Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Florida

This poem was sent to us in a Christmas card  by my sister and brother in law, Kim and Jim. I love it!

Monday, December 24, 2012

DSH finally has a boat.

 This has been a dream of my hubby's for many years. To get a boat and sail away. Well it isn't exactly a sail boat, and it is small enough to fit in the garage, but it is still a boat.

He used to tell me he had a three point plan for retirement:
  1. Hike the Appalachian Trail. 
  2. Sell the house in VB and buy a sailboat to live on while exploring the coast of USA.
  3. Buy a small house way out in the woods, away from electricity, cell phones and the internet.
He retired first in 2006 and I retired in 2011. I had no real plans for retirement, except to enjoy NOT WORKING, so I was willing to give his plan a try.  The results so far:
  • DSH completed #1, in 2007. He left for 6 months, while having a great hike in the woods. I met up with him a few times during the summer and got to meet his fellow hikers.
  • We did sell the house and buy a small house, but it is in a neighborhood with palm trees, no woods...
  •  I was not sure I wanted to sail away with him until he became more experienced in boating...I am better at floating in the pool than swimming for my life.

As I wrote in a previous post, we had Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant near a marina where there were boats for sale. When we came home, DSH started looking on the Web for info about boats, found this one in the neighboring town, checked it out and bought it. It is a great little starter boat so he can learn his way around the local waters and do a little fishing as well. Lucky the guy we bought it from was willing to bring it here and put it in our garage, because our truck didn't have a tow hitch on it yet.
 While waiting for the hitch  DSH got to know the GPS and fish finder better, as well as cleaning all the exteriors.

This is how it looks with the bimini up.
Does he look happy? He is and so is my sister's hubby who loves to fish.

I am not a person who likes to fish, but after taking the boat out for the first time, DSH told me about the different wildlife he was able to see nearby, like dolphins, rays, and pelicans. That sounds neat, so stay turned for future adventures where I actually go out on the boat with him.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Town

On Sunday, Dec. 16, my sister Angie and I went to Christmas Town in Busch Gardens, Tampa. We arrived as the day guests were leaving about 5. Parking was a breeze and there were no lines getting through the ticket area.  Before the sun set we enjoyed the gardens.
After the sun set, the lights came on and the park was turned into a snowy wonderland, with snow machines mounted on poles, causing flakes to fall from above periodically. There were areas for kids to throw snowballs, make snowmen, and ride on tubes down hills of snow. Christmas Carols and songs played nonstop in the background. We rode the Sing Along Train around the park, singing as loud as we wanted. There were giraffes and gazelles(I think) still roaming around in the dark. I felt a little bad for the animals who were blinded by the flash from phone cameras.

 I was impressed in how much Christ was in Christmas Town. We listened to a presentation of songs and story from The Three Kings,who explained the meaning of the gifts brought to the Christ child. We heard concerts by a Christian praise band and ended the evening with a concert by Jars of Clay.
no baby in the manger yet

This picture is of the life size Nativity scene that was made out of flowers and greenery. The path to it was a covered bridge with candle filled lanterns hanging from the ceiling and on the walls.

This living statue angel looked like a real statue and startled people who walked by as she moved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

That's what I get for boasting.

I was sitting in  Dunkin Donuts yesterday with my Zumba friends-my coffee club, I call them.When a couple of the ladies commented that they were feeling very stressed, I said, "Not me. I do not have any stress now that I am living the retired life here in Florida."
I think God heard me and thought maybe I was a little too smug, because the rest of the day became very stressful. 

 My #1 item on my to do list was to make cookies for a cookie exchange party  my friend Sandy was having today. I stopped baking routinely since the kids were no longer little( or even in the same state) and I have been more determined to lose weight. (My will power  for sugary baked goods is non existent.) There were even years when I was working that I relied on the generosity of friends for my Christmas cookies. So, once a year at Christmas time I bake cookies for Christmas, in general, and the past two years for Sandy's party in particular.

This time I did some actual planning ahead, searching the internet for easy cookie recipes. I found one using cake mix that sounded good. So yesterday afternoon, I went to the cupboard  and realized I did not have the exact ingredients I needed. Instead of 2 boxes of devils-food cake mix, I had 2 boxes of brownie mix. No problem I would go back to the internet and find
recipes using brownie mix instead. I started mixing the ingredients when it dawned on me that when you double a recipe that means twice as many eggs(duh) and I only had enough for one batch. And my DSH needed my help in the garage moving his boat into the garage before the rain came down(more about the boat in another post). So I left the mixing to help him, then went to borrow eggs from my neighbor. I get back to the mix and think, did I put the right amount of water in? It didn't seem the right consistency. I do a test batch with only 3 cookies, leaving the rest of the mix on the counter. DSH comes in to get a drink of water, opens the cupboard,and out come two glasses crashing together, landing on the counter and the ceramic floor in a zillion pieces. We are both bare footed. The heat of the oven is not the only thing making me sweat at this point.

We both step carefully around the glass, then DSH banishes me from the kitchen(for my own good) while he cleans up the glass shards very precisely. We both look into the bowl of batter which was on the counter where the glasses landed. The oven timer goes off, and I remove a tray of what look more like three pancakes. He says, "It doesn't look like any glass got in the batter." I answer, "I am NOT taking the chance, what with glass pieces all the way across the kitchen, that one did not go in the batter!" So I throw the whole batter, bowl and all into the trash. Minutes later I was in the car on the way to the store to get more ingredients.

I was feeling stressed now. I chose to pass the Publix and head to Sam's Club, just to give myself more time to cool down. After browsing the Christmas gift section, I buy a big box of brownie mix and plenty of eggs. I also buy 3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies from the bakery as back up in case anything else goes wrong.

After getting DSH his dinner, I find a different brownie mix cookie recipe that uses less oil and water. I used the mints idea from the original cake mix recipe I had found. Then I mixed and baked for a couple hours and the result (8 hours from when I started getting out the first batch of ingredients) was 4 dozen really good cookies. Here's the recipe:

Touch of Mint Chocolate Cookies 
1 pkg ultimate brownies 
2 eggs 
2 tablespoons water 
1 tablespoon oil 
12 Andes mints, cut in half 
 Stir together eggs, water, and oil. Stir into brownie mix. Drop by rounded tsp 
onto parchment paper, 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated 350* oven 10 minutes. 
Remove from oven, but keep on pan 2 minutes and during this time press one mint 
piece onto middle of coookie. Remove to cooling rack. Use back of spoon to 
spread melted mint around. Let cool completely. One batch makes 24 cookies.
And here's a picture of the tray of cookies I brought home for DSH from the party. 
My cookies are the ones on the far right. It was a great party, by the way, with lots of laughter. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ducks like Rain

Today was rainy, actually the rain didn't start until after dinner, but there were gray clouds hanging low and high humidity all day. Friends way up north are getting lots of snow, so I am happy to not have to deal with that. And we have not had rain for a long time, so the plants like days like today.

I was with a friend tonight in a nearby Kohls when my phone told me there was a tornado warning in the area and to take cover. Then the voice on the PA system in Kohls told everyone to leave the areas of the store near the windows and seek shelter in the middle of the store until the tornado warning passed. The rain was coming down pretty hard by then with  thunder and lightning happening outside. What were to do? My friend Darlene and I checked out the Christmas ornaments and home goods section, which was well away from the windows.

I have never been in a situation like that before...a little disarming to say the least. On the plus side, there were some great sales going on in the store, so I think I will make my way back there later this week.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Enjoying the weather

I have a friend who is making a scrapbook of the days leading up to Christmas. It is called the December Daily album (and you can read about someone who has done one for years here). I have always been interested in scrapbooking, but have not really actually completed many... ok, I have only completed  2 mini albums. So I was thinking maybe I could do that, put my thoughts down daily or weekly about my life, with an occasional picture included. Then it dawned on me that the purpose of this blog was to do just that, with the focus on the fact that every day is a gift and I should be looking for those parts that make me say, "Thank you, God." As a bonus, the blog is stored on the Internet instead of on my shelf, gathering dust and  taking up precious space.

So here is what made me happy today. (sounds like Pop Culture Happy Hour, one of my favorite NPR shows.) I needed to get a few items at the store and I was able to take my golf cart there. It was a beautiful warm day and I did not need a jacket or to put my sides down on the cart. I was glad that I did not need to use gas or add exhaust to the atmosphere.

Another thing that made me smile was the fact that I have a Dollar Tree and a Dollar General right next to each other. How cool is that? So I was able to shop for some stocking stuffers and craft items as well as ingredients for the cookies I need to make this week without spending very much money.

Our little golf cart.
This picture was taken last year when we were new to Florida and kept the sides down most of the time.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Finally, I got to go to the Magic Kingdom!

 I had the greatest time at Walt Disney World last week. These are my treasures that Tim bought for me in one of the gift shops. The mug is big, holds 12 oz of coffee, I think, and has relief seagulls on the outside and inside. That scene from "Finding Nemo" is one of my favorites. The hat is one I admired on another park attendee so I was happy to find it in the last shop we looked in before leaving on our last night. I secretly wanted a Minnie hat with red polka dots, red bow, and ears sticking out, but DSH convinced me that I would never wear it outside. Truthfully, everyone I saw wearing the Minnie hat was younger than my own children, but being a kid again is what Disney World is all about, right? Thanks to my friends Toni and Shep who visited here for a few days and then invited us to come to DW at the same time they were going and to the fact that Florida residents get great deals on tickets, I was able to do something I have wanted to do since 1964: see the attraction "It's a Small World"! We also visited Hollywood Studios(loved a city of dancing lights), Epcot(amazing Christmas Concert with Andy Garcia as narrator,trip to mars, and star wars flight with C3PO) and Animal Kingdom(festival of The Lion King), but the Magic Kingdom was my favorite. Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear shooting spinning ride, the Monsters Inc. comedy show, Cinderella's Castle shimmering in lights, and the Electrical Parade...well it was magical! And just like a little kid, I did not want to leave! But we did not see it all, so I get to go back again and again.

The concert with full orchestra and  hundreds of singers from guest choruses.

Cinderella's Castle with Christmas lights-changed from white to blue to green.

Toni and me on the People Mover 

This is where we stayed, the Pop Century Resort.
We found our room by turning at the giant Play-do can sculpture in the 60s section.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

It is Thanksgiving Day and I want to be sure I give thanks. I have posted previously about the people in my life I appreciate: friends, sisters, brothers, sons. I want to jump to the top of the list to make sure I mention my DSH. He will not be happy if I go on and on about him, but I do want it known that he is my #1 blessing.

We spent a quiet day together today. We ate a spectacular meal from the Thanksgiving buffet at the Sunset Grill, on Tampa Bay. The menu included the usual turkey and fixings, plus stuffed fish, steak, ham, soup, salad bar, appetizers, and desserts. I did not have to eat turkey, but DSH was able to get the dark meat he likes. Low carb diet today? I do not think so! I was sufficiently stuffed when we left.  I appreciated not having to cook a turkey with all the mess (and leftover meat for days). I have extra pies from Publix  here at home for us, too. Because I do not mind having leftover pie. Thanksgiving has always meant pies and family. I couldn't have my kids with me, but I got pie!

After we left the restaurant, we walked around the marina nearby. Turns out there were a couple of boats for sale there. When we got back, DSH spent hours on the Internet researching similar boats. One of the dreams DSH has had for retirement involves owning a boat. Originally he was thinking a sailboat. I think that taking sailing lessons together would be neat. I also love the idea of traveling the intercoastal waterway or exploring along the coast of the US. I have no idea if we can afford this, but it's fun to dream. When we were first married we would go to boat shows and pretend we were boat owners. Now DSH is thinking about the possibility of a smaller boat, for fishing the local rivers and bays. I do not relish this idea so much, but if it makes him happy, I can be ok with it. (One of the boats we saw for sale today was a really nice fishing boat that I could be happy on. It cost more than our present house, however.)

The newspaper today had  over 4 inches deep of sales ads for today and tomorrow. (In contrast, the news part was maybe an inch) I am so grateful that I do not need to get anything badly enough that I would feel compelled to hit the sales on Black Friday. It is so nice to not need anything. But what about Christmas gifts for others, you ask? They will get gift cards or handmade items.

In closing, I just have to say I am very thankful for my DSH and the life we have together. Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kitchen Plans

DSH and I are hoping to get a make over for our kitchen. It still has the 1960s cabinets, counters, and stovetop, but somewhat newer appliances, although both black and white. I have been searching the internet for pictures of remodels hoping to get ideas. My friend, Sylvie back in VB, just redid her kitchen and was gracious to talk me through her planning process as well as posting pictures of the new kitchen on her Facebook page. I am beginning to feel more confident about going forward. DSH and I were having heated discussions about how much demo would be needed to make me happy. He wanted valid reasons for my choice to tear out the existing soffits and get tall cabinets to the ceiling and I finally figured out the main reason was that that's the look I like. Then he showed me a cartoon that was in this morning's paper. I will keep you informed of things as they progress.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Brothers are blessings, too.

God gave me 4 brothers. My oldest brother Dennis I will meet someday in heaven, as he died when he was 10 before I was born. My mom once told me she thought he had been reincarnated in me because we were so much alike. He had already decided to become a priest along with his best friend, who I believe did go on to do that, and I liked dropping in to the church on my way to or from school. I even considered becoming a nun until my catechism sister told me she wasn't allowed to wear shorts even in the summer. My mother also told me that Dennis and I shared the ridiculous behavior of sharing a lollipop with our dog-you know, as in, lick for me, lick for you, lick for me etc...yuck!

My second oldest brother Mike is also in heaven now, having passed away in November of 2007. We shared something too: cancer. And not just cancer, but the same kind of cancer, that of the gall bladder. I was told by my doctor that it is a very rare cancer and so unheard of in siblings that the pathologist was considering writing a report in a medical journal. It is because of Mike that I did not put off going to the hospital with the first painful gall bladder attack. He also made sure I saw my primary care doctor to follow up my initial gall bladder surgery (in July 2007, routine biopsy found  the cancer) with further testing to see if there was still cancerous cells in my body. The surgeon who had removed the gall bladder and told me of the test results also said,"Good news, the cancerous organ was removed so you are cancer free." WRONG! So thank you, Lord, for putting Mike's illness before mine to warn me of the danger. I am also thankful for having Mike as a big brother for all the summers I had at his home in the woods by the pond. Mike also filled in for my dad, walking me down the aisle at my wedding, and well, just being there whenever I needed him.

Next in line is my brother Bill. A teen when I was young, Bill was busy with school, work, and girlfriend. But I do remember him catching grass snakes for me to play with and always having really neat firecrackers on the 4th of July. Bill and his family moved in with Mom after Dad passed away, making it possible for her to stay in the family home for many more years,and keeping her "young" with little grandkids around her. I am thankful to him for that. It is neat to visit Bill, although I don't do it often enough, because of all my brothers, he reminds me of my father the most.

Then there is my brother Frank. He was the brother who was difficult to follow in high school, because I would hear, "He's  your brother? Oh, oh! Not another one!" Never heard that about my other sibs...hmmm. When I was young, 8 to 10 years old, Frank and I were given singing lessons, thanks to my grandfather. So once a week or so, we would travel together to an old court house and listen to each other sing. I don't think he remembers these sessions, or that I was the sister  there, but I remember thinking how wonderfully he sang and how I wanted to be like him. He still sings beautifully, I think. Frank and my sister in law Aggie were there for Mom when she needed assisted living arrangements. They opened their home to her where Aggie fed her well and Frank provided Scrabble games on demand, and they assured her that her faith in Jesus alone would get her to heaven. Frank also reminds me of my grandfather and my oldest son. Don't ask me why-just a feeling I always get. It's a good connection that I am thankful to have.

I have four sons who, I am thankful to see, have a good relationship between them. In fact, I found out years later, that the oldest three, all born within 3 years, formed a "gang" of sorts to support each other when being disciplined. "No brother left behind" or "no one snitches on a brother" sort of thing. I found this out when I was telling them how I never saw them bickering like other siblings. Even as teens, they hung out together. Of course #4 was treated more like the baby brother, but now as adults, even though miles separate them, they still keep in touch.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me brothers and sons to love.

Friday, November 16, 2012


So I am still counting my blessings leading up to Thanksgiving Day and I have to mention that my sisters are definitely on my list. I have three and they each add something special to my life. I do not think there is anything I could ask from each of them that they would say no to.

Lou is the sister closest in age to me. We grew up fighting each other for our parents' and older siblings' attention, but once we grew up and became mothers ourselves the fighting stopped. We both married Navy men and ended up living in the same city. It was great having her close enough to visit and just chat about nothing in particular. She was there when my kids were growing up and I loved how she loved them just because they were my kids. I only hope I have shown her kids the same love and kindness. Actually, all three of my sisters have been that way about my kids, but Lou was there with us when they were growing up, so she was the first to hear about all their "adventures" good and bad. Being in Florida now and not in the same city, I miss seeing her whenever I wanted to stop for coffee and to play a game of Scrabble. She also had great holiday dinners in her home that I still hope to get to one of these years.

Lou (standing) and Jo at Trulee's wedding, 2008
 Jo is the middle sister for me. Some of my favorite memories growing up involve tagging along with her and her teenage friends to school events. I remember going with her to the little "hang out" restaurant near the high school where she would let me pick songs on the jukebox.(Music from the 50s and 60s are still some of my listening favorites.) Jo also brought me to every Disney movie that was playing in town. I think I got my love for the movies and TV dramas from her. She has a wonderful husband, Dave who also has been there for me whenever I needed him. I love that I can talk to Jo about books, TV, and movies whenever something new (or old) catches my attention. If it wasn't for Jo, I would not have met my husband,  and, because that worked out so well, I am eternally grateful to her.

Then there is Angie, my oldest sister. DSH refers to her as my twin sister born ten years earlier. There have been times when he swears it's me talking about something, only to realize it is Angie. I called her one day to say I had become a demonstrator for a stamp company, and she laughed and said, "I just signed my contract, too!" I will be thinking about her and she will call right then. So we have a special connection, that's for sure. She is the reason I became a teacher and the reason I moved here to Florida.  After we figured out our cell phone company didn't charge for calls between us, we began calling each other at least once a day, so it was only logical that I would move closer to her after we retired. We stamp together, attend aquatics together, shop together, visit museums together,  go out to eat together, and still have a list of places we want to see together.
Lou, me, Angie, and Linda July 2009

While searching for pix to put on this page, I found the one above that included my dear sister-in-law Linda. I want to include her here on my list of blessings for which I am thankful. The in law part is only a technicality, as she has been part of my life since I was very little. Fortunately for me, she lived (and still lives) on a pond where her family owned a campground. So many summers were spent visiting her and my brother Mike where I got to fish with boloney as bait, swim, and generally hang out in the woods. Maybe my love for the environment came from hanging around with her. Her son, Mike was the first kid entrusted to me for baby sitting, too. My brother has passed away, but Linda will always be my sister emeritus!

Frank, Dave, Tim, and Don
Another of the blessings of having sisters are brothers in law. Here's a picture of the 4 of them together, including my DSH. I am also grateful that our husbands enjoy each others company and share common interests as well. They belong to an exclusive club, The LODGE!
(Lovers of Derocher Girls Exclusively)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feeling Better

I am feeling better this morning. First of all, my foot feels more like it was just bruised, not broken, as I can walk on it without as much pain as the previous two days. Secondly, I am happy with the outcome of the presidential election and optimistic that the country is going to come together again. I watched the election coverage all evening, going to bed only after hearing Mr. Romney's concession speech  and Mr. Obama's victory speech. You know, whenever they went to the Romney campaign party in Boston, I was dismayed to see an audience whose faces did not reflect the faces of our country. In contrast, the faces at the Obama campaign party in Chicago did show the diversity that our country has come to be. I hope that the two houses in Congress have figured out that we need to work together to bring about change for the better. I believe President Obama when he said he will get this done. Everyone needs to continue to pray for our country, too, whether you are happy with the election or not.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You don't know what you've got till it's gone...

One of my favorite songs from my college days was Joanie Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and the line that starts, "Don't it always seems to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone." I guess that's what I have been going through these  past couple of days and the thing I didn't think much about having was mobility, that is moving quickly and easily without pain. I did something stupid Sunday night. I was on my way to bed and instead of taking the extra steps to turn out the hall light, I walked quickly through the dark, jamming my foot hard on the corner of the baseboard. I crawled into bed, but did not sleep well because even the blanket hurt on my foot. In the morning I could see I may have badly bruised or maybe even broken a small bone in my toe or foot. Time will tell how bad it is. Yesterday morning I needed a walking stick to get around, but by afternoon I was able to put some weight on my foot. Today I am trying to wear a slipper and that is causing a little more discomfort, but I can put weight on it. I am much slower than usual however and going to dance in my Zumba class on Thursday is probably not gonna happen.

I have been counting my blessings this month in anticipation of Thanksgiving Day. Today I am adding my good health to my list, even though little blips like this foot thing happen. I am cancer free. I take no prescribed drugs for problems family and friends have. I am pain free (most days). And my thinking is clear(do not ask my DSH about this tho' as his opinion may differ!)

For those of you who have not heard Joni sing this song, or for those fans like myself here's the you tube video:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Counting Blessings

This is the month when we are reminded to count our blessings and my friends are definitely on that list. First of all, the fact that I have so many, as well as the ability to make new friends, is a blessing that I do not take for granted. There are a few who I am especially grateful to call friends.

Julie and Diane are two of my of my long time friends who have remained close in spite of the miles that separate us. Our faith in Christ brought us together many years ago. Then having children the same age, boys especially, I think was the glue that held us together. They have been there for me during the good times and bad, loving me and my kids no matter what. They shine the light of Christ's love in the way they live. They make me want to be a better person, too.

Beth is my best bud that I left back in Virginia. Again, our faith brought us together, having met at church when she joined my tone chimes group. Her daughter and my #4 son are the same age. She helped fill that  spot in my heart when Diane and Julie were no longer nearby. Our love for pop culture, movies and TV shows has been the glue that held us together. I laugh often when I am with her although others may not get what we find funny. We stay connected through texting and Words with Friends. I have my Kindle Fire and Justified addiction because of Beth. Beth is a few years younger than me, but I hope she will consider moving to FL when she is old enough to move into my community. I miss her company, especially when movies come out that I want to see with her.

I have made new friends here. I hope that I can be a blessing in their lives as much as Julie, Diane, and Beth have been in mine.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watching the storm from long distance.

I have been following the progress of Sandy as she moves along the east coast. My family lives in Virginia and Rhode Island, and I still have friends in VB, so I have been interested in seeing how bad it is in those places. My DSH's family in PA is getting cold wind and school has been closed early today, so even they are getting prepared for the worst storm ever. Remember the movie The Perfect Storm? I guess it is bad for anyone in the water right now. Glad I am safe at home.

When we decided to move to the Gulf Coast of Florida, a dear friend of ours would tell us horror stories about hurricanes hitting the coast. (We lived through quite a few in Virginia Beach already, but he would say how much worse the Gulf Coast storms were, ala Katrina.) Just to dissuade us from leaving him in Virginia, you know. We sent him an email a couple days ago to let him know he could evacuate from Sandy and come here. His response: guess I have to stop giving you a hard time about the weather in Florida now.

One good thing about the storm: Facebook posts have not been political and the news barely mentions the campaigns. Our weather has turned cool and breezy. It is sunny and 70 outside as I write this early afternoon. Makes it nice to do yard work, as DSH is doing. I, on the other hand am working on card making.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Whenever I travel through the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, I am reminded of God's love for us in creating such beauty for our eyes. Especially today when the autumn leaves  contrast with the rolling green hills and valleys.

We are travelling south in the Great Valley of Virginia from Pennsylvania. The sky is blue and the temps are rising. I have seen only fields, farms, cows forests and mountains for the past few hours. Long before I 81 existed, even before this was a wagon road for pioneers, this was a path the Native Americans traded along. No fields and farms then, only forest. Makes me wonder if they could see the vistas I am seeing. You know there is that saying about not seeing the forest for the trees. DSH said that was true especially when he hiked through Virginia. Speaking of his hike, we have been near or crossed over the Appalachian Trail a number of times on this trip. I have been listening to the stories again, told as if the trip was completed this year. Maybe he needs to go for another walk in the woods. DSH also says what I call beautiful hills others may just see as a hill of grass. May the Lord keep me seeing the beauty in all creation.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saint Betty

One definition, I think, of a saint is a person who fights the devil's temptations. For this reason, I think, I should be eligible for sainthood.

Just over two weeks ago, I started my diet that basically requires that I avoid foods made with sugars, corn, potatoes, and flours. That leaves meat, fish, eggs and non-starchy vegetables. Salads are a big part of my diet now. I like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and salad, so this is not what earns my sainthood.

My DSH's relatives, who I love dearly, have been, as far as I am concerned, agents for the devil and his temptations these past 4 days. While visiting these wonderful people I have had to turn down candy, chips, pretzels, cookies, pie, ice cream, and two different special sheet cakes from a bakery. Meals have consisted of potato soup, meatloaf (which I did eat), pizza(twice), sub sandwiches, fried chicken, and barbecue. Sides have been corn, potatoes, pasta, and potato salad. Of course, they did not know these were the devil's temptations for me. This is just how they eat normally and they were being polite. DSH loves visiting these kitchens, err I mean families!

As you may already know, I am always on a diet, including previous visits to family. However on those previous visits I have started out strong, saying "no thank you" and "not now, thanks," but I then give in thinking, "just a small piece won't hurt." That one piece puts a chink in that wall, and the next thing I know, I am sneaking pieces when DSH isn't around, and then I figure, "what the hell, I blew it anyways" and just eat whatever is available. And there is so much available.(see list above)

My reason for sainthood now? I have said no to it all!

I went shopping and bought vegetables I can eat and ate an Atkins meal replacement bar at least once a day. I ignored my MIL's remarks about not eating enough, or eating only rabbit food. When asked if I was diabetic, I replied, "no, I'm fat." I drank water or diet Coke while others had beer, and offered to hold the baby instead of a plate of food. (always a treat for me)

The Lord blessed me with my DSH who noticed my struggle, defended my eating to his mother, and said to me last night as we were going to bed, "just one day more, you have been so good sticking to your diet, you can do this!" You know what, I can do this. Take that, Satan!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Don't you just love that new baby smell?

My DSH's nephew's baby was baptized today. A large celebration was held at the parents' home and I was given the privilege of holding her to calm her and get her to sleep, not once  but twice.  I have always had a way with babies, especially tiny ones like Brielle, who is only six weeks old. DSH says it is because I have a large ledge to rest the baby on, but I think it is more than that.
I think the fact that my six older siblings began having kids when I was just seven has something to do with it. I have just always been comfortable around babies. If I am holding one who is fussy I don't panic and return her to her mom, I just adjust the situation until the baby is happy. A change in position in my arms, or a different location in the room even, along with bouncing, rocking, and definitely singing are all part of my "repertoire" when holding a baby. I seem to know when a baby is hungry, in pain, or just tired, too. That probably comes from having four babies of my own.
When someone comes in with a baby I often don't ask to hold the baby until she starts to get fussy. Guess I just want to see if I still have the knack. Maybe God will bless me with more grandbabies so I can keep in practice.

You're nobody till you love your body...

I am trying to lose weight. Actually I have been trying ever since high school. Of course, now, my high school weight is lower than my current goal weight (you know where I want to be). I was heavier than my friends in school, so I had to lose weight. I finally did lose when I had a viral infection that lasted more than a week. Funny thing about body image...there are very few times in my adult life when I felt like I was thin enough to be considered attractive. I look back at pictures of me taken even after having a couple of babies and think, "Wow, you look so skinny!"  DSH always said I looked good, too. Why didn't I ever feel that way?
I have tried many diets.  They all worked for awhile. I have probably lost and gained a whole 'nother person over the years.
The diet that was easiest to live with was weight watchers. I lost 70 pounds with the program about 4 years ago.  But over time, I got to thinking I can do this on my own...and half that weight crept back on. So, I tried weight watchers again, but I just couldn't lose this time.
Two weeks ago I started back on the new atkins plan, and have lost about 10 pounds so far. Come back for updates. I promise I won't  spend all my time writing about food, but it helps me to use my fingers here instead of at the table.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Just when I adjust to the fact that I will not be getting my way, my DSH surprises me by taking the route I want. So what have I learned here? Perhaps the lesson is to not nag and badger, just present the desire and be patient. Or maybe it's that gifts are appreciated more when they are unexpected.
Scripture tells us that a good Christian husband is to treat his wife as God treats the Church. DSH has always been a blessing to me in this regard. He gets me thinking about my faith and how it connects to life.
Think about all the times we ask God for something and we want it now. We think we know what is best. But God knows best when to answer our prayers. We just have to be patient and Trust in the Lord. Who knows, he may surprise you.


Marriage is made of compromises. That is difficult for me sometimes. After having my classroom for 25 years, where I was the "decider" (to quote former President Bush), I find it frustrating to NOT get my way.
Most days I have no problem with DSH because he does his thing and I do mine. Now that we are retired, deciding on dinner is about the only decision we make on a daily basis. We had no problems with
the big trip to HI because I made all the plans and he approved them.
Recently we had an opportunity to drive along unfamiliar roads or to go the more familiar route. I wanted to trust the google map app on my phone and go the new way. DSH picked the way he knew. Actually my way was supposed to be only a few miles shorter, so it shouldn't have been a big deal to me, but I really wanted to try something different, see what else was out there, take "the path less traveled by"...
Or maybe I just wanted to get my own way.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Backyard Bullies

I have a bird feeder hanging in my back yard. I can sit inside my screen porch(lanai in Florida speak) and watch the birds as they feed on the sunflower seeds I provide them. When I first hung the feeder, the only way I could attract birds to it was to sprinkle some on the ground around it. A few mourning doves and house sparrows came daily, with the sparrows eventually seeing the seed in the feeder. I was surprised that the squirrels I saw along the neighbors' fences didn't approach. I guess they were just keeping their distance until I  showed that I would keep the feeder filled.

Now I must tell you that here in my neighborhood there are very few hardwood trees. I can see a tall one, oak or maple maybe, a couple of yards away and I know there is another in the yard farther down the street, but most of the trees in the neighborhood are palms of various types. I don't think palms are the home of choice for squirrels, so I am not surprised there are very few squirrels here compared to the many that live in my old Virginia Beach neighborhood.

Even so, I chose a bird feeder that is a tall rectangular prism with a cage around it that is spring loaded to come down when big birds or a squirrel lands on it. It has closed up when more than 8 house sparrows (LBBs-little brown birds) tried to cling on it.
Well, I have one pretty smart squirrel that comes to my feeder. He has figured out how to hang precariously on my feeder without the cage coming down. Unlike the feeder above, I bought mine at home depot and paid less for it. Mine looks almost the same, except there is a bottom similar to the top that the squirrel gets one foot wrapped around. I think he uses the other one to kind of prop up the cage.Because he is busy balancing there, he tends to be messy and drops seed on the ground below. This is one reason I allow him to stay and eat. The seed he drops goes to the mourning doves who are not built for a hanging perch style feeder. The LBBs do not seem to be fighting for feeder time with the squirrel, either, because they come earlier in the morning.

So who are the backyard bullies in the title of this post? The big pigeons who have found my yard occupy the ground more than the smaller doves, but I have seen them out there eating at the same time. No, the bullies are a pair of mockingbirds who have recently decided to dive bomb the feeder when the LBBs are on it as well as the squirrel. They even tried fussing at some pigeons on the ground, but the pigeons, I swear, looked at the much smaller mockingbirds and said, "Yeah, right!"

I did not think mockingbirds liked sunflower seeds, so it seems like they just want to push some other birds around. Sounds like the definition of a bully to me.

My backyard is one of my favorite places to hang out here in Florida(not too sunny today),  especially because of the visitors who put on a show for me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Satisfactions

It is so nice to to be able to attend our church, knowing we are going to have a guest pastor, confident that God's Word will be taught in truth. Our pastor is in Nigeria for a month teaching in a seminary there, so the synod has provided guest pastors to fill in for him. Today our circuit pastor lead our little flock. What a great Bible class we had continuing in our study of Ecclesiastes. Pastor Pankow led us to correlating Scripture and provided present  day examples to apply them. His sermon about taking up the cross to follow Jesus was very relevant to me as well.
It's a beautiful sun shiny day and I have so many choices for how to spend it: pool, bike ride, walk, stamping. Life is good!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Welcome to my world!

I have been living in sunny Florida (ever notice how sunny always seems to precede Florida?) for about a year now and I still wonder when the vacation is going to end! Isn't that a great way to feel every day? I guess I am still getting used to being retired. DSH has been doing this for over 5 years, so he seems used to it, but  I am not. Occasionally, I dream I am back in the classroom...waking up with that feeling of dread that I haven't done something like lesson prepping or paper grading, but then realizing it is just a dream, I smile, stretch and roll out of bed to start a new day.

It is only a few weeks until the election and I must say I was enjoying the politics for awhile, but have recently gotten tired of all the rhetoric. I am especially weary of how hateful some of it has gotten. The negativity was getting me down. That is why I am challenging myself on this blog to keep looking on the positive side.

In our Bible class at Risen Savior Lutheran Church, we have been reading Ecclesiastes. That is where I read the above reminder that every day is a gift from God. A gift, a present, just for me, one for each of us, from God-WOW!

I love presents, especially the ones that come from someone just because he or she loves me. I know sometimes the gift isn't something I wanted or needed, but I try to treasure it for awhile because maybe it will be something I  need later, or something I can use to brighten up someone's day at a time they need it. Are you getting the metaphor?

So, thank you for reading this and please, come back to read more. Let me know what your thoughts are as well and we can get a dialogue of sorts going.