Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 188

Another weekend away, another week of questions on the run. But they're up and that's what matters, right?  Answer on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to share your answers with the class.  See you there!

1.  What's something you wanted to do this summer that you never got around to actually doing?

2. Share a favorite memory of your own back -to-school days as a child.

3.  What's one chore or daily task you prefer doing 'old-school' ?

4.  Share something you've learned in life through the 'school of hard knocks'.

5.  As a child, did you mostly bring or buy your lunch for school? What was your favorite thing to find in your lunchbox?

6. Football season is upon us which has me wondering... how big of a sports fan are you (not just football) ? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being 'I scream at the players through my television screen' and 1 being 'is knitting a sport?' where do you fall in fandom? 

7. Share a favorite quote you think might inspire students of all ages at the start of a new school year. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Finding Beauty in This Tired Troubled Earth

Back in early August we spent a week in the Florida Keys. The Keys are known for their fabulous sunsets, and we were fortunate to be in just the right viewing spot one evening as we waited on our dinner. I didn't have my good camera with me, just my phone, but it's hard to ruin a spectacular sunset even if you're me.  

Planet Earth feels especially harsh just now. Chaos abounds. We humans have been witness to unspeakable acts of violence. We've seen evil on display in living color, an ocean away yet close to home as the faces of broken children and journalists flash across our screens. It doesn't feel an ocean away. 

In our own country riots and looting and destruction of property in the name of peace? 
I don't pretend to understand. 

It's not just the big picture that hangs askew either, its the snapshots around dinner tables and in social media and real life gatherings where sides must be chosen, defended, argued to infinity and beyond. Is anyone else tired of the massive leaps to judgement about anything and everything, by all the rage and anger we're confronted with at every turn? Weary of a society lacking in grace and second chances?

On a warm August evening I stand in front of a sky on fire and I feel small. Helpless to do anything about everything in this great big mixed up world. And I watch a big yellow ball sink slowly into the sea. I  document her descent inch by inch and my heart feels a little lighter. I smile and remember when our girls were little and we'd tell them the sun was dropping right into the ocean... going to bed, and they'd say 'good night sun' with their soft sweet voices and innocent eyes.

I understand how easy it is for people to feel insignificant in a world gone mad. To think, 'Wow-God's sure got His hands full with this place.' My own problems seem ridiculous when held up beside a war ravaged Middle East, missing jet airliners, earthquakes, or even a country like ours that just can't seem to find the right way forward.

Which is why every now and then I think the whole world needs to watch a pink-golden sun set down on the water. The sureness of it, the staggering multi-colored beauty of it, is a visual reminder that God is in the details. He's a worker of miracles and a bringer of peace. He is big and He is God and He's got the whole world in His hands.

You and me and them. The world wars and the families in turmoil. The national discord and the day to day worries that loom large when our heads hit their pillows at night.

Watching the sunset helps me remember the One who sinks the sun into the sea is the same One who hears me when I whisper His name.

My daughter called a little while ago. Her wedding dress arrived in the store today and as I listened to the excitement in her voice my heart filled all the way up.  Yes this world is harsh, but it is also filled with indescribable joys.  Keep looking up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Working Hodgepodge

The Hodgepodge is back, just in time to kiss August goodbye. Thanks for joining in today...be sure to add your link at the end of my post before running off to see what your fellow 'laborers' had to say.  Here we go-

1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer.

Tough question. We've had a lot of really wonderful weekends this summer. I guess my favorite was probably Portugal. I loved the scenery, the food, the history, and most especially the company.  I miss traveling abroad. 

2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st.  What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?

Another toughie. I've had many jobs I've truly loved and none I've truly disliked. I loved teaching kindergarten. In my mind 5 is the perfect age. As for what job I liked the least? Maybe working in the dining room of a local nursing home my senior year of high school. I didn't dislike it, but it wasn't something I loved either.  

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?

The school year begins after Labor Day here. Students don't get out for the year until June, and I guess May-August or June-September is all apples. 

Except in my head May is spring and June is summer. 

And August is most definitely summer and September is back-to-school.  

Regarding the later start times...the studies are pretty persuasive. Just sayin'. My girls went to high school in the UK and didn't leave the house until after 8 am.  The year before we moved though, my oldest attended grade 9 in Maryland. Her bus came in the literal dark of morning at 6:21 a.m., which I thought was positively absurd.   

4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?

Wedding planning. Definitely a labor of love! My girl and I make a good team and while there are many decisions to made on what feels like a weekly basis, we're having fun with it all.  Can't wait to see the 'fruits of our labor' in just a few months.  

5. Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.', or 'Many hands make light work.'

Hmmm...well I've been catching up on housework a little bit this week, so maybe the first one. There are not many jobs within a household that only need doing once. In fact I can't think of any...a woman's work is never done. 

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?

I love them both, but if you make me choose I'd opt for crab over lobster.  Favorite way to have them prepared? Steamed, seasoned with Old Bay, and picked while sitting at a wooden picnic table beside the river.  

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Which of the three do you think is most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.

I'm going to say c is most important-in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Opportunity to learn, grow, develop a new skill, a little humility, or a heaping helping of patience. Sometimes I feel like the message today is along the lines of- if you don't absolutely love everything about your job, then you should quit and find one that makes you 'happy'.  

I have a saying I'm not sure my girls particularly love, but it's this-If it were all fun and games they wouldn't call it work. They'd call it leisure.'  I do think it's nice if you can love everything about your job, but let's face it, that's rare.  Most jobs are a mixed bag.  If you can't find personal satisfaction in the actual work you're doing, then take satisfaction in knowing you're supporting yourself and are growing in some way. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My husband got a new personal phone and it's not able to locate our home wifi. Or something? He was on the phone with Apple for over an hour, has made three trips to the Apple Store in the past two days, in addition to a lengthy call with our Internet provider.  And for some reason he wants me to be in on it all, even though he knows if we were ranking technology know-how in our family of four I would land in the number 4 spot. 

It's possible I will not have Internet access today because Apple wants to look at our airport. 

Or something.  

Anyhoo, I'm only in the middle of filling out umpteen pieces of paper needed to move some investments around, am completing and signing four different vendor contracts related to the wedding, and it's Hodgepodge Day.  I'll do my best to visit, but it may be Thursday. That's the day I'll be without a car because, again with the no air conditioning. 

It's been a week. 
Half a week? 

Happy Wednesday Everyone! 

*postscript-we turned off wifi on all our devices, shut down the AirpPort and modem, then restarted and whoohoo! Success! His phone is now magically working.  Because that's how the Internet works. By magic. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 187

Welcome back to the Hodgepodge! I can't say I'm caught up, but I'm not any further behind either, so that's something, right? It's nice to be back, and I always appreciate a week with a ready made theme. See you back here tomorrow to share the love! 

1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?

2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st.  What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?

4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?

5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' 'Many hands make light work.'

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Weekend. FORE!

Good Monday morning! I must begin today by giving props to the weekend weather. Spectacular! Hubs and I spent all day Saturday outdoors and it was De-lightful. Yes, with a capital D. His company had a booth at The Barclays tourney and we volunteered to help cover the Saturday morning shift.

Which began at 7am.

In the morning.

Nearly an hour from home.

In other words, early.

Technically they had two booths, the first one situated just opposite the warm up field.

Grass? Green?

We started out there and it was a great spot to watch players take their practice swings.

Putts? Drives? Can you tell I don't golf?

Vijay Singh set up directly in front of our booth, and while he didn't fare too awfully well in this tourney, he was amazing in the warm up.  He set up some kind of contraption (remember I don't golf) where he hit the ball between two skinny fiberglass poles, set only as wide apart as the width of the ball and never once missed. Never hit the pole. Just slowly, methodically knocked ball after ball through this exceedingly narrow space. Serious skilz!

About 9:30 we moved over to the second booth where spectators got to try their hand at putting. It was a popular booth and stayed busy, so when the reinforcements arrived to relieve us at noon we were ready for a break. Did I mention it was positively gorgeous on Saturday?

We grabbed a quick lunch then went in search of our favorite players. We missed my favorite favorite Phil Mickleson who teed off early and was already through for the day, but we did catch up with Rory McElroy (a crowd favorite) and Bubba Watson, who knocks the ever livin' daylights out of the ball. Bubba was paired with the Japanese player Hadeki Matsuyama and at one point we found ourselves standing beside his cameraman. Hubs said something to him in Japanese and I wish you could have seen his face light up. Hubs is not fluent but he knows enough words and phrases to communicate a little, and the cameraman was definitely not expecting that.

I may not play golf, but I do appreciate the beauty of a golf course and Ridgewood Country Club is a beautiful course. There are mega rules about picture taking which is probably why I look a little stressed in our selfie on the 17th. Y'all know I don't like to break the rules. There was no play happening when we snapped this, but the picture police were out in force.

Hubs doesn't look worried.

It was a fun day and did I mention the weather? Sunday was another beauty and if this is the prelude to fall I say bring it!

So what did you do this weekend? And more importantly was the sun shining, a breeze blowing, and did a clear blue sky make you happy?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sweet Tennessee

Since I ended my last post in the middle I think I'll begin this one the same way.
In the middle.

After all the wedding planning hoopla wrapped up last Friday, and Daughter2 had finished in her classroom for the day, we three girls headed over the mountains and through the woods to grandmother's house.

Close to it anyway.

Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains. Where the air is clear and hub's family gathers to mark life's occasions large and small, happy and sad, momentous and just because. This particular gathering was to mark a milestone large, happy and momentous-my father in law's 80th birthday. It's challenging to get hubs whole big family in the same place at the same time, but everybody cleared their calendars for this special weekend.

Hubs family is funny and they all talk a lot oftentimes on top of one another, and there is much kidding, laughter, and normally a few tears shed too, as we're a sentimental lot. One brother and one sister own cabins on the same gorgeous mountain so we all pile in and enjoy the minutes and the hours and the too short days.

Friday night we ate barbecue and caught up on wedding plans and what it's like to teach third grade and back to school excitement? for the under 21 set and funny things on the Internet and great music we all need to download.When I'm with my girls I always come home with new music to download. They keep us in the know, and we manage to teach them a few things too.

Like Zotz are sour.
Really really sour.

Saturday morning hubs, two brothers, and one sister-in-law headed out to play a round of golf. I think hubs and my sis-in-law would want me to let you know they won. This family is not competitive at.all. Ha!

The rest of us hung out at the mountain house with the birthday boy. With views like this one there really is no need to go anywhere further than a rocking chair on the back deck.

We had a fun birthday dinner celebration Saturday night at Calhoun's on the River, just across the street from the University of Tennessee. Hubs sister organized a really special gift for her dad.

She'd sent each family member 6 or 7 colored cards and we wrote a memory or thought for my father in law on each one, so he'd have 80 cards to read and treasure.

We each shared one or two of our cards throughout the meal and there was much picture taking and laughter and a few tears too. Because beneath all the joy in what remains there lingers the ever present knowledge of what we've lost. It's woven into the fabric of our family, and we don't try to pretend otherwise. Still we tell stories and the night is a sweet, sweet celebration of years lived and paths trod and memories made.  

Grandpa was definitely feeling the love.

There is a lot of love in this family.

Love never fails.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I feel so out of sync with my blog. I miss digging deep, putting my thoughts into too-wordy paragraphs as opposed to a series of lists thrown up here in order to sorta kinda keep up. I miss run on sentences and made up words that work. I miss reading and visiting and commenting on what others have written too, and please know I appreciate those of you who've stuck with me in this season. Because it is a season, and it's special and precious and real, and on days when I have to choose between living life and writing about it, I choose living. 'Tis a season of much living just now.

I like to think I'll catch up one day, but blogging doesn't really work that way, at least not for me. If I don't write as it's happening I tend not to go back. Unless it's way way back, but back to three weeks ago? Nah.

So here we are on a Tuesday nearing the end of August. We've had ridiculously fabulous un-summerlike weather, and as hubs and I were eating outside yesterday afternoon he commented that summer's over. For me Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer. I love autumn, in fact it's my favorite season of the year, but still I don't want to rush it. At the almost end of August I'm savoring summertime.

I've been away from home for two weeks if you don't count the one day I was home in between the coming and the going. I've flown to Miami, driven to the Keys, flown back to Newark, flown to South Carolina, driven to Tennessee, and then back home again just yesterday with hubs, on a two day stretch measuring almost 800 miles in that leg alone.

It feels good to be home. My house is quiet today. I have the screen door open in the kitchen, the washing machine is humming upstairs, my dog is relaxing like only she can, in her favorite familiar chair, and I'm making lists and thinking about what I'll fix for dinner and sipping coffee from a favorite mug. Since I'm rambling here today I think I'll write about South Carolina and save Tennessee for another time. It feels good to ramble. My head is full and rambling helps clear the cobwebs.

Last Tuesday morning hubs dropped me at the airport bright and early for my flight to the Palmetto State. Daughter1, aka the bride-to-be, was doing the same from D.C., and we managed to arrive in South Carolina about the same time. Miracles do happen.

Daughter2 was at work, so my brother-in-law collected us from the airport and then we sat for a bit in Atlanta Bread Company waiting on Daughter2's school lunch break. She met us at her apartment and gave us the key so we could hang there for the afternoon while she went back to work.  Oh, and she introduced us to the sweetest dog in the universe, her new rescue Greyhound-Gemma.

Seriously, I like to say my pup is the sweetest dog in the universe, but Gemma is a love, and she is so well-behaved. My pup is also a love, and she is mostly well-behaved. ahem. She loves her a party, what can I say?

Daughter1 and I had a slew of appointments scheduled the following two days and by Friday we both felt we'd accomplished much. The wedding planning tools now give you checklists and sometimes when I'd look at the list saying 124 things left to do and 40 should have already been done, my heart would race a little. We are in super good shape now though, and we both got so excited about a whole bunch of wedding-y goodness happening in just a few short months.

On Wednesday we met our wedding planner along with our florist extraordinaire at the church. Daughter1 is getting married in the church where Daughter2 is a member, so we'd both only been there as her visitors for church. It was really fun to notice the beautiful high wood ceiling and the ornate wood doors from the point of view of a wedding ceremony. Plus our florist is a bit of a fairy godmother when it comes to creating just the right everything, so we are super excited to see it on the big day.

After we left the church we trekked over to the reception venue where there will be twinkle lights and stardust
or something close to itand it was just a very happy fun morning together. We grabbed lunch then met back up with the wedding planner at the party rental company to select linens and chairs and and holy moly are there ever a lot of choices. This is where the wedding planner earned her paycheck...she was so helpful in narrowing down what we'd need and wouldn't need, and since she's seen most of the items in actual receptions she really made our decision process a whole lot easier.  Plus she is adorable.

We left her with the party rental professional to do all the math because ain't nobody got time for that, and hurried out to Daughter2's school so she could go with us for a cake tasting. She specifically requested we book at least one of those later in the day so she could attend, and since she's something of an expert when it comes to
sugarcake we definitely wanted her there. Plus she is adorable.

We did two different tastings while I was in town and in all honesty the first one was a little overwhelming. They gave us a ginormous board covered in different cakes and another covered in just as many fillings and we had bites of about 1000 different combinations, at which point my teeth were aching and my head was spinning. We made some choices but wanted a day to think about it before signing on the dotted line.

On Thursday Daughter1 and I met the photographer for coffee. I am so looking forward to seeing what he does on the day, because he really has a gift when it comes to picture taking. He was oh so helpful in narrowing down our time frame on the day too, because hello January you are not generous with your daylight. We both felt so much better about the timeline after our little meeting.

Next we hopped one door down for lunch with the groom's mama and a friend of hers. And more cake because that's just what you do. I felt a lot less confused at the second tasting.  There were fewer choices and the baker sat with us the whole time making suggestions. Apparently we like simple.

After cake tasting we all made our way downtown to view the rehearsal dinner venue the groom's parents have booked.  I'll blog about some of these details large and small after the wedding, but for now will just say it is such a unique venue, and the rehearsal dinner will be fabulous. We left there and drove out to meet the caterer who will be making the food for the rehearsal dinner, and then it's possible we took a wrong turn coming home and nerves were fraying. What's a little wedding planning without a frayed nerve or two?

We made it though, and high-fived ourselves before it was time to collect Daughter2 from her Meet The Teacher evening at school.  We ordered dinner in every night so the pup wouldn't be alone all day and all evening too, and also because we were ti.red. But happy.

Plus the bride-to-be? She's adorable.

Friday morning Daughter1 and I dropped Daughter2 at her classroom and we took a peek inside to see how her room is shaping up.  She's awesome. Her students and their parents are so lucky. We left her to get back to it, then headed downtown to confirm a couple of items with the hotel where out of town guests will be staying. We swung by the WalMart too, for a few little bits and bobs I wanted to get Daughter2 for her new apartment.

Talk about frayed nerves!

I vacuumed while Daughter1 put her Allen Wrench skilz to good use assembling a little cafe table and chair set we'd purchased for her sister's deck. It was a really warm afternoon and this task did not stress her out in the least-ha!

See I knew once I got started here it would be hard to stop.  I will awkwardly just stop right here and pick up with our weekend in Tennessee when I land back on the old blog one day soon.

It's nice to be back.
Home and here both.