Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zee End

An unoriginal title, but it's the end of the alphabet and that's the best I can do. We've reached the finish line in this year's A to Z Challenge, which feels great. It was a little tougher to complete this year as I'm not cut out for writing after 11 PM on a regular basis. Still I enjoyed the discipline and the daily letter prompt. 

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird:  It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."
 ~C. S. Lewis 

It's exhausting and scary and a little bit exciting to think about all the changes that have occurred in our lives these past few months. One of the things I love most about blogging is the way it allows me to record something in present day, and then later examine it with the clarity of hindsight. It's there I most often see the benefits of change, and where my heart fills with gratitude for all I've learned as a result. 

"Change may come to you in trinkets and I hope it adorns your life gracefully."~Dodinsky

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Young and Young-ish

I won't mention againhow difficult it is to blog this week, k? 

Also this post has nothing to do with change. 

Except I saw my Daughter2 for a quick minute and if you look at her you will know what I looked like 30 years ago. 

She is my mini me. 
Minus the tired eyes of course. 

It's an amazing thing to have a child who is the spitting image of the girl you once were. In my head I'm still that girl, but the mirror begs to differ. I think I'm okay with that though. 

There's a saying, "youth is wasted on the young" but I don't think that's true. It's good to be young. To not know what you don't know. To make mistakes and learn from them. It's also good to grow a little older every year. To recognize that every season of life is built upon the one that came before. 

To look behind and look ahead, but find contentment where you are. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X Marks The Spot

Happening this week...closing on our lot, interviewing home and dock builders, and imagining ourselves living right here next summer. Whoohoo! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Change of Scenery

These last few letters are not my best work. I know I'm always saying there's a lot going on here, but y'all there's a lot going on here. I am pressing on though, and will finish this A to Z challenge. It will be more whimper than bang, which I think is what I say every year at the end of April. 

I really want to stick to my theme (change), but some letters require more creativity than I can muster at the moment. How 'bout I just post some pretty pictures instead? 

Everybody loves baby bear cubs, don't they? As my grandma would say, "Oh my stars!" Are they the cutest things ever, or what?

W is for a Walk In The Woods

Hubs and I took a stroll through the Smokies, and by stroll I mean hike. A hike is more than a leisurely meander especially when you only have a general idea of where the trail is going and it ends up going much further than you planned. 


Sure I'm smiling, we're just getting started. Plus it was a gorgeous day. Picture perfect for a too long hike. 


I tell hubs I'm an outdoor girl wannabe. He says I am an outdoor girl. Patience is not his long suit, but he has all the patience in the world when it comes to managing me in the woods. 

Yes I sometimes require a bit of managing in the great outdoors. Ahem. I always begin super happy, chatty, and optimistic, but as we go along I realize there are parameters to my happy chatty optimism. 


Heres what I need-

I need to know how far we're going. That seems pretty basic, and while we always have plenty of water, a map, and a first aid kit, we might only have an approximate idea of mileage. 3 miles, 6 miles, whatever. Yeah what.ever. 

I need snacks. Like a toddler. I can't hike four hours without regular breaks for protein. You might know this phenomenon as 'hangry'. 


I need the knees I had at 20. Can't really do much about that, but a steep climb downhill makes me wish I could. 

I need a hubs who can work with all of the above. 

That I've got covered. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Late Night Rambling

Yesterday kind of got away from me in terms of blogging.

As in, I forgot all about it until very late evening and by very late evening I'm not feeling it. I debated with myself about just skipping letter V but that made me cranky, so I quickly wrote out a less than stellar late night post. 

Which I did not publish because when I re-read it I decided the whole thing was ridiculous and I was too tired and when I'm overly tired I'm not at my best. Hubs will confirm this-ha! So after all that I just went on to sleep and figured I'd worry about it tomorrow. 

Which is today. Remember my post for letter c?

This morning I re-read my very lame post from last night and thought darn, I should have posted it.  Because while it was weak, the late hour made for a good excuse. This morning I still got nothin'. 

Except poor grammar and last night's leftover words. 

Which I'm going to post now so as not to drop the proverbial ball in the A to Z challenge I'm trying to complete. And I'm not gonna change a thing so just pretend you're reading this at ten minutes to midnight on the last Saturday in April. 

                  V is for Verbose

Because that word and my blog go together like peas and carrots. 

Recently I was tagged by Katie who blogs at Preppy Empty Nester in a Q and A style post. I'm supposed to answer the questions she posed, then tag some of you reading here and come up with questions of my own for you to answer. I don't think I can do that in 8 minutes which is when my coach turns into a pumpkin, so you'll have to settle for just my answers. If you want to play along you are welcome to answer these too. 

Nobody's actually reading blogs at this hour, are they?

1. Where do you write your blog? Do you have a writing schedule?

Normally not at midnight on a Saturday. I like to write early morning. My schedule is loose in that I don't really have one. I do post the Hodgepodge weekly but other than that, I'm  a fly by the seat of my pants kind of blogger. Pretty sure this post is case in point. 

2. Whenwas your last lightbulb moment?

Does suddenly realizing I forgot to blog today count? 

3. What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Be true to who you are on the inside. 

4. If you had to ear one food all day long, what would it be?

Watermelon. Or popcorn. Food questions are always hard for me. 

5. Whats your biggest phobia?

Small enclosed spaces

6. Inyour dreams, if you could be famous for one thing what would it be? 

Writing a best seller. 
Blogging at midnight is likely not the way to make that happen. 

7. What would be one piece of advice you would give a bride and groom?

I pretty much devoted the whole A-Z challenge to this topic last year. For now how about this-laugh much, forgive easily, remember you are two imperfect people. 

8. Dinner party-name six (living) famous guests youd invite.

This list changes frequently, but tonite...

Jerry Stiller, Laura Bush, Princess Kate, Peyton Manning, Bono, Ellen De Generes  

9. Whats the best book you've read in the past year?

Several, but I really liked Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

10. Most useful advice you have received in the past ten years?

Be brave. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grow Old With Me...

U is for Umbrella

"In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by it's scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced."~Robert Sexton

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

These last few letters are always the toughest, and I'm finding that especially true this year. We have so much going on here the last week of April.  Can you believe May flowers bloom next week? 

The saying says so. 

I wonder if whoever came up with that saying knows we had snow flurries mixed with hail here today? April 23rd. Bother. 

So the other day hubs and I were talking, and I said something or other and he laughed at how southern the words sounded. Sometimes my accent gets the best of me.

 T is for Let's Talk

I moved to New Jersey when I was about five years old and lived there all the way through high school. You'd think my speech would be full of 'yous guys' and 'cawfee' but it's not. I headed south to East Tennessee for college and picked up the accent about five minutes later. 

It's subtle, but it's there. At least I think it's subtle. People always ask me where I'm from and when I say NJ they're confused, so maybe not so subtle. 

Besides the East Coast and the southern part of the US, I've also lived in the Midwest and the UK. Oh and Maryland too, which calls itself southern but doesn't feel exactly southern. Doesn't feel exactly northern either which is why I think it needs to be dubbed the Mid-Atlantic. 

Not only do accents change as you move around, but the very words used in our daily interactions with people also vary depending on geography. I remember in grad school working with a mentally challenged speech client who was trying his best to tell me a story involving 'dope'.  

Not drugs, soda. My NJ self thought this East Tennessee gentleman was trying to say the word Coke so I made a big production of the word and back and forth we went before I gave up and he carried on and finished the story anyway.  When I later explained this frustrating interaction to my husband he said, 'yeah, dope...some people use that word to mean soda'.  

You learn something new every day. 

I'm obviously a lover of words as evidenced by the large number I use here on this side of the pond. My speech is filled with little bits of everywhere. No matter where you roam there are words and phrases particular to that part of the globe and it's fun to try them out and maybe keep some for your very own. 

So what are my top two? Of all the words and phrases I've picked up along the way and added to my everyday vocabulary which two do I love the most? 

1. y'all- Best word-contraction-expression ever. Y'all should try it. 

2.  Cheers! And not just a toast to your good health like it means here in America. In the UK this word is often tacked on to the end of a conversation and can mean anything from thanks to okay, best wishes, you're welcome, no problem or goodbye. Such an easy breezy word that makes for a really pleasant way to part company. 

Tell me, if we spoke in person would I say you have an accent? Any favorite words or phrases you've adopted as you've moved around or traveled? Is there an expression common to your part of the country you wouldn't find outside your zip code? 

Enjoy your evening y'all...cheers! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sweet Seasons In the Hodgepodge

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you're visiting from the A-Z you'll find my post on letter S by scrolling down to #8.  

If you've answered the questions today add your link, then run say hi to your neighbor. Also Hodgepodge links only please! Don't make me bring out the wooden spoon. 

One quick item of business-I'm calling Spring Break in the Hodgepodge next Wednesday, April 29th. I need a day and think a break now and then helps keep things fresh. We'll resume the week after on May 6th.  

Now on with the show-

1. Have you ever had to wear a uniform? If yes, tell us more. Did you love it or hate it?

It's been a long time since I've had to wear any sort of uniform. 
Yoga pants and my favorite sweatshirt don't count do they? 

My senior year of high school I worked in the dining room of a local nursing home. I had to wear a white uniform, white hose, white shoes, and a hairnet. That last bit was particularly delightful to my 17-year old self.

I also worked as a camp counselor and we wore uniforms on Sundays. That was the day new campers arrived and parents were able to identify staff by their awkwardly cut, bright red, polyester shorts, and red and white striped t-shirt. 

In college I worked as a waitress and wore a gingham dress with coordinating apron tied around the waist. It wasn't too bad, not something I'd wear out in public but as far as uniforms go, not the bottom of the barrel either. 

2. April 22nd is Earth Day. What is one thing you do personally to be a good steward of planet Earth.

We spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking and exploring parks or whatever natural beauty there is in whatever place we happen to be. We never ever leave any rubbish behind. Why do people litter? I don't get it. 

3. Brown rice, quinoa, or couscous...your healthy grain of choice? How often are one of the three on your menu at home? Given a choice between white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and fried rice which would you go for?

Brown rice is my favorite and that's what I would go for. We have brown rice about once a week, couscous maybe once a month, and quinoa rarely. My Daughter1 gave me a fabulous recipe for black bean burgers that calls for quinoa, and that's about the only time I use the grain. Quinoa is okay, but not my favorite. 

4. In your opinion, who has the best job ever?

Mothers of course. 

And then doctors, nurses, where you're making a tangible difference in someone else's life. Maybe not the easiest jobs in the world, nor are they without challenges, but I think the sense of personal satisfaction one feels in helping another makes for the best kind of job.

5. What's a situation in your life currently requiring patience?

We're selling our house.  
I don't need to elaborate do I?

6. Do you live your life around the days of the week?

Somewhat, but much less so than in the past. We don't have children in school anymore and hubs just retired, so the days are pretty wide open here at the moment. I wrote about this very thing in a recent post (here) if you're curious. Or bored. Ha! 

Anyway, in spite of all this freedom, we do try to take care of any household chores and business during the week, so the weekends still feel like weekends. Since we go to church on Sundays they've always been different and I like that. Sundays mark the start of something new...fresh and full of promise. 

7. In a nod to the A to Z challenge happening around town this month, what 'R word' best describes your April?

How about relaunch? I sound like a broken record, but since hubs has only recently retired we're still figuring it all out. Everything from how a day looks to setting up new accounts to dealing with real estate on both the buying and the selling end. We're talking about the big picture and navigating our way round the small stuff too. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Using this space again today for this week's A-Z Challenge post. We're into the final third of the alphabet so whoohoo!
S is for Sweet Seasons

I took this picture on Sunday afternoon. Hubs and I went for a walk in a nearby park and spied this little burst of color straining from the rocky woodland hillside.  

Sometimes the smallest unexpected bit of beauty can give our hearts the most hope. 

I'm not gonna lie, it's been a long cold winter, and spring has struggled to break free. I know it's arrived in some parts of the country, but  here in the northeast the earth has a tight grip on the loveliness lurking beneath. 

Normally these daffs beside my dogwood tree are in full bloom mid-April. This year they're still yawning and stretching, reaching for the sun. 

When the seasons change I always feel a new sense of awe and wonder at the miracle of creation. Of God's grand design to bring both order and beauty to the world through change.

How a blanket of snow protects tender roots and a brilliant warm sun wakes them up.  How we long for summer, but welcome cooler nights and the vibrant golds of autumn too. 

Like God knew we needed changing seasons to see life in all it's technicolor glory. 

There are times its felt like spring would never show up, yet she does. When the earth finally submits to the changing of time and tide and temperature, growth and beauty abound. 

That little purple bud can teach me something. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

If you're looking for the Hodgepodge you'll find the questions here

I think I've mentioned a time or thousand here that we've moved a lot. When I think about change I mentally scroll through all the places we've called home.

In the not too distant future hubs and I will be making a short trek south to take care of some business. Our travel plans include a stop in Richmond for dinner with hubs brother and sister-in-law.

We lived in Richmond once upon a time.

It was light years ago.
Thirty, which is practically the same thing.

I was a baby. 

It's always fun to see a place you used to know.
Places, like people, change.

R is for Reelin' in the Years

I wonder if the people living in the first house we ever bought and sold have hand me down furniture and a puppy who chews through linoleum?

I wonder if they'll host a family BBQ the weekend of their sister's wedding? A hot July night where their air conditioning quits working and they agree they need a bigger deck?

I wonder if they have neighbors in the cul-de-sac who notice their light on at 1 AM and call saying 'we saw your light...we just set up a game of Clue...wanna come over?'

I wonder if they have friends from college living around the corner who throw them a baby shower, take them sailing on their Hobie Cat and share a recipe for Fudge Pie? That one they'll make time and again as the light years unfurl.

I wonder if their sister has a baby whose uncle makes her laugh?

I wonder if family comes for Christmas and while washing dinner dishes they talk about another baby girl coming in June?

I wonder if they take bad pictures that grow grainy over time, but that they'll cherish all the same? If they'll move away, and then come back one day to say 'remember when...?'

If they'll smile at the kids they were and the way the light years fly?

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 218

Hello Hodgepodgers, A to Zer's, and anyone else who happened to land here on a Tuesday morning. If you're visiting from the A-Z Challenge, my post for letter R will be up a little later today. In the meantime feel free to click here and read Q.

Or hang around and join the Wednesday Hodgepodge.
I post the questions on Tuesdays and the whole wide world answers on Wednesdays.

One more item of business...I'm going to declare next week Spring Break in the Hodgepodge. What that means is no Hodgepodge on Wednesday, April 29th. The HP will be back to it's regularly scheduled programming the following week, Wednesday May 6th.  Thanks everyone!

1. Have you ever had to wear a uniform? If yes, tell us more. Did you love it or hate it?

2. April 22nd is Earth Day. What is one thing you do personally to be a good steward of planet Earth?

3. Brown rice, quinoa, or couscous...your healthy grain of choice? How often are one of the three on your menu at home?  Given a choice between white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and fried rice which would you go for? 

4. In your opinion, who has the best job ever?

5. What's a situation in your life currently requiring patience? 

6.  Do you live your life around days of the week? Explain.

7. In a nod to the A to Z challenge happening around town this month, what 'R word' best describes your April? 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dream On

Way back when...July 31, 2012 to be exact...I posted a list. It was something I'd seen on my Daughter1's blog, but it was also making it's way round the Internet. I thought it looked like fun so I hopped aboard the copycat train and joined the party.

The challenge was called 101 in 1001 and the idea was to create a list of 101 to-do's, and then tick them off in 1001 days. 1001 days is just under three years, which sounded like a long time, but here it is April 2015 and time's up. I thought today I'd revisit my list and share some thoughts I have about the project. You'll find my list here. 

Q is for Quite a List 

Do you set personal goals for yourself? I mean actual write them down and have a plan to meet them kind of goals? How about a bucket list? Things you want to do in your lifetime? A wish list? Things you'd do if time and money and circumstances allowed?

I think my 101 is a combination of all three.

I've always been a list maker. A dreamer and a list maker. When there are things you want in life, be they noble pursuits such as to develop healthier habits, or just enjoyable things you hope to experience,  like one day speak French in France, you're going to need  more than a dream and a list. You need to articulate what it is you want, but then you need a plan to make it happen.

Otherwise all you've got is a list. 
As the saying goes, 'If you want something different, do something different.'

You know that other saying, 'Her eyes were bigger than her stomach'? Yeah, well I guess you could say her dreams were bigger than her reach. Or maybe her pocketbook-ha! A little of both probably because wow, my list was ambitious in some areas, particularly travel. Not sure how I thought I was going to manage all that, but it sure was fun thinking about it.

So where exactly do I stand on Day 993?

I've completed roughly 30 items, so 30% of my list. That might not sound like a lot, but I actually feel pretty good about the number. As I've periodically revisited my list I've realized there are some things that no longer need doing, and a few things I no longer have any real desire to do.

Also, there were several items on the list whose success rate I found hard to quantify. For instance anything involving a change in habit like #93-Exercise at least 4x week'. There are many, many weeks where that happens and some weeks where I get close but don't quite hit the number 4. The important thing to note is that exercise has become a regular part of my weekly routine and that's a huge gain from where I was in 2012. Winning!

#1 on the list is staring me down (transfer our videos to DVD). That's been on my to-do list far longer than 1001 days, and probably the one thing I feel most guilty about not completing.

Yes lists and guilt occasionally go hand in hand.

Some things on my list were heavy, some frivolous.
I think a balanced life requires a little of both.

There are several items on the list I've made a dent in, but where I fell short of my actual target. #97- Write our sponsored children once a month lands under this heading as does #83-try one new recipe a month. We sponsor three children, and while I haven't written each one monthly I have written each one several times a year. I've also tried loads of new recipes, but not necessarily one each month.

I think I'm okay with falling a bit short in those areas where I overoverreached a little in scope. I did  make a good effort to do better than I've ever done before, and that feels like an accomplishment.

Still working on #52-make a playlist of my 100 favorite songs.
You can't rush greatness.

So what's my plan going forward?

To make a new list of course! Who's with me? 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Retirement Day 47

Here I am blogging on a Saturday like I said I don't do. Especially Saturdays where the forecast calls for sunny skies all weekend long, so whoohoo! 

Before we head out into the glorious spring, let's talk retirement. 
Where everyday is Saturday. 

That's kind of the first thing you have to figure everyday Saturday? I suppose it could be but we're still trying to mark the weekend as the weekend, and then have some sort of loose schedule during the week. On Thursdaysaturday we were here-

Yeah, we haven't quite got that schedule thing down pat yet, but hey it was a bright and beautiful Thursday so why not hike to the top of a nearby mountain? 

Why not enjoy a picnic lunch on a big rock with a view. 

Why not take a selfie?

Add selfies to the list of things we don't quite have the hang of...a noble goal for retirement don't you think?

We do try to run errands, complete household chores and take care of any business that needs taking care of during the week. And let me just say for the record there is a lot of business to attend to in the early days of retirement.

Paperwork to be read and digested. Monies to be deposited, moved, or rolled over. All the tax hoopla to understand before anything is deposited, moved or rolled. Also, true confession-financial planners and my husband toss out that 'roll over' phrase with great frequency. I only halfway know what they're talking about, but I nod a lot so we can move along. 

Oh wait, this post needs a letter.
P is for Par-tay! 

Since I'm blathering on about retirement let's go back and revisit Day 12 which I intended to mention on Day 13, but we flew to Texas on Day 13 so I'll mention it now on Day 47. 

On Day 12 there was a fabulous fun party thrown to help mark and celebrate this milestone in hubs career.

It was one part sweetly sentimental, four parts hilarious. 

Hubs loves his bow ties and the party organizers had a little fun with that. They even got the company bigwigs to don bow ties for the occasion. 

Course hubs had to help with the tying, but it's in his skill set so not a problem. There's an art to tying a bow tie and it takes a lot of practice to get it 'just so' without swearing. 

My hubs is a people person if ever a people person there was.

If people person were in the dictionary his picture would be right there beside it. He loves his 'peeps', so it was appropriate these were on the table at each place setting.

We've made so many wonderful friends in the thirty years he's been with this company. There were several speakers who shared stories and memories of time spent working with hubs and they were all so special. It's a really lovely thing to hear people confirm what you already know about the person you love.

The words both funny and touching, meant so much to both of us.

A wonderful way to mark the end of one chapter, the start of another...

...the one where everyday is Saturday if you want it to be.

Friday, April 17, 2015

O Happy Day

On this date one year ago, my now son-in-law asked Daughter1 to marry him.  

Swoon. This picture is so amazing. I see it now and still cannot get over the way this wonderful photographer captured all that sweet emotion. 

Eight and one half months later they said I Do. 

O is for O Happy Day

I'm still a little bit in love with the wedding photos.

Still in the process of having my book made, still full of all the happiness that flowed in abundance on that January day.

It's Friday and Fridays are made for happy, so I thought I'd bombard you with a few more pictures because why not? All wedding photo credits go to Chris Isham, photographer extraordinaire.

I periodically have my blog bound into a hardcover book, and I want all the happy recorded there too. 

The tender happy.

The sweet smiling happy.

The laughter bubbling over spilling out happy.

The precious friends so happy for your happy. 

The happy dance.  

The hubs making his baby girl (aka the maid of honor) laugh kind of happy.

The pure unadulterated happiness found in a great spinning dress.

The alone in the middle of a crowd kind of happy.

And the best kind of happy...

photo credit: Daughter1
....the happily ever after kind.