Monday, June 29, 2009

Giveaway at my place! Ends Wednesday, July 1

I am a sentimental fool.

Yesterday, I woke up and wrote the post below this one. And as soon as I hit the publish key, I read it back I realized how gushing it sounded. So I wrote a comment immediately at how much of a sap I thought I was.

And then, because I was in a hurry and my day was going to be full of visiting and traveling, I shut the laptop and didn’t open it again until I woke up this morning. And I remember thinking as I booted up and opened my e-mail account what a foolish sentimental sap I am sometimes. I actually thought I’d lose followers because of that. Do you believe this drivel?

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So you can imagine my surprise at finding a full inbox with comments completely to the contrary of what I had thought. One person even wrote, “Saps ROCK! SAP ON!!!”


So to all my fellow sappy friends, I’m holding a giveaway because I love you. I love beautiful mornings and sweet kitties, cute dogs, handsome husbands and being thankful for all that I have. But there is a catch. (You saw this coming, didn’t you?)

This Giveaway is only open to followers of my blog.

THIS IS NOT A BLATANT ATTEMPT TO ATTRACT FOLLOWERS. If you’ve been reading my blog and haven’t yet signed on as a follower, go ahead and enter. You don’t have to sign up and “follow”. I’ll know who you are because I’ve been reading your comments for months on end. If you want to sign up to follow, fine. Go ahead.

In your comment, please leave me a way to contact you if you win. I’ll be using the random integer generator at to choose the winner. And please, if you sign on as anonymous, leave either your first name or your initials so I can tell who you are.

Giveaway ends Wednesday, July 1 at 6 PM. Winner will be posted before 9 PM on Wednesday.

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Here’s what you could win:

I love birds and I love the color red. This little ceramic bird and this beautiful pair of fabric napkins would look lovely in your home. They’d look lovely in mine, too, and I’m thinking of going back to the little shop where I purchased these and getting a duplicate gift for myself. But I won’t. I’ll just think about it.

Rock on, readers.

Love ya,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Early morning in late June

At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I’m writing about how I feel in my heart today.

I apologize, in advance, to those of you who live in areas where it’s already hot and muggy in the early morning hours. Please accept my sincere condolences.

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I awoke before 7 this morning and I so very much wanted to roll over and just go back to sleep. But there was such a beautiful, sweetly scented breeze flowing into the bedroom that combined with the smell of coffee wafting up the stairs, I simply had to get up.

This morning in Maryland is the kind of day that makes me thank the Lord that I am on this earth. In fact, I looked out the window at the beautiful light and I thanked Him out loud. I then saw my husband in the distance, taking his daily walk with George around the perimeter of the property and I remembered something I’d read yesterday that Thomas Jefferson had once said.

He said, “The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert yourself by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise.”

I want to thank the Lord that I still have my husband. And that he’s still able to walk.

I made my way downstairs and poured a cup of my husband’s delicious coffee. I have it with half and half. And when I sip it, all is right with the world. Today, at least.

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Hello, kitty.

Blackie is sitting here with me as I enjoy my coffee on the front porch.

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And hello, you beautiful dog.

When George saw that I was awake, he came running from his morning walk to greet me.

My eldest son is in town for a friend’s 25th birthday. I feel honored to have been invited to dinner last night, along with our art teacher, Margie, and her husband Charles. It’s wonderful when children grow up and include the adults they’ve known as teachers and friends when they get together. All of the young men and women in the photo below (with the exception of one) are graduates of the school where I’m employed. I’m honored to be considered a friend to them.


That’s my son on the far right. And you’ve seen Mary Ellen and Kate on this blog before. Mary Ellen, I’m sorry about the picture and the face you’re making but I’ll make it up to you somehow. Don’t be hatin’. That’s the birthday boy in the center. God only knows what he’s doing but it’s why Mary Ellen is making that face.

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I may sound like a sentimental fool this morning, but I’m fine with that.

Hope the remainder of your weekend is all smiles, too. Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time Wastes Too Fast: An artist’s tour of Monticello

While having coffee this morning and visiting my favorite blogs, I stumbled upon an absolutely wonderful link provided by Jeannelle at Midlife by Farmlight. After visiting the link she posted, I wrote her and told her that I was going to shamelessly steal it and post it here.

Click on the words below to visit an article that was published  in this week’s New York Times, and was written and illustrated by artist Maira Kalman. Prepare yourself to be enchanted and enlightened.

And for all those out there (you know who you are) who are crushing on Mr. Thomas Jefferson, you will not be disappointed.


Time Wastes Too Fast


I hope you enjoy. Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Girls in their summer dresses

I have a major problem and it has to do with my photography. Or rather, the management of my photographs.

My problem is that I take a lot of pictures. I mean, a really large amount. Usually, I get rid of the throwaways quickly. But my problem lies with people asking me to e-mail them a copy. Oh, they’re polite about it. And I always say yes. I just don’t tell them when exactly they should expect it, and the truth is that it will be some time within the next year. Or two.

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So when I was going through some picture files that I’d recently taken, I came across one that I liked and hadn’t done anything with yet. I’d taken this shot back in late April of this year at the Alumni Banquet for our school. I’d gone outside to make a phone call and saw five of the girls from the senior class standing there drinking pink drinks. I thought they looked adorable. I took only two photos and liked this one better, although the other was more crisp.

I tried several different actions until I settled on this one from Kevin Kubota. It’s one of my favorites of his and is called “Secret Formula”. Then I added a Joy St. Claire texture over the top and brushed away most of it, but not before I brought out the pink of those pretty drinks.

And do you want to know something funny? Not one of these girls asked me to e-mail them a copy. And because of that, I think I’ll mail them each one. I mean, if you think this photo is good enough. I like doing stuff like that.

Now if I could just get to all the picture files that really need to be done. Like graduation. And the album for my friend’s 50th birthday. Ah. Such is life.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

I’ve just finished reading a charming book and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. I was approached a few weeks ago by a representative from G.P. Putnam’s Sons who wanted to know if I would review a book on my blog. The selection arrived shortly before my scheduled road trip and I knew I’d have plenty of time during that long drive to read it.

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Marriage Bureau New Art.inddThe Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a tale that takes place in India, and although I’ve never been particularly interested in that country, I enjoyed learning about the culture through the pages of this interesting read.

Mr. Ali is recently retired and has been looking for something to keep him busy and his mind occupied. He and his wife live in a comfortable home in a city in Southern India and it’s his idea to start a marriage bureau. The caste system in India is still prevalent and most people don’t marry for love, although love often comes later as it did with Mr. Ali and his wife. Marriages are arranged by another member of the family and many prerequisites must be met before a meeting takes place between the potential bride and groom. Mr. Ali’s bureau turns out to be quite popular. He possesses much common sense, but not enough to know that the fledgling business is consuming every waking moment of his time. It’s his wife who finally suggests taking it easy and hiring someone to help him.

A local girl named Aruna enters the picture as his assistant and as the business grows, so does my fondness for the key characters that Farahad Zama so wonderfully describes. I was especially taken with Aruna whose love and respect for her family very nearly destroys the promise of happiness for herself. The character of Mrs. Ali, whose role in life is that of her husband’s wife, runs the household with the help of a maid who’s going through a bit of a rough time. Mrs. Ali is a sensible and strong woman who would never go against her husband’s wishes, but there are other ways of getting around certain situations. I was extremely taken with her cleverness.

The Ali’s have a son who has become estranged from them because he’s gone against his father’s wishes. In India, you do not disrespect your elders, but sometimes it’s necessary for the benefit of others. Rehman is a freedom fighter and is protesting a major company who has decided to build on land owned by farmers and I found this side plot very enlightening.

The writer’s colorful descriptions of the relationships between the people in this book have earned him the UK’s Melissa Nathan award for comedy romance, and he is the first man to have ever taken this honor.

I found his writing just a tad unsophisticated but perhaps only because it was compared to Alexander McCall Smith for style. I think that over time, Mr. Zama, who wrote the book on a train while traveling to work, will grow into a wonderful writer. And he’s certainly on the right track (get it) with this prestigious award for his first book.

Respectfully submitted by Kate Young.

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Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vantage point

I have a favorite spot in the yard to sit and it’s actually something my husband created. Here, on the patio off the breakfast nook, is a lovely little space where he put our umbrella and set up a couple of chairs. I came home from work one day in May to see the big umbrella as I was coming up the drive.

It made me smile, because it looked like a party.

And I love parties.

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When we moved here, my husband cleared the crabgrass that had covered the patio. He also severely trimmed the hedges you see here. I was afraid they’d never look good again.

Then last month, he took the old bird feeder off an existing post that you can see the umbrella is attached to. It had been drilled really well into the ground at the center of the bushes around the edge of the patio.

He then attached the umbrella with little plastic ties that are really strong.

The chairs were left here by my youngest son.

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I know the plastic ties look a little bit hillbilly but I don’t really care. This is my vantage point from my favorite seat when I look towards the dogwood tree on the left. I can sit out here after work and immediately feel better just looking at all the green. The grass was cut today and the heady scent of it floods my senses. I’m immediately taken back to a day in my childhood. My father is mowing the grass. My mother is sitting on the front stoop shelling lima beans. And I’m sitting there too, in my pedal pushers.

Oddly, none of my siblings are in the picture. Although I loved them fiercely, they’re not in this memory.

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What I see when I turn around. That’s the breakfast nook wall to the left. And I’ve just freshened the water in the birdbath. Nothing but the best here.

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I’m having a glass of blueberry iced tea as I sit here in my comfortable seat listening to and watching the birds flitting about..

DSC_0040 copy 2On the fence we have a birdhouse which was claimed about 6 weeks ago by a family of chickadees.  They were defending their real estate this afternoon when a brown creeper showed up and tried to start some trouble.

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George even noticed the commotion. He ran over to the fence and scattered the combatants. Then he came and laid down by my side.

Those birds are fast, I tell you. They were flitting and twittering all over the yard. Here’s where they all were when I snapped this photo:

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There were more but I didn’t want to crowd the scene. The elusive blue bird showed up as well, and the brown creeper and one of the chickadees were all over the place, chasing each other.

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Eventually, the chickadee won out and the brown creeper stayed away.

This is just a closer view of the plastic ties. I think it’s rather ingenious of him, frankly.

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And this is just a view out the bottom half of my front screen door. I’m just throwing it in here because I like it. And I can do what I want.

My husband is always saying that I’m doing whatever I want.

As it should be, is what I say.


Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

PS ~ I’m getting a little hankering for a summer giveaway. I can feel the urge coming.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Views out the car window

When your destination is a 2-day drive away, and you only have so much to keep you busy, the road can become quite monotonous. In between reading a book, perusing magazines or napping until it was my turn to drive, I found myself gazing for long periods at a time out the front window.

So here are a few things I saw along the road. And then I’ll stop harping about my big road trip.

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For agonizingly long stretches of time, I saw nothing but interstate, trees (a lot covered in kudzu) and sky. But every now and then, we’d come upon something really interesting, like this bridge we came to after passing through Montgomery, AL. At least, I think we were past Montgomery.

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I’m not sure what river we’re crossing here. On the way back home again, I saw a sign for Lizard Creek. I was driving and my husband took these two photos. I just remember feeling elated while driving over this bridge (wherever it is) with its long-ranging view and momentary escape from the sheer boredom.

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I took this photo when we were driving over Lake Pontchartrain on the Interstate 10 bridge span. During Hurricane Katrina, the storm surge rendered this bridge completely unusable. The twin spans reopened in early January 2006.

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Here’s another view going over the 5-mile bridge.

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My first view of of the city of New Orleans, from I-10.

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Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train.

Name that artist.

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Riding along Beach Boulevard (Route 90) in Biloxi on our way to the casino. I won over a hundred dollars that night.

So I wasn’t busted flat anymore.

I used to be flat busted.

But that’s neither here nor there.

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I was actually out of the car when I took this photo but I’m throwing it in here because I think it’s real purdy. I found it in a tub planter in Fairhope, AL where we’d stopped for lunch one day with our friends.

Hope you enjoyed the ride with me. And please, don’t think I’m whining when I said it was boring. I mean, it was. But it was also worth going the distance.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Welcome to new faces I’m seeing all the time and to my faithful readers who visit daily. A shout out to Peggy. Hey, girl! Thanks for the tip to bring something real pretty to wear on the visit to see your brother.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And now for something refreshing

I’m serving drinks on the patio this afternoon. C’mon and join me.

There’s nothing I like better on a fine summer day than catching some rays while hanging by the pool and cooling off with a nice summer cocktail. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pool, nor is it a fine day, but I won’t let those little details get in the way. But I do have the mixings for my favorite new summertime drink, so one out of three ain’t bad, right?

I’m using one of the new sweet teas. You can find them in the vodka section of your favorite liquor store. I’ve never tried this one before but the words jeremiah and weed in the name sort of intrigued me.

There are suddenly many different brands of sweet tea available. Firefly is an excellent choice. And I rather like Carolina Tea which is a little less costly. When mixing your cocktail, it’s always better if the lemonade is as fresh as you can get it. Of course, in a pinch, the powder mix will do.

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This is the simple recipe:

Sweet Tea Vodka with Lemonade

Fill glass with ice.

Fill to half with sweet tea vodka.

Top with lemonade.

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You should probably write that down, in case you forget.


Today, I’m serving mine in my UVa cocktail tumbler, in honor of Lauren. Just so you know, they’re available at the university bookstore, one of the nicest college book stores I’ve ever seen. (There’s even a Clinique counter).


Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mosaic Monday: N’awlins memories

Welcome to my submission for Mosaic Monday, hosted by my friend Mary at Little Red House. I returned yesterday from a week’s vacation where we visited friends in Biloxi, MS. We all took a day trip to New Orleans, a city I’d never seen.

It was fabulous, although the weather was incredibly hot and steamy. We strolled the French Quarter and had brunch at The Courtyard of the Two Sisters, who you can see as statues in the center of this mosaic.

After we ate, we walked a little more and then drove over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and iced coffee. Yum.

Mosaic Monday: N'awlins memories

Stop back later because I have a new drink to share with you. It’s perfect for summertime by the pool. Or anywhere, really.

Stop by my photo blog where I have one of the photos above enlarged. You may also click on this mosaic to go to my Flickr page, then click on "all sizes".

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It’s all about compromise

First I’d like to say thank you to all who welcomed me home after my week-long absence. Your comments surprised me and your support means so much to me.

When taking a road trip of any magnitude, the first rule of thumb is to have fellow travelers you enjoy spending time with. George was coming, and I enjoy him. Check one. And then there’s my husband who I mostly enjoy but we have differences of opinion as to when to stop and how many times. Our biggest bone of contention is in “the stopping for the night”.

This could be a problem, I thought.

Before our journey, we discussed options and I was beginning to notice my husband’s all involved camping of some sort. (He even packed the tent and the supplies, “just in case”). Camping was not an option for me and I stuck to my guns in this regard. I wanted a bed, I told him. A bed in something that doesn’t have zippers. And a bathroom with a shower. End of discussion.

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So imagine my surprise when my husband found this very nice compromise! We booked it the day before we left. It’s camping ~ which fit into his tastes ~ but it’s a dwelling, with a bed ~ which fit my requirements. And I didn’t really mind that the bathroom wasn’t inside the cabin. It was such a short walk down a nice little path.

My husband found a KOA campground only a mile off the interstate just east of the Georgia border in Anderson, South Carolina. The campground borders Lake Hartwell but you actually have to drive to get to the lake.

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We’d driven for 12 hours and I was surprised at how well George was handling the fact that he was cooped up in the back seat with no frisbees to catch or toys being tossed. We did stop a few times at rest areas to take him for short walks, however.

So while my husband took George for a real walk, I headed out to get something for dinner in the nearby town. I took a drive by the lake too, but couldn’t get a picture.

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Inside the cabin was a double bed along one wall and a set of bunks opposite. There was also a small table and chair, cable tv and air conditioning (another of my requirements). It was already hot in the south and I was glad to have the AC blasting.

DSC_0022 copy 2Let’s take a closer look at that curtain fabric, shall we?

Everything in this area is about nearby Clemson University. The gift shop at the campground was stock full of fun items, people in the nearby town sported apparel with the trademark paw logo, vehicles sported Clemson stickers but the curtains at the campground were a little much, I thought!

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My husband woke me at 4:30 the next morning. I like the fact that he’s an early riser but thought this was a bit overboard. I kept my thoughts to myself, however because it’s all about compromise. We were showered, dressed and on the road again by 5. Here’s George in the back seat, being good.

I’m sorry to report that on the way home, my husband did not compromise. We drove straight through and there was no changing his mind. I will not go into the argument we had, but I will say that the only thing that kept me awake and driving during my turn was my intense anger at him. Lord help me, it was not a good feeling and I realized one of my biggest pet peeves is people who camp out in the hammer lane. Ok. Enough.

It’s a beautiful morning back East as I write this post. We’ve got a gorgeous breeze blowing under partly cloudy skies with a temperature of a 70 degrees. Through the window, I can see my husband hanging laundry on the clothesline. And I am in heaven.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I’ve missed you, my friends

I’m back from my sojourn and boy, do I have some stories for you. I’m saving some of them for future posts, but . . .

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In a nutshell, I will tell you that my husband and I took a Road Trip to see lifelong friends who are currently living in Biloxi, MS. I went to school with W, and he’s been in the casino business for years and is an executive vp in the best one down there. I am not that into these kind of places. At all. But it was fun! And so very different for my husband and I.

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This week, I did a lot of things. I visited New Orleans for the first time in my life!

That road trip pic up there was actually a shop sign from one of the boutiques along the French Quarter.

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I had a chat with a beautiful mermaid. She told me that she didn’t mind the heat. It was 97 with an extra dose of humidity. Oh. My. God.

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I ate fried pickles. I had no idea such a thing existed but what surprised me even more is that I actually liked ‘em!

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I drove through the city of Atlanta on a foggy early-Sunday morning. Hi, Debra Rector and Deb!

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I stood humbly under the majestic canopy of one of my favorite trees: the Live Oak.

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I attended something huge called Club Tiki at the casino and saw Vanilla Ice perform. His real name is Robbie and he has pet goats.

I was surprised that he was actually pretty good.

I was in the VIP section, but I braved the crowds and the water that Mr. Ice was spraying at the audience to get you this photo. The girls were still clothed at this point and we left well before the orgy began. This is the part where I usually say “not really”.

Won’t be sayin’ it, however. (Oh, my).

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I ate the most incredible food. This was a sampler at a wonderful Asian restaurant at W’s casino. The chef sent it to our table as a compliment when he heard that my friend and his wife were dining at the restaurant with friends they’ve known since high school.

I’ll tell you more later. I’m tired and am taking it easy today. I’ve got a recipe for a new drink for you and a cooling salad later in the week. I’m glad to be home but even more glad that I got to see my friends. The long drive was worth it.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering as to why we didn’t fly, there were several reasons. My husband’s chemo and germs were one and George was the other.

(And George was a perfect angel and the perfect doggie houseguest). It made me very happy.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .