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Monday, December 12, 2016

THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS GATHERING 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

WHAT TO DO WHEN I CANNOT SLEEP

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, June 11, 2016

Taking In The Good Stuff from the Caribbean to the Mountains

I have been too distracted to blog. By work, by life. But I have taken moments to soak in some good stuff. I have managed to loose a couple hundred photos so you will have to trust that I have not been standing still. (Where do things go on your computer when they do not seem to live there anymore and you know it is not because of something you did?)

Virginia experienced an earthquake on August 23. I thought an explosion was occurring in the building where I work so I instructed everyone to leave the building. I soon learned we had experienced an earthquake. That weekend I visited some friends in Highland and Pocahontas Counties where I enjoyed reading reactions in the local paper. Apparently they did not just have an earthquake, but a “freak earthquake” that caused one resident to conclude the wind was blowing. (I say, what??) Another resident’s mother explained to her questioning daughter that she just needed to get something to eat. (Uh?)

The newspaper was also covering local elections. A candidate explains the reason she is running for office is because ‘The Lord told me to.” Another candidate states “Some people thought I should do it. I tried not to do it, to the best of my ability, but I will try one more time.” I had to wonder: Should he win, will he be as successful at the job as he has been in trying not to run?

A week or so later, I toured The Bunker at The Greenbrier, White Sulpher Springs, WV. Planned by the Eisenhower Administration, it was designed to accomodate the US Senate and House of Representatives in case of a national emergency. It was exposed by the Washington Post in 1992 and its termination as a safe place for our government began immediately. An interesting tour.

I accepted an invitation to meet up with some friends at a Blue Grass Festival in Rockbridge County. (I had some great photos.) I am not a musician, but attended a class on techniques for playing the banjo. It was fascinating to me. There was a clogging class taught by one of the best instructors in the country. I enjoyed walking around, stopping to listen as small groups sat around their camp sites playing what to my ear seemed to be the same song. I was assured they were not all playing the same song. Still, the music was perfect in the fresh air of a perfect late summer day. I later dined with friends at a house I had never visited. That was interesing. Our host for the evening is a long-bearded hermit with an interesting past that was very social. He lives in a large, old farmhouse surrounded by nothing but rolling hills and mountains as far as the eye can see. The conversation was fascinating. Pam and I hiked to the top of the hill behind the house to take advantage of the view at dusk. Wow. I am sick that those photos have disappeared. Thank heaven I still have my memory. When the time comes that I cannot remember that weekend, the photos would do me no good anyhow.

Returning home,  I started thinking about going somewhere that required me to get on a plane.

So I ended up in St. Thomas. I stayed at the house where I lived for 13 months. It was a working vacation. I did a little work for George, saw lots of people I knew and did some beach time. Coffee taste better when you can look out at George's back yard.

The nights are wonderful on island. The moon was full, just for me it seemed.



Leaving St. Thomas, I returned to my favorite spot in the mountains, Highland County, where fall colors were peaking. How fabulous is that...



I visited with some friends who live close to where I was staying. After a wonderful breakfast, we went up to their apple orchard to pick apples and to enjoy the view.



What's a little sheep poop.


I continue to enjoy drives in the valleys and mountains that surround me. What a beautiful world we live in.