Saturday, December 27, 2008

Off to the Country...

...and I mean real country... long, tall grass prairies, wheat fields, cattle ranches, frigid winds and cold; where cell phones are iffy and no internet exists - but we will have a hot tub.

We are going to western Oklahoma for a week. I will have no computer contact, so you won't hear from me for a bit. Say a prayer for us - we will likely have withdrawals ;-)

Awww, but we will relax and enjoy ourselves. I will be back before you know it. Have a great New Year's celebration!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Missing Jeremy

Every year at Christmas we pull out all our Christmas ornaments and special trinkets and reminisce about where all our loot came from. This year, we pulled out just a small amount of Christmas treasures and as we did, I came across some things Jeremy had given me over the years. I offered to give them back to him a few years back, but he said he was not ready for them yet. Stephenie has hers - with the exception of a few ornaments – and I will someday make her a memory book – but today, I was missing Jeremy because he was so far away. As with every other year, you wish your family could all be in one place to enjoy the holiday, but having a part of them seems to make you long to have them near you even more.

In kindergarten, Jeremy made me this bell. It is amazing that it has lasted all these years – it is simply a Styrofoam cup with foil over it, yarn and ribbon to hang it from. I love it! Steph made a paper plate wreath for me one year – it disintegrated finally because it was a paper plate with construction paper, but I cherish it.






In first grade, Jeremy made me this snowman. Does it tell you how long I have loved snowmen? Jeremy is now 26 years old. We nursed this little guy through the years, carefully putting him back together year after year. Finally one year, Steve put him in a make shift storage box to store him. For a few years he took him out. It was not long before we realized he was so fragile if we removed him, he would disintegrate. Now he is permanently in his little box – not a pretty one, but somehow we do not see the plastic container – we see the lovely snowman Jeremy built for mom.





In third grade, Jeremy came home and told me he was going to do his Christmas shopping at school the next day. I questioned him about it and I found out that the school was hosting a shopping spree day – undoubtedly as a money earning project for the school, but I thought it was a pretty nifty idea. I gave him a few bucks for his gifts and forgot about it. The kids could shop for their loved ones with supervision – and the parents didn’t have to take them out. I was certainly surprised when Jeremy gave me this beautiful red stoned heart necklace. I still wear it every year on Christmas day. What a wonderful gift it has been :-)



Every year I always put a card in the tree for Steve and the kids – and I have done so for many years. One year I was surprised to find a card to ME! When I opened it I immediately started bawling. Jeremy had bought me a nativity scene card. On it he had written that he knew I would love it, but more importantly, that he wanted me to know those cards in the tree were always special to him and that I needed one. I never knew until then how special those cards were.


Stephenie made many wonderful things as well. So did all the other children we have had in our lives. Pulling all of our Christmas boxes out is sure to bring a smile or tear to our face. It is wonderful to remember the small things in life – things that so many others take for granted. I am so blessed to have a family that knows how special all those little things are to each of us.

And as we tuck away our Christmas treasures for another year, we find Raelee’s first snowman to granny. She made it last year for me. I always try to mark the dates on my treasures for future reference. I never want to forget a special gift from a loved one.


Traditions like these are priceless. It does make you miss those who are not with you – even if they are starting their own traditions - you wish they were with you.
Jeremy, we missed you and your family this year. We love you. Anytime you are ready for your treasures – dad will pack them safely and get them to you.
Thanks for the memories kids :-)

South Louisiana Bonfires

Well, I missed a day or two, but I was simply enjoying our holiday just as I hope each of you did. Let me share our Christmas Eve tradition.

Every year on Christmas Eve, when there is half a chance that the weather will hold out, we all tumble into as many vehicles we need to haul everyone to the bonfires in Gramercy. We often pack picnic meals to eat on the levee while waiting on the big event; the Gramercy Bonfires. Some say the bonfires light the way for Papa Noel to the River Parishes, others say that they historically helped guide the devoted to midnight Mass. Whatever started the tradition, I am thrilled to be a part of it over 100 years after it started.



As with other traditions, generations of families work together and enjoy building the bonfires for weeks ahead of Christmas Eve. Before the big event, they huddle around their masterpieces, waiting for the fun to begin. Some of the bonfires are very elaborate – some traditional tepee types, others as intricate as 18 wheelers and bulldozers; each meticulously set exactly 50 yards apart for many miles along the Mississippi River.




At 7 pm, the lighting begins; the first bonfire is lit, and every 15 seconds or so, like a domino effect, the bonfires are set ablaze. One is lit, then the next, and the next – until all of the bonfires are glowing for as far as the eye can see.




Standing in the distance, I hear the popping of the fireworks set in the fires begin to go off. As the fires get closer, the air gets hotter, and still more and more fires are lit. The popping of the fireworks and crackling of the wood gets closer and closer until the bonfire in front of me warms my skin. I gaze at the beauty of the fire flickering through the wood. As I look behind me, the next one is set aglow, the popping starts and the chain continues down the levee until all the fires are glowing, popping and sizzling.


As a celebration of the bonfire lighting, each family celebrates the successful lighting with a fireworks display – not the popping ones in the fire, but the beautiful ones that go high into the sky and fall gently down as a backdrop to the bonfires. It is truly a beautiful sight.



As I glance around, the homes along the levee are filled with friends and families, each enjoying their own Cajun tradition of gumbo, jambalaya and other south Louisiana favorites. Even though traffic is bumper to bumper, it is worth coming to see this amazing sight.

(thanks Steph for taking this picture)

Ahhhh, a true southern Cajun tradition; Louisiana Christmas Eve Bonfires. If you have never been to the bonfires, you should make it part of your Christmas holiday. Bring a meal, a cooler full of drinks, your camera and tripod – and Laissez bon temps rouler – “Let the good times
roll!”


We hope to see you toss a quilt down next to us on the levee next year - mark your calendar right away for Christmas Eve next year - but come early in the afternoon so you can see the bonfires in the daytime - before they are glowing. It is a wonderful Cajun event :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

6 Hours Stuck On The Singapore Flyer??

I think not! I am glad we did not go to the Christmas Party this year in Singpore. We might have been sitting on the flyer waiting to celebrate! I cannot believe that the flyer broke down. Look at the flyer next to the high rises in the picture below - 541 ft high and I was going to RIDE that thing! I think I might wait until the work the kinks out now ;-)

I wonder if any of my friends were on it? Maybe I will hear from you that you were NOT on the flyless flyer. Geez, that must really be the talk of the island since even I heard about it here in the states!



More candy made. I think we are finally done with making candy. YUM! Can you guess what we made today?



Now we are off to supper. Since we are here in the states, we can partake in some yummy beef. Drool baby drool! Steve grills a mean steak :-)


Merry Christmas Eve to you girls in Singapore. Miss you all. Hope you have a wonderful day and Santa brings you a special treat - gosh, maybe Santa WILL be the special treat... ?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Candy




There is always a sense of satisfaction in a job well done. Steve and I have made candy for friends and neighbors for years. Today, with Liz's help, we made our Peanut Brittle and Christmas Confetti Candy. They both came out perfectly this year. It is nice doing our traditional candy; better yet, doing it together.

We missed making our gifts one year. The next year, while delivering the candy, everyone told us that they missed the annual gift theyear before. One said she particularly missed the white candy. I wondered why she just never asked for the recipe... lol…


Today is Todd’s birthday – I hope he had a wonderful day. We enjoyed going over and sharing time with him and the family while he opened gifts. Raelee and Ruth made a perfect chocolate cake too – I wish I had taken a picture of the Happy Birthday wrapped around the cake. It was too cute. Raelee ran out of room so she just kept on going with the “thday” backwards.

I think we have a few more things to make tomorrow. We also have a few more gifts to buy. My car is sick (surprise, surprise) after being parked for so long. I am not sure how we will work it out, but hopefully we can figure out how to both get our shopping done and keep our secrets.

I will take pictures of our annual Christmas plate when we get them ready. I wish I could give everyone a plate, but maybe the pictures will suffice. I think I am doing pretty well with my new camera! Night :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coinkidinky?

Troy came in from France to Louisiana for the holiday. They were coming over here for dinner, so he stopped by the store to buy some wine. While drinking the wine, I wanted to remember what kind it was (it was yummy), so I looked a the label to make note of the name.



Ravenswood.

Jeremy and Cheyenne got married at Ravenswood!! Ravenswood, a beautiful place in the middle of a vineyard in California. How much of a coincidence is THAT? Troy comes to Louisiana from France, buys wine from Ravenswood in California - and had no idea...

We finished the evening with the guys playing "Go Fish" with pR. Great day, great family time and a great evening.


Still shaking my head in disbelief over the whole Ravenswood thing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Light House... Poinsettias... Louisiana

Just a few thoughts today…

Christmas in south Louisiana; sometimes hot, sometimes not. It is not super hot right now, but it is super humid. Icky, sticky humid.

In Singapore, the humidity has not gotten this bad while I was there. I finally figured out the huge difference in the humidity here. In Singapore it goes makes a rain forest; a plush luxurious plant jungle. Here in Louisiana, the humidity is so bad that it drowns all the plants and keeps dripping until it pools in large areas called swamps. The swamps heat up and steam the people, who sweat and the sweat drips down completing the chain and adding to the swamps.


Singapore has rain forests, monkeys, and beaches. Louisiana has swamps, gumbo, skeeters, and ‘gators – even in the winter. I like Louisiana. It has a certain southern charm that engulfs you. It is nice to come home and enjoy its uniqueness – even if it is humid. Moving away has taught me to look beyond my frustrations of the area and embrace the things I love.

Celia got me this Poinsettia for the holiday. Isn’t it beautiful? If you look carefully on the right, you will see a geranium blooming as well. It has not gotten cold enough here for the summer flowers to quit blooming.



In fact, this is blooming right next to the Poinsettias:


Since it was so nice and warm, Liz and I went to the light house to practice camera shots. Here are a couple pics I took:


Today, I finished cooking banana nut bread. We now have a total of 12 small loaves and 2 large ones. Wonder what we will do with that?

Tomorrow, we start cooking candy. Yum…

I hope everyone is having a great holiday - the frenzy before the calm; the feast before the famine; the Lord before the gifts. Jesus is the reason for this season. In fact, He is the reason I am so blessed to enjoy every sight I see - like the ones above. I hope you feel that way as well. Off to enjoy my family. Merry Saturday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas with Family :-)

Christmas with family is always so special. Anytime with family is special, but especially the holidays.



So here we are - all 3 sisters on our Seattle trip in May of this year. Acutally Shari, the sister on the right lives in the Seattle area, Liz (who lives in Oklahoma) and I (living in Singapore/Louisiana) all got together in May for a 'sister' vacation. We had a blast! Liz had never been on a 'real' vacation, but she braved it up and flew to Dallas where I met her, then we flew together to Seattle.



Today Liz (in the picture above) is flying in to Louisiana to be with us for Christmas. I cannot wait until she gets here. We are going to have a great time; cooking, visiting, playing with cameras and hanging out. YIPPPEEE!

Steph and Todd will have his family in, and I will have my sister here. It will be a great holiday.

The next picture I would like of the siblings would be all four of us together. How can we make that happen?? hmmm... off to contemplate that thought.

A picture of our kids and grandkids in one place with us for the holidays would be wonderful as well. Maybe next year?

Wonder if they would all come to Singapore? It is a lovely place to visit - even worth flying 20+ hours one way! Of course, it is worth it - they would get to see Steve and better yet - ME! :-)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dancing Around the Christmas Tree...

Have a happy holiday...

Steve and I could not do it; we had to do a bit of decorating this year. We thought we could just enjoy Steph and Todd’s house, but when we had been here a bit, we realized we had to decorate.

We went to THAT STORE and got an inexpensive tree to decorate – one that was small so we didn’t have to move around furniture. We will just be here a few days, so we don’t want to have to pack a ton of stuff.

Steve got it all set up, I puffed the fake needles and pR came over and decorated. Here are a few pictures of the process:



It is so nice to be back home in the midst of day to day life. While we are in the states, we seldom know what will go on from one day to the next – things are always changing. We start out one way and end up doing something else.

Drs appts have taken up a ton of our time; physicals, dental, and my gastro Dr. That didn’t go so well… lol… more about that later.
Anyway, here are the best pictures of all:


And finally the finished product – after pR and before granny touch-ups. Not sure there will even be any; I think it is perfect just like it is!


It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fire In Okmulgee

I was raised in a small farm town in Oklahoma. The main streets of most of Oklahoma towns are very historical, and Okmulgee is no exception. Today my brother e-mailed me with pictures of one of our buildings on Main Street burning. It is disheartening to say the least, and the fire spread very fast.

I lived in Okmulgee most of my life. I left and came back – sometimes with my parents, and sometimes with friends or family – but I always came back. My main place to stay was with my grandmother. When I couldn't live anywhere else, I was with my grandparents in Okmulgee. My home town.

Going back always makes me feel like I am ‘coming home’, even though I have lived away from ‘home’ for over 30 years. Our family address is the same, friends and family still live there and very little about my hometown has changed – farming communities rarely do. Some businesses come and go, but in general – most are family ‘mom and pop’ places that stay forever… or until they burn down. Buildings in the town are so old they are like match sticks, so they go up fast. Today was such a day. It is with regret that I show pictures of a block we were very much a part of. The old hardware store… buildings we have seen all our lives – up in smoke. I doubt there was much to save:

Much like I would be - staring in disbelief.
I hope I am wrong. I hope tomorrow the news is better than it looks. Thank you Danny for sharing, but it is oohhh so sad. My heart stopped when you told me this block was gone. It was like a part of my heart was going with it. I just cannot believe it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Scavenger Hunt is ON!

My dear daughter was up to no good. I could not put my finger on it, but one too many phone calls for dad gave away the simple fact that something was up - and it was bound to have to do with my recent birthday passing. Indeed it did - my first real clue was this message on both of my computers, all the way from California - thanks to my dear son and his wife:



The second was looking at these not so innocent girls: I went on a wild scavenger hunt with them from one end of the parish to the other - collecting these card clues from each place that led me to the next place - all given to me or read to me by my friends and family. I had to make long distance phone calls to all of my friends and relatives here in the states - and even had to go to a Christmas Bazaar to collect a clue from a friend. What a FUN day!



The best part was ending at my home to a driveway filled with cars - and inside were friends waiting to give me surprise birthday party! It was well planned - and well executed - on our son's birthday no less! He said it was fun for him because of that :-)


My big prize of the day? My new Nikon D-90 Camera, lens, gift cards and a remote that I can use from behind the camera! Thank you everyone - you know who you are! The funny thing was if I had payed attention to my clues (above) - a part of the Nikon emblem was on everyone of them!


The second best prize was from pR – her traditional Dollar Tree shopping spree gifts:


It was a great day; I had friends here we had not seen in months and years - and I heard from everyone in my family. We sat around and visited for hours, ate yummy food (I won’t say what really happened with the yummy food) and laughed about the scavenger hunt


The scavenger hunt was payback from our kids for the scavenger hunts they had every birthday - we always gave them one clue for every year of their life to find their gift. The kid’s birthday parties were always a ton of work to put on because of the clues, but they are still always talked about when their friends get together with them - each having their own memories of a clue or two. Ahhh, those were the days!


Thank goodness I did not have 50 clues - they DID have mercy on me :-)




Thank you Steph for all the hard work - and to every one else for making my birthday celebration special. And a special thank you for no forkin' rope! rofl...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Traditions



It all started out with my love of snowmen. Over the years I have collected snowmen; if I could not have snow, then snowmen was my next best thing. The year pR was born, Steph bought me the Hallmark Snowmen for my birthday and signed it from her and pR. pR was a tot, so we played it for her over and over that year.

The next year, the girls got me the next Hallmark snowman. By that time, pR had learned to push the button, so once we showed her where the buttons were, we heard the songs over and over - on both the snowmen in the collection. The following year, my snowman collection was growing - not only did I get the Hallmark snowmen, I got an extra one or two. pR played all of them together, going from one to the next, punching buttons and getting a huge kick out of hearing each and every one of them to play - as close to the same time as she could press buttons.

We are 5 years into the Hallmark snowmen now - and she has about 10; 5 of the traditional Hallmark snowmen, and 5 or so others. For the last 3 years, she races frantically from one to the other, pressing buttons so they each sing their miscellaneous Christmas Carols all in unison. Some days it drives me insane (not a far drive my hubby often reminds me) but most days I just shake, rattle and roll in the laughter of the insaneness of the jingles all singing at once - and her persistence to get them all to sing at the same time.

This is my newest smile to the collection:

What a terrific birthday gift. I look forward to them each year. Thanks girls :-)

video

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!


... And did it SNOW! Steve and I had to get up early to go for our physicals in a Lafayette - a city 1 hour and 15 minutes away. We had heard there was a chance for flurries; maybe some sleet mix as well.

Was I ever excited when a few minutes into our trip - we were blessed with SNOW in south Louisiana! That seldom happens in our area - in fact, we have lived here for 31 years and it has snowed exactly 5 times counting today. WHOOO HOOOO! When it snows, it is actually very spotty - we might get a couple of inches and 5 miles away might get flurries. It is never widespread.

Yes, yes, of COURSE I special ordered it - I always do! In the winter, I always say "Send Snow!" on my e-mails as a tongue in cheek giggle, knowing it will never happen. So today I was elated - I got to bask in the joy of the flakes all the way to the Drs office - with Steve shaking his head in disbelief. I am so in love with snow - he rolls his eyes at my excitement. We actually even had an accumulation:








Here is a picture at the Drs office just before we walked in:


And hours later, after they finally released us from all our tests:


As you can see, it did not last long. When Steve and I came out, the temperature was already nearly 50 degrees - and it is supposed to be much warmer tomorrow. Yep, that is the way it goes here; it never lasts, but it sure stirs up the emotions when we are blessed with it. Every single person that we saw was excited. Kids 13 years old, who had never seen snow, had their parents waking them at 5am to go build a snowman. What a magical feeling snow brings to us in south Louisiana; spirits are lifted and everyone is laughing.


FYI; the physicals went well - both of us are destined to live a long time. Each of our EKG's, arterial echoes, and stress tests results were great. Now we wait on the blood work. I am always leery of that - and most of you know why... that silly C - reactive protein issue. The Dr today skeered me (yes I know skeered is not a real word ;) even more that the last one - she referred me to MD Anderson in Houston (or an equally large teaching hospital) to a Hem Oncology (?) Dr - not because I have blood cancer, but because she said that I need to go to a large teaching hospital and that a Hem Oncologist (?) would have the best chance of finding out the cause of my outrageous reading. She recommended MD Anderson because she assured me they WOULD find the problem.


We all know I have been to every freaking other kind of Dr out there. She also insists it is "urgent" (her words) that I find an answer right away... again, it is the highest reading this Dr has ever seen ~ surprise, surprise huh? Man have I heard that before.

35 years and counting - and still living to hear it.

UGH.

Subject change:

IT SNOWED!

YES!!!

Thank you for blessings of winter magic.

I love snow... didja know that?

Meet Cali

I was looking at Pam's Frankie boy on her blog earlier and decided it was time to share my innocent little kitty. This is my silly Cali cat. When we got her from the humane society 3 years ago, she was already named Calico. I quickly shortened it to Cali - unless of course she is in trouble, then she is "Cali CO!!".

She has been in trouble a time or two - I never let her do cat things; like catching Gecko’s or Lizard's - and she's certainly never allowed to catch the mouse... errr... cat on the computer screen. But she tries to get away with everything she can when I am not looking - I quickly snap pictures and then correct her.




She does not look like the blingy Frankie boy Pam adores. No glitzy, glam tricks yet - and she better not getting any bright ideas. I have tons of glitter hidden away in the scrap room ;-)

She has a roomie named Celia that is quite pampering though - C lets her do anything she chooses; so when mom comes home, "Calli CO!!" spends quite a bit of time relearning 'the mommy rules'. Mommy's are sooo mean!

Today, she she is trying to figure out why her mom got out of a perfectly warm, cozy, bed at 3:30am to come into a freezing cold kitchen. She is loyal; while the bed is baking from the mattress warmer - she is patiently waiting on my return to the electric blanket. Glaring is more like it. Her daddy likes the bed quite warm; we think he misread the directions and had the mattress warmer set on "Bake at 350 degrees" - but Cali was quite content baking. Mom got up. Now she is glaring at me from the living room floor... waiting.

Pssst! I am not going back, Cali, I have a Dr appt. You may sleep, mommy must get ready to drive a brazillion miles (love that figure Sarah) for blood work and Dr punches.
Now you know my Cali CO :-)

Meet "Miss Innocent".

Singapore Memory Project