Sunday, October 7, 2012

Supper Club 09/12

Last night Butch and I attended 1020 Restaurant's Fall Supper Club.  As usual the food was spectacular.  And Steve Hyman, the smoothest bass voice ever, sang standards as we ate.  He even came over and directed "Happy Days Are Here Again" to me.  Perfection.  The rest of this blog will be, as borrowed from my dear friend Kathleen Prater Taylor, almost wordless.

This is the rockfish sculpture outside of 1020.  I like to give her a pat every time we go in and leave.

This is Steve Hyman, the master vocalist and perfection when singing standards.  Petey was entranced!

First course, an amuse bouche -- mushroom pockets in a wonderful tomato sauce.

Second course, oh my!, was a vegetable cheddar soup with wonderful croutons.  Perfect!

Already partially consumed  (we forgot about the camera), is the Fall salad.  Cranberries, apples, walnuts and greens.

Once again, the refresher course was tackled before we remembered the camera!  Burgundy and mango sorbets.  So good!

Butch's entree was a pork loin chop stuffed with raisins and apples served with roasted root vegetables.

Mine was crab stuffed chicken breast with the delicious vegetables.  No flower on my plate because . . .

Petey swiped it and wouldn't give it back!

My dessert was a deletable pumpkin mousse that caused me to make noises all the while eating it!  Our dinner companion, Mr. Ed Hagger, did the same! 

Butch had the poached apple with caramel sauce.  And, as I always do, I had a taste.  So goooooodddd!

And this, my friends, is our chef, Kim, and her husband, Ed Hagger.  They are a complete delight and Petey was thrilled to have his picture taken with them. 

Once again, the food was exceptional, the music was sublime and the evening was perfect.  We came home totally satiated in all of our senses!  Next month I am having cranberry-orange game hen and Butch is having Beef Wellington!

Monday, August 6, 2012

6 Months and Counting

I've been verry, verry quiet for a long time now but with good reason.  It has been a tough several months and my beloved daughter-in-law suggested it would help in processing if I wrote a blog about it.  So here goes.

Our bed is high and I am short so if I attempt to get out of the bed quickly in the middle of the night I have been known to fall.  On December 29, 11 years to the night I crushed my ankle, I fell forward in a perfect trajectory into the edge of the wall and broke my collar bone.  We were going on a trip to see my sister and her husband the next morning and the ER doc said no problem.  So off we went driving for 12-13 hours.  I ended up in the ER in Mississippi on Saturday because I thought I was having a heart attack, the pain was so overwhelming.  They medicated me and sent me on my way.  We returned home Monday and snagged an appointment with the ortho on Thursday. He took one look at me and shook his head.  Long story short, I should never have traveled, the clavicle was crushed and I had to have day surgery where he inserted a plate and several pins along with bone grafts.  That incident knocked the stuffing out of me for a while.

Towards the end of March I began feeling distended, bloated and having a lot of abdominal pain.  I had an appointment with my regular physician who sent me to the day hospital for a CT scan.  The radiology tech told me that I would have to drink a bottle of the usual nasty stuff, wait 1 hour and drink another bottle before she could do anything.  I fell apart.  I mean I was almost hysterical.  So it was decided that I be taken to the ER.  The nurses there tried 5-6 times to insert an IV.  I am not fond of needles but I am also not a noise maker.  You could probably have heard me on the West Coast.  This was on Wednesday.  And that is all I remember until two Sundays later.

My husband has filled me in on all of the details.  It has taken this whole time for him to remember all of them.  On Thursday they tried shots in my belly and another of those awful drinks but nothing was working.  So on Friday they decided I needed surgery.   Butch was waiting in my room when the surgeon came and told him that he did not believe I was going to make it.  It was pretty good odds that I would die.  I can't imagine how Butch must have felt.  Especially as he had to drive back home to take care of the furbabies.  My blood gas level was 82 on 100% oxygen . . . very bad odds.  I was then placed on a ventilator. 

I was on that ventilator from Friday, 03/23 through Monday, 04/09 being given Propofol (Michael Jackson's downfall) and kept in a pseudo coma.  I ended up with pneumonia in one lung but that was cleared up in a day so the weaning off of the ventilator wasn't delayed very long.  I had a dream that I had had a stroke and Butch and the furbabies found me in the den.  In fact, my sigmoid colon was only scar tissue and the digestive system was completely blocked.  The surgery done is called a sigmoidostomy where the bad colon is completely removed and the rest of the system is run through your abdomen.  Think Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens" when that thing protruded out of her.

I started coming to on Sunday and couldn't figure out what was happening.  Butch had been there every second possible.  He actually went through 3 very large books while sitting with me, worked 1/2 days and drove back and forth, 45 minutes one way, to take care of the puppies.  He was a rock!  I know that he kept many, many people informed through Facebook and I know for a fact that a lot of prayers and strong positive energy went up in my name.  For that I will be forever grateful!!

On Easter Monday Butch showed up and I saw him for the first time.  I tried to talk to him but I didn't realize I was ventilated and taped all over my face.  So even though I tried desperately to get him to read my lips, he couldn't actually see them!  He just kept reassuring me that it wouldn't be long.  When the ventilator was finally removed, I could only have little sips of water, could barely speak and couldn't use my hands.  They had forgotten what they were supposed to do.  Liquid meals were introduced and I fell in love with popsicles.  I think I actually scared a nurse when she started to take my tray on which there was still refreshment.  I said, "DON'T take my food!"  She turned around and stared at me and she said she could bring me more.

Tuesday I was taken up to the 3rd floor and installed in a room.  By Friday I was ready to go home, walker, bedside commode and anything else be damned.  It took them all day to discharge me but when we hit the car and I saw the outside for the first time in 17 days, I was in heaven.  The puppies were thrilled when I crawled through the door!   And so was I.

On the 17th of July, Tuesday, the ostomy was reversed.  It took about 3 hours and I was in the hospital until Saturday morning.  I discovered that I have a horrible reaction to morphine involving hallucinations, nightmarish dreams, paranoia and on and on.  Not fun and it is now a huge red flag in my chart on my insistence. 

Because of the surgery and the pain killers my system blocked up again for about 2 weeks.  Finally went to see the surgeon on the 9th.  He promptly admitted me again and started aggressively treating the problem.  The CT scan was clear of any blockages, the blood work was good and I was home on Friday.  However, since then it seems as though my system still needs retraining.  Lots of fiber, Fiberchoice, Activia and Miralax are staples in this house now.

It boggles my mind that I actually came so close to death.  Say that out loud.  It doesn't feel real.  I've always believed in miracles and prayers and strong thoughts.  This episode proved to Butch and me that it is true.  My husband was incredible.  He stayed in touch with all of my loved ones on a daily basis and has been uber wonderful as usual but in a much bigger way.  No more bag but I have several pretty major wounds on my abdomen  so the dressings have to be changed and he is right there. 

On a much lighter note but not one to dismiss, I have lost 35 pounds since this whole thing started and it is NOT going back on!  My diabetes is better.  And there is no place like home!  We will be going to Asheville at the end of October to play, eat delicious food, and check out the fiber festival that our dear friend, Kathleen Prater Taylor, will be teaching classes for.  When she is finished on Sunday, the fun will begin.  And we are going to San Diego for Christmas.  I will consider each of those trips a celebration of life for sure.  But waking up each day is a celebration all it's own.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fair and Serious Warning

The incident I am about recount to you happened a couple of weeks ago but, to be honest, I have had a hard time processing the total evilness and cruelty of the perpetrator.  So I decided about 10 minutes ago that if I don't write this right now, it might not get written.

Mr. and Mrs. Potter are very dear to me.  They are an elderly, retired couple who would do anything possible for the ones they love.  They are private people, not mucking about on the computer like the rest of us.  So whomever pulled the stunt I am about to tell you about hacked someone, somewhere very deliberately in order to put the pieces together.  The Potters received a telephone call on a Monday afternoon at about 1:30 p.m.  The caller identified himself as Fletch, their grandson, and said he was calling from Spain.  The man didn't completely sound like Fletch  but the phone line was a tad distorted as would be possible with an international call.  He said that he had gone to Spain for a wedding and talked in detail about said wedding and the events leading up to it.  Then he related that he had run into another car and caused a lot of damage.  However, his insurance company would not cover the damage, estimated at $2,000, and he couldn't leave Spain until he had compensated the other driver.  He then asked his "grandparents" to help him with this money.  He said that he didn't want to call his parents because he knew that they wouldn't be able to help. And he needed to get home.

Well, the Potters explained to this man that they didn't have $2,000.  Fletch asked if they had a credit card that they could use.  They said "no".  At this point he asked them if they could borrow against their house (!?!).  They said that they would see if there was anything that they could do but did question if he had called his wife.  At this point the man got very quiet and didn't really answer.  They asked for his phone number so they could call him back when they had any information.  He said that he had left the phone in the wrecked car and would have to get back to them.  He would call them again in an hour or so. 

Mrs. Potter, by now very worried and upset, called the bank and after explaining the situation was told that the bank would loan them the $2,000 and to let them know where to send it.  These people do not have money.  These people are not in good health.  But they were willing to put themselves on the line for their grandson because they love him so much. 

Hours went by while the Potters paced the house.  The phone did not ring.  They waited until the next day, Tuesday, at which point Mrs. Potter was beyond frantic.  She called one of her sons who lives locally to make sure she had the right telephone number for Fletch.  After telling him the story, Arther said, "Mom, it is a scam."  Mrs. Potter tentatively agreed that it probably was but she desperately needed to speak to Fletch.  She had to hear his voice.  Arther gave her the number that he had.  After repeated attempts and repeated voice messages, the Potters had still heard nothing. 

Of course, during this time the couple discussed the phone call endlessly trying to pick out clues.  First of all, there was no way Fletch would have gone to Spain without mentioning it to his parents.  They are a very close knit family.  Secondly, why in the world would his wife not have gone?  Well, maybe she had to work.  And then there was the fact that the man kept calling Mr. Potter "Grandpa".  That word has never been used.  In fact, Mr. Potter has always had a very specific name used by his grandchildren and great grandchildren, always.  And finally, at the end of the conversation as is the absolute norm in the Potter family, Mrs. Potter said, "We love you, Son."  There is always from all of them the same response.  "We love you, too."  The man said nothing for an extended pause and then hung up. 

Unfortunately, in this case, Fletch has two phones.  One he uses for work, the other he has had for a very long time but doesn't use very often at all.  On Wednesday, 2.5 days after the original phone call from "Spain", he happened to notice that there were messages on the older phone from his grandparents.  So he called them back.  The first words out of Mrs. Potter's mouth were "Where are you?"  Fletch said, "I'm walking the dog."  She said, "No, where are you walking the dog?"  And he replied "At home".  She related what had happened and after a long discussion during which Fletch talked about other things as well, the Potters felt relieved and much better.  Fletch then passed along his new number as well as the number of his wife which they just simply had not gotten before.  He also said, "I would never call you for money.  Why in the world would you have it when my parents don't?  And I would have called them first no matter what, if simply not to upset you!" 

Long story short, some evil, cruel, nasty person tried to scam the Potters for money they don't have by scaring them half to death about the safety of their grandson.  Thank God that creep (and I am struggling not to use bad language here) never called back.  But this couple's health was put in severe jeopardy.  Mrs. Potter has spent the last two weeks trying to recover from the terrifying incident.  They didn't call Fletch's parents because he asked them not to.  That was the only thing they did "wrong" by trying to protect their children.  Instead, Mrs. Potter has had severe repercussions health-wise.  After seeing her physician the other day he said that this could, indeed, have been  caused by the fear and anxiety they endured.  Mr. Potter, in ill health himself for quite some time, stepped up and took over while she was unable to do her regular activities.  It is highly possible that Mrs. Potter actually suffered a silent stroke.

I am beyond enraged.  We in North Carolina had heard of this sort of scam in the last year because it happened in the area.  But the Potters had never heard of such a thing.  These monsters are preying on older retired people because they are so vulnerable, from a different generation where this kind of evil was unheard of.  What is totally confounding is that Fletch and his grandparents live states away from each other.  How in the world were they connected?  Who could possibly put them together?

So if any of you have elderly relatives or friends, it is essential that you are aware of this scam.  It is dangerous and, I'll say it again, cruel and evil.  And I, for one, would like to personally take out "Fletch from Spain" with my bare hands!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Big Mama and the Earring

This is a true story, every word.  And believe me, Butch and I are still shaking our heads! 

We live in the home that Butch's grandparents built in the early 1940's.  Over the years it underwent some renovations.  The room in which we spend the vast majority of our time, the den, used to be a bedroom used by Butch's great-grandmother known as Big Mama.  Since the first day I moved into the house in 2001 I have frequently felt a presence here, especially when I am in bed.  I can feel someone coming down the hall and walking around the bed, sometimes sitting on the edge of it.  Now call me crazy if you want to but Butch has felt that very same presence and says he believes it is Big Mama.  When my sister and her husband visited for several hours the night before Thanksgiving one of the first things she asked me is if there were any ghosts.  I was surprised but said "yes" and she said she wasn't surprised at all.  Actually at one point during dinner Pam gave out a small gasp because someone or something had touched her behind through the chair but the dogs were nowhere to be seen.  Wes said he hadn't done it and Pam responded, "No, you would have been much more assertive!"  It was almost as though someone wanted her to move over so she could join us!  Big Mama is a benign presence, one I believe is watching over us. 

On our first anniversary Butch gave me a pair of small oval diamond hoops, really diamond chips.  We laughingly called them my "Oprah starter set".  Those have been my go-to earrings for daily and dress up if nothing else suited better.
One morning a week or so ago when I was sitting at this desk I realized that the right earring was gone.  I panicked and went over the bedroom thoroughly.  There was and still is a little knot in the lobe because obviously it caught on something and pulled out.  But even after Butch took that bedroom apart, the bed completely, and swept within an inch of his life, no earring.  He swept up at least 2 extra dogs from under the bed (but that is a weekly occurrence because they are, after all, furry babies).  He pulled out the nightstands and swept.  Nothing.  I was heartbroken.  And I felt very bad because I didn't know how I had lost it.  So I took the other one off and put it on the glass tray on the dresser.

Saturday night I was getting ready for the supper club.  I stood next to the chest of drawers and looked down as I pulled on my undies.  There was my earring!  I leaned over as I screeched for Butch and picked it up.  But as he got there I realized that this earring was from another pair.  Same shape but not the same earring.

Once again my spirits sank.  Butch and I looked at each other and questioned how in the world this earring had been on the floor.  He had thoroughly swept and I lean over every morning to pull on my undies but had not seen it before.  However, I decided I would wear that pair since I was wearing a black top.  So I went to the travel jewelry box where I had seen them last.  It was closed securely and when I opened it and rummaged through you will not believe what I found.  The other diamond earring! 

Please tell me why in the world I would take an earring out, put it in the travel box when I keep them on the glass tray and how in the world did the black outlined one land on the floor?  Butch and I looked at each and in one breath said, "Big Mama".  Butch looked upward and said, "Thank you, Big Mama!"  Say what you will but if you can come up with a better explanation I am more than willing to listen.  However, if you read the last several paragraphs again, I believe you will come to agree that any other explanation does not hold water!  The black earrings stay in the travel case.  The diamond earrings live on the glass tray but were in my ears and they have a locking clasp on them.  The floor had been swept and I had been bent over every day in the exact location where the black earring was found.  And there is no way I would have put the one earring in the securely closed box and left the other in with no memory of doing so. 

So all I can say is "Thank you, Big Mama!  We are glad you are here!"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Supper Club Evening

First, let me say that Butch and I rarely go out.  If we get food from a restaurant, it is take-out.  The reason for this is not just economic but the fact that the vast majority of restaurants in Roanoke Rapids are chains.  The menus don't change and the food is not necessarily (!) good for you.  However, several of Butch's family members opened a restaurant called 1020.  That is actually the address on Roanoke Avenue.  The building used to house The Jewel Box, a RR landmark.  Butch's relatives readapted the historic building into Timeless Tea, a wonderful place with a vast and beautiful collection of teapots, cups and saucers.  Unfortunately, they found that men were a bit put off and didn't come.

So they changed to 1020, a lunch and dinner restaurant with incredible food made from scratch.  We love to get soup and sandwiches there, splitting the sandwich.  Their stuffed pepper soup is unbelievably good!  They have placed pictures of old Roanoke Rapids throughout the restaurant with captions explaining their significance.  It is a beautiful place but not stuffy in any sense.  And the staff is awesome.

The owners and the chef decided to start a monthly supper club.  A man named Steve, a baritone of incredible talent, performs every Friday night and also at the supper clubs.  1020 is a FB friend of ours so we know what is coming up.  When they announced that March 3 would be a 6-course meal with a choice of rack of lamb or chicken cordon bleu, I was instantly attracted.  I will admit that since being unemployed and then the shoulder disaster I have not left the house very much at all.  That means for 5 months, unless I am letting the dogs into the yard, I am in our home.  Very reclusive and probably some agoraphobia involved.  This opportunity struck me as a great way to let my husband take me out in public so we made reservations.  Mary had a little lamb and we were going to eat him!

We didn't know what to expect but the dinner was sold out.  The restaurant is small.  The evening started with wine and light hor deurves.  Steve was singing and the place is filling up rapidly.  People came up to us to introduce themselves or to say "hi" to Butch and meet me.  One of the first people to pull me into a conversation, an outgoing and delightful lady, turned out to be the wife of the partner, Dr. Moss, at my orthopedic surgeon's office.  I've seen him in the halls but never met him.  And when he came up, Charlotte, was telling us about their church's St. Patrick's Day dinner and inviting us to come.  Now a fun fact is that the wife of my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Holm, is the Episcopal priest at the local church.  And the St. Paddy's Day dinner we were invited to was at the Episcopal church!  We had met her as we came in and after we sat down, Butch said that he had run into Dr. Holm, Rich, in the hall.  I wandered down there, caught his attention and said "They'll let anyone in here, won't they?"  We laughed and before I knew it I had reintroduced myself to his wife, Marjorie.  She said, "We already met but it is hard when there are so many people", causing me to swat away any embarrassment I immediately started to feel. 

Who knew it was going to be a raucous, fun evening with the tableful of doctors leading the way.  Steven was wonderful, accepted requests and at one point Dr. Minielly stood up and sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" with him.  And actually quite well, thank you very much! 

One of the best parts of the evening was the fact that the Tarheels were playing Dook (Duke but who cares).  And we were all away from the TV screen.  So John Moss would go up to Steve every so often to give us a sports report.  The first was 4 minutes until halftime and the score was 36 to 20, Heels, playing at the Duke house!!! The place exploded and after that John would come up and give us reports from his phone.  It was awesome!  You have to understand ACC basketball to get the import of this but believe me, it almost like religion!  In actuality, if a lot of people had known when they made reservations that the game was the same evening, the crowd might have been smaller.  And, let me add, the Tarheels beat Dook in their house!!!!  We are now the regular season ACC champions.

Couples frequently got up to dance during the meal and Steve would go a capella walking through the room.  The atmosphere was so special and the wait staff was incredible, moving at lightening speed.  Here is what they served us:  An amuse bouche of shrimp in a shot glass, a salad of mixed greens with pears and walnuts, vichyssoise which was amazing and then a cleansing lime sorbet (yummy!).  Our lamb plates were two little racks of lamb with their bones crossed, asparagus wrapped in a little carrot ribbon and phyllo cups filled with mashed sweet potatoes.  Dessert was either an incredibly decadent strawberry cake with whipped cream frosting or creme brulee.  May I say that my blood sugar has been off the charts today.  I'll be paying for last night for awhile but it was worth every single bite!!!  The lamb was exquisitely cooked medium rare and gorgous to look out.

And last but far from least, we were seated with Mr. Hager, one of the owners who happens to be engaged to the chef after being together for 20 years.  Mr. Hager attended Marshall College in West Virginia, "We Are Marshall", and, as another service brat, developed a love of traveling and has traveled extensively all of his life.  Our conversation was so great.  He was the perfect dinner partner.  He is a theater buff so we had a great deal to talk about!

We now have a standing reservation for each month.  The evening was special enough that I can't even express it.  Steve's standards were the perfect touch and many times we were all singing along.  I even got a kiss from my husband, in public (!), during one particularly romantic song.  The furry babies were not happy that we had both been gone for several hours but you know what?  We will be doing it again, over and over.  Thank you, 1020.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some accomplishments over the years

My mother is an artist of the highest order.  She has been sewing since she was a young girl and taught me to sew when I was 8.  I haven't upholstered furniture as she has but I have made drapes, clothes, knit shawls and attempted many, many other crafts.  The following pictures are examples.  Several of them are of quilts I've made.  Many of the ones I made never faced a camera, unfortunately.  Not that they were very good but I would have liked a record!

Made for one of the children I nannied, in my favorite colors.

A faded, very loved quilt I made for my first grandchild, Samuel Austin Bowman.  He has been promised a larger one but it hasn't happened yet.

Made for my daughter, mother of my grandchildren, and a sunflower lover for years and years.  I remember she let an overnight visitor use it.  The gentleman was kind enough to throw it in the washer "on hot"!!!!!  Jen panicked but it worked out alright.

Quilt for grandchild #2, Elizabeth Jayne Bowman.  It, too, has become worn as she is now 8.

A huge work of love.  While I was working as a nanny in Berkeley, I found this pattern.  My Laura was a huge fan of flowers, any flowers, but specifically tulips.  When I got home in September, I couldn't wait to give it to her but she wrapped it up and opened it again on Christmas Day.  Hence, this picture. 

I made several of these fish quilts for sale but this particular one was the first and was made for my brother, Dan, an avid fisherman, particularly off the coast.

This particular quilt was made for a fund raiser at our family church in Redding.  I put it up for bid and the winner chose the colors and pattern.  Easily recognizable as Wedding Rings. 

This is one of my all time favorite projects.  I made my daughter, Nicki's, wedding dress from start to finish (not the veil).  There is hand sewn lace on the train, the front of the gown and just under her bouquet.  She looked positively gorgeous in the dress!  Her sister, Jennifer, produced the wedding which explains the beloved sunflowers.  There were even goldfish in bowls on the tables!

Over the years I have attempted and accomplished countless other projects and crafts.  I was addicted to craft magazines and ate up the ideas I found.  A couple of those crafts follow.

Gourds I opened, cleaned out, sanded, drilled and beaded. 

A rug I hooked 1,000 years ago.  I think my husband married me just to get this on his wall. 

And the rabbits, oh, the rabbits.  I made over 200 of these babies, most of them sold.  This particular one means a lot to me because I made it for my dear, dear friend Christine, who died within a month of being diagnosed with leukemia.  I inherited her and she resides in our barrister's case to make sure she stays fresh.

I guess I need to get back to work considering I have a room-high craft cabinet and numerous vacuum bags full of fabric.

Friday, February 24, 2012

My Very First Passion

I am a reader.  I have been reading since I was 3 years old.  I fell in love with books and have never let go.  My Grandmother Shull gave me Pinocchio and Black Beauty when I was 5-6.  Not picture books but the unabridged editions.  I can still remember the utter wonderment I felt upon reading them.  I can still remember being horrified by the horrible treatment Black Beauty received from several of her owners.  And I remember the relief I felt when she finally found her forever home.  Pinocchio, on the other hand, was a romp, a delight for the imagination and actually very scary in parts but I loved it!  My parents weren't sure that I had actually comprehended what I read so they quizzed me and I passed.  It was on then!  The pictures I have included here aren't the covers I remember and, of course, there was no Kindle.

In the 1950's and 1960's children's literature was not at an all time high.  Good books weren't easy to come by.  However, I would troll the aisles of the libraries at every school I attended.  I am an Air Force brat so there were at least 5 by the time I got to high school. I read every nurse, teacher, stewardess (yep, that's what they were called) book I could find.  I read every biography I could put my hands on.  I read about Tom Dooley.  No, not the one in the song.  The doctor who went, on his own, to the outbacks of Cambodia and Laos to fight disease and help teach the locals about staying well.  And I read To Kill a Mockingbird, to this day one of the most important books I've ever read.  Atticus, Scout and Boo live in my heart.  The book is unsurpassed as far as I am concerned.

After my son went to college I started working at Redding Book Store, a great independent devoured by Barnes and Nobles.  B&N will always be a dirty word to me.  They decimated the world of wonderful independent bookstores.  Nonetheless, the almost two years I spent at RBS were a great time for me.  I was in heaven!  I could touch them and hold them and check them out!  I could answer questions about recommendations.  I hand sold over 100 copies of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.  Another book I still chew on in my mind.  And then I became aware of all of the fabulous children books now available.

I had taken two Library Science courses at UNC-Chapel Hill while going for my teaching certificate.  Jeremy was small and we both discovered the wonders of picture books.  I also fell hard for middle readers.  The Caldecott and Newbury awards were beacons.  I had the opportunity at RBS to help manage the children's department.  I even had a story hour on Sundays which usually held 5-6 kids' attention.  One Valentine's Day I read I'll Love You Forever by Robert Munch.  Every mother there was in tears . . . as well as me.  That year I gave my grown children that book for Christmas.  Jeremy's response was, "Mom, I love you but if you ever put a ladder up to my window and peek at me, I will push it over!" 

I started collecting children's books while working at RBS, lots of them.  When I moved to Winston-Salem I had ~25 boxes of books alone.  Not all of them were for children; many were for this big child.  However, I wanted to open a business called The Book Lady.  I saw myself going to day cares, birthday parties, local schools, etc, and reading to the children.  All subjects including first tooth, first little sister, etc, could be covered.  I had fanciful books, history books, holiday books . . . well, you get the picture. 

In Winston I started working at Borders Bookstore.  Borders' philosophy was so far and away from B&N that it almost felt independent.  After working the night shift for a month or so I began managing the children's department.  I climbed ladders to get books down, hauled books all over the place to arrange and rearrange and put up displays.  I hand sold books because I had read so many of them and actually had middle readers come back and ask for more.  I again had a story hour and would theme it each week.  It attracted a lot of repeats and new children who had heard about it.  I loved it. 

Then within short order, I got engaged, blew my ankle out and moved to Roanoke Rapids.  Butch and I have our own library here.  It is the extra bedroom and it is lined with bookshelves.  Oh, there are books in stacks in every room of the house.  But the children's book collection is pretty much contained in the library.  I would estimate that we have ~2,000 books written for children but with such beautiful prose and art that I am immersed from the beginning.  My husband gives me books by Polacco and Brett every year.  I love the If You Give a Mouse . . . .and subsequent books by Laura Numeroff.  I tracked down all of the Betsy, Tacy and Tib books I loved as a girl as well as An All Of A Kind Family.  And I am very fond of Curtis Taylor's book, Pet My Dragon.  I believe it was the first book for children on Kindle.

Now that you know I am absolutely obsessed by the written word and illustrations, I will be writing more about books I love in the time to come.  I hope that if you see a book you aren't familiar with, you will give it a try.  You don't have to like it . . . . Just try it!  One last anecdote:  Jeremy has never been much of a reader.  He always said it made him sleepy.  One day, when he was about 13, he crawled into my lap and said, "Mom, are you sure I am not adopted?"  I said, "Yep, pretty much, I was there.  Why?"  He said, "Because you LOVE to read and I don't really!"  It's okay, Baby, you are brilliant at so many other things beyond my realm!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family, Part Deux

I am incredibly blessed to have a large family.  Having said that, I don't believe that family is only defined as blood relations.  My family is a bonsai tree that has grown in many directions and I am very proud of that fact!  I want to tell you about several of the most important people in the world to me.

These are, from left to right, Jennifer, Nicki, Jennifer's daughter, Elizabeth and Laura.  Laura is Jennifer and Nicki's mom.  Jennifer and my son, Jeremy, met in sixth grade back in 1988.  They became fast friends.  When they started high school both became involved in a lot of activities so Laura's and my paths crossed repeatedly.  At that time we were acquaintances who really liked each other but we didn't get together. 

Because Laura and the girls' dad divorced and Laura moved to Redding, a good 15-20 minutes away, Jennifer spent a lot of weekend nights at our house because she worked in Anderson on Saturday and Sunday.  We became very close and I referred to her as my daughter.  Jeremy and Jennifer had become as close as any brother and sister could.  I knew Nicki because I began to work at the same flea market as Jenn and ran into Nicki there pretty much every weekend.  She was a cutie with a precious little dog whose name I want to say was "Peter".  Forgive me, darling, if I am wrong. 

Then came the kids' senior year, 1994-95.  At that time both Jeremy and Jennifer were involved with Show Pop, a singing and dancing troupe from the high school.  They had a group of friends known as "The Circle", all very close to each other.  And because I was very involved with the music program, when I was named co-chair of the annual Mardi Gras dinner fund raiser, Laura and I got to know each other somewhat better.  Laura was involved in many ways and we spent a lot of time together organizing and getting that show on the road. 

I raised Jeremy, for the most part, by myself with the help of many angels along the way.  There was serious concern, legitimate if truth be told, about how I would react when he went away to college and I was "on my own".  Sure enough, Jeremy left for Chico State towards the end of August and by Labor Day I had quit my desk job and gotten a job as kitchen help/waitress at the local Win River Casino.  The Casino is owned by the Wynn tribe so it is not an understatement that my red hair and very pale face stood out like a beacon.  Because I was older and "responsible" I was put on night shift in order to keep a couple of hooligans as straight as possible.  No money there and my schedule was blown to smithereens.  On Jeremy's first break home he looked in the fridge and said with horror in his voice, "Mom, there is no food in here!".  I pointed out the yogurt and condiments and he repeated, "No food!".  I had always made sure that the fridge and standup freezer were full, that the shelves were filled with canned goods and that there was always something that the kids could nuke or eat out of hand.  Our house was a frequent stop for the circle and I loved it that way. 

After Christmas I stopped to visit Jennifer at her job at a legal firm.  I asked if she knew of anyone who might need a roommate.  She said, "What about Mom?"  I was stunned.  Turned out Laura was having difficulty managing on her own as well.  The problem was that neither of us really wanted a roommate.  However, on Jennifer's insistent urging, I went to Laura's for dinner.  We talked a long time and came to the conclusion that it just might work.  She had a double-wide mobile home with bedrooms at both ends so we would still have our privacy.  And thus it began.  I put most of my things in storage and took over one of the bedrooms.

It worked!  Not without hitches, of course.  We were both full grown women with our own views and habits and many of them didn't meet up.  But we worked them through.  Jennifer lived there at the time and Jeremy would come home on breaks or for the weekend.  Some of the circle would wander in and Nicki, who was living with her father, began spending more time with us.  Laura got a little overwhelmed by this but adjusted as time went by.  We all became that much closer.  I was Mom #2 to both girls and Laura was Mom #2 to Jeremy (he also has several other moms as we are blessed with very good friends).

Jennifer became engaged to Brandon, someone both kids had known since he was in 7th and also in band.  He and Jeremy had been very good friends for a very long time.  So the Bowmans, Brandon's family blended with ours.  I was blessed to make Jennifer's bridesmaids' dresses and the groomsmens' vests.  It was a joyous wedding!  And that wedding begat:

That is Sam on the left, Jen, Bran and Elizabeth.  By the time Sam was born I had moved to North Carolina and was heartbroken about not being there.  Some very resourceful soul (!) tracked down the fax number at the police department where I was working and faxed the first picture of Sam to me.  When the receptionist called me up to see it I burst into tears right there in the lobby.  The tears recurred every time I showed the picture to someone!  Elizabeth was born several years later but Jeremy kept me posted by phone while we waited and I got pictures very quickly afterward.  My name, by the way, is Grandee and I treasure that.

I was also blessed to make Nicki's wedding dress when she got married.  She is single now but I have a picture of the two of us together.  She was absolutely beautiful and I must say I am very proud of that dress.  And very proud that at both weddings I was in the family pictures, the "Mom" photos.  These girls mean the world to me.

Laura passed several years ago of pancreatic cancer.  It happened very, very quickly.  I lost my Jiminey Cricket, my very best sister/friend, my confidant.  When I moved back home from working in the Bay Area years before, I was working through some very traumatic experiences from down there.  On occasion I would have a "breakdown" of sorts and just cry.  And my Laura would just hold me, hold me until I felt completely loved and okay again.  She had the most glorious smile and the ability to make me laugh by saying "Oh, well!" when something took on unneeded importance.  We traveled together on a couple of occasions and did it well.  We were yin and yang.  And I will never, never stop missing her, ever.  But Laura was also the most spiritual person I have ever met and she loved Jesus.  She would say, "You can't scare me with Heaven."  I cannot hear the song "I Can Only Imagine" by any artist without tearing up because I know that my Laura is dancing in Heaven while Jesus smiles.

These are my girls and my boy.  Tell me they don't look as though they are from the exact same gene pool!  And that is the way they feel about each other.  Oh, they've bickered as have any other siblings but no one has each other's back more with Brandon right there beside them.  Brandon was one of Jeremy's groomsmen at he and Nicole's wedding with Sam and Elizabeth as junior groomsman/ring bearer and flower girl.  And Jennifer surprised Brandon by flying him out to New York City for Jeremy's bachelor weekend.  I not only felt Laura's presence at the wedding in San Diego but her name was spoken during the ceremony.

The newest addition to our family, Nicole, fits like a glove.  She was able to meet Laura a couple of months before Laura passed and for the very first time, the only time, Laura approved of the woman Jeremy had chosen.  It is the same with his siblings.  Nicole is the perfect person for this family tree.  We couldn't be happier to have her!

Bonsai, schmonzi!  This is my family and I adore them!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Magic Miracle Moments; An Ode to My Family

Last August my family celebrated my Daddy's 88th birthday.  Sounds simple enough but don't think that for a moment. 

In our combined family there are 7 siblings.  My brother Steve didn't come into the family until the late '80's.  He had been separated from Daddy since childhood through no fault on either part. My parents married in 1967 bringing together 3 girls and 3 boys but we would all agree that the Brady Bunch was a bunch of . . . well, you get the picture.  It was tough.  Back then combined families were uncharted territory for the most part and there were a lot of obstacles.

Front row from left to right are Pam, Darrell, Daddy, Mom and Dan.  Back row me, Lori and Dennis.
My parents live outside Spokane, Washington.  Last year on 01-11-11 my Daddy became very, very ill for an extremely long time.  He was in the hospital for over a month.  We almost lost him, far too close.  But my mother wouldn't allow that to happen.  She was by his side every moment of every day in and out of the hospital.  She was the mama bear and she was not bucking any interference in making sure that he did not leave us.  My brother Darrell and his wife, Julie, stepped up to the plate countless times but they have a business and 4 children.  My sister, Pam, flew in from Mississippi and spent a month helping as much as she could.  During her stay she, Darrell and Julie came up with a plan.  Darrell contacted all of us and asked if we could come to Spokane to celebrate Daddy's 88th birthday.  We would all camp out and converge at Mom and Daddy's during the day.  It was to be a complete surprise to my father.  It took months and lots and lots of planning and working very hard but, unbelievable to ALL of us, we made it.

By Thursday afternoon, 5 siblings, 5 spouses, my son Jeremy and his wife Nicole, 4 other grandchildren and a spouse and 3 great-grands were at the campground.  We had our own tent city and sat around the campfire every night talking while the great-grands ran around and played.  On Friday morning we loaded up and traveled the 40 minutes or so to Mom and Daddy's house.  We parked next door in a very large field with very dry grass and snuck up on the house.  It was like trekking through the jungle and the desert and we thought we would never traverse the less than 1/4 mile.  It seemed endless.  Mom was standing outside looking 20 years younger than any of us!  She had managed to get the house to her standards as well as the outside without ever letting on to Daddy who was standing inside the door looking stunned.  I asked him later what he was thinking and he said, "I just kept wondering how many more couples were coming through the door."  The joy felt by all of us is unexplainable and impossible to put into words.  We had actually pulled off something that NONE of us had ever thought would happen.

Dennis and Judy and Steve arrived Friday night and on Saturday we were back at the homestead to celebrate.  My uncle Johnny, Daddy's brother, and 6 cousins all arrived.  There were over 30 people there all to celebrate Jack Fifield and the Fifield family.  Jeremy spoke to Grammy at one point and said, "Look around you.  This is all you, Grampy and Uncle Johnny."  And it was glorious!  Mom had made a huge chocolate cake decorated beautifully and there was food for days.  People came and went throughout the house and outside while the great-grand twins stripped to their underwear and danced through the sprinkler with their great-aunt Cindy, as much a child as they are.

On Sunday we were all at the campground including Mom and Daddy.  Unfortunately Dennis and Judy had to leave because of work responsibilities but we spent the day together, had a Chinese auction, a seafood boil, wings on the grill and another huge fire.  Mom and Daddy were very reluctant to leave but it was late and we were all leaving the next morning in shifts.  Goodbyes were hard.

The next morning, Monday, Julie spent hours shuttling all of us to the airport as we departed.  Luckily one of my sisters and her husband and my brother, Steve, were on the same flight as Butch and me so we didn't have to say goodbye yet and Jeremy, who was headed on a business trip, met up with us in Minneapolis where we headed out for Raleigh.

We all made huge efforts to be there and did our  best to kick in when we got there but kudos go to Darrell and Julie and their children for their hard work, nonstop organization and absolute devotion to this project.  I must say that the weeks after coming home were difficult for all of us.  I've heard this from several of my siblings.  It was like 12 Christmas's at once and then the next day.  No one thought it would happen and everyone was a little bit nervous as to how it would go.  I repeat, it was glorious, life-changing and unprecedented.  And my father and mother have come eons since then from the scary times of last year. 

The morning of Daddy's 88th birthday a family portrait was taken.  I am amazed by the picture and when it arrived at Christmas, stared at it for hours.  I still do.  It was a magic miracle moment all of its own.  We are again a family and that will never change.  While Hurricane Irene was raging through the East Coast, those of us from Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont, California, Washington State and Arizona were safe and together.  Despite the damage to property for several of us I wouldn't change a thing.

Front row, from the left, nieces, Dakota and Mariah, great-niece Abby, nephew Jarrod and great-nephews Elias and Deakon.  Second row, Jeremy, Nicole, me, Butch, Daddy, Mom, niece Kisha, Julie, Darrell and nephew Marcus.  Back row, Steve, Greg and Lori, Dan and Cindy, Judy and Dennis and Pam and Wesley.  My family.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tiny Snuffles in my Ear

In our house we have furry children.  All of the others have flown the coop but these three and their predecessors keep us hopping!  Nanuq, Sasha and Sugar are all rescue babies adopted at different times even though they seem as though they should be related!  Three white snufflers. 

But let me start from the beginning.  When Butch and I got together I had an American Eskimo named Tully.  Tully moved to North Carolina with me when he was 3 months old and he was my buddy.  However, a year later it was obvious that he was not happy in an apartment with me gone all day.  Butch had a fenced back yard so Tully moved to Roanoke Rapids 4 months before I did.  Actually I believe that Tully was instrumental in bringing about this relationship.  In April of 2001 we decided that he needed a companion so we went to the local rescue where we found Angel, the POW (Pet of the Week).  She had been deserted as a small puppy and although she was probably a year old by this time had never had a home.  She had lived at the vet and then the rescue until we came along.  She walked into our kitchen and sprawled as if to say, "Finally!"  She grew into a 40-pound lap baby.  Couldn't understand why I was uncomfortable with that!

The following year we "inherited" Tuxedo from my sister-in-law's father who no longer wanted the responsibility.  At this point Tux weighed ~25 pounds and could be quite feisty, grabbing my leg in the hall during the night or popping me on the head repeatedly when he wanted to be petted and I wanted to sleep!  It took a while but the three adjusted to each other and eventually became quite close.  One day Tully just wasn't acting "right" so Butch took him to the vet.  When he showed up in my office and said, "Let's go" I knew something was terribly wrong.  Somehow Tully experienced a neurological "something" and we lost him the next day.  I was devastated . . . beyond devastated.

Butch insisted on checking out websites and found one called Safe Haven where they listed an American Eskimo named Nanuq.  He had been found loose along a highway on Christmas Eve and had been at the Haven for a year recovering from heart worm.  He looked spookily like Tully but his eyes were flat and scared.  For any of you who haven't read A Dog's Purpose, I am convinced that Tully sent Nanuq to us.  I know this to be true.  It took about 6 months but several years later he is a happy smiling boy as you can see below.  My beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy!

Within a year we lost Angel to a congenital skin disease.  Poor thing, one day I looked her in the eyes and she let me know that she was ready to go.  What a horrible decision that is to make but we really had no  choice.  So we said good-bye.  I cry just thinking about it.  Tuxie just didn't know what to do.  His two initial companions were gone and he didn't understand.  Once again Butch insisted on looking for another furry baby.  This time he found Sasha who was living with 5 Rottie rescues and holding her own, I will tell you!  She is a spunky one, our diva girl!  She thinks that Nanuq's tail is there as her very favorite toy.  She jumps on him and wrestles until he calls, "Foul!"  Tux, however, never quite recovered from the losses.  Within a couple of months and just as quickly as Tully we lost him to liver disease.  I still miss that beastly cat climbing up on my chest and nuzzling me with his little white nose.  As an aside, my lap has not been my own since we first started this family!
As you can see, Sasha is very sure of herself!  And I was certain that we were done!  These critters grab your heart and wallet and don't let go!  Especially those who have been through hard times and love like no other living being.  However, Butch had gotten involved with a group who transports rescues from place to place to new forever homes.  In the process he was cruising some of the sites of people with whom he had been working.  (I really should take the computer away!)  He found a couple in town who have a huge backyard, a warren of kennels beneath the house and a laundry room full of crates and kennels where they keep rescues until a foster or forever home comes along.  And sure enough, check out the next picture.n
This is Sugar.  She was a puppy mill rescue, had lived in a cage for 6-8 years.  The first time her feet had ever touched grass was when we brought her home because . . . .of course . . . .we fell in love with her instantly.  She danced through the grass with her ears just flying!  It took some getting used to for her although the other two were thrilled.  She did not like anyone coming up behind her unexpectedly and she had no clue how to be snuggled or petted.  Well, times do change.  Sugar cannot get enough of being loved and touched.  She curls her body into a little comma that doesn't stop wiggling.  And she is persistent to the point of driving me nuts at times, whimpering and wiggling and letting me know I need to stop whatever I'm doing and love her.  Her happy dance when Butch is fixing dinner for the kids is hysterical.  Twirls and whirls and skittering all over the floor.  Who knew food could taste this good and there were actually beds to sleep in!?!
That's our family!  That's their couch!  So much contentment until Daddy leaves the house and then there are some very upset doggies until he returns.  I don't think the same thing happens when I leave but when I return the reception is fit for a queen!

Now that we have refitted the expansion for the local vet, we are done for awhile!  But I'd better see a name plate over the door!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Toys!

Christmas was quiet this year.  As I told you yesterday, our children all live on the Left Coast.  So Jennifer, Brandon and the grandchildren celebrated with Nicki at their home in Redding, California.  Jennifer is our oldest daughter, Brandon is her husband and the grandchildren are . . . . well, incredible!  Nicki is our youngest.  She is an account manager for a landscaping firm and lives a little south of Jen/Bran/Fam.  Jeremy and Nicole, son and best daughter-in-law-alive, live in San Diego but went to New Jersey to spend the holidays with Nicole's family.  Nonetheless, Butch and I had a wonderful time and received some real goodies!

We love cookbooks.  I read them like novels before delving into the tasty adventure of trying the fare.  Beautiful to look at, incredible to try and it is very much like having a conversation with the author.  Between us, we accrued 5 new books this year.  The first came from Jeremy and Nicole's honeymoon in Jamaica, Mon.  Eat Caribbean by Virginia Burke is so much fun!

Nicole told us that as soon as Jeremy saw the book he said he wanted to get it for his parents.  Boy, are we glad!  The book includes a beautiful photographic tour of the islands as well as mouthwatering recipes.  I can't wait to try the Jerk Chicken with Avocado and Papaya Salad.  Thank you guys for thinking of us while on your honeymoon!

Butch and I are huge fans of Anne Burrell of Food Network fame.  So J&N sent Pop her new book, Cook Like a Rock Star.

Oh, my word!  We have already played with several recipes in the first chapter, Piccolinis, little pickies, my favorite way to eat!  Little bites of incredible food to munch on.  Loved the meatballs and Butch added her tomato sauce dip to them with great results.  Zucchini and parm fritters, awesome.  Can't wait for the figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and walnuts.  And that is only chapter 1!

We ordered two cookbooks for Jeremy and also bought them for ourselves.  That makes 4 very happy people with the results!  The Soul of a New Cuisine, A discovery of the foods and flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson is gorgeous! 
The book is actually a food history of the many countries of Africa from the various spices and rubs to the veggies, stews and meats.  And the variety is vast!  The photography of so many different regions and climates is breathtakingly, tear-inspiringly incredible.  Jeremy told me that he did just as I did by sitting down and just reading the book. 

Tupelo Honey Cafe is the next book and the name of the restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina.

We fell in love with Tupelo Honey years ago on a trip to Asheville for an education conference.  The theme is farm to fork and the food is delicious.  Fresh, local Southern style and to die for!  My all-time favorite is their shrimp with goat cheese grits.  I'm drooling thinking about it!  Still working on reading this one and haven't cooked from it yet but my dear friend Kathleen in South Dakota teaches at fiber festivals in Asheville and bought this when she returned home.  She made the pecan pie for Thanksgiving and if pictures tell the story, I missed out on some incredible dessert! 

Last but certainly not least is The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond.
The kids all got together and gave me a large Amazon gift card!  The way to my heart . . . other than lots of hugs and kisses!  So this was one of the first things I got.  Fun book!  Ms. Drummond was born and raised in Oklahoma, lived and worked in Los Angeles for years and then went home again.  Married a cowboy and settled in.  Good home cooking with flair.  Right now I am reading her memoir about the journey home.  She is a saucy one!

Not only did we get these wonderful books but Jeremy send homemade cookies this year after so many years of my doing the same.  Ginger, peanut butter with chocolate kisses and Snickerdoodles!  Yummy Christmas to us! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

I haven't gotten to it!

My name is DeeAnn.  This is my first foray into blogging so please let me introduce myself.

On December 29, 2000 I got into a battle with some wet leaves.  Unfortunately they won and after six hours of surgery I was left with a crushed left ankle.  Three surgeries later it is now fused.  What began as 1 plate, 2 rods and 18 screws is now down to 1 screw.  My orthopedic surgeon is waiting for the best "billable moment" to remove that one so I wll probably exit this world with it still in.

In the last couple of years I bent over to pick up one of our dogs.  I lost my balance and face planted on a hardwood floor breaking my nose.  Oh, that was a pretty sight!  For the first few days I forgot what I looked like until I faced a mirror.  I looked very much like a "Lost" victim of the black smoke!  As we were walking the aisles of Sam's Club a small child riding in a basket looked at me and said, "That's nasty!"  I flinched and kept my head down the rest of that trip.  Should have said, "This is what happens to rude little children."

On one occasion I got up out of my recliner, turned and landed forehead first on the corner of our solid oak sideboard.  I bled like that poor deeer who didn't see the headlights coming!  That incident cost me 3 stitches inside and 17 stitches outside.  Thank goodness for bangs.

Most recently, oddly enough on December 29, on getting out of bed in the middle of the night I failed to wait for my lack of balance to correct itself.  I pitched forward into the corner of the wall (perfect trajectory) causing what was initially thought to be a fracture of my right clavicle.  I was told that it was perfectly fine for us to travel to Mississippi (12 hours each way) the next morning to see my sister and brother-in-law.  Ended up in the ER down there the next day because I felt so sick.  On follow up with the aforementioned orthopedic surgeon the next week it turns out the clavicle was crushed and I should never have traveled.  Another surgery commenced and I now have 8 screws, a rod, a titatium plate and bone grafts.  Earlier this week the whole mess was really bothering me so we went to see the doc who asked me how in the world I bent a titanium plate.  Let me repeat, I bent a TITANIUM plate without any knowledge as to how.  A first, of course, in his surgical history.  Might have to have it replaced.

My hubsand and I met in the mid-1980's, fell in love in 2000 and married in 2001.  This was the first and last marriage for both of us.  I gave birth to my son who is now 35 and acquired two daughters of the heart as time went by.  They are in their 30's as well.   Butch and I now also have two children-in-law, two grandchildren, 9 siblings between us and their spouses as well as nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and nephews.  We adore each and every one of these individuals and are not shy about being proud of them and their accomplishments. 

I live in North Carolina now but was born in California as an Air Force brat.  So I've lived in ~7 states (probably can't remember one), traveled through 47-48 of the 50 and lived in countless sub-locations.  We still love to travel although the airlines leave a great deal to be desired these days.  We are foodies and so we love to travel on our stomaches.  That, we say, is why they are so well padded.  Any trip is preceded by checking out possible restaurants in the location to which we are headed.  This has made for a great many fantastic discoveries around the country.  We are complete Food Network groupies and our cookbook collection is huge and well used.  For Christmas between us we acquired 5 new cookbooks about which I am very excited!

I have been a huge reader since I was 3 years old.  My tastes are vast and all over the page (!?!)  I am a big fan of Southern women writers, memoirs, and current fiction.  The most outstanding books I read in the past year were A Dog's Purpose, The Help, and Water for Elephants, to name a few.  I also love magazines and am on a roll right now with past issues of Our State

Let's talk about family/friends, food, music, books, movies (sappy and otherwise), pet children (we have three rescue babies) and more.  I'm about ready to get back into quilting after a long hiatus and possibly other crafts I used to enjoy.  Because, well, after over 8 years I am no longer employed at the clinic where I worked.  New technology broke our department . . . who is surprised!?! 

Welcome to my world!