Thursday, February 26, 2015

This Week's Collage

So, without any events that are noteworthy enough to stand on their own, you'll be forced to look at a collage of my pictures from the week.  I apologize in advance for the boredom that may ensue. 

1)  Last weekend, Blair briefly came through town and, while I was cooking dinner for her, she was getting a big carton of chicken broth down for me and dropped it.  Chicken broth.  Everywhere.  In the laundry room.  She was sweet enough to insist that she'd clean it up herself and, for some reason, "Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day, it's Cinderelly....." kept playing in my head.  I'm not sure why.  Regardless, I can't say I've ever seen the dog more interested in our laundry room.    
2) We celebrated Mr. Goldie Hall's 100th birthday at work this week!  He's our oldest customer.......and one of our very favorites. (Don't tell the others.)  He takes care of his wife, Mrs. Lillie, and he still drives himself to pick up their medicine.  Now, this is not to say that everyone in the parking lot doesn't give Mr. Hall plenty of room to back out and make his turns, because.....well, they are very generous in that regard, but we're always so happy when we see this kind, humble man coming through our doors. 
At his little party, we asked him for his secret to longevity.  So, if you're interested in living to 100 and beyond, listen up.....
"Work hard.  Be honest with everybody.  Treat everybody right....doesn't matter if they're black or white.  And if you have food to eat, you have all you need."   
Sounds like good advice to me, Mr. Hall. 
3) Tuesday night, they called off school for Wednesday.  We would finally get our snow day!  The forecast details were sort of sketchy and the possibilities seemed to vary from hour to hour, but this was our time....we just knew it!  Surely, it was our turn to play in the snow!  How exciting!  
We woke up Wednesday and looked out and I had to snap a couple of pictures to share! 
 The view from our front porch.  Isn't it beautiful?   
Oh, and look at this one!  This is my favorite!  I'm thinking Christmas card picture!   
So, yeah.  The whole snow thing rarely works out around here.  The only color on our grass is that big patch of confused weeds you see that popped up, thinking it was spring.  While y'all are having your snow days with your snowmen, we enjoyed a rain day.  Can't build much out of that......or mix that with milk and vanilla......and no one wants to see pictures of you playing in your wet grass.  Bummer.   
4) This disappointment left the world wide web chock-full of jabs at the weathermen.  Bless their hearts.  They didn't know. 
5) On the bright side, when I got up, my son was making me breakfast.  He's gotten interested in grilling and now he's dabbling with cooking a little bit.  It was quite delicious and filled my tank since I had to go to work, because........well, you can't call and say you're rained in.  Anyway, there isn't much on this earth that's sweeter than this boy!   
6)  And Blair?  Well, she's pretty sweet herself....and had way more luck in the snow department than we did.  They got around 6 inches and enjoyed 2 days out of school.  I frolicked in the snow vicariously through her social media posts.  Clearly, her pictures beat ours.  Oh, the difference 90 miles can make.   

Well, I won't prolong your agony, you know, like the vacation slide show your relatives would pull out that was about 150 slides too long.  No, we'll just stop it right here if somebody will get the lights.   
I hope y'all have a great weekend! 
I know I intend to!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Flunked a Hard Test

I'm a pretty easy going person.  I mean, I am to that age when a woman's fuse is not quite as long as it used to be, but, as a general rule, I'm usually not one to get too upset about things.  With that being said, every now and then, when hormones, moon phases, weather patterns, stress build up, barometric pressure, pride, blood sugar levels, and caffeine deficiencies all align in a certain way, my scales can tip.  

Yesterday was one of those days.   

I was on my way to work and, about a mile from my destination, there was this one way STOP sign.  I was traveling behind a lady who came to it first and since we were both turning right on the quiet, country road, we briefly checked for oncoming traffic and pulled on out.  We may or may not have made a total, complete, full, absolute stop, but we both seemed to think it was sufficient. 

Well, it came to pass that a highway patrolman was traveling down the road at the time and immediately turned those blinding, blue lights on and started waving us over.  I could tell by the way he was signaling to us so seriously that he was quite proud of his 2 for 1 catch.  He got out of that car like he'd just nabbed two of the country's most wanted, armed, child our pictures were hanging in post offices opposed to two middle aged mothers in their mid-size SUVs who'd just dropped their kids off at school, were headed to work, and didn't linger long enough at the red sign to suit him.  

I sat in my car, while he tended to the other offender, getting more and more angry at the absurdity of the situation.  And then, it was my turn.  He walked up to my car and, after a couple of haughty remarks, I could tell he was one of those who basked in his authority.  He asked for my license and proof of insurance.  License...not a problem.  Proof of insurance........"just a minute, I know it's in here somewhere", I said as I dug around in the console.  Let's see.....Kleenex, Ray-Ban case, Advil, mace, hand sanitizer, cough drops, old receipts, coupon for a free Frosty, USB cord, pen, notepad, lip balm.  Why is it that when someone is standing at your car window wearing a gun, it's harder to find things?  "Oh, here it is!  Oh, wait, no......that one is expired.

He told me to keep looking, while he went back to the car with my license.  Everyone knows the drill.  He's back there calling in the license number to check my record for frequency of violations and outstanding warrants.  Squeaky clean traffic record since '06.  "Surely, I'll just get a warning", I assured myself.  I'm a model citizen.    

Finally, I located my insurance card just as he walked back up to the car and passed my ticket through the window.  I was so mad at this point that I just grabbed the ticket and my license and rolled up the window without saying a word.  It was most un-southern of me and had he been a kind officer, I would've never done that, but his arrogance flew all over me. 

I got to work and I was in the foulest of moods.  I was having a good morning and he'd gotten under my skin.  I mean, there's a nice way to issue a ticket and then there's the way he did it.  And anyway, surely there were criminals more deserving of his time and effort than us.     

I simmered all day in my own natural juices and when I called the court and found out that it would be $159 down the drain, my mood took a couple of flights of stairs down. 

At work, later that day, I found evidence that some shoplifting had taken place at some point.  It's a pretty common occurrence in the retail world no matter where you're located or what you sell.  I thought about how I was there working, paying taxes, being a responsible citizen, and here's a person who just comes in and helps themselves to what they they were entitled to it or something.  Didn't matter who it belonged to or whose pocket it would come out of......just took it.  My mood decided to forget the stairs, at this point, and take the elevator instead........all the way down.  I was mad, mad, mad.  If I just could've gotten my hands on that thief.....           

On my long trip home that afternoon, I was driving along, minding my own business, when I came up on a young woman crossing the road.  I don't know if she mistook me for someone else or what, but I stopped and, as she slowly made her way across, she suddenly decided to give me a hand signal.  Now, there are lots of signals you can make with your hands.  Signals that mean.....ok, good job, chill, peace, and #1, but this one, well, it didn't mean any of those things.  If she was trying to tell me that she was #1, she was one finger off.  No, she was indicating that she wished for me to visit the place of eternal fire. 

Well, that hacked me off!  I didn't know her!  She was a stranger!  What had I done to her besides stop and wait for her to cross the road?  So, as I got right behind her, I did what any mature, middle aged, Bible reading, Christian woman would do.......I laid on the horn and scared the daylights out of her.  Yep, that's what I did.  And it gave me great pleasure to do so.   

By the time I got home, I felt like the Grinch, whose heart was two sizes too small.  I was sick of people at that point and was glad to finally be home with a couple of my favorite people for the night.      

After dinner, we turned on the national news and, after 15 minutes of hearing about injustices and slander and politicians and dishonesty and abuse, and all manner of blood pressure inflators, I'd had all I could take and turned it off.       

I sat in my chair with my feet up and leaned my throbbing head back and remembered what I'd read just the night before in the same chair......even underlined it: 
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that."
"But love your enemies, do good to them...... and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6: 32-33, 35-36

Eeeeeek!  I'd turned in my test at the end of the day and got it back with a big, red F at the top!  My pride had won the day.  My hormones were taking a victory lap.  I had been more concerned with having the last word than showing the kind of mercy that God shows me every day. 
I'm so glad He's not like me. 

His mercies are new every morning.  

So.....tomorrow, I'll get another chance to do better.

Happy mid-week, people!      



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rambling in the Worst Way

So, repainting the family room has opened a can of worms.  As a matter of fact, if an account of painting the room were recorded in the Bible, it might sound something like......

And painting the family room for Valentine's Day begat
Moving some accessories around and moving some accessories around begat
Empty spots and empty spots begat
A little shopping and a little shopping begat
New blackout curtains in the bedroom and new blackout curtains in the bedroom begat
Moving a chest from one bedroom to another and moving a chest from one bedroom to another begat
Moving a chair from a bedroom to the den and moving a chair from a bedroom to the den begat
New window treatments in the dining room and new window treatments in the dining room begat
Curtain rods being lowered and curtain rods being lowered begat
Holes that needed filling and holes that needed filling begat
A little touch up paint in the dining room and a little touch up paint in the dining room begat
Changing pictures around and changing pictures around begat
A little blemish on the new Valentine paint and a little blemish on the new Valentine paint begat
Touch up painting in the family room and touch up painting in the family room begat
The hall and kitchen looking needful of fresh paint and the hall and kitchen looking needful of fresh paint begat
Davis making early plans to send me roses, jewelry, AND candy for Valentine's Day next year.

We had a very nice anniversary weekend, by the way, and we appreciated all of the well wishes!  We enjoyed a long night out on the town, just talking and feeding our faces.  The weather started to turn ugly, so we came home, exchanged gifts, and went to bed, where there was a lot of heavy breathing and uncontrolled drooling.........due to our neurotic dog with the severe thunderstorm phobia ending up between us in the bed, panting in terror.  It was the stuff that romance novels are made of, really.  But besides that, we really had a great weekend.

Well, our weatherman has unleashed the ice/snow graphic for this coming week. This is one that he doesn't get to pull out much down here.  It is used only after long, sober deliberation because of its unmatched ability to cause excitement/hysteria among the southern masses.  Once the graphic is disengaged, there will be no trace of bread, milk, or anything made by Oscar Meyer in the whole state within 30-45 minutes.
So, yeah......when you take into consideration our historical weather records, we have like a  2% chance that we will see some snow and a <1% chance that it will stick, but that doesn't stop our ceaseless hoping.  We're checking the weather updates on the hour and planning our grocery lists for tomorrow.....just in case.  While some of our more northern counterparts are suffering from cabin fever after being buried under a relentless blanket of snow, we dream of a day or two at home in our pajamas until noon and sliding down frozen hills on garbage can lids, cardboard boxes, boogie boards, pool floats, and a host of other southern makeshift sleds. 

Wish us luck! 

And as I sit here, halfway watching the Oscars, I will close this meandering post with takeaways from the perspective of a rare movie-goer, who doesn't recognize any of these new names and faces...... 

1)  I had no idea Lady Gaga could sing like that.

2)  Most unexpected quote of the night:  "My dear Lady Gaga."  -Julie Andrews.

3)  In that room full of women, many with their breasts hanging out for the world to see, Julie Andrews was the most beautiful and elegant of them all.

4)  "Some actresses will never be able to shake their roles", I thought to myself as Elle Woods, Rachel Green, and Ouiser Boudreax made their presentations.

5)  Matthew McConaughey, could I help you locate some beard grooming tools?  I wasn't sure you had a look that wasn't dashing, but maybe we've found it.

6)  Michael Keaton can rest easy tonight knowing that he got his money's worth out of that piece of green gum.

7)  I'm sorry the movie about an American hero was beat out by a story about a flying man, but hey.......what do I know?  His wife looked beautiful representing him there.     

Happy Monday to everybody!



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Lot Happens in 24 Years

Well, it's our anniversary week.   On Sunday, we will have 23 years of wedded bliss under our belts.  We dated a year before we were married, so we've been together for 24. 
A lot of changes happen in 24 years. 

At first, there's that nervous, awkward stage.  You weigh every word carefully before you speak......wanting to make the very best impression.  You worry over blowing your chances.  And then, one day, he lets out a big belch, while scratching himself and you get him to check if there's something hanging out of your nose at the restaurant and ask him to tell you the truth on whether your upper lip needs waxing or not.   

At first, you wear your beautiful, yet tasteful, lingerie and little matching pajama sets every night.  And then, one day, he rolls over to find you in your favorite, big ol' t-shirt from the College World Series of '98 with the fruit punch stain from '99 and a broken in pair of stretch pants with the spots of Revlon opaque red fingernail polish that you spilled back when "W" was in office. 

At first, you get roses, surprise weekend trips, diamond earrings, and candy for special occasions.  And then, one day, you start saying things like, "You know your new set of tires? Well, that, plus the hot water heater we had to buy last week, will be our Valentine gifts to each other.  Deal?"

At first, he's careful to lower the seat after he exits the restroom and then, one day, you stumble into the dark bathroom, sit down, and start flailing about like a trout on the riverbank.....clamoring for a towel bar or waste basket......anything to keep your buttocks from hitting the toilet water.

At first, he says things like, "You're so beautiful, baby"......and you say, "You're looking so handsome tonight", and then, one day, he says, "So, what's going on with your hair?.....Is it supposed to be that color?", and you say, "You're not going anywhere with me if you're wearing that...Now, come over here and let me get that hair out of your ear."

At first, you want to prepare fresh, nightly meals for him when he gets home from work.....carefully planning out a weekly menu of all his favorites.....and then, one day, you tell him, "Well, there's that half a salad in the frig from lunch at the restaurant and if we open this can of ravioli, heat up that frozen pizza, and close our eyes, it will be just like the Tour of Italy at the Olive Garden." 

At first, Christmas looked like an explosion of all your favorite things.  You'd shopped for each other for weeks.  Everything you both ever wanted waited for you under the tree with your name on it.  And then, one day, on Christmas morning, you look at each other over the mound of Legos, train tables, and the Barbie Dreamhouse with all of its sold separately furniture..... proudly holding your lone gifts of "Mom" and "Dad" coffee mugs bought from the school's Christmas store.

At first, you're like...."I'm so glad we started saving for college last year when they were born.....that way, we can retire on time without having that to consider."  And then, one day, you're like...."Well, here it is, son.......this should get you through the first semester without any problemsWe'll be working until Jesus returns, honey."

At first, he's the valedictorian of the new baby classes at the hospital...the teacher's pet....knows all the answers.....and then, one day, he sleeps right through the shrill, sustained screams of a colicky newborn, which crack all the bathroom mirrors and the leaded glass in the front door.

At first, he's says, "I've made weekend reservations at that nice restaurant we've been wanting to try", and then, one day....when you have one in college and a sorority, he's like, "well, if we take this coupon, go before 4:30, split an entrée, eat a lot of the free rolls, and both order water, I guess we can go out this weekend". 

At first, you're like, "Sure, you can keep your big, brown, corduroy, bachelor recliner that rivals the size of the smaller Hawaiian islands and, yes, also the 48"x64" numbered print of the mallards can hang there" and then, one day, while he's at work, there is an unfortunate residential burglary in which only a recliner and wildlife wall art are taken.  How peculiar.   

At first, you're all slim and trim and so conscious of your figure and then, one day, he's like, "Kids, pass those plates down here if you're done.....we're not going to waste that",  and you say, "Here are the size 5 jeans that I wore on our honeymoon if you need some rags to check the oil". 

At first, he gets right to work on his honey-dos and then, one day, he says, "I'll do it in a minute", which means....."I'm doing something right now and after I get done with that, there will be a succession of other things that I will be doing that could take up to 6-9 months.  After that, I will get right on it."

At first, he's like, "Oh, baby...this is the best chicken pot pie ever" and then, one day, he says, "This is pretty good.....but my Mama always puts boiled eggs in hers and I don't know what else she does to it, but I love it....not that yours isn't good. Don't get me wrong."

At first, you lie awake in bed, listening to him snore like a grizzly bear in January.....not wanting to wake him because of his big meeting the next morning.  And then, one day, you kick him harder than a spooked thoroughbred and insist he go to the couch. 

At first, it's all new and unfamiliar and takes some getting used breaking in a pair of shoes.  There are years of adjustments and compromises and learning the ropes.  And then, one day, without any alarm bells or fanfare or news bulletins, it's comfortable and familiar and relaxed and broken in to where it suits you both to a T.  That's where we are.  We are "home" to each other.     
I wouldn't want to spend my "one days" with anyone but you, Dave.   

Happy Anniversary! 




Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Valentine Love Story

There once was a very nice man, who couldn't think of anything to get his lovely wife for Valentine's Day.  He thought and thought, but nothing came to him.  Although he was a very nice and talented man, gift giving was not one of his stronger suits.       

He considered flowers, but he knew that sending a dozen roses to a floral designer for Valentine's Day would be like sending a dozen dry erase markers to a teacher.  Just too work related.   

He thought about chocolate, but he knew his lovely wife had a triglyceride problem and since he wished to keep her loveliness around him for as long as possible, he decided that idea was off the table, too.

He'd already bought her perfume for Christmas and he'd tried to pick out clothes for her before and he knew that didn't go well.   

Finally, he decided to just come out and ask his lovely wife what she'd like for Valentine's Day. 

The lovely wife pondered the question for a minute and replied,  "I would like you to paint the family room".

"Paint the family room?  Are you sure?", he asked. 

"Yes, I would love for you to paint the family room", she said.

The nice man went away, secretly regretting that he'd asked his wife what she wanted.  He thought that had he just bought her one of those large stuffed apes at Walgreen's or ordered her a Pajama-Gram like he'd seen on TV, he would have had a free weekend to do as he pleased, but the very nice man was a man of his word. 

The nice man didn't hire a painter, because the nice man never hired anyone to do anything that he could do......or anything that he thought he could do.......or anything that he could learn to do..........or anything that he'd seen someone else do......or anything that someone told him he could do......or anything that someone told him he couldn't do.......or anything that he could watch YouTube and then do.  It just wasn't in the nice man. 

The lovely wife picked out the perfect color, spiced vinegar, which was a lot prettier than it sounded and the nice man got out his extra tall ladder and brushes and tarps and rollers.
It came to pass that during the painting, his very lovely wife came down with a case of pink eye.....just in time for Valentine's Day.  She sat in her chair and watched him paint through her itching, bloodshot eyes.  The nice man looked over at her as he painted and thought, "I am one lucky man this Valentine's Day.  There's nothing sexier than a woman whose eyelids are stuck together and to think she's all mine.....and here I am, blessed to be inside painting on this most beautiful afternoon, too.  Someone pinch me."  The nice man was beside himself with joy.     

He suggested that he and his ailing wife order take out for their Valentine meal, because of......well, the popular belief that conjunctivitis and eating in public don't go all that well together.  And so it was that they enjoyed a steak in the privacy of their own home.   

Two days later, the nice man had finished filling nail holes, sanding, dusting baseboards, edging, removing and reinstalling switch plates, and applying two coats of the spiced vinegar.....which was, again, prettier than it sounded.  By this time, the lovely wife's eye drops had started to take effect, her vision had become clearer, and she was most pleased with his gift. 

The lovely wife knew that she had married a very nice man.   

And the very nice man had learned a valuable lesson.   

The End.         


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dear Family Feud Contestant......

Jo Beth, a Facebook friend of mine, posted that she was home watching Family Feud during lunch today and one of the questions was......"Name a place that people hate to admit they are going".  Well, the first contestant rang his buzzer and answered loudly and confidently, "Mississippi"!!!

Ok, I'm sorry....but if you will all allow me to ascend onto my soapbox for just a minute and address the contestant, I would be so appreciative.  (Joni steps upon the soapbox and begins.)

Mr. Family Feud contestant, we would like to invite you to our beautiful Mississippi. As a matter of fact, it would be our pleasure to have you.  Come on down and when you leave from wherever you're from, maybe you could give Morgan Freeman, Sela Ward, Oprah Winfrey, Shephard Smith, Robin Roberts, Tavis Smiley, and Cat Cora a ride.  I'm sure they'd like to come home for a visit......I mean, they probably wouldn't want you to tell anyone that y'all are headed to their home state, because.....well, that would be embarrassing.  Oh, and don't forget to pick up our man, James Earl Jones.  Boy, is he gonna give you a talkin' to in that Darth Vader voice of his for running your mouth about his Mississippi. 
Maybe when you get here, you could help us try to sound out some of the big words in these books by of our native authors, William Faulkner, John Grisham, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.  It may take us a year or two to finish one with our 2nd grade educations and all, but we're a determined people.  We've been a-waitin' on someone like you to come help us with our readin'.   

We might even get the generator cranked up when you get here, so we can turn on the transistor radio and listen to some of our homegrown music.....a little Jimmy Buffett, Paul Davis, Faith Hill, Mickey Gilley, LeAnn Rimes, Hayley Williams of Paramore, Bo Diddley, and that cute, little fella from Tupelo, Mr. Elvis Presley.....oh, and Jimmy Rodgers, the father of country music, and B.B. King, King of the Blues.  I'd hate to have to tell Mr. King what you said about his homeland.  He would not be pleased....not one little bit.  There's no tellin' what he might do to you with that guitar of his.  Yeah, we're the birthplace of country music and the blues. Maybe we're singing the blues because of people like you, Mr. Family Feud contestant.  Being misunderstood makes for good music, I reckon.        

We're not real bright down here, but somehow we managed to contribute a few things to the world.  Maybe you've heard of Pine-Sol, sweetened condensed milk, MTV, Netscape, nystatin antibiotic, Fed Ex, Peavy Electronics, and Barq's Root Beer just to name a few off the top of my head.  

Viking Appliances are made here, but we just export those 'cause we stick to them wood burning stoves.  Shoot, them fancy kinds are just too dad-blasted complicated for us.

We're known as the cotton capital of the world and the world's largest pecan nursery is here, too.  You say "pee-can", we say "puh-con".  Maybe we'll whip you up a pecan pie when you get here.  We're also the catfish capital of the world with 70% of the world's farm raised catfish coming from right here.  We'll fry you up a mess of 'em....maybe some hushpuppies.  It'll be so good, it'll make you wanna slap yer Mama.  We may be the fattest state in the Union, but if your food tasted like ours......well, we'd like to see you try to stay trim.
We were the first to bottle Coca-Cola. The first nuclear submarine was built here.  First lung transplant.  First to have a state funded college for women.  First to form a PTA.  4-H Club started here.  First to have a system of junior colleges.  And all space shuttle engines are tested at our John C. Stennis Space Center.  So, there. 

The founder of the American Family Association, Don Wildmon, is from these parts, too.  We're kind of proud of that since we're all about family down here.  You know us.....we try to always keep it in the family in Mississippi and marry our cousins and brothers.  The straighter the family tree, the better is what we always say.

We've got potters and painters and artists galore.  Walter Anderson and Peter Anderson did their thing on our sod.  Franke Keating was one of ours.  Too many to name, really.  I guess you've got to pass the time in this embarrassing place somehow.  The arts are as good a way as any.

If Mr. Zig Ziglar was still here, he'd likely give you a motivational speech on not talking out of turn about the place where he spent his childhood. 

We even had one of our boys go up in one of them there space rockets.  Mr. Richard Truly.  You ever been picked to ride in a rocket ship, sir?  I didn't think so.  Not many astronauts have time to be on Family Feud

We've had more Miss Americas than you can shake a stick at, too.  We could've had more if only we'd had them fitted for shoes before the pageant.  They looked mighty "purty", though.  We can grow some good lookin' girls down here in this humid heat.

A feather in our cap that we don't like to talk about too much is that the patent holder for the soft toilet seat lives in Columbus.  If we ever get an indoor toilet down in this neck of the woods, I sure want to try one out......'til then, we'll just head out to the outhouse with the Sears Catalog.  I think you'll find the facilities sufficient, though, when you get here. 

Jim Henson was one of our boys.  When we can get our rabbit ears pointed just right on top of the console TV, we can get the Muppets comin' in pretty clear.  He was a talented man, for sure.     

We like to play ball down here too, sir.  We've grown a lot of big names and still are.  Maybe when you come, we can have a pick up game of football.....just you against some of our Mississippi sons, Archie Manning, Brett Farve, Steve McNair, Marcus Dupree, and Jerry Rice.  They may be getting older, but, survey says, they'll wipe the floor with you......and Mr. Walter Payton.....well, he would've beaten the tarnation out of your sorry tail for talking about his home. 

It's hard to believe, but the only city in this here United States of America to be sanctioned by the International Theatre and Dance Commission to host International Ballet Competitions is Jackson, MS.  Ain't that somethin'?  I reckon them folks must think we have a little something going for us.  We put on our best pair of overalls when them ballerinas come to town. 

If you fall on hard times while you're here, we'll probably dig in our pockets to help you out of your pinch, even if you did bad mouth us.  We may have the lowest income level in this country but we're #2 in charitable giving.  Hmmm.....the irony.

Yeah, if you ever make your way down here, you'll likely be treated kindly, because that's how our mamas taught us.  They taught us that because it's written in the Good Book and since Mississippi has more churches per capita than any other state, we have plenty of opportunity to hear what it says about all that.  I suppose we'll just keep on turning the other cheek and going the extra mile.  They don't call us the Hospitality State for nothing, you know.

Yeah, we've got some blemishes, but I bet your state does, too, Mr. Family Feud contestant. 

So, do come on down, ya hear?.  Just don't tell anybody where you're going. 

You'll be all the better for paying us a visit. 

We won't tell a soul you were here.           

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Very Exciting, All to Myself, Absolutely Free Day

This past Saturday, I knew that I'd have the day all to myself.  Davis was working out of town, Blair was at college, and Carson was at a church retreat, which left me with a day that was totally and completely open for whatever I chose.  Wow....that almost never happens!  This was exciting!

You, moms, can relate.  From the time the little angels are born, our days are dictated by their whimpers and whims and hunger and moods and bodily functions.  Even when they get older, not much changes.....except the bodily function part.  Not that we'd have it any other way, but an occasional alone day.....well, that is just a gift from above.     

So....on Friday night, I began to daydream about what this free day might hold.  Lunch with a friend, walking at the lake, shopping, a movie, scrapbooking, redecorating?  Oh, the possibilities.  I went to bed without setting an alarm, ready to dream of what Saturday might have in store for me. 

Saturday morning, I woke up at 8:30 to a quiet house and got up to get myself something to drink.  I decided, while drinking my OJ, that 8:30 was really too early for people, in an empty house with nowhere in particular to go, to be up, so I headed back to bed.  While I hate to brag, sleeping is, indeed, my greatest natural talent.  

At 10:00, I tried the whole getting up thing again.  It went better this time.   

I fed the dog, who was famished at this point.   

Ate some breakfast, myself. 

Decided to do some laundry while I mapped out my exciting day.  "Oh, this is going to be fun", I thought.   

"I'll get started with my fun day just as soon as I call a few friends", who I needed to talk to about various things.  "I can straighten the house while I'm on the phone, too", I thought.  Win-win.      

I finally found my way to the shower.....well past the respectable time to be showering. 

I got ready and decided that I should probably run another load of laundry since the washing machine was barely visible behind Mt. Dirty Clothes.  I vaulted over the mound with the broom and did the whole washer to dryer transfer and then started another load. 

I thought, "Well, I might as well eat some lunch"....I mean, since it was around 1:30 at this point.   

I couldn't help but notice as I fixed my sandwich that I really needed to make a grocery run unless I thought I could get creative with ranch dressing, salt, vanilla wafers, and frozen peas for the following week.....because that about summed up our inventory.   

"Oh, this shouldn't take long", I tried to convince myself.  "I'll just run there and run right back and then get started with my exciting day!"  So, I darted to the grocery store, waited in the long line, poked through traffic, came home, unloaded it all, and put up the groceries......the last two being so, so very near the bottom of the ordered list of "Fun Chores". 

After that, I said to myself, "Let me just get those clothes out of the dryer and fold them before they get all wrinkly.....that should only take a minute and then the fun will start."   

I got that done and looked down and the dog was looking up at me....wagging her tail.  She was wanting to go for a walk and since she's started to take on a shape much like the United States Capitol rotunda this winter, I decided I couldn't refuse her pleading with good conscience.  It was a beautiful day, after all. 

We got back, both breathless, and on my way up the steps to the front porch, I noticed my plants were taking on a kind of gray hue, most likely from dehydration.  Well, we couldn't have that, so I took care of those. 

I was a little tired by then, so I decided to sit down and read a couple of chapters of Sophie Hudson's new book, because I just hadn't had time to read much lately and I was itching to really get into it.  "I'll just read a chapter or two.....Well, maybe one more chapter.......Well, that one was so good.......just one more." 

Before I knew it, the sun was setting on my exciting, all to myself, absolutely free day and what had I done?  I did sleep in.....and got some laundry done......talked on the phone......cleaned the house.....went to the grocery store......folded some clothes......walked the pudgy dog......watered my plants.......and finished Sophie's book. 

My exciting day really felt a lot like a regular day.

Oh, well.  Such is the life of a mother, I suppose.          

Soph's book was definitely the highlight of my very exciting, all to myself, absolutely free day.  Every page of her two books has been such a treat for me.  Maybe because I knew her back when.....or maybe because I can relate to all the southern-ness.....or maybe because I know the places and many of the people she talks about......or maybe because I enjoyed learning about what went on in her life after she left Mississippi.  I think it's a combination of those things, plus I think she just writes in a way that makes you feel like you're right there with her.  She's one of those people, who you can just pick back up with right where you left off.   Like the day that I was walking across the Summit parking lot toward Chuy's and heard, "Joan, Joan, Joan!", in a most jolly voice.  "Oh, that can only be one person", I thought as I looked up.  It had been years since we'd seen each other, but we stood on that sidewalk and talked like we'd never missed a beat.

I love her theme of God's sovereignty in the people we meet along all the paths we travel.  I'm glad that ours crossed so long ago.  The 17 year old me had no idea that she was exchanging notes between classes with a future may have been too much stress for the 17 year old me, so I'm glad she didn't know.  I'm so very proud of her and everything she's accomplished.....maybe that's the biggest reason of all that I've enjoyed the pages of her books so much. 
I would've never started blogging if it hadn't been for Sophie.  I barely knew what the word meant.  It sounded like a problem for which you might call Roto-Rooter or schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist.  All I knew for sure was that it was something that other people did, who were way more world wide web savvy than me.  She encouraged me to try it and answered my stupid questions.  Lots and lots of stupid questions.  Even now, I will ask her for advice or help with something and, while I'm sure she has about 2,000 other things to do, she patiently helps me.  

One year ago today, I pecked out my first blog post and nervously clicked "Publish".  This followed about 6 months of stall tactics as I tried to keep my start date far enough in the distance to keep me comfortable.  Someone should've reminded me that I was just committing to blogging, not to signing on with the Navy Seals.          

I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed the last year.  I think God must have thought, "I have to let her write, because she won't ever be able to communicate worth a flip with that clumsy mouth of hers."  Some days, ideas flow so fast that I can't decided which topic to write about first and other days I think, "if only they made Ex-Lax for the brain, that would be swell".  But, we made it through the first year.  My biggest worry was that I wouldn't have anything to write about and, some days, I'm sure you think, "Wow, she was really scraping the bottom of the barrel today".  But, life seems to always provide some sort of subject matter......just some days more than others. 

Most of the time, life is joyful and I just want to laugh and have a good time.  Some days, I feel drawn to write about spiritual matters.  Sometimes, I'm feeling particularly sad or concerned about something and, whatever it is, I find it easier to cope with things by writing about them.  They seem to take order in my mind when they take order on the page, so, occasionally, you're just an audience for my self-therapy....and I appreciate that.  Bless your hearts. 

I appreciate each and every time you visit here. 

Each and every time. 

It humbles me to no end.

I just want to keep having fun with y'all in a way that glorifies the One who gave me this opportunity.   

Have a great Tuesday!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Tie that Binds

For about 13 years, I've been blessed to be a part of a women’s Bible study group.  We may look like an unlikely grouping of real glaring similarities between us.  Different ages, different backgrounds, different jobs, different interests.........except there's this one thing- we all love Jesus....and each other to pieces. 
Sometime between 2002 - 2005-ish
We started out as just a random mix of women assigned to meet together as part of a church wide small group emphasis.  We've had women come and women go since then..... moving away or just overwhelmed with other responsibilities in their lives, but, for the most part, our group has remained basically the same with a few additions along the way. 

One of the books we studied years ago was The Bad Girls of the Bible, which was a look at the not-so-nice girls mentioned in the know, the ones after whom no one names their daughters.  You don't see many little girls with "Herodias Jael" embroidered on their backpack and with good reason.  Anyway, it wasn't long before our group became known to outsiders as "The Bad Girls".  I'm sure the elderly people in the church would fret when they'd see the announcement "the Bad Girls will meet Monday night at 6:00 p.m." printed up in the bulletin each week.  At first glance, we don’t really look like we're all that bad, but our innocent, Baptist, Bible carrying, Philippians reading, casserole making façade helps mask the mischievousness that bubbles just below our surface.  Never, ever let it be said that Christian women don't know how to have fun because that couldn't be further from the truth.  We are Exhibit A. 

Up until last fall, we met every Monday night in each other’s homes.  (We're currently on a small vacation but hoping to reunite soon.)  Anyway, for all those years, we'd take turns being the hostess with the mostest, flaunting our culinary skills, setting beautiful tables with seasonal themes, sharing the recipes we served, studying the Bible together, brewing coffee to go with the pie, laughing until breathless, and praying for one another. The bond that is created among women, who meet regularly over food and the Good Book, should never be underestimated or taken lightly.  It is a force that is to be reckoned with.   

We’ve celebrated together through weddings, showers, engagements, new grandbabies (there are 52 grandchildren between the Bad Girls now), graduations, new jobs, and birthdays.  I am currently the “baby” of the group, so I have received a lot of helpful and valuable advice from these wonderful women who are just a few steps ahead of me in the journey of life. I’ve been well informed on what to expect when my nest empties, when planning a rehearsal dinner, when becoming a mother-in-law, and when grandchildren start to arrive.  And I've heard enough stories about hot flashes, mammograms, colonoscopies, arthritis, insomnia, and such that I have been well prepared to face the “changes” of life as they come. 
As expected, though, when a group of 13 are together for well over a decade, there will be difficult times ….surgeries, tests, disappointments, cancer, sick children, adjustments of being widowed, moves, aging parents, loss of jobs, and deaths of people who we loved very much.  Whether you'd found yourself at a grave, in the hospital, at a bedside, or just in a pinch, you could always count on looking up and seeing the sweet, loyal faces of our group coming when difficult times had paid you a visit.

This week we met to say goodbye to one of our Bad Girls, Jan, who's moving to Georgia to be closer to her children and grandchildren.  Another piece of us is moving away.  We've had our share of send off parties through the years, but this one seems especially hard.  Some people are just like that, you know?  Jan is a most genteel, southern lady and we will miss her warm spirit being at our table.  Every woman who has ever been a Bad Girl has left a piece of herself with us when she goes.  I suppose that's just how life is.  Everyone leaves behind a little bit of themselves wherever they have been loved.      

We all made a tie blanket for Jan which was a symbolic token of the tie that binds us all together no matter where we go or how long we're away.
Life can throw us curves.  Sometimes, it goes as planned.  It can make us feel like we're living a fairytale.  It can turn dark in a hurry.  It can move us around like chess pieces.  It can be dull and monotonous.  Sometimes, it seems random.  Many times, it's not.  It can cause paths to cross.  It can put distance between us.  It can weave lives together like fabric.  It can change who we are.    

I am a better person for being a part of this group of ladies.  I am better for knowing Jan.

We'll miss you, our friend.




Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Delicate Matters

With our four male readers, we, sometimes, entertain mixed company here on Motherhood and Muffin Tops, so it's not often that we cover subjects that are delicate in nature.  However, I though it was time that we brought an important, often overlooked, topic out from the dark shadows and into the light.  After all, we are all adults here.

It is a subject to which most women can relate, yet many choose to deal with it in silence.....all alone.  A struggle that is only made more ominous by its concealment.  One that can make a woman feel she has no one to talk to about it.  The struggle of which I speak is that which arises when one sends a man to the store for feminine products.  Yes, I know.... you are all saying, "Oh, thank goodness......I'm not the only one who wrestles with feels so liberating to get this out in the open."  And that is precisely what we strive to do here.    

Well, my other half was stopping by the store on his way home from work this week and so his first mistake was to ask me if I needed anything.  "Well, come to think of it, I do need a couple of girl things."  I could tell by his text reply that the only way that he could've been more excited at that moment was if he were prepping for a colonoscopy.  I could sense his eagerness in each and every word.  But.....he loves me and even though feminine protection is not really covered in the traditional marriage vows, he agreed to take one for the team, despite the fact that he was not legally bound to do so.  And what greater love is there than for a man to voluntarily delve into the long stretch of blue, pink, and white feminine packages marked with enough descriptions, forms, sizes, and variations to make even a seasoned gynecologist scratch his head.

I think this was only the second time in 23 years that I'd sent him on an errand of this nature as I recognize the overwhelming aspect of the task as well as its accompanying awkwardness for the male.  All that to say.....he is not as fluent in feminine shopping as some of his counterparts.   He's just not been given the chance to flourish in this area and that is completely my fault.

So, anyway, I texted him about what I needed and never thought about it again..........that is until I started to get pictures texts from him.  "These?".....the text aksed.  "OK, no......the first problem I see is that you need to get out of the store brands, Dave Ramsey.  This is not an area in which we skimp."  Then, comes, "These?"......"Well, that looks like it could be used for wall insulation....are you in Hardware?"  So, then I get another picture, "These?"........"No, not those.  Does that box look pink?  I think you may have crossed over into the incontinence section."  "These?........These?  These?.......These?....These?"  The pictures started coming rapid the spray of machine gun bullets.  I believe he photographed most of the products manufactured by Procter and Gamble. 

I'm sure there were nearby children tugging at their mothers' dresses, "Mommy, why is that man taking pictures of those things you keep in your purse?"......."I don't know, but don't you dare get out of my sight", I can imagine mothers said as they pulled their children close.    

I had flashbacks of the night I found my friend's husband on the feminine care aisle....all alone.  He was just standing there staring blankly at the 20 feet of shelving lined with an array of absorbent materials...looking at it like it was Mt. Rushmore or something.  He appeared to be in awe......his mouth hanging open....his eyes glazed over.  I immediately recognized that he'd been sent on a "feminine" mission and had become overwrought as he faced the perplexing assignment.  I wanted to do what I could to help him with this most sensitive matter, so I discreetly walked over and simply pointed to a box, tapped it gently, and walked away.  We never made eye contact, but his appreciation was understood.       

You can never be sure if failure in these cases is genuine or purposeful to avoid future assignments. helps to know you're not alone.                 


Monday, February 2, 2015

Farewell, Football

My random and inconsequential thoughts on Super Bowl XLIV: 

1)  While I am an avid college football fan, my interest in professional sports falls somewhere between the level of intrigue I have with the chemical process of composting and the history of the Pythagorean Theorem. 

Yeah......somewhere right in the middle of those. 
2)  Women don't play football because we are not inclined to participate in sports in which a player's weight can appear on the TV screen at any moment.  No, thanks.  We'll just watch.     

3)  Even with my miniscule knowledge of play calling, I think I would have known that passing the ball from the one yard line was a bad idea. really have to feel for the guy.  You know he didn't sleep much last night, wrestling with the "what ifs".  Stay off Twitter for a few days, Coach, if you want to retain your will to live.     

4)  I liked the Seahawks' uniforms the best and so, in keeping with the custom I've held firm to since childhood, I was for the Seahawks all the way.  That bright green really looks nice with the blue, boys.  And when I found out there was a former Mississippi State Bulldog on the team, that just solidified my superficial decision.

5)  Plus, I didn't really like the whole deflating thing.  Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater....

6)  But, then I found out that the guy who made the game saving interception for the Patriots was  Mississippi born and raised, so then I was like, "Yeah....go, Patriots....I knew you could do it."  By the way, Mississippi had 6 of her sons playing in the Super Bowl last night.  Go, southern boys!
7)  One of my favorite commercials was all of the 100 year olds helping celebrate 100 years of Dodge.
 "Live for now"....."Life is make it good"......"Always tell the truth"....."Never forget where you came from"...."Keep your eyes open and sometimes your mouth shut."   Amen, Centenarians. 

8)  Then, there was the obligatory puppy commercial.  Horses that save a lost puppy from wolves.  Oh, you're good, Budweiser.  If I were a drinking Baptist woman, I'm sure I would buy your product and buy it often, because you have really compassionate horses.       
9)  And we can always leave it to the insurance companies to ruin a good party.  Nothing like a commercial about accidental childhood deaths for the Super Bowl, Nationwide.  Pass the Tostitos and the sackcloth.  Maybe next Christmas Eve you could run a spot about fatal house fires.  That would be awesome.     
10)  And it would be remiss not to mention the halftime show.  I kept seeing people raving about it on social media.  Clearly, we were watching different channels. 
I always find the difference between most artists' recorded songs and their live voices to be like......well, like the difference between my voice in the shower and my voice not in the shower.  Not near as good.

11)  And had I been a Patriot, by the time that slobbery Lombardi trophy made it down the long line to me, I'm afraid this germaphobe's daughter would just have to blow it a kiss. 
So, those are my takeaways from the big insightful and weighty as they are. 

While the introduction of ridiculous salaries into the game just ruin it for me, it does prolong the sound of football on television for another month, I suppose.

There's nothing like the sound of a football game.

Until fall.....farewell, my friend.