Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine and Scorpions and Pit Bulls, OH MY!

It’s not Lions and Tigers and Bears that cause alarm for urban-dwelling Americans. Our modern-day enemies are scarier than anything Dorothy encountered on the road to Oz.

First, let’s talk about swine. My mom has been calling my sister and daughters this week requesting they wear masks for their upcoming plane travel this weekend because of the swine flu scare. (Two are headed to Texas.) Not surprising that none of them plan to do so and I agree that it’s unnecessary. I’ve simply requested they slather themselves head to toe in sanitizer. : )

I know that eating pork isn’t how swine flu is contracted, but while we’re on the subject of pigs, I just have to say that this reminds me why I’ve made it a habit to avoid eating pork for the past 25 years or so. I don’t think you want to hear my harangue on swine flesh so instead I'll give you a definition.

Harangue (v.) [hê-'ræng]
Verbal harassment, a tirade; a ranting uncontrolled preachment or piece of writing focused on a subject of interest only to the speaker or author

If you want to know more about the subject, I recommend a book called Maximum Energy by Ted Broer. Your hair will stand on end when you read his chapter about 10 foods you should never eat.

Second item on my creepy list today is scorpions. I know that warm weather is here to stay since the scorpions are in residence in my mailbox again. ARGHHH! It’s awful to pull out a scorpion with the mail. I haven’t wanted to spray poison in my mailbox because that seems as harmful as scorpions. I killed a big one yesterday and need any eradication tips you may know of.

Pit Bulls are on my scary scallywags list today. The dog and the people who are referred to as pit bulls are defined as behaving in a markedly aggressive or ruthless manner. You don’t have to look farther than today’s headlines to know who they are.

By the way, this year marks the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. If Dorothy could make it, so can we. Let me go find my pair of Ruby Slippers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is That Your 6-pack?

I TOLD you I was doing my crunches! I also added weights to work on muscle tone and definition during 2nd Cup of Coffee’s 30 x 5 challenge!

I got an email the other day from a friend that owns a health business. Since I know her, I figured she wouldn’t mind if I borrowed her body today. Her photo was labeled with the fact that she’s 52. Truth is, I NEVER had abs like this. Not when I was 20 or 30 or 40 and definitely not at 50. I love her but you can trust I won’t be hanging out at the pool with her. I had more fun doctoring this photo than you can imagine.

The good news is I exceeded the goal to exercise at least 30 minutes on 10 of 14 days during Linda’s challenge. I liked pretending I was in one big exercise class with the 50 or so women participating. All the better that you couldn’t actually see me. ; )

On the food part of the challenge, rather than looking for things to deny myself, I found some new favorite snacks in the 2 point range. Linda’s the one that got me started on the Pumpkin Spice/Flax Kashi bars and the almonds. I don’t know who told me about the Laughing Cow cheese that is only 50 calories for a serving. Partnered with 7 triscuit thin crisps, I’ve got a wonderful snack for 2 points! I also enjoy getting out a plate and cutting up an apple as a snack. It feels like a mini meal if I put it on a plate for some reason. I love variety; in my diet, in my friends, in my reading, in my life!
As for me and the scale – we’ve separated. That idiot was driving me nuts, was unfaithful and was emotionally abusive. He's banished to the garage. I'll let you know if I reconsider.

I feel great and am less squishy and jiggly. I’m just glad I no longer share adjectives with a dish of pudding. No 6-pack abs or buns of steel but hey, progress is progress.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Don’t Worry Be Happy

I coordinated my errands on Saturday around a visit to the beach. A short time with my toes in the sand and my face turned into the salty breeze is enough to make the cares of the world evaporate from my mind.

As I sat and watched families on the beach, I thought about the fine art of floating. I believe it’s an essential part of learning to swim, as it requires learning to relax in the water. It’s also a safety maneuver; if you get exhausted in the water and think you may go under, the answer is to turn onto your back and float.

The hard part is relaxing when your adrenaline is pumping and your body is screaming to MOVE IT! When floating, if you tense your muscles, you sink.

I remember teaching each of our children to float. Of course I’d start by literally holding them up; my hands under them, supporting their back. As they learned to relax, it wasn’t long before I wasn’t even touching them. I would still let them get really comfortable and practice a lot before physically moving away. This makes me think of that old hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Good to know His arms are always underneath us and He never moves away.

So this Monday’s stress management tip is FLOAT. It’s the best way to stay on top in these turbulent waters. The beach sang to me on Saturday. And the song was Don’t Worry Be Happy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

If You Have to Tell People You Are, You Aren't

I’m pretty sure I don’t have innate fashion sense, so it’s a bit ironic that I’m participating in Big Mama’s Fashion Friday. God saw my need and gave me 2 daughters who have fabulous fashion sense. My first indication of their strong opinions in this area was when Uncommon Blonde absolutely refused to wear the colored corduroy pants with matching shirts I’d bought on sale in every color of the rainbow when she was 3.

Though I’ll never be a glamour girl, experience and common sense have given me reasonable guidelines for fashion which include:

1. Wear clothes that fit. Sounds simple. Invest in clothes with quality fabric that are made well and hang right. I find this often means designer brands; I’m convinced that you’re not just paying for a name. The clothes are higher quality. But that leads me to number two…

2. Shop consignment. Now that the economy has tanked, it’s a popular thing to do. Much to my daughters’ chagrin, I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s a total blast to score a $100 blouse for $15. I don’t have the time sort through the stuff at Goodwill but I love the small boutique-like consignment stores.

3. Check out Sam’s Club for clothes. I’ve been buying my Calvin Klein jeans there for several years for $25 a pair instead of paying the $80 retail price or $50 outlet price. You might be surprised at what you find. Yesterday I bought these Nine West Capris for $14.96 at Sam’s (they happen to be SUPER comfortable!), stopped at the consignment store on the way home and bought a blouse for $5. I’ve been on shopping restriction but a new outfit for less than $20 is guilt-free relief.
4. Whoever said you can’t wear white skirts, shoes or dresses before Memorial Day or after Labor Day didn’t live in Florida and probably applied that rule to white gloves. I still argue with my daughters on this point (they stick with the rule) so I wanted to put it in writing that it’s not true.

5. Returning to the “fit” issue, wear the right size. Trying to boost your ego by fitting into too-small jeans that create the muffin-top effect isn’t flattering. Nor does it work to disguise extra poundage with larger clothes. It just makes you look, well… larger. Remember, I know this from experience. ; )

6. Speaking of muffin tops brings to mind Big Mama’s #1 Fashion Rule which is to buy a pair of good jeans that fit well. Her classic post on the subject is HERE.

7. My mom always schooled me to dress like a lady. I happen to like what Margaret Thatcher said about that:
"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

411 for Bloggers

I’ve been blogging for 16 months now and I began my blog like I begin most projects:
Ready ………..Fire……...Aim

My daughter loaned me a book when I started, Blogging With Moxie, which I did read. (I got a great chocolate pie recipe from that book! Really!)

But I’ve learned most of what I know through just doing it. I’ve still had questions like the one I posed a few weeks ago, “Shouldn’t I be backing up my blog, just in case??” (Responses indicated no one else had a plan on that either.)

Michelle Mitchell at Scribbet has written a fabulous 175 page e-Book called Blogging in Pink: A Woman’s Guide that you can download from her site FREE! Here’s a few of the chapter titles:

* How to Be a More Efficient Blogger
* The Ten Commandments of Blogging
* Ten Housekeeping Tips for Your Blog
* Technorati in a Nutshell

If you’re anything like me, you NEED this book! Thanks to Michelle for such a concise, practical guide to questions we’ve all had at one time or another.

Speaking of free books, I have to give a shout out to Patrice for the book I just received. I won a signed copy of the new book Net Trigger by Mark Gregory. Thanks, Patrice!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Molten-Golden Notes

If you haven’t seen the You Tube video of Susan Boyle yet, you must watch it.

I am fascinated by the tidal wave that's been created by her appearance on "Britain’s Got Talent" April 11th. The YouTube clip has been viewed more than 50 million times in just one week! I believe it’s the underdog in all of us that rises to applaud loudly. In my mind, she represents the unfulfilled dreams we all have. Her courage and mettle are as molten lava in the tide of cynicism and defeat that are washing away the hopes of many.

Her life has no doubt changed in the last week. Regardless of her future recording contracts, she has touched the world with her gift. How appropriate that her song choice was “I Dreamed a Dream”.

“From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle dove that listens, while she gloats on the moon!
Excerpt from “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe

Whatever form of expression your song may take, I hope you sing this week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Carrot Cake, and That's my Final Answer

When I typed yesterdays’ post, “Carrots or Cookies”, I didn’t realize how funny it would strike me today that my answer is, “I want the best of both worlds – carrot cake it is!”

Last weekend was not only Easter, it was Builderman’s birthday. (He says he’s going to be like Caleb and always be a strong 45.) He asked for carrot cake for his birthday and boy did I deliver. Make no mistake, I’ve made plenty of carrot cakes. But not like THIS carrot cake. You’ll think you’ve gone straight to heaven when you put this in your mouth.

Yes, it has a million ingredients and takes time to create. That’s the only thing that will save me from myself… it’s clearly a special occasion cake. Sublime.

This recipe is from a saint of a cake baker at my church by the name of Miss Pearline.
Yes, this is the deep south. She even brought me pecans from her tree for my cake. I told you she’s a saint.

Pearline’s Carrot Cake Supreme

The instructions say prep time is 25 minutes. Umm, No. I think that was a joke.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
¾ cp vegetable oil
¾ cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups grated carrot
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (31/2 ounce) can flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Deluxe Cream Cheese Frosting

• Grease three 9-inch round cakepans; line with wax paper. Lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set aside. (My note – I didn’t understand this but I followed directions)
• Stir together first 4 ingredients. Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in carrots and next 3 ingredients. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
• Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
• Spread Deluxe Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and an top and sides of cake. Chill cake several hours before slicing. Store in refrigerator.

Deluxe Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¾ cup butter, softened
1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.
For Deluxe Frosting, stir 1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans into frosting along with vanilla.
I didn't remember to take a picture for you until we'd cut it. : )

Friday, April 17, 2009

Of Carrots & Cookies

I’ve heard it said that more people are motivated by the fear of loss than by the prospect of gain. That’s hard for me to imagine, since I’ve determined I am absolutely in the latter category. Put the carrot in front of me and I’m off to the races (a cookie works even better).

Participating in Linda’s 30 x 5 challenge (part 2) has brought this to the front of my thinking. The first challenge is to exercise for at least 30 min. per day, 5 days a week. I’m actually enjoying that, except for the shoulder muscle I pulled using the new weights Builderman fixed up for me. My technique apparently leaves room for improvement. This week, we added part 2 to the challenge, which means denying yourself a 100 calorie indulgence daily; the fine art of resisting. I believe I’ve heard that referred to as self-discipline. Can you see my eyes rolling?

As a result of this focus, I find myself thinking “what can I NOT have that I want today?” Of course, immediately I start picturing favorite forbidden foods. Instead, I find it more productive to think on “what can I have that’s delicious and healthy?” Maybe there’s a big kid inside me, okay, so there IS a big kid inside me. I’ve got to work with her, so I’ve decided my mind needs to focus on four things I will do today to be stronger, healthier and more fit. Just for today. Tomorrow has enough worries of it’s own, so here’s what I can do today:

1. Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables.
2. Drink 8 glasses of water
3. Exercise for at least 30 minutes.
4. Celebrate Friday. (That’s a good reason for a celebration, don’t ya think?)

If anyone wants to throw in an incentive for me, you won’t believe what I’ll do for a Starbucks card. : ) What motivates you?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Steel Magnolia

My Mom was a steel magnolia long before the popular movie acquainted the masses with the term that describes a southern woman who is strong and independent yet very feminine. In fact, she comes from a long line of steel magnolias that weave a colorful history.

This woman whom others call Bettye but has always been "Mom" to me is of the generation that wore white gloves and pillbox hats. Her influence surpassed that of Jackie Kennedy Onasis, especially in our house.

After all, she taught me everything I needed to know for success in life before I was 12. It just took me the next 20 years to realize she's right about almost everything.

When I was just a little girl she began my schooling on how to be a lady with instructions on how to sit, (cross your legs at the ankle and angle them to the side), chew (never chew with food in your mouth and forego the gum – it makes you look like Bessie the cow chewing her cud) and stand (chest out, stomach in, shoulders back). Inappropriate behavior was labeled as rude, crude and uncouth. Totally unacceptable words or actions were deemed vulgar.

Proper grammar was and still is emphasized and enforced when you’re around my mom. She earned a master’s degree in library science and enthusiastically shares her passion for books and for the written and spoken word. To hear her read aloud is like listening to music as she gives eloquent expression in a soft southern accent.

She instilled in me a value for the truly important things in life; faith and family. Laughter is as essential to her as breathing and she keeps the bar high for generosity of spirit. She fills her days and her handwritten notes with exclamation points!

I have countless images stored in my memory of meaningful moments of a lifetime with her.

I see her reading greeting cards in the aisle of the store with her twin sister and laughing so hard they gasped for air as tears rolled down their faces.

Fun and playful; I love that about my Mom.

I see her trekking across Europe pushing Dad in a wheel chair, fulfilling his life-long dream to go to Austria, though his days were numbered. Alongside her, I pushed a stroller with my 6 week old infant. We formed quite an entourage while we made every moment count.

Adventurous and bold; I love that about my Mom.

I see her preparing for my wedding reception in her own backyard with only 2 months notice. Every detail attended to, the party was fabulous; from the lovely heirloom silver candelabras set lovingly on my great grandmother’s wedding tablecloth to the sumptuous buffet.

Charming and gracious; I love that about my Mom.

I see her pulling the shirt she was wearing off over her head and handing it to me because I had admired it. (We were alone in the house!)

Generous and spontaneous; I love that about my Mom.

I see her driving to an unsettled and unsafe area of town to teach at a segregated school because of her love for children and her desire to help in the transition to integrated schools.

Pioneering and strong; I love that about my Mom.

I see her spending months at a time in my grandmother’s teeny-tiny hometown so LouLou could have as much time as possible in her own home before she had to leave it behind as old age claimed her freedom.

Thoughtful and patient; I love that about my Mom.

Recently, my 102 year old grandmother was introducing several generations of family to a group of strangers. She loudly declared, “these women are all lovely and charming and educated. In fact, my family is to be respected and admired.” An amused smirk and raised eyebrows were some of the reactions I noted from the strangers. But I realized right then why low self-esteem is not an issue among the women in our family.

My mom is a young eighty years old this year and the southern gentility that she was steeped in is indeed the gentle fragrance of a showy blossom; a steel magnolia. She adores company, so if you’re ever in town, you would be richer from a visit with my Mom.

For those of you following my regular installments of the Cracker Chronicles, Bettye is technically a Florida cracker as she was born in Wauchula. The generational influence on her makes her more of a southern tea cookie than a cracker.

*The timing of this particular post coincides with Scribbet's Monthly Writing Contest which is being judged this month by Antique Mommy. I'm looking forward to learning from her comments.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Drop of Golden Sun

If you need a little kick of energy on this Monday, this video clip will do the trick. It'll put a smile on your face and a spring in your step! I would totally have jumped into the middle of this, what about you?

I swiped this without remorse from Uncommon Blonde. : )

Friday, April 10, 2009

To Begin with the End in Mind

The 40 days of “Everyday Epiphanies” may be complete but the journey is far from over. Since the word “epiphany” means manifestation of the divine, the real challenge is to live with my eyes open and my heart attuned to the moments that hold eternal significance.

I may be peering into time, longing for the glory of God; when it's right before me. For isn’t the glory of God the reality of His presence? What if I’m looking for some supernatural fireworks and His presence was in the embrace of a friend?

One of my favorite descriptions for this attitude of living is found in Emerson’s commentary on Success, which remains my favorite quote of all time and my life’s goal (in fact it was in my very first blog post):

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of old and new friends;
to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you have a post that relates to this journey that you'd like to share, Mr. Linky and I are ready.
May your weekend be filled with the splendor of love.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


in de fat i ga ble - adjective - incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring.
Synonyms:tireless, inexhaustible, persevering.

I’m happy to report that regular exercise is back in my life again. Participating in Linda’s 30 x 5 Challenge strengthened my resolve. The first week, I exercised for at least 30 minutes 6 of 7 days and the second week it was 7 of 7 days. My normal routine is wogging – a combination of walking and jogging. I’m taking you along with me through photos below and you can see why I love it.

The last 2 weeks have delivered a large dose of severe weather and heavy rains, so I added to my “Plan B” by ordering Leslie Sansone’s “5 Day Slim Down” DVD. I think it’s really easy, but that’s better for me than being so difficult that I won’t do it. I had an old DVD that I was embarrassed to exercise with. You know it’s bad when you’re embarrassed in front of yourself! Really… the guy in his spandex suit and his little groupies in tiny leotards, perfect bodies and obnoxious grins just didn’t work for me. The only segment of that DVD I do is the arms. I’m working on my arms since sleeveless clothes are a necessity in Florida. Arms that flap in the breeze or not okay with me.

3 out of 4 seasons, I try to wog midday. Since I work from home online, it gives me a great stretch break. In the summertime, when it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity at 11 AM, that no longer works for me and I have to go early.

Come on let’s walk… Annie and Sally are waiting…

The air is sweet and fresh and right now the weather is beautiful and invigorating. These neighbor dogs always greet me enthusiastically! Very fun.
I vary my route... this is another way I go. You can barely see these neighbors in the trees... there are 11 horses on this 30 acre piece. They are so beautiful to watch and I love the sound of their hooves when they run.
Then home again home jiggety jog. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The relentless chiming roused me from a deep sleep. As I struggled to awareness, I leapt from my bed in alarm to summon a nurse. It was then I realized I was not in the hospital room, but in the hotel room where it was my turn to sleep in a bed. It was the chime of the elevator that had awakened me, not the sound of a medical alert. I wasn’t scheduled to return for “my shift” for several hours, but I couldn’t shake the urgency to check on my sister.

The cancer center was a hub of activity 24/7 and as I entered her small room, it seemed like a bee hive with several nurses working, a family member demanding more help and a very agitated patient in agonizing pain. I began to pray fervently under my breath, taking authority over the situation and speaking peace to the storm. I’ll never forget how dramatically the atmosphere changed. I knew that I had been summoned to her room by a loving God who needed an emissary that night.

That was more than 10 years ago and the colo-rectal cancer that nearly took her life is gone. The aftermath of radical surgery and radiation still causes problems. She’s in the hospital again right now, which has brought back memories of the hard road she’s travelled.

The remarkable reality of “God in us” was dramatically illustrated to me that night in that hospital room. “For God who said “Let light shine out of darkness”, made his light shine in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:6-7)

As the world grows darker, His light will shine brighter and brighter. I hear the insistent ringing of those chimes again, awakening me to shine and be light and hope right where I am.

Thanks for your prayers for my sister.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Miscellanea

1. I’m looking forward to the Women Inspired Online Conference this week. The line-up of speakers and topics is impressive and the added bonus is that if the timing isn’t right –it will all be recorded and a ticket gives you access to what you miss or want to hear again.

2. I've been back on Weight Watchers for 2 weeks and I’ve lost ONE pound. I’ve also been faithful to the 30 x 5 challenge. Do you ever want to pout and say “NO FAIR!” ? I do. My hairdresser is about 30 years old and when I was in the other day, she had been on a diet for 10 days and lost 7 pounds. She was planning on another 10 days to lose the other 5 she had left. Was I EVER able to lose 12 pounds in 3 weeks? Probably. Did I appreciate that ability when I had it? Probably not.

3. Last night, one of the weather alerts we’ve become so accustomed to came across the bottom of the TV screen. In the last 10 days, it’s warned of tornado watches, hail and severe winds, flash floods and the like. Last night it said “Freeze Warning”. It was 74 degrees with 97% humidity outside! My husband and I just laughed. The station was a bit ahead of themselves. The freeze warning is supposed to be tonight. Spring weather keeps you on your toes. Our newly sprouted garden and small tomato plants are not going to be happy if Jack Frost pays one last visit. Oh well, they’ll live.

4. One small comfort in these economic times is that I just found out we don’t owe the IRS more money for our 2008 taxes. Please remind me when our incomes are up again that it’s okay to pay more taxes if you have more to spend. I’m so happy that our taxes are completed and will be filed on time. I’ve been known to procrastinate until August and that is excruciating. So can I have a pat on the back? I'd rather have a cookie. ; )

5. The road to the next level is always uphill. ~ John Maxwell

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It Changed Everything

It’s amazing, miraculous, powerful and altogether marvelous.
Six months ago I posted an emergency prayer request for 23 year old Cody, a friend of our son’s who had been in a tragic motorcycle accident and was hovering between life and death. He desperately needed a second chance at life because he had put Jesus off like so many young people do… thinking he would have his fun and then get serious about God.

His life was spared and with a lot of physical rehabilitation he was able to go home about 6 weeks ago. However, his brain had not healed as well as his body and his mental functioning remained impaired in pretty major ways.

This week, according to Cody's own description, God came and touched him. He described it was like being awakened from a really bad dream that he had been trapped in. Darkness became light as his muddled brain became clear and focused. He states, “I’ve never been religious, but God has done something so big for me that I want to live different now that I have a second chance."

Thank you to all of you who prayed. Prayer changes things. The report may be dire, BUT GOD can do anything. Some things we’ll never know this side of heaven, but there’s one thing I’m sure of…

A Savior came, took the blame and changed EVERYTHING!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Everyday Epiphanies - That Lady in the Mirror

Is it because women are natural nurturers that we tend to take better care of others than we do of ourselves? Today’s Epiphany, or “Aha!” reflection is that if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to be who I want to be or do what I want to do. In the turbulent times we’re living in, it seems that efforts to stay positive have to move up a notch. I want to be the one leading the way in a life well-lived. So I need to be kind to that lady in the mirror. Here’s a short list of what works for me:

Talk nice. To Yourself. My self-talk can become toxic to productivity unless I consciously rein it in. Since it’s the dialogue in my head and no one else hears it, it’s a matter of self-discipline to speak faith-filled words instead of degrading my own efforts.

Health is Wealth. As much as I say I don’t like to exercise, I feel so much better when I do it. Eating well gives me more energy too. And both of these contribute to being at my “happy weight”.

Live with Passion. Many things will catch your eye, but only a few things will catch your heart. Pursue those. ~ Mac Anderson.

Do the Least Enjoyable Thing on Today’s List. NOW. Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.

Fast the News. As much as I desire to be informed, the plethora of bad news weighs me down. I’m reading and watching less news for now.

Laugh. Laughter is an instant vacation.

You take care of you for me and I’ll take care of me for you. Deal?

Only one week remains in my Lenten challenge of Everyday Epiphanies. I’ve enjoyed the journey. If you have a post that relates that you’d like to share, link up here:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cracker Chronicles

This is the 2nd episode in the tales of my Florida ancestors. This bunch would be the saltines.

Mamie, Noah, Frances, Gertrude, Maude and Susie. These 5 sisters included my grandmother and at one time or another, they all lived in Carrabelle in the rambling, drafty white house that still sits on the main curve of the road coming into this tiny town. Now they only live in the memories of those of us who loved them.

When I was a child, we faithfully visited, though I admit I didn’t think it was much fun. There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment in Carrabelle. The highlight of my visit was spending hours with my dad and my sister down on the harbor skipping oyster shells. There’s an art to skipping shells and we could get up to 8 skips with all that practice. Dad would tell us stories of how the sleepy little fishing village was once more of a bustling town when the railroad ran to haul the plenteous seafood that was the only crop.

It was a stretch of the imagination to think of Carrabelle as bustling. It was renowned as the town that used a phone booth as the police station. No kidding. “The phone booth was installed in 1963 to keep policemen out of the rain. “They used to have a phone on the wall across the street,” said Police Chief Jesse Smith. “But every time it rained, the man who answered it would get wet. At the time, the single police officer walked a beat and didn’t have a patrol car, Smith said. The department has grown to three officers since then, but little else has changed.”1

One hot summer night when I was about 8 years old, after a rousing game of Scrabble with my great aunts, I was asleep upstairs in the bedroom I’d chosen for my own. Even with the windows wide open, the sheets stick to you and the air feels like breathing through wet cotton. The siren of the volunteer fire department, which was right next door, blasted me awake and I still remember the terror I experienced when I thought the house was on fire. The piercing wail was calling even my aunt, who was the fire chief and in charge of driving the water truck to where it was needed.

Right now, no one lives in the house with more than a hundred years of history. My 89 year old aunt Cathy can’t live there by herself but can’t bring herself to sell it.

I read a wonderful novel recently that romanticized this area of Florida’s “forgotten coast.” Remembering Blue by Connie May Fowler is a great read if you want to visit Carrabelle. 1. Warren, Michael. Florida

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Not a Hard Knock Life

I've lived in Florida my entire life (I moved from the South to the North when I got married... I'm in the Panhandle now). I laughed at the accuracy of this list I saw over at Rosezilla's. This is no foolin'.

You Might Be a Floridian If...

You know the four seasons really are: almost summer, summer,
not summer but hot, and Christmas.

"Down South" means Key West.

"Panhandling" means going to Pensacola.

Flip-flops are everyday wear.

Shoes are for business meetings and church.

No, wait, flip flops are good for church too.

Socks are only for bowling.

Orange juice from concentrate makes you sick.

Sweet tea can be served at any meal.

An alligator once walked through your neighborhood.

You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and one sweatshirt.

You get annoyed at the tourists who feed seagulls.

A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.

A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade.

Your winter coat is made of denim.

You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.

It's not "pop." It's "soda" or "coke."

Anything under 70 is chilly.

You pass on the right and honk at the elderly.

You understand the futility of exterminating cockroaches.

You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Withlacoochee, Okahumpka and Loxahatchee.

You understand why it's better to have a friend with a boat than have a boat yourself.

You've driven through Yeehaw Junction.

Bumper stickers on the pickup in front of you include various fish, the NRA and a confederate flag.

You were 8 before you realized they made houses without pools.

You were 12 when you first met someone who couldn't swim.

You've worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas.

You know what the "stingray shuffle" is and why it's important!

You could swim before you could read.

You have to drive north to get to The South.

You know that no other grocery store can compare to Publix.

Every other house had blue roofs in 2004-2005.

You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn't worth waking up for.

You dread lovebug season.

You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane list. They aren't Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances...but Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty average.

You haven't seen snow.

You eat ice cream cones in the winter, because it's finally cool enough so that it won't melt instantly down your arm.

You save your sweater for summer when everyone's A/C is so cold, you are freezing in their houses or cars.