Sunday, March 31, 2019

Two Fer One Thankfuls, But I Had A Good Reason

Tick tick tick tick. 

That's the Ten Things of Thankful Countdown Clock (relax - it only exists in my head), and the alarm is about to go off. QUICK! WRITE!

(Note: this was my list for a week ago, explanation to follow)

1. I spent last weekend at a lovely inn in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, with my Person, Terri. Our trip made up my Ten Things last weekend, but I'm going to throw it in again because I'm still thankful for that weekend! 

2. Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. 

Goat cheese with red cherries, salty
caramel, brandied banana brulee,
and cream puff. Lest you think I am
quite the pig, these are very tiny
scoops. Very tiny.

3. Nashville is one of my favorite places to thrift shop, and I TOTALLY SCORED on an armchair and ottoman! The armchair was brand new with a price tag of $77.00. I texted my husband and he said to buy it, but it was still a lot of money to drop, so I wasn't sure. He looked up the brand name of the chair and found out it was in the $1,000 to $1,500 range, and $77 didn't seem so steep! When I took the tag to the check out, the cashier said, "Oh, it has a blue tag - that means it's 50% off today!" So guys, with tax, I spent $40 on the chair! At a different thrift store, I found an oversized ottoman that matched perfectly for $20. Guess where I'm sitting right now, with my feet all propped up...?

My little corner of the world.

4. The chair was kind of shoved in the back of my van by a worker at the thrift store (completely blocking my view out the back window, by the way), so when I bought the ottoman, I had to do some rearranging. The ottoman was on the ground next to me as I pushed and shoved, and then I heard a man ask if I could use some help. Now, I'm a pretty independent woman, but I'm also not stupid, so I said sure, and he not only helped me move the chair so I could see out the window, but he also packed some blankets I had around the legs so they wouldn't bump the side window and break it, plus he put the ottoman in for me. 

5. I had to leave Nashville on Tuesday. I don't get to spend enough time with my Person, since there are many, many miles between us, but we make the most of the time we have and I couldn't be more grateful for her friendship. 

6. Real bagels. Not Panera. Not Sara Lee. Real bagels from a real bagel bakery. Can't get those where I live, so I picked up 2 dozen before I left Nashville. They freeze very well!

7. I stopped in the little town of Wickliffe, Kentucky, where the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is, just to take a look at the water. (Note: I'm actually terrified of water, but I love to look at it - just don't ask me to get on it or in it!) The Ohio has been flooded, which led to the Mississippi being flooded, and a whole lotta water was hustling downstream. Another car had pulled up where I was, and as I walked back to my car, I saw that it was an elderly gentleman. I stopped to visit with him, and I'm so glad I did! He was darling! He told me he came down to the water's edge several times a day. He was a widower and a retired barber. He had had a stroke ten years ago and didn't get around as well as he used to, but he could still drive (slightly terrifying if you could see how little use he had of his right side). He told me about a scenic view not far away, then followed me to it and we got to visit a little more. I told him if I ever get hauled into the pokey while passing through Wickliffe, Kentucky, I would call him!

See the yellow gangway in the upper right of the
photo? The right side of it is supposed to be on
dry land. This is a "floating" store, built
on a dock, for tug boats to stop at for
supplies as they navigate the rivers.

Where the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers meet.

This is my new friend Bill. Isn't he adorable?
Me, not so much. It was very windy.

8. My college girl was home for spring break, and I spent the rest of the week with her. It was hard to send her back to school after the week was over.

In her room at the sorority house a few
weeks ago during Moms Weekend.

9. Emma and I had lunch during one of the days she was home with one of her old high school friends. We sat at a table for three hours while the girls talked and gossiped and laughed, and I was reminded of how one of my favorite activities has always been to watch my kids interact with their friends. Now that they're away at school, I don't get to enjoy that very often.

10. In the TToT Secret Book of Rules 14.07.2 subchapter c(3)iii, it clearly states that when you leave the charging cord to your laptop at the lake house, you can finish your list a week later, after your dad brings the cord back to his house and your husband is able to stop by that house and pick up the cord when he coincidentally has a business trip that takes him through the area. It also allows you to add a VERY BRIEF list for the next week, and here goes:

1. Propel water. 

2. Heated mattress pads, especially when winter refuses to leave.

3. Facetime, when it works, that is.

4. Flowers popping up out of the ground. Daffodils, hyacinths and paper whites are blooming, and the tulips aren't far behind.

5. I found six cents on the ground outside a convenience store. I guess I understand not wanting to bend over and pick up a penny, but a nickel? It reminds me of an old joke about a fellow who accidentally dropped a quarter down the hole in the outhouse. He then took a $20 bill and threw it in, then went down inside to retrieve it, along with the quarter. Another fellow asked him why he threw in the $20, and he said, "You wouldn't expect me to go in there for just a quarter, would you?"

6. Podcasts.

7. Netflix. Binge watched "Russian Doll" yesterday.

8. My new bundt pan that makes six little bundt cakes at a time. I may have gotten carried away this weekend....

Sour Cream Chocolate with a Chocolate
 Ganache Glaze. 

Coconut Cake with Coconut Glaze,
plus toasted coconut on top.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze.

Monkey Bread (or monkey bundts,
as I called them)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Filling

9. My college girl won a scholarship this week. We don't have an amount yet, but even if it's for $5.00, we will be grateful.

10. Phone calls from the Med School student. He doesn't have much free time, so when he can squeeze in a call, my heart sings.

My Med Student on the right, at the wedding
of one of his childhood friends.

I'm still trying to get back in the swing of blogging again, and I have not been observing proper blog etiquette, which mandates that I read and comment on the blogs of my fellow bloggers, especially those in my "circle." I'll get there - I swear!

Ten Things of Thankful

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Being Thankful Is SO Inn

Last week flew by. FLEW! And it's a good thing, too, because THIS week is spring break, and I don't think I would have made it through last week without that carrot dangling in front of me. 

As if that weren't thanks enough, here are ten more things of thankful:

1. I'm currently sitting in the living room of my Person's home in Nashville. We are both in our jammies, and we are writing a bio for her for her new job. Besides my family, she is the only person I am ever 100% myself with, and I am so thankful I have her.

2. Terri, my Person (you know, the friend who knows where all the bodies are buried), and I went on a little girls getaway to an inn about 70 miles outside of Nashville. Terri had visited there the weekend before on a whim, and I am SO THANKFUL she did!

3. This inn we went to was in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. After the Civil War, the healing powers of the town's mineral springs attracted visitors, and the town once boasted 9 hotels and 12 boarding houses. The boom ended after World War II with the advent of modern medicine and better automobiles and roads. There are still three hotels in the town, and we believe we found the very best one, Armour's Hotel.


4. Seriously, people, if you want to take a step back in time, go visit this place! The entire place is decorated with antiques: furniture, pictures, memorabilia, knickknacks and collections. Think the Christopher Reeve movie "Somewhere In Time." There are vintage touches everywhere, one of my favorites being the ladies hats hanging on the walls. It made me feel warm and comfortable inside to be there, like visiting a beloved elderly relative's home, and I truly did not want to leave.

My pictures are not good, but the room
was lovely and so comfortable!

We were in the "executive suite" so we had
a sitting room and bedroom.

Downstairs hallway. Can you see all the
antiques and collectibles?

The kitchen. It reminded me of my
great aunt's kitchen (but much
bigger). Very homey.

5. We were the only ones staying there the first night, and we got the undivided attention of the staff (which consisted of the owner and the chief cook and bottle washer, as my mom would have said). It was like we were royalty!

Samantha, who cooks, cleans, blows leaves,
and who knows what else (she IS Wonder
Woman) whipped up this sandwich and
salad for us when we finished our
mineral baths and massages.

6. We took mineral baths in big, claw-footed tubs. The "mineral" is mostly sulphur and smells absolutely disgusting, especially when hot. The smell almost cancels out the positive aspect of the delicious hot bath experience, but not quite, so it's a thankful. Plus, we followed up with a massage, so total win.

Ready to be spoiled!

7. Winter is having to be pushed out kicking and screaming, and spring is in no hurry to get kicked, so the walk we took on Saturday afternoon was a chilly one. Across the road from the hotel is part of the "Quilt Trail" that runs through two parks in town (by the way, "town" is about a thousand people). Painted samples of quilt blocks are posted on a walking path with explanations about each pattern. The walk took us by a covered bridge and along a lovely little creek, and in spite of the cool wind and the refusal of the trees and flowers to come out of hibernation, the sky was the most gorgeous shade of blue you could ever imagine. Spring CANNOT be far away with a sky that blue!

Covered bridge that goes over
Salt Lick Creek.

Look at that sky! Completely
unfiltered and not retouched.

I'd be lion if I said it wasn't a lovely weekend.

Or a bird brain. Only a bird brain would
not enjoy this place!

8. The park had a teeter totter. A real, honest-to-goodness teeter totter. Nothing modern about it, no safety features, but a teeter totter just like we had on our school playgrounds as children. 

I took the seat with the big
ol' crack in the middle,
because I'm that good
of a friend!

Show off.

9. We did not fall off the teeter totters, and believe me, dismounting is not what it was when we were 10! Side note: we did not pee our pants laughing, either.

10. While our trip to the inn is over, my visit to Nashville is not! A few more days of much laughing and much eating await!

Be ever thankful.

Ten Things of Thankful

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Look What I Found! Thankfuls!

One of my favorite exercises in my blogging history was participating in the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop, because no matter how bad the week, there was always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Er, for which to be thankful. Oh, sometimes you had to dig VERY DEEPLY to find ten things, but they were there if you took the time to look for them.

Confession: not participating in the Ten Things of Thankful for, oh, ages and ages, has resulted in me not doing that weekly tally of thankfuls. Let's see if I can make amends:

1. I entered a little writing contest sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy at our local university. That, in itself, is worthy of its very own Thankful, because I haven't written ANYTHING in nearly a year.

2. So that little writing contest? I won first place in my category.

3. I was not the only entry in my category. I don't know how many there WERE, but there were at least three, and that's good enough for me. You can read my entry here, if you would like....

4. Big Wheel Day, the BEST day of the preschool year, was on Friday. We set up the gym to look like a little town, with a bank, McDonalds, hair salon, grocery store (you get the idea), and the kids ride tricycles or big wheels around a track, stopping at the different centers along the way. I've always said the day I couldn't ride a big wheel would be the day I would retire, so it looks like I'm in for another year:

5. This weekend was Mom's Weekend at my daughter's sorority at the University of Arkansas. We had a lovely brunch at the sorority house and took a cake decorating class during the day, then, since it was Mom's Weekend at my nephew's fraternity as well, we got to spend time with my husband's sister and her husband. We don't see them often enough, and we need to remedy that.

6. My daughter and I tagged along with my nephew and sister-in-law to a party held my my nephew's fraternity at a local bar. So yes, I went to a frat party this weekend! And it was funnnnn!!!

7. When my husband and I got home from Fayetteville this afternoon, and as I carried in a load of stuff from the car which included my puffy coat, my purse, and a large Diet Dr Pepper, I bent over to set the purse on a table, I poured my drink all down my coat and onto the floor (Lewis, one of our kittens, took a hit, too). When I started the clean up process, I found that there was not as much on the floor (or Lewis) as I thought, but that was because I had managed to FILL MY PUFFY COAT POCKET with Diet Dr Pepper. Where's the thankful here, you ask? My coat was machine washable!

8. Daylight Savings Time started today. Some might see that as losing an hour of sleep, but I see it as gaining an hour of daylight and I'm happy. Or I am until tomorrow morning, when it's dark as pitch when my alarm goes off, and I'm tired and cranky from losing an hour of sleep....

9. Today is my husband's birthday. I kind of like him a little and was happy to celebrate it with him.

10. He is older than I am.


Ten Things of Thankful

Friday, March 8, 2019

I'm No Pioneer

Know how to jump start a neglected little blog? Enter a contest, that's how!

Last weekend, a friend posted about a writing contest sponsored by the English and Philosophy department of our local university that was in conjunction with their Robinson Crusoe week (thanks, Marsi). The prompt was to write a fictional journal of desertion and survival based on the story of Robinson Crusoe. Each entry had to depict a human in an isolated or deserted situation. It had to reference a lion, real or metaphoric (the college mascot is a lion and there's something about a lion in the book), and it had to "smoothly" incorporate one of the following phrases from Robinson Crusoe:

     "There was exactly the print of a foot - toes, heel, and every part of a foot"
     "In about a year and a half I had a flock of about twelve goats, kids and all"
     "I have no clothes to cover me"
     "How like a king I looked"

My only real problem was the only thing I knew about Robinson Crusoe was the line from the "Gilligan's Island" theme song.

Did that deter me? It did not.

I entered the contest on Sunday afternoon, 20 minutes before the deadline, then received an email on Wednesday that I was a finalist and would I read my story at their gala on Friday night. Now, it certainly entered my mind that there may not have been a huge number of entries, particularly in my category of community/alumni/faculty/staff, and I think I'm probably right on the mark about that, but there were at least two other entries, because tonight, at the gala, they announced a third place winner, a second place winner, and a first place winner and IT WAS MEEEEE!!!

Do I look nervous? Because I am.

I read my story last, after the winners of the college division and the high school and younger division read theirs. I told the audience I was only used to reading to 4 year olds and I might need them to come up and sit on the floor in front of me, criss-cross, applesauce, but I found my groove and made it through and it felt pretty good. Afterwards, one of the organizers told me they wanted me to go last because my story had such a great punchline. THEY LIKED ME! THEY REALLY LIKED ME! 

(By the way, they had other Robinson Crusoe-related activities all week, including pottery making and goat petting, but I couldn't go to those because work.)

They didn't let me keep the goat.

So here it is, and yes, it's based on a true story. Would you expect anything else from me?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I'm not what you would call high maintenance, but I'm no pioneer, either. I don't camp. I don't like to sweat. I hate bugs. I hate snakes. I could not hit the broad side of a barn with a ball if I tried, nor could I catch that same ball, tossed easily to me, even if it had glue on it. 

I'm the last person you would expect to find here.

I'm the last person I'D expect to find here, too, yet here I am, sweating and miserable and utterly alone.

It's dark. So very dark. I look up at the stars, each closely guarding its glow, and none of the light makes its way to where I stand in the oppressive stillness of the night. Something flies past my head, so close that I can feel the sound of its wings beating, and I cover my head with my arms and cower until I'm sure it is gone. 

"Step out of your comfort zone," my friends told me. "You might find out it's fun," they said, and I believed them, for they were right; I DID need to step out of the safety of the life I had built for myself, but they were also very wrong about it being fun.

I take a tentative step, then another, and feeling bolder, I take a third step; the ball of my foot meeting with nothing, and I feel myself falling, falling, arms flung out, until I hit the hard, damp ground. I lie there, not moving, barely breathing. My heart is pounding and everything aches, and I wonder how long it will take before the scavengers find me and pull my body apart like a lion at the zoo tears into the meat thrown to him by the zookeeper.

While I'm lying on my bed of hard-packed mud, I take inventory of my body, wiggling a toe here and a finger there, and as the sound of my breathing quiets, the pounding of my heart lessens, I can hear the sounds of the forest around me. Twigs break and fallen leaves crackle as something moves stealthily around the clearing where I lie. A deer, perhaps? Or worse? A bobcat or a bear would not be unheard of in this area. A snake? Don't they sleep at night? Is it a snake?!

The moon has risen since I began my journey of precisely three steps, and a sliver of moonbeam, filtered by the dense growth of trees, has reached the ground around me. I painfully pull myself to a sitting position. My knees and the heels of my hands took the brunt of my fall, and not only can I see they are caked with mud, I can also make out the indentations in the ground which mark their point of impact. I get to my feet, my body hunched, as I try again to walk, led by the muted light of the moon. I shuffle my feet, not wanting to lose contact with the earth again, and my eyes scan the ground before me. I am on edge, barely breathing, as I place each foot carefully, one after the other, when unexpectedly, there was exactly the print of a foot - toes, heel, and every part of the foot, directly in front of me, the toes pointing to the right. Someone else has made this trip, recently, it appears, and for the first time, I feel hope.

I turn in the direction of the footprint, using it as my compass, and I follow it, follow it like a hound dog on the trail of a coon. I catch a glimpse of a partial footprint periodically, sometimes just a heel, sometimes toes dug into a soft spot in the mud, and moments later, the moon high in the night sky, I see the outline of a small structure. Dear God! 

I make my way to the structure with urgency, fumble with the door, and step inside. Something tickles my face, and I bat at it, sure I've encountered a spider dangling from a silken thread, and find instead a string. Pulling it, the tiny structure is illuminated by a 40 watt bulb. There. There is my salvation, for I have finally found the outhouse on the grounds of the rustic camp where I have volunteered to be a counselor. And as I avail myself of the facility, I vow that I will never, ever leave my cabin in the night again without a flashlight.

Thanks, Robinson!