Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite Sitcom

Finally my favorite comedy has arrived on TVLand. Trip introduced me to 3rd Rock from the Sun thirteen or fourteen years ago and I still crack up laughing over its amazing humor and the way it pokes fun at the American - make that human - experience. The entire cast is super, but every time I watch it I proclaim, "That John Lithgow is a comedic genius!" And I still mean it. He translates what the writers wrote with such skill, precision, and expression.
That's all folks!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Though I was barely out of my teens, I suppose I was following nature's call when I desired above all to be a mother. And so it was. Blessed I was to have four wonderful sons. During my pregnancies I felt I couldn't wait to see what they looked like! What color hair would they have? And eyes? And how tall and how smart? Later when smack dab in the middle of those child rearing years, the full days seemed to pass slowly as if life would always be that way. But time does not stand still for long. Now that they are fully grown men, having passed the trials of the teens and the tasks of younger adulthood, they have become what they were meant to be, what I wondered about many years ago. Yes...tall, blue eyed and of a certain character, but there is more. When I put aside my busyness, and if I watch and listen, I see my hands and my heart working through them. As they help to rear their children and engage in loving relationships, they pass along pieces of me perhaps without even realizing it. And so it goes, generation after generation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas...It goes on and on

Outside was rainy this second day after Christmas, so inside we baked cookies, sang karaoke, and enjoyed visiting and exchanging gifts with Peter, Sally, and Caroline.

Later we all went to Red Robin for balloons and delicious hamburgers and then to some of the Shops at Greenridge where Ruby and I took advantage of the "props" at World Market.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My baby's baby

Not only is Jacob here with me for a few days, but I am blessed with others whom I love. Here is my baby's baby - Wyatt - who didn't want to let go of the day but is now sleeping peacefully.

Sometimes when you don't know what you are doing, you can come up with some interesting things. I changed some settings on the camera and - voila!

Just one more, please.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Love Thee Lord Jesus!

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bet my snowman is cuter than yours

But he will never replace Santa Claus as the goodwill ambassador of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Silent Night, Holy Night

Joseph Mohr, a young man with a love for music, singing, and poetry and mentored by a priest who recognized his talents was, in his twenties, what we would now call a supply pastor. His post was at St. Nikola Church in Oberndorf, Austria that Christmas Eve of 1818, and as he was preparing for the service, he discovered the organ was not working. He put his creativity to work and gave to the church musician Franz Gruber a short poem that he had written. Together they came up with something they believed could be sung quietly without accompaniment. And so it was that evening, but soon the song was forgotten, and left to dry on a dusty shelf at the church. Many years later, the old sheet music was found by another musician, and the carol began to make the traveling folk circuit, eventually becoming the world's most beloved and familiar Christmas piece. Neither Joseph Mohr nor Franz Gruber lived long enough to know the popularity of their work, but today almost two hundred years and many generations later, we reverently sing their song at Christmastime. That is how it is with our legacies. If we follow God's leading and promises, perhaps something of us can be used in future generations.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Apple Bread

It doesn't take much for me to be entertained. (By the way...this is not a good thing but that's another story.) While the hubby was finishing up some work Sunday night, I busied myself in the kitchen, something that must stop and soon before I end up with an additional fifty pounds on my already overfed body. I adapted a recipe that I got online for an apple cake/bread and it turned out nicely. Soon I will be having some with my morning coffee. I am putting the recipe here in my blog because I can easily find it if want to make it again. The pumpkin bread I put here not too long ago was so I could have easy access for a student who wanted the recipe. Oh yes...occasionally we do talk about things other than patients and nursing stuff. This recipe reminds me of Chinese cooking. Get the prep done and the rest is a cinch.

Apple Cake or Bread

Grease and flour a 9 x 5 pan
Preheat oven to 350

Mix together:
2 cups finely chopped apples
1/2 cup currants

2 T oil and enough applesauce to make 1/2 cup

No need to mix but in small bowl place:
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 T molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
and a little rum or other tasty spirits if you have it

Stir together:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar (I used some brown and some white)

For the streusel topping mix:
3 T butter
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
almonds (since I happened to have some)

Now you are ready to start mixing:

With mixer til blended:
Beat 2 eggs
Add oil-applesauce mix
Add spice/seasonings/soda
Add flour and sugar (slowly at first)

Stir in apples/currants
Pour into pan
Sprinkle streusel topping on top

Bake about an hour at 350.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One for her, one for me

I am not the zealous shopper I once was. Since I don't have the responsibility of clothing, feeding or housing anyone but myself - well almost - I don't roam the aisles of any kind of store looking for necessities or bargains as I once did. I need relatively little and find that if I do need something, it can wait, sometimes perhaps until I have forgotten about it. I must admit that I come close to admiring the way I have intentionally drifted into economical prudence.

When it comes to Christmas shopping though, I shift my thinking. Since I am not wise enough to shop early, I am out the week before the big day joyfully fighting traffic, searching racks and shelves, standing in lines and thinking really hard. Shopping for others gets me going, but while I am out fortuitous events occur. I see things that I really want for myself! This year I have bought myself a nice lightweight pair of earrings that I will be wearing everyday. And when I saw a cool device that will turn old photograph slides and negatives into digital prints, I knew it was something I had to have. (I will pass it on to Rob if he would like it.) Merry Christmas to me! I won't be returning anything.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Evening Sky

What a pretty sky this balmy winter night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Mall

Last year in Houston, I took a picture of the Christmas tree at the mall where we were and posted it to my blog. Thanks to StatCounter, I have found that that particular post has had more views than any other. Maybe because of the post name, maybe because of the name of the city. Who knows? This year I am putting a photo of the tree in the center of Haywood Mall here in Greenville where I was shopping today. For a long time, Santa had left the building and there was a serpentine line with a bunch of wondering eyes waiting for his appearance. For me, I just had a good time and caught myself singing "...since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" out loud amid the bustling crowd.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gift Exchange

I don't know if this activity has anything to do with China or its customs, but that is the only name I know to call it.

If I don't participate in at least one Chinese gift exchange every Christmas, I feel that I have missed out on a lot of laughs. People are either delighted, disappointed or befuddled, but it is all in boisterous fun. We played the swap til you drop game over the weekend and my husband and another guy fought over a digital tire pressure gauge. Since he lost, at least I now know what will be wrapped and under the tree for him. This afternoon, one of my work groups will be playing this Christmas game, but rather than buying new items, we will be swapping white elephant gifts. I have my Christmas song books wrapped, but hmmm...I wonder what I will end up with.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Decisions and Frustration

When I was a young college student studying art, I found that I most wanted to draw when I was in a bad mood. Maybe it was loneliness or frustration I felt, but when I pressed the charcoal sticks to the drawing paper and came up with some semblance of an identifiable image, I was comforted. I am not a good December person. I get stressed. I could probably use some of that healing charcoal now, but life has moved along and I am at a different place. Today I realized how frustrated I was with my regular job last year this time and how I wanted not to be in the same situation when Christmas rolled around this year, but here I am. Stuck. There has been no change. There are logical reasons why I have stayed and maybe down the road I will be glad, but today I am angry with myself for being uncharacteristically logical. Where is my free spirit? And my faith?

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Cats in Winter

In warmer weather my two cats prefer to be out at night. What they are doing then remains a feline mystery, but at least they are not causing me to delay falling asleep like they do after the weather turns cold. When it is frosty outside, Daphne, my little calico, and I have some competition. She likes to quietly assumes a place lying next to my husband's warm body as soon as he gets in bed. She acts offended when I move her, tries to sneak back, or at least get a place lying on my hip or curled in my bent knees. Eventually she settles near fluffy black little Nora who usually has the decency to sleep at the foot of the bed from the start. Despite the inconveniences, they are both welcome to keep my feet warm. It is really kind of cozy and comforting to have them snoozing nearby on a cold night. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Counting down

Downstairs the carpet cleaner is at work making it a good time for me to be upstairs on my computer. It is the second day of heavy rains, but I am not complaining. It may take a little longer for the carpet to dry, but Lord knows, the lakes and rivers can still use the water from the sky.

Christmas is approaching. I have decorated the mantle, and strung the rail of the bridge with fake greenery and lights, and tomorrow will decorate the tree that I decisively bought in record time two days ago. Then I will try to keep it - the house and my poor brain - together for a couple of weeks.

Decorating for Christmas doesn't have rules. People can do their own thing and be as minimal, contemporary, vintage or tacky as they like. They may hang a gazillion lights and displays outside or do nothing but garnish their front door with a simple wreath. To me it all looks pretty. My co-worker Pam said she has done her decorating, only one thing. She placed red light bulbs in the eye sockets of her cow skull. I am more of a traditionalist. I drag out the same old cherished things year after year and fondly remember.

In what ever way we decorate or celebrate, it is a time for keeping in touch, reflecting, sharing, giving and having grateful hearts.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanks Daddy

Today on his birthday, we remember Daddy.

Like many others, I am an observer of people. I especially like to watch children with their parents to see how behaviors are shaped. I can see how the child is developing patterns and approaches to situations that he will use throughout life by what he is learning each early moment, for better or worse, from interacting with or modeling after a parent. Some of what my brother and I learned from our father guided us - though unintentionally - into our careers.

From my sweet daddy I learned these three things that have helped in my psych nursing work: 1) acceptance of people no matter their circumstances 2) how to appear as if I am fully listening when I am actually getting just the essence, and most importantly 3) he modeled and therefore taught what is now called appropriate boundaries.

Here is a picture Rob sent me today in remembrance. I guess I was about fourteen. Since Daddy was always the photographer, I am sure he set the camera on a tripod and quickly came to sit with me before the timer went off.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Favorite Quotation

I loved this quote that I learned years ago but had mistakenly attributed it to Mother Teresa. It is actually was from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.

I slept and dreamt that life is joy.
I awoke and saw that life is duty.
I acted and behold, duty is joy.


Though I am a bread baker I had never made stollen until a couple of years ago at Christmas time when I felt compelled beyond reason to make some. Honestly I barely even knew what stollen was, but I obeyed my ancestral German muse. This year after looking on line and learning that a stollen recipe is different in every haus, and being that I was not going back out to shop for cardamon or almonds, I decided I would just go with the fruit. It was a little heavy on the cherries both candied and dried, however they sweetened it nicely. In spite of the frustratingly slow rising and the huge mess I made, I think it was worth it.

Not the greatest picture but . . .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No idolatry, please.

Last month we elected a new president, not one of my choosing but apparently the choice of millions of others. One of my many concerns is the near idolatry that this man has received. It seems that he is heaping quit a bit of it on himself, too, buttressing his position. Office of the president elect? There is real danger in singling out a human being on whom to place one's trust and faith, and we place ourselves as a nation in jeopardy if we take the adoration too far. We are all just people, sheep who have gone astray, and while we are to love and respect each other, we all have need of a Savior. The prez elect is no exception. I hope the mob mentality that he has generated as well as the citizens who truly believe that their hope lies in him will begin to see his many feet of clay. Perhaps an apparent lack of humility would be a good place to start.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

To everything there is a season

Six months ago I had just come back from my dream trip to France, and what a great time I had. I still love looking over my pictures. I change the background photo of my computer pretty often and this picture of garden roses at the villa where I stayed in Provence somehow just keeps resurfacing. I have decided that one reason I like it is not because it is a stem of perfect roses but because it is more like a family of four generations of elegant women in various seasons of their short yet beautiful lives. Our eye is drawn to the center, to the protected young bloom with the peach blush. Who would dare pluck her now? Below and looking forward, a maturing pink edged bloom, and to the right, an open grandmother rose whose white petals have lost their youthful hue. And between the second and third generations hang dried petals of a spent flower, a beauty who had her day in the sun and is all but faded away.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recommendation from a Foodie

Here is a product I discovered in Fresh Market a few weeks ago, Amore tomato paste in a tube. I like it because you can just take what is needed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Something that works

Raising children is a blessing and a challenge. Years ago when mine were little and I was overwhelmed, I sought guidance and knowledge from several books. The most helpful was psychotherapist and educator Haim Ginott's "Between Parent and Child." The wise approaches to problems that I read and learned changed my parenting style for the better. But it didn't end there. When I became a nurse and started working with hurting people, I realized I was using the same sort of communication principles, and overall they have served me well. At work I am frequently good naturedly teased for being "validating," but that is what it is all about. Yesterday as I spent some time on the adolescent unit, I observed an interaction and decided it could have been improved by applying the principles in Ginott's book. I think I will find a tactful way of telling them. Ginott also wrote the related "Teacher and Child." Parents are - after all - the first teachers. A sample of his thinking is found in this quote: "Treat a child as though he already is the person he's capable of becoming." When I have nursing students in the clinical setting, I try to teach and role model based on his sensible, respectful and non-punitive ways.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Taking Care

Yesterday was a full day of busily working at the mental hospital. About ten pm, after being with students in the morning, and an irrational drunk, crying women, a delusional schizophrenic, and an assortment of other trying situations in the evening, I had a feeling I had been there way too long. Though I am glad to be where God has placed me, it is imperative to get away and give my brain time to process and file my experiences. Computers are such great analogies to our brains. Sometimes we see the little blue circle spinning around as the computer tries to find something or the hourglass prompting us to be patient. And I if I push it too hard, make too many demands on the system by overclicking, it will jam. Important also is to turn off the computer, letting it rest, because it seems to last longer and serve me better if I do. But if I leave it off and don't use it, it will become obsolete, slow and ineffective. So I want to work, learn and use what I have without overdoing, but also make sure I allow for those blue circle times to do their thing and have my shut down/sleep times as well. This computer inside my head is not replaceable.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rainy Night in NC

On the way up and down the mountain on this rainy Sunday to take Jacob to Asheville to meet his dad, I played with my camera. Here is one pic I found interesting.

The End

Thanksgiving is not over until every bit of the turkey has been eaten, and the bird is almost picked clean. The dog and cats have enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinners of liver and other gross innards mixed with rice that I cooked just for them. If they only knew that tomorrow it is back to the bagged dry stuff. Of course we people have had many a turkey sandwich, which I argue is the best part of the Thanksgiving fare. This year I baked the turkey a new way. I soaked a piece of cheesecloth in about a half cup of melted butter that had lots of nice herbs in it and draped it single layer on the turkey. It turned out to be a lovely, shiny golden brown, picture perfect.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Do these fit?

You can always find something to buy at Hamrick's - even if you have a 66 inch waist and some darned long legs. Here is Jacob doing the Jared thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Always Giving Thanks

Giving thanks is a mindset, something we can train our minds to do. "In all things give thanks." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Today I am especially thankful that years ago the US government set aside a day for giving thanks. It gives families who are apart not always by choice but by duty a time and a reason to gather together. My grown children - and I include those whom I did not birth - and I are busily caught up in our lives, our work, tending to the next generation, and surviving on Planet Earth. That means we are not together all that often. Thankfully the holiday of Thanksgiving encourages a coming together. Anything worth having is worth working for (it is said) and a family gathering is no exception. But when the work is over and I am around those whom I love, I am filled with thanks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come ye thankful people, come. Raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied.
Come to God's own temple, come. Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field. Fruit unto His praise to yield.
Wheat and tares together sown, unto joys or sorrows grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harvest, grant that we, wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come and shall take His harvest home.
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away.
Give His angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast.
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so Lord quickly come to thy final harvest home.
Gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow free from sin.
There forever purified in thy presence to abide
Come with all thine angels come. Raise the glorious harvest home.

Words by Dr. Henry Alford in 1844

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to wash mushrooms

For part of my food prep this morning, I washed the white button mushrooms that I will be slicing and sauteing tomorrow. An excellent way to wash them is to put a tablespoon or two of flour in a bowl and add cold water. Swish it around and then swish in the mushrooms for a few seconds until you see that the dirt/soil has floated off. Lift them out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It is getting close to tummy ache time

A couple of weeks ago Peter quietly commented that his favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the casseroles, and I have distorted it into an ultimatum. The thought - I must fix good casseroles - is driving my menu planning. I think he likes the marshmallow topped sweet potatoes the best, but this year I may vary it by adding a little fresh grated ginger. I was so glad to see the Campfire brand marshmallows in the store because no others turn that wonderful puffy brown on the top of those fragrant rich orange potatoes. Coming in second for Peter is the squash casserole, the one with sour cream and grated carrots and very yummy. We will also have the green bean casserole, but because I like to torture myself and do nothing the easy way, I will use fresh beans, then saute the mushrooms and make a cream sauce. I saw a broccoli pudding recipe I will probably try. It is another over the top, high calorie dish but hey...it's Thanksgiving! This afternoon I splurged and bought an organic free range fresh turkey from Whole Foods and some Riesling wine. The meal is shaping up. Now I just have to pull it all together. But when the day arrives, I will have some good helpers. Now that is something to be thankful for!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

This is a recipe from my young adult years that is a nice seasonal sweet.

Pumpkin Bread

3 C sugar
1 C salad oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 16 oz can pumpkin
3 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2/3 C water

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease and flour two 9 X 5 loaf pans.
Cream sugar and oil. Add eggs and pumpkin, mixing well. Sift together dry ingredients. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with water.
Equally distribute batter into the two pans.
Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours or til done. Let stand for ten minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Easy to Remember

Each year that passes, there are fewer of us who can answer the question, "What were you doing when Kennedy was shot?" Here is my brief, sad but happy story.

I was at my part time job that Friday November 22 when a co-worker came through with the terrible news. "The president's been shot!" I remember him announcing in disbelief. Prior to that climactic moment, I was excitedly focusing on my friend Connie's wedding the next day in which I was to be the maid-of-honor. In 1963 news traveled just about as fast as today, and by the time I made it to the beauty shop for my hair and nails, the whole world had changed. It had become dismal and depressed as if covered by an ominous gray cloud. Some people were crying and no one could comprehend the shocking event.

The rehearsal was still held that evening as planned. Though everyone tried to push their stunned emotions aside and be joyful for the bride and groom, a somber mood prevailed. Thankfully the wedding went off perfectly the next afternoon and a new family was established. The good news is I have no problem remembering their anniversary. And now forty-five years later, they are celebrating a long and happy life together.

Fall Colors in a Garden Mum

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Making Dressing

Dressing - as in turkey and dressing - was a mystery to me until a few years ago. What exactly was it I wondered. On those Thanksgivings that we ate at home when I was growing up, my mother trusted a bag of herbed Pepperidge Farms dried bread crumbs mixed with broth to compliment the turkey. Since daughters learn from their mothers, that is what I did for many years. But after I became a nurse, I got to know some black women and figured I could learn from them how to make the real thing, a good Southern cornbread stuffing. The basics were similar, but some said to add an egg or a can of cream of chicken soup or some crumbled sausage or a can of creamed corn, so much was still left to me. When I put my first homemade dressing on the table one Thanksgiving, it was a proud moment. Eventually I got the hang of it though just making something once a year does not lend itself to greatness. Yesterday I cooked the cornbread and put it in the freezer. On Thanksgiving morning, I will crumble it in a big bowl along with it some saved biscuits, add seasonings, chicken broth and turkey drippings, melted butter, and whatever else strikes my fancy, and bake it til it looks like a Southern Living photograph. I hope it will be a nice part of the meal.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Which one is the movie star?

Raymond is in from a grueling work week in Philadelphia. One of the other men who helped get the restaurant ready to open is also an actor. Here's Raym with Tex (Randy) Cobb who has played bad guys in Raising Arizona, Liar Liar, Walker Texas Ranger and other movies and television shows. Interestingly also, he was a boxer before that, fighting Larry Holmes in 1982 for the heavyweight title.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

To Shop or Not to Shop

I feel like a traitor. For about a year people around here have been politely protesting the building of a WalMart near one of the upscale neighborhoods in my part of town. But it was a done deal and the spotless new store has now opened. Those who were against it can at least be glad that it is not super-sized! I made a delightful second trip there today thinking how great it is to have a WalMart only three miles away. And I didn't even feel that I was shopping in a third world country. I loaded up on baking ingredients that were a good price and decided to get a plastic bin for the refrigerator to hold my cheeses. The store was not full of people. I suspect many local shoppers are holding out. So I do feel a little guilty but not enough to stay away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


The prez to be is in the process of selecting his cabinet and filling other important positions in his administration. The news today reported that one criteria for his appointees is that they must sign something that says they have never emailed or texted negative comments about him.

Proverbs 11:14: "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure."

I am not right all the time, maybe not even some of the time, and I need to hear from people who have opinions or information that is different from mine. I like to be with people who think, who know what I don't, and who can stimulate my thinking. Sometimes we need someone who cares enough to call us into a place of accountability when we are headed the wrong way.

Ruth Graham is quoted as saying something like, "If Billy and I agreed on everything, one of us would be unnecessary."

Would you want to be surrounded by people who do not dare to question? Do you want to be led by someone who does not have a sense of humor about himself? Do you really believe that someone with such limited experience and wants to be surrounded by "yes men" is right for this lofty position? One whose self esteem is so inadequate he cannot tolerate some dissention or even a differing perspective? That diagnosis of malignant narcissist sounds right on target.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Part of Academia...at last

My six students had attended therapy groups and had done a great job of talking 1:1 with not only their assigned patients but also others. We finished the evaluations, discussed a few interesting situations, and then I let them out the door. I had to stay for a few minutes to make a phone call before getting my notebook, bag and coat from the locker. In the nurses station Dr. Parsons was teaching the medical student who had accompanied him on rounds today how to write prescriptions. The pharmacy student who was being mentored by the PharmD was researching in his textbook. The social work student was sitting at a round table gathering a history from a new patient. Our hospital is considered a teaching hospital and is affiliated with several schools and universities. I thought how glad I was to be part of this academic setting that provides so much more than a classroom can. If I weren't teaching clinicals, I would be itching to do so.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blessed with a Hearty Appetite

Another cold night is expected. I welcome the season changes but along with every approaching winter comes an unwelcome big appetite. Sure...warm soups are a big craving and quite satisfying, but I eat anything that is before me as if I am trying to pack on layers of protection for survival in the frigid outdoors. What is this hungry force of nature that overtakes me when the north winds blow in? And if that weren't enough, I get so much pleasure from cooking and baking this time of year, from having a warm oven and good smells in the house, that I tend to overcook and overbake, which means I overeat. Unfortunately there will be no let up for awhile. Soon there will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas with must do baking and outings that involve goodies. It isn't until the fresh tomatoes and veggies of spring that I back off. Woe is me!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stories from the Front Lines

I have always liked how nursing has expanded my thinking. Many years ago in nursing school, we had been in the NICU tending to the tiniest of humans, and when we left the area, I saw a covered gurney being pushed toward the morgue. I thought wow...life, its beginning and its ending, is in these walls. And I have continued to be amazed by the different sorts of life that lie between birth and death. Yesterday I helped take care of a rather robust one hundred plus year old man. What stories he could tell!

Often there are funny situations, some of then in print. Looking through a chart today I read something I hope was a typo. "The patient admits to using crack and methamphetamine but rarely alcohol, only three to four drinks a day." Gee I am glad that's not a problem! And in a brochure from a place for the chronic mentally ill was this: "Before (this place) I lived with six people in a two bedroom house. It was so crowded that we had to take turns taking showers." Now they can all shower together, I suppose. And written in the chart as a reason for the admission of a middle-aged woman, "Another stressor was that her 89 year old uncle was making passes at her."

Doctors dictate their assessments and their H&Ps, (history and physical) and they are then typed and placed on the chart, an official record. The beginning of an H&P was in a chart that said the patient's name and a line or two and then in bold caps ... "CANCEL THIS DICTATION." With a transcriptionist like that, who needs enemies!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Pet Peeve

I am not a guy.
When the hubby and I went to a Mexican restaurant recently, a young male waiter with a thick accent asked, "What can I get you guys?" I really wanted to reprimand him right there on the spot and tell him what I thought of his impolite and inaccurate reference to me, but I smiled and silently fumed. I am not a guy, I wanted to tell him. I am a girl and proud of it! When I was in France, I was addressed as "madame" and in the Philippines, it was "ma'am" pronounced mom. They noticed I was not a guy. What is wrong with America! Why has the male word guy come into popularity as a genderless address! I do not want to hear, "Hi Guys," "Bye Guys" or any form of guy when I am being spoken to. Any decent Southerner should be familiar with the appropriate use of the word y'all, which works just fine as does the plural you. Next time, I think I will speak up. Maybe some whippersnapper can learn a thing or two about politeness.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanks Vets!

My daddy said that you can tell a lot about a country by the way it treats its veterans. I am thankful to be a in a country that has a special day to recognize the men and women who have served our country militarily and what they have done and are doing for all of us citizens and for our security and freedoms as a nation. Our veterans have sacrificed time and relationships, income and comfort, and sometimes their own mental and physical health to defend and protect. Others have died in the cause and their families have sacrificed their own. But as a nation, I shudder to think where would we be without our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. I offer a big thank you to all who have served and who are still serving.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Images of Fall

Everyone agrees. This may have been the most beautiful fall ever. Even though the season is past its peak and so was the day, I walked around my yard and the neighborhood a bit, trusty Canon in my pocket, and took a few random pix. I would have been mad at myself if I had photographically missed the season.

Colorful treetops

The moon was already visible, a waxing gibbous.

I love this one. Morning glory seed pods. But don't they look like jingle bells!

Prettily blooming camellias; until the first frost gets them that is.

Does it lean to the right or to the left? In my neighborhood, probably to the right.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Any girl would like it...

I have just finished watching a favorite show, The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team. Now in its third year on CMT, maybe it's one way I can live vicariously. I mean...how much fun would it be to be dancing your heart out on that big football field in front of thousands on a beautiful fall afternoon! But those girls go through quite an ordeal in trying to reach their dreams. The competition and workouts, high kicks and constructive criticisms, maintaining a good attitude under Kelli's eagle eye, trying to meet physical perfection and squeeze into the skimpy uniforms....whew!
Granted they seem to do quite a bit of bumping and grinding - from a distance - but they also seem to be involved in worthwhile community activities. It's short term fun gig for a girly girl.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Lovely Day

Today has been a spectacularly beautiful day. Brillliant trees from nature's best autumn color palette were almost breathtaking. And lucky me - it was a rare "free" day, not one in which I worked or recuperated from work or was burdened with too many tasks. I have often thought...if I had a whole day to spend as I could choose, what would I do? Finally I got one. I am a piddler so I made sure I piddled. And I was outside in the wonderful weather. And visited the new WalMart. And read. Then piddled some more. And it is also Stuart's birthday! I enjoyed the accidental celebration!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Never Overestimate the Taste of the American Public"

What is there to say or think or feel about the presidential election that has not been said. I hope that B H O is not the man I think he is. Instead I hope he is closer to the man that the jubilant deceived masses want him to be. The office is one he has doggedly sought at least since his big dive into political waters four years ago and now he is two months away from sitting in that famed Oval Office. Oh to have such ambition... What is means to me is that I will go on about doing whatever it is that I do: working, looking for bugs to photograph, perfecting my pizza, maybe finding a cool place to visit, enjoying my family, tending to home. At least as long as I am free to do so.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here we are...

Election Day has arrived. At this moment voters are choosing between a Republican ticket leading with a true American patriot and a Democrat ticket that offers a "malignant narcissist" (as he has been labeled in many web sites) with no experience who could not pass security clearance for a regular government job. It boggles my mind how we could have come this far. But then yesterday in Wendy's, I saw folks who were B H O supporters and realized that not everyone thinks as I do nor do all pursue truth. Possibly they are looking for a simple quick fix to get them out of what they perceive as a bad situation or because of ignorance are easy prey to a scam, or perhaps as the Bible says they are "choosing darkness over light." Maybe we as a nation have become so corrupt that we will reap what we have sown, or maybe God will shed His grace on us a little longer. Soon we will know.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Tiny Part of the Bigger Story

This morning at church I worked the coffee and book area. When it got quieter, I picked up a slender volume from from the shelf, sat down and started to read. It was "I Am Not But I Know I Am" by Louie Giglio, very well written, I thought. Here are some words - deep thoughts - copied from it.

"We can choose to cling to the starring roles in the little bitty stories of us, or we can exchange our fleeting moment in the spotlight for a supporting role in the eternally beautiful epic that is the story of God. . . . Joining our small stories to this will give us what we all want most in life anyway: the assurance that our brief moments on earth count for something in a story that never ends."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Better Use for the Excess?

BHO's campaign has raised and spent approximately 640 million dollars. Though receiving much less, John McCain's campaign and Hillary Clinton's run also raised a many millions. Most donations have reportedly come from individuals, but quite sadly, much of it has come from the very institutions that many of us working Americans have entrusted with our 401Ks, but that's another story.

But just think...what if that money had been used for the good of others instead of trying to influence our votes? What if it had been used to build shelters and pay for staff to take care of the homeless mentally ill instead? What if the Salvation Army received even a small portion? What if a few million were donated to treat severe illnesses in children? Or to seek better energy sources? Or to teach illiterate adults to read? What a waste!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brrr . . .

It's getting cold here in the Upstate of South Carolina. Tonight the temp is expected to dip down close to freezing. I didn't need a weatherman to tell me. The wind has been loudly whipping around this afternoon forcing leaves off trees and bringing in increasingly cold air. Brrr... I cut some zinnias for one last bouquet and brought in a fern that has been hiding protectively behind a shrub. The cats feel the chilly change and want to curl up on my bed. I find myself craving soups and hot tea to warm first my hands and then the rest of me. Winter is on its way.

Autumn Leaf

October 27

The trip to Wilmington was not just about the deVane gathering. It just happened to coincide with what is becoming my annual pilgrimage to the Motherland, the place that feels more like home to me than any other place on Planet Earth. Sixty-six years ago today, two other young lovers married, the auburn haired beauty generations down the deVane bloodline was my mother. She always loved October and described it gloriously in her dramatic style, the rich colors, the crispness in the air. Through the years she claimed it never really got cold until after their anniversary. I took notice and agree. Yesterday we drove down to Wrightsville Beach via the lovely Airlie Road and hung out near where the old Lumina once loomed over the ocean, the place where the tall good looking Bob, newly arrived from the midwest, broke in on the Southern girl that June night on the dance floor. It was love at first sight, and four months later the handsome couple married, the day before my daddy went off to war. "No two people ever loved each other the way we did," Mother avowed forever. Two years ago on an October night, my mother died, her love for my daddy intact throughout their turbulent times. I think she would have liked it that her earthly life ended in her favorite month. Now we can trek to Wilmington and to her beloved Wrightsville Beach in remembrance. My mother would have loved the beach yesterday, the shimmering hues of blue in the ocean, the tans and grays of the sand, the soft breeze, and the parade of beautiful people passing by. It was at its best.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Orange Butterfly

Fluttering around the lantana at my aunt's Wilmington home were many of these pretty butterflies. I had to get a picture. The web says it is a gulf fritillary.

Land of the Longleaf Pine

"Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to 'Down Home,' the Old North State!
"Here's to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
'Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
"Here's to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron's rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell's summit great,
In the 'Land of the Sky,' in the Old North State!
"Here's to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land whatever fate,
The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!"

The Official Toast of North Carolina

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Web of Family

Today was a reunion of deVanes, all being descendants of a Noble young Frenchman and his bride who voyaged to America about three hundred years ago. The legend of their journey from Scotland was one passed down through the generations; I had heard the revered story many times from my mother and grandmother. The most interesting part was how Marie the young wife managed to trick the ship's captain into thinking she was a boy. For some reason, she was unable to travel with her husband so she bound her breasts, disguised her womanhood, and posed as Thomas's page for the voyage. They arrived, settled, and prospered in New Hanover County in North Carolina. Today's reunion was held not many miles from where it all started, at Moore's Creek National Battlefield, a flat piece of sandy land with a few old live oaks and pines heavily draped with Spanish moss. It was a pleasant enough occasion for a group of people who mostly did not know each other and would never see each other again. A couple of attendees had computers set up with as much genealogical data as they could get but seeking more. Many brought scrapbooks or photographs to share. The main point of discussion was which lineage we were from, John or Thomas III, and were we of the Florida or the North Carolina deVanes. Pretty interesting how so many diverse people could trace their American roots back to one young couple who adventurously traveled from their home across the Atlantic to begin a new life in an unknown land. Noonish we had a Southern style buffet dinner followed by a speaker, a park ranger dressed in period blacksmith attire, and then a hike through the battlefield was offered for the interested and able. The damp gray morning had turned into a blue sky type of afternoon, but I sat it out anyway. (Really most girls just aren't that into battlefields.) Mostly I talked to my aunt and we caught up on what was going on in our family. But I enjoyed my hours there, the distantly related kin, the connection with a past era, and the reinforcement of half of my heritage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

work, work, work

I am so thankful to be able to work but sometimes I wonder why I knock myself out doing it. At my age, one would think I would be ready to kick back and do my selective piddling. Sure...it is always fun to get money put in my bank account and feel that I have earned it, but is that all? And it's rewarding for me to feel that I at least have the potential to make a small difference in someone else's life, and am part of working America, but is that it? Today I asked myself if I am addicted to the constant stimulation, the endless conversations, the puzzles of people's lives, and situations that may create laughter or bring tears to my eyes. I think, yes, that may just be the glue that holds it all together.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking it personally

I have been wondering how America funds all of its programs at home and across the world, from social security to the wars to compassion programs to expenses in unnecessary government agencies. America has less than five percent of the world's population yet is a - or the - superpower. Subtracting babies, children, the aged, the disabled and the unemployed, and the approximately 30% of the able who do not pay taxes, it is no wonder we are having problems. While it feels that we pay a lot of taxes, how could we come close to paying enough? If the US depends on me and 150 million others to foot the bill for all that is budgeted, financial chaos and ruin seem inevitable. I don't mean to be pessimistic, just logical. It is a big responsibility for us middle class taxpayers. ...duh

Friday, October 17, 2008


Along the path that went from the where the race started and ended to the bridge where the runners crossed Panther Creek were these tall pretty plants, some sort of weed, that were going to seed. I stopped to look at them and there was one ladybug hanging on to the rough coat. She didn't seem to mind that I was taking her picture.

Jacob's Cross Country Meet

Yesterday I went up the mountain to Tennessee to see Jacob, a ninth grader, compete in a high school meet at Panther Creek State Park. The leaves were changing, the weather was beautiful, and I was excited I was able to be there to watch my grandson run. He did fine, but he and the rest of his team were beaten by a better prepared Morristown West, the guys wearing maroon on the left. Jacob is in navy, near the adult, leaning over.

And here with his dad when it was over.

Seen on the back of T shirts at the meet

Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit.

My legs will only take me so far. My heart will do the rest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sound Familiar?

1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.
6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
10 You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

William Boetcker, 1942

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obedient Plant

It has been close to twenty years ago that a nurse friend/co-worker brought me a bucket full of some plants that she warned might take over my yard. I planted them in the backyard of my Lexington house, and when we moved, brought some to this new house that we have now lived in for eleven years. They haven't taken over; in fact, due to my neglect, they barely survived. But since there has been enough rain this year, they are alive and even blooming. When they truly thrive, they are really beautiful fall blooming perennials. I would be honored for the obedient plant to take over.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Moon and Sun in the Afternoon

Driving out of downtown Greenville about 6:45 pm today, I saw an eerie sight. It was daylight and the sky was blue with wispy white clouds. There in full view through my front window was a big white disc, the same color as the clouds, hanging like a pendant against a soft light blue angora sweater. At first I wondered...what is that? Has the sun turned white? But no...the sun was behind me, glaring in my rear view mirror. Then I saw that the disc bore the faint unmistakable markings of what my daddy called the rabbit in the moon. I watched it during my twenty-five minute drive hoping I could get a picture after I reached the house - as if I expected the ever changing sky to keep still. By the time I got home and located my camera, the darker colors of evening were swiftly setting in and the moon was - though full and beautiful - looking like its ordinary self and reflecting light. I checked it out on line and learned this sort of celestial happening is not common. Pretty cool...


Lately I have been really getting into crossword puzzles. Maybe it is just that time of life where I don't have much pressure, or else it is a way of sticking my head in the sand. At night I have been challenging myself with the ones saved from many old Sunday papers that have been folded and patiently awaiting my pen. Looking back, I remember how my grandmother anticipated the time when she finished her morning duties and could sit down with the puzzle page of the daily newspaper. She could whip right through the cryptoquote, but was more pensive about the crossword puzzle, eventually solving it. I can see my young daddy now, sitting on the couch on Sunday afternoon, his long legs crossed and glasses on his head, studying the clues. Sometimes he would engage me with a question about a French word. I loved to sit close beside him and watch him think. He always wrote big capital letters in the squares so I learned to do the same. Years ago when I was at work and feeling frustrated about something that I quickly forgot, I picked up the paper, saw the crossword puzzle and with astonishment, found that I could focus on it and tune out the irritation. Prior to that moment of enlightenment, there was nothing my poor ADDled brain could focus on with such intensity. I am sure the fact that I can focus on the task of completing them is one attraction, but I also like it that I am following in the foorsteps of my predecessors who loved me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today's Thoughts

Today we saw An American Carol and I thought it was very good. I laughed from the beginning and also teared up at times, surprised at the patriotism it inspired in me. The liberals won't like it and may find it offensive, just as I find offensive the types of "entertainment" that denigrate morality, promote sorcery, and abuse the name of God.

Even more clear cut evidence about the direct line between A CORN and B O and the recent financial nosedive and chaos - some might call it "change" - is hitting the news, some media outlets more than others of course. At least we now know what he did as a community organizer. A CORN, which B O has worked with most of his adult life, has been guilty of the most massive organized voter fraud in American history, but oh, there is so much more. Thanks to conservative bloggers out there trying to get the truth out, I learned that A CORN is "undisguised authoritarian socialism" that seeks to destroy America from the inside. Here is one web site that explains it. I wish I were able to condense the info. One thing I know is that everything about BO stinks.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Can you smell it?

A sweetly scented gardenia.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Side Effect of Nursing

In a nursing article, one of the problems mentioned was "high body mass index" of many nurses. A funny, politically correct way to say that many of us are bigger than we need to be! But it is true. Sometimes this is attributed to overeating from stress, but I think it also because of the constant supply of energy that we need via a steady blood sugar level. We need to maintain the mental alertness and physical strength to get up and go whenever the need arises. And besides, it seems there is always some sort of food around, and I am not talking carrot sticks. So yes... maybe being overweight - or dare I say fat - is an occupational hazard. I guess I should warn my students.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Healthy Ions

Tonight as I read my emails and type, I hear an occasional rumble in the sky along with the sweet relaxing sound of falling rain. Earlier today I was reading about the positive and negative ions in the air, how positive ions can cause irritability, depression, headaches, respiratory problems, and so on, and how negative ions can improve our mental and physical health. Pretty interesting I thought. That may explain why sometimes a group of people will all be feeling the same way, grumpy or sleepy or dopey or...what were the names of those other dwarfs? Other times the same group can be having a happy time together. Maybe we were all being affected by the ionization in the air. "They said" that negative ions (and therefore the feel good things they do) are more plentiful at the beach or near waterfalls or after a rainstorm, such as the one tonight. As I fall asleep tonight to the classic sound of rain, I now know that I will also be exposed to healthy properties in the air.

Now I see it...

I have wondered why any American would even consider BO for the highest office in the land. Now I am beginning to see. Except for those dumbo sized ears and false look of concern, visually he is a bland stick figure in a suit. He is glib and has been described as cool. However that level of cool is what a sociopath (antisocial personality disorder) looks like, and believe me, it is not an admirable trait. His rhetoric, his speeches are basically empty, vague and without substance. Therefore he is blank enough for people, especially the superficial and the lazy, to project onto him what they like. They can superimpose their beliefs or hopes onto this individual who desires to "change" them into a fairy princess and their world into a utopia. It is a bit like a shared delusion. Kind of a sad time for America.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bring it on...

Last night when I came home from work, I turned on Fox News to see if I had missed any newsworthy event while I was at work. And I had! I was thrilled to see a one hour report on Barry Hussein Obama's close connections with people who despise America. I hope some of the other networks will have the guts to do the same. From birth...a radical mother who embraced fascism. I ask...Why did she have a child with an Arab Kenyan? Why did she not prioritize raising her son? Why did she choose the Indonesian husband over him? Children with this sort of rejection and abandonment often develop anger, and his anger no doubt became hatred toward whites, and Jews, and even blacks. There is too much at stake in America to leave any question unanswered, to have any part of his life off limits.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Debate Comments

Thoughts on last night's debate:

Sarah Palin treated Biden with respect. During the presidential debate, BO was not respectful of McCain.

Sarah Palin's sunny outlook was refreshing.

After the debate, some web bites were basically saying, See Biden cry. Shame on them.

The moderator tried to hide her bias but still should not have been allowed to moderate.

Biden kept talking about what he and BO had voted for. Hellooo...your running mate hasn't been around that long.

Biden said that Cheney was the most dangerous vice president ever. News flash!! BO is the most dangerous to America presidential candidate...ever. For real.

I was glad they both stood by the traditional definition of marriage.

Why did Biden keep grinning at Sarah?

Sarah is woman enough not to get offended when the moderator called her "Dear."

I was glad to have energy addressed as much as it was. It is terrible that so much of our money is being siphoned out to countries that hate us.

Maybe Sarah ought to check the pronunciation of nuclear.

To believe that mankind is solely responsible for changing the weather, warming the climate is arrogant, presumptuous, and delusional.

The political process is complicated, and people in those important positions really need to know what they are doing.

You go girl!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


There has not been enough time for me to pull away from my duties and focus on writing a post for my blog. Let me first say that I am quite thankful to have a job and especially doing something I like. I am also thankful for the roof over my head that the job provides. But topics to ponder or expound on have quickly fluttered in and out of my brain and now I wonder what they were. Looking back over the past few days, I know that our country's elected officials have been of concern to me and to most of us Americans. I feel like a big searchlight is on and many are like roaches who are scurrying out of its glare. The poop has hit the fan. Their jobs are service jobs, just like mine, but mine is not a free ride into wealth. I must not only show up every time I am supposed to, but I also must actually do the work I am paid to do. I expect - now I see I have been unrealistic - for the elected officials to do the same. I do not bite the hand that feeds me and I would hope the politicians, and I say that with a certain amount of disdain, would do the same. I want them to be trustworthy and knowledgeable and have the country's best interests at heart. I want them to be at least as good at their elected jobs as I am at mine. Let me say here that I believe SC Senator DeMint is doing a fine job because he is still a moral person. I am a part of the great middle class, a good citizen, a taxpayer, and I am beginning to resent the belittling comments that some politicians are rendering against us that show they clearly do not understand us. They have been away from home too long and their free ride clearly neeeds to be one to take them back.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Funny Evening

Some of my patients are emotionally crippled for life because of what they endured during childhood. I know because I hear their stories. Others have dabbled in drugs and become addicted thereby ruining their own lives. Sometimes we have patients who are mean or totally unreasonable in their demands or very manipulative. Then some of our patients are demented or delusional or psychotic. Over the weekend we were full of the psychotic and delusional variety and though I regret having to admit it, we nurses laughed in private til our sides hurt. The thought processes of some of the patients was so out there, so bizarre, that it was hard to keep a straight face while we were talking with them. This was not "gallows humor" as it is often called when a patient is dying or in surgery, but really funny stuff. Too bad there is so much confidentiality or I would pass the comedy along. As for the staff, we had a hilarious evening and that is something to be thankful for.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Learning Takes Time

During my sixty plus years on Planet Earth, I have been through some trials and troubles. I have learned from them and believe I am a better person because of them. I have been to school off and on until five years ago, and I hope to go back sometime. I raised four boys to manhood and have been a nurse for almost a quarter of a century. Still there is an endless amount of knowledge that I will never get and wisdom that I will never have. But I do know some things.

I see new nurses who behave as if they have all the answers and who by doing so, show how little they actually know. I hear talk from people who are discovering life, having problems with relationships, and who struggle with day to day issues. I think...I've been there and this is what I learned about it. Sometimes I will voice a thought or give reassurance, but mostly I let it pass knowing their situations will pass, too. Experience teaches us if we listen.

I am making these comments because of the debate last night. If I did not know about BO's deceit and terrorists ties and all things were equal, I would still see through his lack of knowledge and wisdom. If all things were equal, and if he were a true American, maybe in a decade or two, he would be ready to be president. His diversions and self aggrandizing rhetoric covering for his ignorance were transparent. I have seen it too many times before to fall for it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Baking Bread

Back in the seventies when I was a domestic diva, I learned the joy of bread baking. Why I got into it, I can't remember, but it was a time when the book Diet for a Small Planet was influencing the way we thought about food, and I became a part of the whole earthy thing. Thanks to my my German genes, I took to bread making naturally. As I pressed and turned the warm dough I felt not only a oneness with it but also a connection to all the women who ages before me had done the same. I baked sweet, savory, and hearty loaves, braids and doughnuts, and eventually developed enough confidence to try to duplicate any bread I had tasted with success. After I became a nurse, there was no more time for bread, because time is the main ingredient. Now I have a quieter house and occasionally the time and inclination, so I will get out the flour and yeast and come up with something. It is like riding a bike; you don't forget. But I have recently started learning more about different flours. I have enjoyed adding some spelt flour to yeast breads as well as quick breads and can tell the difference in flavor and texture. Tonight I made the best brownies; best because I used a pastry flour for the very first time. (I must remember to write how I did them.) Tomorrow I will probably use some of the organic whole wheat, with some spelt and bread flour for a healthy loaf.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One of my favorite things

...is a between seasons day like today. I love it when the clean breeze blows in and out of the open windows of my home, taking any cooped up stale air with it. It is a time to live in the moment, to listen to the sounds of rustling oak leaves, to inhale deeply, to feel the cool of morning on my skin. The only comparison is an equally lovely spring day when we are leaving winter, but today, the breezes sing that winter will be chilling our bones before long. Not yet though. I will hang on to this transition season until I am forced to face the cold.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brightening the Office

I am back home from working in the assessment office, one of my favorite jobs. Kathy is a nurse who has been there . . . well . . . forever and has the mature indoor foliage to prove it. On her desk and the ledge above, African violets, philodendron, and whatever else are growing their little hearts out. Under the fluorescent lights, a big Christmas cactus is already producing these delicate white blooms. And thanks to Kathy's green thumb, the whole office is always dressed with perpetually blooming African violets. I think they are all so pretty.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back to the drawing board

About ten years ago when the writing bug bit, I carried around pencil and paper so no new ideas, cool words or analogies would be lost. I was all about the written word. I asked at the library if there were any writing groups I could join. The Writer's Guild of Greenville met monthly on the fourth Tuesday at Barnes and Noble and I became a member. We had a large and interesting group for the years we met in the center of the store where we pulled all available seating into a circle and customers would loiter around listening to bits of our program and conversations. I was always stimulated by whatever happened there among us like-minded folk. As time does to all things, the guild has changed, though it is still kicking. Tonight we few met in the music section in the back of the store and after a bit of chitchat got into the evening's assignment. Jerry had us draw a random topic and write on it. Mine was on the most beautiful sight I ever saw, and, though I have seen many, I chose the night I saw all the stars in the Colorado sky. Generally I am too distractible to write on command, but see...I am stimulated once again. Maybe the bug will last another day or two.

Not to worry...

Even though I believe this election is perhaps the most significant in my lifetime and that the lifeblood of America is at stake, I am only one average citizen and am limited in what I can do. But I pray the candidate with a true allegiance to America, the desire to a do what is right, and the discernment to choose the most knowledgeable support people will be our next president.

Today our country is in the midst of a huge financial crisis, and again I am limited in my understanding of what to do. Shamefully the only thing I really know about money is how to earn and manage my own. Thank goodness I am not the one responsible for making decisions about someone elses! However someone somewhere who knows how the economy works and who has more vision than I is making decisions for me concerning my 403B and my state retirement, and I, as a financial dummy, must trust the system to work. I expect that when the time comes for me to need it, the money will be there to take care of me. But what if it is not?

Not knowing how either of these precipitous situations will play out feels a little disturbing, frightening, but then I remember these words of Jesus: "In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What is worth fighting for?

I found this on line and considered it pertinent for America today:

"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

John Stuart Mill

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Fall Vegetable

Taken the day we went apple picking, I think this is a pile of turban squash. I have no idea what to do with them, but their shapes and colors are really nice.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The yard is in transition

On Saturday, Stuart and Jacob came to visit and work in the yard. They did such a great job that I can't call it a backyard jungle anymore. Stuart pulled honeysuckle and ivy off the fence, transplanted a little cedar and an aucuba suckling, and dug a hole for a pear tree that will be planted in a couple of months. (I ordered it today.) Jacob cut the tall grass and Stuart mowed back over it again. The tree guy trimmed lower branches from the oaks and carted away all the limbs and other yard waste. Now after a soaking rain this week, I am left with a yard blossoming with mounds of buttery looking mushrooms. A couple of years ago, I was into taking pictures of mushrooms and got in close to get macros of their gills. Hence I learned what mushrooms smell like. Tonight the whole back yard has that not totally unpleasant musty odor. I figure the yard is trying to reestablish its ecosystem and I will let it. Eleven years ago when we moved here, it had been untouched and was full of trees, mostly sweet gums and their sticky balls. As we had them removed and raked the layers of natural mulch, various weeds came and proliferated, taking their places. Now I think the yard is finally begin to come into its own and I can envision a lovely place someday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We need to be informed.

I am curious about BO and have been looking up such things on the web. I have googled topics such as "who paid for obama's education" and "obama is a puppet" - which he obviously is - and have found some answers. Via youtube, I have seen some of his appearances that I did not see on television. I saw him say, "My Muslim faith" and be corrected by the interviewer to say "My Christian faith." I saw his hesitancy and stammering in speaking without a teleprompter. There are many such occurrences that the mainstream media has chosen to disregard. This morning I saw a BO ad that states the true Americans on the Republican ticket are "out of touch." May I comment that he has a running mate who has held the same job for 35 years. Talk about out of touch. At this point, I believe the only ones who support this man for America's leader are deluded, deceived, ignorant, blinded, bitter, or anti-American. We need to know the facts before we go to the voting booth, and facts are tough to come by for the Democratic candidate.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

It is really hard to keep up a blog on a regular basis without interjecting some opinions. And it is hard to refer to the attack on our country by radical Islam terrorists seven years ago without having some feelings about it. I saw it as an act of war and we as a country responded in kind. I am personally quite pleased that we have had no further attacks on our soil, that any such plans have thus far been thwarted, and that we have a president and a military that have worked to protect us for the past seven years. Since I am not an expert, I put some trust in the government leaders who make such decisions. I have my areas of expertise but world politics is not one of them. Persons who have jobs in the entertainment field may have opinions, but until they have served in the military, worked alongside diplomats and generals, been educated in government and politics, their opinions are no more valid than mine, and I am not interested in hearing them. Neither do I need to constantly hear opinions from any Tom, Dick, or Harry. To me, that is not news. It is a media ploy to sensationalize and divide. After the attack on September 11, 2001, shock united us for a while as we had no idea what would happen to us individually or as a country. We need to become United once again and and not fall prey to forces that seek to fragment and weaken us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Common Cold

I was surprised when I came down with a cold this week, at this time of year. Usually I get my annual post Christmas, post stress season cold as the new year is starting but never in September. Years ago when I was taking Anatomy, I learned that there were thousands of viruses that cause colds. Since then, I have been aware that no two colds are alike. This one started with a dreaded sore throat but has turned out to be a mild garden variety rhinovirus. My main regret is that I worked when the symptoms were new and could have infected many people. I tried to keep a physical distance from others and minimize the obnoxious sneezing and blowing, but it was hard. It used to be that when people got "sick" they stayed in until they were no longer contagious. Now in our fast paced world, the show must go on. Next...I will have to see who of those I have come in contact this week will be sniffling and sneezing next week. I'm sorry.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Friendly Mantis

It was a quick trip to the compost bin. But headed back, I did a double take when I saw a brown stick like thing on a big pink zinnia. Even without my glasses, I could see there was a new critter in the garden, and maybe I could be lucky enough to get a closer look. I went in for my camera and my glasses. The brown praying mantis was still sitting comfortably in the flower when I came back. Bees beware. I took my little camera out of my pocket and started snapping. I never knew a mantis would have so much personality! When I turned, this ET creature turned, keeping his eyes on me. He cocked his head, and when I got closer, he lifted his front paws at me as if he wanted to play - or maybe punch me or warn of his ferocity. Stretching his long spiky legs, he climbed from flower to leaf and back and seemed as curious about me as I was of him. I had showered earlier and was ready to go to work. All of a sudden I realized how hot and sweaty I had gotten outside. I hated to meet a new group of students without being sparkling clean but I had no choice.
Since being home, I have done my mantis/mantid research. I think this September visitor is a male Carolina Mantis. Isn't he pretty! I have enjoyed the cycle of bug life in my yard this year.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Apple Picking

Last week the Farmer's Market. This week an apple orchard. What nice experiences of late summer. Today we drove only eighteen miles to Niven's, a peaceful little farm in Moore that is open to the public. Their market was selling fresh produce and giving samples of cool, sweet apple cider. In the fenced in area nearby, a variety of goats, a pony, a turkey, and I don't remember what else were amicably sharing spaces. A maize maze in the shape of South Carolina was in the center of the farmland. I didn't attempt it even though I am quite familiar with all the interstates that were replicated throughout. The pumpkins were not quite ready for picking, but the red and green delicious and the mutsu apples were. Supper will be a pie, apple ala mode.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Excerpt from John McCain's Speech

Since I was doing my Republican-American duty last night and working, I missed the speech. When I got home at midnight, I could not find it being replayed on television as Gov. Palin's was the night before. So this morning I searched for it on youtube. It was powerfully moving.

"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.

I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thanks, Sarah.

The Republicans have been ignited. Their speeches were spirited and superb. How the election will play out in November is unknown. One one side, we have knowledge, experience, truth, and courage and on the other, a comedic emptiness. Unfortunately however there are a lot of blind and ignorant Americans who vote. (I'm a nurse. I know these things.) Honestly I wonder how a campaign based on nothingness can do anything but unravel within the next sixty days. Now I remember...it's the enabling media that must work to keep it afloat. I have caught a few ridiculous TV moments from BO and Biden that are "potatoe" worthy, yet rather than being exposed to ridicule they are ignored, denied. But then - like substance dependence - denial is key in their operations, and they are dependent on the left wing media. I hope more and more people will begin to see through the sham. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thoughts during the RNC

*Laura Bush said we have a true American hero in McCain. And she looked even prettier than when she became first lady eight years ago.

*Why should McCain's age be an issue? Have you seen his amazing ninety-six year old mother? Where is Obama's mother? Dead. Family history is important.

*McCain's daughter Meghan has a cool blog. Her photos of her dad show him much livelier and cuter than the media portrays.

*Did you see the sloppy kiss that Blue Lips planted on Biden's wife? Gross...

*Cindy McCain is not just an ornament but a fine, compassionate woman.

*My grandmother would be astonished at some of today's issues. Could marriage be anything except between a man and a woman? Who would think of killing babies before they are born?

*My daddy said that Americans are like mongrel dogs. But mongrels are the strongest and healthiest dogs.

*People - including me - are excited about Sarah Palin.

*Fred Thompson said that BO is the most inexperienced nominee ever to run for president. BO stinks.

*I would have voted for Joe Lieberman as I consider him to be the voice of reason in the Senate.

*I don't detect mass trickery, deceit, or stupidity tonight.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Morning Glory

Morning glories are climbing around on this fine but overcast Carolina day. So far there hasn't been enough sun to fully awaken them but I am glad to have dabs of their pretty colors brightening my jungle of a back yard. They took last year off due to the lack of rain and I hoped they would return. When I was a little girl, on some mornings the first words I heard from my mother were, "Morning, Glory," as she tried to rouse me from a sound sleep. And on this Labor Day, I have been a little like these wildflowers, slow to awaken and blossom.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

How I Used the Vegetables

After church today, I was seized with the urge to cook, especially since I had those nice vegetables from yesterday. Once before I had made a delicious ratatouille pie and always wanted to try something like it again. Here is what I did today. Sauteed a mixture of cut up veggies (eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, pepper, onion, tomatoes, garlic) in a pan with a little oil only til tender and stirred in some Italian seasoning. I prepared a pie pan by buttering the bottom and sides and sprinkling about a tablespoon of flour over it. In a bowl, I beat two eggs, added maybe a quarter cup of milk, Parmesan and mozzarella, dashes of salt and pepper, and stirred in the vegetables - and some fresh spinach, too. Poured it in the pan and baked til done. Quiche-like sans crust. I thought it was great.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Farmer's Market

Summer gardens will soon quit producing and since I hadn't made a trip to the Farmer's Market all year, I went this morning. I bought some green beans, squash, okra, peaches, pretty purple peppers, a nice eggplant, squash, and a jar of dark local honey. And of course, I snapped a few pix.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's Pizza: Before and After

I can thank Stuart and Paige's garden as the inspiration for today's pizza. After the dough's rising and resting and then making the pie shape on the pan, it was ready for the good stuff. First a light spread of olive oil and a sprinkle of their freshly dried herbs from their garden. Then a small amount of tomato sauce, a little reggiano, and shredded mozzarella. The topping had slices of fresh banana pepper, red pepper, and green granny smith tomatoes that I brought home from my visit Saturday. Another sprinkle of herbs and cheese and into the 425 oven it went. Delicious!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bad Breath in Bugs?

Garlic chives. I hope this fella doesn't make honey.

The Girls of August

My grandmother always thought it was special that she and I had August birthdays ten days apart. Now it is special to me that I have a granddaughter with whom I share an August birthday and only four days apart! (see Paige's blog) But we are different. It took me decades to get as comfortable with myself as Ashley has by age six. After our dinner in downtown Dandridge on Saturday, we walked across the street to a park that was really a Revolutionary War graveyard, and Ashley started gracefully posing as if she were the model in a photo shoot. Paige and I saw the opportunity and started clicking away. Ashley posed on benches and next to the trees and against tombstones. She tossed her head and laughed and gave sultry and pouty looks. Born to model, I suppose.

Let's hear it for the rain!

Today is the third day of a magnificent rain, the likes of which has not been seen around these parts since the drought began a couple of years ago. It should help put the Green back in Greenville. For me, I am glad to be able to hang around the house and hear the steady drizzle as well as feel the power of the heavy, blowing rain. When there was a lull, I thought there may be a photo opportunity in the back yard. This raindrop dangling from a morning glory leaf reflecting - magnifying upside down - its surroundings is what I came up with.