Don't forget to visit my website! Jackie Coleman - Author

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Tree is Up

My Christmas tree is up. I had to buy a new one, as I would have had to cut a hole in the roof to accommodate my old one! I was afraid the angel would be way too large for this tree, but it turns out, she looks just fine. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

When I moved, I left all of my holiday decorations in the basement of my old house. There's no way I could use them all in my new home, and since my daughter and her husband bought my old house, it made more sense to take only what I needed. But before I moved, I didn't know how much room I'd have or what I needed to decorate.

So, this past Saturday, my daughter and I went through the decorations. I took my very favorite items, but some of the things I left behind pulled at my heartstrings. I told my daughter why they were so special to me. I know she'll cherish them as much as I do, so they're in good hands.

I took more than what I needed and planned to give her the things I couldn't use. Turns out, even though I left a lot ... I took a lot ... and I used almost all of it! I've got most everything done, but I still have a few things I hung onto that she could probably use. I'm not planning on decorating the family room this year. If I do decorate down there, it will be sparingly and Christmas light free. I rarely go downstairs, and I fear the kids will leave the lights on 24/7. Some of the decorations I held onto were things I wanted for the family room. But, since I'm not decorating it much this year, it feels selfish holding onto them.

Once I get all the decorations completely done, I'll give her the rest of what I took. As hard as it it to let some of these things go, it's time to pass them on. For years prior to moving, I'd been trying to cull my Christmas decorations, and I had already given her a lot of them. This year, however, will be the finale. Why am I finding it so difficult to let go of some silly decorations I don't need?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Never Underestimate the Ingenuity of the Intellectually-Challenged

At some point, these two geniuses decided to embark on a new career path ... a life of crime. Unfortunately, they didn't have enough money to buy masks.

Hmmmm. That is a problem, isn't it? 

Did they allow a lack of funds to derail their plans? Did they allow a few dollars to stand in the way of riches beyond their wildest dreams? Heck, no!! They're no stranger to adversity! They put their heads together! They brainstormed! They improvised and made their dreams come true! They may not have access to money for masks, but they did have access to something just as good ... permanent markers.

Although they did a masterful job at disguising their real identities, I'm going to offer up a suggestion for others who, like these gentlemen, want to begin their life of crime, but don't have sufficient cash to fund such an endeavor.

Steal them.

That's right ... I said steal them.

You don't want to be laughed at because you can't afford to dress like the other felons, do you? Then don't give up! Don't lose sight of the ball! You're a criminal, for Pete's sake! Laws don't bother you! What's one more crime? Never forget ... this is what you were born for! Remember ... this is what you do! Just like the money in the bank you intend to rob, you don't have to work for the attire this profession demands!

I wouldn't recommend going to a high-end department store or a swanky boutique, because let's face it ... those places don't carry the merchandise necessary to the unique needs of criminals. But don't despair ... there are lots of places that sell ski-masks or long stocking caps that you could cut eye-holes in! Or, hey ... what about a Halloween store?

I'm in no way advocating a life of crime, but if you've already made up your mind, don't settle for second best. I realize you're very busy and obviously have a lot on your plate, so if you don't have time for additional robberies, I'll understand if you raid your kids art supplies and draw yourself up a nice mask ... and then go out there and make your family proud!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Well Played, Mr. Camel. Well Played.

Yesterday, I went to the Hadi Shriner's Thanksgiving Circus with Superman and his grandsons. As a kid, we went to the circus every year, but I wasn't a big circus fan. After Shriner's last show, Whirlpool paid for one more show and treated it's employees and children to a free (albeit.smaller) circus ... and every child received a stocking full of candy and tickets for a drink, hot dog, popcorn, and cotton candy. That was the draw for me! I endured the circus for cotton candy and a stocking full of candy.

I wasn't all that excited about going to the circus yesterday, but I was excited to spend the day with Superman and the kids. I knew his grandsons would fired up ...and who can resist the excitement of a child? To my surprise, I enjoyed the show.

When they brought out three rings of animals, I was a little surprised to see a camel leading the pack, and ushered into the center ring with the horses. 

And all I could think of was the movie "Babe"!

Remember how (in that movie), the duck pretended to be a rooster? Farmers ate ducks, so the duck knew he had to do something vital to the farm ... something important enough that they no longer saw him as food, but an intricate part of life. The duck deduced that if he were a rooter, the farmer and his wife would see how valuable he was and wouldn't eat him ... and that's all I could think of as I watched the camel in with the horses. 

There aren't a lot of caravan's through the desert here in the States, so employment prospects for camels are slim at best. I suppose it was either masquerade as a horse or get used to the sticky hands, screaming, crying kids, and suckers stuck in your fir at the petting zoo!

Well played, Mr. Camel. Well played.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Smurfs vs. Storm Troopers?

I walked into the family room to see my son watching a football game on television. 

I said, "The Smurfs vs. Storm Troopers? That doesn't sound very fair."

Clearly not amused, he glanced at me like "Really mom?", then turned back to the tv.

I went to the kitchen to eat a cupcake. It wasn't long before Thing 3 came in to raid the refrigerator. I asked him if it was halftime. He said the game was over, so I asked him who won. (I didn't really care ... I was just making polite conversation.)

He pulled his head out of the fridge and looked over at me. I'm sure he was flashing back to the many times we'd be driving someplace and he'd say, "Look at that cool (insert car name here)".  I'd look around, searching for some vehicle that looked cool. Unless the name is written big enough for me to read, I can identify very few vehicles by sight. Realizing I needed more clues that the name, he'd sigh and tell me the color.

So, there we stood in the kitchen ... me, licking icing off my fingers and he holding a bowl of something or other in front of the fridge. Finally, he sighed and said, "The Smurfs."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Food Network Chefs Thanksgiving Fav's

Growing up, I never really understood why everyone got so excited about Thanksgiving. To me, it was a couple of days off school, but other than that, it was just a regular day, with just slightly larger variety of food than every other dinner my mother prepared ... and I knew what she was going to cook without having to ask. There were eight of us kids, plus my mom and dad. My mother made a big dinner every night. She's always made a variety of things to make sure there was enough to go around and that everyone had plenty to eat. The only foods she made that were Thanksgiving exclusives were cranberry relish and dressing ... and both were family favorites.

I realize now that having family together was the big draw for most people, but I was with my family all the time. We didn't get together with other family members on Thanksgiving ... or any other holiday for that matter. My mom had just as many siblings as myself. Most of them lived here in town, and almost all of them had just has many kids as she did. We would have had to rent out a banquet hall to get everyone in the same building!

As the older kids began to marry off and had in-law houses to go to for Thanksgiving, getting just our core family together became more complicated, and sometimes impossible. It was only then that I realized how special it was to have all of us in the same room.

Around Thanksgiving, the Food Network is dominated with shows devoted to Thanksgiving. To keep things "interesting" and to keep viewers coming back, the chefs have to come up with new recipes every year. And I've noticed something ... as the years go on, the recipes their chefs prepare get stranger and stranger!

Like my mother, my menu stays the same year after year. I don't watch many of the Thanksgiving shows on the Food Network, but I do enjoy looking at the television guide, rolling my eyes at some of the "classics" they prepare, and taking screen grabs to make fun of them later!

Below are a few of my favorites from this year:

Celery-root and apple puree? Do you eat it with a spoon? Is it a dip? A glaze?

I'm sorry, but an EASY 11-layer potato gratin? EASY would be two or three layers ... four tops! This recipe undoubtedly calls for several different types of those "artisan cheeses" I simply must buy but don't have access to. Unless I can pick up all eleven layers of this dish at the supermarket, which is unlikely and would result in making one particularly snooty chef to wrinkle her nose in disgust, this recipe is off the table. I guess it's a good thing I never invite celebrity chefs to my Thanksgiving table.

Baked-mashed potatoes with peas? Yuk! If I want peas in my potatoes ... which I don't ... I'll put them there myself. And what am I supposed to do with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs? Is this a side dish? An appetizer? Do I put them in my salad made with locally grown, organic vegetables? And, once again, I'd have to make it with common bread and Parmesan ... from the supermarket.

Oh, the horror of serving the peasant food from a supermarket! No ... I could never serve common supermarket food to my fancy guests (insert shudder here). So, I guess this one is out, too.

A "Classic Thanksgiving" which includes pumpkin Alfredo lasagna rolls? I don't know what this is, but it sounds disgusting ... and it's certainly never graced any "classic" Thanksgiving table I've sat at! And crispy truffled turkey? I don't want crispy turkey. I want juicy turkey. 

And as for the dessert, well, I had to look up what a semifreddo cake even is. For all you fellow hillbillies out there ... it's "a partially frozen Italian dessert". While that does sound simply devine, the host and I obviously differ greatly on what we consider a classic Thanksgiving.

And, finally ... what Thanksgiving Day feast would be complete without stuffing arancini or charred Brussels sprouts crostini?

All my snarkiness aside ... I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and good food (even if it comes from the supermarket!).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Old Chests

I bought this old chest at a resale shop here in town. At my old house, it was upstairs in my office. At my new house, it's the coffee table in my living room.

My daughter and son-in-law both love antiques, which makes the fact that they bought my 106-year-old Victorian so perfect. I showed them the trunk and they both fell in love with it. When I showed it to them, I was secretly stifling a laugh because they had no idea they were looking at their Christmas present. But it looked so good in my office ... and then when I bought this house, I knew it would look perfect in my new living room. So, I (selfishly) kept it for myself.

Did I feel guilty for keeping it for myself? Yes

Did I feel guilty enough to give it to them? No.

A few days after he saw my trunk, my son-in-law texted me a photo of a trunk he'd found ...

Now that he has a trunk that astoundingly similar to "mine", I don't have to feel quite so guilty at keeping the one I bought for them. In my defense, however, they didn't know I'd bought it for them, so it's not like I gave it to them and then took it back!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is Your Cat Stressed Out?

I read an article entitled "Five Signs Your Cat is Stressed and How to Relieve it". I no longer have a cat (Olivia is living with Thing 1 now), but I do have experience with cats, so I've added a few thoughts of my own about "cat stress". Keep in mind, I do love cats (because as you read this, that won't be very clear!).

Here are the five signs your cat may be stressed:

1) Urinating Outside the Litter Box

While this needs no further explanation, I found it humorous that the article said that (among other things) the cat could be stressed due to rearranged furniture or loud noises.
Article's Solution: Take your cat to the vet.
My Thoughts: I'm sorry, but I have enough stress in my life without stressing over how the cat will feel should I decide to rearrange my furniture. And those loud noises that probably stressed Olivia Out? Well, they were typically because SHE knocked something off the table ... on purpose! Life is full of rearranged furniture and loud noises. Deal with it. If that's not possible ... get rid of the cat.
2) Decrease in Appetite

The article said that a decrease in appetite is not normal, that cats don't go on diets.
Article's Solution: Take your cat to the vet.
My Thoughts: Well, that certainly explains Olivia's rear end! But, if you can't find a quality food the cat will eat ... get rid of the cat.
3) Isolation

The article said that cats are often mischaracterized as "aloof animals that avoid interaction with other pets and people".
Article's Solution: Take your cat to the vet.
My Thoughts: Cats are aloof animals that avoid interaction with other pets and people ... unless they want something. If you want a pet that will interact with you, get a dog ... and get rid of the cat.
4) Excessive Grooming

The author makes a distinction between fastidious grooming and excessive grooming that leaves a raw or bald spot.
Article's Solution: Take your cat to the vet.
My Thoughts: Olivia isn't awake that often, but when she is, she spends a lot of that time grooming. Given that she spends many of her waking hours licking herself (then puking up hair balls) and has never licked herself raw ... just how long do you have to lick yourself to lick yourself bald? Honestly, I don't think she can stay awake long enough to lick herself raw! If you have a cat that isn't supposed to be bald and it is, it's time to get rid of the cat. 
Side Note: If you have a (creepy) cat that IS supposed to be bald, it's time for your family to get a new human!
5) Aggression

Aggressive actions could mean your cat is stressed out.
Article's Solution: Take your cat to the vet.
My Thoughts: It could also mean your cat is psychotic and it's time to get rid of the cat.
So how are we to to deal with cat stress? Good question!
Articles Solution: Obviously, as the author of the article made abundantly clear, you should take your cat to the vet! You should also play with the cat regularly, set aside an area or secret hiding spot for the cat to escape to, and provide high quality cat food.
My Thoughts: Most cat owners would love to play with their cat ... but their cat is aloof and avoids interaction with them most of the time. And about this "secret place" that only your cat knows about ... doesn't the fact that you create it mean that it's not a secret? And finally, the quality food conundrum. I don't know how "quality" Meow Mix is, but that's all Olivia wanted, so I'm guessing it's the McDonald's of the cat world. Thing 2 bought Meow Mix for her, but Thing 1 feeds her something else ... something probably more nutritious (and apparently helps digest hair because she doesn't puke hairballs as often). But, Olivia doesn't particularly care for that food, so there is a marked decrease in her appetite.
So it all comes down to this ... you could spend a lot of money on vet bills, toys the cat won't play with, and food the cat won't eat ... OR ... you could just get rid of the cat!

Monday, November 23, 2015

I FINALLY Figured Out What to Hang in the Kitchen

After having to scrap the stemware rack and buffet table idea for the kitchen, I spent countless hours scouring the web looking for inspiration as to what to hang on the wall behind the island. I also needed something to hang on the wall with the tv. I had designed a very pretty cabinet to house (and hide) the television, but I don't possess the skills necessary to build it, and my to-do list for Superman is already pretty long. But, the television hanging all by its lonesome looked "unfinished". It needed something to combat the nakedness.

The internet yielded no ideas, so I headed out, determined to find something to make that wall more interesting. I finally decided on iron scrolls and sconces. I've had this idea in my head for a long time, but was afraid it would look too busy. After it was hung (thanks to Superman), I chastised myself for not doing it sooner! 

One wall down, one to go.

I still had to figure out what to hang on the wall where the stemware rack and "eat" sign were originally intended to hang. It had to be something low-profile so as not to impede traffic behind the island, and I wanted something unique. After roaming the aisles and putting things in and out of my cart, I finally decided on this ...

I love the look of these shelves, and they provide room for some of my stemware. The wood shelves and black pipe tie into the shelves above the cooktop quite nicely, don't you think?

Before I bought the stemware rack, I had envisioned rustic wood shelves hung by black pipes attached to the ceiling and the walls. I've seen photo's of it, and knew it would look amazing, but something that heavy would be a big deal to hang. I needed to find a less complicated solution, and I believe I did. This is the perfect compromise ... I got the rustic shelves and the black pipe detail I love so much!

Slowly but surely, the house is coming together. I fell in love with this house the moment I saw it. After living in my previous home for sixteen years, I was sure it would feel odd to call someplace else home ... but it didn't. Even on the very first night here, it felt like home. I still look at houses for sale online ... and I still like mine the best.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Is This Not the Most Useless Sink EVER?!!

I was looking at bathroom vanities online the other day and came across this one. It's a whopping 5" deep. Unless someone has bought into the tiny house fad, I can't imagine anyone  (especially a woman trying to get ready in the morning) using a vanity this small in their main bath. I can only assume it would be for a second bath.

When I saw it, my first thought was that it must be really inexpensive, but it's not ... it's almost $400. I admit that's not a fortune, but you can find a wide variety of normal-sized vanities at Lowe's or Home Depot for a lot less, so its size, rather than its price, is the selling point.

If this is all the room someone has for a sink, someone needs to have the courage to pull them aside and tell them ... gently and lovingly, ... they don't have room for another bathroom.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

When You See It ...

Take an ordinary picture of a grumpy Thing 3 ...
Flip it upside down. 
Do you see it?
Here ... let me give you a hint ...
A perfect heart!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

$29.70 for a Full Tank of Gas!

Back in December, right after my son was moved from ICU to a step-down unit and I was finally able to leave the hospital and sleep in my own bed ... I got gas for $1.959 a gallon. It was the one of the few things that made me smile during those dark, scary days and nights. I smiled again the other day when I filled up for less than $30. Paying almost $30 for a tank of gas 20 years ago would have made me cry ... now I do a happy dance!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sometimes Criminals Just Make it Sooooo Easy!

I'm not a criminal mastermind, nor do I play one on tv, and I don't pretend to know how their (obviously) brilliant minds process thought ... but if I'm planning on stealing something or robbing someone, I'd probably ditch the girl with the fishing pole first. Or, I might have her hide the fishing pole someplace safe (I sure don't want some low-life to steal it!), and come back for it later. At the very least, I would have her wait a few blocks away, or tell her to go home and that we'll meet up later. But, like I said, I'm not a criminal mastermind, so far be it from me to second-guess their wisdom!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kitchen Shelves

(Click on picture to enlarge)
Superman hung the shelves in my kitchen last weekend. There are still things around the house to hang (mainly in the living room), but this is the project I've been most anxious to see completed. I love the look of the wood shelves against the brick. 

The "eat" sign isn't going to stay above the microwave. And speaking of microwaves, I need a bigger one ... that one looks like a toy sitting there! I swapped microwaves with my daughter when I moved here. She had a black one, but needed a white one, while I had a white one, and needed a black one. I'll get a larger microwave, but this one works for now.

Okay ... back to the "eat" sign! It will one day be hung on on a different wall in the kitchen, but that's on hold until I decide exactly how I want that wall to look. I originally planned to set a narrow buffet table against that wall. A stemware was going to hang from the ceiling above the buffet, and the "eat" sign would be hung between the two. Unfortunately, I underestimated the necessary walk-room behind the island. The buffet was in the way, so I had to move it out of the kitchen. If I hang the stemware rack there without the table to protect the real estate beneath it, people will hit their head on the glasses, the glasses will fall, everyone will inevitably be barefoot, someone will need stitches, I'll be in my pajamas (or in bed), it will be raining ... or snowing, etc. 

So, no ... that won't work at all! We'll have to move to Plan B ... except ... there was no Plan B.

Thing 2 and I brainstormed and figured out a better place to hang the stemware rack ... so now I need something else to fill the emptiness on that wall. Hopefully whatever I find will allow me to hang the "eat" sign there, too. When I'm out shopping or just surfing the web, I've been keeping an eye open for ideas, but nothing has spoken to me yet. There's no rush. I'll find the perfect something (or somethings) eventually. It doesn't help that I'm not looking for anything in particular ... but I'll know it when I see it ... and then I'll know what Plan B is!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Apple Dumplings

I made apple dumplings the other night. These things are amazing, and so easy. The hardest part is cutting up the apples. I think I'll try it with peaches next ... that sounds even better!

My recipe can be found here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Am I Team Left Twix® or Team Right Twix®?

I just ate my first Twix® candy bar. It was free and I needed chocolate. The kids like them, so I thought I'd give it a go. After I ate it, I decided I'm not on either Twix® team. 

So ... not only did I eat my first Twix®, I also ate my last Twix®. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. And I still need chocolate.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A New Tenant

I bought a miniature door at least 20 years ago with the intention of mounting it someplace in the house for the kids to discover, and I never did. (Shame on me!) I finally dug it out the other day and put it up. And I love it!

If my mom had done this when I was a child, she would never have had to worry about me or wonder where I was or call me home for dinner ... I would have spent my entire childhood lying in wait nearby, hoping to catch a glimpse of the little people who lived there.

It's not completely done. It isn't permanently adhered to the wall and their mailbox needs hung. I need to get on that. They aren't complaining about having to go to the post office to get their mail ... yet.

I can't wait to decorate it for the all the holidays and leave small treats for the grandkid(s) to discover when they wake up from their naps.

In the near future there will be another really cool discovery for the little ones, but I'll wait until it's done and show you rather than tell you now. I can't wait!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Um, No Thanks

I still look online at houses for sale. Don't worry, I'm not moving again ... it's just out of curiosity and for decorating do's and don'ts. I still love my house better than any of the ones I look at, especially the one above. The owners of this home have thought of everything ... right down to the serial killer hiding in the closet!

If you're into that kind of thing, I guess this house ticks most of the boxes ...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Be Still My Heart

Sweet baby W came to see me last the weekend, and I was in heaven ... even if he did throw his first temper tantrum for me. It was short lived, however ... but only because I immediately checked to make sure I wasn't holding him in a way that folded his little ear, changed the position I was holding him (numerous times), patted his tiny, padded bottom, and walked around the house until he slipped into unconsciousness. I was able to briefly lay him down and take this picture, but it wasn't long before he realized I wasn't holding, walking, and rocking him, nor was I patting his butt ... and he let me know my dereliction of duty was not going to be tolerated. He puckered up and bellowed, so I snatched him up and held him close as I walked and rocked him and patted his bottom.

I'm sure he's proud of what he's accomplished in the four short weeks he's been with us. He's had his Mommy trained for a while, and his Grandma Jackie is proving to be a fast learner. It won't be long before he has me jumping through hoops for my favorite bite-sized treat! He's probably quite relieved to know that old adage is true ... you really can teach an old dog new tricks!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Really? On November 8TH!!!!!

I came home Sunday evening
and saw this in my neighbor's window.

I hope they see this post
and realize what they've done!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Surprise Flowers!!

I hadn't been home from work long yesterday when there was a knock at the front door. When I opened the door, a flower delivery man was holding an arrangement. They were addressed to Thing 2. He verified she lived here, then handed me the box containing the delicate purple blooms.

Thing 2 has been having a tough time lately, and it made my heart smile to know that her fiance had sent her flowers to brighten her day. How sweet! I wanted her to see them as soon as she got off work, so I took a picture of the flowers, and the card addressed to her, and texted it to her.

She called as soon as she got off work and asked me, "Did you read the card?"

"Of course not," I replied. "I don't open things and read stuff addressed to you!"

"Read the card," she told me.

As I walked back to the kitchen to read the card to her, I told her I knew they were from her boyfriend, and how sweet I thought it was that he sent them to her.

Then I read the card ...

Even though she spelled it out for them,
they spelled "Mama" wrong!
They were for ME! Thing 2 sent flowers to ME!!! I got a little choked up at how sweet that was ... and the sentimental note didn't help! After I read the card and realized they were for me, I was thrilled ... then I felt bad that they weren't for her! She's the ones who needs flowers right now. I'm the one who should have sent her flowers!!!

When the kids were growing up, I was well aware of the fate of so many children raised in a "broken" home. I was terrified my kids would grow up and be "statistics". I did my best to give them a good childhood, and tried to make sure they had the things they would have had if they were raised with two parents. Being a loving mother came easy to me. Being a stern father, however, did not. But, I know love without discipline is empty, so I had to punish them when they broke the rules. I had to hold them accountable for their actions ... even when doing so broke my heart.

One time, I apologized to her for not giving her a better childhood. She looked at me ... genuinely confused ... and said, "What do you mean? I had a wonderful childhood!"

I guess I hid the exhaustion of all those sleepless nights, the sacrifices, the loneliness, the tears, and the fear of raising three kids alone better than I remembered! Good.

It's a true mark of maturity when you finally recognize and acknowledge all your parents(s) did for you. When she was four years old, Thing 2 promised me she would stay four forever. I guess she lied to me ... because I do believe my little girl is all grown up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It Was Love At First Sight

For Thing 1's first birthday, I bought her an Ernie doll. Her dad thought Ernie was lame, so he bought her a Go-Go My Walking Pup. When she saw Ernie, she immediately fell in love. Seriously. Little heart were floating out of her! Ernie instantly became her constant companion for many years. (FYI ... she was terrified of Go-Go My Walking Pup!) When Ernie got a hole in his "shoe" from being dragged around everywhere, the resident cobbler (me!) was hired to repair it. Thing 1 sat beside me and held Ernie's hand for moral support as he underwent the delicate operation.

Thing 1 wouldn't take a nap or go to bed without Ernie. When he needed a "bath", I'd have to wait for her to fall asleep, sneak into her room and pry him out of her embrace, then wash, dry, and return him to her arms before I went to bed. He always came out of the dryer good as new ... except one time. I took him out of the dryer, and his trademark straight, standing-on-end hair had became a tight afro. I panicked. Her beloved Ernie looked a little ... how do I say this ... odd! I was afraid she'd reject him as an impostor, but my worries were for naught. When she first saw him in the morning, she looked at him like "What the heck did you to to your hair last night?", then she hugged him. Turns out, she didn't care what Ernie did with his hair. "Afro Ernie" was still Ernie. His looks didn't matter ... she loved him for who he was on the inside.

I bought an Ernie for Thing 2 for her first birthday, but he never won her heart. She was far too busy preparing and serving plastic food, brewing pots of invisible coffee, and pushing baby dolls around in a little pink buggy. Thing 3 was never on Team Ernie, either ... he was into stuffed puppies, blocks, trucks, and anything that made noise.

Just before my little grandson was born, Thing 2 and I ran to Target for something ... and I saw a baby Ernie!!!!  I had to get him. When little W came to visit one time, I took his picture with Ernie. (I told him to smile like Ernie ... close enough!)

All that to say, a child loves what they love, and only time will tell whether or not W will love his Ernie as much as Thing 1 loved hers, but I sure hope he does. With W only a month old, I'll have to wait a while before he's old enough to decide which toy he can't live (or sleep) without ... and I'm really rooting for Ernie!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A View of Our (Non-Existent) Mountains

My view of the "mountains" on the way to work this morning.
Although I live in a valley, there are no mountains around here. Growing up, I never thought that was fair. All the pictures you see of other valleys show a quaint little village nestling in the shadow of lush, green mountains. Valleys are supposed to be surrounded by mountains ... so where were ours?!!

One time, like this morning, the clouds hung low over the city, and I tricked one of Thing 1's friends into thinking it was so clear that you could see the mountains (you can read the story here). So whenever I see our "mountains", I'm reminded of this silly, gullible schoolgirl. And, of course, I have to take pictures for this blog ... then post a link on her Facebook page to torment her!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A REAL Walk to Remember

Superman recently spent some time at his cabin down south. While there, he hiked a little of the Appalachian Trail. He took some pictures as he walked and sent them to me later. The scenery is so beautiful, it doesn't even look real!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Happy Birthday Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell, author of one of the most beloved novels ever written, Gone With the Wind, was born on this day in 1900. I first saw the movie of Gone With the Wind in high school and I wasn't impressed. Being perhaps fourteen or fifteen, the protagonists were "old people" to me. When I saw the movie again, years later, I was old enough to appreciate the appeal of the handsome Rhett Butler ... and I was hooked. I heartily embraced the story of love, loss, loyalty, and determination.

Her novel made her wealthy and famous the world over ... and I find it fascinating that if it hadn't been for what I would consider a "frenemy", her novel would have remained hidden, unknown, and unpublished.

In April of 1935 an editor for the Macmillan publishing company, Harold Latham, was touring the South looking for new manuscripts. Latham heard that Mitchell had been working on a manuscript. When he asked her if he could see it, she denied having one. When a "friend" commented that Mitchell was not serious enough to write a novel, Mitchell gathered up many of the envelopes she used to store the seventy chapters she had written, and took them to Latham at his hotel. He had only read a small part of the manuscript before sending it straight to New York. By July, Macmillan had offered her a contract.

Although Margaret Mitchell died long before I was born, I have strangely found confirmation from her death that I was put on this earth to write ... because she died on what would become my birthday. Coincidence? Yes, but I took it as validation.

I used to be a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, devouring his books the day they were released and binge-reading the ones he wrote before I discovered him. I loved "The Notebook", "Message in a Bottle", and "A Walk to Remember", but he began losing me with "The Last Song". I literally rolled my eyes reading a lot of that. His next book, "Safe Haven", was even worse. And he lost me as a fan completely after I read "The Best of Me". I haven't read any of his subsequent books, so I can't say this is the worst book he's ever written, I can only hope his later novels weren't worse. He's a master storyteller, and even though I didn't enjoy his last several novels, I cannot deny his talent as an author.

One of his books introduced me to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which led me to vacation there and discover one of my favorite places on earth ... Ocracoke Island. This tiny, isolated, mostly unheard of island became the inspiration for my second novel, A Summer in Ocracoke.

On one of my many trips to Ocracoke, I passed a street sign that "told" me I was put on this earth to write. The street name was my birth date. My favorite author (at that time), had led me to this tiny strip of sand ... where there was a street named for the date of my birth. The sign was visible from the only road that runs the length of these narrow, fragile, barrier islands. I stopped just long enough to take a few photographs.

Was it merely coincidence that Margaret Mitchell died on my birthday and Nicholas Sparks' novels led me to a street named for my birthday? Probably ... but doesn't everyone wonder "What is my purpose in life?", "Why was I born?", and "What am I supposed to accomplish in my time on earth?". I took these "coincidences" to confirm what my heart has been telling me since I was a little girl ... whether or not I am ever a best-selling author, whether or not I ever make "The New York Times" list, whether or not I become wealthy, and whether or not my books ever fly off the shelves ... I was put on this earth to write stories that entertain and touch the hearts of those who read them.

My writing has been sidetracked by my daughter's wedding, my son's accident, selling my old home, and buying and moving into my new one, but I'm back on track now. I'm writing again, and I'm planning on releasing my third novel in 2016. It does my heart good to be writing again. I feel most alive when I'm writing. When I'm writing, my senses are heightened. The sun shines brighter and the leaves dance in the shadows more poetically. The leaves crunch beneath my feet in a way that demands I describe the sound. The colors of spring are more vivid, and the dreary gray of winter looms more ominous. The characters I've created become part of me that. When writing A Summer in Ocracoke, I was out shopping one day and was proud of myself for remembering I needed to buy a new coffee carafe ... and then I remembered that I didn't need one. Tara, the protagonist in A Summer in Ocracoke, had dropped and broken hers. She needed one ... not me.

One day I'll be gone. All that will remain of me will be my children and grandchildren ... and my books. But my life will not have been lived in vain. My existence will have had meaning. I will have accomplished what I was born to do. To write. In my novels, I'll leave a piece of myself behind. I will have fulfilled my destiny ... and that is a very comforting thought.