Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, April 30, 2010

Outstanding Special Ed Teacher.....MY DAUGHTER!

Today was a very special day in the life of my daughter Kat.  On May 15th she will be graduating with her Ed.S(Education Specialist degree).  This degree is the last step before obtaining your doctorate(Most people stop here because there is no dissertation that goes with it.).  Well....Friday at AUM they had an awards ceremony and Kat was honored as the Outstanding Special Ed. student.  What an honor....I mean...I already knew she was great....but it was so great to know other people know it too...LOL!  After the ceremony we headed back to her school to begin final preparations for the Children's Center fundraiser.  They were having a spaghetti dinner/talent/follies program and I had agreed to help out....and in layman terms, for me that means perform.  Somehow during the course of the afternoon we wrote a script for transitioning the acts, did the program, did a SAM's Club run, put up some sparkling stars, practice, stirred 9 huge crockpots of spaghetti sauce, cooked a gazillion packs of noodles, decided at the prompting of her fellow staff members that Kat and I would sing Sentimental Journey together....acappella.  Kat's sweet husband stirred the sauce on 30 minute intervals....and he took his job seriously.  He also boiled a ton of noodles with one small stock pot and a sauce pan....he is a genious.  Kat was running on nervous energy.....and the big feat that Kat has never sung on stage like she was nervous.  I told her during practice...just to look in my eyes....and that is just what she did...and it was GREAT!  The people began arriving, food was served, the entertainment began and it was so much fun....some of the staff did Cupid Shuffle, there was a lip syncing Sonny and Cher, operatic music, interpretive dance, the son of one teacher did a Michael Jackson dance to "Billy Jean" that was phenomenal, Mrs. Agnes sang one of my favorites....Lean on Me, and scattered throughout the night...I sang....and God Bless the USA was the finale.  For the low low price of $10.00 it was a great night.  Hats off to the staff and faculty of the Children's Center....YOU GUYS ROCKED!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Goodbye to Silver Drummond!

Today was a very sad day for me: It was my intern's last day. She did  an amazing job with my Spanish classes.....even the ones who did not want to learn. When I think back to the first day she came (which seems like only yesterday to me)...until today, I realize how I learned from her.  You know as an educator you never stop learning...and learn I did.  She was so creative and such a beautiful spirit.  I think professionally she will be a great success.  Who ever gets her as a teacher next year will definitely benefit from a wonderful person. Silver....(is that not the coolest name?.... was a delight to get to know, and it feels really good to know that I was a part of her process on the road to becoming a teacher.  I thank Dr. Sue Barry at Auburn for placing that kind of confidence and trust in me.  Silver had an interesting start. My first block class was composed of a large number of baseball playing boys...who were friends and a handful.  She never broke stride...she did what she came here to do...she taught.  My other two classes were a piece of cake after first block....and if she handled them....she can handle anything.  I actually went back to work on April 19th and believe you me...I have been exhausted. I took several pictures of her and the students and am making her a collage which I will mail to her I would not cry.  Silver graduates on May 14th and between now and then she will be in Tampa with her parents interviewing for a job, and finishing up those final graduating details that have to be taken care know, like packing.  I must say again that any  school system would be crazy not to hire her...I am telling you.   I wish we could have hired her.  I think she would be fun to have around all the time....but is proration here....and non-tenures are going to be pinked before the last working day of she is better off trying somewhere else.  Besides, her family is in Tampa...and her boyfriend, Nick is also going to be back home in Tampa....I guess I don't blame her...but I am sure gonna to miss her.  Good luck Silver and may God bless you as you embark on your new career and calling.  You rocked!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Now How Random is That?

It is time for the weekly dose of Random Dozen.  I have to be honest and say I really look forward to Linda, over at 2nd Cup of Coffee's post every Tuesday.  Then I love to sit back and see what my other bloggie buddies are going to post.  The questions are always thought provoking in a funny kind of way.  Todays are kind of deep...but you can make of them what you wish.
1. Have you ever been so lost that you were really afraid?  Nope!  I don't get lost.  I go exploring and have since I was a child.  I must admit I have ended up in some rather quirky places though...while (clears throat) exploring.  :-)
2. Have you ever been to an island?  Yes - all the islands of Lake Martin, two of the Hawaiian islands, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, the Keys...and a few unnamed.
3. Are you more of a thinker or feeler?  I am a feeler.  My emotional side rules my life.  When my dad was so sick and I was going to have to tell him it was ok to let HEAD knew what to do...but my HEART was not having any of it.
4. Do you tend to see issues or situations in life as black and white or shades of gray?  Gray is one of my favorite shades....although...sepia is becoming one of my new favs.  I can see issues in black and white if it is cut and dry...but I also realize that everything in life is not always black and white...sometimes the edges run and things become gray.
5. If you were stuck on an island, what book would you hope to have with you (Let's pretend the Bible is already there, so you can't say that.) It would have to be a Beth Moore.  With that and the Bible I would be set.
6. What are you most afraid of?  Falling...and not like down....falling from a great height.  I tried to overcome it one year by doing a hang gliding (suicidal) drop.  It did not work.  I told God on the way down if he would allow me to live to touch the ground...I would never try this again. I have lived up to my promise.
7. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones? Wow....this is where my mom is right now.  This is Altzheimers Disease....or you are watching 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.  I would love to always keep my old memories....for therein lies who I am....but the thought of not making new ones is sad....therein lies who I will become.  I DON'T WANT TO LOSE ANY OF THEM!
8. Pretend I'm looking at a scrapbook page about you. There are three spaces for you to drop in individual pictures. What are those pictures of, and why did you select them?  One of me as a child (what will I be?  This would show a beginning place), High School graduation (Oh happy day - the day I set out in the world), and then one of me now(see what I have become)
9. If you were re-doing your wedding, what would you do differently? (If you're single, tell me one thing you would do if you were planning a wedding OR huge party.)  Most people would think I would say....not have a first weddding....but I won't...cause without my first one....I would not have my absolutely awesome daughter.  I am fortunate in a way though.  I had a chance to do re-do.  Wedding one...husband one...sweet day in a small country United Methodist snowed...we were broke....went to Franklin,GA for our honeymoon and stayed at the Chattahootchee Motel...the only thing I would that blasted green sherbet punch.  I hate that frothy stuff.  Wedding two - huband two...was perfect.  We married at the end of our Praise and Worship Service....we invited a few special people...but for the most part...the congregation was just unsuspecting attenders of the service.  When the time came for people to join the church....we met in the front and got married.  I had sung on stage...and Frank had run the sound the whole service from upstairs.  My friends put together a wonderful reception....and it was just perfect.  I would not change a thing!
10. Tell me one thing you know/believe about forgiveness.  I believe that I am a forgiven Child of God....and because I am....I need to practice forgiveness with others.  I struggle with forgiveness...I find it hard to forgive myself sometimes...even after God has forgiven me.
11. You're waiting in a doctor's office. What is your favorite way to pass that time?  I keep a pad in my purse and I write....I write about the people waiting....I write about whatever goes through my mind, I also read and to people around me....but only if they invite me into their lives.
12. If there were a clone of you in a parallel universe what is one way you hope she/he would be the same as you and one way you hope she/he would be better? I would hope she is a good friend...always there for hers....better...I would hope her self-esteem is higher.
Happy Tuesday to all!  I am off to be interviewed by the SACS (Southern Accredidation of Colleges and Schools) team.  I am a nervous wreck...glad I had Random Dozen today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Takin' Life to the Limits

It was July 12th, a glorious day, and I was packing for my newest adventure. Today I was going white water rafting on the Deschutes River(Rivière des Chutes, or "River of the Falls) in Oregon. It was just going to be a little overnighter, yet the apprehension I felt was almost nauseating. The songs of the musical, The Man of La Mancha, would not leave my head as I continued to fill my L.L. Bean backpack with a change of clothes, some sweats, and other essentials I felt I would need. My camera and my journal topped the pack and I walked out of the apartment. I was ready for anything...or was I?  The trip was about four hours and when we arrived at the river bank, I was amused at myself for the earlier queasiness. This river looked harmless enough. I had rafted the Ocoee in North Carolina as a teenager , and it was definitely worse than this. We readied ourselves for the first leg of the adventure. We would load up and raft about ten miles, pull out, and camp for the night. The first leg offered nothing to write home about. The group in the raft had a great deal of fun bonding and challenging other rafts we met as we drifted lazily down the river. Evening came quickly and soon it was time to set up a campsite before the best ones were taken. The place we chose had a heady smell of sage. I stood and felt the remnants of the sun burn it’s image on my chapped face and inhaled the fragrance. We set up our tents and began supper preparation. there would be no campfire tonight...just a Coleman stove and lantern. This was a high risk fire area. the supper detail fixed burritos, avocado dip, and tostidos for our meal. We all were ravenous and ate as if this were to be our last supper. Little did we know that it could possibly be. After supper the clean up detail went to the river’s edge and washed the dishes and packed them away for the next day. We then gathered around the stove, pulled out our guitars, and began to sing. We sang everything from the Eagles to old girl scout songs and finally our guide told us that if we were going to get an early start we needed to call it a night. I was glad. The calluses on my fingers from playing were beginning to throb. We all went to our assigned tents. I lay down and felt the old feelings of claustrophobia close in as we lay there safe within the confines of the tent. I had to get out. It was a beautiful night. I would sleep under the stars. So I quickly and quietly withdrew into the aromatic outdoors. I lay there under the stars, smelled the sage, and sang softly to myself. Diane and Cecilia joined me shortly. The star show was so awesome, and I felt the weight of tiredness tugging at my eyes. I fell into a sound sleep. but sleep would not last long. We were pelted into awakeness by the feel of razor sharp rain drops. A storm had moved into the canyon. We all headed for the van. The three of us slept in the van for the remainder of the night and when the morning light finally reared her head I felt like hell! The pinks and grays of dawn came peeping, July 13th was going to be another beautiful day. You could see no traces of the night storm. Look our Deschutes here I come!!! After a quiet breakfast of hot tea and granola, we closed out camp and headed for the rafts. Our bright yellow raft sat on the shoreline ready and waiting on us. It seemed to be laughing at us, begging us to come out and play again. We named her the Yellow Submarine. Looking back now I can see where that would be a poor choice of words. The crew was an ageless one. all of us had long since seen thirty something. Steve, Diane, Ruth, Cecilia, Clark (the guide), Tia Maria, and I made up this motley crew. The start was fun. We were all natural competitors so we left ahead of the rest. We straddled the yellow raft and away we went. Our first little class two rapid was met with Tia Maria being tossed into the drink. the guide scooped her up, and she was back in the boat safe and sound before any of us knew she had gone. The Box-Car rapids were a class three and the challenge was loads of fun. We all managed to stay dry here. the morning part of the trip had been delightful. We stopped for a lunch of fruit and more granola and continued on. On to the quest ...our goal. Our motto had become, All for one and one for all. Let’s Take it over the edge. Let’s Take it to the limit. The wind was up, and we lost control of our tiny craft. We were catapulted from the raft, and the experience into the bowels of hell began. The last thing I remember was seeing Steve fly through the air and then everything went black for me. I struggled to the surface only to find myself trapped under the raft as it was being sucked down into a maelstrom. Something was holding me down! I emerged in an air pocket of the raft to find a rope around my throat choking the life out of me. I fought with it and finally broke free right before I was sucked down into the maelstrom again. My life as I knew it was passing before my eyes and I felt myself crying...but I didn’t know if I was really crying or just imagining it. I was somewhere between here and unconsciousness. I was filled with sadness at never having the chance to see Kat, my daughter, grown. I was terrified and gagging when suddenly I felt a rock under my feet. I pushed hard against it, and propelled myself against the raft, broke the suction of the maelstrom, and left my would-be grave. I was literally thrown through the air. The people on he bank said if it hadn’t been so frightening it would have been amusing. I looked like a bronco buster that had just been thrown off of a wild horse. I landed in he middle of the raging Deschutes on a slick rock. I dug my fingers in and held on for dear life. I tasted blood but didn’t know where it was coming from. My head hurt, and my left eye was blurred. A kayaker floated out to me and told em to let go and float to him. I thought to myself, IS HE CRAZY?: I wasn’t letting go of Nothing! did he not know where I had just come from? He realized that I was in he kept talking gently to me until I let go and he caught me. Putting the wet remnant of a person in he kayak he took me to shore where the rest of the frightened group waited. I was dizzy and nauseated. I couldn’t stand and as soon as I was helped from the kayak...passed out. Patty came over, revived me, and checked me out. I was pretty banged up, had a concussion, and was in shock. I had to be gotten out and fast. the guides radioed for a rescue unit and waited with me. Everyone wrapped their arms around me to ward off the shock. I remember nothing except that I was cold. The helicopter arrived and I was air lifted to the Dalles and treated for a concussion, cuts, bruises, and shock. the rest of the team finished the course and picked me up at the emergency room. We headed back to Walla Walla. The group had been instructed not to let me see a mirror...just yet. It was a good thing. When I finally did see a mirror I would terrify myself and little children! Quasi Moto and the Gargoyles had nothing on me. I bathed in a warm tub...wearily put on my jammies...and settled down for sleep. The sedative I had been given earlier kicked in and I floated to sleep. Minutes after I closed my eyes the water came back and I was drowning again. I awoke with a loud scream. the rest of the night everytime I closed my eyes the scream would be repeated. My suitemates took turns sitting with me all night. I would have these nightmares for years to come. The next day I could hardly move. I was black and blue all over. I had been fortunate. I lost a tooth, a pair of Ray-Bans, and a good deal of blood, but was still alive. It took about three weeks for me to return to my active self. It took a long time to get over the nightmare and my fear of rapids...if I ever do. Someday I want to return to the Deschutes and this time...this time I will be the victor.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Power of a Pencil

My sweet Frank outdid himself today with his sermon.  I tell him often that whatever sermon he just preached I believe was his best...but today he broke all records.  Todays was truly the best was simple and to the point.  The message was on the Power of the Pencil.  I love to hear him preach.  I don't think I will ever tire of it.  I guess it is a good thing I am a preacher's wife huh? The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. There are 5 things you need to know, he told the pencil, before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.
1 ... You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.
Just like a pencil, in the hand of the right person, can do some amazing things, you can do amazing things if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand.  A pencil can make beautiful drawings in the hand of an artist.  A pencil can craft amazing stories in the hand of a writer.
A pencil can solve the most complex algebraic equations in the hand of a mathematician.  A pencil can sketch the most perfect blueprint in the hand of an architect.  A pencil can write the most touching note in the hands of a loved one. But in the wrong hands, a pencil can become useless or worse, used for the wrong things.
In the hand of a two-year old, a pencil becomes a dangerous toy. The child stares at the pencil adoringly before placing it in his mouth where it can do a lot of harm. In the hand of an enraged fiancé, a pencil becomes a dangerous weapon.  Have you ever been stabbed by one...let me tell hurts!....and if lead breaks off in the can get lead poisoning...which is deadly.
2 ... You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.
Just like a pencil has to be sharpened to become better, you can be sharpened by going through various problems and trials, but it will indeed make you a stronger person.
3 ... You will be able to correct mistakes you will make.
Just like a pencil has an eraser to be able to correct mistakes, you, through the grace of God, can correct mistakes and grow through them.
4 ... The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.
Just like a pencil’s most important part is the lead that’s inside, it’s what’s on the inside of you that’s important. The part of you that makes you who you are is what’s on the inside. It’s not about what’s on the outside. It’s not about the clothes you wear, or how you style your hair. It’s not about your weight or your height. It’s not about your face or your teeth. It’s not about your eyes or your nose. It’s not about how much money you have. It’s not about how popular you are. It’s about what’s on the inside....that is where your heart is...and your heart is who you really are.
5 ... On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.
Just like a pencil’s purpose is to leave its mark, you are to leave your mark wherever you go. No matter what the situation, you must continue to serve God in everything. No matter where you go, you can make a difference. You can leave behind a legacy. You can influence people and do it by just being yourself. You don’t have to fit into the in crowd. You don’t have to give in to the peer pressure. You don’t have to follow everyone else.
The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart. Now, my question for you on this glorious Sunday morning is do you understand?  I know after today...that everytime I look at a pencil...I will remember the power it carries and know that I too have the ability to carry that same power.  Happy Sunday to you all...may yours be blessed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Caturday With a Twist

My students are all the time showing me something they think is of value from You Tube.  I love some of the stuff.  I have watched cats look like they are talking, groups sing, I first saw the Idol singing sensation from the UK on You Tube...because I don't watch American Idol.  I love it.  This week my intern shared one with me called is about Simons Cat and I laughed until I hurt.  This has got to be the funniest thing since my good friend Jeannie always does a Happy Caturday I thought I would follow her lead today and do a Happy Caturday With a Twist.  If you want to see some absolutely priceless cats with quotes then you need to check her out....but...if not....I hope you enjoy the video I chose for you.  It is the Cat-Man-Do one I saw first.  I personally think it is the best...the Fly would have to be my second choice.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Friday's Fave 5

I was reading posts this morning and my dear friend Mary was doing a great neme called Fave 5.  I love Friday so I thought I would check it out and decided to play too.  The original post came from Living to Tell the Story.  It is a great blog so you need to check it out.  Thanks Mary for introducing me to it.  So just what are my five favorite things for today? 

1.  The fact that it is Friday.(and unofficially senior skip day).  When you are this close to the end of the year, senioritis has set in on the students, believe me teachers take cheer in whatever they can. 
2.  Did I mention the fact that it is Friday?  Oh yes, that was number one.  Number two would have to be this wonderful weather.  The only thing wrong with it is that I have been cooped up inside...and the nice weather is outside...and tomorrow...when I am is going to rain!  Still...I have enjoyed sitting on my porch this week after work...and just chilling and soaking in the warmth.
3.  Good friends - My birthday was on the 15th and I have gotten presents all week.  It has been better than Christmas.  Trina gave me a neat wind chime that is made out of wine bottles, I got a gift certificate from Silver to a neat Indian restaurant, I got a beatiful picture (spells out Korb) from my daughter (and it is going to be a blog post next week), I got a lovely silver bracelet from my friend Mary, a spa day from Amanda...I get to go to the Main Event...whooo hooo...., sun catchers from Kayla and Patsy....butterflies...a bracelet/scarf from Maelynn, wind chimes from Deb and Laurie...a Vera Bradley clutch from Cindy and Rita, a cross from Rhonda...and my favorite quote picture from Rita R.  Good friends Rock!
4.  Setting up the altar at the Arbor.  I love to design and set up the altar for the Arbor service.  It is so peaceful and most of the time I don't even cut the overhead lights on.  I just stand there with a little light streaming out from the closet is my time with God.
5.  The azaleas in bloom.  Nothing is prettier....unless it is the hydrangeas when it is their turn.  That is the one thing I am going to miss about this house when we move.  The azaleas are fabulous here.  I am so glad all the flowers in the world don't bloom at the same time.  Life would be so bland.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Granddaddy's Guitar

Granddaddy's Guitar

Round back bent and broken

From years of nightly use.

Inlays missing, dusty,

rusty from  neglect and abuse.

Strings that are still and silent,

out of tune, played no more.

Once a master stroked you,

coerced the sound to soar.
The songs that lie encased,

inside your wooden heart,

These songs were my beginning,

where I got my start.
My grandfather once held you,

just like he once held me.

And when he touched our heart string,

set both our sprits free.
When I hold you now I know,

that I am free to know,

where eagles fly, where mill wheels turn,

where'er I want to go.
Thank you grandpa for this gift,

your favorite guitar.

I'll use it-while I'm here,

and then pass it on again!

Stillmagnolias, the group I sing with wrote a song about my grandfather.  If you would like to hear our music then check out our MySpace page StillMagnoliaslive and hear my group sing.  You might want to check out Flight 307 too.  My ex-husband has given us a plethera of ideas for music.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Random Dozen

Today is Random Dozen Day and my friend Linda over at 2nd cup of Coffee is hosting it.  I loved the questions this week....especially the first one after the NPR report on George Washingtons overdue library.

1. Ever had any run-ins with the "library police?"
Who me?  Never....I was the youngest card carrying member of the Palm Beach County library.  The biggest fine I ever paid was a quarter.

2. Do you have a special organizational plan and place for wrapping paper, gift bags, etc., or do you just purchase whatever you need as you give gifts?  I buy Christmas presents all year and store everything in a gift closet.  I love to find the perfect gift...for the perfect price....what an accomplishment.

3. Have you ever been in (first-hand witness) a natural disaster?  Hurricanes in South Florida....Andrew especially, Opal in Alabama, and numerous tornadoes...but that is what happens when you live in hurricane and tornado prone systems.

4. What's your favorite Barry Manilow song? I Write the Songs and Copa Cabana.  Two seperate genres.

5. What's the best costume you've ever worn? Western saloon girl.

6. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus?  Dictionary

7. What's your favorite breakfast food?  Oatmeal

8. Have you ever purchased anything from an infomercial?  Well duh...and usually sent it back.  How silly is that?

9. Have you ever crawled through a window?  In or out?  I have climbed out a few times as a teen....and in a few times when I locked my keys in the car or house.

10. Do you believe in love at first sight?  Yes, the first time I met my husband....I knew I loved him.

11. How man pairs of jeans do you own?  Two.  We can only wear them on Friday's.

12. If someone were going to bake a cake to honor/represent you, what would it be? (Think creatively, like Duff and Crew on "Ace of Cakes.")  Duff on the Ace of Cakes would be nice...but my friend Deborah....who makes cakes would be my choice.  I love her cakes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sew What!

One of my most favorite memories growing up is sitting at my grandmother's feet while she sewed.  I would gather the small pieces of cloth together and with her dress maker pins make doll clothes for my little clothes pin dolls.  I would take a pen and draw a face on the doll and then color her some hair so you could tell if it was a boy or a girl.  I loved this time.  My grandmother's sewing machine was a pedal machine and the hum of the machine and the creaking of the peddle would eventually lull me to sleep in the piles of cloth on the floor.  I am a white noise kind of girl and sleep quite peacefully with a humming sound playing in my thoughts.  I am still that way....a ceiling fan will put me to sleep in a heartbeat.  But this post is not about white noise, it is about sewing.  My mom sewed too.  I remember when I was small she would get scraps of fabric and make me some of the cutest outfits.  We did not have much money then and she was very thrifty with what she had.  My mom could go to the department store, look at a dress, come home, take a brown paper bag, cut a pattern and produce the outfit.  My mom missed her calling in life.  She should have been a fashion designer.  She was awesome with a needle and thread...just like both of my grandmothers....and then I came along.  I took Home Economics in junior high and it was horribly painful for me.  I just could not measure up to my ancestors where sewing and cooking were concerned....but I tried.  It was one of my first "C's" in school.  About that time in my life....Villager dresses became the latest style and fad....they were shirtwaist dresses made out of pastel kettle cloth...and I wanted one.  We were still my mom....not missing a beat went to Burdines, looked at the dress, came home and produced one that looked just like it....tucks in the front and all.  It was identical....but not to me.  It was a second.  Where the little tag went that said Villager in the original dress...mine had a little tag that said Made with Love by Wilma.  I was mortified.  Kids can be so cruel....and the upper crust kids of my school made fun of my dress and called me a ragamuffin.  I thought I would die.  I hated those dresses because they caused me extreme pain during phys. ed at school.  I never told my mom that....I just told her I did not want the dresses anymore....and believe me...I had one in every color of kettle cloth there was.  I continued to wear least when I left the house....I would have a change of clothes in my purse...and change at my friends house before getting on the bus.  When we got home I would change back.  My mom was none the worse for wear...she never knew.  I went to work for Burdines when I was 16.  My first purchase was going to be a real Villager dress.  Know wasn't.  After I had worked so hard for that check....I just could not spend it all on just a dress.....sooooo....I developed my first compulsion.  I bought shoes!  LOL....I eventually worked in the shoe department of Burdines and shoes became my life's blood.  I could not wait for a new shipment to come in....oh I didn't buy NEW shoes...I would buy the ones on the sale rack.  I learned...I could have two...and sometimes three for what one cost.  Valuable lesson.  I had some of the best looking shoes at school and my friends were envious.  This story takes a funny twist....because when I had my first child....I bloomed as a seamstress.  I loved making cute little things for Kat.  I smocked, did french hand-sewing, candlewicking, I loved anything that involved a needle and thread.  Where was this girl when I was in junior high and needed to pass Home Ec.?  I was an adult now...and I  learned the cost of those Villager dresses.  I discovered just how much love went into each and every one of those shirtwaist dresses my mother made for me.  I actually apologized to my mom one day out of the blue.  I simply said, "I am sorry, Mom."  She asked me why and I could not tell her that I was ashamed of the homemade clothes and shouldn't have been...I just told her...for all the times I had hurt her when I was growing up....she smiled and hugged me tightly.  Today, I would love to have one of those dresses....the blue one was my favorite.  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Just Messing Around

I love bluebirds....but I usually like real ones....that is until this weekend when I was scoping out the new stuff at Longleaf Antique Mall.  I had taken some stuff up there to spruce up my booth and as always, walked through the store at a clip just to see what has been added by other venders.  Imagine my surprise when I rounded the last  corner and there it was.  The cutest casserole dish I have ever seen in my life.  I fell in love with it right then and there.....not so much for me...but for a friend of mine who is a bird fanatic.  I snapped a quick pic with my phone and sent it to her to see if she had one of these....and instantly received a message from her saying...get it.  I love it when a plan comes together....don't you?....and you have to admit that this is one cute piece.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Not As Easy As It Looks

Frank, my husband, preached one of his best sermons today.  He started out with a story that Garrison Keillor, from Prairie Home Companion tells.  I love NPR and Prairie Home Companion.  Garrison Keillor has such a dry wit.  He entertained us for 19 days on our Pacific Northwest Vacation.  Everywhere we stopped we would find another book on tape so we could hear more of his tales.  I love storytellers...and I think that is why I love Books on Tape so much.  Argh!  I am getting off point here...the story that I loved the most was about a man who was trying to cross the street. As he steps off the curb a car comes screaming around the corner and heads straight for him. The man walks faster, trying to hurry across the street, but the car changes lanes and is still coming at him. So the guy turns around to go back, but the car changes lanes again and is still coming at him. By now, the car is so close and the man so scared that he just freezes and stops in the middle of the road. The car gets real close, then swerves at the last possible moment and screeches to a halt right next him. The driver rolls down the window. The driver is a squirrel. The squirrel says to the man, "See, it’s not as easy as it looks, is it?"  So many times in life we talk about things other people we would have done it differently...and how easy the answer seemed....but...unless we have walked in that person's moccassins...we truly don't know how easy or hard something is.  So signing off for Sunday with my most favorite Garrison Keillor quote, "Goodbye from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How You Live

Today was Melissa's is not quite what it was.  Today was a celebration of Melissa's life.  As I told you earlier this week she was one in a million.  This special young lady had the driest of wits, a smile as big as all outdoors, loved deeply, was a daddy's girl, was her brother's best friend, a true friend to her friends....and while I sat there at the funeral with Kat and Brian and my good friend Carolyn I thought to myself...this is what I want.  This is what kind of person I want to be remembered as when my time comes.  The music played prior to Melissa's funeral was not your traditional was Free Falling, and How You Live.  The music during the funeral was I Can Only Imagine(sung by her former music minister) and How Great is Our God (sung by Laela Syphurs....a high school friend). The words spoken were powerful and when we left...we all left with a challenge to live our lives to the fullest....just like Meliisa did.  We loved Melissa and she will be sorely missed.  She was one of those students who will never be forgotten.  While she walked on this earth...she left some mighty big footprints for us all to follow in.  I will do my best not to let her down.
How You Live Lyrics...if you don't want to watch the video the words, they are the message.
Verse 1:
Wake up to the sunlight
With your windows open
Don't hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress
Use your good dishes
Make a big mess and make lots of wishes
Have what you want
But want what you have
And don't spend your life lookin' back
Turn up the music, turn it up loud 
Take a few chances , let it all out
You won't regret it.  Lookin' back from where you have been 
Cuz it's not who you knew, and it's not what you did. It's how you live. 
Verse 2:
So go to the ballgames
And go to the ballet
And go see your folks more than just on the holidays
Kiss all your children
Dance with your wife
Tell your husband you love him every night
Don't run from the truth
'Cause you can't get away
Just face it and you'll be okay
Oh wherever you are and wherever you've been
Now is the time to begin
Verse 3:
So give to the needy
And pray for the grieving
E'en when you don't think that you can
'Cause all that you do is bound to come back to you
So think of your fellow man
Make peace with God and make peace with yourself
'Cause in the end there's nobody else

'Cause it's not who you knew

And it's not what you did

It's how you live

Friday, April 16, 2010

Loachapoaka, AL and the Syrup Sopping

Every fall in Loachapoaka (pronounced:  Loach uh poke uh), AL they hold the annual syrup soppin'.  I had never been to one of these until a couple of years ago and it is quite an event. My friend Mary, her husband Bill and her little grandsons, Caiden and Devin, went with us last year.  Caiden had his first horseback ride.  It was not your traditional horseback ride it was on a horse making syrup.  What an event....but what is it about Loachapoaka that fascinates me.  Well, Loachapoka was a Creek Indian (and I am part Creek) town for some decades prior to white settlement. In the last census prior to the Native removal to Oklahoma, Loachapoka was found to have a population of 564. Upon settlement by Euro-Americans, Loachapoka was temporarily renamed Ball's Fork and it became the regional trade center, a position that was reinforced in 1845 when it became the eastern-most point on the railroad to Montgomery. Loachapoka's influence peaked in the early 1870s, when her population reached nearly 1,300. Within a few years, a collapse of trade due to the Panic of 1873 and additional rail lines in the area sent Loachapoka into economic decline. Loachapoka roughly stabilized as a small farming community by the mid-1900s, and by the early 2000s had become a very very small-town suburb of Auburn. To show you just how small I am talking of the census of 2000, there were only 165 people, 69 households, and 46 families residing in the town.  I don't know about you....but I lived in rural Alabama....and our town has over 20,000.  The thing that makes Loachapoka famous is that it is home to the annual Syrup Sopping Day. A historical fair and celebration of making syrup in traditional methods from sorghum and ribbon cane, Syrup Sopping Day attracts more than 20,000 people to Loachapoka annually.  Artists, musicians, local bands, crafters, all gather and show their wares.  It is so much fun.  The Lee County Historical Society Museum is located in an 1845 general store in the Loachapoka historic district, which, by the way is totally active with reenactments of how things were done in early times. 
Fred's Feed and Seed is not in operation except on Syrup day....inside there you can find some really interesting farm relics and other stuff. I love looking at old old places...and this place sure does not let you down. The smell of the old feed and seed place....permeates your nostrils from the moment you step in the door.  It is amazing just seeing all the people who have come to visit, eat a biscuit, buy some syrup, look at crafts, listen to the music.  If you are a history buff, love  ribbon cane( if you want to read more about it) and sorgham syrup (yuck...maple girl here), or just love checking out old towns then you need to make plans to attend the Loachapoaka Syrup Days in October. It is definitely a great day for all...and the biscuits and fried apple pies are to die for.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Walk to Remember - Down Memory Lane

April 15th, 1954, 56 years ago I was born.  My parents, Fred and Wilma (yep..that is really their names) were 25 and 29 on that day.  I was named Karen Leigh Sasser.  My godmother, Frances was delighted with my name after hearing some of the names my mother was debating over.  My dad had just celebrated his birthday the day before the big event.  I spent my first three years in a basement apartment owned by Ethyl Berry.  She was like my grandmother and I adored her.  We lived there until my brother Dougie was one and then we moved into the house next door to the apartment.  I was not quite four.  We lived there on Georgia Avenue, right across the street from what was then Palm Beach High School.  It was a perfect place to be a child.  There was a bakery on one end of the block and a candy store/snack bar at the other end.  My church was a block behind our house.  The bus stopped on both ends of the block.  I loved life there. 

When I was young music was very important to me. That has not changed a whole lot in the past 56 years. I got my first guitar when I was not quite 4. It was not much of one but I loved it.This picture was made in the basement apartment.  It was not much of an apartment, by today's standards...but I can assure you there was a lot of love in that tiny two bedroom, one bath apartment....a lot of love.  My dad was in apprenticeship school then and we had one car...can you believe that?  One car?  It was a 1940 something chevy...yucky green colored.  It had to be rolled down the hill to start sometimes. My dad was a great electrician...he was never much of a mechanic.  He used to say he was a jack of all trades - master of none...but that was not true...he was a Master Electrician....and Dad.
From Georgia Avenue we moved to El Prado in the Vedado Park neighborhood.  It was there that I attended Belvedere Elementary School, Conniston Junior High, and Forest Hill High School.  It was there that I made my first children friends.  Dougie and I were the only kids on Georgia Avenue.  El Prado brought Carol, Susan, Kathy and a whole host of other kids into my life.  Life was good on El Prado until January 5th, 1963.  My brother died just 16 days shy of his 6th birthday.  When I look back at these old pictures I see a ragamuffin little girl.  I was such a tom boy and really hated wearing dresses.  My mom was an excellent seamstress and made the majority of my clothes.  What I would not give to have THAT mom back again.  The material was some she had bought on a visit to my grandparents in Alexander City.  It came from the Avondale Mill Store.  It was called seconds because there was a flaw somewhere in the fabric.  I remember one dress she made for me that had a foot print on the underside of the fabric.  It was amazing what she could do with a needle and some thread.  By now my dad was working for Arrow Electric.  He was a Union man....with the IBEW(International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.)  I lived and breathed for that Arrow Suburban to come down our street.

When I was in the sixth grade I was a school safety patrol and got to go to Washington, DC.  It was the biggest event of my life, at that point.  Carol also got to go.  We were roommates at the Shoreham Hotel during our stay there.  Can you believe that the two of us are only 6 months apart in age?  I was 5'5 in the 6th grade...and never grew another inch.  Carol was not even 5 foot at the time.  We looked like Mutt and Jeff don't you think?  This picture was made in front of her house.  How do I remember this?  She had a sidewalk....we didn't.  Carol and I both played guitars back in the day.  When we were in elementary school we dressed up like the Beatles one year for the Halloween parade.  We were awesome.  We also made guitars before we had real ones and would put on shows for our parents.  We sang together as teens with New Dawn and were dubbed the Hick Duet when we performed our first duet in church...the song..."Put Your Hand in the Hand."  I have never sung that song again...and blush anytime I hear it.  Larry Bergstrom, Kenny Bergstrom, and Jim Warren made so much fun of us that night.  It is a wonder I ever sang in public again....but I did.   

We graduated from Forest Hill in 1972. I drove a 1968 Plymouth Satellite (lovingly dubbed the Sasserlite).  It was fire engine red, had white leather seats, had a 383 engine in it, Krager mags and knock off spinners.  I loved the beach.  Carol King's song had just hit number one - "You've Got a Friend." I loved singing with Carol King and Karen Carpenter. I wanted to be just like them.  We went on to attend Palm Beach Junior College (dubbed Peanut Butter and Jelly College). I wanted to be like Shirley Muldowney and drive drag racers then.  My dad and I would go to the drag races on Friday nights....that is until I got a drivers license. 

Kathy Duck, Donna McAdams, Carol and I on her wedding day.  I sang at her wedding in 1975.  She has been married for 35 years.  That is astounding in today's world.  Don't you love the dresses....very 70's don't you think?  Carol was a beautiful bride. We all went our separate ways over the years.  Carol is really the only one of these four that I kept up with.  I moved to Alabama...and my life took a different road.  I have carried them in my heart though...all these years.  I have often wondered where the other two are and what they became.  I sang at most of my friends weddings.  I even sang at Chuck and Susan's wedding...but that is a story all to itself.  I will have to tell you one day.

Me, Carol and Susan at one of our high school class reunions.  I have 56 years of some of the best memories ever with these two girls.  Susan and her husband Chuck live in Knoxville, TN and we are still as thick as thieves.  When we are does not matter how long it has been since we have been together...we pick up right where we left off.  She is Kat's godmother.  Carol and her husband Jeff retired this year and moved to Summerville, SC.  We have also kept in touch all these matter where she lived.  She does not look any different from the day we met.  She always had the greatest smile.  I have been blessed to have them as friends all these years.

Time has marched on.  I have traveled the world.  I have earned a Masters Degree.  I have done many of the things I have wanted to do in my life, I have lived so I would have no regrets.  I have loved most everything about the 56 years I have been given on this earth.  I am blessed.  Today, on my birthday I just felt like taking a stroll down memory lane with you...those of you who know me...know most of this....those of you who have just met me....will see a side of me you have never seen.  This is Karen...unplugged...doing what I love to do most....enjoying life.

On my 55th birthday last year the group I sing with, Still Magnolias, opened for George Jones.  How cool is that.  If you don't know who he is....he is a Country Music legend....sleezy...but a legend just the same and I opened for him.  Life just keeps getting better and better.  Although this year has been a hard one...I survived.  I can't believe a whole year has passed and now I am looking at another year blessed I have been.  I have such good friends and two wonderful daughters.  I am the luckiest person alive I believe.  I have not always made the best decisions and life has not always been perfect.  Heck!  It has been a far cry from a bowl of cherries....but I get out of those pits and move on quickly I can assure  you.
So here I am the ripe age of 56.  What does life hold for me? Only God knows.  I am attending a retirement seminar today....that is not in my far to distant future.  I have enjoyed the first 56 years and cannot wait for what the next half brings.  In the years since I left Florida I have attended Auburn and Auburn at Montgomery, Alabama, and Whitman College in Washington state.  I married a wonderful man, Frank, who is like one of my best friends.  I became a preacher's wife and love that roll. I have made many friends whom I love dearly.  I have a wonderful job at Benjamin Russell High School where I teach.  I sing with Still Magnolias, I travel with Mary, Kat, Debo, and Amanda every chance I get. I sing in the Arbor Praise and Worship band, I bowl on two leagues....I enjoy every moment of life there is...and would not want it any other way.  Happy Birthday to me and I wish you all a wonderful Thursday!  XXOO

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is April 14th, it would have been my dad's 84 birthday....but instead it is a day I am going to remember the special times I had with my dad during my 55(56 tomorrow) year tenure as his daughter. I hope you will bear with me.  You see...I was due on the 14th too.  My dad was working across the state of Florida in Ft. Myers.  He took the day off on the 14th to be there when I made my arrival....alas, nothing happened.  My mom did not even have a twinge...all day.  Now, 55 years ago they were not quite so quick to induce labor so your child could be born on a given day...nope...things were done the old fashioned waited.  Very early in the morning, on April 15th, my dad got up, got dressed, and left for Ft. Myers.  Before he walked out the door, he asked my mom if she was feeling alright.  She told him she had never felt better. ( we would know that as a warning sign, especially when she got up and began cleaning the apartment.)  We only had one car back in those days....and my dad was in it.  At 8:00 a.m., my mom had to call a cab, her water had just broken.  My dad had just arrived on his job site in Ft. Myer.  The taxi came, saw my mom and was a bit seems that just the week before he had made the paper because he had delivered a baby in the very same backseat my mom was sitting in.  Would the fates be that cruel again?  My mom assured him she was just going to visit a friend in the hospital....and would he drop her off at the emergency she did not have to climb the stairs.  He was so sweet....and after I was born....sent my mom a blanket for me.  My dad on the other hand...who had driven all the way to Ft. Myers....turned around and headed home.  I was born shortly after he arrived.  He told me from the moment he held me and I wrapped my hand around his finger....I also wrapped my hand around his heart.  He and I were one.  Kids are like that....yeah we are!  Today is especially tough for me so if you don't mind would you keep me in your prayers today.  This is the first birthday that my dad and I haven't celebrated since 1954....and I am struggling.  This day will pass...I know that....and next year will be easier.  God bless you all today!  Hug your daddys if you can....if not just hug someone.  It might be the only hug they get all day!

Can I Be Randomly Random With You?

This week my friend over at 2nd Cup of Coffee listed her Random questions and I was not going to participate this week....but after thinking about it a while...just could not resist.  So enjoy my responses.

1. How do you feel about "Gladiator" sandals, also called "Roman" or "Jesus" sandals? A fashion yea or nay?  I have a pair, they are Nine Wests and look very good on my foot.  They do not run up my calf or anything weird, they are just simple and look fine on me.  I say if you can pull them off....wear them.  I did see a lady at Walmart last week...with the ones that lace up the calf...she had large calves and cankles...for her...NO!  Come on people look at yourself in the mirror.

2. What is your favorite pizza?  Supreme...hold the anchovies.  I am not a huge pizza fan.  I love Mellow Mushroom, CiCi's, Shakey's.  I just don't want it on a regular basis.

3. There are plans in the works to sell roughly 1,000 items from Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas. This means you could buy Picard's chair for your family room. If not a Star Trek item, what prop, background, set, etc. from what TV or movie would you buy if you could?  Gibbs car in is a flash from the past.  I would actually settle for his coffee cup, or unfinished boat.

4. Name a local food or restaurant that your area is famous for. In Alexander City, AL it would have to be Cecil's Public House.  They are listed on the 100 places to eat before you die registry for Alabama....noted for their blackened catfish and it is awesome.  If you are ever down this way and get there...tell Stacey that Karen sent you.  Who might get a free one of her to die for desserts.

5. What is your current favorite snack? cranraisins

6. Hypothetical: You are required to be a reality show contestant. Which show would you choose based on your probability of success? (You cannot choose "none.") Why can't I chose none?  I would not ever want to be on a reality show...but if I had would have to be a singing one (I can do that)....or Amazing husband would be thrilled.  I don't Dance....I am NOT going to be seen in a spandex anything...and I have never liked Amazing Race it is!

7. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being uninhabitable and 10 being cleanliness that meets the standards of OCD, how clean is your vehicle's interior?  Definitely not a 10, I live out of my car...especially since Frank preaches at Waverly...and I am not home Monday - Thursday evenings due to bowling, band, biblestudy....but it is not a 1 either...maybe a 5 or 6.

8. It doesn't feel like Spring until I am wearing flip flops.

9. Something that made you laugh really hard recently is the shananigans of the girls at bowling last night.

10. Tell me about a goal you're working toward.  I am working toward retirement.  I want to retire from the school system and then manage a bookstore/bakery somewhere...the kind where you go in, get a book, read it on one of the overstuffed couches, drink coffee, maybe buy a book, and spend hours.

11. Share a thought-provoking or inspiring quote this week. 'Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away'

12. Name one thing that you do as a parent that you absolutely know will make your kids happy. If you're not a parent, feel free to substitute "friend" or nomenclature that works for you. Love them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Memory of Melissa

My former student, Melissa Spicer died yesterday at 3:00 p.m. at the Bethany House in Opelika, in the same place and room where my aunt spent her final days.  Melissa was such a joy to all she met and I just thought today I would change my post idea and do a small memorial for her.  The picture you see is exactly what she was.  She was a happy person.  I can't say that I ever knew her to say anything down or negative....ever.  She came into my life....and I was supposed to touch her life and teach her...but when it was all said and done...she touched my life and taught me.  These kinds of students don't come along often...and when they do...they make teaching worthwhile.  Thank you Melissa for touching my life during your short walk on earth.

4/15/79 - 4/12/2010

"When I am gone, release me, let me go

I have so many things to see and do

You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears

Be happy that we had so many years.

I gave you my love, you can only guess

How much you gave to me in happiness

I thank you for the love you each have shown

But now it's time I traveled on alone.

So grieve a while for me if grieve you must

Then let your grief be comforted by trust

It's only for a while that we must part

So bless the memories within your heart.

I won't be far away, for life goes on

So if you need me, call me and I will come

Though you can't see me or touch me I'll be near

All of my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone

I'll greet you with a smile and say"

"Welcome Home"

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Banana Pudding Bandit Strikes Again

My Uncle Cecil is the older man with glasses on the back row.  The people around him are his family.  He and my Aunt Gloria raised three boys whom I love dearly.  Barry - far right back row is a year older than I am.  Jerry -squatting is the oldest, Rob -far back left is the baby.  They lived in Florida too and so they were my only local extended family.  I loved my Uncle Cecil...he was a great storyteller.  Most people thought he was a B.S. artist....but he was not...he was an awesome storyteller.  He taught Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at the area Trade School.  He wrote poetry.  He hunted, fished, watched roller derbies and wrestling on tv.  He was a man's man....yet I adored him.  Several years ago when I took a writing class at Auburn during the summer I penned a little ditty about this wonderful man. 

Uncle Cecil

The smell of ‘nana pudding met me at the door

I knew my uncle would be there when I opened the front door.

There he’d sit just smiling, grinning from ear to ear

He lived in Lake Park but pudding always brought him here.

“Your mama’s quite a woman girl. She makes this pudding right.”

And he’d always show up at our door on banana pudding night.

We were just a small group – momma, daddy, me.

Uncle Cecil was a pudding lover and seconds there’d never be.

“Do you call him Momma? Is that how he always knows?”

She’d laugh and say, “no darling, he just has a banana pudding nose.”

“Can’t Aunt Gloria make it? Teach her and you will see.”

“He’ll eat pudding at his house and leave some seconds for me.”

Gloria never mastered my mother’s heavenly dish.

Seconds always went to Cecil – I never had my wish.

My momma made a pudding for my uncle’s funeral last year.

We all ate just one portion…and I think the reason’s clear.

Happy Monday to all!  I hope you enjoyed my small recollection of my childhood!  Do you have someone special in your life who has touched you? Blog about them...I'd love to get to know your family too!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Memories of Times Past in West Palm Beach

The Hut was an iconic West Palm Beach diner.  The picture is just as it appeared in a Saturday Evening Post photo from June 1946.  I loved this place.  I grew up just a few blocks from it and it was THE place to go after a day at the beach, or a trip downtown.  When I returned to West Palm Beach several years after I had gone away to college I was saddened to see it had been torn down due to expansion.  Sigh...oh well, "to everything there is a season" and I am glad the Hut was during mine. My childhood in West Palm Beach was during the golden years.  It was a time when kids still played outside until dark, you walked to neighborhood schools, you could ride your bike to the beach, you had rootbeer floats at the A & W rootbeer stand.  We did a lot of our shopping at the Palm Coast Plaza, especially at Christmas time and it was so exciting seeing all the people there and the decorations.  My favorite jewelry store was The Reef Gift Shop.  My very first charm bracelet and charm came from there and I thought I had arrived. Toy King, Murphy’s, Woolworth’s, Jackson Byrons were happening places back in the day. As whole families we would all go to the  Skydrome drive-in on Friday or Saturday night.  It only cost a few dollars for the entire car to go in.  Before I left West Palm the days of the drive-in were over and it had become a Saturday-Sunday flea market. I remember buying my school supplies at H.R. Davis' 5 & 10, eating breakfast at the Ranch Restaurant or Howlies on Saturday mornings as a treat.  I remember shopping at Fountains on Lake Ave, Burdines downtown,  and I remember when The Palm Beach Mall opened.  It was the very first one I had ever seen in my life and I thought we had arrived.  The first week it was opened my parents and I went to the mall and my dad danced across the little bridge in front Jordan Marshs(one of the flagship stores) with my mom to the Teaberry Shuffle.  I was mortified then...I give anything just to see my dad dancing with my mom today. My dad loved to fish and I remember fishing off the Southern Blvd. bridge and catching my first snook.  It took both my dad and I to reel that bad boy in.  I also remember Lake Okechobee and Lake Osborne and catching some of the largest bass I had ever caught in the deep dredged out holes in the north end. I also remember catching a shoe in Lake Clarke.  My dad laughed til he cried.  I remember taking airboat rides in the Everglades, I remember Topfers BBQ.  OMG that place was to die for.  It was a little hole in the wall place right across from Sears on Olive. She had three levels of heat sauces...mild, wicked and burny burny.  That was my dad's favorite.  We would get ribs and they would melt off the bone right into your mouth.  I attended my first concert at the Civic Center which was called the Leaky Teepee...because it looked like a teepee...and lord did it leak.  I grew and blossomed in Vedado Park, attended Belvedere Elementary, Conniston Jr. High, and Forest Hill High School.  Started my college days with my friends at Palm Beach Junior College.  I learned to surf at Juno beach. I saw movies at the Florida Theater downtown (that is where I fell in love with Elvis in Roustabout) and the Capri, which was right across the street.  I read books at the Palm Beach County Library, I swam at Lido pool in Lake Worth, I went to the beach in Palm Beach, I saw the constellations and Caroline Kennedy's kangaroo at Dreher Park.  One day...I grew up and left...and when I returned...most of it was gone.  The area of town I felt safe and loved in was now kind of slummy.  Everyone moved out past Military Trail (an area we thought of as country).  Now it takes an hour to get to the beach....or what is left of it.  The saying you can never go home does apply to me.  Physically I can return to the place I grew up....but nothing that I remember is there anymore....even the house I grew up in....that neighborhood is part of FAU's(Florida Atlantic Univeristy) sport practice field....sigh...time marches on.  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mallory Square - A Tiny Piece of Heaven on Earth

This is my favorite place on earth, Mallory Square in Key West, FL.  I am a true Florida Native.  I was born there 55 (six days shy of 56) years ago at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, FL.  As I was growing up when most everybody else(from up north) was heading to Panama City, Ft Walton and Destin, my friends and I were headed to the Keys.  I have sailed there, snorkeled in some of the most beautiful waters ever, eaten conch fritters and key lime pie(both local delicasies), stood 90 miles off the coast of Cuba, bicycled and shopped down Duvall Street, road the Conch Train, toured Hemingways house and watched the sunset at Mallory Square while street entertainers performed.  I have seen some of the best mimes ever (and I have been to Paris so I know).   Two former students, Rexton Lee (country singer from Nashville now) and Richard Forehand (rock and roller at Auburn and awesome guitarist) were told that when I died I wanted to cremated and my ashes strewn from the deck of a sail boat off Mallory Square at sunset while they played and sang the Kansas song, "Dust in the Wind."  They promised and so when I am 100 and they are in their 70's I plan to hold them to that one.  If they don't...I will haunt them forever!  It is funny what crosses our minds sometimes.  Enjoy the view...and if you ever have a chance to drop down to the truly is heaven on earth.  Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Favorite - Children's Harbor

One of my favorite places in the Alexander City/Lake Martin areas is Children's Harbor. So you are all probably asking yourselves...just what is a Chidren's Harbor?  Well, Children's Harbor is a non-profit organization that provides free and confidential counseling and support services to children with long-term serious illnesses as well as to their families. They  provide camping and retreat facilities for these children and families as well as for other children with special needs. The Harbor was officially dedicated in 1990 to the memory of Adelia M. Russell, the mother of Ben Russell. Their mission has always been simple: strengthening children and families and believe me that is exactly what they do.  This place is amazing and I love it. It is also used for other the Sarah Towery Art Colony....artists come and paint for several days.  There are marriage retreats there, work related trust building seminars, church picnics, even...this year....the BRHS prom!  Now that is a first, but there is a new conference center so Mrs. Tate and her prom parents arranged for the Junior/Senior prom to be there.  How cool is that?  Definitely a far cry from the gym.  Anyways, I am digressing here. The icon of Children's Harbor is a replica of the Plymouth Lighthouse which is located on Providence Point at the Lake Martin campus.  I think that is probably one of my favorite reasons to love this place...I love that lighthouse.  For them it symbolizes their goal of helping children and families find their way through the treacherous waters in which they sometimes find themselves....and it pretty much symbolizes that same thing for me.  I love it during the day, I love it during storms, I love it at night.  Sometimes when I am restless or searching I will drive down there and just sit and stare out at the water and it gives me peace realizing how big God truly is. Once you see Children's Harbor you will understand why I am crazy about this place.  The campus near me is 15 miles south of Alexander City, Alabama, on Highway 63.  When you cross the Kawliga bridge and look to the left you will see the most picturesque New England seaside village motif and the Plymouth Lighthouse.  Right there in the middle of all that charm and simplicity sits the most precious little early American church.  It is called Children's Chapel. It is a favorite place for weddings I can assure you.  It is the most charming place on earth, in my opinion.  This lake area is also the setting for Church in the Pines, Harbor House, Mariners' Adventure Camp, Mariners' Adventure Course, Mariners' Retreat Center (Concord and Salem Cottages), Time Capsule Park and the administrative headquarters. The primary effort is centered around the Children's Harbor Family Center at Children's Hospital. The Family Center, located at 1600 6th Avenue South, Suite 200.  It is a collaborative effort with Children's Hospital of Alabama and provides free counseling to children with long-term serious illnesses and their families. This counseling is provided by caring and dedicated masters-level counselors, social workers and educators. Each year, with the kickoff of summer, my friend Karen Kison puts on a series of camps the last week in May and first couple of weeks in June.  These camps are for burn victims and their siblings.  They have almost a whole week of complete camp.  For one solid week they get to act like kids.  Oh, the medical staff is there....doctors, nurses, therapists (who all give up a week of their jobs to do this for free)...but they dress like camp counselors for this week.....not medical personnel.  One week is the cancer camp....I usually try and volunteer for one or both of these camps.  I have cooked and served for them many times, sung for them, danced the Mexican hat dance for them, hugged them...and you know I came away a little better person than I was going in.  I can't tell you enough how much I love this place and if you ever find yourself riding down Hwy 63 from Alexander City...when you cross the bridge...look to the left.  You will never be the same.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dancing Queens

In 2006, my best friend Mary and my daughter Kat and I were part of a group that went to Italy.  We took some high school seniors with us for 9, count them 9, glorious days and nights in Italy.  The tour was called Bella Italia and believe me it was all that and more. There is something about sharing Italy for the first time with two people you love.  Kat is like a sponge and absorbs everything she comes in contact with, Italy was no exception.  Before we left she had gone online and learned some important Italian phrases....I, on the other hand, figured I could bluff my way through using Spanish....and it worked....but by the time we left Kat's command of the Italian language was impressive.  We stopped one night in Rome and while we were out and about came upon a street dance.  It was complete with artists, music, mimes, the whole nine yards and the next thing I knew I was standing in the crowd clapping as my daughter and her other mother were dancing with the revelers in the middle of the street.  I loved it and snapped a quick pic for future reference....or blackmail.  I don't know how we got seperated from the rest of the group for a few hours....but it was great fun and I loved experiencing Italy Italian style...everyone should do it sometime.  If you have never been to Europe....especially Italy you should go.  Who knows...maybe you will be the next dancing queen!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Random Dozen Wednesday

My friend Sweet Tea has been linking up to 2nd Cup of Coffee for a while on Wednesdays and doing these Random Dozen.  I have really enjoyed reading hers and thought today I would do one too since I liked the questions.  If you like mine check out the other links too.  They are truly insightful and funny.  Happy reading!

1. Define a great relationship.  Open, honest, loving, sharing, together, liking,

2. Why is it called a "drive-through" if you have to stop? (Real question: What was the last food/drink you purchased at a drive-through?) Busted!  Jr. Whopper combo last Tuesday night on my way to bowling.

3. As I type this, the Butler Bulldogs are getting ready to play in the NCAA championship game. Every Hoosier is hysterical about this except me. So in honor of the Bulldogs ... what is your favorite breed of dog? (I tried.)  Dachsund.  I have one spoiled rotten one who gives me the pleasure of residing in his house, sleeping in his bed, eating food that was meant to be his.

4. If you had to move to a state besides the one you currently live in, where would you move?  Tennessee...but you know I have learned in life...the grass is never greener on the other just appears that way.

5. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?  I would not be the first child!  I would wait and let the new first child get all the rules ironed out!

6. Who's the funniest person you know?  Frank's brother Bill.  He reminds me so much of Jeff Foxworthy.  I can hardly wait to be around him and hear his stories of living abroad....there is nothing funnier than a southern somewhere like...Italy.

7. Did you get enough sleep last night?  What is enough?  To sleep or not to sleep...that is the question....and probably.  I got more sleep than the night before...less than Saturday night.

8. What's the first thing you thought about this morning?  Thank you God for another day!

9. Grilled or Fried? --HONESTLY...I am a grilled freak.  I love foods cooked on a grill...and have tried grilling just about everything....and honestly...some things are just not made for grilling.

10. Are you afraid of the dark?  Are we talking...dark...or total dark?  At  I wander all over the house at night in the dark and never worry.  At DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg...when we were in that cave and they cut all the lights off and I could not see my hand in front of my can bet your sweet behind I was scared beyond my wildest dreams.

11.When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  A surfer, a mommy, a famous singer.  Being a teacher NEVER crossed my mind.  I hated school!  I am living proof that God has a hilarious sense of humor....every single day for the past 24 years I have gotten up and gone to the place that I despised so as a kid...SCHOOL!.....and I can imagine God rolling on the floor laughing!

12. If you had one word to describe yourself , what would you choose?  I hate having to describe myself in any amount of words.  I teach English for goodness sakes...I am a storyteller and writer.....are you trying to drive me completely over the edge with this one word thing....ok .....ok....words out of my system.  Friend!
I hope you all have a Happy Wednesday!