After what seems like weeks of rain and days of persistently below normal temps, the dynamic, beautiful, brilliant and always-fun-seeking Lake Ladies celebrated Girls Night Out Wednesday with a pre-St. Patrick’s Day party at Booger Bottom.

Those familiar with this blog know that Booger Bottom is the ri’vah’s  “locals” watering hole.  It’s always co-ed – except on the first Wednesday of each month, when the Girls Night Out ladies take over.  Now occasionally a lost guy will wander in.  But believe me – he doesn’t hang around for very long!

We ate a lot, we drank a little, we chatted, gossiped and laughed out loud.  We did what girls everywhere are known for – we celebrated sweet friendships and had great fun!

We HAD to wear green, and most of us did - including Samille, Polly and Marianne.

We were supposed to wear green, and most of us did – including Samille, Polly and Marianne.

Some even wore the same green - like Renae and Sandy!

Some even wore the SAME green – like Renae and Sandy!

About an hour into the fun, Renae brought out a platter of green jello shots.  Yes, uh-huh.  Jello - that was all that was in those little paper cups.  I promise (do you see my fingers crossed?)

About an hour into the fun, Renae brought out a platter of green jello in little paper cups. Uh-huh, Jello.  That was all that was in those little paper cups. I promise.  Yes, my fingers are crossed.

Right after all that wiggly jello disappeared, Renae produced two cards of different-shaped green fuzzy mustaches.  NEVER has so much fun been had for a $4.00 card of green fuzzies.

Right after all that wiggly jello disappeared, Renae produced two packs of different-shaped green mustaches. NEVER has so much fun been had with $4.00 worth of green fuzzies.

We wore them on our upper lips - like Deb and Jeri . . .

We wore them properly – like Deb and Jeri . . .

. . . and Sally and Samille . . .

. . . and Sally and Samille . . .

. . . and improperly.  Breath Right strip anyone?!

. . . and improperly. Breath Right strip anyone?!

But - who cares?

But – who cared?

Girls just want to have fun!

Girls just want to have fun!

And we did!

And we did!

Every one of us!

Every single one of us!

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Posted by: bree1972 | March 4, 2013

Chris Ann 3/4/2013

As the sun rose over her beloved Mackinac Bridge this morning, Chris Ann slipped away from us here on earth and sailed away to God’s celestial shore.  What a joyous celebration is going on, right this moment, as her smile makes Heaven an even more beautiful place. 

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Until we meet again, Sunshine . . . . . . .
Posted by: bree1972 | February 28, 2013

Cabin Fever and Anne Hathaway 2/28/2013

It’s been a long winter.  February finally ends on Thursday (thank goodness it’s the shortest month of the year), but it seems as though Christmas was six months ago.  We still have the month of March to go before we can officially proclaim Spring’s arrival.  March in the south can be a big mixed bag of weather which usually includes a week of really warm temps, causing every bush and tree to begin sprouting, followed by a couple of nights below freezing, when we hold our breaths and hope those sprouts don’t get killed.  Then it’s back to the 70’s.  That cycle usually repeats itself at least twice during March.

Rain!   We’ve received over 11 inches of of the wet stuff since this time last week. I’ve often heard the term “cabin fever” and have never felt that particular syndrome until this past week of nonstop water pouring from the sky.  We couldn’t go outside – even to the mailbox – without rain gear and umbrella.  Maddie and Bear were like cooped up two-year-olds, padding back and forth from door to door, wanting to go outside and play, yet too prissy to set one paw out the door until nature’s call could no longer be ignored.  Then it was a headlong rush to the first section of lawn that offered grass, a really fast poop and pee, then a rush back inside to be toweled off.  We keep a dozen doggie towels in an old chest just for times like these, and I washed and dried the whole lot several times over the past week.

I’m trying to convince myself it’s the rain and all the time spent indoors that has me feeling a little down right now.  I also know that dear friend Chris Ann is constantly on my mind and heart, and every  time the phone rings, my heart jumps.  I hate this feeling for myself, and even more so for Ted who has to put up with my moodiness 24/7.

There’s certainly no good news on TV, but a little snippet I heard yesterday while Ted and I ate dinner in the kitchen really disturbed me.

I love Anne Hathaway – always have.  She seems to be a genuinely classy, loving, unmarred-by- Hollywood lady who is now being criticized for being “too gushy”.  Her humble and sweet acceptance speeches for awards won are being touted as “over the top” and “almost too-sincere-to-believe”.

I mean what the heck?!  Have we so armored ourselves, numbed our feelings, and hardened our hearts that we criticize someone for being thankful for being rewarded for her gifts!

I was really feeling bad until I read Ms. Hattaway’s remarks about the so-called “Hathahaters”.  She said this:

“It does get to me. But you have to remember in life that there’s a positive to every negative and a negative to every positive. The miracle of the universe is that, as far as they know, there’s 51 percent matter versus 49 percent anti-matter — things tip in the scale of the positive, so that is what I focus on.
I live my life with love.  I live my life with compassion.  I live my life hoping the best for absolutely everyone, no matter how they feel about me.  And when you live that way, it’s amazing how beautiful every day can be.”

So today, with the sun shining brightly and Bear and I getting ready to ride into Albany and give out a lot of hugs and doggy love at two assisted living facilities, I am arming myself with those words from Anne and these from my devotional book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:
Approach this day with awareness of who is Boss.  As you make plans for the day, remember that it is I who orchestrate the events of your life.  On days when things go smoothly, according to your plans, you may be unaware of My sovereign Presence.  On days when your plans are thwarted, be on the lookout for Me!  I may be doing something important in your life, something quite different from what you expected.  It is essential at such times to stay in communication with Me, accepting My way as better than yours.  Don’t try to figure out what is happening.  Simply trust Me and thank Me in advance for the good that will come out of it all.  I know the plans I have for you, and they are good.
Hmmmmmm . . . I think my “fever” has broken.
 
Posted by: bree1972 | February 26, 2013

An Update on Lowell and Chris Ann 2/26/2013

Several readers have commented and emailed me directly asking for an update on Lowell Greene and Chris Ann Nelson.  Below is what’s been happening since yesterday.
Lowell posted this message Monday evening on Facebook:
Finally home from the hospital. Turns out there are three arteries with blockages: 90%, 80% and 30%. The 90% blocked artery is to that part of the heart that is dead (front side) because of the severe heart attack I had 12 years ago. The 80% blocked artery is on the back of the heart. The 30% blocked artery is on the right side of the heart.

I will have a viability study done (probably) this week.

If it is found that the 90% blocked artery has some heart muscle around the dead part (that’s called heart muscle in hibernation), I can choose to have open heart surgery. The blockage in that artery is in a place that cannot be fixed with a stent and would need to be by passed.

The 80% blocked artery can be fixed with a stent, but if I have the open heart surgery, it could be fixed with a by pass.

Nothing will be done about the 30% blocked artery.

So you can see, I have more to do, and more decisions to make.

Tonight, I got the following email from Faye:
We came home around 6 or 7 last night from Lansing, went to bed shortly thereafter, then at 2:00 this morning Lowell was awakened by chest pains and having a hard time breathing.  He had me call 911, and he was taken to Hayes Green Beach Hospital in Charlotte (one of the closer hospitals).  The first responders and ambulance people were great and got nitro in him and aspirin, and by the time we got to the hospital his pain was pretty much gone, but his breathing wasn’t good.  He was put on oxygen and tests were run.  An EKG showed no heart damage, but the doctor in emergency felt that he needed to be at McLaren where we’d been yesterday.  So he was transferred after 7 this morning.  They scheduled him for a stent tomorrow in the artery that was 80% blocked, but they decided to do it today and they did.  Now – no pain, no shortness of breath and he said they didn’t put him out when they did it, and he didn’t even feel it.  Because of our horrible weather, Lowell told me not to come up today so I didn’t.  We don’t know yet about the 90% blockage, but Lowell does not want open heart surgery.  We’re thinking if that artery has been going to the dead part of his heart all these years why open him up to bypass the blockage and go to a good part of the heart.  We’ll wait to see what the surgeons say and if indeed it hasn’t been doing anything all these years.
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.  
A dear friend of Chris Ann’s – Mary Saul – called me Monday morning to tell me she had just spoken to Burton.  Chris Ann is now mostly unresponsive, and her pain medication has been increased once again.  Their Michigan family, who just left on Sunday, may be returning on Wednesday (Feb. 27) for several days.
Please continue to lift up these two families – the Nelsons and the Greenes. I thank you, and they thank you so much for your care and concern.  Isn’t it amazing how close we’ve all become.  Love and hugs to you all.
God bless.
Posted by: bree1972 | February 21, 2013

Book Day!

You know how I mention every once in a while that one of my main  goals when I retired was to fill my days with good books and the time to read them?  That’s not usually all that hard to do, but in the time since we’ve returned home from Mackinac, I’ve only read two books, and that’s just downright ridiculous!  Oh, I’ve read magazines galore, skimmed through catalogs, and watched lots of Netflix movies, but for some reason, the time to just sit for a few hours of good, steady reading has escaped me.

The two books I have read were good ones, so I’d like to share.

THE BRONZE HORSEMAN TRILOGY  by Paullina Simons

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I read the first two books in this trilogy, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander, before I left the Island, then ordered this last book when I returned home.  In combination, they are quite possibly the best love story I’ve ever read.

If anyone had told me I would be just as entranced with the same couple at the end of the 600+ page third book as I was by Chapter 2 of the first book (all three were over 600 pages), I would have said, “No way – nothing and no one can keep my attention that long.”  I was wrong.

Along with this couple’s love story, the first two books tell vividly what it was like living in Russia during World War II.  Telling you where the third book is set would let you in on too much of the plot, so I will just zip my lips on that.  I have never been much interested in Russian history, but by the middle of the first book I was turning pages just as rapidly to learn about Russia as I was to learn what would happen next with Tatiana and Alexander.

Amazon calls these books “a Russian Thorn Birds” and a stirring tale of devotion, passion, secrets, betrayal, and sacrifice.  I totally agree!

MRS. KENNEDY AND ME by Clint Hill

hill

I was in high school when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and like the rest of the country sat for hours and hours watching days of coverage of his funeral.  In the years since then, we’ve learned more about this family than most of us care to – and the majority of it isn’t very flattering.

Remember the photograph of the car the Kennedys were riding in and the Secret Service agent crawling over the back of the car right after the first shot?  I always believed that agent was assigned to the President, but he was not.  He was the agent in charge of Jackie Kennedy, and his name is Clint Hill.

Decades after Kennedy’s assassination, Hill has written a book about his years in the White House as Mrs. Kennedy’s Secret Service agent.  If you are looking for juicy tales and sordid secrets, this is not the book for you.  Mr. Hill has written a story of what it was like to protect the President’s wife – a job he at first did not want (he was one of the agents in charge of Dwight D. Eisenhower and was hoping to be assigned to President Kennedy).

Hill’s admiration of Jackie Kennedy shines through every page, and the book details the minutiae of life in the White House and in the several homes owned or used by the Kennedys during his presidency.

If you are interested in the history of the Kennedy years in the White House, or if you are just fascinated with the Kennedy family, please read this book.  I loved it.

BOOK ON MY NIGHTSTAND

parrish

FINALLY!  I’ve been waiting all winter for the publication of Heart of Ice, and it’s out on February 26.

Well then, Brenda, just how did you come to have a copy already . . . . I know you’re asking!

OK – I’ll tell you! P.J. Parrish is actually the two-sister team of Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols.  They write fabulous novels that make the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.  This latest novel is set on Mackinac Island, and one day a couple of summers ago Jill introduced me to Kristy.

Me with Kristy Montee

Me with Kristy Montee

Kristy had actually been reading my blog and took some island details for Heart of Ice from what she read.  We have chatted back and forth since then, and this week the book arrived in the mail!

My autographed copy!

My autographed copy!

And when I turned to the Acknowledgement Page . . . .

ggggg

Jill and I got a thank you, along with Jane, Kathy, Tam, Cass and Jeremy at the Island Bookstores on Mackinac and in Mackinaw City!

How cool is that!

So now I can’t wait to settle in and start reading Heart of Ice and figuring out all the places they talk about in the book.  Here’s a little preview of what it’s about:

Florida PI Louis Kincaid wants to wear a badge again. But before he can, he must return home to Michigan – and some unfinished business.  He hopes to bond with ten-year-old Lily, the daughter he only recently learned existed, and reunite with girlfriend Joe Frye.  But new clues to an unsolved murder put his plans on ice.  A trip with Lily to enchanting Mackinac Island turns grim when the child falls on a pile of old bones; the dangerous discovery reopens the cold case of Julie Chapman, a teenager from one of the wealthy summer families, who vanished two decades ago.  And when Louis is forced to cooperate with a tough state investigator who once worked with Joe, tensions skyrocket.  Now, what was supposed to be a time of building lasting ties splinters into disturbing fragments, personally and professionally, as Louis pursues a mystery entangled in dark family secrets and twists even he can’t predict.

Sounds like I’m going to have to find an unoccupied cushion on the couch and curl up.  With over 10 inches of rain expected here over the weekend, and flood warnings posted, I’d say it’s the perfect time to read!

If you’ve read something you really, really liked and want to share, please tell us about it in the comments section!  Always looking for a good read!

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PRAYERS

1)  Please keep Lowell Greene and his wife Faye in your prayers.  He goes into the hospital on Friday morning for a heart cath and possibly a stent. Jill and I visited Lowell and Faye last fall in Olivet, MI, and he and Faye will be visiting the Island in June. 

2)  I talked with Chris Ann for a few minutes on Wednesday and it was so wonderful to hear her voice.  She sounded very weak, but I understood everything she said and even got a small laugh from her when I said some stupid, silly thing.  When I talked to Burton, he said Hospice had come the day before and washed her hair, and they continue to juggle her pain meds for the best combinations.  Both of their Michigan children and their families are coming in for the weekend.  Chris Ann is very close to the end of her journey. 

Posted by: bree1972 | February 13, 2013

Slices of Lake Days 2/13/2013

Since Bear wrote last week’s post, there seems to be a lot of lake news that’s built up over the last 14 days.  Here’s a glimpse into some of the events that made the most impact during that time . . .

Poor Maddie, Poor Bear . . . . Poor Ted

I was awakened at four a.m. one night last week by Maddie landing on the bed like a piece of falling ceiling tile.  She then scrunched up to me as close as possible, shivering so hard I thought she was going to shake the bed, and my first thought – before even opening my eyes – was, “Am I dreaming this?”

The next nerve impulse to my brain pried open my eyes, and I almost screamed.  There was a man hovering over the bed!  Whew – it was Ted!  Then my ears woke up.  “Come on, Maddie,” Ted was saying, over and over.  “Come on, little girl.”

Maddie shook harder and crowded in closer.  Finally my voice woke up.  “What in the heck is going on!?”

It seems Ted got up when he heard Maddie acting like she was going to be sick.  They walked into the kitchen so she could go out the front door (no deck steps that way), and as Ted reached out to move her off the new rug under the dining room table, his feet slipped out from under him and he fell.  In the process of going down and trying to catch himself, he flung out his arm and accidentally hit Maddie hard enough to send her skidding across the kitchen floor.

Bear, who had been right there with them the whole time, immediately became deeply concerned about Ted and started whining and poking his nose in Ted’s face, making sure he was ok.  Maddie, on the other hand, was not amused or concerned, and that’s how I ended up with eleven pounds of quivering, quaking wiener dog Velcroed to my flannel pj’s at four in the morning.

Even with all the coercing, Maddie was having nothing to do with Ted, and he finally had to pick her up and carry her outside.  As soon as her four feet hit the grass, she took off in a wild sprint to hide from her attacker.

Ted spent the next 30 minutes walking around the yard with a flashlight, trying to find a brown dog that perfectly blended with the brown grass.

Mission accomplished, we all finally got back to sleep around five in the morning.

By morning, Maddie had forgotten the whole incident, and Ted was once again her favorite person.  Yeahhh!!!

New Little Girl

Remember when I went to Colorado to visit Blake and showed you this pic?

Remember when I went to Colorado to visit Blake and his housemates Rich and Anna?

Little Emilia Faye was born 10 days ago - a beautiful, healthy little girl.  Mama Anna is fine . . . .

Little Emilia Faye was born February 3rd – a beautiful, healthy little girl. Mama Anna is doing fine . . . .

. . . and daddy Rich is in love.

. . . and daddy Rich is in love.

P.S.  Blake has not changed a diaper yet, but I’m sure that day is coming soon.  Oh please, someone get a pic of that when it happens!

Super Bowl – Booger Bottom-Style

Super Bowl Sunday at Booger Bottom is a BIG DAY!  It’s a huge party with a prime rib dinner.

A beautiful day at the lake for a Super Bowl party.

A beautiful day at the lake for a Super Bowl party.

Larry Chickwood is always the chef extraordinaire - prime rib grilled to perfection.

Larry Chickwood is always the chef extraordinaire – prime rib grilled to perfection and lots of Southern side dishes.  After the Falcons were out of the running, I don’t think anyone here at the lake really cared much who won, but we sure did have fun!

We Took the Plunge

Ted and I finally broke down and traded our flip phones for two iPhone 5’s.  Yes – we swore a million times we would NEVER be like those people who had phones in their  hands constantly, flashing fingers dancing over the world’s smallest keyboard – texting, calling, surfing, googling, amazoning, pandora-ing.

And yet . . .

. . . they are just so darned much fun!

. . . they are just so darned much fun!

Please note.  My phone is covered by a feminine, pink, sweet Otter Box (which promises to protect it if it hits the street as I fly down Cadotte Hill on my bike.  Ted's phone is encased in a black, military-grade case that will protect it if it's hit by a nuclear warhead at close range (or if he falls on the kitchen floor at four in the morning).

Please note. My phone is covered by a feminine, sweet pink Otter Box (which promises to protect it if it hits the street as I fly down Cadotte Hill on my bike). Ted’s phone is enclosed in a black, military-grade case that will protect it if it’s hit by a nuclear warhead at close range (or if he falls on the kitchen floor at four in the morning).

We’re both hoping we get over our pre-occupation with these things in a week or two.  Maybe a month.

From Aggravation and Anxiety to a Blessing

Last Friday I left the house at 8:30 a.m. with Bear and Beyla.  Bear and I were going to work this week with the Paws Patrol group, so he was going in to be groomed.  As my good deed for the week, I decided to take Beyla to be groomed as a surprise to  Jason.

I dropped them both off at the groomers at 9:30 and stopped at the school system administration building, where I worked for 982 years before retiring five years ago.  I spent a couple of hours visiting with friends, then went back to my car.  It would not crank.

Dead as a doorknob.

I was in a parking place where no one could jump off the battery unless they were parked right beside me, and I knew the odds of that happening were almost zero.  So I called the Ford dealership where I bought my Escape, and they promised to have someone come with battery cables within an hour (all covered under my extended warrenty).

“What if it’s not the battery?” I asked.  I could just envision having to wait another hour while a wrecker came.

“Do you want us to send a wrecker?” said Ford.

“I want you to send a wrecker with battery cables,” I answered.  “That way, if it’s not the battery, the wrecker will already be here.”

“Uh, huh,” said Ford.

Five minutes later my phone buzzed.  “This is the roadside assistance company that Ford called about your trouble. Is it ok to use the GPS service on your phone to locate you?”  I said “of course” and bit my tongue from asking why I couldn’t just tell her where I was.

“You will be getting a text from the wrecker service we call to let you know what time they will arrive at your location,” said roadside assistance company.

A few minutes later my phone buzzed a text to me saying the wrecker would be there at 11:37 a.m.  I wondered how they could possibly know that to the minute, but I wasn’t going to text back and ask.

At 11:47  the car parked beside me pulled out, and at 11:48 the wrecker pulled in (yes, I was watching the clock – not a bad estimate on their part).  What luck about the parking space!

Yes – it was the battery, but since the battery was less than two years old I decided to go to the Ford dealership and let them check it – and I might as well get the oil changed too.

Two hours later I pulled out of the dealership with clean battery terminals, new oil, and a leaky oil filter changed.  I couldn’t pick up the dogs until five, so I had time to shop!  I spent the next two hours in Pier I and found the perfect canister set for the kitchen AND a matching cookie jar.  Finally, things were going right again.

At five o’clock I picked up two sweet-smelling, washed and fluff-dried big dogs, called Ted to say I was on the way home and left the groomers.  Three blocks later a woman ran a stop sign and plowed into my SUV, throwing both dogs into the front windshield.  Thank God she was going slowly, and neither of them was hurt.  The lady driving the other car ran up to my window to see if I was all right and then started crying hysterically.  I looked out my window and saw her entire front bumper and one headlight on the street.  I asked if she was ok, she nodded and then asked if I would follow her to her place of business.  I refused and asked her to please call 911 while I checked on the dogs and called Ted to tell him I was going to be a little late.

fffff

When I got out, I found very little damage to my car.

The police and ambulance arrived.  The EMTs tried to calm down the lady who had hit me.  It turned out she was not driving her own car and tried to convince the police that the accident was my fault because she had not seen me coming.  The police failed to see the logic in that.

I got home around 7 p.m.

That night, tired and pretty bummed out, I posted a short note about my day on Facebook, and Andrea, a Facebook friend, wrote this:  Hope everyone’s OK this morning. Sometimes it takes overnight for the aches to settle in. I’m looking at it this way: God was trying to keep you off the road for some reason yesterday. He sent a dead battery and when that didn’t work, he sent a distracted driver (which DID work). Aren’t you glad you missed the REAL accident that could have hospitalized (or killed) you and/or the babies? I sure am! Glad to hear y’all are all right.

Suddenly I saw everything in an entirely different way.  Instead of remembering the frustration and the anxiety and the aggravation, I saw the whole day as a series of events where God was directing my path.

And even though I had said a “thank you” prayer on the way home on Friday afternoon, I offered up another prayer of thanksgiving right here at my laptop.  And thanks, Andrea, for opening my eyes.

Chris Ann Update

I spoke with Burton this morning.  He shared that Chris Ann is mostly sleeping now.  She remains pain-free, thanks to some really high-powered meds, and that is such a blessing.  Their two children who live in Michigan are alternating coming on weekends, and Hospice is visiting on a regular basis.  I asked Burton to please give Chris Ann a hug and kiss for me and to let her know that prayers continue to lift upward from all of you. 

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Ted and I are joining several couples from the lake for our annual Valentine’s group dinner at Daphne’s.  Hoping all of you have an awesome Valentine’s Day and get to share it with someone you love.  God bless.

Posted by: bree1972 | February 6, 2013

Country Dog 101 2/6/2013

Hi.  Bear here.

Maddie and I love it when our dog-niece-once-removed Beyla, Jason’s dog, comes to stay for a few days.  Beyla is a city dog (she lives in Atlanta), and we love showing her how we country dogs live.  We don’t have dog parks out here at the lake.  No sir . . . . mom and dad just open the door and out we go into our big fenced-in-front-and-back yard.  We can run and play and chase squirrels and chew pine cones all day long (or until we need some hugs and treats)!

Beyla is going to be here until Saturday, so we have a lot of time to show her the ropes of life-on-the-lake.  So far though, we aren’t making much progress.  Take this morning . . .

Mom was on Poop Patrol (it’s usually Dad, but he was gone to the grocery store).  I honestly don’t know why they pick up the poop – something about not stepping in it and not having it all over the yard when visitors come.  Anyway, one of them does it everyday, and hey – if that’s what brings a smile to their face – it’s ok with Maddie and me.

I guess, with two dogs, it would get a little “too much” after a few days . . . .

One day's Patrol results - and that's only in one part of the yard.  Boy, that Maddie!  She's a real pooper!

One day’s Patrol results – and that’s only in one part of the yard. Boy, that Maddie! She’s a real pooper!

Now I couldn't care less if the poop gets picked up or not.  What I like about Poop Patrol is that whoever is doing the patroling is also using the time to throw a tennis ball for me to retrieve!

What I like about Poop Patrol is that whoever is doing the patrolling is also using the time to throw a tennis ball for me to retrieve!  I tried to explain the concept to Beyla . . .

. . . someone throws the ball, then you chase after it as fast as possible.  I love trying to catch it on the bounce, but there was no chance of that this morning with mom doing the throwing because she throws like a girl.

. . . someone throws the ball, then you chase after it as fast as possible. I love trying to catch it on the bounce or in the air, but there was no chance of that this morning because mom was doing the throwing, and she throws like a girl.

Beyla didn't even keep her eyes on the ball, for Pete's sake!

Beyla didn’t even keep her eyes on the ball, for Pete’s sake!  She was watching something in the park.  Can you imagine something more important than a tennis ball!?

Ok, Beyla.  Watch again.

Ok, Beyla. Watch again.

Mom throws the ball (geez, she can't bounce it, and she can't aim either).  Anyway, look, Beyla.  You chase the ball into the bushes and go in after it!

Mom throws the ball (geez, she can’t bounce it, and she can’t aim either). Anyway, look, Beyla. You chase the ball into the bushes and go in after it!

Good grief.

Good grief.

I thought maybe Maddie would help me with the lesson, but I should have known better.  Maddie was too busy doing what Maddie does - hunting!

I thought maybe Maddie would help me with the lesson, but I should have known better. Maddie was too busy doing what Maddie does – hunting!

Ok, Beyla.  Maybe we started off at too advanced a level.  Let's try chewing.  Insert a ball, or stick, or pinecone in to mouth.  Then spread out on the ground in a comfortable position and chew!

OK, Beyla. Maybe we started off at too advanced a level. Let’s try chewing. Insert a ball, or stick, or pine cone into your mouth. Then spread out on the ground in a comfortable position and chew!

Good grief.

Good grief.

Wait!  Is that a spark of interest?

Wait! Is that a spark of interest?

All right!

All right!  Chewing today, chasing tomorrow!

Maddie never did catch anything . . .

Maddie never did catch anything . . .

. . . and Beyla spent the rest of the morning just sitting in the sunshine, enjoying her day at the lake.

. . . and Beyla spent the rest of the morning just sitting in the sunshine, enjoying her day at the lake.

When Dad got home we were all three waiting for him . . . . .

By Saturday I figure we will have Beyla acting just like us.

Mom says we even sleep in the same position!

Mom says we’re already sleeping in the same position.  But last night, after everyone went to bed, we noticed Beyla wasn’t in the room with us.  We all had to get up and go see where she was . . . . .

Hmmm . . .  she might not be a ball chaser or a hunter.  But she sure knows how to pick a place to sleep!

Hmmm . . . she might not be a ball chaser or a hunter . . . . . but she sure knows how to pick a place to sleep!

Posted by: bree1972 | January 31, 2013

A Quick Florida Trip 1/31/2013

I so envy Matt’s (our bonus son) parents, Carolyn and Jack.  They live in the same town in Florida as our two grandchildren; therefore, they get to go to each and every ballgame, dance recital, and school program in which Jordan and Matthew participate.  How fun is that!

Ted and I both are so very happy to have them so much closer to us than they were in Arkansas!  So when Matthew let us know that he was playing basketball (what might be his last game this season) this past Monday night, we started packing.  We also wanted to get our first look at the house Julie and Matt are in the process of buying!

Off to Miss Marsha’s went Maddie and Bear (they will be very excited when the move is made and the “no dogs” policy of the rental house is no longer an issue)!  We took a leisurely Sunday drive down to Ormond Beach, stopping at the outlet malls in St. Augustine.  Ted wanted some new shoes, and I wanted to check out Chico’s (would you believe I bought a hot pink pair of ankle-length jeans for the summer)!  I mean, you can see me coming a mile away!

Julie and Matt have bought an "Old Florida" home on a great street between the Intercoastal Waterway and the ocean.  It was built in the 60's and has not been updated - but they are going to have such a great time "making it theirs".  This old live oak tree is in the back yard.  Matthew is going to do a lot of daydreaming in that tree in the years ahead.

Julie and Matt have bought an “Old Florida” home on a great street between the Inter-coastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. It was built in the 60’s and has not been updated, so they are going to have such a great time “making it theirs”. This old Live oak tree is in the back yard, and Matthew is going to do a lot of daydreaming up there in the years ahead.

On Monday, after Julie and Matt went off to work, and Jordan and Matthew went off to school, Ted and I went exploring.

On Monday – after Julie and Matt went off to work, and Jordan and Matthew went off to school – Ted and I went exploring.

When Ted came down without me (I was sick) for Jordan's dance recital just before Christmas, he had seen this little house while he was riding around with Julie.  It was out first stop - a cute little 2-bedroom, 2-bath, full-updated house.  The ocean at the end of the short street.  Our grandkids about four miles away.  Hmm . . .

When Ted came down without me (I was sick) just before Christmas for Jordan’s dance recital, he saw the little house on the left while he was riding around with Julie. It was our first stop after a nice breakfast at Peach Valley Restaurant, a locals’ favorite.  A cute 2-bedroom, 2-bath, fully-updated house. The ocean at the end of the short street. Our grandkids about four miles away. Hmm . . .

We'd ridden by this little park several times but had never stopped.  So today we did!

We’d ridden by Tomoka State Park several times but had never taken the time to stop. On Monday we did!  Tomoka comes from the Timucua, a group of Native Americans who lived in northeast Florida centuries ago. 

I'm having a great time experimenting with my new camera, and these brightly colored canoes caught my eye.

I’m having a great time experimenting with my new camera, and these brightly colored canoes caught my eye as a possible good shot.

Even if we'd been so inclines, swimming was not an option!

The Tomoka River and the Halifax River (the Intracoastal Waterway) meet at the north end of the park, forming a natural peninsula.  During the summer, manatees take refuge with their young in the Tomoka River, and Bottlenose dolphins occasionally surface.  Even if we’d been so inclined, swimming was not an option since the American alligator is a familiar resident in these waters.

Beautiful Live oak trees, dripping with Spanish Moss, are everywhere.

Beautiful Live oak trees, dripping with Spanish Moss, are everywhere, including around this monument to Chief Tomokie.

nnn

The temps on Monday were in the high 70’s, and this shaded bit of sand felt cool beneath my bare feet.

We crossed the bridge across the Intracoastal and wandered the beach for a while.  Have you ever known any photographer who could resist seagulls in the sand . . . .

We crossed the bridge across the Intracoastal and wandered the beach for a while. Have you ever known any photographer who could resist seagulls in the sand . . . .

. . . or on the wing.

. . . or on the wing.

We didn't walk far, but we were there long enough to remember how much we love the beach . . .

We didn’t walk far, but we were there long enough to remember how much we love the beach . . .

. . . and how beautiful the clouds can be - even on an otherwise clear day.

. . . and how beautiful the clouds can be – even on an otherwise clear day.

Crossing back over the Intracoastal.

Crossing back over the Intracoastal.

We picked Matthew and Jordan up from school, took Jordan to dance, went back to the house and waited on Julie & Matt . . . .

We picked Matthew and Jordan up from school, took Jordan to dance, went back to the house and waited on Julie & Matt . . . .

. . . then hurried to Matthew's ballgame.

. . . then hurried to Matthew’s ballgame.

Matthew is the youngest, the smallest . . .

Matthew is the youngest, the shortest . . .

. . . . and the most focused player on the team.

. . . . and the most focused player on the team.

He also has the most hair!

He also has the most hair!

Matthew's team didn't win, but the happy parents and grandparentssure had fun watching and cheering them on!

Matthew’s team didn’t win, but the happy parents and grandparents sure had fun watching and cheering them on!

On the way home on Tuesday morning, Ted and I laughed about our trip.  We felt as though we were on vacation on Monday, with new places to see and time to just ride around and explore.  I know, I know – we’re always on vacation, but sometimes it just feels more like it than others!

Have a wonderful weekend, and here’s hoping your team wins the Superbowl!

God bless.

Posted by: bree1972 | January 25, 2013

Done! 1/25/2013

How long has it been since Ted and I started our little “renovation” project at the lake house?  Let me count the days . . . weeks . . . months . . . years.

Anyway, it’s finally over and done, and if Ted even dares to start a sentence with, “Why don’t we . . . .?”, I will not responsible for what happens!

The final leg of our redo journey began two days after I returned from Colorado.  Yep – two weeks of travel, and instead of a few days of down time, Ted woke me up on Monday morning with, “Let’s get hopping! All the stuff has to be taken off the furniture, and all the furniture has to be moved before they get here tomorrow to do the floors!”

Well, all righty then!

The great room - middle of the week. After removing part of the carpet, we got down to what was there when we orginally bought the house.  No - those are not parquet floors - not by a long shot.

The great room – middle of the week. After removing part of the carpet, we got down to what was there when we orginally bought the house. No – those are not parquet floors – not by a long shot.

The great room after new floors went down . . . .

The great room after new floors went down . . . .

. . . and after putting down an area rug.

. . . and after putting down an area rug.  We spent two nights with just bare floors and decided it wasn’t for us.  Bear and Maddie hardily agreed!

We replaced flooring in one of the guest bathrooms.

We replaced flooring in one of the guest bathrooms.

Moved furniture had to go somewhere . . .

Moved furniture had to go somewhere . . .

. . . and the two guest bedrooms caught most of it.

. . . and the two guest bedrooms caught most of it.  As you can see, my luggage hasn’t been put up yet – it was unpacked though!

So did the dining room.  We removed the carpet in there also.

So did the dining room. We removed the carpet in there also.

All done - thank goodness the potty is out of the bathtub and back in its proper place!

All done.  Thank goodness the potty is out of the bathtub and back in its proper place!

Finished dining room.

Finished dining room . . .

. . . . and finished kitchen.

. . . . and finished kitchen.  Actually, the kitchen was finished in the spring, but now the two rooms look like they belong together.

Working on a home project for two years really stretched it out, but hey – we did it as we could.  We sure do like the way it all turned out!

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We’re heading for Florida on Sunday to watch our Matthew play basketball on Monday night.  We’ll be back Tuesday!  God bless.

Posted by: bree1972 | January 22, 2013

Comfort Flying and . . . Oh, the People We Meet 1/22/2013

Comfort Flying

In the process of booking flights on Delta recently for Michigan and Colorado, a little message popped up asking if I wanted to upgrade to an Economy Comfort Seat on one leg of the flight.  Not having a clue what that was, and being a naturally curious person, I clicked on the icon and learned for $19-$39 I could be seated just behind First Class and have 3-4 more inches of leg room.  I had already found an amazing deal on the Colorado flight, which I booked first, so I said, “Why sure – sign me up!”

When I found the same offering on the Michigan trip, I signed up there also.  And thus I was transported into the world of more space (I could almost stretch my legs out straight in front of me) and Priority Seating (Zone 1 means you get on just after First Class and can stow your carry-on while there is still plenty of room, and people aren’t elbowing you out of the way so they can get the spot you had your eye on).

Just mentioning this for those who haven’t flown for a while and who are old and crotchety like me.  It sure made a difference!

Oh, the People We Meet

It’s hard for me to sit right up next to someone (Economy  Comfort Seating offered more legroom, NOT more arm room) and not speak or carry on a conversation.  I’m savvy enough to know that someone who sits down next to me on a plane and immediately puts his/her head back and closes his/her eyes  . . . wants to be left alone.  Same for someone who sits down and, faster than a speedy bullet, opens a book.

Most people though either open themselves up to conversation by speaking first or, when seated next to someone who is willing to break the ice themselves, will carry on conversation that makes the air miles fly (pun) by.  Of course sometimes that backfires, and you’re stuck with a person who bores you to death with tales of how wonderful he is and how the world is a better place simply because he’s in it.  But that doesn’t happen often – thank you, Lord.

It didn’t happen to me at all on my recent travels, and I had great conversations with three interesting folks I’ll never (probably) see again.

The first was on the 30-minute hop from Albany to Atlanta on the trip to Michigan.  No Economy Comfort Seating offered on the little jet, and I was almost in the last row, seated next to the window – my preferred spot.  The plane was packed, and down the aisle came a young man in his early 20’s, covered in tattoos and with multiple ear piercings.  I thought, “Oh dear, if he sits down next to me, I hope he’s sleepy.”  (I’m bad about making those kinds of instant  judgements, and nearly always they are wrong, wrong, wrong.  Help me, Lord, to get over pre-conceived notions about people.)

He did indeed have the seat next to me and was obviously traveling with the two young men sitting in front of us.  He didn’t have a book and didn’t seem inclined to sleep, so I used my same old boring opening line, “Where are you going?”

“Dallas!” he said excitedly.

Over the next 30 minutes, I learned this young man (27 years old) had graduated from high school, entered a tech school and earned certification as a welder.  He’d worked in a factory in Cordele for a while, gaining experience, and then – with the two buddies on board with him – had gotten a civilian job in Kuwait, using his trade to work overseas.  Their compound had been bombed his last day there – thankfully with no injuries incurred.   Upon his return to the U.S., all three had gotten jobs in Dallas, as welders for a new company opening there.

One more time it hit home to me how wrong it is to judge based on appearances alone.  He was a true southern gentleman (helping me get my overhead bag at the end of the flight), yes Ma’aming and no Ma’aming me throughout the conversation, quietly humble in the telling of his story.

As we walked up the sky-way into the Atlanta airport, I wished them all well in their new jobs, and they all grinned and said, “Thank you, Ma’am.”

I pray they are all doing well.

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The flight from Atlanta to Flint, MI was my first experience with the Comfort Seating.  I was in the first row behind First Class, with nothing in front of me but the thin partition separating us from the folks already being served cocktails before we even taxied from the gate.

A beautiful woman, maybe 10 years my junior, was my seatmate, and conversation started when I reached into my purse to turn off my flip-phone and said, “I must be the only person left on the planet who doesn’t have a smart phone.”

“I have a flip-phone also!” she said.

The two hours to Flint zoomed by as we chatted about family (she was traveling to Flint to visit relatives), books, and her immediate family’s commitment to remain unchained to the technology of today’s world.  She and her husband owned a TV, but it almost never was turned on.  They had a computer, but no Facebook or other social media accounts.

“Our grandchildren think we’re old fuddy-duddies,” she laughed.  “But when they come, we do fun things together instead of them sitting on the couch, eyes glued to some device in their hands.  It works for us because that’s the way we’ve always done it, and that’s what they expect from us.”

I loved that and thought about how in the future, when those grandchildren looked back on their visits with their grandparents, they’d remember playing board games, reading together, going to the park or the zoo – NOT just which seat they’d occupied to play games on their electronic toys.

I shared with her about our family, our dogs, our two homes and the writing of the blogs.  She loved Mackinac Island, so I told her how to access that site.  Maybe I’ll hear from her one day in a comment.

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On the flight from Flint back to Atlanta I was in a regular seat – smashed between two gentlemen who I think would rather have stopped breathing than smile.  No conversation there, so I sat with my knees practically under my chin and read my own book.  The next week the flight from Atlanta to Denver was uneventful – in fact, I slept through part of it, so maybe someone somewhere is blogging about ME tonight :)! 

That brings us to my flight home from Denver to Atlanta.

I was lucky enough to be in Economy Seating again, but in the middle of three seats (everyone’s least favorite seat, I’m sure).  The gentleman in the aisle seat couldn’t decide if he wanted to read or sleep, so he did a little of both.  That was ok though because the lady sitting next to me by the window had enough conversation for all of us!

I had walked up the beltway behind her – as a Delta employee pushed her in a wheelchair.  She was on oxygen and had a portable oxygen container in her lap.  The Delta employee got her seated and comfortable, and I slipped in beside her.  Her oxygen container was a neat little portable gizmo that looked like a snazzy carry-on with wheels . . . and tubes!

I introduced myself as soon as I sat down, she told me her name and said she was going to Florida to visit her sister, and that started three hours of non-stop conversation.  What an interesting woman she was!

At 83-years-old she hardly seemed bothered at all with the contraption health had forced her to attach herself to 24 hours a day.  She told me of growing up in Colorado on her family’s dairy farm (I swear to you, after that conversation, I could milk a cow myself if I had to).  I learned the life stories of all 9 of her siblings and all 5 of her children.  She spoke with sadness of her husband’s passing two years ago, and with dignity about her refusal to be a little old lady her children had to take care of . . . well, until they had to!  I maybe said 10 sentences the entire trip, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

When we landed she said she had to wait on the plane for someone to come for her with a wheelchair, and I leaned over and gave her a hug and told her how much I’d enjoyed our chat.  She waved goodbye with a beautiful smile.

Oh, I know most flights are long and boring and uncomfortable.  But maybe they could at least be a little more interesting if we all reached out and tried to make a connection.

And hey, if you get stuck with Mr. or Mrs. Perfect for a seatmate?  Whip out your sleep mask and tilt that seat back an inch or two.  They’ll get the message!

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