Tuesday, August 25, 2009


A rare day it is when I awake after six o'clock. I'm what I term a "Morning Dove" and always have been. It is my favorite time of day...my time... a time when it is peaceful, quiet, and uncluttered by the goings-on of life.

I find the dark before dawn fascinating. I don't, for the most part, like darkness, but pre-sunrise is different. It's so still and I feel completely enveloped in a short-term lonliness. Before I know it, a beam of light shows in the east, causing a filtered light, a soft, misty illumination of all it touches. The world awakes. The song birds begin their warbling. The sky puts on a show of color...gold, pink, lavender, blue. The leaves begin to dance in the gentle breeze, and grasses glitter with diamond-like dew. The sea releases it's mist to the heavens.

Every morning is unique. Sometimes the day dawns with no sunlight, and yet it is there, somewhere beyond our view. Those are the days when the rain spits on our window glass, or the fog obscures our vision, or when it is hazy, hot, humid and grey. Even those mornings are beautiful to me. Rain has a song of its own, sometimes rhythmic, sometimes with irregular beat, sometimes pounding, sometimes gentle., nearly without sound. Fog, too, offers specialty. Misty, grey air, surrounding everything, dampening whatever it falls on. It has a mystery about it as it cloaks the shoulders of day.

Each dawn brings it's own gifts. I am glad that I'm awake early to receive them. It is a time for me when I can think clearly, reflect upon God and His handiwork, and appreciate all things, undistracted. Those who snooze so comfortably in their beds until later hours of the morning have no idea what they're missing! I wouldn't trade place with them for anything.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Drier Days

We are currently 'all dried up'. No, not in the way that term is generally used, but in the true sense of the word 'dry'. The flood waters in the first floor of the house have subsided and the wood framing and flooring of the house have returned to their normal levels of humidity. The clean up crew removed the noisy fans and dehumidifiers, and quiet once more has returned to our home.

This is an exciting time, with all the hustle and bustle of contractors, painters, repair people in and out. We're somewhat tied to the house during business hours, so that we can be available to whichever contractor/vendor calls to set up an appointment, which has most usually been for that day. It's good for us that things in the construction world are slow, because these people are hungry to get here and work. We're pleased that we don't have to wait weeks for service people to put our house back together.

Yesterday we got the estimates and allowances for vinyl floor coverings to replace the master bath, the half bath, the laundry room and the kitchen. They had just what we wanted, and it all fell into the range that is covered by insurance. That is a blessing, because we will replace the carpet in the living room with wood flooring, and that will cause us to shell out a little pocket money above what is allowed for the carpeting. I look forward to getting that set up, too, but am still waiting for those numbers to come in before we can make choices.

We're living in rather rustic conditions these days, and spend a good deal of time on the front porch, just to dodge noise or contractor traffic. We've still got piles of things stacked up in the sun porch, and have yet to remove the heaviest of furniture from the bedroom and living room. We're sleeping upstairs in what is dubbed 'the Grandkids Room', and it's been an adjustment getting used to another bed...a double size, rather than our Queen-sized one. We're campers, though, so we're quite used to managing when conditions are not perfect. At least we have 'facilities'... showers, toilets, sinks. (Did you notice I hesitate to use the words 'running water' ?)

It seems as though we'll be put together faster than we thought we would, and we'll have nice new flooring of our own chosing, rather than that which the builder put into his 'spec' house. That is an exciting feature, too, in all this.

I guess every cloud does, indeed, have a silver lining. I've seen quite a few of those in the last ten days or so, and my heart is very grateful for them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life's Surprises

People are always saying how Life is full of surprises. I must agree. Things come, good and bad, that you can't see coming, and they sometimes take your breath away or leave you scratching your head as to 'why'.

Such a moment came to us a week ago. We arrived home after ten and a half hours away from the house, to find our entire first floor underwater. After an initial response of groaning, an immediate peace took over. Following closely on the heels of peace, came the thought, "Ok, we're faced with a flood, let's get to the mopping." So, for four hours, we cleaned up standing water. At 2:30 AM we decided to go to bed, as there wasn't a thing we could do about the soggy wall to wall carpet until we called our insurance company in the morning.

Since then we've had a steady parade of people in and out of here. The ServPro people were here within 3 hours of a call, and throughout the week did their work swiftly and courteously. We have dry floors again, minus vinyl and carpet. Mold killing sprays were applied before molds could even think of starting. Their work has been accomplished for the moment, but they will be back after other jobs are performed, to put our house back in order, and to clean dust from the upholstery, etc.

We've been inundated with a non-stop phone ringing for appointment making. We've had contractors and flooring people, and insurance adjusters here to do their jobs and to make our situation less stressful. We've had friends and family come to offer us meals and lodging. I believe this week has brought more people through our door than have ever been here at any other given seven day period, other than holidays. But, I'm thankful for them all.
Where would we be without them?

This morning yet another contractor will arrive. He will come for another surprise....a faux pas by the builder of this house. We've got some obvious 'dipping' in our floor, apparently because the builder did not build a pantry wall with any support under it. (Even I, who can barely hang a picture on the wall, know that walls need support!) South Carolina has a law that a builder is responsible to fix the problems of a new house for up to eight years after it's built. Now we'll have to send him a certified letter explaining the problems, and attempt to get him here to fix it.
He'll have 30 days in which to do that, and if he will not or does not, we must file a case with the state and they will fight for us. Meanwhile, we can't get our floors repaired by the insurance-hired contractor until the 30 days period lapses.

Surprise on top of surprise. It's beginning to look as if, even though the insurance realm is 'Johnnie-on-the-spot' with their people doing their excellent work, that our house will not be back in order until Thanksgiving! Well, we'll just have to live with it, and take this all with an attitude of 'there's nothing we can do about it, so don't stress.' One step at a time will get us to the finish line, and that's how we'll go about it. It's shaping up to look like another busy day of phone calls and letter writing and meeting with a contractor. Carpet, vinyl and hardwoods can wait to be decided on. There seems to be plenty of time for that.

I've got a renewed sympathy for those whose homes were lost to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and the like. I can't imagine what they've gone through. My home is, at least, still livable.
This surprise has given me a lot of reasons to count my blessings, which are many. Still, I wouldn't mind having a 'fun' surprise come at me in the near future!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


We are old campers...in every sense of the word. Mike and I both liked to tent camp when we first met, and we still enjoy a few nights and days in the outdoors. In recent years, however, our camping experiences have been those nights spent in KOA cabins, rather than in a motel room, as we travel to 'somewhere'. I miss the real camping trips.

We've had quite a number of adventures over the years. We've spent weeks in a tarp covered tent, while the rain poured down during our entire vacation. We've stayed in rustic campgrounds with only an outhouse for facilities. There have been other sites with full comforts of home, including laundry rooms and game rooms. We agree that wooded sites are our favorites versus the option of a huge, grass-filled "parking lot".

On one trip, we were staying in a site in Maine, run by the University of Maine. It was a great place, other than the fact that the black flies multiplied in instants! The site was wooded, rustic, with plumbed facilities...that you had to pay a quarter to use. Mike was chief cook, as usual, but he was used to using charcoal in the grill, or the little bottled gas camp stove. I told him I was going to cook him breakfast over the campfire. I think that's REAL camping... cooking over a wood fire. The bacon and fried eggs were perfect, and the toast was too. He was quite amazed, for some reason. And...he still praises my campfire cherry cobbler and 'end of camping stew' (made with whatever leftovers there are!)

Mike and I have camped all over the Northeast states and in Washington state. We've had dry and wet weather. There have been county parks, state parks, and privately owned campgrounds. We've slept in little tents and medium sized tents with those fiberglass, fit-together poles. We've even used a large two-room, canvas tent which is a pain and a puzzle to construct, with it's aluminum pipes of various sizes and shapes. (You need to have eight arms to raise that thing!) We've slept on the ground, trying to adjust our bodies to the lumps and bumps of tree roots and stones. We've tried to sleep on air mattresses which are somewhat similar to a trampoline for the lighter weight partner when the heavier one turns over! We've packed foam pads and a foam mattress (from a never used pull-out sleeper couch) to go under our sleeping bags. All in all, I'd say we've done it all, except RV camping.

KOA cabins work for us, now, in our age of aches and pains. Suffice it to say that it's hard enough to rise from a bed these days, without the thought of trying to get up from the ground. (Not a pretty sight!) These little log shelters have nice, albeit hard, beds to lie down on for the night. They're safe and cozy and somewhat comfortable. They have small heaters/AC units in them and ceiling fans. What they don't have, which is what I wish they did, is bathrooms. It's a long hike with a flashlight to the restroom in the middle of the night!

We both agree on one thing. We may eventually opt for a camper pop-up trailer, but never want to have an RV. If you're going to take 'home' with you, tv, computer and all, what's the point of going camping? We love the outdoor air, the cooking, the sounds of the night, the star gazing, the sound of the rain on the roof, the pine cones dropping, the smells of campfires.

It's time. Time to rummage through the garage and find all the stuff, pack it up, and head for the hills. It's been too long since we have had some good, old-fashioned camping..and I'm ready, even if it means I'll have to sleep on top of tree roots.

Friday, August 7, 2009


It's tax free weekend in SC. I'm sure there were lines of people waiting to get into the stores the minute they opened the doors this morning, as there are on the day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as 'Black Friday." I was not standing in one of those lines, nor will I be in any during the later hours of the weekend.

Oh, I'm the happiest of shoppers, when I can browse at my leisure and see what's available. I'm a good shopper, too. I look for bargains, and usually find them, but I don't consider it a bargain just because it's on sale. It's only worthy of the 'good buy' title if it was on sale and I NEED it. Otherwise, it's just something I found on sale!

I do not rush to the sales or the tax free shopping. Such ads are meant to draw us into the store, where wise business owners know that we'll browse the stock and buy more, just because it's labeled "reduced". Many people enjoy the excitement of getting an item before someone else does. Me? I can't fathom racing around like a madwoman or having a tug of war over an item of clothing. I don't enjoy the crowds or the lines or the hunt. I want to get in and out of the departments as fast as possible with what I went in to purchase.

Of course, I wasn't always that type of shopper. When we were packing up to move, I had an epiphany. We had too an excess of everything! And it's true that we still do. We don't really need anything, and so my shopping sprees have slowed considerably. That being said, I must confess to having a magnetic pull toward Hobby Lobby, A.C. Moore and Michael's. I must chain myself to the leg of the couch in order to keep myself away from those craft places. Antiques and used furniture places are a draw as well, but I am rarely a customer in those spots. I just enjoy the looking.

So, today, tomorrow and Sunday, my wallet is safe. I've got a lot to do this weekend, so I will be too busy to allow myself to indulge in the temptation which may overcome my resolve to steer clear of the tax free shopping. I truly believe that I've got the discipline to avoid that chaos anyway. I do...I know I do! I could use a new desk top computer, though.

WHERE'S THAT (afore-mentioned) CHAIN???

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I know that TV ads are necessary to business, but I also consider them to be one of the plagues we must endure in this life. Commercials used to be somewhat entertaining and straight to the point, and left you remembering the product brand by it's jingle. These days, they leave little to the imagination when they hawk their wares. Often I am left, remembering the commercial, but haven't any idea what the product was that was being advertised.

Remember the old Nestle's commercials, with Farfel, the furry, brown puppet dog? He sang the jingle, "N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the very best....CHOC-late!" And then his mouth slammed shut with a snap. How about Arnold Stang, who, with his goofy appearance and heavy accent, chewed hard on a candy bar called "Chunky." He exclaimed, "What a CHUNK-a Chocolate!" Then there was a cartoon commercial of a beaver named Bucky, who brushed his teeth and sang, "Brush-a, Brush-a, Brush-a...new Ipana toothpaste, IPANA for your teee-eeeth." Another toothpaste ad sang, "You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent."

It's been many years since I've seen those commercials, but I remember them. Those were ads
that were cute and stuck to the walls of your mind. When you went shopping for toothpaste, you would remember the little tunes, even if you ignored the product at the store.

Most of the visual ads thrust at us, seven or eight at a time between brief segments of our favorite shows, are presented in ways we'd prefer not to see. I'm so ornery that if I needed a product of the sort they're trying to acquaint me with, I'd buy something else of the same ilk with no big advertising budgets. It annoys me to hear of problems people have in their private bedroom time. Isn't that what doctors are for...to prescribe some solution for 'unmentionables'? What about those home pregnancy product ads, or constipation, female infections, femine monthly needs or UTIs? Do we really need to hear, via the air waves, the details of how to use these things? Is there nothing that we don't talk about publically?

Aside from the fact that I consider commercials to be the bane of my existance, I'd love to ask WHY anyone would buy the products being offered after hearing the lists of possible side effects, which, by the way, generally take longer to announce than the schpiel given by the salesperson!

Not that advertisers are reading this, or would care about my individual opinions, but I just had to get this gripe off my chest. How many of my readers have an opinion about this, pro or con?
I'd love to know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mom's Cooking

Being the mother of five, and now the grandma to 7, there's been much cooking going on in our home for a long time. Until my second marriage, I did all the meal planning and fixing. Then I got lucky. I married a man whose hobby is food. He eats it, watches it on the food channel, talks about it, spends hours reading recipes and drooling over cookbook photos. He shops for ingredients, he prepares, he experiments with spices and flavors and combinations, and he serves it with aplomb. Suffice it to say, he's my hero!

No longer do I have to cater to young palates who didn't like much of anything! No longer will I find dried lima beans or broccoli at the foot of the basement stairs! ('What is THAT about?', you ask. To make a long story short, for years a very confused Mom/Cook wondered how dried vegetables made their way to the basement floor. Only in recent years have confessions come forth from laughing adults to whom I attempted to feed well-balanced meals. They would spit their dreaded vegetables into napkins and either toss the wadded up paper into the waste basket, or they'd pocket them until they could deposit them somewhere other than the pits of their stomachs! )

The five of my children could never agree upon anything they all liked, except perhaps for their father's favorite choice...hamburgers. It made for an extremely boring job. I'd never been more than a 'home cooking' type of cook, and I hadn't learned the art of spicing things up. Food had to be bland and plain to get the kids to even taste it, let alone to get it into the gullets of my bunch. Perhaps that's why, when I remarried, my beloved husband took over the kitchen duties. My kids survived. They thrived and these days, thank heaven, they have expanded their menu choices, but there are still some who will not eat specific vegetables, and prefer corn to any of the others offered.

Now, the chief CHEF and bottle washer is the recipient of complaints from the younger generation. "Papa, I don't LIKE green beans." "No thank you, Papa. I don't really care for cheese sauce." Etc. I hear it, but it doesn't phase me much. I TRY to suggest a menu that MIGHT pass the fuss-budget critics, but even when you think 'Kid Cuisine', there are still complaints from one or another.

We've decided that the food will be there on the table, and if they eat it, great! If they don't, they will survive on the small bits they will consent to digest. There are always some choices that we know will be eaten (carrot sticks and celery sticks with peanut butter, certain raw vegetables and ranch dressing, and corn.) We've seen no evidence of abandoned vegetables in this house, but if the kids try to pull that trick, they'll need to be more creative, as we don't HAVE a basement in this house!

With all the laughter of my grown children over what they were served and rejected, there are other remembrances...one of which is that I made the BEST cookies in the world! We NEVER had store-bought cookies, I always baked them. I always felt that the bought ones tasted little better than the containers they were packaged in. Had I tried to sneak any of them into the family diet, I have no doubt that I'd have found those treats, dried or soggy and minus their chocolate chips, at the foot of the basement stairs with the vegetables. Quite a buffet to attract who-knows-what creatures....anything but kids!