Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

How do we even begin to count our blessings? In a time where much of what we hear is complaining, doomsday prophesies, when our family and friends are suffering through bad health, loss of jobs and homes, sometimes it is difficult to see where our blessings lie. But for all the negative energy and in the reality of pain and loss, we don't have to look far to see our blessings. Around this time of year it is common to hear people freely speak of "What I Am Thankful For". During the month of November, some of my friends on Facebook would list something every day for which they are thankful. I so enjoyed reading those posts. Some were humorous, but most were very sincere thoughts from the hearts of those who are humbled by their blessings. Most all of us would list our family, our homes, our jobs, our health, our faith, you know... the big ticket items that we seem to take for granted until they're gone. Yet, the Bible teaches us "In everything give thanks..." (I Thessalonians 5:18) Now that's a very high goal for which to strive. I don't understand it, and it is often difficult to do. But because my faith allows me to see a bigger picture, I know that "all things work together for good for those who love God." I don't understand much of what happens, but I do know that no matter what happens, the God that I love will never desert me. I like the little saying that says something like: Life is not about learning how to avoid the storms. It's about learning how to dance in the rain.

As our world seems to get crazier every day, and our lives busier than ever before, let's not forget to be thankful for the little things. Learning to have a grateful heart in even the small things will change the way we see things in every perspective. When I am whining about how "tough" my life is, I think of the thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people would gladly trade their life for my version of "tough". You and I may have it "tougher" than some folks. No doubt we do. But then we have it a heck of a lot better than most folks. Let's be thankful for that. I love my family, my friends, my home, my job, and I'm thankful for them all. I love the freedom and liberty that we enjoy in our nation, but sadly are in perilous danger of losing. On a side note here, I'm doing some light research for a project I'm working on, and I've gotten my hands on some middle and high school history textbooks, as well as a copy of US History for Dummies. I'm fascinated by our country's history, and the more I learn, the more thankful I become for those who came before us and who paved the way for the birth of a nation. It is from these courageous adventurers that we began the custom of celebrating Thanksgiving. They didn't celebrate the day by poring over salespaper ads for Black Friday shopping. They didn't watch huge floats in the Macy's parade or turn on their big-screen tvs to watch football. No... they were too busy thanking the natives for teaching them how to grow crops, and most of all focusing on thanking God Almighty for bringing them through the worst winter of their lives, where many were lost because they did not have the things that we take for granted... food and shelter. It was a brutal beginning to what we call America. I'll be one of the first folks in line at Wal Mart on Friday, that's for sure, but I know that I am blessed, and I am truly thankful for each one. May we all find a quiet moment.... many moments.... during this season.... during each day of every season, to remember our blessings and be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. Tom Turkey - Revised

Well, my wonderful Blogger friends... it is the Eve of Thanksgiving. The time when Suzy Homemakers all over the country are bustling about their kitchens, preparing for tomorrow's feast. Normally at this point, I would describe these activities in detail.... except I have no experience from which to draw, so I'll just leave it to your imagination and your own personal experience as to what happens in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Eve. Over the years, I've been blessed to be the benefactor of the Thanksgiving Eve labor of others, while my own personal contribution has usually been brown-n-serve rolls, or Mrs. Smith's apple pie, or the occasional green-bean-casserole. I've never, ever cooked a turkey. Never wanted to. (Still don't.)

In a way, it's a sad day today. It's the day of the Thanksgiving lunch at the office where I used to work, the first one since I left to go back to the hospital. My boss was a very generous man with Christmas bonuses, and knew the best way to make a girl happy was to give her the bonus at the luncheon... because he knows we all love to shop on Black Friday!!! I'm talking a very serious kind of generous here. It was fabulous. And so wonderful that he didn't make us wait until Christmas, but gave it to us in time for Major Shopping. And while I am very grateful for anything that anyone gives me, I knew it would bring back bittersweet memories when I received my $20.00 Wal Mart gift card from the hospital. Sorta pales in comparison, if you know what I mean. Granted.... the hospital has many, many MANY more employees than my former office, where there were only six gals working. So obviously, any gift at all from the hospital couldn't be very much. But, hey.... I'm the Queen of Wal Mart, so $20.00 at Wal Mart can still be a good thing! So I'm all geared up, prepared to graciously accept the gift card and try to remember how much better off I am in my current job (read about that story here), and try not to fret over the absence of my nice, big, fat, juicy, bonus check. And while I do appreciate any gift, and I do understand that we have lots of employees and everyone is having to tighten their belts, it was a tiny bit disappointing to learn that this year, instead of the Wal Mart card, we would be receiving a 10-12 lb frozen turkey off the back of the delivery truck that brings our cafeteria food. Not very exciting, but hey, I'd much rather have a 10-12 lb frozen turkey off the back of a transfer truck than a pink slip for me or any of my fellow hospital emloyees!! And lest I sound ungrateful, just let it be known here, that I am totally Paying It Forward, and donating my multi-thousand-dollar bird to Dustin's family's Thanksgiving feast.

Which brings us back to Tom Turkey and Suzy Homemaker. Those of you who know me well might remember that my cooking talents, what little there were to begin with, began to fade when I moved back to Statham in 1993. It's all my mom's fault. Whitney stayed with her after school, and when I returned from work to pick her up, my dinner was on the table every night. She spoiled me plumb rotton. Rurnt me, if you will. You know that whole use-it-or-lose-it thing? Yep, it applies with cooking as well. I seem to have lost my touch all together, and no longer even attempt. (Truth be known, I really CAN cook... but it is oh so wonderful to only be expected to bring paper plates, potato chips or rolls to all the covered-dish lunches and family reunions....)

DNA is an amazingly wonderful thing. Somewhere deep within the chain of molecules there lies a cooking gene, and though it must have been recessant in me, I do believe it has been passed on to Whitney in its more dominant form. Bless her heart. Her mama didn't teach her nuthin' regarding the culinary arts, but she has turned out to be quite the little chef. I won't delve into her repertoire, but she has several dishes that she has perfected nicely. Today she decided to try her hand at Mr. Tom Turkey. Having transferred it from the freezer to the fridge two days ago, we had no idea that his innards would still be frozen. Never having had my hand up the rump of a turkey, I assumed it would be just like a chicken, and told her to remove all the loose stuff inside. (Actually I told her to "curette the walls") Well, the loose stuff inside was still pretty much frozen and stuck to the walls of the... cavity. There was also this funky little plastic looking thing that we figured was a handle to facilitate easy removal of the innards. (No, it wasn't a fancy little pop up "I'm done" thing.) Well, the plastic thing broke with the innards still hiding inside the... cavity. After about the third question about turkey-cookin, I told Whitney she was just gonna hafta call her Nany, who has cooked many a turkey for many a family gathering. Well, Whitney had Tom Turkey juice up to her elbows, so I dialed the number. Now, here we are, two turkey-cooking-virgins, calling our elders on the phone to solicit culinary advice. Can you believe that they LAUGHED at us??? Yes ma'am... Nany and Pawpoo both just hooted like hyenas when we asked how to cook a turkey. And I thought Nany would split a gut when Whitney asked her about that "bony spine-looking thing" that simply would NOT come out of the.... cavity. After much laughing and poking all manner of fun at us for not knowing a giblet from a gizzard (and I still don't), they instilled enough confidence for Whitney to have another go at that neck-thing. We had to cut them off at the pass, though, when they started talking about giblet gravy. BLECH!!!!! These giblets and gizzards are going straight in the garbage!!! No gravy from this turkey!! When the spiney looking thing still wouldn't budge, another phone call to Pawpoo assured me that it really would be okay to just cook it with the neck in there and pull it out later. (It's a turkey... they taste like cardboard to start with. What's a little neck juice gonna do to hurt it?) A few minutes later, Whitney came in here with her arms raised in victory and doing a little happy dance. She got the neck out. And the giblets. And the gizzards. (Eww... now that just sounds soooo appetizing i think i'll just go eat me some turkey. Oh wait, it's still raw. )

Mr. Tom Turkey has been sprinkled with salt and pepper, wrapped in the finest of tin foil from the dollar store, and now sits gutless and neckless in the warmth of my oven, where he will roast for eight or nine hours. Or three or four. I don't remember what Nany said. Maybe Whitney will remember.

I won't be eating any of the turkey my ownself, but if this is the last post you see for a while, it may be because I'm tending to those who did. Ha! Actually, I have every confidence that if any turkey can be made to taste good, then Whitney can do it. I admire her courage to try. Maybe I can be like her when I grow up. Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!

UPDATE I know you're all wondering how Mr. Tom Turkey fared during his stay in my oven. I think he turned out beautifully, and he smells pretty darn good too. Way to go, Whitney!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Candy Store

When I was a little girl, there used to be a candy store in Bogart. Seems to me that maybe it was a cement block building with a tin roof that said "See Rock City". But that may only be a memory concocted in my imagination. I have no recollection of ever going inside The Candy Store. But I do remember that when my Mama Lorene and Pappy would come to visit, we would sometimes ride down to The Candy Store. Pappy would go inside for a few moments, and return with enough candy to put us all in a diabetic coma for weeks. Boxes of soft peppermint sticks, hard pepperment sticks, the tri-colored coconut planks, and my all-time favorite... hard sticks of cloves candy. Why was this my favorite? Well, for starters, it tasted yummy and lasted forever in my mouth, but it also brought on sweet memories of Christmas! At our house it wasn't Christmas without cloves candy, and every year my grandparents made sure that we had several boxes to enjoy throughout the season.

Some childhood favorites never die, and to this day, my favorite hard candy is the cloves stick candy. The Candy Store was ultimately closed and fell to ruin, and it became difficult to find the old-fashioned hard stick candy. Remember, this was back in the olden days before super malls and Wal Mart. Nowadays you can usually find it at Cracker Barrel, but last year our local store had the nerve to sell out of it before I got my Christmas stash. Not to be denied this year, last weekend I went into the store, and spotted the jar containing the cloves (which was conspicuously emptier than all the other flavors). I thought I'd browse about the store for a bit, but wasn't willing to risk someone else coming along and buying up the candy, so instead of a shopping basket, I just grabbed the entire jar and walked around the store until I was ready to check out. A nice girl behind the counter offered to go to "the back" to get me my own personal box of 80-count sticks. I contemplated for a moment, then said "Sure, go ahead", justifying the decision by thinking that I'd attach a little stick to my Christmas gifts this year as an added festive decorative touch, (but knowing deep down inside that even 80 sticks of candy probably wouldn't last til Christmas!). She returned from "the back" and said that there were three boxes, but they were "on the manager's desk", and she could only assume he was holding them for someone. Evidently someone else besides me has fond memories and a taste for the spicy sticks! So, I didn't get my 80-count box of candy. But I was able to count 30 beautiful, shiny, unbroken sticks from the jar in the store, and I walked away happy. (At ten sticks for a dollar, it was a cheap piece of happy!!) Perhaps they'll get another shipment in before Christmas and I'll get to tie them onto my (very few) packages this year. But if you're getting a gift from me, don't hold your breath. You'll probably never see that stick of candy. After all, it's MY memory of The Candy Store, and YOU probably wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as me anyway. Maybe you'd settle for a simple candy cane? In the meantime, I'll ration myself, and enjoy the nostalgia of holding the candy in my mouth, savoring the flavor, remembering trips to The Candy Store with my grandparents, and childhood Christmases with boxes of cloves candy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Are Opinions Changing?

As more and more information comes to light about Obamacare, I can't help but wonder if uninsured citizen supporters are beginning to question their support. No doubt, "we the people" will never know what is contained within the nearly 2,000-page document. How could we possibly ever know... if the members of congress, those who will vote, do not themselves know? By their own admission, few of them have attempted to muddle through it... and those who have, I'd venture to say, have no idea what they read. Healthcare is such a multi-faceted entity, that even those of us in the industry for decades have difficulty fathoming the far reach of each element. As always, I am a firm supporter of FIXING the problems of health care, as opposed to re-vamping the entire system. Over the past year, I have posted many arguments to support my thoughts, and I won't repeat them here. What I'm wondering, though, is if any of the citizens who have staunchly supported The Bill, are beginning to waver in their support. Prior to the current economic downturn and increased unemployment, the percentage of uninsured in America wasn't that large a number. The rise in number of those who have lost jobs has, unfortunately, increased the number of uninsured. (Most of us are only a pink slip away from being uninsured... myself included.) In trying to understand how this Plan is designed to help those who need it most, I've become more confused than ever. There are those who are uninsured because they do not work. Why are they not already on Medicaid? Could it be that they do not qualify for Medicaid because there is no reason that they shouldn't be working in the first place? And make no mistake... there are thousands of people in my own town who are Medicaid recipients who are as able-bodied as myself to be working, so I'm just not understanding why any legitimately-disabled person is not insured. But that has always been a problem in our society, hasn't it? So those people encompass a certain percentage of the uninsured. Then there are people who do work, whose employers do not offer insurance benefits, as well as self-employed, freelance, or contract workers. They are faced with the choice of paying exorbitant premiums for non-group coverage, or simply remaining uninsured. I would imagine those two demographic groups comprise the majority of the uninsured. Without, of course, including the number of illegal residents, who in my opinion, shouldn't be factored in AT ALL in the group of uninsured Americans. They are not Americans, yet they place a gigantic burden on our health care system, and they are included in the numbers that the President uses when presenting the percentage of uninsured. ....ahh... but that's another topic for another day.... So, here we have the two groups of citizens who comprise the majority of uninsured: Those who, for whatever reasons, DO NOT work, and those who DO work but cannot afford healthcare premiums. Under Obamacare, everyone is going to be required to have insurance, or pay a fine. Now, those who DO NOT work, who cannot afford to pay for insurance now, STILL won't be able to afford insurance. Oh wait... they will be "given" a subsidy, so they can pay their premiums. Not sure of the logistics of that one yet, but nothing much will change for those folks. They will remain unemployed, and still won't contribute anything to society, yet they will have, without cost, the same health care that those of us who work (and pay premiums for) will have. Then there are those people who are hard workers, who pay their bills, who are productive citizens, yet can't afford coverage. Under the new plan, they will also be required to purchase insurance, or face a fine. What if they still can't afford the premiums? They will be fined. And don't kid yourself that the entire almost-four trillion dollar project will be paid for by insurance premiums. Oh no. It will be funded by taxes here, taxes there, taxes, taxes everywhere. The government can, and will, raise taxes anywhere they choose, to fund the insanity. So here we have a hard working young man and/or woman, trying to provide for their family, who now will be forced to pay an insurance premium (amount set by the government), or face a fine. And there's every possibility that they STILL won't be able to afford the premium because they are being taxed to death at every turn in the road. How will this help? Chances are, they'll be worse off than before. I am afraid that not only are we who opposed the plan in for a bum rap, but also the uninsured workers in this country who have supported the plan. I believe the empty promises they were fed are going to end up biting them in the butt... and it will be a bite felt 'round the country, as we all are going to suffer. The winners here? Those who will continue a life of subsidy... housing, food, health, free cell phones, etc. Lest I seem insensitive, I remind you that I'm a very compassionate person to those in need. My profession has afforded me the unpleasant opportunity to see people of all walks of life with true need, and dire circumstances. I've seen much heartbreak and true hardship. For the infirm and disabled, I am all for lending them a hand. For those who work hard and contribute to society, hats off.. and give credit where credit is due. Children and the elderly, who have no control over their circumstances, should be top of the list for receiving health care. Working-age adults who are too lazy to work??? Deserve no subsidy at all. They are a burden to our society and should not be given handouts, while you and I must punch a clock to fund our grocery bill and utilities. I just don't believe that Obamacare is the answer, and certainly not the ONLY answer. As I have written in the past, the 400 billion dollar a year fraud in Medicare and Medicaid could quite adequately fund healthcare for the uninsured. Use that money to fund public health departments. Subsidize one year of medical school in exchange for one year of service (during residency) in public health. Hire independent (not ACORN-type) agencies to determine on a case-by-case basis, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability benefits for recipients. There just has to be another way.

And in the meantime, I wonder how uninsured working people who have supported Obamacare are feeling now? Unfortunately, even if they change their minds and oppose it, their voices won't be heard any more than mine. The decision is being made by people who are not like you and me. People who will not be directly affected by the change. I have yet to hear one member of congress who is willing to be under the Obamacare umbrella. That's because they know it's nothing but a naked metal frame umbrella... the fabric of protection having been eaten and rotted away in the form of taxes here, taxes there, taxes, taxes everywhere.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mission: Little Green Machine

A new gadget has found its way to the top of my Must Have List. You may remember (but probably not... who remembers such a sillly thing as this??...) last year my favorite Black Friday purchase was a Bissell steam mop. That little baby has rocked my world. Now, you'll never hear my name associated with June Cleaver or Martha Stewart with regard to... well, with regard to anything... but especially with housekeeping talents. (I'd much rather play with Martha's line of scrapbook products than cook with her kitchenware or clean with her cleaning products.) But, oh! How I love my Bissell Steam Mop. Especially with two toddlers who are very messy eaters, and three adults who somehow seem to track and then grind into the floor every form of dirt imaginable. My once-beautiful, ceramic tile kitchen floor is constantly abused. But thanks to the steam mop, it is cleaned to perfection with very little effort (which is the BEST part!!!).

Now I have discovered another little green Bissell gadget that is desperately needed at The 409. A little mini upholstery-carpet cleaner thingy!!! Not only has my poor kitchen floor suffered greatly under the extra traffic, but the carpet throughout my house has taken an especially hard hit. I've had it professionally cleaned twice within a year, and once myself using Mary Kay's Monster Bissell Carpet Cleaner (which works great but will absolutely wear you out and took me all day!) Warning: After the first professional cleaning of your carpet, count on it getting nasty ten times faster than it did the first time. I guess cleaning it also strips the Stain Master stuff off of it. Anyway, the spots on my carpet have become a great source of anxiety for me, and vacuuming just puts me in a bad mood. But vacuum often we must, because Corey is still in the Billy Goat phase, and will put any and everything into his mouth. Including crumbs, bits of paper, yard debris, or whatever other foriegn objects happen to be loose on the carpet, so I'm just resigned to be in a perpetual bad-carpet-mood. So... whatever money I can find behind the sofa cushions, in the washing machine, at the bottom of my purse, in the sock drawer, etc. will be put in a jar in hopes of saving enough to pick up this handy dandy little power cleaner. And I'm hoping for another big sale at Kohl's and some coupons!

The reason I know that Kohl's carries this item is because I saw it my own personal self last night. I ran in to check on some 50% off Christmas jammies for the children. It was to be a quick dash in the store. My trip to Athens was for the sole purpose of going in Lowes and exchanging some shelves (yes... THOSE shelves, the ones I had such a hard time hanging) for the longer version. I was dressed in a long, comfy sweatshirt, sloppy jeans with paint stains, the ugliest shoes in the history of the world, and I hadn't shampooed my hair yet. I wouldn't be seeing anyone in Lowes, right? And if I did, I could point to my shelves and say I was in the middle of a construction project. BUT... then I decided I'd sneak into Kohl's. And wouldn't you know... I'd run into my (forever) mother-in-law and (forever) sister-in-law!!! As always, so nicely dressed and lovely... and here I am looking like the Blob-Slob From The Black Lagoon. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I had spilled ketchup all down the front of my long, comfy sweatshirt???

So how come it always happens. When I think I can sneak out without seeing anyone that I run into ex-boyfriends, family members who are way more dressed up than me, the bosslady from work, the pastor... you know... folks that you would prefer not see you looking that way? Well, I guess the moral of the story is, if I'm are too ashamed for my friends to see me looking so... ummm.... "comfy casual" we'll call it... then I guess I'd best just stay at home. Or at least change my clothes.

All was not a total loss, though, because I discovered The Little Green Machine. Maybe once I purchase one, I should use it on myself before I go out looking like that again....

And I really enjoyed talking to my SIL about how much better things would be if WE could be the boss of everything... and we discussed to such great depth and detail that by the time we finished, Lowes had barricaded the parking lot and shut the place down before I could exchange my shelves. How rude. Oh well... that just means another trip to town. I promise I'll clean up better before I go. And then of course I won't see a soul. But if you do see me on Friday, please tell me how gorgeous I look. And drop a few coins on the ground so I can find them and add them to my jar. I must have that Little Green Machine!!!