Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April Showers Bring The Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! So glad you joined in today. If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of my post, then leave a comment for the blogger who linked before you. Here we go-

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Has your April been filled with showers? Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it? Besides rain, what else has filled your April?

The second half of April has been pretty soggy in the Palmetto State, plus I spent a week in Washington so yes, I've had my share of showers this month. I keep an umbrella in my car and have a small one I can throw in a tote bag if I'm out and about and the weather is dicey. I recently bought a new purse and Brighton threw in a really pretty umbrella 'for free' (Ha!). I've put it to good use this month.  I do have a lime green slicker I wear for running errands in the rain. Life must go on, right? 

Besides all the rain, I guess travel would be the something else that has filled my April. 

2. What's something you could you give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?

Moving house. 

3. Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.

I'm not sure I can choose a specific memory here. Warm feelings wash over me when I think about growing up, watching my mom cook, standing on a chair to help stir the gravy or dip a buttercream in melted chocolate, mixing up the salad dressing before dinner...lots of small moments in the kitchen mush together in my heart and spell home. 

4. What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?

 I have older siblings so they were teens when I was still in grade school and there were several songs they used to play where I misheard the lyric. Most famously, 'Let's Live For Today' by the Grass Roots. My younger sister and I used to belt out the chorus which is actually...'shalalalalalala live for today' only we sang 'shalalalalala newportie lane'. Dont' ask me how we made that leap, but we did. 

5. According to one travel website, the most overrated tourist attractions in America are-
Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston). How many of these have you seen in person? Did you feel like a tourist? Did you care? Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.

Hubs and I love to get off the beaten path when we travel. We love to eat-stay-shop where the locals eat-stay-shop and we're not group tour kind of people. In general we're more traveler than tourist, but that being said, tourist attractions are called attractions because there's something there to see, so let's see it.  I wouldn't stay away just because a place is labeled as 'touristy', but I would say try to visit very popular spots in the off season, or off peak hours and it will be more enjoyable. Also, try not to look like a tourist. teehee. 

Of the spots listed I've seen Times Square (don't go to NYC and skip Times Square!!), Epcot (love it!) the Space Needle (worth doing once), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (worth seeing). The most recent place I've been that might be labeled a 'tourist trap' is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The town itself is filled with tourists and candy kitchens and shops selling knives and beef jerky, but the Smoky Mountain setting makes it worth a see for sure. 

6. Your signature clothing item?

I'm not sure I have one, but I guess I'll say blue jeans and heels. Those are the two things I wear most often. 

7. What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once? Why?

See #2. 

Moving. As in to a new city, state or country. You see new places, meet new people, experience new things. Moving builds your confidence, makes you brave, gives you a fresh start when you might not have realized you needed one. I'm sure I could write a whole post on this topic (or give a 45-minute talk), but I think picking up your life and moving it somewhere new allows you to know things about yourself you might not otherwise have known. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Hubs snapped this photo from our dock the other night,  and I love the reflection in the water-

April's had it's share of rain, but has also been chock a block full of beautiful rainbows. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 305

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then jump back here tomorrow and add your link to the party. See you there!

From this Side of the Pond

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Has your April been filled with showers? Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it? Besides rain, what else has filled your April? 

2. What's something you could you give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?

3. Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.

4. What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?

5. According to one travel website, the most overrated tourist attractions in America are-
Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston). How many of these have you seen in person? Did you feel like a tourist? Did you care? Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.

6. Your signature clothing item?

7. What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once? Why?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Great Gray Weekend

As evidenced by these photos it was a great gray weekend here in the southland. Also really, really wet, and I'm not just talking river water. It poured buckets, which put a damper on our plans to attend the Vols Orange and White game. Still, when life gives you rain make a rainbow. Something like that, right? 

Hubs and I trekked over the mountain to Tennessee to spend a couple of days with his brother and sister-in-law in their new lake home. My in-laws also live nearby and hub's sister and her family were in town for spring break,  so a mini family gathering occurred. 

My nephews had a couple of friends with them for the week and tubing was high on their wish list. We weren't sure the weather would hold, but it did so there was some fun tubing on the water Friday.  Hubs got to ski which pretty much makes his life complete, so he was a happy camper.

Here he is giving the teenage boys a heart attack-

photo cred-my sister in law
It's not just me y'all. 

My sister-in-law took this picture as he came flying straight at the dock we were standing on. He likes to ski towards the dock then drop the rope last minute so you might think he's going to plow into the dock, but he doesn't. 

We've been married more than thirty years, so I know. If I say he won't hit, he won't hit. 

Now that's not saying he's never come a bit too close to a dock, or a sailboat, or a cow, but that was long ago and far away.

I've stood on more than a few boat docks and watched him flying towards me (beaming of course because he loves it!), then dramatically slowing as soon as the rope drops. The teenagers on the boat hadn't done any skiing with him before this weekend, so they were sweating just a little. They'll learn-ha! 

In other boat I am with my mother-in-law-

She wanted a boat ride and my brother-in-law was happy to oblige. Can you tell she loved it?

You know that boy on the ski up there?
Well he is his mother's son.

We headed home after church on Sunday (in the pouring rain), and opted to take the road through Gatlinburg instead of the Interstate. We wanted to see the landscape post fire, and y'all it's so sad to think of the destruction and loss of life that happened here. Chimney Tops is one of the prettiest places in the Smokies and the black swath that cuts across the mountains stands like a scar on this beautiful piece of land.

We crossed on into NC and my brother-in-law had given me the basic route we'd need to take. I did not want to take a wrong turn and end up on the Dragon (a crazy zig zag road through the mountains motorcyclists love and people who live on Dramamine fear). Anyway,  I guess I was either sleeping or talking (my two favorite car pastimes), we missed a turn, and next thing you know we're rolling along on the The Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.

Not sure how we landed there, but my goodness it was gorgeous!!
Also pouring rain but we stopped several times anyway. You just had to, it was that pretty.

We came around a curve and suddenly found ourselves on what I'm pretty sure is a road quite similar to the Dragon-incredible height with a teeny tiny minuscule little guard rail running beside the road to keep you from tumbling into the gorge and roaring falls below.

The first falls we saw were enormous, but since we weren't prepared for the overlook no picture. At that point we were trying to figure out how we got here and where were we anyway??? There was no backing up on the mountain, but the monstrous falls were absolutely breathtaking as we went by. We quickly realized we were on the road to Highlands, so I googled Cullasaja Gorge and falls when we got home. I read they're about 200 feet in height, but hard to see up close because of the blind highway curves and sheer rock cliffs. 

That pretty much sums it up.

We were ready when the next one came up beside us, and we pulled over for a quick picture. This one is called Dry Falls-

Hmmm...these dry falls were a-rushin'! There was a really cool series of walkways and bridges down to the falls and it looked like you could walk behind them or close to it. We did not because did I mention it was raining? And cold? But we put it on our list to do on a return visit when we have the right footware and sunshine. 

A few winding curvy snaky twisting miles further down the road and we came to these-

Bridal Veil Falls. I think there's actually a series called Bridal Veil Falls, because I've read about hikes in there. We're adding that to our list of to-dos too.

Hike more waterfalls.
See them all.

I'm glad we went the wrong way home.
Sometimes back roads know best.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Five Minutes of Sing

Linking today with Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung. Kate posts a one word prompt on her blog, then we write for five solid minutes, no editing, no filtering, no over thinking. Add your link, then leave a comment for the bloggers beside you on the list. Why not give it a try?

Truth-I've got most of that down pat except the over thinking-ha!

Today's prompt-Sing

Hubs out of town co-worker spent the night here recently, and we started talking about summer vacations. He and his wife have two daughters just a few years younger than ours, and he asked me how I knew when a vacation was the last vacation we'd have as a family of four.  

I told him I didn't. That these changes occur quietly and mostly without fanfare in real time, and it's only in hindsight we register a particular season of family life has come to a close. I thought about when it was we'd taken our last real vacation as a family of four, and was suprised to realize five years have passed. I don't remember marking it as such, but as we watched the sun sink into the ocean that day, one chapter was ending and a new one being written.

When I read today's word prompt this is where my mind traveled. I hear the word sing and realize it's one more thing that was there and now it's not. I didn't note it at the time, but I note it now.

I think of my Daughter2 and the lovely sweetness of her singing voice. She sang in choirs and school programs and even a talent show in high school, but what I remember is the small mighty lover of life, a wee one lying in her great big bed, singing herself to sleep.

I remember the long legged teenager going in to our computer room after dinner and singing to her heart's content. The Phantom of the Opera was one of her favorites and the door would be ajar. Hubs and I might be talking in the family room beside the office and we'd have to say, 'close the door, we can't hear ourselves talk.' And then we'd smile because how could you not?

I remember the exhausted college student coming home for breaks, heading straight for her piano. How she'd play and sing and leave all the stress of a semester right there in the sunroom. I would bring my cup of tea and sit on the sofa to listen, but also to marvel at the notion of a full grown adult child in my house and heart.

It occurred to me recently that in this season of an empty nest the voices of my children are what I miss the most. Like the last vacation, the last first day of school, the last lunch packed, a daughter singing while I make dinner was something that happened until it didn't.

My husband mentioned it recently, how he missed hearing her sing, our soundtrack to the everyday business of growing up girls, so I asked my daughter if she still sings. She reminded me she sings with her church worship team, but I meant, 'Do you ever take your music into the bathroom while you're getting ready and sing to yourself there?'

She said, 'Oh yes, I still love to sing'.

And just like that my heart felt lighter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tiptoe Through The Tulips

So way back when-April 2, 2014 to be exact-while blissfully living in Northern NJ, with hubs still hard at work for the company who'd employed him nearly three decades, and Daughter1 a single girl working in the nation's capital, one week away from becoming engaged, and Daughter2 wrapping up her first official year as teacher, I asked this question in the Wednesday Hodgepodge-

'Several spring flower festivals happen in the US during the month of April. Of those listed which would you most like to see in person...The Skagit Tulip Festival in Skagit Washington, The Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville Tennessee, The North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington North Carolina, or Daffodil Festival Weekend on Nantucket Island Massachusetts?'

And this was my answer-

 'I'd be happy to see any or all of them, but if I'm forced to choose I'm going with The Skagit Tulip Festival. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers, and seeing the Northwest corner of the US is on my travel wish list.'

Well. That's something isn't it? 

Guess where I was last Tuesday? 
April 12, 2017 to be exact. 

My daughter had to get married and move to Washington to make it happen, which wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I said it, but here we are. Life is filled with unexpected adventure and plot twists, and I'm learning more embracing-less resisting, as they come my way.

The Skagit Valley is about sixty miles north of Seattle and roughly sixty miles south of Vancouver. I've never visited my daughter in April so when we decided to come she suggested we go see the tulips. She'd been following the 'flowers' on Instagram and as it happens we were going to be in the Evergreen State peak week.

We also studied the weather the week before because the weather!! Tuesday looked like our best bet (aka no rain until late day) so we made a plan for Tuesday. That plan included a stop at her local donut shop because donuts are Daughter2's love language and we had a two hour car ride ahead of us.

Seattle is a little bit like Atlanta in that you plan your life around the traffic. We got on the road at 8:30 and were in the Valley a little before 11. Easy peasy. It pays to plan. Usually.

You pass fields of tulips once you're in the area, which you can't miss if you're looking out the window, but there are also a couple of well known farms and we opted for one of those called Tulip Town. We navigated the parking and paid a small entry fee to go inside.

Which is really outside, but whatever.

There's a small shop, tulips for sale by the bulb, bunch, or pot, and a cafe. We did not eat in the cafe because we wanted to spend all our time in the tulips and be back on the road before Seattle late afternoon rush hour.

It was worth it.

We spent a couple of happy hours wandering around the farm, oohing and ahhing and saying 'that's my favorite color'...'no that's my favorite color'...long story short-they're ALL my favorite color.  As a bonus, the area around the farm is gorgeous, and you wander the fields while the Cascade Mountains and magnificent Mt. Baker look over your shoulder.  Mt. Baker is Washington's northernmost volcano, and one of the snowiest places on earth.

We were thankful to be there on a sunny day as the fields were still quite muddy from all the recent rains. Also, we visited on a weekday so it wasn't too crowded. I imagine the weekends tell a different story, and we did have some traffic coming through town which I'm sure amps up on Saturdays.

Is there anything so lovely as a tulip?

If you find yourself in the Seattle area in mid-April I recommend a day here...

And if you want a truly perfect day, bring your favorite people. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fly Me To The Hodgepodge

The Hodgepodge is back so let's get right to it. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post. Be sure to leave a comment for the blogger linking before you because that's the neighborly thing to do here on a Wednesday. Here we go-

From this Side of the Pond  

1. Tell us about a time you felt like you were 'flying by the seat of your pants'.

It's hard to think of a specific example, but I do know I feel this way pretty often-ha! One instance that came immediately to mind was the time I subbed in a high school chem class and the regular teacher had left about 5 minutes worth of work for a 50 minute class. I was forced to wing it aka fly by the seat of my pants. 

2.  When or where would you most like to be 'a fly on the wall'?

The delivery room when baby boy makes his grand entrance. 

3. 'Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.'-Henry David Thoreau 

Would you agree? Why or why not?

Hmmm...not always, although there are certainly times when this is true. We do need to stop and smell the roses, and in the slowing down will sometimes find happiness has been sitting on our own front doorstep all along. 

There are times too though, when the chase itself makes me happy.

4. Share a favorite movie, book, or song with flying in it's title, lyrics, or theme somewhere.

I love the movie Fly Away Home based on the true story of the young girl and her dad who helped some baby geese get from their home in Canada to the warmer waters of North Carolina. I also love the song played at the end of that film-10,000 Miles by Mary Chapin Carpenter. 

Another favorite flight themed film and book would be October Sky, the movie based on Homer Hickam's memoir- Rocket Boys. Such a great story! 

5. What is one task or chore you tend to do 'on the fly'? Is this something that really needs to be done another way?

Dusting. Eh. It just keeps coming around, doesn't it??? I do periodically give the house a thorough dusting, but a lot of times I'll be walking by a piece of furniture, will notice the dust, and do a quick wipe with the swiffer. Not the same as actual dusting which does need to happen on a more regular basis round here. New construction people. 

6. What was happening the last time you thought to yourself or said aloud, 'Wow, time flies when you're having fun', and you meant it.

Spring break. Last week. I wrote about it here

7. This Thursday is National Garlic Day. Will you add garlic to your menu on Thursday? Do you like garlic? What's your favorite dish made with garlic?

I love garlic and cook with it fairly often. As I type these answers I've got a pot of lentil soup on the stove and there's a big clove of garlic in that. Not sure what I'm making yet on Thursday, but it's possible there will be garlic on the menu somewhere. My favorite dish made with garlic is my homemade pasta sauce. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It's been so much fun to see all the baby gear available for new parents in 2017. While we were out in WA Daughter2 helped her sister set up the baby swing my son-in-law's parents bought for their new grandson. 

Yes this is a swing.  

Remember when this was the swing to have? 

The picture doesn't do it's size and scale justice, but that's my Daughter1 chillaxing in her baby swing c. 1980-something. 

The swing that required a ten foot radius to operate. 

By hand, because you had to crank that handle about a hundred times around to keep the swing going for approximately 48 seconds. 

The racket it made while you were cranking was akin to somebody operating a jack hammer in your living room, and then  just as your sweet baby was drifting off to sleep, the motion would end and you'd have to crank it again startling your baby into a level ten stage of alertness. 

My kids loved their swing. They especially loved when their Daddy would stand in front of it and make funny faces every time they came towards him. I can still hear the giggles. 

Today's swings plug into the wall so no getting a cramp in your arm winding that thing up. It sways, bounces, glides and swings, in blissful silence if you like. Or you can play music from your own handheld device on it which is why you have babies when you're know how to do things like connect a playlist on your phone to your infants swing. 

We've come a long way baby! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring Break

If you're looking for the Hodgepodge questions, scroll on down to the earlier post. 

I had a fun spring break, spent with both daughters out in Washington State. Question-is it still called spring break when you're no longer a student, no longer have students living at home, and you're not working outside the home?

Well, it is spring, and I did take a break from everyday life here so yes, I'm going with it. Spring Break! Whoohoo! Everybody needs one!

Washington State in mid-April is cold, and while I know cold is a relative thing, I live in the mostly sunny southland and am out of practice waking up to 30 degree temps this time of year. I spent most of the week wearing my winter gloves and a rain jacket over my fleece. The gray white skies of the Pacific Northwest remind me of England, except at least with English weather you're in England.

I had my girls with me though, and they bring their own brand of sunshine to my days so not complaining.

We trekked to Ikea on Day 1 to source out a closet system for the baby nursery. I haven't been to Ikea since I lived in the UK and as we pulled in I suddenly remembered my least favorite thing about that store-the parking!! Oh my word! They'd built a brand new showroom right beside the old showroom and were still in the process of demolishing the old to make room for more parking. In the meantime we parked in Canada.

You know what the great thing is about hanging out with your grown up daughters? You can have fun even in the middle of parking lot chaos and aggravation.

After successfully snagging the appropriate closet pieces we made our way back towards the Base to pick up groceries at the commissary and to try and find some cheap rain boots at the P.X. We were waylaid en route to the boots by a whole department of precious baby boy clothes, and ended up leaving with six outfits and no rain boots. I'm calling that a win.

his aunt, the shark could she not buy this?

Tuesday we spent the day in tulip country and I'll save that recap for Thursday's post because I might have taken a few hundred pictures. ahem.

We wore out the baby mama with all the driving and shopping on Monday and Tuesday, so on Wednesday we slept in, stuck close to home, and saw Beauty and the Beast that afternoon.

My girls hadn't seen it yet, and I was so happy to see it again with them. We all loved it.

The rest of the week passed in a blur, as spring break so often does. We took long walks and talks with the pup beside us and Mt. Rainier behind us.

We ordered the crib and dresser for the nursery, played lots of our favorite board game (Ticket to Ride), worked a jigsaw puzzle (the dog made it a teensy bit more difficult by helping himself to three! pieces).

We enjoyed a lovely leisurely lunch beside the water at the famous Dukes Chowder House-

read sweet stories to the baby boy-

and read piles of our own books too. My teacher daughter read five that week, a real treat as she doesn't get to read much for pleasure during the school year.

Best of all, we accompanied baby boy's mama to the doctor where we got to hear his heart beating loud and strong. So special!

We left Saturday morning knowing next time we're here we'll be welcoming a brand new little love into our family. Daughter2 and I spent all day flying west to south, navigated our way out of Atlanta without too much difficulty (traveling at 8:30 PM helps), and got back to the lake close to midnight.

We woke up to a gorgeous Easter morning.

While I was away our Adirondack chairs were delivered so after church we sat beside the water sipping coffee while our lunch warmed in the oven. For those of you wondering, I got smart and ordered myself a Honey Baked Ham dinner which was perfect. All I had to do was warm everything up, but we still could eat on china in our dining room.

We wrapped up the day with grateful hearts and an Easter evening boat ride.

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips it's turn."~Hal Borland