go on cause the heap gets higher everyday.

There are so many festivals and craft fairs up here and it is difficult to decide which ones to attend. It is much easier here to buy local and support local businesses and artists. It has made gift buying a lot more fun and I thought it was fun beforehand. This year I participated in something I never ever thought I would be a part of and that my friends is the WMU. Back in the day that was women's ministry. My mom didn't participate in it very much but she made me go to GA's. Anyway, the WMU of North Carolina prepares red boxes, not to be confused with red cups, for women in prison and in jail. My friend told me I could go to the dollar store and just about find everything. She was right only having to find personal size tissues someplace else. I would have put in some of my festive ones but uniformity is the call for the boxes so women won't get into fights over the stuff. So now I just need to assemble the box and bring it back on Sunday. Writing about red boxes is much more fun than red cups.

Mike the Mower Man will be here in just a bit to discuss putting in the stone stairs giving access to the flat part of the front yard.

Monday, November 9, 2015

How Not To Give In To Unrealistic Fear or Rearranging Furniture for Realistic and Unrealistic Reasons

The evening, dark. The threat of rain imminent. The quiet welcomed as it helped me ease into the evening. It was a continuation of Sabbatical Sunday since I was firmly ensconced at home, so choir practice wasn't in the plan of sabbatical. A book and a cup of hot tea beckoned me to the couch when my sabbatical and silence interrupted by an alert on my iPhone. No details yet but there has been reported a large police presence about four miles away at a major intersection nearby...what! No details? As one tends to do, I began Googling and keeping a close tab on Twitter for those waiting developments to the story. Nothing! In the search for information I came across our community watch group page and found out much to my surprise our little community store where we get our gas station pizza had been robbed on October 17 and the thief fled on foot toward a major road nearby. OK, this bit of news did nothing but flame the fires of fear. Yet no updates on the major police presence. At this point I am so thankful that I didn't go to choir practice because this po po presence was happening nearby. So I did what we should all do in times of fear, I prayed for the po po and for our community but especially for all who happened to be at church. Since I am wont to imagine situations that will never happen, here's an example, Peggy and I always joked that we would like to follow news stories and be present when the reporter begins interviewing those in the crowd. We would have our hair in rollers or a hairnet, wear old housecoats and apply makeup to be totally bizarre because we all know those are the people that get interviewed for those stories of a neighbor gone bad. So to occupy myself because clearly I haven't prayed enough or believed enough, I rehearse the scenario of being interviewed and I will be complete with dirty hair, very little makeup yet wearing my Baylor sweatshirt, cause you gots to fling your green and gold, when telling the story of skipping church and choir practice...but all this imagining going on and I have no clue why there is a police presence, a large police presence, in our community. Then another alert; the police are chasing three, then it became five and now the number is four, suspects in a red minivan...I kid you not...a minivan. They believed these suspects had robbed the Jared Gallery of Jewelry in Asheville earlier that evening. Being reported too was the news they did not think the suspects were from the area. I deduce they came up with that because you have to know these back roads to be effective. Too many end abruptly and right into a road or driveway that says private property or no turn arounds. The fate of the suspects could be more dismal than capture by the po po and the excuse of I was just looking for the home of an aunt that I visited in childhood wouldn't fit the situation of being chased in the dark of night...which means 6:00 pm off of daylight savings time. The red minivan disabled by stop sticks, I don't know what those are but they probably related to road spikes used in all the chase scenarios in Houston,  Anyway, the suspects fled on foot and they were able to apprehend one of them and still searching the area for the others. Oh my goodness! Now every noise in the house becomes suspicious noise so I begin closing window treatments, drapes, and wishing I now had some on the bay window. To occupy my sense of fear, several conversations on the phone should do the trick. Nope, still suspects on the loose and I am making plans to have spotlights installed for our front yard and driveway. Nothing says I am trying to act normal than to move furniture. Because it is now in the cooler temps we rarely use our door off the back deck. What better way to open up a room but to move a huge chair to be partially in front of that back door as the second backup because the rug inhibits the door being opened very wide or wide enough for a suspected jewelry thief to get into the house. News comes in that two more have been apprehended with one still on the loose. I must confess the likelihood of a suspect making it this far is nearly impossible. Since we are told they are not from the area, all these hills and mountains, wooded forests that contain a bear or two, pastures with electric fences, and maybe Bubba and Bubba Jr practicing night time hunting by shooting cans off a rock make it so unlikely that anyone of these suspects could make it this far. I am comforted by that fact but still the thought remains when they report not from the area does that mean they are from Waynesville or Burnsville or Weaverville or any of the other villes located nearby? Reluctantly, I head upstairs after moving the chair and for good measure moving a desk, but it went against a wall so it doesn't count as fortification. I moved it more for room as I am one of the host homes for dinner for our women's ministry progressive Christmas dinner and I am trying to determine how many can fit here comfortably.

This morning the good news is that they have apprehended three of the suspects, they are from Detroit, so no mad mountain man skills to traverse hill and dale and they think the fourth suspect is long gone from our area. How do they know that?  It is a rainy and overcast morning so traversing hill and dale would be even more difficult. So Buddy and I have enjoyed this morning easing into the day, don't have any plans and don't have to be away from the house. I have plenty to occupy me but first thing is finishing up that third cup of coffee and letting Buddy nap a little longer on my lap. In the morning light I like where the chair is located and moving the desk has opened up the room. although my view isn't as inspiring while sitting here but all I have to do is turn around.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It Was the Eighth of November....

It has been a fun weekend with the arrival of my niece Erin and her friend and her roommate Katherine. They got here Friday a little after noon and we were out hitting the roads soon after bringing in their bags. They were so much fun. We tried to do a highlight trip for them so that when they come back they know some options of places to hike and scenery just waiting to be photographed. Erin and Katherine left this morning because they needed to get back to college to write research papers and prepare for a presentation.

Since I didn't know when they would be leaving today, I already had it in mind that I would miss church. So, I took a rare sabbatical Sunday. I made a quick trip to the grocery store and then came back home to watch the choir and orchestra on the webcast of the 11:00 service at Houston's First Baptist. The internet connection was not cooperating and I had to reboot it several times but finally I was able to connect and came in the middle of Lisa P's song.

It was astonishing how much NC 215 toward the Blue Ridge Parkway had changed from Tuesday to Friday. Most trees had lost all their leaves but it was still a beautiful drive. Katherine is a wonderful photographer and she took a lot of pics that I will be anxious to see. We made a stop at one of the bigger waterfalls and a man was there taking pictures of it too. When he saw the Baylor sticker on the back of the truck he asked us about the Baylor game the previous night. He is from Maryland and is a HUGE Baylor fan, he tries never to miss the games but the hotel he was at didn't carry the channel they were on. I was happy to tell him they won but not with such a wide margin. Ah flinging our green and gold. Unfortunately, the LSU game didn't have a great report and I wisely decided not to watch the second half and instead went to bed and hoped for the best. I woke up at 3:00 am to check the score and was able to turn back over and go to sleep.

Four years ago today my mom passed away. I have missed her so much. I know she would be so happy for Roy and me. I kind of kept an eye out for a cardinal today, but none showed. But, there were all kinds of new birds and some types I had not seen since spring. So it was enjoyable to eat lunch and watch them dart in and out picking up seed and chasing one another off. The black one eyed cat didn't come by, so all those birds were safe once again to come and go to eat as they please.

I am so thankful today. There are many people and things to certainly give thanks for. God has certainly blessed me and in turn I hope to be a blessing right back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tuesday and Wednesday...It Looks Like Fall but Feels Like Spring

Today I experienced the all too famous quickly changing weather scenario on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Judy and I were driving up 215 to the Parkway. It is a wonderful and beautiful drive and I must have told Doug fifty times I was going to come back to this road while we were on it when he was here. On a Tuesday there wasn't much traffic and we were able to amble at our own pace. I had sworn Judy to secrecy and to never divulge anything about my poor decision on a one lane road and how Miss Dyslexic even with a backup camera came back down the hill. But here I am telling you something about that. It all happened at Camp Logan and what happens at Camp Logan stays at Camp Logan except for the extra mud on my truck. Anyway, such a beautiful drive and we came upon the Parkway and we were headed for Graveyard Fields. Except we encountered fog of the worst kind...really bad. In fact, we drove past Devil's Courthouse and I made a mental note to stop at the overlook on our way back to take a picture of all the water coming out of the rock. Only thing all the fog had rolled in and the rock wasn't even visible. Nothing much was visible. It seemed like one could take a step into the mist and be in heaven but we knew better than that and pretty much stuck around the car. We came back down 215 in order to stop and take some pictures of waterfalls and trees. Then we drove over the back way to Waynesville for lunch. We had a great day and hope another trip is in our future or lunch.

Now it is Wednesday. I should have worked more on my blog last night but I sat around and read too long into the evening. Everything is pretty much ready for our guests this weekend, but there are always the last minute things that need to be done. Hopefully, I can knock a few of those off the list this evening and finish up tomorrow.

This time last year Dena and I were staying at the Inn on the Biltmore Estate and got up early to take the first shuttle over to the house because it was the day they were bringing in the huge Christmas tree to be arranged in the banquet hall and decorated. It was very exciting and such a fun thing to do. Today, I was in the area, over in Biltmore Village but not on the estate to see all the happenings. I did see all the traffic as cars were lined up in so many lanes of traffic trying to get onto the estate. I took the left and found a parking place. I had breakfast at the Corner Kitchen and then I did some walking around the village browsing through shops. Only at Williams Sonoma did I buy something and only some holiday tea and holiday swizzle sticks for hot chocky. My hair appointment was at noon and since Christine had just been to NYC and had learned a new technique with having a razor cut, that's what she did. She always takes the opportunity to help her interns or lower level stylists learn, so Kelly was there watching it all happen. As Christine described me I liked how after tall she said and Nancy...ok, she is scrambling for another word for fat or big...has a presence when she enters a room. Now that was right nice of her to say that...time for a bunny trail...On a drive home from being up here Roy and I were having great conversations and we were there in Jackson Mississippi going onto I 55 when he says, everybody deals with their looks. The handsome and beautiful deal with their looks as they age and might not keep the outstanding looks they have possessed for most of their lives and then he said, there are the others like us, who dealt with our looks when we were younger...we knew we weren't a part of the pretty crowd, so you deal with it and hope for the best as the years go by. He is very insightful, that Roy. I like how Christine said presence because I thought about someone who said something once to me that really was a farce. This person, who wants to be the benevolent dictator says to me one day at church out of the blue, Nancy, do you know you're pretty? Now she was not saying this because I was but she thought if she said that to me, she was giving me some confidence that would be attributed to her and her insight but not power...this person never wants to give anyone power. So I responded, yea, all the time! Heard it all my life...gee, what made you say that? I can still remember how she looked so self satisfied as if she had given me a gift and I knew the deal was sealed in her mind, when the head tilt came. But then came the look of shock at my response. Well, that hadn't gone the way she had planned. Anyway, bunny trail and all, I like my haircut. It is getting less and less complicated and on my next visit...we are going to add back highlights. She is thinking in a coppery tone since my hair tends to the warm side. I don't know...I have gone that way before and I end up looking like this cranky lady that used to go to First Baptist. At least now I look like a younger Harper Lee and I am good with that.

I knew the crowd would have dissipated at the Biltmore, so I went over to take advantage of pass holder appreciation. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful drive. Still so much color to observe and commit to memory. I remembered that I 26 coming home was down to one lane, so I took an alternate route. Off the main highway I got behind a school bus which was delivering elementary kids home from school. The kids almost to each one would run to meet whoever was meeting them at the stop. Another thing, if they had to cross the street in front of the bus, they lined up and waited for the signal from the bus driver to go across the street. One stop along the way was a trailer park full of single wide trailers. A group of rag tag kiddos got off the bus but no one was there to meet them. The driver stayed longer at that stop watching each one reach a door. It was a sad looking trailer park and I have never noticed it before. The next stop was at another trailer house, that has tons of trash outside of it. The windows and what little curtains that were there just screamed hopelessness. The next stop was a latch key kid at a small home and he was very aware and trying not to forecast he had to pull a key out of his pocket to get inside the house. The irony of just being at the world's largest private home and then watching these little kiddos probably living below the poverty line and who knows what else exiting a school bus.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rain, Fog, and A Hope

It was a dark, rainy and foggy night. It was my first experience of driving in the dark to church because there have been plenty of times I've driven home in the dark from choir practice. As with any road you begin to mark your signposts of recognition. There are two curves that kind of sneak up on me in the dark and I am more aware of where they are and once I have passed the signs on the top of the hill informing the driver of a church entrance I know my next turn will be rather immediate. So looking at the road in the dark from the opposite direction will take some practice of finding the signposts that mark the journey. Thankfully it is just about four miles to and from church but in the dark, misty, foggy and rainy seems a lot longer.

With all the fog last night I anticipated the morning to have its fill of fog but it proved to be rather clear and only the shrouds of fog laying or lying...I don't remember the correct the valleys. The fall foliage is still bright and wonderful around here with the higher elevations now past their peak or so say the experts. On FB and in an email on Sunday the official end of the fall foliage report was listed over for 2015 and informed the immediate closings on the Parkway and those that will be closing in several days. Wow, it kind of felt somewhat like the holidays some years...lots and lots of build up, boom Christmas morning...and then what? It's over. In Houston Roy and I would drive around just to watch people trying to find someplace that was get away from all the family or just trying to do something. One year the Walgreen's parking lot was jam packed with people needing something to do. So here this October, the crowds at restaurants have cause quite a wait for a table and there have been no rooms at the inn or hotel or motel. Then boom, November 1st...boom...officially fall foliage is over. I think I will continue to celebrate the autumnal colors for a little longer. This time last year the area had already had the first snow and this year we will have temps closer to the 70's by the end of the week. All in all my first October in the mountains was a fabulous one. Loved that I actually got to experience fall, oh was great!

I had a bit of a crisis on Saturday afternoon and it all had to do with a dryer. It is no secret that I don't really care for the washer and dryer that came with the house. They are old, non energy efficient and I miss the steam feature on a dryer because with it, no ironing happened. It is not happening now either because I don't have an iron here...accept me wrinkled or don't. Thus I love flannel and jeans cause neither one needs to be ironed. But I have gone down a bunny trail...anyway, I felt that the dryer was no longer drying clothes. The time needed to get things dry was way too long. So first thing, I went outside with the lint brush to clean out the dryer vent. Yes, little Miss Safety climbed up on an outdoor chair but it wasn't high enough to do a good job. So, out came the ladder but I was afraid I would splatter if I climbed too high. I was good for about two rungs and then my sense of balance that no longer lives with me on a full time basis exited and I knew I could not go up any higher. I did remove a more lint. Because I was unhappy with the prospect of no dryer I did the only thing a rational woman would do, I told Roy that I was going to Lowe's and getting a new washer and dryer...even though on my insides I was saying...uh, you just got a new heat pump, propane tank and generator...taxes will be due soon...don't like credit card debt...this is such an empty threat. Roy suggested I ask around about repairmen that could look at the thing and be strong enough to clean out the dryer hose because the heating element still worked. Yea, well...ok. Then I took several things out of the dryer and in true you do what you have to do form, hung clothes over the railings on the stairs, over the backs of chairs and across the iron foot boards of the twin beds upstairs. Can I get a yehaw?! I now own some duct tape and I wasn't too far from using it to hang up clothes but I resisted that thought, thankfully. I then started drying a smaller amount of clothes and it was a miracle! The dryer worked! Note to self flannel, sweatshirts and jeans are not a good combination in a dryer and maybe a smaller load would also be advisable.

The misty rain is starting again. My cup of coffee and a good book or maybe I should start out by reading the Good Book...are beckoning and I must respond. It is one of those days I really like...overcast with rain...with no place I have to be and no one officially here doing some kind of work.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Off Of Daylight Saving Time and Into The New Normal...For a Couple of Months

Off of Daylight Savings Time and the new normal is dark at 5:35 pm. I got the garbage bin down to the road while there was still light. The rain and mist on the mountains and in the valleys have made for too many photo ops that I didn't take. Really, I mean I was driving to church and then running errands afterwards.  and could stop every few feet for a picture. The cows were close by our road and someone this week lost a load of pine straw or as we call it in Texas pine needles. The day after fall festival day and the fragrance of Christmas which was nice to dispel the aroma of the past, our garbage can.

Even with the extra hour last night, I could have used another one as well. I went to bed early and slept till it was time to get up and get ready for church. I was rather groggy for about twenty minutes but I was finally able to pull myself out of the bed. Last night our church did a Fall Festival for our community. I have participated in years past at our church in Houston but this fall festival opened my eyes to see many things differently. I volunteered for the trunk or treat. So I decorated Sequishshaun all fallish like with the addition of white twinkling Christmas lights. Lots of princesses, cowboys, nerds and Super Mario but there were so many faces of death masks and devil masks...guess we didn't see this in Houston because the postcard or email that went out said no scary or Halloween costumes. You saw it all last night. Kids carrying little bitty pumpkins for candy all the way up to pillow cases. Most kids were with parents or other family and they were all so polite and thanked you for the candy without much prompting from parents. The costume I liked a lot was the kid dressed as a jellyfish. He used an umbrella and made tentacles and used pink lights on the frame. It was really rather cute. I could not help but notice that many here look much older than they are and I am talking about parents or family members. The other day at CVS the man at the counter gave his birth date to pick up his prescription and he was only two years older than me but his face and the way he walked, I would have guessed at least ten years older than me. I saw something that kind of shocked me but not really. This mama was yelling at the kids to only take two pieces of candy at the truck next to mine and then after the kids had gotten their two pieces like they were instructed, that mamma went to town stuffing her sweatshirt with candy from the cooler. That certainly is a mixed message to kids. Life is difficult whether you live in the fourth largest city in the United States or in a small community north of Asheville and it is unbearable without Jesus. Many of those families enjoying the evening in our church parking lot need to know a greater joy than free hot dogs, chili, cake walks and hayrides...oh and free candy... There was the challenge presented to us this morning, we need to be out in the community sharing the Good News and living lives that reflect what we say we have found. So that makes it an uncomfortable foray and meeting people where they are. Lot to think, pray and act on just from handing out candy...

This morning before church I got a text from Lisa P letting me know it was NaBloPoMo month...National Blog Posting Month. So maybe I will be a little more consistent in posting. It isn't that I don't have a lot to think and write about...I do...but a lot of that is just things I'm writing about but not blogging least not right now.

I went to the grocery store after church and it was a happening scene. I got in and out and headed over to the Mexican restaurant for lunch. I love me some of their house specialty guacamole salad. I also got two soft chicken tacos. Very good! I came home and put up things, did a few to do things and then took a thirty minute nap. It could have been much longer but you know the whole it gets dark earlier now thing. In Houston the first week of going off Daylight time just means horrible...more horrible than usual traffic. No one wants to work late when it is night time and all head home.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Just Another Day in Autumnal Bliss

While I keep an eye on Texas weather, we have a breezy and cool start to the day. It is overcast and I can hear the sound of rifle shots in a distant pasture or forest. The huge leaves from our red bud tree are falling with more leaves on the deck and ground than in the tree. The wind picks one up every so often and I find myself watching to see if the underground deck railroad is back in business. I am so thankful it is merely leaves in the breeze. The one eyed kitty cat came around this morning to say hello but probably more to be on the hunt for birds...who have already been here for their breakfast. So far the cat has caught a lot of big rocks. It must be hard for a one eyed cat. He doesn't jump much and that is probably again due to his handicap. I left him a few cat treats out by the garage but I let him know he doesn't need to bring his catch of the day to me as a gift.

I took a Goode Company pecan pie over to my neighbor on Wednesday because she let several use her parking area on Tuesday night when my Sunday School class was here. She is about 80 years old, has new hearing aids and you will see her outside pushing her mower...not gasoline or electric powered, around a few places that she feels Mike the mower man might have missed. Her hair is white curls that come out of a Toni box or whatever permanents are sold today. She invited me into her home and when I crossed the threshold I stepped back in time, not just to another time but for me to another place. There in that small, well kept home were things that reminded me of my grandmother's home where I spent many a summer. The beautiful tongue and groove hardwood floors covered by rugs both great and small. Her tiny kitchen, although not anything in appearance like my grandmothers, but it had that welcoming feel. There was something boiling on the stove...which she paid little attention to until she noticed me staring at it. She was excited that her electric lines were going to be fixed on Thursday and that her front porch would be more inviting without all those wires around. Her home absorbed a huge lighting strike this summer and many of her appliances were damaged and unusable. I remembered seeing an old microwave oven on her side porch. Slowly but surely she has been having things repaired and replacing those things damaged by the storm. She still watches her afternoon "stories" and she reads a lot. I loved being a guest in her home for those fleeting minutes because it flooded me with good memories and summers that went by too fast for the rest of the evening.

On Tuesday evening, and I know I have written about this, about twenty or so ladies came over for a potluck dinner. We are the JOY class and the name fits the class. And we could be called
Cooks Class because at every party, these ladies blow me away with their culinary skills. Maybe their skills will rub of on me. I think that is Roy's prayer. I have heard from several by phone and by cards how much fun they had, Many have expressed they enjoyed how we have decorated our home. I don't know about that but I want it to be a warm and inviting home.

Today the generator has finally been hooked up and we did the test run on it powering the house. Hallelujah! It all works well. No more worries about the pump to the well, not being able to open the garage door around keeping my phone charged up at all times. Just installing this will ensure a mild winter in our area and now those pesky summer storms with loss of power will hopefully just be a blip on the screen.

Tonight our church is having Fall Festival for our community. I am doing the trunk or treat part and I have finally came up with a solution for adequate lighting. I bought some battery operated Christmas lights and put them on a trellis as well as buying two lanterns run by battery power. Nice touches but not enough light. Then I remembered the flashlights I had bought at Tractor Supply with magnets on the bottom of a quick trip there yesterday evening was made and now I have several of those lights to put on the side of the truck to provide light to see into the candy basket.