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!”

Monday, February 28, 2011

Here's Your Sign

One of my all time favorite comedians is Bill Engvall.  I became aware of him shortly after the debut of his "Here's Your Sign" album.  I laughed myself silly over that one.  "Here’s Your Sign" was the debut comedy album of Bill Engvall. It was recorded at Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, MI. After years of success doing different comedic acts, Engvall released a CD of his material, including his most famous bit (which his debut album was named after). After peaking within the top-5 on both the Heatseekers and Hot Country Albums charts, as well as the top-50 on the Billboard 200, Engvall saw his career take off as he remains one of the most popular comedians of the past decade.  If you are not aware of the "Here's Your Sign" scenario it is an umbrella term for a recurring setup of Engvall's, in which Engvall describes people who ask questions to which the answers should be obvious, and in the process, Engvall shows these people to be stupid. With the tag, "Here's Your Sign", Engvall then metaphorically gives these people a sign declaring their stupidity as a warning to others interacting with this person.  You got to love it.
1.  My all time favorite one is about a truck driver who gets stuck under a bridge....a state trooper comes up and asks him if he is stuck.   The truck driver is thinking fast and his response is, "No sir, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."  Here is Your Sign! 
2.  My mother actually handed a bank teller at her bank a withdrawal slip for $400.00  She asked for large bills.  The teller looked at her and said "I'm sorry but all our bills are the same size.  Here's Your Sign.
3.  I read about a husband and wife who arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up their car, they were told the keys had been locked in it. They went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver side door. As the woman watched from the passenger side, she instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. 'Hey,' she announced to the technician, 'it's open!' His reply: 'I know. I already got that side.'  Here is Your Sign!
4.  A couple had to have the garage door repaired. The repairman told them that one of their problems was that they did not have a 'large' enough motor on the opener.  The husband thought for a minute, and said that they had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower.  the repairman shook his head and said, 'sir, you need a 1/4 horsepower.' the husband responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4.  The repairman said, 'NO, it's not..' Four is larger than two.' Here is Definitely Your Sign!  Even I can do that math.
5.  A driving aged daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for 'minimal lettuce.'  He said he was sorry, but they only had iceburg lettuce.  Oh come on!  Here's Your Sign!
6.  This one actually happened to me.  I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, 'Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?' To which I sarcastically replied, 'If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?'  He smiled knowingly and nodded, 'That's why we ask.'  Here's Your Sign!
7.  I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the sake of her life, couldn't understand why her system would not turn on.   Here's Your Sign
I hope I brought a little humor to your Monday.  If you are bored and need a little more to laugh at....go and check out Bill Engvall on You Tube.  I promise you it will make your day.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Project 365 - Week 9

It is that time of week again and I am excited about posting my pictures this week.  I can't believe that I have actually stayed with this.  I am beginning to feel like a day without pictures is like a day without sunshine.  I have to admit I have had a ball snapping pictures this week.  If you would like to see some of the other contributions head over to Sara's blog and see some truly amazing photographers in action.

Sunday, February 20th

Sunday I got around to opening mail from Saturday and found a lovely surprise.  There was a card from my blogging friend, Jeannie.  I love her cards and this one was a real treat and surprise.  She makes and sells cards and is currently living in ....get this....Italy.  How cool is that?  Thanks Jeannie for my special prize!  I love it!
Monday, February 21st

Monday I was without a car.  My car was leaking brown stuff and I took it to S & S to see what was wrong.  They had to order a part so I was without a car all day Monday.  As most of you know I spend the night with Mary L. on Monday's and we go to Bible Study....she got caught up in the P365 idea with me and we lucked up on this amazing sunset.  It was made in the cemetary where my dad is buried.  We both loved the lining look of the clouds.  Talk about a message from God.

Tuesday, February 22nd

On Hwy 431 between Roanoke and Ruth is a Tater House.  I have been fascinated by this place since we moved to Roanoke and so Tuesday as Frank and I headed home we stopped and I got it on film.  I don't exactly know what a tater house is....but it is definitely a conversation piece.

Wednesday, February 23rd

This church is on Hwy 22 and I pass it ever day.  I have never seen a sign telling me what church it is....but I love the jut out in the back part of the church...or is that the front?...and the bell in the steeple was actually ringing when I stopped.  I can imagine a pulpit area in the alcove....or perhaps a sweet little choir loft.  I wonder, because of the positioning of the church, if at one time the road ran a different way?  So many questions.  I have a thing about the positioning and fung shei of buildings.  I can't imagine why this church was not built facing the would have been a lot more inviting. 

Thursday, February 24th

Down Hwy 63 South, just a few minutes from Alexander City, AL, is one of the best known monuments of our area....Kowliga, the wooden Indian(song written by Hank Williams while visiting the lake). Kowliga used to sit outside a small store just over the bridge, then at a restaurant next door.  Vandals hurt him several times and he was redone and sits outside of Sinclair's restaurant now and housed in a plexiglass box. 

This is the current bridge.  The weather was getting nasty and you can tell by the aqua color of the water and the gray of the skies.  Just under the bridge is the house that Winton Blount and his family used for many years.  They always put on the greatest firework show on the 4th of July.  Now that is done at the Lake Martin Ampitheater by Russell Lands.

Right across the road from where Kowliga sits is the Church in the Pines.  It is used in the summer for services and the pulpit is filled by visiting pastors or all demoninations.  It is also used in warm weather for weddings.  It is absolutely breathtaking to sit in the pews and see the gorgeous water off to the left.  This is such a peaceful place.

Friday, February 25th
I cross the Tallapoosa River every day on Hwy 22 in Wadley, AL.  I have wanted to get this shot a hundred times but traffic has kept me from stopping.  Friday as I crossed the bridge, the sun was gorgeous and lo and behold there was nothing behind me or coming at me so I stopped right in the middle of the bridge and caught this shot.

Saturday, February 26th

Saturday, Frank and I went to Auburn to meet Kat for lunch.  We were a good bit early and decided to use the time for some photo ops.  The three above pictures are of Toomer's Corner.  The two trees are the ones that made national news in the past few weeks when the disgruntled fan (from a school which shall remain nameless) poisoned the trees.  The trees are dying.  The end of a tradition.  It has been quite sad that some idiot would go so far as to kill two harmless trees.  What saddens me most is that a rivalry got to that point.  It is just a game....or have we forgotten that.

Sanford Hall and one of the most photographed spots on campus.

Before Auburn was was Alabama Poly Technic Institute.  Frank and I found a cornerstone on campus that I did not even know was there.  Beside the cornerstone was a giant lathe that was found buried in the ground and donated to the Institute.  It was quite a history lesson today.

 On our way back to the car I saw this little bird's nest and just had to catch it too.  The sky was so blue today and the sun felt heavenly on my neck and shoulders.

We met Kat, Charlie, Savanna at Laredo's for lunch.  Mr. Charlie was so entertaining at the table.  He is only six months old but has the facial expressions of an adult.  He was delightful.  Thanks Kat for sharing Savannah and Charlie with us.  It was a blast.

When we got home from Auburn we went to the church to do the bulletin and sign for today.  This one is a bit controversial according to thoughts....if it bothers you....then God is saying something to you.
Hope you have a great week and I will see you at the end of week 10 right here on Project 365.  Ciao!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Feel Like I Painted the Town Tonight.....Beige!

Tonight Amanda, Randy, Frank, Kimbel, Patty and her friend went out to dinner in Columbus and then went to the Loft to see some of our friends play.  It has been a long time since I have been to the Loft.  That is actually the place that Still Magnolias got their start.  It was good to be back there again.  Our friends, Stan, Marsha, Rebecca (a Still Magnolia) sang for a little over an hour.  Their set did not begin until 9:30 EST and after an hour I was beat.  I guess I am getting to old. Frank and I left a little before 10 CST and had an 1.5 hour drive home.  Church is tonight I am going to have to paint the town beige.  I was introduced to the world of Robert Earl Keen tonight and although the video clip I am giving you is not the greatest quality....I hope you can see why everyone who sees him loves him.  I hope to see him live soon.  This man is not famous....why?  He has never had a hit.  He sings songs people can relate to...and since it knocking on midnights door....and I  have painted the town beige....I am calling it a night.  See you tomorrow morning with my Project 365 offerings for the week.  Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite cha!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Family Tree for the weirdness of my family.  I told you earlier in the week that I had 96+ cousins.  Well....let me tell you another little ditty.  My mother had two sisters and four brothers.  My mom is the oldest girl.  She had a sister, Jo, who married my uncle John.  Her baby sister is where the tree branch becomes twisted.  You see sister Shirley, married Charlie....and the weirdness began.  Charlie was from a small community outside of  the city where I teach.  His family was a large and well known family in the area.  I was crazy about my Uncle Charlie and as many of you know my Aunt Shirley was like my other mother.  Charlie had a bunch of brothers and twelve.  Charlie's sister Odell had a beautiful daughter, Millie.....and Shirley had a handsome baby brother named Elwin.  The two of them were introduced and fifty years ago they married.  Millie became my aunt.  They had two handsome twin boys named Mike and Mark.  Oh wait!  The story does not end there....although it should.  When I was 19 I moved to Alabama and needed a roommate.  Millie's sister, Lucy, was looking for a roomie so I filled the position.  Lucy became one of my dearest friends.  Lucy and Millie had a brother....Ronnie.  He was divorced with custody of two precious children ages 2 and 3.  Can you guess the ending?  You are correct if you say....Ronnie and I married.  At this point my Uncle Elwin became my brother in law and my cousins, Mike and Mark, became my nephews.  With this union my Aunt Shirley's daughters became my double first cousins.  When Ronnie's oldest daughter began mom's baby brother, Larry, had a son named Alan.  I NEVER encouraged Jeni and Alan's friendship because I was afraid my Uncle Larry would become my step-daughter Jeni's father-in-law.  Is that twisted enough for you.  My precious husband Frank told someone once that if you were in Alex City you would meet someone kin to me.  He was not far off from the truth.  My father's family was a big one too.  He had two sisters and three brothers.  At one point during the year my dad and my Uncle Drew were the same age for a couple of months.  When Kat, my daughter, started dating she found the love of her life....his name is Brian.  His mom is Connie and his father is Darrell.  Kat and Brian, early in their relationship, were going to one of Brian's family reunions.  The reunion was in Goodwater, AL and on the way Brian told Kat that they were going to his Aunt Jeanette's house.  Kat laughed and told him that she had an Aunt Jeanette too and her aunt also lived in Goodwater.  Brian came back with....his Aunt Jeanette was married to his Uncle Drew.  Kat was aghast and told Brian that her Aunt Jeannette was married to her Uncle Drew too....and they had a son named, Mark.  Well...if you have not figured it out by now....the Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Drew were one and the same.  Brian's Jeanette is his mother's aunt.  Kat's Uncle Drew is her mother's uncle.  Whew!  That was a close call. family tree definitely does not branch.  It is a trunk all the way up!  iI used to worry that one day I would be my own grandpa....but that is silly....I am not a guy.  Have you got any good family weirdness you would like to share with me.  I love a good Friday laugh.

P.S.  I have a couple of major prayer requests today.  Please be in prayer for my teacher friend, Don today.  His longtime girlfriend died this morning at 1:40 after a two year bout with cancer.  Also keep my Aunt Millie's family in your prayers.  Her youngest brother, Eddie, died this week.  She has lost two siblings in a year.   

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One Door Closed - Another Door Opened

I truly do believe that when God closes a door in our lives, He always opens another door....or at least a window and that is especially true right now in my life.  I went on my Emmaus walk back in 2002.  It was Mother's Day weekend and believe me....I did not want to be there.  I mean come was Mother's Day!  I know if my sponsor's keys had been in plain site I would have gotten into her trunk and come home.....but something inside of me said stay....and I am so glad I listened to the whisper deep in my heart and stayed.  What an event! 
As most of my readers know I have really been struggling with my mom's dementia as I lose her more and more each day. I made up my mind that I needed some help....and set up a counseling session.  I took a half day off, Frank picked me up from school (my car was still in the shop), and we headed off into the wild blue yonder.  While we were eating lunch I got a call from the counselers office saying he was going to have to reschedule.  I would be lying if I did not say I was disappointed....but the day was lovely and Frank took such good care of me that by the time we got home I was feeling pretty spiffy.  so spiffy that I did nothing on the computer.  I read....and when I got to work on Wednesday morning there it email just for me.  That door that God opened after the first one closed.  I had a request from an Emmaus person to help with music at a walk next weekend.  I could hardly breath.  I closed my emails and reopened them to make sure I was not dreaming.  There it was....right where I left it.  I emailed Frank and Mr. Reyes to see if it was even doable. (Next week is the Graduation Exam and I am scheduled to give it on Tues/Thurs)....both responded back in the positive so my next step was contact Mrs. English (name changed on purpose).  She was delighted.  I was delighted.  All was right with the world.  I cannot wait to next Weds.  I am meeting her to swap off music sometime on Sunday.  Wish me luck and pray for me.  Now....some of you are probably wondering...what is Emmaus and why is it such a big deal?  Well let me tell you...."The Walk to Emmaus is a spiritual renewal program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders. The program's approach seriously considers the model of Christ's servanthood and encourages Christ's disciples to act in ways appropriate to being "a servant of all."  The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with a 72-hour short course in Christianity, comprised of fifteen talks by lay and clergy on the themes of God's grace, disciplines of Christian discipleship, and what it means to be the church. The course is wrapped in prayer and meditation, special times of worship and daily celebration of Holy Communion. The "Emmaus community," made up of those who have attended an Emmaus weekend, support the 72-hour experience with a prayer vigil, by preparing and serving meals, and other acts of love and self-giving. The Emmaus Walk typically begins Wednesday evening and concludes Saturday evening at Camp Alimisco. Men and women attend separate weekends.  Both Frank and I have gone. During and after the three days, Emmaus leaders encourage participants to meet regularly in small groups. The members of the small groups challenge and support one another in faithful living. Participants seek to Christianize their environments of family, job, and community through the ministry of their congregations. The three-day Emmaus experience and follow-up groups strengthen and renew Christian people as disciples of Jesus Christ and as active members of the body of Christ in mission to the world. The Upper Room, a ministry unit of the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, sponsors the Walk to Emmaus and offers it through local Emmaus groups around the world. Although connected through The Upper Room to The United Methodist Church, The Walk to Emmaus is non-denominational. The Walk to Emmaus® gets its name from the story in Luke 24:13-35, which provides the central image for the three-day experience and follow-up. Luke tells the story of that first Easter afternoon when the risen Christ appeared to the two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Like Christians and churches who are blinded by preoccupation with their own immediate difficulties, these two disciples' sadness and hopelessness seemed to prevent them from seeing God's redemptive purpose in things that had happened. And yet, the risen Christ "came near and went with them," opening the disciples' eyes to his presence and lighting the fire of God's love in their hearts. As they walked to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them the meaning of all the scriptures concerning himself. When they arrived in Emmaus, Jesus "took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them," and their eyes were opened. They recognized him as Jesus, the risen Lord, and they remembered how their hearts had burned within them as they talked with him on the road. Within the hour, the two disciples left Emmaus and returned immediately to their friends in Jerusalem. As they told stories about their encounters with the risen Lord, Jesus visited them again with a fresh awareness of his living presence.
However, the story of Jesus' resurrection does not conclude with the disciples' personal spiritual experiences. Jesus ascended to the Father, and the disciples became the body of the risen Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were sent forth by the Spirit to bear witness to the good news of God in Jesus Christ. They learned to walk in the spirit of Jesus, to proclaim the gospel to a disbelieving world, and to persevere in grace through spiritual companionship with one another.
The Walk to Emmaus offers today's disciples a parallel opportunity to rediscover Christ's presence in their lives, to gain fresh understanding of God's transforming grace, and to form friendships that foster faith and support spiritual maturity. While Emmaus provides a pathway to the mountaintop of God's love, it also supports pilgrims' return to the world in the power of the Spirit to share the love they have received with a hurtful and hurting world. "  I don't know about you....but I think my God is Good!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday's Hodgepodge

Joyce at From This Side of the Pond has yet again provided us with a variety of questions, also known as the Wednesday Hodgepodge.

1. Did you know there is a National Day of pretty much everything in the universe? February 23 happens to be National Inconvenience Yourself Day...when was the last time you were inconvenienced?
Let's see....most of this week.....because since Monday my car was put in the shop for leaking strange brown stuff.  I have had to rely on the transportation of others.  It is nice that I have a husband and friends who will pick me up and take me around....but inconvenient that I have to wait for them and cannot do what I want to, when I want to.  I am praying it is ready today.  Frank has got to get up and take me to school this morning.....poor dear.  I asked him if it bothered him and that precious man said, "Nope, it means more time I get to spend with you."  Have I got a keeper or what?
2. When a room in your house needs painting who does the job?
Frank is a great painter.  I, on the other hand, am not.  My friend Susan came down and helped me paint when my dad died.  It was good therapy and she is a great painter too.  Kat and Brian are coming up to paint two rooms at the parsonage.  They are earning money to go on a summer mission trip and Brian won't just take a donation....he believes he has to earn it.  I love that man!
3. Are you friends with your cousins? 
I have to be honest.  I love all my family....but as for friends I am with some and not with others.  I have around 96 first cousins....seriously. I keep up with a good portion of my family via facebook.  We live all over creation and it is easier that way.

This was my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary and all their children....but only about half of all of their children's children (aka - my first cousins).  My grandfather was one of 14. 

This picture is just a small groupage of the family.  My mom and her sister's family and even we are not all there.  This is still a pretty large group don't you think?
4. Do you use an alarm clock? If yes-is it an actual alarm, music, or something else?
I have an alarm clock.  It does go off.  Most mornings I am already awake when it tones.  When I travel I use my phone with a song.
5. What do you put ketchup on?
Hummmm.....I love ketchup.  It is my condiment of choice.  I like it on hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, potato chips, stuff I don't like to eat (to disguise the taste), chicken fingers, a bad steak, liver (oh yeah...that falls under stuff I don't like to eat.)
6. What smells make you nostalgic? 
Pinesol, evergreen trees, rain, the ocean, something spicy cooking.
7. Have you heard about the high school English teacher recently suspended as a result of some things she wrote in her personal blog? This teacher vented a lot of frustration onto her blog. She didn't mention individual students by name but she did make some harsh comments about kids in general and their parents. 
I am a teacher....currently.  I have commented a time or two on the state of education in my is was rather generic in nature....but venting just the same. I have never mentioned parents or kids....but I have vented about generic parents and kids.   I do  have a school blog that I use for my students.  I post the days assignments there so that if they are absent they can get the work they miss.  I gave the ip address to the parents so that they can keep up with their kids.  I accept comments on it....but I have to approve them before I publish them.  I have a facebook account and don't put anything on there I don't want anyone to see.  If someone I know cusses....I hide that post the first time and block the person the second.  I do not befriend students on my facebook until after they are not my students.  There have been a few exceptions....but they are family.  I do not publish pictures of me in compromising positions and it concerns me when I see some of the younger teachers at our school putting themselves out there.  I did catch a cheater on one of my tests....during my test....because of facebook.  It was kind of funny.  She looked really strange when the administrator came and got her during the test with her facebook printout. MWAH HA HA!  As of right now our district does not have a policy.  We can't get on it at is blocked.  I have friended teacher friends that are friends with a number of the kids within the class. I think it is a good policy to have, both for the child's protection as well as the teacher's. 
8. Insert your own random thought here.  
Why is it that when I am working the weather is gorgeous.  When I am off it rains?  What is the deal with that?  BTW...I have on flip flops today and loving it.  My newly pedicured toes are in heaven.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Opposite of Tunnel is Light!

How do we get through the tunnels in life? We keep our eye on the light. We rely on God and continue to relinquish our plans and timing.  In John 13:7 "Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'"  Well, there is a Hebrew legend that tells of a rabbi journeying on a mule through a wild country. His only companion was a rooster whose shrill crowing at sunrise awoke him to his devotions. He came to a small town at nightfall and sought shelter, but the inhabitants turned him away. Outside the village he found a cave in which to sleep. He lit his lamp before retiring, but a gust of wind blew out the light. During the night a wolf killed his rooster and a lion devoured his mule. Early in the morning he went to the town to see if he could buy some food. To his surprise he found no one alive. A band of robbers during the night had plundered the settlement and killed all the inhabitants.  "Now I understand my troubles," said the rabbi. "If the townspeople had received me, I would now be dead. Had not my rooster and mule been killed, their noise or the light of my lamp would have revealed my hiding place. God has been good to me." In similar manner, the troubles and reverses of life are intended to direct you and me to put full faith and trust in the Savior, whose redemptive work secured our eternal good."  This was a great story and I wish I could claim it as my own....but alas I cannot.  It was  taken from "Words of Promise," copyright 1996, Concordia Publishing House.  When I was in Ireland I was fascinated by the tunnels and doorways I found.  I seemed to be drawn to everyone and looked diligently for them throughout my trip.  Little did I know that this morning they would come up to be my post topic.  After yesterday's bridge burner and reading all of your sweet comments and encouragements I decided to do a piece today on the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Entering into Conwy Castle.  It was a dark tunnel area into a beautifull lit area so lush and green.  The next few pictures are doorways and such from inside the dark castle.  Notice there is always light on the otherside.  Is that not a comforting thought.  No matter how dark it is....the light is right there.

 I love this particular picture.  The light from the other side caused a reflection in my camera lense and it looks like there is something coming in and towards me.   This particular place in the castle had a very spiritual feel to it.  Wonder why?

Leaving the Castle confines and heading back out into the town.  Again you will notice the dark to light look.  I always wanted to live in a castle as a child...but I am not so sure about that after having been in a few.  I really liked coming back out into the light every single chance I got.  So, there is hope for me yet....I know in my heart....that there truly is a light at the end of this tunnel I am in.  Thank God!  I love the group Third Day.  They have a song called Tunnel that has been out for a few years and it is one of my I am going to leave you with it today.  Have a super Tuesday.  Hold your head up high and remember don't be afraid of whatever storms life dishes out. (Thanks Elvis for the lyrics).  If I were to pause right now at this very moment and say a prayer it would be something like this, "All-knowing Lord, help us to trust You in all circumstances of life, even in those we do not now understand."  Amen and Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

To Burn....or Not to Burn....That is My Question!

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” is a quote I have heard many times by  David Russell, yet my mom and dad always taught me that you "Don't Ever Burn Your Bridges!"  When life hits you hard, it's not always easy to remember that this is just temporary. When you are gasping for air, you forget about another world -- a place where there is no more hurt, no more fear, no more frustration.  Right now, I can't breathe. I long for a peace that I can't seem to find.  I have lost my song.  I pray but feel I am talking to the air.  Why is it that I seem to be able pray for others and feel like my prayers are being heard....but when I pray for my mom or myself....nothing....there is a heavy fog and nothing is getting through.  What is happening?  I look around and  I see need. I see purpose. I see signficance. This planet is a place that I can make a difference, a place where I can touch lives and help bring them from a hopeless existence to one of eternal consequnce.  I desire to do ASP(Appalachain Service Project) again.  I desire to write letters to people and share the Word of God with them.  I desire to take pictures of life and help others to see.  I have a passion to open the minds of the young people I teach and help them to learn...but somewhere between here...and there....I am foggy.  It was Emerson who said, "Men live on the brink of mysteries and harmonies into which they never enter. And with their hand on the door latch, they die outside."  I don't want to die outside.  I want to go on and enter.  Rather than look at our current existence as a holding cell, it should be a launching pad not just for eternity, but for significance.  Yeah, that is it....significance.  I want to be significant.  I want to be one of those people who's tombstone is not something chiseled in stone....but something that was chisled out of life.  I found myself sinking this weekend...into an abyss of sadness....and then Sunday happened....and I knew there were people out there....praying fervently for me....and it was a gorgeous day....and I discovered that  each day we wake up to the same two choices: Which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn. I have baggage I am dealing with right now......but Sunday I felt the need to let go of my baggage and let God have it. I can make a choice to either let that baggage and sadness drag me and beat me down....or I can rise from these ashes like a Phoenix and thrive. I have a future thanks to God. I have a wonderful, amazing life still ahead of me.  Burn bridges?  Sorry mom and dad...but I AM going to burn this bridge of sadness and fog.  Yep, I have a bridge to cross and I am going to cross over to the other side...and never pass this way again because God is my compass!  How about you?  Do you have a bridge in your life you need to cross?  I will be praying you can.  I have rambled enough today and I am feeling a ton better since I was able to put some order to my thoughts.  Have a great Monday and God Bless You real good!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Project 365 - February 13th - 19th

Photo week 8 has ended.  I am not a professional yet with my new camera...but I will say I have enjoyed the heck out of taking pictures this week.  If you want to see more P365's then jump over to Sara's blog and check out all the ones who have linked up with her.  Trust me you will see some really awesome shots by some amazing photographers.

I just had to start my week with another shot at the chimney.  You can actually tell what it is in these pictures.  The top one was made with a zoom and the bottom with the lens that came with the camera.  Definitely a noticeable difference in last weeks chimney and this one.  This wooded area kind of gives me the creeps.  Especially after dark when I come through here.

Don, top picture, is another one of our lunch bunch and I did not get his picture when I did them a couple of weeks ago.  Don's significant other has cancer and is barely hanging on.  He is sleeping at the hospital and working....and he runs to the hospital several times during the day.  SueEllen, is beautiful woman  who is now down to about 80 pounds and it is taking it's toll on my friend and colleague.  We have all become a support group/lunch bunch.  Trina has a mother in law with dementia, I have momma, Don has SueEllen, and we are all veteran teachers and we care about each other.  It is a nice thing to work where people care.  Today was inservice and we did not have to eat at we went to The Shoppes of Queen's Attic to a new little cafe that has just opened there.  Mary, Trina and I ate lunch at Cake and Coffee Cafe.  The Shoppes of Queen's Attic is a really cool place with really neat little boutiques.  It used to be a huge antique store....but it burned.  Back to the lunch.  I had quiche lorraine and Mary and Trini had panini's.  The menu was limited....but the food was excellent and they are open for breakfast.  I will have to try that one morning.

Tuesday we bowled.  We were supposed to bowl on Monday....but Mae Lynn and I refused to miss bible study again!  So the guys decided we could bowl on Tuesday.  Frank and I had a good bit of time to kill between the end of my day, seeing my mom, and eating supper.  I had not made a picture yet so we drove downtown to get the big fountain...and as my luck holds.  It was not running....but the little one was so we went by there and grabbed a shot of it and Carlisle Drugs across the track.  Carlisle's still has a soda fountain and makes the best lime freeze in all creation.  If you are Alex City during the week....stop buy and have one.  They are still hand squeezed and everything!

On my way home Wednesday I saw this barn from Hwy 22.  I had to get a picture because it had just been facelifted.  They painted it and the roof.  I think it looks nice even though it is partially hidden from view.  While I was taking this picture I found this old building a couple of hundred yards down the road.  It was used to dispense seed or hay....or something at one time.  It was pretty interesting.  I wanted to get out and go investigate....but...number one I was alone...and number two I did not want to get shot.  Besides, Frank is in Atlanta for the night staying with if I were to get in trouble....I would be on my own.
The moon was awesome on Thursday night.  I just had to get a picture of it.  I discovered that with outdoor portrait did not blur the picture and I also discovered just how far I can actually send the zoom part of the lens.  It was an interesiting day all in all.

Mary and I went to Hobby Lobby in Auburn on Friday night.  Positioned between Waverly, AL and Auburn there is this great barn on the right side of the road on Hwy 280.  It sits at the top of a hill so majestically.  By the time we made it really was to dark to do the barn justice....but here it is. The bottom picture kind of reminds me of Sister Bertill on the Flying Nun....and old 60's sit-com with Sally Fields.  I am going to go back one day when there is more light and redo this set of pictures.

This is me playing around with lighting, color and shape on the new camera.  I did not do a church sign this week because Frank was out of town....and all the churches between Rock Mills and Alex City still had their same signs up.  Come on people Get Those New Church Signs Up!  See you next week.  Same bat time and channel.  Have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Heaven....I'm in Heaven!

Frank was gone this weekend.  I had the house all to myself.  I started out my day by getting a mani/pedi at L.A. Nails right here in downtown Roanoke.  There is nothing better than a pamper session.  I even paid the extra ten dollars for the deluxe pedi.  The deluxe version means you get a salt scrub,  a eucalyptus massage...complete with a little reflexology, and then a papaya lotion rub....topped off with hot towels (and were they hot).  I think I actually drooled in the chair.  My toes are now a really cute cotton candy pink.  I even wore flip flops and capri pants all day.  It was heavenly!  While I was sitting there I began to chuckle to myself as I thought of a comedian I had seen do a skit about a day in the nail salon.  I found it especially funny when the manicurist looked at my hands and asked me if I wanted (what sounded like) krickle gel for my nails.  After the mani/pedi I came home to tackle my nasty house.  I have been busy for the past two Saturdays and not been able to clean like I like to.  There is nothing better smelling to me than floors mopped with Fabuloso (the lavender one).  I did the unspeakable though...when I got home I ate my bacon/egg biscuit I picked up at BK....another splurge....then sat down and watched a movie about a woman with a mother who had dementia.  For the next two hours I was engrossed in the story of what could be my own life.  At the end I found myself sitting in the chair sobbing and did not even realize it.  After the movie I got up and tackled the house and the more I cleaned the better I felt.  By the time Frank got home I was proud of my accomplishments.  We went to the church and did the bulletins for tomorrow, went to eat, got gas for my car, picked up a couple of items at Wally World...and came home.  What a great day!  I hope your day was a good one too.  I cannot wait to post my pictures for P365 this week.  Be sure and check back with me tomorrow and see what I did with my new camera.  I have had a blast this week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flashing Back Friday

I do not usually participate in Friday Flashback....but today I just felt drawn to the it is one that is near and dear to my heart.  Linda over at Mocha with Linda is where this originated from so if you want to participate go on over and link up with her or just read what everyone else wrote.  Happy Friday! 
Thinking primarily of your growing-up years and your early years of driving, have you ever been in an auto accident? Were you a passenger or the driver? Were you injured? How badly was the car damaged? Whose fault was it? What was the attitude of your parents toward "fender benders" and tickets? Were minor dings and scrapes a big deal? Have you ever received a traffic ticket? If more than one, 'fess up: how many? Any warnings? Has a family member or close friend been seriously injured or killed in an accident? Have you ever witnessed a bad accident and stopped to render aid or give a statement? What role, if any, did seat belts and car seats have in your early years?

I know you will think this is weird....but my mom had something we referred to as a third eye.  She would have dreams....and they would come true.  In one dream she dreamed that she and her friend Valerie were driving down a road in the neighborhood when a car ran a stop sign....hitting our car and killing all of us.  Several days passed and my mom avoided the road in her dreams....but then she was riding down that road....Valerie was driving....and as they approached the road in her dreams....she reached out and told Mrs. Geiger to STOP!  Valerie did as she was told...and a car ran through the stop sign.  Another minute and we would have been killed.
My very first incident happened in May when I was 19.  In 1972 I got a 1968 Plymouth Satellite 383 when I turned 18 and graduated from high school.  It was flame red and would smoke anything at a red light.  One afternoon I was headed home from college and traffic was heavy due to some road construction.  I had to stop on Southern Blvd. to turn left into my neighborhood.  The speed limit at the time was 35 because it was a residential section AND road construction was going on.  I was waiting on a police car so I could turn.  I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw a VW bug plow into my rear end.  The VW hit me so hard it actually knocked my gas tank out from under my car and knocked my car 186 feet.  The driver of the bug went through the windshield and ended up on the back of my now crushed rear end.  I broke my nose (this was back in the days that all we had were lap belts, huge steering wheels, and no air bags.  I also tore my mastoid muscle in my neck, dislocated my kneecap, broke a tooth, and blackened my right eye.  I had to be removed from my car with the jaws of life because the doors of my car jammed when the car hit me.  I was so sad to see my baby towed to the junk yard.  The insurance company totaled it. 
I never had a minor fender bender.  It was always all or nothing for me.  I hit a deer once when I was returning home on New Year's Eve....and before you go there....I had all three of my kids with me....we were coming home from the grocery store.  The deer jumped up the embankment, landed square on my front windshield, knocked the windshield into our laps, slid off the car and ran off into the woods.  Two men stopped in a four wheel drive truck...and I thought how nice they are stopping to help us...but all they wanted to know was which way the deer went.  Only in the South!  I hit a mailbox once a souped up Trans-Am....the roads were slick because it had rained and I hit a slick spot...and did three circles....the last one took out the mailbox. 
In May of my twenty-ninth year I was in college.  My sister-in-law and I were on our way to class for mid-terms.  It was actually her day to drive....but I had gotten a new car over the we decided to go in my new Skylark.  We were stopped on 231 at the by-pass in Montgomery....waiting for the light to turn green.  I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw the under carriage of a car.  I grabbed my SIL's hair and threw her into the floor board of the car.....and laid down in the seat and prayed.  The car actually landed on the back half of my car and crushed it.  I broke my nose, pulled my mastoid muscle, twisted my left knee, was bruised, had a nice knot in the center of my forehead (I looked like a unicorn)....SIL was bruised and sore and mad cause I messed up her hair.  The man was drunk, had no insurance, no license, and was running from the cops.  Jaws of life actually were used this time to get us out.  We were taken to the hospital and checked out.  I made the ambulance driver patch a call through to Dr. McElroy and explain what was happening....because he had told us the only excuse for missing his test...was death...ours....and I had not died. 
Once May.... I was thiry-nine and working on my Masters Degree in Education in Montgomery I went down an embankment when another car was coming at me head on.  I was on my way home from college and it was about 10 at night.  I was able to pull straight out and I was not hurt.  The car on the other hand had quite a bit of cosmetic damage.  I began to get a phobia at driving when I was an age with a nine in it.  I swore I was not going to drive at forty-nine....but I did...and nothing happened.  Whew!
I have never had a ticket in all of my fifty-six years.  There are several speed traps in our I don't push the issue.  When I was a child my parents had a bed they used for my brother and I when we were little.  We sat on traincases to see out the window.  After my brother died my parents finally figured out that sitting in the back seat made me car sick.  From that moment on ....I sat up front with my dad.  We had lap belts on our car....shoulder belts came after I was married I think.
What about you? Share your memories and link up here!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Woman's Daybook for February 17th

Every now and then I am drawn to the Simple Woman's Daybook for a journal entry.  It is like a breath of fresh air for me to go there and post my immediate thoughts at the moment.  I sometimes sit here to blog and my head is so full of stuff that nothing profound comes through the fog.  Other days I cannot wait to sit down because all night long something was brewing in my mind.  Those are my favorite days.  But on the foggy days the Simple Woman's Daybook is like crackers at a wine clears my head like the crackers clear your pallette.
Outside my window... It is an absolutely beautiful day, much to pretty to be stuck inside.  The temperature is in the upper 60's and it is not even spring now.  It will probably storm during our spring break....that is if it ever gets here.   What a glorious day to Praise the Lord!
I am thinking... Of all the things I need to do this weekend.  My house has suffered because of my many absences. I did not go see my mom during my planning period today so I would not be inclined to dwell on her.  So good.
I am thankful for... my family.
From the learning rooms... I am trying to teach my Spanish I students time.  GROANS!
I am struggling... with my mom's dementia.  I am going to talk to a pastor friend of mine and see if I can go and talk to him.  CH Frank is my pastor right now...but he is too close to this and is not what I need to deal with my mom's rapid deteriorating condition.
From the kitchen... I smelled nothing this morning.  Frank is out of town and I did not make coffee.
I am wearing... my new black sweater, black pants, a pink, red and black scarf.  I am feeling pretty snazzy.  I have one my black weejuns too.
I am creating... photo shop pictures this week.  I also need to create my tax list for the accountant.
I am going... To try and enjoy Spring as it comes (I KNOW it's not really here quite yet)...and I am not getting to enjoy today...because I am inside.
I am reading... When Couples Pray.  It is a 40 day program of 5 minutes prayer for couples.  I am loving this book.  It is a real intimate thing for me....I love prayer.
I am retire in the next few years and keep my job through proration.!
I am hearing... my students talk after I told them not to.  :-(
One of my favorite things... Actually two....Snuggling into a comfy chair with a good book or playing Words with Friends on my IPad.
A few plans for the rest of the week: School, cleaning, church, photo taking, blogging
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
Down an Irish lane in Killarney, Ireland.  I loved this place and this trip.  If you ever get a need to go.  Of all the places I have been this little tiny island in the Atlantic is by far my favorite place on earth.
I thouight I would share a wee bit of Ireland with you in song.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hodge Podging on Wednesday

It's Wednesday and to be honest I am glad.  It has been a gloomy start to the week and a little Hodge Podge is just what I need.  Want to join in?  Well, if you do then head over to Joyce's From This Side of the Pond. She always has such delightful questions.  I look forward to seeing what she has come up with each week.
1. Your favorite chocolate treat?
I pretty much love chocolate but love Dark Chocolate - Hershey's Special Dark, Hershey Kisses, Musketeers.
2. What more than anything else makes you feel loved?  Spending time with Amy, Frank, and Kat and the congregation at Rock Mills UMC. 
3. Cherries or blueberries?
I love them both.  I love Ranier cherries from Washington state, I love the cherries in Traverse City, MI fresh off the tree.  I love blueberries right off of Mary's trees in her back yard.  I love blueberry pie and the to die for killer blueberry cornbread muffins we ate in Maine at Mary's sister, Noel's house.
4. What is the one trait you most want the leader of your country to possess?
I would think wisdom.  I think they should have the wisdom to know how to lead.
5. Are you a saver or a spender?
I am a  little of both. I save and then buy what I saved for.
6. If you gave a party for all of your friends would they already know each other?
Most of them, but I do have a few friends that are from another lifetime that would be newbies to the group.  If found out when I had my Christmas Open House that my Alex City friends blended nicely with my Rock Mills friends.
7. Are you interested in antiques?
I love to look at them.  I love them in period houses. My mom was an antique dealer/collector and I had a bait of them as a child so I am not really interested in collecting them.  I have a few small pieces that I love but they are more heirlooms/memories than a collection thing.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
When life hands you you make lemonade or lemon sours?  This week has been a tough one for me with all the information I did not want to be told about my mom and I have struggled to find enough sugar in my life to make lemon sours it was.  I have found myself in a pit and the light seemed just to far away to reach.  For the most part...I am a lemonade maker....and I like mine a little on the tart side.  It keeps things interesting.  Don't 'cha think?  Frank and I have had a weird week....I spent the night in Alex City Monday night so I could go to Bible Study.  He is spending the night in Atlanta tonight with Randy so he can take him to the clinic tomorrow, Friday night he will be in B'ham for school and won't get home until around 7 on Saturday night.  I am going to clean house!  Wooo Hooo!  You have a Wonderful Wednesday!  Catch you on the flip side tomorrow!  God Bless!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stages 6-7 of Dementia

I have not posted about my mom lately and after my patient care meeting yesterday at the nursing home I couldn't share what was going on with you because it was too raw.  I cried during the meeting yesterday and all the way back to school.  Most of the rest of the day I spent holed up in my  I clean when I am bothered by something and I rearrange furniture too.  The patient care meeting yesterday was not one of the best.  My mom is now on pureed food because she has forgotten how to chew or gets tired chewing.  They have removed her GPS unit because she is no longer a flight risk.  She wears a belt thing so the CNA's  can help her stand.  She has a special seat cushion in her wheelchair and on her bed and a turning schedule because she has the beginnings of a bed sore.  As the Director or nurses, social worker, case worker, et al sat there and listened tears rolled down my cheeks and I could not stop them....especially when they told me that her mental status was that of a two year old.  My mom has moved into another stage of dementia.  "Late Stages of Dementia - Stage 6-
During stage 6, the patient will have undergone a severe decline including worsened memory loss, personality changes and will need extensive help with daily activities including 24 hour supervision. Hallmarks of this stage include:
lost awareness of most recent experiences and events
unawareness of surroundings
remembers personal history imperfectly or not at all but can usually remember own name
occasionally forget name of spouse or primary care giver but can tell familiar from unfamiliar faces
needs help getting dressed – making errors such as putting pajamas over clothing or shoes on wrong feet
disruption of normal sleep/wake cycle
needs help with toilet use
increasing episodes of incontinence
significant personality changes including suspiciousness, delusions, hallucinations or compulsive behaviors
tendency to wander and become lost
Stage 7
Stage 7 indicates an extreme decline and is considered to be the last stage of dementia as patients lose the ability to respond to environment, speak and move. Most patients who die with dementia will have contracted a condition such as pneumonia because of the inability to move allowing infection to set in. This stage of dementia includes mostly physical decline such as:
lost capacity for recognizable speech
assistance required with eating and toiletry – constant incontinence
lost ability to walk, sit, smile, hold head up
reflexes return to infancy such as the plantar reflex
swallowing is impaired"
My mom is between Stages 6 and 7.  My world came crashing down.  This was my momma they were talking about.  They talked to me about DNR's and DNF's and things I was going to have to start considering....and then asked me if I was part of a Dementia Support group.  I am not because I teach...and the only group here meets on Thursdays from 10:00 to 11:30 in the morning.  I am teaching it is a mute point.  It would seem to me that with the increasing numbers of family members with dementia related illnesses there would be groups to benefit all hours of the day....but alas there is not and that is sad.  If you have friends who are experiencing this....listen to them....sometimes all they need to do is vent.  Sometimes all they need to do is be held.  Having lost a father to cancer and now a mother suffering from dementia....I would have to say this has been the hardest.  I understood was an illness...there was a might or might not will die.   That was pretty straight forward. not like that at all.  I have a mother who is in body my mom....but mentally I don't have a clue who she is....and she appears to be healthy....most of the time....and for whatever reason....she isn't.  Dementia = confusion on both the part of the person and their family.  I hope none of you have to go through this....and if you do....just know I am here and am a pretty good listener, great hugger, and can cry right along with you.  Hope you have a Happy Tuesday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day to all of you out there in Blogging world.  I am not a big sponsor of Valentines Day because like I said last week.  I see Valentines Day as an every day event....not just one set aside on one special day.  Frank is my Valentine 365 days a year.  Yesterday, my cousin Amanda and her husband Randy finally got to go to church....Randy is the one with ALL.   Their pastor at Shawmut had all the couples stand up, face each other, and then renewed their that did not take place on February 14th....but that to me was a powerful testimony of love.  I guess it just gets off with me how the florists and card companies, restaurants and candy makers take advantage of this holiday....and advantage it is.  Everything doubles in price.  Don't believe me?  Price a dozen roses any time except Valentines weekend.  Enough of my soap boxing.  I personally believe that the feelings you get at  Christmas and Valentines Day should be recognized every day of the year.  Valentine's Day has not always been like fact....It is actually not exactly known why the 14th of February is known as Valentine's Day or if the noble Valentine really had any relation to this day. The history of Valentine's Day is impossible to be obtained from any archive and the veil of centuries gone by has made the origin behind this day more difficult to trace. It is only some legends that are our source for the history of Valentine's Day.  The modern St. Valentine's Day celebrations are said to have been derived from both ancient Christian and Roman tradition. As per one legend, the holiday has originated from the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalis/Lupercalia, a fertility celebration that used to observed annually on February 15. But the rise of Christianity in Europe saw many pagan holidays being renamed for and dedicated to the early Christian martyrs. Lupercalia was no exception. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day and set its observance a day earlier, on February 14. He proclaimed February 14 to be the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived in the 3rd century. It is this St. Valentine whom the modern Valentine's Day honors.  (This kind of reminds me of Fat Tuesday/Ash Wednesday).  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by the name of Valentine. While one was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni. Nothing is known about the third St. Valentine except that he met his end in Africa. Surprisingly, all three of them were said to have been martyred on 14th February.   It is clear that Pope Gelasius intended to honor the first of these three aforementioned men. Most scholars believe that this St. Valentine was a priest who lived around 270 AD in Rome and attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II who ruled during this time. The story of St. Valentine has two different versions - the Protestant and the Catholic one. Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of Roman empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. The Roman empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and more capable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers. The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice their protest against the mighty emperor. The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He planned to counter the monarch's orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But such things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this "friend of lovers," and had him arrested.  While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius' blind daughter.   When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccesful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine. Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius' daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of her friend's imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lived ever after. As per another legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment. However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. The most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not centered on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Valentine is believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD.  Thus 14th February became a day for all lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. It began to be annually observed by young Romans who offered handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines, on this day to the women they admired. With the coming of Christianity, the day came to be known as St. Valentine's Day. By the Middle Ages, Valentine became as popular as to become one of the most popular saints in England and France. Despite attempts by the Christian church to sanctify the holiday, the association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship continued through the Middle Ages. The holiday evolved over the centuries. By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts began to be created on this day and handed over to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies. It was not until the 1840s that Valentine's Day greeting cards began to be commercially produced in the U.S. The first American Valentine's Day greeting cards were created by Esther A. Howlanda Mount Holyoke, a graduate and native of Worcester. Mass. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap". It was when Howland began Valentine's cards in a large scale that the tradition really caught on in the United States. Today, Valentine's Day is one of the major holidays in the U.S. and has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are "valentine"s. The "valentines", as Valentine's Day cards are better known as, are often designed with hearts to symbolize love. The Valentine's Day card spread with Christianity, and is now celebrated all over the world. One of the earliest valentines was sent in 1415 AD by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. The card is now preserved in the British Museum.   There may be doubts regarding the actual identity of Valentine, but we know that he really existed because archaeologists have recently unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to a Saint Valentine.   So whichever legend you chose to, gifts, flowers, candy will be doled out in great abundance today.  I wish you a Happy Valentine'd Day and hope your dreams come true today!  Hug your sweety and be sure to tell them you love them!  Frank, I love baby!