Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aunt Bertie's 91 year old boyfriend streaking across the lawn in his birthday suit

The social interaction of Facebook seems to have taken a new turn in the last few months.  I don't know if you've noticed but there seems to be a gradual shift from the short, witty quips and snippets of conversation that drew me to Facebook to a "copy and paste" approach which puts me more in the mind of those thousands of email messages that we have all forwarded from time to time.  I prefer to be original - I don't care for copying and pasting what a million and one people have already seen.

Don't get me wrong....there are worthwhile messages out there worth hearing and social media is a great place to get the word out but it's beginning to seem more and more like those "FWD" emails that you get from friends that you never open except that on FB, they're already open and right in your face.

Also, I've tried to limit the number of Facebook friends I have because as all of you well know, it can get rather cumbersome trying to keep them categorized into who you want to see all your posts and who you want to share only certain things with.  Just when you think you have it all under control, Facebooks changes it's privacy settings and you have to do it all over again.   I'm sure that about 85% of my "friends" really don't care what I had for breakfast this morning or if my grandson recently made the "A" honor roll.  They don't really care about clicking on the links that I post each time I write a blog.   They don't want to see the photo's that we made of Aunt Berties 95th birthday party and her 91 year old boyfriend "streaking" across the lawn in his birthday suit for the special occasion.  Ah ha - I got you with the Blog title didn't I?

When I first started Facebook, I tried to avoid the games, but eventually got sucked into Farmville.  A friend recently posted a cartoon photo that shows how I was with Facebook and Farmville.  I stayed up all hours of the night planting and harvesting my crops, taking care of my livestock and building fences.  And all of this from a farm gal of old who vowed she would never, ever farm when she grew up.  About a year ago, I finally quit - cold turkey.

A cute cartoon with the roles reversed - a chicken playing Cityville

For the past couple of years and especially since I retired, I've enjoyed sitting in front of my computer each morning with a cup of coffee and checking to see the funny things my friends have to say.  I've loved connecting and corresponding with old high school friends and learning about their likes and dislikes.  I've loved seeing pictures of them and their children and grandchildren and marveling at how these friends still look so good after all these years.  I've been amazed at finding how our lives have crossed many of the same paths but yet we have gone in so many different directions.

But now, I'm finding that each morning when I stare at my computer screen, I see so few of my friends posting anymore.  I miss that!  I want to have my coffee break surrounded by close friends bantering back and forth about our everyday lives.  Everyone is complaining about the new Facebook changes.  I don't think it's really about the changes they've made.  I think it's the changes we've made - ever so gradually that we didn't even realize that we've quit sharing the things that are really important - the mundane things that make us who we are and show us that Life Happens... whether we're active participants or not.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chandelier - Did I make a wrong choice?

I've never been quite satisfied with the chandelier that was hanging in our dining room when we bought our home fifteen years ago.  I liked the patina of the aging light fixture, but it was not really large enough for the room, the chain was too short for the height of the ceiling and it just looked out of place....I thought.

Every time I went by the lighting department at any of the home improvement stores, I would check out the chandeliers to see if anything was calling out to me.  Nothing ever did until recently.  I found one that I fell in love with.  Sure, it didn't have the aged patina of the old one, but it had such an elegant look - and the fact that the white porcelain was done in a Victorian swag design sealed the deal for me.   This past week I talked Hubby into installing it for me.  Installing things in an old house is always a nightmare and this was no exception.  The mount on the new fixture didn't fit into the cavity where the old one came out, but with a little jury-rigging and me holding it straight over my head with arms stretching up toward the ceiling for thirty minutes not daring to wiggle, we finally did it.  What do you think?

I think I like it.  It's eight arms versus the five on the other makes a good fit for the size of the room.  The additional bulbs give much needed lighting to a room with only one window.  Even though the library you see beyond the french doors which also serves as my office has several windows, it just never seemed light enough in the dining room.  The chain length allows me to drop it within 30 inches of the table which really seems to anchor the room.  I do miss the warm, gold glow of the older one, though.   I'm going to keep the old one around for a while just in case I decide to change it back.

Give me your honest opinion.  I'm not a decorator and would appreciate some advice from someone with more of an eye for this kind of thing.  It won't take but thirty minutes to switch it back although I will probably have to hire someone to help me when hubby isn't home.  Believe me, he will never notice.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


In my spare time, you can find me strolling through small consignment shops, thrift shops, flea markets and occasionally the Goodwill stores in whatever towns I happen to be passing through.  I'm all about finding bargains - trying to balance my purchases between happiness and hoarding, smile.

There's a new Hospice Re-sale shop in a town closeby that I plan to visit soon - the non-profit, charity shops are my favorites - it's almost completely staffed by volunteers and all the dollars you spend go towards funding the Hospice program.

Some people think shopping at thrift stores is somehow demeaning, but I'm not one of those.  I look at it as being a good steward of the resources God gives us.  I don't need the latest fashion items to make me feel good about myself - I would rather donate what I've saved by being thrify on making someone else feel good about themselves.  Buying a wig or cap for a cancer patient in Hospice - or helping to fund someone's employment by buying from Salvation Army or Goodwill is what makes me feel good.

Looking at related articles today, I happened upon another blog that I enjoyed reading.  Ruth at Living Well, Spending Less has some great ideas for bargain shopping.  Run on over to her blogsite and get links to coupons and ways to save money.

I have a niece and also know of two young mothers from our church who are coupon queens.  Heather, Ashley and Julie get free groceries all the time by being diligent coupon shoppers - they are organized and efficient and save tons of money on each shopping trip.  I don't have the time, organizational skills, or patience for coupon shopping - everyone has their own bargain shopping style.

Flea market browsing has also been a good source of extra income for me - aiding and abetting my "junkie" pastime.   I've found many an antique or vintage item there begging for a new home.  I still have a leftover glow of excitement at my two favorite finds.  A rare vintage Candlewick glassware mayonaise dish that I bought at a yardsale for $1 brought $531 on Ebay a few years ago.  A pair of prints by artist Terry Redlin that we paid $20 each for brought over $2000 for the pair.

Terry Redlin print similar to my flea market finds


So what does that tell you?  Sometimes it "pays" to be a bargain shopper.  Get out there and give it a go.  You'll be hooked just like I am.

Friday, September 23, 2011


The fresh breeze, the salt air, the sounds of the waves lapping the shore - who could not love this place called the ocean.   You can look out over the waves and see limitless water - water that doesn't stop until it blends in with the sky.

As much as I love the view of the ocean and the sandy beaches, I love the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) even more. For those of you who don't know what the ICW is, it's a 3000 mile inside protected waterway running down the Atlantic coastline starting in New Jersey and rounding Florida into the Gulf Coast.  It was created in the early 1900's to make navigation along the Eastern Seaboard less dangerous.   The stretch that runs through the Brunswick Islands in the lower Eastern corner of North Carolina offers some breathtaking views. It mostly consists of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, and bays and teems with wildlife.
The photo below shows the Intercoastal Waterway in the center of the photo and the water that you see to the left of the water tower is the ocean.

The waterway is down the center of the picture. The ocean is to the left of the water tower. The long strip of land to the left of the waterway is Holden Beach Island.  The land to the right is the mainland.

One place we especially love to go to is one of the seafood houses that has a dock where several of the shrimp boats in the area dock their boats.   It's on the mainland side of the waterway.  We have become friends with the owners and they let us fish off the dock and take in all the sights, smells (some not so pleasant) and the comraderie of the locals that hang around places like that.

Photo taken off the dock looking at Holden Beach Island

   Today we took our chairs and whiled away the whole afternoon there.  Hubby was fishing mostly for fish that didn't bite.  Me....I sat there with my fishing rod - long after my bait was lost to a stone crab - feeling connected to the water and being one with the current as it carried the weight of the world out with the tide.  And watching the shrimp boats as they reached their masts up into the sky.
My catch of the day - a stone crab - I threw him back

Carolina blue sky

If you look really hard, you will see a white osprey lifting his neck up in the marsh grass.

Hubby sitting on the dock fishing.  Shrimp boats in background.
I would love to spend the summer in this old dockhouse - except it does have a few rotten boards.

As I sat in this weightless time and space with the mind-numbing beauty of the water running under the dock beneath me, I halfway imagined that a large Manta Ray or a sea serpent would rise from the surface of the water and invite me to swim on its back.  Or a mermaid would pull herself up on the dock and say, "Come on in - the water's warm".   Then this little fellow below broke the spell and almost made me fall off the dock when he swam out from under it and jumped up right beside me.  The second picture is him holding out his wings to dry them.  I'm not sure what the correct name for this duck is, but the locals call him a Dye Diver Duck.
I made a friend

Drying his wings - this bird really put on a show.
Not the type of fantasy creature that I imagined, but he'll do!  He kept me sittin' on the dock of the bay...lettin' the time slip away - and I can't remember a day in a long while that I've just done nothing - and enjoyed doing it so much.  We all need days like that. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You can't call yourself a Southerner if you don't like Fig Preserves..It's a law.

I'm a Southerner born and bred.  We have expressions and sayings that we don't think about as odd - but to outsiders, our words can be very puzzling.  I've included a few reasons that the rest of the world can't call themselves Southerners.

You can't call yourself a Southerner if:

  • you don't have a least one rocking chair on the porch
  • you don't know at least one person called Bubba
  • you don't like grits, pinto beans, corn bread and fried catfish - not necessarily in that order
  • you've never said "bless her heart!, poor thing!, or used "cotton pickin'" as an adjective
  • you don't run to the grocery store at the first drop of a snowflake
  • you don't use ya'll at least once in every conversation
  • you've never seen a real, working outhouse
  • you haven't seen grass grow taller than your barn

  • "gettin' high" means anything other than a trip to the mountains
  • you haven't had at least one sip of "moonshine"
  • if you don't  say "love ya'" to your friends as you tell them goodbye
  • you've never said, "night, night, sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite"
  • you've never been to Sunday School and have never memorized Bible verses
  • you've never heard a rooster crow
  • you've never tasted pork BBQ (cooking hamburgers on the grill is not considered BBQ in the South)
  • if you haven't taught your children to call their elders Mr. Firstname and Miss Firstname, except Miss sounds like Miz.  So does Mrs. 
  • if you don't know that supper - not dinner - is your evening meal
  • if you don't know that "I've got no dog in this fight" means you mind your own business
  • if you don't know that "over yonder" is our way of judging distance.  It can mean anywhere from within "spittin' distance" to up to several miles away.  It doesn't really matter much to us because we're going to get in our pickup truck, our 4-wheeler or our 'gator to drive there anyway.
  • you haven't tried to make images out of kudzu much like other people make images out of clouds (see photos below)

    Dinosaur - Kudzu photos compliments of this website listed here in blue.

    It's a horse!
  • you've never heard the excuse "a 'possum ate my homework"
  • if you don't know a man who still opens your car doors and pulls out your chair at the "supper table" and restaurants 
  • you don't mind being called a redneck because if you're not one, you're "kin" to someone who is
  • you don't know that Southern women are Mack trucks disguised as powder puffs
Honeychild!  I ain't just whistlin' Dixie.  If you can't claim at least ten of these as your own, you ain't from around here, are ya'? 

Now why don't you add to the list?  I know I have some Southerners who read my blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The last of the summer harvest

It always makes me sad to see the last of the summer harvest gone.  North and South Carolina's climate is wonderful for extending the life of some of the fruits and vegetables we grow, but all good things must come to an end.

I've been busy making fig preserves for the past couple of weeks - thanks to my brother-in-law that has been providing the figs from his prolific fig bush. The prep for the preserves is easy, but the actual cooking takes quite a while, so you have to allow yourself a good 2 1/2 - 3 hours for a batch from beginning to end.  Fig preserves have always been my favorite jelly / jam.  They're very sweet and oh, so good on buttered toast or biscuits.  My recipe calls for every two cups of fruit, you use one cup of sugar.  Trim the caps off the figs and slice them in half.  Put them in a large cooking pot (the heavier, the better).  My last batch was sixteen cups of figs and eight cups of sugar.  Add the sugar to the figs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes.  The sugar will liquify so you really don't need to add water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and boil at a gentle boil for two hours, stirring occasionally, but the last thirty minutes stir more often.  They get very thick!  Put them in your prepared jars, put lids and caps on and you have a finished product that looks like the picture below.  The 16 cups of fruit makes about 7 pints of preserves.

Prepare to gain a couple of pounds with each jar!

We've also prepared freezer jam with strawberries and peaches this year, but I've used Splenda instead of sugar with those recipes.  We've enjoyed fresh peaches from the orchard at McBee, South Carolina since the first week of July, and we continue to enjoy them each week as we travel back and forth to the coast. 
A bowl filled with peaches, apples and bananas.  Everything pictured came from the Carolinas except the bananas.
The picture above shows apples from the North Carolina mountains, peaches from South Carolina and a butternut squash locally grown.  The picture below shows the last of the South Carolina watermelons and the last of the box of peaches my hubby picked up on Sunday.

For some reason, the fruit tastes better nearer the end of summer.  I guess it's because we know that it's nearing the end of it's growing season.  September brings with it the Scuppernongs and the Muscadine grapes.  I remember picking the wild muscadines as a child.  The vines grew up into the trees and were hard to reach, but the taste of these fresh, sweet grapes made it worth while.  The tame kind grown locally are much bigger and even sweeter.  You can also pick them up at local farmer's markets.

Scuppernongs on the left, Muscadines on the right

  September also brings locally grown peanuts and sweet potatoes.  Each fruit and vegetable has it's season to shine.  I suppose they wouldn't be quite so special if we could get them any time of the year.  It's almost to the point that we can.  When I was a child, we only had oranges in the winter from Florida and strawberries, peaches, melons, etc in the summer.  Now you see them in grocery stores all times of the year.  Somehow they seemed even better back then.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Early Birthday Gift

My birthday is toward the end of this month, but this past week I received an early gift from my youngest daughter.  She found a wonderful shop in a nearby town that takes old furniture and gives it new life.  She fell in love with a re-purposed vintage table and mirror and thought they would look perfect in a small area as you walk inside my kitchen door from the outside.  I now have a small dark table with a matching mirror there.  The new table would have looked fabulous there....if it had been narrower.  Alas, it was too wide, so I started searching for another spot for it.  I found it!  My foyer leads to a small hallway beside the stairway and I've had an antique oak washstand there forever.  It's small and insignificant there, but it fit perfectly in size, so I had just left it there.

This is the washstand that was in the foyer - after I moved it to it's new home.

My birthday gift would look perfect in the hallway. It would lighten it up and give it a little lift. I moved the oak nightstand on to the Sun Porch which has become my husband's fishing lodge themed man cave - a place to display his antique fishing collection.

This is the hallway after I added the vintage table and mirror. 
I plopped an antique blue porcelain washbowl, a vintage blue vase, a blue and white flower arrangement and a whitewashed lantern on the table top.  I made a floral swag to go over the mirror.  Voila!  I like this new look, don't you? 

Thank you, Krista, for my early birthday gift!  You brightened my day....and my hallway.

Share your thoughts of 9/11

This morning I awoke to a blogger's challenge of sharing thoughts of 9/11 in 100 words or less.  My challenge for you is to do the same and how 9/11 may have affected you.  It's hard to limit to 100 words the great sadness and despair we felt that day, but it's a good way to begin to heal our wounded spirits.

My thoughts in 100 words or less:
9/11 was the day the United States lost its security blanket.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the threat of nuclear attack during the Cold War era were the last times our citizens had faced the fears of being attacked on our own soil.  We had grown complacent.  Our vulnerability became apparent to us on that September day in 2001 and instilled a fear in us that will not soon be forgotten.   It was an attack on the innocent – forever changing our interpretation of war.  Our security bubble had burst, sprinkling us with fear and distrust of strangers.  And we wept for our fellow man.

The memories of the lives lost that day have become forever imbedded into our hearts.  God was with each victim on that fateful day ten years ago.  He knew each one by name and was available when they cried out to Him in their final moments.  Why did He let it happen?  He has given man free will to make his own choices.  Unfortunately, many make the wrong choice.   My prayers are for healing now, not hatred.  How about yours?
photo courtesy of

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Caregivers can come in small packages

Life is full of challenges but as you get older, the challenges seem to come more frequently. Our parents, spouses and siblings age right along with us and illnesses and deaths take their toll on us. In the last year, we've had some losses of loved ones - my older brother and my 93 year old mother-in-law. I was privileged to be one of the caregivers to both of them. Now, we are in the caregiver role again with my hubby's older sister, Faye, who has terminal brain cancer. It's natural for us to want to care for our loved ones in their final days - it's just another way of showing how much we care. But what is so amazing is what I have witnessed in the last few months in a ten-year old niece who has taken on a big role in helping to care for Faye, who is her grandmother.

This little girl has always shown a maturity that belies her age. But what she's doing now is remarkable. Grasyn spends every other night with her grandmother - sleeping lightly so that she'll hear her grandmother when she awakes during the night needing assistance walking to the bathroom. The next morning, she wakes up early and juggles cooking her grandmother a full breakfast while getting ready for school and is out of the house by 7 a.m. off to school. She is not being forced to do this. Her mother is in medical school and working full time, and Grasyn sees the need and fills it. It's part of who she is. She does it happily and takes it in stride that this is something she can do for a grandmother that she loves dearly.

We could all learn a lesson from Grasyn. See a need and fill it - not expecting anything in return. Show others that we care.