Saturday, April 29, 2006

The 'Copters Flew the Coop

I knew they would, of course. They get so antsy to do their dance, spinning to the ground from their lofty perch. It's their job to carry their seeds as far as the winds will take them. They love to fly!

I took this picture the week before Easter, just before we left for Hannover. I wanted to see them spin around but was sure they wouldn't wait for my return (they really are antsy!). I was right. On my walk yesterday, here at home, they were gone.

Did any of you grow up calling these Maple tree seedlings "helicopters," I wonder? Technically they're called samaras and are the fruit of the tree, but I didn't know that till just now.

Once the seedlings hit the ground and split apart, still soft and pliable, we'd moisten them in our mouth (like my clarinet reeds in 5th grade!) until they were just right for whistling through. It was definitely a knack and we'd try to out-do each other, back in my early Michigan days.

Would I still be able to do it today after all these years? Hmmm. Haven't a clue. Maybe they'll be more patient for me and give me another chance next year? Or just seeing them spin around again would be nice!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Here's the Kicker

Submitted to Tuesdays Photos for "Sign"

Sometimes you just don't know what you get until you see it up on the big screen! Such was the case with this parked car when out on a Hannover walk the other day. I couldn't have lined up the reflected car across the street with the "Sportmagazin" if I had tried!

Yes, I'm back in Atlanta, safe-n-sound, after a long day. It's hard to believe I really was in Hannover this morning, many eons ago, it seems. Donica comes home tomorrow from Brussels. And life just goes on, doesn't it!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bloggers Unite: the Whole Enchilada

You really don't get much better than this when it comes to meeting up with fellow bloggers!

Everything happened without a hitch. Everything. Kim's train from Magdeburg arrived on time and I was on the platform waiting for her. And would you believe, I was standing at exactly the place where her particular "wagon" stopped, and when the door opened, there we both were. Instant recognition! Instant, spontaneous hugs!

And you thought I was a talker! Oh my. Kim didn't waste a breath, answering all my myriad questions about how B, her husband, had the accident that made him a quadriplegic and how she cares for him, etc. What an incredible story; what an incredible caregiver throughout 8 years of marriage!

Once we arrived in Ronnenberg after 25 minutes on the bus, there was Christina waiting for us! Waiting to take us on a mini-tour of her charming burb away from the big city. The rain that had fallen lightly earlier in the morning was gone, so we were able to stop at every little thing that caught our eye: the spring flowers everywhere, tended so lovingly in the yards we passed; the two churches, one Lutheran and one Catholic; the school where Boy10 attends; the sports bar; this, that and the other. Charming, charming.

Then, of course, Christina gave the mini-tour of her house and yard, after which we were bearers of gifts to each other, the least of which were KINDER EGGS! Are we little kids or what!

Then lunch! I don't have to tell you that Ms. Christina is a cook to be reckoned with. You already know that. So what did she serve us? Curried chicken crepes (with mango chutney and sour cream) and salad. That's what! Oh, and don't forget the latte macchiato! She knew I am a latte macchiato addict but did NOT know I LOVE curry! So she was definitely Queen for the day!

And while we ate, bless their hearts, both boys came home from school and were such gentlemen in coming in to see us and shake hands. Two adorable, well-behaved, mannerly boys who just stole my heart away. You know kids like that don't just "happen!" There's been obvious careful, gentle tending along the way!

After lunch we yakkity-yakked about Natal Charts (which I had already worked up for them), getting to know what makes us tick and why we do the things we do and are the way we are. Then we had to head back to the bus for Kim's trainride back to Magdeburg.

Can you get any better smiles from 3 women who just "clicked" in so delightful a rendezvous?!


Switch gears long enough for me to say I'm now gonna pack for my e-a-r-l-y flight (6:50a) back to Atlanta tomorrow morning. By the time I go through Paris and D.C., it'll be 11p Hannover time (5p Atlanta time) before I arrive, with another 2 hours before I get home. A long day but always totally worth it.

So I'll talk to you next from Atlanta!

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

Today is THE day that's been in the works now since my last Hannover trip in early March: a rendezvous with 3 of us Neighborhood Bloggers. Christiana, Dixie Peach and Moi.

Christina (l) and Dixie Peach/Kim (r)

Christina lives In Ronnenberg on the outskirts of Hannover. We met back in January and had such a splendid few hours together.

Dixie Peach lives in Magdeburg, an hour-and-a-half train ride to the east of Hannover. I'll meet her (for the first time!) at our Hannover Hauptbahnhof (train station) and from there we'll take the bus to Christina's town for lunch and an afternoon together.

We are 3 little school girls having too much fun. Check in later for the Whole Enchilada (when Dixie Peach will no longer be in B&W)!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Practice Makes Perfect Better

Today I'm practicing TWO things: black & white (my first "published attempt" from my own photos) and the "mouse-over" trick from my Kinder egg post last week. So please bear with me.

(Wax on, wax off with your mouse to change from B&W to color)

On the heels of my Scilla post yesterday, here's the little chapel that sits in the corner of that neighborhood cemetery here in Hannover. And since I've been musing about B&W photos for awhile now, I thought to myself, "This might make a good "project" for B&W."

Hmm. My nephew Paul had told me last New Year's in Michigan that I should NOT use the B&W setting on my camera if/whenever I wanted to take B&W pictures. I have since read enough t0 concur: there's much more "information" in color photos to manipulate for B&W in photo-shopping software.

So, with all due credit to Neil and Steve, whose blogs often explain what they're doing with their photos, here's my attempt at making my first B&W photo from color. I figured I had to bite the bullet sometime!

Wax on, wax off. (Surely y'all remember The Karate Kid?!) When I thought of that yesterday, I just about lost it, I was laughing so hard. Sometimes I amuse myself and it doesn't take much :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Scilla's Serendipity

Last week on one of my walks, I discovered this delightful blue flower in a neighborhood cemetery here in our Hannover neck of the woods. Not having a clue what it was, I snapped several photos to show later to Uschi, our landlady.

Then I started concentrating on all the gravestones that looked exactly alike. Hundreds of them side-by-side in rows. Some were so weathered you couldn't see any engravings at all. The ones I could see were in an Old English script hard to read. But I could at least see the dates, most of which ended in the 1913-15 range.

So, of course, I jumped to conclusions and just assumed these were gravestones of soldiers who had died in WWI. Made sense to me!

Wrong! But that's getting ahead of my story.

Shortly after returning to the apartment from my walk, Uschi rang the doorbell with a CD in her hand. "I want you to see some photos of SCILLA," she said. They had recently visited one of Hannover's larger cemeteries over by the train station and saw the lawns covered with these tiny blue flowers: Scilla, a perennial herb in the hyacinth family. She was so excited about them she wanted me to go see them. So then I said, "I think I may have just taken pictures of them myself at the cemetery down the street. Are they these?" And I got out my camera (I hadn't even uploaded them yet onto the laptop!) and showed her my photos. YES. Scilla!

And then she explained to me that all those gravestones were for deaconess women who were employed at Hannover's Henrietten Stift hospital and died, most at a young age. Not soldiers of the war. But lying in Scilla.

Scilla everywhere, strutting their stuff on Uschi's camera and mine. Scilla in her cemetery; Scilla in mine. I swear, that was one happy Scilla flower, just wanting to be discovered and shared!

Photo courtesy of Uschi, our landlady.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day 2006

View more photos here *

If WE don't take care of her, who will?!

* Since I'm here in Hannover, Germany, right now, I've chosen a view of Europe from Space. I've been trying to give credit where credit is due but still have not found out who is responsible for these photos. If I find out, I'll add it later. Or if you find out first, please let me know. For more on Earth Day, check out Wiki.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

It doesn't take much and I'm not the only one! Dixie Peach is to blame for this one so I might as well give her FULL credit. AND SHE COLLECTS THESE EGGS, TOO! She's the one who taught me this trick and, YES, this is my very first time to use it. Be my guinea pigs :)

Mouse over and out of the image to change views.

Okay, after all of that excitement (yaay for new HTML tricks), here's the Kinder egg surprise for this week. JUST ONE? you ask! (Good for you; you're on your toes!) Yup! Believe it or not, I picked up TWO Kinder eggs from separate boxes at the grocery store on Tuesday and ended up getting duplicates. Who ever would have thought! So now I'll have to find someone who will gladly share one of their duplicates. Maybe Dixie or Christina or?! Bartering tools, you see.

So now I have these 4 different "surprises" from 4 different collections and all with their own codes. You see, this gets pretty darn serious:

  • Fortwo coupe (Die smart Fahrzeug-Kollektion)
  • Organ (Funny Festival der Noten)
  • Monster Hotel creature
  • From the Treasure Chest of the Piratelli

TGIF! And you didn't think I had anything worthwhile to do while over here in Germany. WRONG! (HA--This will obviously seem quite tame on a Friday for my daughter, let alone the rest of you! But the day has just begun!)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Horse of a Different Color

Before scrolling down to find out, does anyone know what this car is? Hint: it was made in Germany in the '50s, nicknamed "the rolling egg," and Elvis once sang in one while stationed here (I say here because that's where I am right now :)

Submitted to Tuesdays Photos for "Travel"

It's BMW's Isetta 250! And isn't it the cutest thing! This site says it's the "micro car extrordinaire," designed at a time when cheap, short-distance transportation was needed.

In the USA, the BMW ads called it "a new conception in vehicle design." It has a one-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine with a 4-speed transmission, a top speed of 53 mph, and 63 mpg. In 1958 (the year Donica was born :) it cost $1,093.

Speaking of Donica! She just happens to have a BMW Z4 (which is another post altogether because it was a reward to herself after her first-year anniversary of quitting smoking). One day in February, while she was in Germany before I arrived, I took her car in for routine maintenance and while there in the showroom, took these photos of the Isetta. Sitting on the showcase shelf it's not too much bigger than the Smart car from my Kinder egg. Well, that's a bit of a lie--it really is quite a bit bigger. But still small enough to cup in both hands and wonder if it really is worth $127! (Do the math! That tiny model today is 1/8th the cost of the real thing then!)

March 2005 was the 50th anniversary of the Isetta. Supposedly it saved BMW from going belly-up after WWII because it offered an affordable way of transport for average-day citizens who were on bikes and motorcycles.

"May we remind you of a certain tiny 2-seater that's currently a hit in Europe and is now being seen on Canadian streets, with a US launch soon to come. The car is called "Smart" and is made by DaimlerChrysler. What goes around comes around."


Saturday (4/22/06) Addendum: Yesterday Donica took this mobile-phone photo of an Isetta that was in her company's parking lot here in Hannover. Someone obviously drives it to work! What a small world! Looks like this one is a three-wheeler.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Redux

If you think of Easter in relation to baskets with fake green grass, chocolates, dyed eggs and decorations, you've come to the right place (assuming you came over to Germany with us yesterday!).

The Friday before Easter and the Monday after are German holidays, so it shouldn't have surpised us to find this Easter basket on our dinette table when we walked into our apartment late yesterday afternoon. Our landlady, Uschi, just loves to do this stuff. You can tell by how she decorates all her window-silled landings each season. Donica says she must have been a teacher in a past life.

In less than 5 minutes of walking in the door, Uschi (who lives on the floor beneath us) walked in with this huge slice of cheesecake she had made herself. It's so big I can easily make 4 desserts out of it. Seriously. She actually was surprised to see Donica (who was originally coming over a day later--today) and was getting ready to go back for another slice until we stopped her! HA.

A photo on James' site yesterday reminded me of the plastic eggs you see on the bushes here. These particular eggs are again of Uschi's handiwork out in the courtyard of our apartment building. Since the leaves are barely out, the colorful eggs really stand out.

For grocery shopping this time, I only had to make 2 trips. Since I can only buy as much as I can load into my grocery bag and carry up the 65 steps to our apartment, it often takes 3 trips when I first get back here and have to stock up.

Two trips. You know what that means: 2 Kinder Surprise eggs! I haven't even opened them yet to see what I got. But I will soon and will have a post on that another day, I'm quite sure. I'm the proverbial kid in the candy store when it comes to these Kinder eggs.

Maybe I'm making up for all those years in a preacher's home when I did NOT think of clothes or chocolates or dyed eggs or baskets with fake grass on Easter! At least not the day after Easter.

Monday, April 17, 2006

SHOPPING Challenge

And you were thinking clothes!?!

I'm just under the wire for this past week's Tuesdays Photos challenge, due by midnight tonight, I assume (but on whose clock?!). [For those who are new to this, like I am, the new theme starts each Tuesday and lasts for a week before a new theme is picked. This is the only photo challenge I do, coerced as I was by a fellow blogger when this one started a few weeks ago.]

To be honest, I'm not the SHOPPER in this family, especially before Easter, which is why I've waited till the last minute to submit this. However, there IS a shopper in this family who more than makes up for me (I won't name names!) and she would be the one shopping just about any day you'd pick.

Since we're now safely back in Germany (thanks to all your best traveling wishes!), it just made perfect sense to use this photo from exactly a year ago when we were in Bremen for the day, just an hour's train ride north of Hannover. This would be She-Who-Must Not-Be-Named's best idea for SHOPPING (besides her prerequisite clothes-shopping before this trip).

Let's just say I'm along for the ride :)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Earth Is So Big and Strong

Yes, it's Easter Sunday when we in Christendom remember Resurrection after Death. Jesus carried the sins of the whole world on his shoulders and lived to tell it!

Amy told me that the other day Nicholas (5-1/2) told her "the earth is so big." And "the earth is so strong because it can carry ALL these cars...and the buildings!"

Later this afternoon Donica and I fly to Hannover, Germany, after having been home for a month. We'll eat Easter lunch with Donica's mom and Lee before heading to the airport.

I was thinking how this "so big and strong" earth can suddenly seem so small when I trace my finger from Atlanta to Hannover on a plastic jigsawed globe. Did it seem that small to Jesus, I wonder, when he died on the cross? Or was it really as "big and strong" as Nicholas knows it is! And if Jesus could carry a "so big and strong" earth, does that mean he was bigger and stronger? What would Nicholas say to that?

Happy Easter to you all in whatever way you celebrate it. I'll see you soon from Europe!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Dogwood Cross: In Remembrance

There Is A Legend

At the time of Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus nailed upon it, sensed this.
In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering Jesus said to the tree:
" Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember."

[Both photos, taken 4/3, are from trees in our woods.]

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The 8-Year Dance

Yesterday, while celebrating Dad’s life, Donica and I celebrated our 8th “wedding” anniversary. First, the doorbell rang and these dozen and a half roses greeted me.

Donica never met my dad (or Mom or Bennett) but we actually met in the summer of 1997, a few months after Mom died. We met while playing women’s softball first and then bowling, both on the same team. As they say, the rest is history.

The following April, 1998, 3 years after Dad’s death, we spent a weekend in lovely Asheville, NC, to visit the Biltmore Estate and, on Sunday, April 12, to say our “wedding vows” to each other. On a gorgeous, sunny day, we spread a Eucharistic picnic in Asheville’s arboretum and spoke the vows of commitment we had written for each other. Alone, before the face of God.

I say alone but I actually pictured Dad there, officiating. He wouldn’t have known what to do with gay marriage back then, before “passing over” into Eternity’s way of seeing things. But that day I think he actually understood.

Later, after the roses, there was a box that arrived full of these dozen, HUGE, chocolate-covered strawberries. Since Donica can't eat them (okay, she cheated and had one!), they were clearly for me. Omigod! At one-a-day, they’ll just about do me in! What was she thinking?!

Why a dance? Because it takes two. It almost always involves music (you don’t think of Donica without music!). Sometimes you lead; sometimes you follow. And it takes practice.

I can’t ever imagine a different dance partner the rest of my life! Thank you, Donica. I love you!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In Memoriam #3


January 2, 1917 - April 12, 1995

Today marks the last of my family's Memoriam-In-Triplet. In month sequence, Dad was last. But in year sequence, he was first, followed by Bennett the next year and then Mom a year later. All 3 within 2 years minus 2 weeks! Besides that, Dad died on the Wednesday before Easter, so 11 years later we have come full circle.

I have no idea how old Dad is in the above photo. I think it may be a high school photo (Ruth, if you know, pray tell). But this photo next to the Ford Woody is from 1951 when he was 34 and I was 6. By that time there were 6 of us 8 kids, so Dad needed the stationwagon, given to us by Mom's step-dad who was a Ford salesman in NYC.

In those days, Dad was a poor preacher. Always was, if you go by what some preachers make today. But of course, Dad was never in it for the money. It was always his "calling" and he did it for all the right reasons, as far as I ever saw. He simply was a Man of the Cloth--a spiritual leader.

His dad was 70 (YES!) when my dad was born the youngest of 3 kids (his mother was 47!). And died when Dad was 9. His mom never remarried and raised the 3 kids. Uncle Jimmie died the year before Dad (which means 4 in my extended family died within 3 years!) but Auntie Sue (the oldest of the 3) is still alive in Virginia at 95!

Dad attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville but never graduated because he had to go home to take financial care of his mother. He was already preaching by 18, receiving calls from small parishes in Virginia before moving to Michigan in 1946 when I was one. He was there till he died of lung cancer in 1995 (never a smoker a day in his life). He joined no denomination but became essentially a Bible Preacher in baptist churches that had no affiliation with any conference. That was his style--to just preach after the conviction of his heart.

Everything I know about conservation, making a good bargain, saving a penny, and giving back what I don’t need, I learned from Dad. If given payment for weddings and funerals or speaking engagements outside of his church, he’d either give it back or to charity. He felt it all belonged to God, not him, no matter what. If he needed to supplement his income, as he did in the early days, he did professional sign-painting odd jobs. He was an artist in his own right (Mom was the musician!) and did this pen-and-ink drawing of his own bookplate (used on his tombstone below).

At home Dad was a man of few words, often staring off into space while working on his next sermon. He loved nothing better than making a point through a good story and preferably one that drew a chuckle. So his sermons were made up of good stories, many of which I remember to this day.

The night he died, he was in a hospice bed set up in the dining room with all us kids and spouses gathered around him. Mom, in her beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, came in and with great exasperation asked, “WHEN is the funeral?!?” I was at the foot of the bed massaging Dad’s feet and looked up at her with a chuckle and said, “We don’t know, Mom, because Dad hasn’t kicked the bucket yet.”

You need to know that I wasn’t being disrespectful of Dad or Mom in that moment. I was kinda pulling a Dad on her. Immediately he started laughing and said, “That reminds me!” He then started to tell a kick-the-bucket story he had told in his sermons. But as he started the story, he also started the 6-hour coma before his death and kept fading off after the first sentence or two. We’d start laughing, which would wake him up, and he’d start the story from the beginning, fading off again. We knew the story but he never finished it. Six hours later he kicked the bucket…and that’s exactly how he’d love us to tell it. We all in unison turned our heads to the hospice nurse who simply nodded her head, making “official” what we already knew.

It was the sweetest, quietest, most precious memory of Dad I can ever tell. He chuckled his way into Eternity.

Dad and Mom close to 50 years ago.

Today, after 11 years, I am quite sure he gets a little congregation together from time to time to retell that story. He knows now, of course, that Bennett and Mom followed him shortly thereafter and probably gets a kick out of telling his new friends that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

I guess you had to be there!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cirque du Soleil's DELIRIUM

Last week Donica and I celebrated our 8th commitment-anniversary together (tomorrow--but my dad's Memoriam is reserved for then), by going to Cirque du Soleil's "Delirium." There's no way in the world I can do it justice by my words or photos. So the simplest thing to say, after all is said and done, is GO, if you ever have a chance.

If you've been to any of C du S's past productions, I don't need to tell you that they cannot be compared to anything you've ever seen before. Unique is a word that totally fits them.

This particular show is not like the tradional Cirque show in that it's in an arena (not in their trademark Big Top tent) and stays for only two days instead of the usual several weeks. While it still has acrobatic feats, it's more a "multimedia/theatrical production that features remixes of existing Cirque music and reinterpretations of performances."

The story of sorts is about a man (main character) who clings to his Ego, wandering from one world to the next, seeking his identity in a journey where he meets myriad characters and cultures. His journey attempts to answer 3 questions:

  • How can we live in a world that is contantly changing before our very eyes?
  • How can we keep our feet on the ground and our head in the stars?
  • How can we open our eyes to the world around us and reconnect to our reality?

What's hardest to explain about the show is the use of see-through screens/veils that allow for layers of multimedia shows at different times against the live-action show. There can be scenes that appear to be under water, for instance. Or, as in this photo below, hands reaching out. At one point, two huge hands actually appeared to be pulling back the "curtains." The mix of theater, dance, music and media has been specially designed to show that Delirium is a pursuit of balance in a world that is out of touch with reality. Talk about timely!

The grand finale was the "Alegria" theme song, which is probably my favorite of all their shows. Alegria (JOY) indeed! Nothing but PURE Alegria! Reality, journey, energy, heartbeat, fusion of the dimensions, inspiration. And ALEGRIA! Never forget the Alegria!

Circus of the Sun! DELIRIUM. Does the main character ever let go of his Ego? Hmm. Now that wouldn't be very nice of me to tell, would it!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A.K.A. Boots

True to the promise from my last post's comments, here's the story about why my family does NOT call me Ginnie. And this photo from almost 61 years ago is living proof.

Held by my maternal grandmother in late summer, 1945.

Mom says my due date was July 7, 1945. Her doctor, however, was going to be on vacation then and told Mom he wanted to induce me beforehand. Mom had only 2 children at that point and had no clue back then that she should/could have objected. She just went along with the story.

Of course, I knew all along that I was a Gemini (NOT a Cancer), so as far as I was concerned, I was supposed to be born on June 13th. So I was. However, at 5.5 lbs. I was considered "premature" and had to be left in the hospital for 3 weeks before they'd let me go home. I laugh about that now because today a 5.5 lb. baby would hardly be considered a premie!

By the time I got home, which was Lynchburg, VA, it was already July and hot (the South!). But Mom says she couldn't keep my feet warm. Any booties she put on my feet were too big and kept falling off. She eventually took the socks from the last doll she had kept from age 12 and put them on me. They went all the way up to my hips but stayed on.

When a nurse friend came by to see me for the first time and saw me in the doll socks, she starting laughing and exclaimed, "Why, she's all boots!"

From that point on, my family called me Bootsie (or my preference, Boots). My teachers, classmates and church family all called me Virginia (and still do if ever I see them). But from college on, I had everyone new call me Ginnie.

To this day, if anyone in my family calls me Ginnie (like my sister Ruth in her comments), it feels totally weird. If Donica calls me Boots around my family, THAT feels weird. But if YOU called me Boots just for the halibut, I'd probably walk around with a big grin on my face!

Ahh. The stories we know and the stories we tell :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The 4 Step-Sisters

One of my sisters is staying with us here in Atlanta for 2 days while on a business trip and has instigated this post for me.

First of all, this is my dad's sense of humor to call his 4 daughters "step-sisters," based on this photo from 1962. But it's no joke: of his 8 kids, 4 of us are girls and here we are. From the top to the bottom, it's Susan (18), Boots (moi at 16), Nancy (15) and Ruth (5).

Susan Elisabeth was born May 25, 1943, and is now 62. Dad called her "Flusie Susie" (you had to know my dad!). She's the "Yes, Virginia, There is a God" bride from last October, marrying Rodger after 23 years as a single woman. She has a grown daughter and 3 gorgeous granddaughters, themselves almost grown. She started her own printing business years ago and is still quite the entrepreneur, living with Rodger in the Chicago area. Of the 5 redheads in the family (including Dad), she is the auburn variety.

Virginia Louise (a.k.a. Boots) was born June 13, 1945, and is now 60. HA--you already know that by now. Yes, that would be me or Dad's "Skinny Ginnie" back when no one knew I would one day be called that by everyone except my family. You already know about me: married 21 years to Bill; two grown children (Amy and Mark) and one adorable grandson, Nicholas. Domestic partner to Donica for 8 years. Retired. Living in the Atlanta area. The strawberry-blonde variety of redhead.

Nancy Rebecca was born on July 20, 1946, and is now 59, only 13 months my junior. This is her BIG 6-0 year and she's the one who's with us right now. Dad called her "Fancy Nancy" because, well, she is! She has 3 grown kids and 4 grandkids, with another on its way. She's presently single and lives in Holland, MI. She, like Susan, started her own business in the HUD housing market and is successful in training housing authorites countrywide on the regs from the Feds every time they are changed. A huge business for her! She is the only brunette of the 8 kids, taking after Mom.

Ruth Ann was born on August 22, 1956, and is now 49, awaiting her BIG 5-0 this year. Dad called her "Goofie Ruthie," which she really wasn't. But she was definitely the baby of the family, just Nicholas' age in the "step-sister" photo above. (Aww.) And she's the Synchronizing blogger I introduced you to back in February. She, too, has 2 grown kids (a girl and a boy), and is the English Academic Specialist at Michigan State University while her hubbie teaches 4th graders. Talk about a Soulmate. She is definitely my springboard and best friend for so much of who I am. And she's one of the 4 "dishwater blondes" who are neither brunettes nor redheads.

"The 4 step-sisters" is typed on the back of the March 1962 photo above, definitely in my dad's "writing." Wait till I show you the one he took of all 8 of us kids! (Another day!)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Winslow Townson/AP

Any team that can come from a 13-point deficit in the second half to win its first N.C.A.A. women's basketball championship, a 78-75 overtime victory against Duke, deserves to whoop it up!

And to think we went to bed last night at halftime and missed the entire comeback! What were we thinking!

Thus ends March Madness!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lilies of the Field

Yes, I'm still on this yard/nature kick. It happens every Spring, doesn't it, when we all start gravitating outdoors!

While I've been posting about our front yard and the monkey grass, for some reason, I have been more aware of our BACK yard--the yard that's not in the woods but isn't pampered, just mowed. Almost au natural! It's had a ground-cover for a week or more of these purple-bluish flowers (you may need to click on image to enlarge). I haven't a clue what they're called but before long they will be gone and the yard will resort to the run-off slopes of mostly Georgia clay with tuffs of grass hanging on for dear life.

If you look carefully behind the row of pine trees (again, you may need to enlarge image) you can see the natural pond that borders 4 of our neighborhood homes. I don't like to say we are part owners of it because I don't feel like we really "own" any of this land. I especially feel that way knowing Native Americans once roamed these woods and supposedly caught many a fish in that pond. Somehow it still belongs to them, even if they aren't here any more. Their Spirits are. Maybe some day we will have a little dock built so that Nicholas and G'ma can go fishing. And the day we find an arrowhead will be the frosting on the cake!

In the meantime, I'll enjoy these flowers while they last. These are hugging a birch tree we planted several years ago (one of my favorite trees in the whole world), along with 4 maples and one weeping willow we planted here-n-there. Especially in the back yard we need root systems that can keep the soil/clay in place. We're so thankful they didn't rape our land when they built our house, like so many of the subdivisions we see around us. It pains me to see what happens in the name of progress and population growth.

While I look at these flowers, I'm reminded that if they are taken care of, how much more are we: “Why take ye thought for clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:28-29)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Shave and a Haircut

Okay, so I'm on a yard and Nicholas (5-1/2) kick right now. A G'ma's prerogative! Remember last weekend when I told you I had to cut all the monkey grass clumps manually because the new shoots were too tall for the lawnmower? I wasn't lying. This photo is from last week but today, a week later, they've probably grown another inch or more.

What I didn't tell you then was that Nicholas at one point said, "You're giving them a haircut, G'ma!" HaHa. Yes, of course. So then I told him to count all the plants to see how many haircuts I'd have to give.

You have to first understand that we're talking about monkey grass lining our sidewalk to the front door and then all along one part of the driveway on both sides. When Nicholas got to 108 (counting out loud), he immediately stopped and said, "G'ma, there are 800!"

"800?" I exclaimed. "That's a lot. Are you sure it's not 108?"

"Nope. It's 800."

So when I was all done, I said, "Okay, let's count them together to make sure." I counted 111 and then added the 5 at the mailbox, making 116. So I said, "It looks like there are 116."

To which Nicholas adamantly replied, "No, G'ma. There are 800!"

"Oh yes! I forgot. 800!"

So that's his story and I'm sticking to it! (G'ma's prerogative.)