Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 Book Club Wrap Up

A year in books...

I like to give credit where credit's due, even if I'm part of the GREAT idea! Little did I know that I would be surrounding myself with warm, funny, intelligent, caring, talented women when Karen and I put out the invitation to start this little Chatham-ite book club. What a year it's been - thanks ladies!

I'd be fibbing if I said all of our selections were slam-dunk winners. They weren't. But that's okay because we still learned something from the read, even if it was the fact we simply didn't care for the book! And I know, personally, I've read books I never would have considered as a result, which has only broadened my mind and knowledge.

Our meetings prompted debate, laughter and sometimes even memories from our pasts. Many times I was content to simply sit and listen and learn and say a quiet prayer of "thank you...thank you for bringing these women into my life". And let's not forget the wine - oh, the wine! Keep your eyes open for "Sandytoes" on the shelves, you won't be disappointed! (Thank you Marianne!).

I've mentioned in past posts how in awe I am of this place I call home. And this small circle of new friends that I had no idea literally lived just down the road from me solidifies my continued amazement of this little community. We are rich in culture, the arts, small-town politics and grass roots concern. In my own selfish way, I hope we're never discovered...

Let me share a little of our Christmas party with you -

Our group (starting from the lower left corner and going around the room): Carol, Charlee, Lindy, Gretchen, Luann, Marianne, Karen and Diane. Cathy, we missed you!

Carol was our gracious hostess. How sweet is her Christmas tree all adorned in purple?

And Carol's Santas gave us a warm reception as we came into the house.

We played the Chinese gift-giving game; in other words, don't get attached to that gift because it may be ripped from your hands at any moment. Carol LOVED her Fiesta ware-looking stacking mugs and, fortunately, was able to keep them for herself!

And remarkably, no one tried to steal Marianne's Russell Stover chocolate box! I think we all agreed she deserved it after completing that Half in November! My runner girlfriend - you rock like the star you are!!! I'm so proud of you!

And this is Miss Charlee's second gift as, like I mentioned above, her first selection was lovingly taken from her earlier in the game. Ironically enough, it was a deliciously scented candle which I know she would have loved to have lit shortly after she opened it. You had to have been one of Carol's beagles causually strolled through the room!

Oh look how in awe I am of this beautiful hanging tea-light red star! I had big plans for this baby as my entire kitchen and family room is red - no, I mean RED (have you been to my house???). My excitement was short lived as I knew it would be. This was too pretty to stay in one set of hands through the night! (note to self - get to Pier One ASAP before they're sold out!)

Not to worry, I didn't go home empty handed. Nope, I received a gift card from our local Chatham Marketplace, another secret we have here in Chatham county! My plans? Lattes for me and my dad! What better gift could there be?!

And Gretchen got beautiful oil and vinegar bottles in a pretty wrought iron holder to sit atop her kitchen counter. Almost too pretty to use!

Sorry I missed the other ladies opening their gifts but trust us when we say it was a beautiful night of friendship, gifts and fellowship.

I'm looking forward to another year of books and literature.

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare." - Kenko Yoshida

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Breath Of Fresh Air

It's been a time where we all just needed to be together.  Brandi made it home last weekend and the stars were aligned and our moods were lifted and I was reminded that life goes on.

Bran was on a bit of a mission this trip so we headed out to Dale's on US1 in Tramway (Sanford).  What a beautiful day to stroll through Frazier Furs, live wreaths and rows and rows of Pointsettias.

Inside Dale's was a fabulous assortment of tree ornaments, outside "yard art" and unique gifts for that hard-to-buy for loved one.

Nutcrackers are a favorite of my husband's.  I've allowed, yes allowed, him to have a tree of his own to do with as he sees fit.  He calls it his "old timey tree", which he covers in mini nutcrackers, real candy canes (that the cats think were hung specifically for their entertainment) and those big bulbs that get dangerously hot that we had on our tree when I was a kid.  It makes him happy and I have to admit, it adds a nostalgic feel to the otherwise "don't touch my tree" that I have downstairs.

I love the detail in this "carved" Santa crescent moon.  Maybe I need to make room for a third tree so I can hang beauties like these and not feel guilty about altering the theme...(I think I sound a little neurotic here).

These little guys were just cute and said to me as I passed by, "Hey, snap us!  Snap us!"  So I did.

Little did we know that the "big guy" was due to arrive!  What a surprise that was!

Even "Max" had a wish list he needed to share with Santa! 

This was just one of the many beautifully decorated trees in "Dale's, Too".  "Dale's, Too" is an extension of the greenhouse and is always my go-to shop when I need something extra special.

And just look at the Pointsettias we had to choose from!  Two came home with us and they've kick-started my Christmas decorating.

Yep, it was a much needed together weekend...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Third Time's The Charm

Today, Michael and I took our first step at trying to get back into the swing of things.

As has become our new Thanksgiving Day tradition, we headed out early this morning, in fog so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, to the Gallop & Gorge T'giving day 8k run. This is the third in the tri-fecta of races that Fleet Feet Sports hosts. It was another record-breaking race with more runners today than last year!

It was cold (in a transplanted southerner's opinion) and I was relunctant to take off my cozies...

And Michael was simply thrilled at the idea of being vertical during daylight...

But when it was all over, we were pretty pleased with ourselves :)

I even managed to find a smile, if only for a photo op...

I am prayerful that everyone is somewhere today where they are loved and told so. And as my heart and Michael's heart continue to mend, we are still filled with gratitude and appreciation for all that we have, for all the wonderful people in our lives and for our families.

Have a beautiful day today, my friends, and may God continue to bless each of you.

I love you...and I mean that...

Happy Thanksgiving -

Monday, November 23, 2009

And To All A Good Night

We lost our Little Bea, one of our barn kitties, Saturday November 14...

And in the early morning hours of Friday November 20, we lost Simba...

And if we weren't grieving enough, our beloved Sadie was taken from us on Saturday November 21.

Someone...ANYONE...Please...  remind me that God is, in fact, good...

To try and share the heartbreak and complete emptiness in our hearts and our home would be a complete waste of time. 

Oh, how they touch our lives.  I'm prayerful that we will find a "new normal" in Bear Creek.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Cat's Meow

Saturday was the big day -

I've run in a fair share of little races, both locally and out-of-state.  But this one will be fondly stored in my long term memory as one of the best.  Not only did I have the company of these little bitties...

...but the majority of the 5,000 runners were in costume.  We saw everything from Dorothy and her entourage to a pair of pink dice (attached just like you'd find to toss over your rear view mirror back in the day) to pirates, Richard Simmons and two girls dressed as pigs - one was H1 and the other, you guessed it, N1.  I don't care what you say, that was freakin' funny!!  Because all of us ran the race and we didn't have any family there as cheerleaders and bag holders, we weren't able to get any "during race" photogs!  You'll simply have to trust me when I tell you it was an adventure.  And you'll have to settle for our own little montage of we go!

Two little kitties ready to roll!

JC giving his finisher's medal a little smoochy!

Little Bran proudly sporting her finisher's medal!

And I'm pretty happy with mine, too!

...I think I'll call her "Princess"...

What a wonderful weekend for this "Mom Cat"!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It Was A Tough Day...

"I am not alone, I thought.  I was never alone at all.  And that, of course, is the message.  We are never alone.  Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent.  For this is still the time God chooses".  - Taylor Caldwell

The hardest part for me to wrap my mind around is that just one short hour before, she was talking to me.  We laughed together.  And before I left her room she said to me, "sweet thing, I just want to die and go to heaven.  It's so hard here for me anymore.  Will you pray for me?".  And I did.  And one short hour later her prayer was answered and His will was done. 

Love the ones you're with...because in just one short hour...things can change.

Yep, it was a tough day.  And I think I need to accept that I'll have many more.  But that also means having the opportunity to meet some great people - people like Miss Ruby.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Special Moment

There's a story here, Internet, but one that's too personal for even me to share...

Just know, that in this minute, that in this captured moment, I've never adored my daughter more or swelled with such pride.

I am your biggest fan Little Bitty, your biggest fan....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Murder

Ha!  Bet that got your attention!

Did you know that a group of crows is called a murder?  Not a flock or a herd - nope, a murder. 
I was reminded of "a murder" the other day when those nasty, eye-pecking, black, shiny birds had my Yodie surrounded.  I know there was a plan - a devious, harm-seeking plan to take out my Yodie.  But I'm sure, after closer inspection, they decided against it...I mean, just look at him...

The leader of the group probably surmised that "this is bad meat"...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Two Down, One To Go

Hello Internet!  I'm just going to post here as if weeks haven't gone by without me giving my little online diary any attention...

I mentioned here that I planned on participating in this Tri-fecta of races again this year.  Today was race #2, "Le Tour De Carrboro 10k".  And here I am...

What a beautiful day for a run!!  A little chill in the air when we started out and then perfect just a few minutes into it.  I was solo, again.  But that's okay...  (Marianne, if you're reading this, jump on this wayward bandwagon with me!  I get lonely out there and could use a running buddy!!).  There's always another runner girl to snap a photog or two for you!  Thanks unknown runner girl!!

I was pretty happy with my time.  A 10k is approximately 6.25 miles and I completed my run in 1:04:54.  And if you know anything about's not flat.  So, my goal is to finish the Wicked 10k in Virginia Beach on Halloween in an hour or less (insert prayers here).

I came to the conclusion this morning that I am only and will always only be a pleasure runner - I run so that I can eat dessert almost guiltlessly.  My conclusion was drawn because it occured to me, as they were handing out the awards to the fastest runners, that I would have to shave 15 minutes off my total time in order to even be CONSIDERED for a prize.  Yeah, those lovely aluminum baubles aren't THAT important to me!

Look out Gallop & Gorge (Thanksgiving morning), here I come!! 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fins To The Left, Fins To The Right

It's been awhile, huh Internet? To say that I've been overwhelmed these last few weeks would be quite the understatement. The new "career" at the hospital is moving along nicely. I've never worked these sort of hours before (work a few days, have a few days off... work 12 hour shifts, which really mean 13... work until 11:30 at night and get in bed around 1:30 AM...). Thankfully, I've wrapped up the classroom work at the hospital and just am continuing my orientation on the different floors. This has been, and will continue to be, an eye-opening experience.

At the same time, I'm enrolled in two online college courses; Computer Literacy and Psychology. I am struggling! I am not the virtual student type! Nope, I need a classroom to go to, an instructor to listen to, classmates to interact with, a whiteboard to take notes from and a STRICT schedule to follow!!! I will do my best to see through these two classes but after that, I'm fairly certain I'll be heading back to the campus next semester. Sorry Internet, but as much as I love you and the ease with which you bring me information, I can't trust myself to continue my education through you.

Of course, my little book club is chugging right along but I'm afraid I've made that the caboose on my little train of priorities. Between working these nutty hours that I'm not used to, stumbling through those classes on the computer and trying to maintain some sort of normalcy in the upkeep of my house and marriage, I'm lucky to read a few paragraphs of our monthly book (and, quite honestly, that happens when I'm in the bathroom!!!) every few days! I used to read faithfully everyday during my lunch break in the past but these days during lunch, I simply want to enjoy my meal and look out a window and watch the healthy people go by! I'll fumble along, however, and do my best to read as much as I can. And regardless if I finish the book or not, I will NOT miss the meeting because that would mean missing out on the fun and fellowship with my gal pals and, well, the wine! Oh the wine!!

I took a reprieve from this mess I call life this weekend. I went home to visit my family. I needed it. I also spent some time with Jess, although not enough, and tried to take in some deep breaths so as to remember his "horsey smell" that fills my heart with true contentment. It was an exceptionally good weekend because we didn't really have anywhere we had to be (except Saturday night) so we simply "hung out" with one another. Friday night was dinner out, Saturday morning was leisurely coffee and a little shopping and Sunday Brandi and I got in a 5 mile run with the traditional bacon and eggs breakfast my dad is so famous for making waiting for us when we were done!

The only place we had to be this weekend was at Nissan Pavilion - for Jimmy Buffet! Because JC (my son-in-law) couldn't make it, I got to be Bran's date! This was an experience. If it's a long time before I see a grown man with a beer gut wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra, I'll be okay with that. Really, I love my husband enough to tell him, "honey, that's just not a good look for you".

Here are a few shots of our evening - enjoy! We did!

Jimmy on the jumbo-tron

Bran and Me ♥

A better, close up of Jimmy on the jumbo-tron

The band on the tropical stage

More Jimmy (he really was very good)