Sunday, October 31, 2010

Be Careful What You Pray For.........

When my boys were little my favorite funny aunt was dying of breast cancer. As I nursed her we would talk about the things in life that really matter. Here are some of Aunt Jack's (yes, that is Jack and I had an Aunt Bill too) insights:

1. Much of the busyness and running around in a panic of daily life is not necessary. When you stop it is like pulling your finger out of a glass of water. It just fills in. Don't scurry.

2. No one prays for your child like you do. One of her biggest regrets about dying was that she no longer would be able to pray for her boys as they navigated through life.

3. The second most important decision your child will make is who they marry. Pray for that future mate each night as you all say your prayers with your child. Happy mate -- happy life. Loving mate loving life.

I took this suggestion seriously  and one night as JT was saying his  six year old prayers he stopped and asked "Could we look in the phone book and see my wife's  name?" He just couldn't stand waiting any longer to know who this special girl was going to be. I explained that surely we would see her name but we wouldn't know which one it was.

This praying works and the proof I needed was all wrapped up in my Daughter in Law joining our family.
All of those prayers conditioned my son to know that there was a special someone out there that God had chosen for him and he wasn't going to take up with just any ole girl.
That decision has blessed him, our whole family and my precious grandchildren.
So, be careful what you pray for but make sure you pray. How can we know that God answers prayers -- if we don't ask?

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Last night was the annual Trick or Treat extravaganza in our neighborhood.  Princesses and Pirates everywhere.  Mayberry really does exist.  My friend and neighbor Kasey is my alter-ego and party planner.  She is like meeting myself at 30 again.

"Trick or Treat -- Smell My Feet -- Give Me Something Good to Eat!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not in Kansas

One of the challenges of moving from one weather zone to another is you say "good-bye" to old favorite flowers and need to learn new species.
"Goodbye tulips, lilacs, and daffodils."  "Hello ginger, plumbago and many other exotic and tropical blooms."
Here are some of my new best friends:

Fire Bush

Pitcher Plant

Zimbabwe Creeper                                                                                                                   

Broom Fern
Dwarf Bottle Plant

Make new friends but keep the old -- one is silver and the other gold.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sun Set -- Moon Rise

Our friends Julie and Bill invited us to climb to the top of the historic St. Augustine Light House for a once a month experience of watching the sun go down and the moon come up.
Bill and Julie as we learn the history of this grand old structure.
219 steps up - up and away -- ugh.
A magical ascension.
Peeks on the way up.

The view from the top!

Whatever goes up -- must come down.
Hello Mr. Moon.

Some of the best adventures are in our own backyard.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Snaps From This Month's Neighborhood Pot Luck

Baby Rawls basked in the adoration of his fans after he took his first three steps!
Reggie the wonder-mailman made and brought this.
"Most of my big ideas come from the backs of catalogues I deliver."

Donna's Caramelized Vidallia Onion Tarts

And I made the old standby crowd pleaser
Chicken Marbella
Chicken Marbella Recipe

* 2 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered, bone-in, skin-on

* 1/2 head of garlic, peeled and finely puréed

* 2 Tbsp dried oregano

* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

* 1/4 cup olive oil

* 1/2 cup pitted prunes

* 1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives

* 1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice

* 3 bay leaves

* 1/2 cup brown sugar

* 1/2 cup white wine

* 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
1 In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, several hours or overnight.
2 Preheat oven to 350°F.
3 Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4 Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest point, yield clear yellow juice (not pink).
5 With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Add some of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Serve remaining juice in a gravy boat.
Serves 5.
Cost of chicken dish?  $20.00
Cost of seeing Papa Joe with a piece of Pampas Grass on the duck ramp trying to separate the ducks having a lovers tryst ?  Priceless

Oh, no. I'm thinking about our retirement..............

Everyone needs a good laugh, here's one for you from my friend!

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women - she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samuel,
Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store.. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samuel, are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

 June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.

 July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

 August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his 'Madonna look' by using different sizes of funnels.

 October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed 'OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!'

 October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, 'Hey! There's no toilet paper in here.' One of the clerks passed out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

For No Reason at All

Might be my favorite reason for a surprise present!  Look what came in my mail last week from my dear friend Debbie:
This handmade table topper.  She told me it was just to let me know she loves me. 
Debbie knows I decorate for every known holiday and a few (like National Jello Week) not so well known.
I have a brain jello mold that is quite the show stopper when filled with lime jello and cottage cheese.  Two holidays (Halloween first) out of one accoutrement.  Love it.

(It's in the will and no you can't have it)
I walk through the living room many times a day and each time I feel loved when I see my festive arrangement.
Speaking of Halloween... We have an army of kids come through our neighborhood.  Several years ago I noticed that some of the poor children would use their shirts stretched out or a flimsy plastic bag from the grocery store to hold their candy.  It worried me that they could loose their haul by a tear or a trip.  So we began stashing sturdy bags we bought to give to those kids.
Look what I found for those kids instead at Walmart for $1.00 a piece today!

Until Trick or Treat don't they make a cheerful display in our window?
Now, what can I do to celebrate Martin Luther King's wedding anniversary???

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mining Lessons -- From Life

Seems to me that one of the great equalizers in the quest for wisdom is that there are lessons all around available to anyone.
Take the Chilean miners for instance:
Why did that situation resonate so strongly with the whole world? 
I wonder...

If a lot of us right now feel a little trapped and loosing hope in a dark place we can't get out of on our own?

If we feel like we are in need of, as President Obama said, "People of good will"?

If we are encouraged that those people of good will can be trusted to show up when we need them -- if we allow them?

If we know we have to pull together to survive not only the dark places but also when we emerge into the light?

If we all need a little Elvis joy.

If we see our desperate need for a personal relationship with God when the lights go out.

If your girlfriend and your wife show up at the same place at the same time the foundation you laid during your daily life will be revealed  and you will be the punchline in many a late night monologue.

If you fight to be at the back of the line you will end up  on the front pages -- in a good way.

When it is all said and done the most we can 'say'  is to fall on our knees and thank God.

The Salahis Crash the Duck Pond Party

The Salahis
Look who landed at our party?  The ornithology version of the Shalais', Canadian Geese -- ugh!  Poop machines disguised as ducks. 
Listen, Papa Joe and I already spend too much time cleaning up after The Usual Suspects we don't need these unwelcome Yankees adding to the chore.
So just like the uber modern woman I am I Googled "How to get rid of Canadian Geese?"
Come to find out swans are the arch enemy of Canadian Geese. 
Put them in proximity of each other and it's like the old west where the geese  demise -- "There's not room in this town for the both of us!"
So grabbing Papa Joe's wallet I ordered the cheapest, tackiest decoy swan I could E-bay.
Here she is:

Our very own Appalachian yard ornament.
But, you know what?  The 12 Canadian Geese have flown the pond.  They haven't returned since we stapled her to the front yard.
The neighbors may be saying "there goes the neighborhood" but our side walk is pristine.
Papa Joe wants to name her (as if that will make her more presentable?). 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Usual Suspects

Several weeks ago this handsome boy -- Mr. blue Heron -- showed up in our yard. 
Well, let me tell you it has caused quite a stir among the Usual Suspects.  They don't know if they should befriend him or cry "foul".
All day long he poses on our bulkhead channelling his inner Maurice Chevalier. 
The girls flirt and the boys flap but he just holds forth gracing us with his presence.
Mother Goose
"I hope he doesn't notice my limp now that there is a fellow bigger than me on the pond!"
"He's got the girls all shook up."
"Is his 15 minutes over yet?"
The Girls
"Check out the legs on him.  Tall, blue and handsome.  Is he looking over here?"

I don't know how long he'll be around.  I think he might be a drifter but he has certainly livened up the old place.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good Night Moon

Have you seen the Harvest moon these last last few nights?  I try to make it a habit to go outside on the deck off of our bedroom each night before bed and take it into my heart.
He smiles at me -- you know.
There is a poet from Kentucky (Papa Joe's and my home state) that writes poems that settle my soul.  His name is Wendell Berry.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tearing Down the House

Church attendance is down.  There is more than a little finger pointing going on in-house about why and where the fault lies. 
I've been in corporations that  had bad quarterly reports  that stretched  into the horizon and the same thing occurred. 
Funny how we act when we're out of season.  "Those people" just aren't holding up their part.  Me?  I'm just fine thank you very much.
But what if it is a reflection of the times?  What if church is not relevant because we as a society are sure that somehow someway we can muddle through on our own?  "Somewhere out there is an entitlement with my name on it -- I'm just sure!"
I remember the last time I was in a packed out church when it wasn't decorated with poinsettia or lilies.
September 11, 2001.
There is nothing like the threat of the end of our world as we know it to create a moment of clarity.
Richard Pryor said, "when you're running down the street in flames, you don't call on the Bank of America."
Could this time be a time for the church to re-tool and be ready for what is surely to come (as it always has in the history of civilization)? 
Pointing fingers and feeling overly responsible for results that are not in our job description might be wasting precious time.
God loves His church and it isn't because we are all that.  He calls us His Bride and I love to remember the passion we felt on that day.  The beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder. 

 God's Rag Tag Army:
I think God must be very old and very tired…. God’s been on the march a long time, you know. And look at God’s rag-tag little army! All he has for soldiers are you and me. Dumb little army.
Listen! The drum beat isn’t even regular. Everyone is out of step. And there! You see? God keeps stopping along the way to pick up one of God’s tinier soldiers who decided to wander off and play with a frog, or run in a field, or whose foot got tangled in the underbrush. God will never get anywhere that way. And yet, the march goes on.
Do you see how the marchers have broken up into little groups? Look at that group up near the front. Now, there’s a snappy outfit… –at least they’re in step with each other. Only they’re not wearing their shoes. They’re carrying them in their hands. Silly little band. They won’t get far before God will have to stop again.
Or how about that other group over there? They’re all holding hands as they march. The only trouble with this is the people on each end of the line. Pretty soon they realize that one of their hands isn’t holding onto anything–one hand is reaching, empty, alone. And so they hold hands with each other, and everybody marches around in circles. The more people holding hands, the bigger the circle. And, of course, a bigger circle is deceptive because as we march along it looks like we’re going someplace, but we’re not. And so God must stop again. You see what I mean? He’ll never get anywhere that way!
If God were more sensible he’d take his little army and shape them up. Why, whoever heard of a soldier stopping to romp in a field? It’s ridiculous. But even more absurd is a general who will stop the march of eternity to go and bring the soldier back. But that’s God for you. His is no endless, empty marching. He is going somewhere. His steps are deliberate and purposive. He may be old, and he may be tired. But he knows where he’s going. And he means to take every last one of his tiny soldiers with him. Only there aren’t going to be any forced marches. And, after all, there are frogs and flowers, and thorns and underbrush along the way. And even though our foreheads have been signed with the sign of the cross, we are only human. And most of us are afraid and lonely and would like to hold hands or cry or run away. And we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t seem to trust God–especially when it’s dark out and we can’t see him! And he won’t go on without us. And that’s why it’s taking so long.
Listen! The drum beat isn’t even regular. Everyone is out of step. And there! You see? God keeps stopping along the way to pick up one of God’s tinier soldiers who decided to wander off and play with a frog, or run in a field, or whose foot got tangled in the underbrush. God will never get anywhere that way.
And yet, the march goes on.

Martin Bell

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beach Blanket BINGO

We had a blast at the beach last week with our kids and grand children.  It is fun that the kids are getting older because they have their "traditions" now.
Papa Joe grew up spending summers at the beach and still goes back in his mind to those care-free days with the sound of the waves lulling him to sweet sleep.
Funny Family Photos

A minute to win it challenges.  From your head to your mouth in....................

less than 60 seconds!

New cool clothes from the outlet mall 
Like my new poodle slippers?

A birthday cake each night for my birthday boy.

Beach time with Florida friends.

Time to reflect and restore.

"I can't believe my grandmother got me into this costume for her Thanksgiving cards!  Can someone please give me Dr. Phil's 800 number?"

What a thrill to know that we are putting in place the building blocks of "Those were the days" memories for a our dear ones lifetime.