Saturday, September 29, 2012

Busy as Bees

   My favorite part of life in a large family are the casual meals and get togethers that we share. Bread broken together, children running around, and then the animated conversation afterward as we pile willy nilly into our tiny den.
   We are a family who can certainly roll with the pressed napkin, sterling goblet and flat silver table settings, but my favorite meals are those informal gatherings on the porch. A couple of weeks ago, it was take-out time from one of our favorite Tex-Mex places, The San Antonio Taco Company, otherwise known as SATCO. We are all addicts of their cheese dip. Seriously. So much so that every adult gets his or her own and often (very often) will look askance if asked to share. I think we all wolf down the fajitas and trimmings just so that we can have an excuse to get to the cheese dip. Even Little One and Little Two can do some serious damage in this department.
   Here are some pics of our last gathering...called to order around the birthday celebration of one of our daughter-in-laws. Please note the table setting complete with the aluminum foil, the mismatched tablecloths and an odd assortment of glass and silverware. But what you can't see or hear is the uproarious laughter, the delightful young voices of Little One and Little Two as they talked to one another, or the good time had by all.
  I love my family.
Little One and Little Two go for a spin in the driveway before dinner

Suppertime on the back porch

Now pajama clad girls waiting for their meal!

Son-in-law with the newest member of the family, Little Three!
She's a White baby through and through!
Nonna with her arms full of love
Happy Birthday to a precious daughter-in-law
Getting some help with candles from Little Two
What is my daddy doing with that baby in his arms?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm Feeling It

   Fall is in the air. We've been waking up to those no humidity, brisk, need a sweater in the early morning kind of days. They make my spine tingle with anticipation, and I am happy to report there have been a veritable bevy of them. It's enough to almost make me fall in love with autumn. I am typically a Spring kind of  girl. Daffodils, tulips, bleeding hearts, flowering dogwood and the like. Spring makes me smile and lifts my soul. When winter ends, the coming of spring feels like Lazarus shedding his grave clothes to come to the dance of life.
   However, I must confess, the hills of Tennessee in all their glory could almost make a convert out of me. My heart is strangely warmed by those tall sentinels turning from verdant green into copper and liquid golds, burnished amber and glorious reds. It leaves me speechless at the awe, majesty and wonder of our God. He's a Master at His craft. And we are all the better for it.

 The  Bald River  in Tennessee with fall colors on the trees and the twisting and winding path of the river make for an amazingly beautiful river scene. Stock Photo - 1979253

Here's one of Cades Cove
Source: via Diana on Pinterest

Source: via Kara on Pinterest

Friday, September 21, 2012

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I keep trying. I am the old dog in this equation. And I have just undertaken my first real attempt to UPHOLSTER a chair. It's turning out to be a hair-raising experience. Over the years, I have, of course, recovered the seats of my dining room chairs (multiple times, I might add) and sewed a cushion or two, but I have never ever entered this heretofore uncharted territory.

These are the things I have already learned:

  1. My newfound friends at the  Gaslamp Too Antique Mall told me it was easy. I don't want to say that they lied, but they are definitely young things and not an old dog.
  2. They advised me to get a decent staple gun. I hope I followed their instructions. I don't know yet. But they didn't tell me that I would need anything else and thus far, I have had to use the following implements: needlenose pliers (I had to go buy these), a very teeny tiny flat head screwdriver (I looked in five or six drawers and two closets before I found one), a pair of tweezers (sadly I used one of my nice Tweezerman brand tweezers because I needed a sharp tip, and this one is no longer going to be able to go anywhere near my face again), and a hammer.
  3. I did NOT want to sew anything in this project so I purchased something called "gimp" to finish the edging around my chair. This is what I will use in lieu of corded piping. I always knew gimp as a person with a limp but apparently it is also a flat trim of silk, wool that is used for fabric finishing or ornamentation. So there. Now you know another meaning for the all-important word gimp.
  4. The guts of a chair are not pretty. Especially when said chair has been recovered multiple times. The chair has to get naked again and that can be a painful and tedious process. I can identify with this aspect.
  5. I found out that I loathe removing staples. I am sure that professional upholsterers and other savvy DIY folks have this down to a science, but I was immediately dismayed when I realized I was dealing with staples over staples over staples, and I would not be able to use my new staple gun unless I removed about a bajillion staples.
  6. Totally Random Information: Did you know that rocker Jack White of White Stripes fame was an upholsterer? I have it on good authority from my own upholsterer who told me that Jack had shown him his equipment and tons of fabric. Apparently if Jack had not "made" it in the music scene or were to fall on hard times, he planned to go back into the upholstery business. I find this somewhat hysterical. So while I spent the better part of this morning removing staples upon staples from the chair, I thought about Jack White doing the same. It got even funnier. Then I came inside and dialed up some White Stripes and Raconteurs on the Pandora station. It is definitely not my kind of music, but after about a bajillion staples, Jack and I got in the groove. 
  7. I thought upholstering a chair would involve four steps: removal of the original fabric, cutting new fabric to fit using old fabric as a template and then stapling on the fabric and glue gunning (I don't think that this is a real verb, but it just became one) the gimp. (There's that other word for you.) At this point, I have just finished most of the staple removal on the top part of the chair and it has been about 3.25 hours. I still have the bottom part of the chair to do. Then I have to sand. And paint. And sand and paint the chair again. Then I have to make the template. Goodness knows how this is going to go. And then...I think you are getting the gist of this.
  8. I do like my fabric. As I keep getting discouraged and thinking about abandoning what has become a tedious and time-consuming project, I keep looking at the fabric. It helps. Otherwise the chair is going to the dump.
  9. Oh, and the previous owners had a dog or a cat or both. I intended to use the original foam, but now I have discovered that this will have to be replaced...yet another step. Yikes, I think foam is expensive. I am definitely not going to tell The Husband how much my little DIY foray is costing me/him.
  10. I may never show you the finished product. It depends. If it turns out reasonably well, I'll post a pic. Otherwise, I will just let you use your imagination.
  11. I think it was my imagination that got me into this mess in the first place.
  12. What WAS I thinking? Oh wait, I wasn't thinking...I was dreaming.
I am afraid that this is what I am going to look like when I finally finish my chair....

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Soft Morn

  There's a tiny magic outside today. A place of near perfection where raindrops fall from the sky to find a new, albeit fleeting, dwelling place. On days like this, it is all too easy to cover your head and your eyes and dash about, but today I took the time to put on my yard flip flops, an old sweater that has seen better days, and a baseball cap belonging to The Husband. Steaming cup of coffee in hand, I wandered about. Drops of water occasionally pinged the surface of my coffee. First I became damp, then wet. I didn't care if this was what it took to discover the mystery the rain had left behind in its wake. Here is something akin to what I discovered this soft morn. Enjoy.



I have this feeling that raindrops are God's idea of the perfect adornment, don't you?

And no, I did not take a single one of these pictures, but I certainly wish I had.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Way to a Friend's House

   No matter the distance that may exist between you, the pathway to a true friend's heart is a shared smile.
Here's to friendship. And re-connection. To a shared interest in black holes, string theory, fractals, George MacDonald, Brian Greene, and Peppermint Patties. Not to mention our mutual longing for a life of unexpected possibility in the hands of a Mighty God! Here is to a life, soul, and spirit that have always inspired and delighted me...

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a 
loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.           
 George MacDonald

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


photo from

This pretty much sums up The Husband's life philosophy. He believes it. He lives it. He is one of those guys for whom the cup is almost always full to spilling over.

I, on the other hand, believe that while life is good, it can also be incredibly hard. And sometimes it is just NOT okay. Sometimes it downright stinks. There are days when I don't want The Husband to tell me that it is all fine. There are days when the suffering and the pain that I see around me is just too much. When children die. When marriages that seemed impervious to the tedium of life suddenly implode and move toward something like World War III. When cancer strikes someone near and dear for a first and then a second or even a third time. When a long-standing prayer continues to go unanswered (or so it seems). When depression rears its head, once again, to hold captive a member of my family. Big hurts. Big pain. Deep suffering. I won't lie. Sometimes it rocks my world.

And if that is not enough, today I pass a child waiting on the sidewalk across the street from an elementary school at 5 pm for a mother who never came. I drive past and then turn my car around when I see the forlorn look on his face. I loan him my phone to call his mom. I can hear her voice chewing him out. He turns away so that I won't hear her ugly words or see the tears cascading down his eight-year-old face. He has waited two and a half hours. I look into his face and can already track the suffering of rejection and unkept promises. And I wonder to myself, "What does life hold for him?" I want to cry.

What do I do? I want to get mad. At God. And sometimes at The Husband. But neither one of them seems to mind.

God still says, "For many are the plans I have for you. Plans NOT to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope."

And The Husband still says, "It's gonna be okay."

Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes this is precisely the strong rock on which I need to lean while I catch my breath.

Then I struggle to get down on my knees. There I will pray for my family, and my friends, and a young boy named Javon who stole my heart today.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Bunnies

     I don't decorate for fall. I think I used to put dried corn on my mailbox. That was a long time ago. Since this apparently seems to be a time for true confessions, I will tell you that the Easter bunnies are still out in the living room. I happen to like bunnies. Apparently that's a good thing since they are still around and about at my house for Labor Day. Labor Day bunnies. I like that.
     I read the other day that we have 112 days left until Christmas. Oh no. Just thinking about Christmas is exhausting me. Those bunnies need not worry. They are safely ensconced until  late November when I will trade them out for Christmas decor. Sigh.
    I now say that I have officially become my mother. I remember when she, the erstwhile Queen of Christmas, used to groan about how much energy she expended each year decorating for Christmas. I never did understand what all the moaning and groaning was about. Well,  I am there. No doubt about it. 112 days. I think I will remain in denial for at least another 85 days. Then I will run around like a chicken with my head chopped off. That definitely seems to be my modus operandi these days.
   But hey, I did finally get rid of the dead pansies in the planter by the front door and put a mum in to replace the now extinct pansies. However, it was totally a move of desperation. The mum had sat there for a week looking forlorn and increasingly wilted. Every time I passed it, I whispered, "I know, I know." So today I dug a hole and put the mum in the planter just so that I would not have to feel guilty about throwing it away. That's the extent of the fall decorations at my house. Just saying.
   But here are some great ideas from Pinterest and other folks if you are into that kind of thing.
Source: via Caroline on Pinterest

Fall Decorating Ideas
Fall Decorating Ideas
Fall Decorating Ideas

Be inspired. Have fun.
In the meantime, I am happy with the mum in the planter and the Labor Day bunnies in the living room.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hog Heaven...Sorta

   My Baby Sister was in hog heaven when she received her birthday present from her husband. This year he really hit the bigtime. The gift was a HUGE success for something so small. But before you start making assumptions about the present she received, I feel compelled to give you a little background.
   Baby Sister grew up wanting to be a vet. Animals were always high on her list and numbered among her best friends. My dear Momma, who does not really like animals of any sort, was persuaded by this daughter of hers to allow all manner of creatures to inhabit our home while the Baby Sister was growing up. To this day I still do not understand how the Baby Sister could get our Momma to do things she would never do for anyone else. The Baby Sister was also famous for bringing home stray dogs and cats and then talking our neighbors into giving them homes. Even now this sister finds it hard to walk by a puppy in the Wal-Mart parking lot, but I digress. Back to the story. Baby Sister graduated from high school and traveled to Auburn University with the veterinary dream intact, but while there she switched over to education. In time she became one of the finest 5th grade teachers in the State of Florida and was selected for all kinds of honors. Baby Sister even went to Disney World as part of the Teacher of the Year recognition program. While she taught every subject, her hands-down favorite was science and as you might imagine, her approach to science was very hands-on and included lots guessed it...investigation and observation of live creatures of all shapes and sizes.
   Fast forward. My sister is now retired from the classroom but lives out in the country with her husband. If you live in a city like I do, you don't really know what the country is, unless you have a sister who lives there. Baby Sister and her husband have about 40 acres. My sister knows how to drive a tractor with a bushhog, how to muck stalls and how to care for their animals, both large and small. The Baby Sister and her husband have cows and horses and a huge garden and dogs and a cat. And now, thanks to her husband, the Baby Sister is the proud owner of a...drumroll please...a miniature donkey. Yep, a miniature donkey.
Click to Enlarge

   My sister was thrilled. Yep, thrilled. If my husband gave me a donkey, he would be sleeping outdoors with it. But not my sister. She has been asking for one of these for years. And yes, she has endured all kinds of snide and slightly inappropriate jokes about getting said donkey for her birthday. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting the donkey yet, but I am sure that I will. Apparently having a miniature donkey is like having another dog. These little creatures are loyal, friendly, great with children and the elderly and live 25-30 years. My sister will definitely be elderly if the donkey lives as long as he is supposed to. I will be elderly before she will so I will be able to tell her if the donkey does indeed get along well with old folks.
   The donkey's name is Petey and the great thing is that just like a dog, he comes when he is called. He lives in the pasture with the cows and the horses, but if I know my sister he will soon be allowed to come up right next to the house...if he leaves our great-grandmother's hydrangeas alone, that is. She says that he eats carrots out of her hand and loves to be petted. He sounds spoiled already.

Here is a picture to help you get the scale of the donkey in your head. This is not a picture of my sister.

And in case you are wondering, here are a few interesting facts about miniature donkeys:
To be a miniature donkey, the animal cannot be taller than 36 inches.
A male donkey is a "Jack".
A female donkey is a "Jennet."
Miniature donkeys originated in the Mediterranean area of Northern Africa in ancient times and most recently in Italy and Sardinia.
They live 25-30 years, are sweet and even-tempered, and most owners say that having a miniature donkey is like having another dog.

My sister agrees.

photos from