Thursday, December 31, 2009

You can't always get what you want!

Well, it's the last day of 2009.

I could tell you that it has been a great year for me, that I have prospered financially, that all is well, but I refuse to lie.

That's right.

See, I am thrilled this year is over. Good bye 2009! It has been a real effort to see the silver lining in a lot of  trials crap that has been tossed my way.

But let's not go there. Instead let's just recap the last day of 2009.

Dawn breaks. Head aches.

8:00 am Daughter and her boyfriend luckily get the opportunity to drive out of town and go to a real mall. Fun for them. And I am genuinely happy. For them.

10:00 am Oldest son packed and ready to go to Atlanta for a long weekend with friends. Fun for him. And again I am genuinely happy. For him.

11:00 am Perhaps noticing my lack of desire to get dressed and go to our lovely (yes, I am being sarcastic) supermarket, my husband attempts to cheer me up by asking me to go to one of the few eating establishments we are priveledged to have for dinner tonight. I perk up. A little.

11:30 am  Laundry to fold. Head ache worsens.

11:35 am  BC powder consumed.

1:30 pm  I decide to resurrect my mood and my body and go to the supermarket, which is not really that super. Honest.

2:00 pm Dressed for success I head to Harvey's. (Harvey would roll over in his grave if he saw this store)

2:15 pm While cruising through the produce department I am appalled, as always. The choice. The quality. The lack of it, that is. I decide to maneuver around the wilted cabbage and bypass the browning broccoli and grab a few brown bananas, surrendering my health, risking the onset of scurvy, all the time wondering why fresh fruits and vegetables can't make it to this town.

2:30 pm Daughter interrupts my shopping adventure with a text message.

Daughter: R u cooking tonight?
Me: Dad and I are going to eat out.
Daughter: mind if we join you? we will pay for ours.
Me: That's fine. (shocked)
Daughter: OK...we are leaving the mall now. We will be home in 2 hours.
Me: Great! 

3:00 pm Wondering what happened to bag boys? The poor cashier had to check and pack my groceries. And I had to restrain myself from popping the rude customer behind me while she openly discussed her sex life on her cell phone in line and proceeded to run into my heels twice with her Harvey's (less than) Super rmarket buggy!

3:45 pm Headaches worsens. Determining a stomach ulcer would be a relief compared to this migraine, I decide to consume my second BC powder in less than four hours.

3:50 pm  Unloading the groceries, I drop an entire container of half-and-half that I am planning to use to make for our traditional Banana Pudding for New Year's Day dessert. Yes, I said a bad word. But the dog is happy. I also drop a bag of M&Ms leftover from 2004 while cleaning out pantry as I put the groceries up. Not a good day for mulit-tasking. Dog is happy again. He loves chocolate.

4:00 pm Hot bath.

7:00 pm  Middle son, wife and baby come over. I play with baby. Headache lessens.

8:00 pm Obviously oblivious of the time, daughter and boyfriend finally roll in. She has to show me what she bought and she has to change into one of the new outfits. He decides to change into something he bought. They are adorable.

8:30 pm We invite middle son and family to go with us to eat.

8 :35 pm Baby needs to be bathed and changed. Tick Tock.

8:45 pm Husband says he will pass out if we don't leave soon. But first, he has to check the score of the game. It's the last quarter. Middle son, husband and daughter's boyfriend watch the last quarter of the game.
Headache returns.

9:00 pm Arrive at restaurant. We scan the restaurant and prematurely count ourselves lucky that the crowd has already ate and left.

9:05 pm  Hostess missing. Standing in line behind eight unhappy people.

9:15 pm Hostess returns, seats two and disappears.

9:30 pm  Hostess returns, seats four and disappears again.

9:45 pm Hungry husband politley asks magical hostess why is there such a wait when ther are so many tables empty.

9:45 pm Magical hostess gets snappy.

9:46 pm Husband decides we will eat elsewhere.

10:00 pm We arrive at 2nd choice restaurant.

10:01 pm Happy Hostess says we are closed.

10:00 pm I scream in parking lot. It doesn't help my headache.

10:15 pm Arrive at 3rd choice restaurant and discover, yes, it is closing, too. Use better judgement and decide to refrain from screaming.

10:30 pm  Decide to get a burger at Wendy's.

10:35 pm  Standing in line overhear unhappy cook say, I'm outta here. I ain't cooking no more damn burgers.

10:40 pm  Manager appears and states burgers will be cooked.  Notice unhappy cook leaves.

10:45 pm Woman in restaurant chokes. Her attentive husband comes to her aid.

10:46 pm  I see food and it's not mine.

10:50 pm  French fries arrive but no burgers yet.

11:00 pm  Mmmm...more french fries and finally....yes, burgers. And free nuggets.

11:30 pm  Back at home. Wondering. Hoping. Begging. 2010 will have to be better than this.

11:40 pm  Turn on the radio. The Stones are singing You can't always get what you want....

11:45 pm  Hot bath.

12:00 midnight I scream...Happy New Year. 

12:35 am  Realize....I got what I needed. Another year. Another chance. Another breath. And some nice brown bananas for the banana pudding.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gifts from the Giver

600. my wonderful, beautiful, wise parents

601. cold weather that makes me long for spring

602. smell of freshly brewed coffee

603. a warm, toasty fire

604. parents telling stories of their child hood

605. brilliant, handsome sons

606. graceful, beautiful daughter

607. hardworking, loving  husband

608. looking at recipes with daughter

609. hearing the dreams and goals of my children

610. encouraging words from distant friends

611. fresh, buttered bread

A fragrant aroma

In one home a cake bakes in the oven. Aroma fills the air. Food to comfort. Share. 

In another home, not too far away a friend sits. Hands folded. Task almost complete.
Checklist studied once more. Words are few. Strength decreases and pain increases.

They sat together, those men of mine offering freshly baked cake. A meager attempt. To offer kindness. Cheer. Words exchanged. Promises to help his wife care for the farm.

Handshakes. Then hugs. And prayer. Hands laid on friend. Words of praise to Father for a life full. Cries for mercy in this hour. The last pages of this life. 

An aroma fills the air. Sweet aroma.

....and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  Ephesians 5:2

Friday, December 25, 2009

No gift to bring

Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. 
Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more." 

 Dr. Seuss

She remembered the story of the Drummer Boy. She had read it to her children many times. Now played out. No gift to bring.
Twenty-two years as a parent at Christmas time, this was a first. The first time she didn't overspend, stress out, and wrap gifts for her children. Strange. Odd. 
Now, before you classify her as The Grinch, let me attempt to explain. 
Money was tight. There was no extra. At all. Money to buy food and pay bills was about it. 
Living on one income...within their means. 
At first, she fretted. Even cried, (yes, she did) that there wasn't money to spend on Christmas for her kids. Embarassed. Depressed. Yes. 
She got up the courage to sit down with the children and told them how things are. Difficult. Heart wrenching.  
Tough times. 

They were amazing. Understanding. Accepting. Encouraging. 

Eva Marie Everson writes , "Most of us have been in this place at one time or another. Sometimes its when we are young and in college or just beginning our adult lives on our own. Other times we’re older and have had a stroke of bad luck. Either way, the season comes upon us and we have “no gift to bring.” The skirt under our Charlie Brown Christmas tree is exposed without a single gift resting upon it. It is at this time that we may be reminded of the poor child in the beloved Christmas tune, 'Little Drummer Boy.' Like him — like the baby Jesus and like his parents, Mary and Joseph — we are flat broke....Our tradition of gift exchange began with the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus after His birth. Because of the monetary value, we’ve somehow transferred this sacrifice on their part and have created a new kind of sacrifice. We stress ourselves out by trying to out-give and, in the process, we over-charge and over-spend. In the end, most of our gifts end up looking more like “any other dove” in the temple.But what if we were to give ourselves? Our time. Our talents. What if we were to give them to each other?What if we were to give them to God?"

What if?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Coming

Father, forgive them, 
for they know not what they do.
 Luke 23:34

I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that there are people who get under my skin and some who really just seem so mean, thoughtless, and self-centered that I can't imagine ever loving them. 

Today those stinging, bitter words. Nose upturned. Rude. Cold.

Intentional? Careless? Those words.

Still they hurt.

Blinking back tears. 

Swallowing hard. 

Throat burns. 

How do I love this one? 

She needs to be told exactly how rude she really is. Put in her place. Ungrateful. She is.

Then, after a solid hour of misery, I end my silent argument for the hurt I feel. 

I finally stop. I bow my head. Knowing He heard it. Knowing He witnessed it all.

And I remember Christmas is coming.
The One who will take away the sins of the world. 
The One who will cleanse me. This child. His child.

Forgive her , Lord as you have forgiven me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let me cover you

On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
waiting all its life, snow says, "Let me cover you."
-   Laura Lush, The First Day of Winter



A successful married life requires falling in love many times, but always with the same person.

Today was the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It's all due to Earth's tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21.

Now the house is quietening. Toes are warming by the fire. Rest. Recalling the day. This solstice. 

And another solstice, a first day of winter twenty-four years ago. Fire blazes. And the love story continues. Celebrating our marriage.

Time for thanks. 

Adding to the list.

599. falling asleep and waking next to the man I married twenty-four years ago.


I love to host a party. The preparation. The cooking. The cleaning. All of it. I especially love to sit back...behind the scenes and watch as others enjoy. I wasn't the head hostess and I was instructed to be in the background. No problem for me. My favorite place.
The house was a-buzz.. Daughter invited fellow high schoolers, dedicated swimmers over for a Christmas party. They filled our home. Laughter. Constant chatter. Munching on homemade cookies, cupcakes, brownies, chips, dip and sipping soft drinks. Swapping gifts. Celebrating.

And more reason to celebrate. With gratitude. The list continues.

592.. daughter stirring, mixing, baking, decorating dozens of cookies

593. laughter and silly giggles 

594. candles burning  

595. diet coke with crushed ice

596. a warm, cozy fire

597. Christmas carols on the radio

598. hugs from my children

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Polar Express

Seeing is believing, 

but sometimes the most real things

 in the world are the things 

we can't see.

-Polar Express

I dressed in my pajamas today and went to work. Yep, sure did. I had the opportuntiy to sub in a Pre-K classroom where  we watched the movie THE POLAR EXPRESS and drank hot chocolate in our p.j.'s Guess that's one of the perks of teaching Pre-K. Learning is fun!

THE POLAR EXPRESS is a great classic movie that I always enjoy watching this time of year. There is a great message in it and I was reminded of it today as I sat there along with those wide-eyed four year-olds. 

To me it's a story of faith  - faith lost, faith reawakened, and faith renewed. 

Just like the main character, "Hero Boy"  who had doubts that Santa was real, I have found myself at times wondering ... if God is really there. And if He truly cares about my situation. 

Ronald Rolheiser in  Forgotten Among the Lilies,says to make “a deliberate and conscious effort at assuming the posture of a child before reality. We must work at regaining the primal spirit, a sense of wonder, the sense that reality is rich and full of mystery....It would be ridiculous to long for something that had no chance of ever being real. We enjoy magical stories because we pine for another world. We long for transcendence because we know there is something beyond. We experience wonder, because there is One who is called Wonderful.”

So today I come to you, Lord. Your child. Humbled.  Discouraged. Lost. Needing re-birth. A reawakening and a renewal. A child wide-eyed. In awe and wonder at the presence of you in my life...and in this world.  I seek the gift, the present I long for. The peace I need. Because you are WONDEFUL. And real. 

“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me. As it does for all who truly believe.”
-Polar Express

Monday, December 14, 2009

Treading water

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  
Only through experience of trial and suffering
 can the soul be strengthened,
 ambition inspired,
 and success achieved.
 -Helen Keller 

I really love this quote by Helen Keller. There really is so much truth to it. But lately, I feel like screaming...come on, my character is developing bruises, gimme a break! Enough already!

I really am searching for the silver lining in everything that has happened and hasn't happened...searching for reasons to be at peace, content, happy. 
I feel like I am treading water and about to drown. Waves crashing. Threatening to drown my hope. So much I can't control. So much out of my hands. So what to do? 

I make a choice. Again. A choice to cling. To hold on. I  make that choice regardless of how I feel, or what I see around me. Keeping the faith. And I add to the list. Things I am thankful for. 

576. celebrating father-in-law's 80 years
577. bags of groceries
578. cleansing tears
589. sweet words from husband
590. children singing Christmas carols

591. making cookies and fudge for oldest son

592. hearing Malli's laughter

593. visiting a college with daughter

594. protection on the road

595. cheering for CHS swimmers

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This season



 I drove up the winding driveway...just as I have done a million times before. But this time, I stopped mid-way. Put my car in park and got out. I got off track, out of my everyday routine just to absorb this season. This fleeting moment. This familiar place.

I snapped a few pictures with my camera phone attempting to capture the beauty...the change...and the wait. Branches dropping leaves. Jeweled drops of rain from earlier today still suspended on twig-like branches while most leaves carpet the ground. Bark peeling, the shedding away.

And already my restless soul aches for spring. The dormant is necessary, but not my choosing. And so it is in my life. This season, not my choosing. But today, I stop.  Looking for the beauty in this ever-changing season of gestation, this time of wait.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Brunswick Stew

I remember coming home from school and walking into a house, a home filled with the delicious aroma of my mother's tasty cookies baking or supper in the making. Such a comfort. She is still such a great cook. I have said it before and I will say it again. She can butter bread and it will taste better than mine. I believe it's the love she puts into everything she does.

Next to my Moma, nothing speaks love and comfort like a warm bowl of Brunswick Stew, in my humble opinion. With the cooler weather I enjoy preparing this stew and other family favorites for my loved ones.

Today I made a pot of Brunswick Stew. Now I don't know if you have ever prepared this delicious stew or if you have even ever tasted it at all. Maybe you don't even care. One thing is for sure though. Many people care about the origin of this stew. Seriously. They call it '"Stew wars."  Read more here

It doesn't make any diference to me where the original recipe came from.
But, I do remember the first time I ever tasted it. I was about twelve years old and most likely at my 12th family reunion at Stokesville Baptist Church. I watched as everyone excitedly scooped up a cup of Aunt Dale's Brunswick Stew. I decided that it must be something worth standing in line for. I only got a small spoonful that year. When the next family reunion rolled around, you better believe I got more than a spoonful. I confess, I even broke in line.

When I got married I really did not know how to cook. Believe me, it took lots of practice and a husband with patience and a stomach of steel before I got to be an average cook. Anyhow, when I married,  I wanted to learn to make Brunswick Stew and  I found a recipe in an old cook book and played around with it til I got it just right. I offered jars of it to friends and shut-ins, always reserving some especially for my Daddy who still claims it is the best he has ever had. (awww...thanks, Daddy)

Well, at the request of a high school classmate, I am posting my nearly-famous Brunswick Stew recipe here....on my blog. I am sure there are many other versions of the stew. Perhaps, you even have one you would like to share. If you do, leave the recipe in the comment box. I would love to try yours.

Gina's Brunswick Stew

Use any combination of these to equal about 4 cups of meat:
Cooked, shredded pork
Cooked, crumbled ground beef
Cooked, chopped chicken breast

2 c. Chicken broth
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 small bottle Ketchup
1 cup chopped yellow Onion
1 large can diced Tomatoes
1 can Tid-bit Corn
1 can English Peas

Combine everything in crock pot and cook slowly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Past

Found some old photos of Christmas past today. This one is of me and my sister, Kathy probably Christmas Eve 1964. I was barely three years old. I swear I can remember those footie-pajamas, the snaps, and even remember the sad, sad day that Moma had to cut the feet out when I grew too tall for them, making my toes curl up when I put them on. I don't remember what I got for Christmas that year, but I do remember those cute little pajamas! Funny the things we remember from our childhood.

Now that my own children are with a child of his own...I wonder what they remember. What memories do they have? More importantly, what memories will they make?

What about you?  What do you remember? And what are some memories you plan to make this year?