Just Taking a Moment

and answering this week’s Hodgepodge questions while I wait for my dinner to finish cooking.  Trying a new recipe tonight, I needed to use up a lot of cilantro before I lost it in the heat and some chicken I had in the freezer.  We’ll see how it tastes . . . .

1. What question do you often ask yourself?
What am I doing?  I ask myself all this time.  What am I doing?  WHAT am I DOing?  Sarcastically, metaphorically, hypothetically, and literally.  All forms of delivery apply to this question.

2. Do you grow roses? What’s your favorite color of rose?  Ever been given a dozen roses?  Where was the prettiest rose or rose garden you remember seeing?
No, I do not.  I’d like to, but I have always heard that roses are notoriously picky to grow.  So I have an aloe plant.  I bought some fuschia’s for my front and back planters this year.  If I can manage to make those survive then I might move on to something more impressive.  Like a hosta.  Favorite color?  Probably the peach ones, though the yellow or stripey ones are good too.  Been given a dozen a few times, but not in a LOOOOOONG time.  I used to work at a botanical garden, though, and loved to walk around and see all the lovelies in bloom–roses, daffodils, lilies, asters, you name it.  Tons of pretties!

3. Do you read the freshness dates on grocery store products?  Will you use eggs past their ‘use by’ date?  Take medication that’s expired? Buy a dented can?
It’s funny.  Yes, I do read the freshness dates.  And I am fanatical about getting the most recent milk, etc.  And milk I will drink long before the date on the carton.  But eggs?  Yes, I use them LONG past their due date.  Never taste any different to me.  And by long past I mean like almost by months.  I am allergic to eggs, so I can buy a half dozen and have them last for forever–depends on how much I’m baking.  I do have this awesome bread pudding recipe that calls for seven eggs plus another three yolks.  And it is the best tasting stuff in the world.  Sorry, random.  Medication–I will take it if it’s expired, but not by much more than a year.  I don’t take meds much, though, so I was cleaning out a cabinet and found a bunch of samples that were given to me when I was in college.  In 1993.  Or from when I had the flu, and it turned into meningitis.  In 1998.  Yeah, had a huge bag full of random stuff.  

4. Should athletes be role models?
Oooooh, good question.  You know, the great ones always have been.  There is always one that came before, and if there wasn’t one that came before there was one that inspired.  Today’s basketball stars looked to Michael Jordan.  Michael Jordan looked to players that played before him like Larry Bird.  And I think that if you’re going to choose a profession that has a public persona job function, then you need to be ready to accept that responsibility.  No one looks at a washing machine repair man and thinks that is the best job on the planet.  They may look at the man, however, and think that “this is a man who works hard, who does the job to the best of his ability, who cares about the legacy and impression he leaves behind, and who is proud of the work he has done at the end of the day.  That’s who I want to be.”  And at the end of the day, isn’t that what being a responsible human being is all about?

5. Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first explorers to reach the top of Mt. Everest on this date (May 29) back in 1953. What’s something you hope to achieve in your lifetime?
I am never good at these questions, as I am always so focused on the immediate.  Right now?  It’s to pass my Series 7 exam.  On the first go.  Far reaching goals?  Pay off debt.  Leave a legacy in the children I teach.  Be remembered as a God loving woman who did the best she was able.

6. What would you do if you had twenty acres of land and the money to develop it any way you choose?
A garden over about a half to full acre.  A house of about 2000 square feet, all one level, designed to

7. If I invite you to a party with a 7 PM start time, what time will I actually see you there?
Around 7pm.  Then again it depends on the type of party.  An open house?  Probably around 8.  But for the most part if I invite you to be at the house at 7 then I expect you at 7.  The two girls that I have dinner with every Sunday are so late it drives me nuts.  We used to meet at 6 every week, but they were showing up at 620, 630, 645 . . . and it’s hard to plan dinner when you don’t know when people are showing up, not to mention we were eating around 8 since I had to wait until they got here to finish up cooking.  So we moved it to 5.  Still show up around 515, 530 . . . but at least dinner isn’t so late.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Finished dinner.  More like a soup than I anticipated.  And if you were to take out the pinto beans and rice and add chickpeas and hominy, it’s pretty dang similar to the chicken tortilla soup I already make, just with more cilantro.  And really, how can you go wrong with more cilantro.  Which reminds me: did you know it might actually be a genetic predisposition to like or not like cilantro? I never did understand people who don’t like it, but at least now they have an excuse!

Photo Op

I don’t usually post photos of myself on this site.  For that matter, I don’t usually post photos of other people on this site.  Mostly because this blog has never been about other people, and rarely even about me at the beginning.  I don’t do this for sponsorship, I don’t do this for fame or fortune.  I do this for me, and so I have something to look back in the years to come and reminisce.  So finding nine photos might be a bit hard, just bear with me and we’ll see how many I get! Continue reading

Attempting to be Sociable

Sunday Social Happy Sunday Social time!

This Weeks Questions:

Best Summer memory as a kid? See yesterday’s post.  Between that and the annual trips to Nags Head where we had seven people in a one room efficiency, priceless memories.

Favorite summer drink?  Sweet Tea

Favorite Summer TV show? Summer for me is a marathon of USA shows-Covert Affairs, Suits, Royal Pains, Burn Notice

Best outdoor summer activity? Hammock sitting

Summer vacation essentials? A loaded kindle and a pocket full of cash to stop at the vegetable stand on the way down to the beach

Official Start to Summer

Today I got to reenact one of my favorite memories from my childhood–the annual trek to the local berry farm and strawberry picking with family.  I’ve gotten older, the berry farm has changed locations, and it’s my family-by-choice instead of my family-by-birth, but the feeling is the same.  Go early, ride the hayride, watch the younguns have a blast, and eat strawberries straight off the vine warmed by the sun.  Feed the rabbits, bounce in the bouncy house, play in the giant corn pit.

This year it was B and her boys (NoMH opted out), and C and her girls.  The girls thought it was a riot, and the boys–once they got the concept of ‘pick the red ones only’–loved it.  Little J-bug especially, at 2, who was my companion for most of the morning.  He’d make a beeline for a berry, grab it in his fist and yank it off the vine, drop it in my bucket.  Stare at it a minute, then pick it back up, pluck off the green tops, and shove it in his mouth whole.  B loved it too–got his own box, and picked about a dozen before he became more interested in ‘helping’ others and eating his own.  Well, that, and playing in the dirt.

I kept thinking of all the times I used to go to the Ashland Berry Farm with my Papa.  Always in May, no earlier than Mother’s Day weekend and no later than Memorial Day, and picking until my tongue was puckered and my fingers were stained bright red.  And what a lovely memory that was for us.  I just hope these boys and girls grow up remember the same.  That they don’t remember the very windy morning, the long ride, the crankiness, the eighty-leven trips to a latrine, but instead remember that they got to ride a tractor, went on a hayride, and enjoy the experience. Continue reading

Trying to remember to be a hodgepodge regular!

I am trying, really I am.  But around the first of April I got out of the habit for my weekly linkups, and for some reason I’m really struggling trying to get them done now.  I like doing them, as it makes me sit still for a few minutes, think a bit, commit pieces of myself to permanence, but I’m finding that I keep dropping the ball.  So have patience, I really do want to keep it up!

1.  It’s National Bike Week…do you own a bicycle?  When did you last ride a bike?
I do own one.  I have a mountain bike in the garage.  No, wait a minute, I don’t.  I gave it to goodwill.  I used to ride all the time as a kid and loved it.  But I bet it’s been about 20 years since I have ridden one outside of the cardio room at the gym. 

2. What’s something you learned in school that wasn’t part of the curriculum?
That people can be horribly mean, including family.  That things aren’t always fair.  That being different isn’t always better.  Horrible lessons to learn, but they’re the ones I remember.

3. What’s a food you’ve never tried, but would like to try?  What’s a food you’ve tried, and will never try again?
I love trying new things.  To try to find something specific that I wanted to try and haven’t yet, I checked out the Food Challenge app on Facebook.  Except there are only about ten things I haven’t tried–things like blood sausage, haggis, and head cheese.  No thank you.  But I love to try new things.  I like ethnic stuff, but it’s hard to order at a restaurant when you’ve never had it before in case you don’t like it.  So instead, I’m saying I want to try a new Indian restaurant.  They have a buffet, so you can try a bunch of stuff and figure out what you want and what you don’t.  As far as foods I’ve tried and never will again, it is really more common stuff instead of stuff like frog legs and alligator.  I love that stuff.  The stuff I can’t stand is stuff like cabbage.  Grapefruit.  Meatloaf.  Liver.  Gizzards. 

4. Have you been more demanding on yourself lately or less?  Why?  Do you think that’s a good trend?
I’d like to say more, but I can’t.  More critical of myself is probably more accurate.

5. Who is your favorite book, movie, or TV show villain?
Malificent from Sleeping Beauty is pretty darn awesome.  Severus Snape (well, really Alan Rickman as Severus Snape) was pretty good too. 

6. How concerned are you about identity theft?
If I had more to steal, I might be concerned.  I try to be diligent, but it’s difficult given the amount of information out there. 

7. I saw this last question on Dawn’s blog and asked if I could share.  Everybody hop over and say hi, but first answer this…would you rather have an ordinary home in an extraordinary place or an extraordinary home in an ordinary place?
An ordinary home.  That you make extraordinary through memories and personalization. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
There are so many things I should be doing.  Vacuuming.  Cleaning up the plethora of dog hair I’m sure has accumulated.  Folding laundry.  Instead I’m watching a taped airing of Frequency starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel and trying to catch up on my Hodgepodge!

Listy McListerson

Welcome to the next round of Tuesday Topics!  Here is the new lineup:

Life. Love.Lauren

Which means that this week I’m listing ten things that make me happy.  Simple things, really, but here we go!

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis.  Must be minis, must be refrigerated, and must be eaten in groups of four.
  2. Hammock sitting.
  3. Reading a great book while hammock sitting.
  4. Kite flying.
  5. Actually being able to grow tomatoes and not have the squirrels eat them all.
  6. Levi ThePuppyDog.
  7. Being gainfully employed.
  8. Fresh bedsheets.
  9. A great sermon at church.
  10. The fact that B’s youngest, J, is old enough now to not just recognize me as someone he knows but as someone he can get excited to see.  And he comes running whenever I’m walking into a room.  His older brother is sometimes too old to get excited about Aunt Kelly, so I cherish these days!


Anyone else a fan of Sky High?  I took my godsons to see this movie in the theaters and have loved it ever since.  Plus, bonus: Bruce Campbell!  His turn as Coach Boomer aka Sonic Boom gave this week’s title.  Yes, I’m a middle aged woman and I love tween movies.  It’s a sickness.

My favorite roles in movies or TV shows have always been the ones that were the character parts, or the quirky people.  There are a few exceptions, but were I ever to get a ton of talent, a size four body, and a big case of narcissism these are the parts that I would want to play.  I feel like the quirky person is usually the supporting role, but sometimes the interesting one is also the lead.  Oh, and they’re all women.  If I had to pick overall leads, men and women, I’d be here all day!

10 Favorite Female Characters in Movies or TV Continue reading

Dream a Little Dream

I don’t know why, but that chorus is playing in my head as I type out my answers to this week’s Sunday Social questions!

Sunday Social1. What is your favorite kind of surprise?
One that I plan for someone else.  I love surprising others.  Hate it when it happens to me.  Seriously can’t stand it.  So much fun to organize and pull off something spectacular for someone else.  But I am such a control freak I hate not knowing what is going on and dislike having them thrown my way in such an insane way.

2. Flowers or Chocolate?
Flowers, usually.  They’re something I don’t do well raising on my own, so I always appreciate the frivolity of having someone else provide them. 

3. What is your favorite summertime activity?
Hammock sitting.  Well, no, that’s not true.  Walking on the beach early morning, followed by some time in the sun, flying kites, fishing off the little bridge, cooking dinner, and then playing cards all night.  But as I currently cannot afford such luxuries, I settle for hammock sitting.

4. Do you have any vacations planned this Summer?
I’m taking a day off to volunteer at a golf tournament . . . .  And I get a bit of a break when the boss is gone for a week.

5. Favorite Summer Holiday?
July 4.  Not just favorite summer holiday, but all time favorite holiday.  And people always look at me like I am off my rocker when I say that.  But think about it–no budget busting gift shopping, no family feud over who you are spending the most time with for the holiday and accusations of ignoring other families etc.  No stress.  No obligation.  Hang out with whomever you please, eat, drink, and be merry, and then watch things explode in the sky.

6. Dream Vacation?
Oh so many things I want to do and places I want to go.  See more of Europe.  See more of Asia.  See anyplace.  I love traveling.  See new places.  Go to the theater!  Lots and lots of theater to see.  Spend ten days at the beach, all expenses paid, fly kites, eat fruit, and play cards all night.  

Nostalgic thoughts

1. When the children of today grow up, what do you think they’ll say about this period in time? What do you most hope they remember?
That we tried.  That we tried hard to make a difference.  Tried hard to change the world for the better.  Tried to leave the world a place that they would be proud of.  Tried to fix the mistakes of our parents without making too many of our own.

2. National Teacher’s Day is celebrated in the US of A on the first Tuesday in May, this year May 7th…share how a particular teacher positively impacted you.
Oh so many.  Ms. McCreary in elementary school, who was an awesome first grade teacher then moved to third grade so she could have our advanced language arts class again.  Ms. Mann, who was my fourth grade math teacher.  Ms. Frasier, sixth grade English.  Ms. Ragsdale, tenth grade Algebra II and senior year calculus.  Pat Robertson, the nations foremost scholar on Civil War history.  But most of all my friends.  I have so many friends that are teachers, and I’m so proud to know each and every one of them.

3. What’s a dish your mama made, that if set in front of you today would whisk you right back to childhood?
Rice.  My brother and I were talking about this just the other day.  No one else we know has ever eaten it the way we did for breakfast growing up.  It was a special treat–to be had at Christmas or if we were sick.  We didn’t ask for pancakes or eggs, we asked for rice.  Hot, with milk, butter, and sugar.  Almost like a cereal, but warm.  Oh so good.  Still a comfort food to this day.

4. Mother May I was a game we played when I was growing up…no pieces, parts, or plugs required. What games from childhood do you remember loving that were also pieces, parts, and plug-free?
Across the street there was nothing but woods behind the houses.  We would tromp through the woods for hours.  Up to the railroad tracks, to the campground a few miles away, making forts and gymnastics equipment out of the trees that had fallen.  And playing categories.  Awesome days.

5. Besides your own mother, tell us about a woman who influenced you as a child?
When I was a teenager, we had Acteens in my church.  I started in grade 7 and went through until I graduated from high school.  I met so many women through that who were icons in the missions world.  Mary Saunders, who brought the plight of starving children in Ethiopia to the world.  Kitty Walker, whose son was serving in Taiwan.  Julie, who was the first person I knew that was married but kept her maiden name.  Such a cool lady.

6. Mamma Mia! What’s the best play or musical you’ve ever seen?
Ohmygoshtherearesomany.  Cats was great for being the first one I ever saw on Broadway.  Lion King was absolutely stunning and so ground breaking visually.    A Chorus Line was the first one I got to see on my own by choice.  Les Miserables was the first I became obsessed with.  Will Rogers Follies was the first one I got to work on backstage (and onstage too, for that matter!).  Rent was one of the first ones that I felt spoke to my generation.  25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was just pure fun.  Avenue Q was the first R rated show–with puppets even.  Book of Mormon was R rated as well, but the first seen on Broadway since I was 13.  Musicals speak to me, in various ways.  I’ve seen plenty that weren’t spectacular or weren’t moving, but the music was fantastic.  Jeckyll & Hyde before Lisa became Emma.  Side Show (Virginia girl made good!).  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Miss Saigon.  Wicked.  Billy Elliott.  The Secret Garden.  Seen some that were just clunkers, in my opinion–The Wedding Singer.  The Scarlet Pimpernel.  Once on this Island.  South Pacific.  Paint Your Wagon.  Because I live in an area that doesn’t get A-market shows often, and when they do they run to death (Wicked is coming for the third time in four years, making the total running in town eight weeks.  While I’m thrilled that Riverdance isn’t coming for the thirtieth consecutive year, it would be nice to see something new!), I don’t get the opportunity to see many, if any, plays.  But two years ago, some friends and I took a day trip to NYC.  Saw the evening performance of Book of Mormon (where I alternated between laughing hysterically and thinking ‘I’m going to go straight to hell for finding this funny’) we also saw a matinée performance of The Normal Heart.   It had only been running for a week.  And a cast that wouldn’t quit.  (Ellen Barkin, the sole female, won the Tony for best featured actress that year, as well as a host of other awards for the show.)  There were four of us that went, and at the end, three of us needed to go shopping for tissues and a new shirt because we had cried so much during the show.  So powerful.  So moving.  And while not necessarily the best thing I’ve ever seen on the stage, it’s probably the most meaningful, most heartbreaking, most thought provoking thing I’ve seen ever.

7. What are three smells that make you feel nostalgic?
A new jar of Play-Doh, because it instantly takes you back to age seven.  Jergens hand lotion, because that cherry scent reminds me of the instant that Nana finished washing the evening dishes and then coated her hands with the stuff to avoid dishpan hands.  A combo of freshly shaved wood, motor oil, and aftershave–the smell of my Papa as he worked in the shop after a day of work.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve been lax in my linky parties lately.  I had some life to take care of for a bit, and then just didn’t get back in the habit.  I apologize for being absent, as I do enjoy them.  I’m off to bed this evening, and if last night is any indication, I will be possessing about six inches of my king size bed as the dog, who at the age of 2 has learned to jump up to spend the night (seriously, he was so proud of himself.  He used to be terrified of the bed, now he looks at me every night as if to say ‘can we go to bed yet?’.  Too bad he can’t figure out how to get DOWN in the morning yet.), and became the biggest bed hog I’ve ever seen.  Night night y’all!

Someday, Yes Someday

.The Austin Family Diary

I’ve had a “bucket list” for years before I had ever heard the term “bucket list”.  It’s about four pages long.  I started it when I was in high school.  There was a teacher who read us a story about a millionaire who had cancer and was given six months to live.  He realized he had worked for all these years, made all this money, and never really done anything that he wanted to do in life.  So he quit his job and made a list of 100 things to do in six months.  From the mundane, like cook a six course meal, to the possible, like meet the Queen of England, and the fantastic, like travel to the moon.  (This was 25 years ago when I heard this story, so it was a bit more unbelievable to think that civilians were capable of space travel.)  Turns out the doctor’s were wrong and the six months turned into years, and he realized he had more to accomplish.  So he kept chasing his dreams, and hoped to one day even be able to achieve #37, walk on the moon.

At the age of 15 (yes, I was 15 and a junior in high school) I thought this was a great story.  So I made my own list.  And I’ve added to it over the years.  I have crossed stuff off too–like graduate from college, live somewhere for more than five years, fall in love, and have my eyesight corrected.  But there are other things–like skydive, have children, travel to Moscow/Africa/Turkey/dozens of other places, learn to hula hoop, and own a Burnese Mountain Dog–that I have yet to accomplish.  So picking two?  Just two?  Very difficult.  But so many great ones to choose from!

So here are two that have been on the list the longest, and why.

Learn how to play the cello.

To me this is just the sexiest of instruments.  As a second alto, the full-throated vibrato of the strings without the shrillness of the violin or the bulkiness of the string bass.  The exquisite compositional movements by Bach, Dvorak, etc.   And then there is this, the best quote I found while looking for a photo of a cello online: The cello is played by bowing the elegant bow across the strings. Sometimes, a choir of angels will join in with the cellist. Making the world a better place.  Amen.  Yep, on the bucket list.

Find a husband, chosen by God, for me to spend my entire life with.

Look, I just turned 40.  (AAAAGGGHHH!!!)  I don’t feel 40, I still feel 25 some days.  But 40 I am.  I have been engaged twice, once in my 20s, once in my 30s.  The first was my first true love.  The second was the one that I settled for so I wouldn’t be alone.  I thought we could make it work.  He was a lay pastor.  He was a Christian.  He was here.  So why not try.  But it wasn’t right.  (Turns out after we broke up I found out he was also a heroin dealer.  Who knew.)  I think I had talked myself into it because he was a Christian.  Chosen by his church to be a leader among men.  So it should work, right?  Who cares that he was a deadbeat, alcoholic, and (unbeknownst to me) a drug dealer.  I am just thankful that my big wake up came prior to the vows and not after.  But acknowledging that I was settling with my choice, simply because he was the only thing around offering at the time, was a big step for me.  And I finally figured it out.  I get asked all the time why I’m not married, why I don’t have kids.  And true, I never pictured myself at this point in my life as single and childless.  But like I said–I figured it out.  It’s incredibly important to me that my husband share my religious beliefs.  Years of dating outside my faith or even a Christian but a radically different background (a Quaker with 12 years of Catholic school, the first love was!) taught me that the important thing is that you are able to attend and worship together.  And more than anything, I want a man I can pray with.  To a point, a man that can be the spiritual leader of my family yet still respect the choices and input from his spouse before making an informed decision.  And this, this is the reason I’m still single.  I have male friends that I’ve been friends with for decades, and people wonder why we’re not married.  I have finally found an answer that I can give that truly explains why I’ve not pursued a relationship with this person, who is not a practicing believer:  I haven’t waited 40 years to find someone to spend my life with here on earth only to not have them with me in the next one.  I realize that in heaven there is no husband/wife, but I like to believe that they are there with me, not suffering the hereafter in a place any less spectacular.  So that is on my bucket list too!