Monday, June 30, 2008

Great Smokey Mountain Weekend Getaway

Dear Husband decided that we must have a weekend get-a-way! We packed a couple of bags and took off in the general direction of "the mountains". It looked stormy when we stopped for dinner in Spartanburg. We love us some "Cracker Barrel". After dinner, we drove to Bryson City, North Carolina. After riding around a bit we decided the Sleep Inn looked like our best bet. It was a very nice room! The hotel was tucked into the side of the mountain.Sunset through the windshield of the car. Somewhere in North Carolina.

Saturday morning we went to the Station Restaurant and had a fabulous breakfast. I had Crab Benedict. It was super delicious! After which we purchased tickets for a train ride through the "Smokies" We decided to ride in the over 21 Club Car which proved to be highly entertaining. It was very comfortable, air conditioned, snacks and beverages were served. If you were inclined you could purchase cocktails. Several ladies near us purchased "Railroad Relaxers" and they had a lively time! We met a group of eight "church" ladies and they were very entertaining. DH was surrounded by women and very happy!
Conductor Willie punching our tickets. Dear Husband surrounded by a bevy of women!

Fontana Lake and house boat type structures. Accessed only by boat or swimming! You would have to be very careful not to step too far off the front porch.

Fontana Lake Trestle. The water was beautiful, however we were a wee bit high up for a jump into the lake!

We spent a one hour lay over at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. We enjoyed watching the kayaks and canoes navigate the whitewater rapids. DH and I sat on the rocks by the shore and put our feet in the frigid water. It was sooo cold, icy cold. After our lay over at Nantahala Outdoor Center, the engine was moved from the "front" of the train to the back for the ride back. Conductor Willie is making sure everything gets hooked up and we are on our way!

Yes, this is an old door handle, I'll let you guess what is behind door # 1. My battery on the camera died and I purchased one of those throw away cameras to take pictures at Nantahala. Sunday was spent driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Riding along the mountain ridge we could see why parts where called the "Great Smokies" A layer of mist and cloud coverage gave the appearance of huge smoke stacks! Dear Husband and I ate lunch at the Mt. Pisgah Inn nestled in the mountains. The view was stunning and our food was excellent. My car is the perfect mountain touring car! Safer than a motorcycle yet you get the outstanding views. Dear Husband is already planning our next excursion.

Friday, June 27, 2008


The Diva, my evil twin...the woman my husband would leave me for if she would have him!
Her singing voice melts his heart! Since my husband worships and adores me I guess I am safe, mediocre singing voice and all. Paula has a soft, gentle wonderful side that her good friends get to see frequently. The Diva sings, dances and entertains! Paula never meets a stranger! A good time is generally had by all when Paula is around! Often feathers ARE involved and not optional.

Music, music, music...It tames the savage beast, it triggers our deepest memories. I love music just about every kind! My daughters find it highly amusing when "Hey Ya" by Outkast plays on the radio. I HAVE to sing and car dance. It's not pretty but that's how I roll! Friday morning's selection was none other than "The Beatles" Only one of the best bands of ALL TIME!!! I was enjoying the CD so much so I brought it inside and am currently listening while I work, with earplugs, natch. I was listening to the song "In My Life" and it brought to mind the many, many friends I have had in my life and the ones I have now. Some of the lyrics state, some are gone but not forgotten, In My Life, I've Loved them all...I get a teary when I listen...the song reminds me of the blessing of friends. The term friend has so many different meanings and we have different levels of friendships! The Level One friends are people that come into your life and you are NEVER the SAME after knowing them. These are the ones that rather you did not call at 3 A.M. but totally listen to you should you call them at said crazy time. These friends will do ANYTHING for you and YOU will do ANYTHING for them. They love you at your worst! Level Two friends are people you meet up with and have a good time with, you totally enjoy them but probably would not request as much from them as you would expect from Level 1 friends. Level three friends are those you talk to and share email jokes, support what they are doing in their lives...these are the ones you don't see in your day to day life...such as blogging buddies, some you have never met but feel you've known them forever. Anything lower than Level Three is more in the acquaintance are to them when you see them but do not go out of your way to be with them. Friendships evolve and change, some for better and sadly, some change due to unfortunate circumstances or misunderstandings. Along with the various levels of friendships, you also have different types of friends such as work friends, book club friends, walking friends or gym friends, dancing friends and so forth. Friends enrich my life so much. I enjoy my down time by myself but nothing beats a friend to hang out and shoot the breeze!

Some are gone but not forgotten...

Dorothy was the type of person that when you met her, your life would NEVER be the same. She was a friend to all especially the animal kingdom! I was fortunate to have her as a BEST friend. I still miss her everyday however am fortunate enough to feel her spirit constantly!

Eddie was just the nicest guy ever. I met him in middle school and we had classes together through tenth grade. He was electrocuted during the Summer after 10th grade while he was working part time. He was shy and quiet. He had the most beautiful smile and smoothest, blemish free skin with the rosiest cheeks. I would not have given him the time of day in high school because I was in my rebel without a cause mode! I was also soooo in love with the guy who would become my first husband. This guy would have been the best boyfriend and husband ever! He was kind, gentle and considerate. He would be the type that would come over when you heard some crazy noise and make sure you are okay and totally not expect something in return.

Time goes on....

I am lucky to have a husband that is my best friend too! He is so funny and entertaining when he isn't annoying me.

Jayne, my church friend evolved to book club friend, walking buddy, shopping of the wisest, well read, interesting people I know!!! Also known as Marlajayne and Mom's Musings.
Jayne put the "y" in her name because she did not want to be just plain Jane...ya gotta love it.
Kristi started as a church friend, book club friend and has developed into a friendship neither one of us can quite explain. We think the same...which is scary for one or both of us!!! Kristi keeps me sane throughout the day with her funny emails!

One of my greatest joys in life is having my daughters as my friends! We have a great time together and I still tell them what to do...I'm just not responsible for their decisions anymore!
I LOVE Kelly she is one of the most enthusiastic friends. She thinks outside the box, is an excellent teacher (professionally and otherwise), photographer, artist. She keeps life very interesting. Kelly sometimes has to be reeled in...she is sooo crazy...that's why she has a "normal" friend like me to keep her straight! Time for a road trip to Jacksonville!

Level One, Two and Three Friends. Guess which one you are!!! Just amusing myself.... I Love You All!!!

I obviously could put tons and tons of pictures and remarks here about the many people I call friends. I am thankful for EACH and EVERY ONE of YOU!!! Wishing you the most fabulous, wonderful weekend where ever you may be...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Signs, Signs Everywhere Signs

Home away from Home! My father in law keeps us here with chain linking and barb wire :)

Seen on the way to work. I didn't know God was incorporated.

I hope the sign is referring to the coffee or pizza and not the nearby water treatment/sewage plant!

I have seen this sign and variations such as DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS...ESCAPING INMATES.

Moose Casserole anyone? This would definitely be in the freaky sign category!

This particularly amuses me. Sigg has temporarily halted Internet orders of their Stainless Water bottles due to a deluge of orders resulting from the reports of carcinogenic agents in certain types of plastic.

Every where you go you encounter signs. Pushing you here, pulling you there. Everyone seems to have something for sale. Even the churches have signs. We have traffic signs that the general population largely disregards on a regular basis! Billboards, political signs and all the tacky little signs stuck everywhere that distract me and ruin the scenery. Some signs are hilarious and others are downright freaky. For your viewing pleasure...several local signs and a couple I snagged from

This real estate sign is one that upsets me the most. I pass this bucolic wonderland everyday and it saddens me to think of it being developed into gas stations, stores or possibly a motel. It is close to my home and I totally enjoy seeing what the cattle are up to everyday!


© 1970, 2002 Five Man Electrical Band

And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you

Sign Sign everywhere a sign Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign
And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in If God was here, he'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner

Repeat Chorus:

Now, hey you Mister! can't you read, you got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat You can't even watch, no you can't eat, you ain't suppose to be here Sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside Uh!

And the sign said everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn't have a penny to pay, so I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I'm alive and doing fine

Repeat Chorus Repeat Chorus

We see words everywhere we go. Some are helpful and some are just plain obnoxious. Some of the words I see on signs or bumper stickers, people's rear ends or t shirts amuse me...the others totally perplex me! Some in the words of a fellow blogger: "Just Say NO!" One bumper sticker reads "In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned" I am like "Are you Sure?" or Okie Dokie. I am not seeing as well as I used to and can also totally misread for your amusement...what I thought the bumper sticker said "Don't take your orgasms to heaven, heaven knows we need them here". What it ACTUALLY said, "Don't take your ORGANS to heaven, heaven knows we need them here." In the immortal words of Kermit the Frog, " It ain't easy being green" or It ain't easy being ME!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Warning! Food Issues & Such

I am a foodie! Surprise! I love to watch cooking shows and travel shows wherein they seek out really bizarre food. I like to cook when I have time to experiment. I LOVE stores like Williams-Sonoma, although that one is a little to much of a box store for me. Point me in the gadget direction and I am a happy camper, er, cooker? I like almost any kind of food, however I do have my limits. I have issues with texture. I cannot eat oatmeal unless it is in the form of a cookie, it absolutely will not go down and stay down! Jello makes me cringe, I don't like my food moving around or squishing between my teeth. Who thinks grapes and jello is a good idea? I can only eat certain types of yogurt. Pudding is in the questionable category. Fuzzy fruit makes me crazy, like my mouth itches or something. I like bananas but do not like anything that is banana flavored such as juice, smoothies and that sort of thing. I have issues from childhood with cooked spinach and Brussels sprouts. Still can't eat them! I want to like Tofu, really I do, I just haven't found the right recipe. Recently I tried to eat a "Thai spring roll" , while the taste was not bad, the texture put me over the edge. The wrapping was not the typical spring roll that I am accustomed to eating. The rubbery texture inside and out was just more than I could bear. I have decided many "Asian" recipes call for hot as heck sauces so that you don't notice the actual ingredients! I absolutely love Sushi and Seaweed Salad, my favorite being eel rolls, go figure. My daughter hosted a Pampered Chef Party at my home and I, of course, was in gadget heaven. Many guests later and a lighter wallet, I settled down to watch a little "food" television to wind down from the party before going to bed. Why would someone relaxing want to watch bizarre food shows? I have this whole I am repulsed but I can't look away issue! I am amazed at some of the food people will eat. I, for one, am not eating organs. You can keep monkey brains and sheep's eyes. No can do. What's up with eating pig's feet or chicken feet? I could very easily be a vegetarian! Liver is another traumatic food stemming from my childhood. Why did my mother think THAT was good for you? It seems to grow with every chew and is impossible to get down your gullet. I think organ meats or "sweet meats" and feet of any kind are best left to Voodoo rituals!!! Whatever will I do when I become a world famous traveller and am offered the delicacy of that country being sheep's eyeballs or whatever? You would not want to insult the host/hostess!

The utensils, plating and cookware is a whole issue for me as well. I like certain types of glasses and abhor others. I worked with a lady who absolutely refused to eat off anything but white plates. She was from the low country and had many "superstitious" beliefs. She had a very difficult time eating anything that she had not prepared. I can sympathize with her! Am I the only one with food issues? So, what are you having for dinner? Care to join me for some pickled pig's feet and hog jowls? Yeah, me neither.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Be A Kid Again!

My friend, Laura from our retreat posted a few group pictures on her blog and I promptly hijacked this one! This was our Thursday night dinner gang. We piled into Meg's rental which was a Chrysler Sebring convertible. Colleen, pictured in front was hiking and we picked her up on the side of the road and she sat on top of everyone in the backseat, hence the pose for this photo! We giggled alot and it reminded each of us of being teenagers trying to squeeze as many into a car as we could get in there. By the way, Colleen is an awesome singer/songwriter and Laura has the most incredible voice. On Saturday night of the retreat, "guests" are encouraged to share their talents after Christine sings. I, of course, shared my ability to listen, encourage and be totally amazed! I began cleaning my office before the retreat and am still looking for a new desk! The following "list" was in my files under humor. I save things that make me smile for days when I am grumpy. I have no idea where it came from and the author is listed as unknown. I realized when reading the list that I have not grown up yet and why should I anyway!!!

Be A Kid Again

*Give yourself a gold star for everything good you do today*Dot all your "i"s with smiley faces* Sing into your hairbrush*Wear a milk mustache*Smile back at the man in the moon* Read the comics...throw the rest of the paper away*Dunk your cookies*Play a game where you make up the rules as you go along*Order with eyes that are bigger than your stomach* Open a pack of cupcakes and give one to a friend even though you really didn't want to share*Step carefully over sidewalk cracks*Change into some play clothes*Try to get someone to trade you a better sandwich*Have a staring contest with your cat*Eat ice cream for breakfast*Kiss a frog, just in case*Give someone a hug-around-the-neck*Blow the wrapper off of a straw*Refuse to eat crusts*Make a face the next time somebody tells you NO*Ask WHY Alot*Have someone read you a story*Sneak frosting off a cake*Refuse to back down in a did-vs-didn't argument*Do a cartwheel*Hide your vegetables under your napkin*Stay up past your bedtime*Whatever you are doing, stop once in awhile for recess*Wear red tennis shoes* Make a slurpy sound with your straw*Put way too much sugar on your cereal*Play a song you really like over and over, very loudly*Find some pretty stones and save them*Walk barefoot in wet grass*Make screeching noises every time you turn a corner*Fuss a little, then take a nap*Eat dinner at the coffee table*Giggle a lot for no reason*

There is a very good possibility that I wrote this or something similar as I frequently write stuff and stick it somewhere only to forget I wrote it. Additionally, I have done or do many of the above activities on a regular basis! I am so amused about making screeching noises every time I turn a corner...I have not done this and I am not sure my 81 year old and 82 year old co-workers would thank me for it! Makes me giggle though!!! Go ahead, amuse yourself, you will be glad you did!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

Why did the Chicken cross the road? Ah, the age old question. Recently someone sent me a hilarious list of possible reasons "the chicken crossed the road". One indicated that the chicken needed a change. We all know that the other side of the road always looks better than the side on which we are currently standing. We cross over only to find that what we were looking for is not there, the view is just different! I remind myself over and over with a little help from my friends that I have everything I need right in this present moment and within myself. So many people are "unhappy". The key to happiness for me is really very simple. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and I wish to live by the example shown by his Son, Jesus Christ. I adore my family and enjoy spending time with them. Most of the time, I like who I am!!! If I am having one of those "I don't like myself, pity party kind of days, I do something kind for someone. This immediately removes the focus off of what I am not liking at the time. My friend, Jayne introduced me to a book called "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz and I have found myself repeating those agreements over and over to myself and it really helps me stay focused on what is important! One of these days, I will be "blog" proficient and be able to put links in here correctly! I highly recommend reading "The Four Agreements". I do not tolerate boredom well, so I have little things I do to avoid it:
  • I take exotic mini vacations in my mind. Anywhere in the tropics. Meditating on a mountain. Anywhere that gives my mind a momentary rest and change of pace.
  • I take alternate routes when going places. I know I am driving the same route too often when I automatically go somewhere and it is not where I intended going!
  • I listen to a huge variety of music
  • Turn off the television. Too much television creates boredom, dissatisfaction and ennui!
  • Learn something new!
  • I love to read a wild selection of books. I am not hooked on one genre.
  • Play!!! Bubbles are great. Fingerpaints and Playdoh are very therapeutic. Borrow a child if you feel silly doing it by yourself!
  • Laugh. Laugh. And Laugh some more! There is humor in just about everything. Don't take yourself so seriously all the time.
  • Be a tourist in your own town. I have been amazed seeing something with "fresh eyes"
  • Try on clothes that you would not ordinarily wear.
  • Clean and Organize. I love the satisfaction of organized closets and shelves.
  • Cuddle with someone you Love!

If you are feeling the need to "cross to the other side" I suggest looking around and making a few changes on your side of the road. Sometimes a change of perspective is all that is needed to enhance your day to day existence! If you do cross the road with the chicken, remember we are over here cheering you on when you choose to come back!!! Just don't get stuck in the middle of the road.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Cabin in the Woods

In 2008, Asheville NC turned out to be one of the biggest centers, if not THE Actual Epicenter, for the emergence of the 17-Year Cicada (Magicicada septendecim), Brood XIV.

Parts of Western North Carolina have been under siege from the cicadas, and their weird mating call, which some say is akin to a never-ending car alarm, or maybe a “Star Trek” phaser that’s stuck on “kill.”

Every seventeen years the "nymphs" which have been living underground and eating tree roots come out of the ground, shed their shell and begin their mating. The sound reminds me of the mother ship landing.

I have an extremely overactive imagination and I am afraid of the dark and a host of other fears. In an effort to quell some of those fears I stayed in a cabin by myself during my recent retreat. The path to the parking area is lighted, however the descent to the cabin is not...this is huge for me! I walked the path and imagined all sorts of creatures natural and supernatural lying in wait that first night! The trek became easier each time except for the night the owner mentioned that there were a few coyotes and wild pigs on the land. I really did not need that information! Of course, I did encounter some four legged creature, it took off running as soon as it saw me! It was probably just a cat possibly a raccoon, it moved too fast to be an opossum.

The cabins were equipped with electricity but no plumbing. I won't even go into the have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night stories...let's just say I wasn't walking up to the portable john!!! The area was unseasonably hot for the mountains and I like air conditioning!
The cabin was quaint and comfortable.

The view during the daylight hours was breathtaking. The view at night with few curtains breathtaking in a different way. So dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Add to that the crazy cicada noises and everything else...I slept with a light on in the cabin the first night. After that night, I graduated to the porch light and flashlight. It was an amazing experience. Standing on the porch in the mornings with the fresh mountain air, birdsong and a cup of herbal tea was absolutely delicious! I learned a lot about myself that weekend. We live in such a beautiful world and I feel as close to God as possible when surrounded by His creations in such a natural setting. I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude for such beauty. We must be responsible and do our part to ensure that this beauty continues for our posterity.

Back to the cicadas, all in all it was a fascinating study of insects but I sure wish they wouldn't fly into my hair!!!