Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Tribute To Nanna

Annie's mother died last week after a long hard fought battle with cancer.  We are so sad.
Lovely is an old fashioned word but it perfectly describes our friend, daughter and mother Barbara Woods.

The only daughter in a family of rambunctious boys she always maintained her feminine wiles. She was soft spoken, tender hearted and always willing to let others around her shine.
Barbara was a breath of simple fresh air in a world full of pretentious and complicated strivers.
She dearly loved her brothers, children, grandchildren in a way that they all knew she would be there for them no matter what. Barbara honored her mother and father.
Barbara was a worker. She took care of hurting people in her office, maintained the apartments in her building and always quietly washed dishes and “fluffed up” her children's homes after a gathering. Everything she did was without fanfare and came from a heart of love.
The Bible tells us to “Consider others more important that yourselves” and in her acts of care and service Barbara did just this. She was disarmingly humble in this world of stutters. She was so counter to our culture she stood out.
Nanna’s love was a safe haven for a grandchild's heart. They each believed she loved them most. She would often shower them with gifts of outrageous generosity. She was the grandmother-load.
How will we go on without her? There is no one to take her place.
In all of the loud going and comings of our daily lives who will be the quiet, patient, cheerleader for us?
She has left us heart broken but with a wonderful role model of a sweet old fashioned girl who was lovely inside and out.
We are better and richer for having her love poured out in our lives.

Monday, October 7, 2013

An Obituary for Our Dog Miss Glorie Hallelujah

Our Hearts are broken.  We just returned from the Veterinarian's office where our sweet girl was put to sleep after a short bout with cancer.
Her Story

"If we go in there we will go home with a dog" PJ warned me as we sat in the parking lot of the City Pound Adoption Center.  
"Not necessarily" I replied way too confidently. 
But after we walked in the door and were eventually escorted to a large room full of cages I felt more confident we would go back to our calm and orderly home alone. The roar of the dogs vying for our attention and the frantic gymnastics they were performing left me unmoved.
But you know how an elementary school teacher will whisper to get the children's attention?  That tactic worked on us and when we turned around-- there she was silently, sitting politely in her cage with eyes that whispered  "Can we just go home now?  This place is killing me."

How could we resist those eyes? We did take her home and PJ was right once again.
We named her Glorie Hallelujah Honeycutt because it had been two long years since our dogs BJ Honeycutt and Sam Pickens had moved to heaven and we were so elated to have a dog  fill our hearts and home with puppy love  we cried "Glory Hallelujah we have a dog!"
She mostly slept the first couple of weeks recovering from the trauma of being kept at the city pound for five months, having a liter of puppies she couldn't keep and a life threatening course of heart-worm treatment. We thought she was sedate but  we later came to realize  -  she was depressed.
One bright morning she woke up and felt  assured she was safe, loved and on the gravy train. Her eyes brightened up and then she began to zoom around like Road Runner's long lost cousin.
Her Personal Trainer -- what you don't have one she asks - said it was critical for her to get enough exercise because her breed (Walker Hound) was bred to hunt full throttle all night.  I knew we were in trouble when one day she was trotting me past the park and an old country gentleman looked at her and then said to me "I've never seen one of those dogs as a pet!"
"There's a reason for that!" I yelled back over my shoulder as we flew past.
The agent at the pound had said that she more than likely was  a reject from a puppy mill for hunters up in South Georgia. * "If the dog isn't  predisposed to hunt they either shoot them or throw them out on the highway."
So Glorie came to us after living more than three years on the streets.    She was uhhhhhh how can we say this... a little rough around the edges.  We could have named her Snookie but we named her on faith in her future and with gratitude.
At first she tried to attack any Lab or Golden Retriever we came upon. There must have been some bad history there.  
She ran out every door not securely fastened and headed straight for the garbage in the park.  "Nothing tastes like home to a dog raised on the mean streets like garbage does".   
Just to make the situation even more 'interesting' she decided that she couldn't - just couldn't possibly go to the bathroom in the best yard she'd ever lived in.  So morning noon and night Glorie became our own built in exercise program.  "See America -- Adopt a Walker Hound".
Oh, but she adapted quickly to living in the right zip code.  She'd get shampoo and sets at her new private dog park where she could run unfettered around the eleven fenced acres of trails, ponds, and fountains. She learned how to rub elbows with other fancier dogs who modeled tasteful behavior.  She evolved into our version of My Fair Lady.
Here are some of the things she taught us:
*Take time to smell (fill in the blank) the roses, telephone poles, fire hydrants and neighborhood dog's butts
*Sit like a lady and  cross your legs delicately (are you reading this Tina Turner?)

*Welcome the stranger.  She might not have been thrilled when we took in a dog nobody else wanted (with good reason) but she tolerated his presence along with the variety of ducks* who populate our front yard and two feral cats who invited themselves to the orphanage.
*Make room on the couch.  There's a reason they call it the den.
*If you’re happy and you know it –notify your face - or tail, whatever! Life is too short to be a closed book.  
*Just understand we’re all in this together (neighbors, dogs, ducks, cats, mailmen)
*Let the world know – here you come!  She never left the house without howling with glee "Here I come!  Here I come!" just knowing it would be great news to anyone in listening area.
The loss of a source of unconditional love and forgiveness is a wound that cuts straight to your heart.  It might seem logical and wise to avoid the heartbreak all together but don't do it.  You'll miss your opportunity to say 
"Glorie Hallelujah we had a dog!"

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pillow Talk

I read a book last year that rocked my world.  It's by Jen Hatmaker and the title is "7".  
One of the lovely young women I gave it to was so inspired after reading it that she formed a book discussion group.  All last winter we read it together and felt inspired to shift our lives a little.  
At the grand finale discussion it was decided that this book is too life altering to keep to ourselves so we are going to open the group up and invite the whole city to a do-over this upcoming school year.
"How will we present it?" they bounced around.  It was decided that each chapter would be the responsibility of one of us that attended this year.
The chapters were parceled out to the woman who has the most logical association with it in her personal life.  "I'll take food."  "I'll take media."  "I'll take waste."  
It seemed to be working out perfectly until my young professional women friends looked at me and said "That leaves sex.  Will you take it?"
"Ohhhhhhhhhhh," I replied and in the passion (no pun intended) of the moment I launched into why at this station in our lives PJ and I are probably not the poster couple of this particular subject.  
My retort even creeped me out.
a hush fell over the room
Finally one of the young-uns ventured out saying; "We said the chapter on stress."
That one fits perfectly - especially now.
I must remain in this group forever.  They know too much!
Here is an Amazon review of the book:
January 5, 2012
This review is from: 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Paperback)
You must read this book! Here's what it's about: Jen (the author) did an experiment in which each month for 7 months, she and sometimes her entire family fasted in an area she felt they were excessive in: media, stress, possessions, shopping, food, clothes, and waste. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that sounds all preachy and super-spiritual and hard and you don't want to read it. Thankfully, it's the complete opposite. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious, totally real-life, 100% empowering, and 0% guilt-inducing.

You must go immediately to purchase this book and devour it whole. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do not stop to brush your teeth or feed your children. While you're out, buy Depends to wear because you will pee yourself while reading from laughing so hard.

Some other suggestions of how to read this book:
Keep a notepad handy while you're reading to write down notes and thoughts because ideas and action points will come to you like nobody's business.
Do not read this book right before you go to bed because you will not be able to sleep due to the millions of thoughts running around in your brain.
Read this book with your girlfriends.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


 We set up the yard and the neighbors came to our second annual 4th of July parade.
Chris and Jesse led the parade with patriotic music.

 Every child got a trophy for their vehicle.  The trophies were either donated by neighbors after they cleaned out their basements or purchased at a thrift store.  The kids didn't notice that some were a bowling, tennis or basketball trophy -- they got a trophy!  Yea

 Marketing is everything.
 Lexi our grandaughter.

 We gathered to sing "The Star Spangled Banner"

 Captain Safety (PJ) -- mannnig the water slide.  No children were harmed in the execution of this holiday.
No water incidents.  Sleep tight tonight.

 You really should have been here.  Really.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Honey, I'm home!"

I drug my sorry jet-lagged self back into my own bed last night after a wonderful few weeks abroad.  I think of that old classic song "They can't take that away from me"  when  pondering why I love to see the world. I drive a 15 year old car.  Dress from consignment shops and don't give a hoot for precious jewelry but can I tell you the memories I have from visiting foreign places?
I've learned a trick or two about putting together a successful trip. 
1.  Choose your travel partners carefully.  Flexibility, kindness to strangers, a sense of adventure, and independence are big on my list.  Not everyone likes to do the same things so why should anyone be hindered from fulfilling their wish list by another partner's wishes?  Divide and concur I say.
One of my values for travelling is collecting new friends so having a travel mate who is outgoing and friendly is a must for me.  The new relationships formed while away from home make me feel connected and secure.
Different sleep times or energy levels?  No problem - we can all meet up for lunch.
2. is a must for me. I research (one of my favorite parts to a trip) and review the travelers reviews like a sleuth.  Also I Google questions I have about desirable neighborhoods versus neighborhoods that could be akin to Bonfire of the Vanities.
3. is a great way to get a deal on a great hotel.  You can search by hotel ratings ( I never stay at anything under four stars) neighborhood, customer reviews (I never stay at anything under 88% excellent ratings (taking into account the grump factor that some people are critical of everything).  I've stayed at The W Hotel in New York,   a fabulous hotel in Barcelona with a roof top pool all to ourselves and many more all at way less than the published price.
4.  Tip the little people.  Each day I leave a $5.00 bill on our bed with a personal note to the maid.  We've received hugs, loads of toiletries, and even a vase of flowers from her garden in gratitude for this simple gesture.  Want to help the working poor?  No one cleans rooms for the satisfaction of the job.  Skip the middle man (Salvation Army etc.) tip the maid daily.
5.  Hand the flight attendants a small box of good chocolates when you get on the plane.  They are so programmed for complaints that this will surprise them with delight.  I've been offered so many complimentary drinks I lost count.  Too bad I don't drink and fly because, I fear that if we hit bad turbulence I would make my way to the cockpit and ever so gingerly knock on the door and holler "Let's get this baby up higher -- you hear?!"  Next scene -- me on the evening news.
Give your magazines to the flight attendants after you are through.  They love them for the layovers.
6. If you don't already belong to a hotel chain's reward program sign up when you check in at the front desk.  Your perks will begin at once (free wi-fi, bottled water and such).  Often they will upgrade your room on the spot because I believe that the front desk person has incentives from the chain if they sign you up.
I'm sure I've forgotten some more tips but you get the idea.
Make yourself stand out in a good way.  Make friends while you are making memories.
Now, It's 1:00 am where I just came from so "Good Night sweetheart, Good night."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Punting on the River Isis

A trip to Oxford means punting.  It reminds me of the gondolas of Venice but much less formal and less expensive.
A punt is flat bottomed boat propelled by pushing a long pole against the river bottom. Punting requires a bit of skill and practice. However the absence of either does not stop many young students from trying this quintessential Oxford river activity. We hired a driver.  Punting from Magdalen Bridge took us past St Hilda's college, Botanic Garden, Christ Church Meadow and finally to River Isis (River Thames in Oxford). It is quiet due to the one-man power speed but it can get a little crowded around the departure and return area.  The amateurs partake in some bumper boating.  
Won't you come along and drift with us?

This is some serious fun.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saying Good-Bye

We are moving today from our flat in Oxford to London in preparation of our flights home tomorrow.  We're gonna miss our temporary home in Oxford.
How will we miss it?  Let me count the ways....

We'll miss the different ways the Brits say things.  These are saying "Tires and Mufflers".
We'll miss the street musicians.
Our pretty, patterned toilet paper that is even scented.  Oh, yeah we'll miss Marks and Spencer too.
Lewis Carroll references all over the town.
Students celebrating their last final exam.

Lovely ethnic restaurants like "Shanghai 30"
Canal boats parked outside our patio.
Competitive flower beds along the paths.
The charm of local pubs.  Oh, and the grub too.
Last night our wonderful landlords invited us to join them for dinner at one of their favorite spots.
"We may be in a rush" we explained "We'll be throwing our underwear at our suitcases in preparation of leaving on Saturday."They said "Just come as you are.  It will be fun."
So this is how we greeted them at their doorway.
We'll miss the zany vacation mode.  (I had to do quite a bit of persuading to get my CPA girlfriend to indulge me in this effort.  Diane -- not so much)
For coming along with us.  It has been one for the record books.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mansions and Motown From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

As our days wind down to the end of our trip we are crossing off the last of our "to do " list.  This Included a trip to Blenheim Castle the home of Winston Churchill.  
We grabbed a private hire taxi and got a tour of the country side as he got turned around and an eight mile trip turned into an hour's drive.  Nothing is wasted when we're in travel mode.  Wish we had this adventurous spirit in our daily lives.
Blenheim is in the village of Woodstock.  Charming and full of quaint Inns and antique shops.  PJ  I am happy to report that I did not purchase a single antique that will show up on our door step.Breathe - breathe.
This is one grand castle.  I guess I hadn't realized that Churchill had grown up so privileged.  It is impressive that he developed such high character out of very grand lifestyle.  Forget the war -- it is a miracle he survived not being lost forever in the halls of this castle when he was a little boy!
Over the imposing entry door is a painting of a brown eye and a blue eye.  They represent to eyes of the original owners.  The first duke of Marlborough and his wife.  The house was a gift worth $250,000.00 pounds after his successful war campaigns for England.  Needless to say the country was very beholdin'.
The gardens are Italian and the day was a pristine spring day.
We had lunch outside by the fountains...
Then rode the little train out to the "Pleasure Gardens".
We love the way the Brits say things on signage.  Frankly it has been years since I "Alighted".  If it said "Do not hurl"  -- I might have taken it more personally.
There is a butterfly house where we could practically touch the fellows used to company.

This lake was dug and filled to give the estate presence.  It's working for me.  It's amazing what you can do with a few (quite a few) million dollars.
We rode the bus back to Oxford and threw on our party clothes. Then we went to see -- are you ready for this?  The Drifters!  They were performing at the New Oxford Theater.  I have discovered that the young Brits love the old Motown music.  We heard it played in several hip pubs in London.  
We walked in the front door and I had a revelation -- Everyone in the audience looked like me.  
I commented about this to the darling young ticket taker and he replied "Oh, no there are some YOUNG people here too."  That was supposed to make me feel better?
Great night -- wonderful music.  All of the old original guys are either dead or eating applesauce in the home but the new guys are great.
Today is "start getting a plan for jamming all of our stuff back in our suitcases" day.  Tomorrow we train back into London for our last night before flying home.  What a gift this trip has been!