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.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Sky Lanterns

As promised in my last post, I'm adding some follow up pictures from our Sky Lantern adventure last weekend at Michael and Linda's farm.  My friends Dietke and Chris have added some great night-time photos of the event, and I wanted to share with you.  If you're unfamiliar with sky lanterns, click the link above to my previous post, which explains what they are, and how they work.  I can't wait to do this again!
Preparing to launch

Almost ready!

Into the night sky, our lanterns gracefully wafted on the breeze. 

I will defer to the words of the photographer himself...
I enjoy this photo a lot because it remains like the evening itself, a wonderful dreamlike moment.

A few more night photos:

The Food Tent

Adding another log to the fire

Good times around the campfire! 

For sure, this day and night will definitely be filed away in my bank of Favorite Memories.  Looking forward to making many more happy memories at Star Valley!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hillbilly Hippiefest 2011

What a great weekend!!  Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of my first date with my husband.  Wow… I never would have imagined how my world would change over the following months.  On the day we celebrated our anniversary, we were blessed to meet, for the first time in real life, the delightful woman who started it all.  (You may remember that story.)  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Dietke, and learning about her amazing talents, through Facebook, and was so happy to meet her and her husband, Chris, on Saturday.

Dietke, Steve and I.  We love her!!!

The event that brought us together was none other than the 2nd Annual Hillbilly Hippiefest, hosted by Michael and Linda, (baby brother and sister-in-law) at their farm in the South Carolina mountains.  Lots of folks brought their tents and camping gear, and settled in for the weekend.  Steve and I were unsure about whether we’d get to go due to work issues, and unfortunately, there’s a nasty kidney stone that’s giving Steve some trouble this week too.  We were so happy that it worked out for us to go.  I had never been to the farm before, though I had seen a few pictures, and couldn’t wait to check it out.
For those who don’t know my brother, let me tell you a little about him (but first my dad), and why the farm is so important.  Our dad is one of the most amazing men alive, and honestly, could make it in the wilderness with nothing but a knife and a canteen.  He could build a shack out of twigs, and feed himself with wild berries and roots.  He could catch a fish from the stream with his bare hands and build a fire with two sticks and a rock.  Get the picture?  He’s a very self-sufficient kind of man, and knows a little bit about most things, and an awful lot about a lot of things.  He is absolutely right when he shakes his head at “these kids today”, who wouldn’t survive one week if they had to “make do” for themselves. 

My brother got his DNA.  He can do anything.  If he can’t do it, he’ll Google it and figure out how to do it.  For several years, he and Linda have been looking for a patch of land in the mountains, in the hopes of building a farm and retiring there.  I don’t know the details of how they came across this particular patch of land, but purchase it they did, and are in the process of turning it into a self-sustaining farm.  There are a couple of streams on the property, a nice valley or two (I only saw the front side of the property; there’s another valley on the back side of their mountain.)  They have moved a small cabin onto the property to serve as their living quarters when they go up to work on the farm.  When the farmhouse is completed, the cabin will be the guest quarters.  The really cool thing about their plans, is that the farm will be completely self-sustaining.  Solar panels will provide the electricity, they will grow their own food, and grass-feed their animals.  Another goal is to make it a teaching farm, where they can bring folks in and teach them how to grow their own organic food, and how to can and preserve the food. At home in Atlanta, he makes his own wine, and is planning to grow his own grapes at the farm someday.  He makes his own bread, and will one day grow his own grain and mill it as well. You can read more about it in his own words here.  Check it out.  He is amazing. 

And so we spent the afternoon and evening with Michael, Linda, my nephew Ryan, and LUCY was in the house!  …um… on the farm.  The weather was PERFECT, and the afternoon was clear and crisp.  As the evening wore on, sweaters, sweatshirts, mittens, scarves and blankets were brought out, and we gathered the hay bales closer to the fire.  There are few things finer than a roaring bonfire on a clear, cold night, and the laughter of friends. With the wine tasting over, and the appetizers enjoyed, it was time to turn attention to dinner. Michael had built a smoker, and all afternoon the aroma of ribs, chicken, and pork tempted our taste buds, and finally it was time to load our plates.  Oh, the food!  In addition to the aforementioned meat, there were several varieties of soup, pasta, vegetables, and desert.  After dinner we sat around to let the food settle and watch the fire crackle and pop in the night.  The full moon was teasing us with brightening of the sky just over the ridge of the mountain, ready to spill its light into the valley. Baby Lucy was tucked away inside the cabin, a tired little pumpkin after running around all afternoon breathing the fresh country air. All the doggies were snuggled at the feet of their respective owners, and Scottie, Michael and Linda’s pooch, had found a nice warm spot in my lap underneath the blanket.  The night was filled with sounds of the wood popping and sizzling, friends laughing and talking, and at one point the loud bangs of fireworks.  We enjoyed a very nice display of streams of color streaking in the sky, and my favorite ones, the tiny explosions with the sparkles trickling down like a waterfall.  Big, fat sparklers were passed around and the smiling faces of friends having fun lit up the darkness.
My very favorite moment, however, was when we all released sky lanterns, and they floated up, up, and away into the night.  I had never seen this done before.  It was amazing.  Sky lanterns are very fragile miniature hot-air-balloon-like lanterns made up of tissue paper and a small, lightweight ring of wire at the bottom.  There’s a square of some kind of slow-burning, wax combustible material attached to the bottom.  You fluff up the lantern, light the square on fire, and hold the lantern upright and let it fill with air.  The hot air will inflate the tissue-paper lantern, and when it’s full, you simply release it and it floats silently and gracefully up into the air.  They are designed to burn for about 12 minutes, and can go several miles high into the sky.  Linda invited us to make a wish on our lantern, or meditate and perhaps symbolically release something from our lives that binds us and “let it go”, as the lanterns floated upward.  I sent my lantern heavenward with love and hugs for Delores.  There were around 40 people who released the lanterns, and the moment was quiet and somewhat reverent, with whispers of “awesome!”, “cool!” being the only sounds for a minute or so, as we all gazed upward to watch the slow ascent of the lights.  They traveled silently northward, then when they reached the altitude coinciding with the top of the ridge, a breeze changed their direction and they began to float silently toward the east.  Higher and higher they floated, until they looked like stars in the night.  Amazing.  I want to do this again!!

After the lanterns floated out of sight, Michael lit some luminary bags and placed them around the perimeter of the party area.  We left shortly afterward for the drive home, and as we reached the road and looked back down into the valley, we could see the luminaries scattered about the farm, and the shadows of the people gathered once again around the bonfire. 

It was a fabulous day.  I’m so happy for Michael and Linda, to be able to see their dreams come true.  I can’t wait to see how the farm progresses, and look forward to spending lots of quality time there with family and friends in the future.
Here are a few photos that I took of the farm.  My friends Dietke and Chris (both professional photographers) took photos of the fireworks and sky lanterns.  I will add those pictures when they are available, so be sure to come back and take a look.

The front acreage from the main road

 Tent Village

The Barn 

Our gracious host and hostess

 View from the front porch of the cabin.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Epic Fail

Blogging is addictive.  When I first started this blog, I was faithful to post every day.  During the 2008 presidential election it served as my soap box.  It's where I posted pictures of the grandchildren and talked about my family, and recorded my trips down memory lane.  I'm afraid the blog suffered a little when Steve and I started dating, as I preferred spending time with my sweetheart over sitting at the computer.  Imagine that!!  Blogging also serves as a diary, of sorts, and with my failing memory these days, I like that events and feelings are documented somewhere, and though Whitney calls me narcissistic, I enjoy going back and reading about what was happening, and what I was feeling over the past few years.  

A little bit after the time I started this blog, I created a more private one to document my many attempts at weight loss.  I found other weight-loss blogs, and became cyber-friends with lots of other folks doing the same thing.  Reading their blogs was very motivational to me, and became an important part of my day.  Strangely enough, knowing that I would be posting about my day would often help me make better choices.  I had determined to always be truthful and never cover up or justify "failures".  I specifically remember one day wanting to eat a particularly yummy and sinful treat, but stopped myself, because I knew I would have to report it to my blogger friends.  And the feeling of victory that I had over the moment tasted sweeter than the treat would have!!  

My real-life friends have watched my struggles and have seen me go through multiple dress sizes over the past couple of years.  Up, down, and then up again.  It was easy to post to my blog when things were going well, but as it seemed everything was out of control, I simply stopped posting to that blog altogether.  It is part of the purging process that sometimes helps, but can be very discouraging when the only thing I can say is that I'm failing miserably.  The holidays are coming, and while one side of me defiantly says I'm not denying myself the enjoyment of all the delicious foods of the season, the other side of me (maybe my butt-side???) is shouting "Danger!!"  At any rate, the struggle continues.  For me it is a mind-over-matter thing, and part of the process is addressing the issue. A couple of months ago I posted to the other blog, and then this week I posted the following. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

I close my eyes for just a second... and two months whiz by with lightning speed.  Another two months have passed, and nothing has changed.  Nothing, that is, except my frustration level is a bit higher than it was two months ago at my last post.  While shopping the other night, my sweet husband bought me a gorgeous pair of boots.  I had wanted some for a while.  I love the look of skinny girls with their jeans tucked into their knee-high boots.  I hadn't committed to buying any for myself, though, because I'm so short and dumpy, I know that I'll probably just look like a Weeble.  At any rate, my sweetheart had me trying on boots at Belk, and we found a pair that we both loved, (and they were 40% off!!!), so I brought them home.  I fully intended to wear them to church on Sunday, but only have one dress that I could get away with wearing brown.  (Most everything I own is black.)  I was doubtful that the dress would fit, since my mom bought it for me when I was at my lowest weight after (failed) lap-band surgery.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I donned the obligatory suck-me-up panties, the pantyhose, the half slip, and slid the dress over my head.  I got my arms through, and it sort of got stuck on my chest.  I wiggled and squirmed, trying to pull it on down.  The dress has a jacket, so I was hoping that the jacket would be able to cover a multitude of lumps and bumps.  However, I only got the hem of the dress below my butt cheeks... and I got stuck.  Couldn't go down, couldn't go up.  I was mortified.  My husband was out of town for the day.  My stepson and his children were visiting, but I was too ashamed to ask for help.  So I put the wiggle in reverse, and somehow got the dress back over my head.  And felt pretty discouraged.  Not only was I irritated at myself, because the dress no longer fit, I didn't get to wear my new boots.  ....sigh....  

If I had the time and the money, I think I would benefit more from a psychologist or a shrink than a dietitian or a gym membership.  It is all in my head.  Always has been.  On the way home from the mall, we stopped at the Krispy Kreme to get donuts for the grandchildren.  My husband asked me if I remembered the time that I was on a healthy eating kick and I rode for 30 minutes with a box of hot KK donuts on my lap and never touched a one.  He said "I don't know how you did it!"  I did it because I was mentally prepared, and had my mind made up that eating healthy was more important than indulging in my in-the-moment desire to eat hot donuts.  Where does that go?  How do I lose it?  

I don't blog here often because I have nothing positive to say.  I find myself gravitating to the blogs of people who are successful, rather than ones who whine all the time and never seem to get their act together and actually work the program.  So rather than be one of those whiners, I just don't blog at all.  Sad.  And more often than not, I don't even take the time to read the blogs that do inspire me.  Fail.  [end]

It makes me sad to read that.  But there it is, for all it's pitiful truth.  Say a prayer for me, and for all your friends who struggle with this.  They may never admit it, but I'd venture to say more of your friends struggle with this issue than you realize.  Unlike alcohol or drugs, we can't just quit food cold-turkey.  We must eat.  And the mentality of "just one more bite" is as dangerous for us as "just one tiny drink" is for an alcoholic.  It is a mental problem on so many levels.  A real head game.  Psyching myself up and getting the motivational part of my brain on the same page as my intellectual brain is key.  But then when things don't go well, looking in the mirror, or trying on clothes, the brain screams "Failure!" and "You'll never be able to do it, so don't even bother to try!".  It's not pretty.  

So if you're one of the people who has overcome your struggle and now make healthy eating choices, or if you are one of the blessed who never had a problem with it, take the time today to encourage someone you know who is struggling.  We need to hear it.  We need to hear that we are worth the effort.  We need to know that someone believes in us, and thinks we are strong enough to do it.  

Don't look at us condescendingly when we choose fries instead of apple wedges.  In fact, don't say anything at all in the presence of food.  It's too late then.  Encourage and inspire us outside the kitchen or the restaurant. Then maybe we'll make better choices.  If you try to do this after I've already fixed my plate, it just reinforces the fact that I am a failure, and instead of stopping when I'm full, I'll clean my plate and go back for seconds.  After all, I'm a failure, doomed to be fat, so I might as well enjoy it. 

I miss my weight-loss blogger friends, and today I'm making a vow to go back and catch up with them.  See how they are doing.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll get motivated again to start making better choices.  Yes, the holidays are coming, and one of the great things about the season is the once-a-year delicious food.  I'm not going to be so silly as to claim I'll be abstaining.  But I am going to make a conscious effort to reduce the portion sizes of my favorite holiday foods. 

After all.  I've got new boots and a brown dress that I want to wear.  :-)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thirty Days of Thanks

During the month of November, many of my Facebook friends list each day something for which they are thankful.  I love reading these posts!!  I thought about participating, but I'm already three days behind.  I did the same thing last year.  Instead, I listed a month's worth of Thankful Things on my blog, and decided to do the same thing this year.  Most all of us will list, first and foremost, our obvious blessings:  Faith, Family, Friends, Employment.  Those are the big ticket items, and I am most assuredly thankful for all of those.  I can't imagine life without them.  I'm going to try to dig a little deeper, and find more specific things that I consider blessings. Some are silly, some are serious.  But all are things that make my life what it is, and for these things, I am thankful.

1. Falling in love and getting married in my 50s when I said I'd never do it again.
2. Sweet little grand baby faces that light up when they see Greemaw.
3. Parents who are healthy enough to enjoy the great-grandchildren, and love babysitting them!
4. My heated keyboard.
5. A husband who can fix things. And build things.
6. The ability to listen objectively to both sides. 
7. Spell Check.
8. Google.
9. Facebook. 
10. Forgiveness.
11. Music.
12. Creativity.
13. Take out food. 
14. The best co-workers ever.
15. The love of reading.
16. The love of writing.
17. Calculators (No love for math!)
18. Knowing who has my back (and who doesn't)
19. Working from home.
20. Early detection. 
21. Growing up in a small town.
22. A grateful heart.
23. Opportunities to do good. 
24. Girl time. 
25. A sense of humor (which sometimes only Whitney "gets")
26. Digital photography.
27. Salad.
28. Reading glasses at the $1.00 store. (I buy them 10 at a time)
29. The American soldier. 
30. School teachers, policemen, and firemen.