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Monday, December 12, 2016


Another year has come and is nearly gone.  Fortunately for many of us, this is when families make it a point to come together.  Our family did that on Saturday, December 10.  Thanks to Renick and Tina for opening their home to the family and thanks to Cynthia for helping me to organize the day. Instead of the usual Christmas dinner menu, we decided to simplify and have red chili and white chili and grilled cheese sandwiches.  There were lots of appetizers and side dishes Tina's amazing dessert.  Everyone contributed regardless of how far they had to drive.  It was a wonderful day.  The only ones not present were Steve and Moncy from California.  Thanks to technology we were able to Face Time them for part of our day.  We all gathered in the living room and took a family photograph, which included Stevie and Moncy who were with us on Face Time on my ipad. 

Landree just turned three and understands enough to appreciate being connected to her California relatives.  She especially enjoyed seeing the California kitty.

Baby Babu got to say hello to Stevie and Moncy. She came to Tina in a Chinese Gift Exchange a few years ago and has since been a part of the family. Aunt Cynthia makes sure she has an updated wardrobe.

I wanted to bring some tradition into the day.  My grandmother, who passed away in 1965, used to read the Christmas Story from the Bible when we got together at her house on Christmas Eve night.  We did this in 2012, which was our first Christmas after Mom died.  I asked Marsha's husband, Mike, to perform the reading from Mom's Bible.

While getting ready for this day, I discovered Mom's Bible holds some newspaper clippings she had inserted so I thought it would be interesting to share these with the family. Some of you reading this blog will appreciate these clippings.

Our cousin, Kathy Alfred Williams, was sworn in as a volunteer for CASA.  Mom knew she would do great things.  (Kathy, what year was that?)

One of Mom's dearest friends was Shirley Riley.  The Bible holds the newspaper recording of their 55th wedding anniversary.  (Linda, what year was that?)

Rob Loving was someone we grew up with.  He was very sweet. I am sure many of you remember him. Born in 1951, he passed away in 2009.  His obituary lives in Mom's Bible.

Susan Parker Potter is another person that many of you will remember. Susan graduated from Alleghany County High School in 1979. She was Miss Virginia in 1984.Susan passed away in 2013.  I think this clipping appeared in the paper a couple of years before her death.

You history buffs from Alleghany County will enjoy this photo published in the paper in 2010. The caption reads: "This photograph was taken over 50 year ago in Covington of five practicing physicians."  Among the physicians is Dr. Ellis who not only delivered all 6 of us, but he also delivered our mother.  When I showed this clipping, Timmy commented he was great because you could get a physical and not even show up at the office.  My sisters and I laughed remembering how we slipped out of church one Sunday morning and walked up to his office to get our ears pierced and then slipped into the back pew right before the service ended. I don't recall how Mom discovered what we had done...when she got the bill??

I found it so interesting that Mom chose these clippings to keep in her Bible.  She read from this Bible everyday so she knew they were there and she kept them there. There are a few other items that live in Mom's Bible.  I did not show them all, but there was one last clipping I had to share with the family. 

Lastly, I read to the family something I read to them Christmas 2012. I gave Mom one of those books that asks questions so you can record events in your life that you probably would not think to tell people and people would not think to ask. I gave the book to her Christmas 1997.  The inscription reads: "Mom, This is your gift to me. I look forward to getting it back and learning more about you." The book became mine and I read it for the first time when she passed away March 2012. I compiled notes from that book and read those notes to my family at Christmas that year.  Four years later, I thought it was time to read this again.  Those who had her for a teacher will chuckle at this one: "She never pretended to be sick as an excuse to stay home from school because she did not know you could do such a thing."

Thanks to Tina who held my ipad during all of this so Stevie and Moncy could be part of these readings.

After all this, we ate dinner and enjoyed being together.  We took individual family photos before we parted.

Marsha and her family.

Newlyweds Kristen and Dave get their own photo this year.

Timmy and Sara.

Cynthia with her son, Erick, and his family.

Renick and his family.  Our first year without Bradley who is a student at JMU and had an exam on this day.  We missed you Bradley.

Paula and Boone.

Thanks to my family for a wonderful family Christmas night.

Friday, December 9, 2016


One of the things the experts tell you to do when you cannot sleep is to get up.  I think you are supposed to do quiet activity, but I started cooking at 4:00 AM instead. Ya know how good a breakfast casserole smells when it comes out of the oven? Well, it smells just as good at 5:30 AM.
My friend, Tammy, gave me a recipe some years ago that I favor so I gathered my ingredients and got busy.

It doesn't take long to make this dish and letting it sit overnight in the fridge is not a requirement, so I popped the casserole in the oven at 4:55 AM.

Now look what I have done...I gotta find something to do while the casserole bakes.  It is only 4:55 AM and I am stoked.  The family Christmas get together is this Saturday.  I am making Best Ever White Chili.  Why not.  I have the ingredients and I already cooked the chicken.. And a fresh cup of coffee.

The onions, garlic, celery and red peppers are chopped and simmering.

I love this new gadget for opening jars.  I could not get the jar of mushrooms open without it.  Don't want get frustrated at this hour of the morning.

I am so happy with myself right now. The veggies are ready to mix with the chicken. I put this mixture in the fridge to finish off on Saturday morning in the crock pot.

The breakfast casserole is done.  Yummm.

Dolly rarely gets people food, but this morning she got a little chicken in her bowl. I think she would like more.

Merry Christmas everyone. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My 2016 Birthday

I got a major gift for my birth week.  I have been waiting for this and it was finally delivered. Never mind the ant...

I fell asleep Thursday night thinking about waking up to my 65th birthday. The decade birthdays are big, but the 65th is a real life marker. For months leading up to this birthday, your are bombarded with mail reminding you of all you have to do before that 65th.  There is Medicare A & B, supplemental, dental, prescription. The paperwork so you get your pension. It takes months to get ready for this birthday.  You start thinking about how you are going to spend the rest of your life because life gets real at this point. You are either retired, semi-retired, about to be retired or realizing you may never retire. Whether you like your job or not, work structures your life. What will you do when you wake up with nothing to do? I don't even want to talk about the physical changes.  I am eating clean and working out, but my body is different. No denying it. In spite of all these thoughts dancing through my head, I did wake up happy on Friday, May 20.

Dolly woke me up about 6:15 AM when she jumped up on the bed and laid down next to me.  Now that is a happy wake up call.  She rarely does that and I milk it when she does. So on this morning of my 65th year, I woke up and milked some love from my dog. Eventually I got up, drank part of a bottle of water, did a 30 minute lower body workout and then a 10 minute ab workout. A healthy breakfast awaited me: scrambled egg (1 egg and some egg whites) with cottage cheese in them, one turkey bacon strip, black grapes and a slice of cucumber.  More water.  A protein shake for lunch.

A look at my phone...I was amazed to see so many birthday wishes.  Thank you Face Book.

Music: K D Lang's Hymns Of The 49th Parallel. What could be better than this? A friend reminded me how much I would love to be sitting in a pub in Ireland listening to Van Morrison play live.  That would top this, but I am happy with KD.

The day continued on its normal path. I worked in my office from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM with an hour break. Had a wonderful birthday dinner at CafĂ© Michel's in Clifton Forge, VA. Yum.  Ravioli stuffed with lobster and crabmeat in a champagne sauce. Culinary Heaven. Even a clean eater has to get down and dirty every now and then.

Saturday I got up early for a Pilates workout before driving to Penny's Diner in Lowmoor for breakfast with an old friend. She was visiting Lexington for the weekend and wanted to say Happy Birthday in person.  We cannot remember when we last saw each other, but agreed it has been a few years. Two hours flew by.  We were not finished with our visit, but she had to get on the road.

It was quite foggy and cool.  A little misty.  Ya know, it kind of feels like I am in Ireland.

I visited my mom's grave; had a nice chat with her. Continuing down the road, I stopped in to check out Artsy Ladies and Friends on Valley Ridge Road.  Sorry you weren't there Janet.

Next stop, Main Street in Covington to check out The Anything and Everything Store, a new business which Tommy Snyder had let us know about on Face Book.

Back home I had a healthy lunch before secluding myself in my office to go through some photographs in search of a painting project.  The combination of Mary Chapin Carpenter and some of the old photos I went through left me in tears.  You name the emotion, I moved my way through it. I think I may have found an art project.  We'll see.  I don't have a clue what I am doing when I paint, I just dig in and hope something decent evolves. I'll let you know.

A dear friend messaged me that this is going to be a great year for me. So far so good. I trust everything she says so I have no problem inviting you to participate in my joyful year. Perhaps I will celebrate your birthday with you. Have your people call my people. Cheers.