Thursday, January 29, 2015

Videos from Singing

Last Saturday night, we went to the little country church in north Alabama where my dad pastored and assisted for many years.  The little school connected to that church, still in operation, is his legacy and joy.  We had an old-fashioned country singing that night, with many of the people who knew my dad and mom from their days there.  It was a great evening!!


Today is my father's 85th birthday.  Last weekend we met family members from four states for a lunch in Birmingham, AL.  Unfortunately - most of the pictures did not turn out.  And those that did, are on my sister's and her friend's equipment - and my sister has the flu.  So more of those pics may be on the way.

I had been working on a blanket for my niece's baby, for months.  It's not really a baby blanket - it's meant to be a "big-boy blanket" for a little boy whose family LOVES to hunt.  That's why the camo colors.  It's more for him to use when he's a little older.  But it was nice to get it done and delivered to his mother.  And here's a picture of Mike holding the little guy.  Mike hasn't lost his touch.  :-)

We also had a singing for Dad at his and Mom's church of 50 years.  Videos of that will appear later as well.

This morning some of the men of the church surprised Dad for breakfast at a local spot.  Sixteen came out to wish him a happy birthday.  Mike and Andrew were supposed to take him, thinking it was just the three of them - but Mike is recuperating from the flu.  (And I have what seems to be bronchitis.  The symptoms are identical to what is online - low fever, secretions, fatigue, trouble breathing {not acute trouble}.  And 90% of it is viral, so I am avoiding the doctor for a day or two, as if it's viral there's not much he can do.)  So Andrew took Dad without Mike going along, where Dad was surprised by the men of the church.  They really love and care about him.

So, happy birthday to my dad on his 85th!!


Now, there was one more thing about our trip to Alabama for Dad's birthday that made it an outstanding trip.  Outstanding.  We were driving into Decatur, AL, past the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.  We used to go to the refuge a lot in the early days of our marriage, to see the many ducks and geese varieties that overwinter there.  However, it's been years since that's been a destination.

So we're driving on the main highway, when I look over at one of the impoundments along the road, and realize - those aren't ducks, or geese, but SANDHILL CRANES!!  A bird we've never seen, which used to be uncommon in the east, but apparently is increasing in the area.  They have red streaks on their heads, which was the tip-off of what they were.

We pulled into a driveway and saw about 200 feeding in a field.  We saw all the common behaviors - the way they lift their wings to intimidate other birds, their awkward appearance at flying in and taking off, their calls and squawks.  Of course--we had neither bird books nor binoculars with them.  This is the best pic we could get with a phone, of a couple that wandered closer to us, but it in no way shows the sight we had of those magnificent birds.

I called the Refuge on Monday to ask about their presence.

Apparently, about seven or eight years ago, several hundred sandhill cranes came to the refuge, and their numbers have been increasing every year, until this winter, when the count is at 40,000!!  The geese are way down, but the cranes are increasing.

So that was a wonderful personal addition to the whirlwind weekend trip to celebrate Dad's birthday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Postal Rant

I received this in the mail the other day.  All that is left of the envelope which I mailed is that shred in the upper left-hand corner, enclosed in the larger envelope (the other side is cellophane).

The envelope says:  

WE CARE - US Postal Service

Dear Valued Postal Customer:

I want to extend my sincere apology as your Postmaster for the enclosed document that was inadvertently damaged in handling by your Postal Service.

We are aware how important your mail is to you.  With that in mind, we are forwarding it to you in an expeditious fashion.

The United States Postal Service handles over 202 billion pieces of mail each year.  While each employee makes a concerted effort to process, without damage, each piece of mail, an occasional mishap does happen.

We are constantly working to improve our processing methods so that these incidents will be eliminated.  You can help us greatly in our efforts if you will continue to properly prepare and address each letter or parcel that you enter into the mailstream.

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding and sincerely regret any inconvenience that you have experienced.

Now, I know that accidents can happen.  However, what irritates me is that the piece is returned to me with an "I'm sorry this happened."  

A couple of summers ago, I mailed an eBay package that got mangled in a postal machine in Washington State.  It took weeks for it to be returned, and then with a similar apology as above.  I hadn't bought insurance, so therefore the responsibility was mine.  I had to refund the person's money, yet had no books back to sell again.

It seems to me that by buying a stamp I am buying a promise of delivery.  The need for insurance ought to be reserved for very valuable things.  At the very least, the post office did not provide what I had paid for, and the cost of postage - even of a first class letter - ought to be refunded!

End of rant.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday's Fave Five, 1/23/15

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Daughter went to Charleston and brought me a couple of mementos - a towel and a spoon rest.  I am always a sucker for a new kitchen towel - it's the simple things in life that are the best.  And I have NEEDED, NEEDED, NEEDED a spoon rest for a long time.  It's one of those things that is never thought about unless there is a spoon covered with "stuff" that needs to be kept near a pot of soup or something.  And then I just have to use a paper towel, which gets equally nasty.   So I am very glad for her thoughtfulness!

2. Supper with my good friend again.  We had a lot of stuff to talk about, so we went to Red Lobster.  But we didn't "pig out."  We each had a bowl of soup, and we split an order of stuffed mushrooms.  Nice to go to a place like that, enjoy a little decadence, but not feel like you've eaten so much that any attempts at restraint in eating are useless.

3. Another "singing" at my folks' house.  This time the crowd quadrupled.  No joke.  48 people were crowded into their den. It was another good evening.

4. Son and I went out to eat last Friday night, then to our school's basketball games, which were away games in the same town.  I was so proud of our boys.  They were outmatched, both in number and in size.  It could have been a sickening runaway.  But they played their hearts out.  They didn't win, but they only lost by 13, and that was because of a couple of free throws by the other team at the end.  Before going to the games, we stopped to see a couple of older friends at an assisted living center nearby.  Both of those visits were nice also.

5. Monday was a teacher workday, so this was a four-day week!  (A workday is almost the same as being off.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Some Memorabilia

I'm cleaning through old photos, trying to get the amount of "stuff" on my hard drive down.  Here are some from the past.  There may be more!!

This was a beach trip.  They had so much fun with those boogie boards on that trip.  It was 2000--I remember because it was the same summer as my neck surgery.  We stayed on the inland waterway in a house - in the evening we would go down to the dock.  The kids would go crabbing and fishing and we'd stay out until dark.  Then we would come in and watch old sitcoms until about midnight.  Wonderful memories of that vacation.

I don't even remember this one until seeing it today.  Cute little boy!!

And this was a cute little girl's first beach trip!!  She actually loved it and we would have to stop her from running right into the ocean.  She had no fear.

Didn't really mean to have all the ocean references.  Here was a recital with a cruise ship theme.  They did such a good job!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday's Fave Five, 1/16/15

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Last night we were at my folks' for an old-fashioned singing around the piano.  With Andrew here to play the guitar and lead the event, as well as provide a spark for it all, it was a nice evening.  My parents had invited their Sunday school class and others as well, so it was a good group.  

2. On Monday night my dear friend Nancy treated me to a birthday supper.  (The birthday was a month ago, but better late than never.)  I always love spending time with her.  Her friendship is one of the dearest things of my life.

3. My sister Mary and her husband were passing through on Sunday, and had dinner at our house.  Always nice to see family.

4. This is actually from a week ago.  We were sitting with my folks at Sunday dinner, when a flock of 16 turkeys appeared outside the kitchen window!  

5. Andrew spoke and sang in church last Sunday, and did a great job.  He's singing with the church quartet this Sunday, two songs.  Always so good to hear him sing, and likewise good to hear of what God has been teaching him as he has been in China for the past year and a half.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Today my sister-in-law Jane would have been fifty years old.  She has been gone for almost three years, and it's still sometimes hard to believe.  This drawing, done by my daughter, expresses her personality beautifully.

Jane was an outstanding horsewoman. You can see her beaming with pride in this picture, as her daughter wins a ribbon.  Jane was a free spirit in many ways.  She had many obstacles to overcome, including losing her own mother at age 14.  

She is greatly missed, by her family members as well as many others.

Daughter Gets A Deer

In the last ten minutes of deer season, my daughter got a huge buck!  Eight points, 22 1/2" spread (that is highly unusual), 190 pounds.  She has been wanting this badly for a long time!  Very proud of her accomplishment!!

Turkeys In Our Yard

Seen while we were eating Sunday dinner with my folks - - -

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Special Company Tonight

Picture above:  Last summer, in China, I met Lincoln and Christina at one of Andrew's English Corner meetings (a group that meets to practice English.

Tonight, we were privileged to host Lincoln and Christina in our home for supper.  They are now studying mechanical engineering here in the States (master's degrees!  Smart!) and are in the area to visit friends.  I made them pose around our kitchen table just like above.  :-)

Earlier in the day, Andrew took them touring around town.  My administrator happened to be at school, so he let them in, and Andrew showed them my room!  Glad it was cleaned up!
They also visited my folks, and saw the downtown area.  We were glad to have Lincoln and Christina here!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday's Fave Five, 1/2/15

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Last night my daughter got a HUGE buck as well as a second one that was good-sized also.  It makes a great story.  She's been wanting one badly all year as she has never gotten a large one.  Mike and she decided to go one last time, last night.  So, in the last ten minutes of the season, she killed a 190 pound buck with a 22 1/2 inch spread.  That is huge, especially for a buck in our state.  Mike let his Canada hunting buddies know about it, and they said that that is a huge spread even for Canadian bucks.  So she is reveling in her success, and Mike is as excited as if he got it.

2. This morning I came in from running a couple of errands to see Mike and Andrew out back washing the cars.  Very nice!

3. Also very nice just to have Andrew around.  He's in and out a lot, seeing people, but just knowing he's on our side of the ocean for awhile is wonderful for a mother's heart.

4. My side of the family was at our home for Christmas dinner last Saturday.  All but a couple of nieces were here - and both of them have precious little ones that we missed seeing.  But it was a nice meal, both here and at my folks' for dessert and presents later on.  One sister stayed until Tuesday, which was really nice.

5. I made my yearly trip to the outlet mall about 45 minutes from here, on Monday.  Got a pair of shoes that I had been told was discontinued, but apparently was not.  The pair I already have of the same style feels wonderful on my feet, so I was very glad to get a second pair for when these wear out.  You know you are middle-aged when finding a comfortable shoe matters more than finding a fashionable one.  :-)

Happy New Year!