Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mid-July Hodgepodge

Hey, didn't we just do the Hodgepodge yesterday??

Wait a minute...maybe we did...at least I DID...HAHA!
As I was in the process of getting this post ready on Tuesday,
I inadvertently hit the publish button and was shocked to see my friend Cindy had left a comment.
It wasn't at all finished and what was there was messy and didn't have the link-back on it yet.
I immediately went back as soon as her comment appeared in my email and unpublished it.
How embarrassing.........oh well.
So to all of the 14 other people who according my blogger stats viewed it, 
just forget what you saw.

Anyway, it is hard to believe that another week has passed by so quickly!
It's another hot, hot week here in the Tar Heel State.
We will be traveling to Ohio later this week for my family reunion on Saturday.
I do hope for cooler temps...a little break in the heat would be a good thing!
Unfortunately, it will be another reunion without my oldest brother, Bob.
Two years ago when he was preparing to come to our last reunion (from SC), he was hospitalized.
The past couple of years have been a roller coaster ride because of his health issues.

I edited him into the group photo of the seven of us taken that day.
We will certainly miss his presence...once again.
So let's get on to the matter at hand, today's Hodgepodge...

...where Joyce asks the questions on her blog wand we answer them on ours.
1. Growing up, were you close to your grandparents? Tell us one or two specific things you remember about them.

Unfortunately, I don't have any real memories of my grandparents. Everyone, with the exception of my mother's father had already passed by the time I came along. I was a little over two years old when he died but there may be just tiny snippets in my memory bank of him. I seem to have a slight recollection of a moment when I was in the kitchen of his house and two images come to mind...blue transferware dishes and a Ritz Cracker tin. I have no idea is this is a true memory but it is somehow related. A less cloudy scene that pops up when I think of him is of a little toddler (me) wondering around among a sea of legs at what was no doubt, his funeral.

This is my father's mother, Mina. She was born in 1885 and died in 1920 at the age of 35  from complications during childbirth. My dad was only nine years old.

This is my Grandpa Solomon Billhimer, my dad's father, who was born in 1882 and died the year I was born in 1954. He married his second wife, Martha and they had another whole family together.  Although I remember her when I was a girl, she did not have a close relationship with my dad or his children and I never really considered her as a grandmother figure in my life.

This is the only photo I could find of my mother's folks, James and Mary Ellen (Flora) Davis. Somewhere, I have the dates of their births and deaths but I do know she was about 65 when she died and it must have been 1956 or 57 when he passed. So as you can  see, my grandparents were really OLD.

2. What's an item you were attached to as a child? What happened to it?

Like many little ones, I had a certain blanket that was my source of comfort. It was pink and started out with satin edging. Through the years, the satin edging rotted off and the blanket itself began to shred a little more with each washing. I still have a small piece of it somewhere among my memorabilia.

3. When you look out your window, do you see the forest or the trees (literally and figuratively)? Explain.

YES! 😊 Seriously, if you were to look out any window in my home, there would be not much else but trees to see no matter what direction you were looking in...that is the literal answer. But there is a bigger picture because I know what's on the other side of those trees. Figuratively? I think I'm pretty good at seeing the forest.

4. Do you like sour candies? Which of the 'sour' foods listed below would you say is your favorite? (grapefruit, Greek yogurt, tart cherries, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, buttermilk, or kumquats) Have you ever eaten a kumquat? What's your favorite dish containing one of the sour foods on the list?

Yes, I do like tart, sour candy. Among my favorites are Jolly Ranchers, Starburst, lemon drops and SweeTarts. I like most everything listed here although I wouldn't drink the buttermilk but I would cook or bake with it...and I've never tasted a kumquat but I might like it. My favorite sour dish would be sauerkraut cooked with some sort of pork or even kielbasa...with a side of mashed potatoes. Oh, and a tart cherry pie for dessert. 😋

5. July 1st marked the mid point of 2017. In fifteen words or less, tell us how it's going so far.

I have no complaints thus far, only that it's too hot. This too shall pass.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

If you count the number of words in my previous answer, you would see there are FIFTEEN words...and it was totally a fluke. I could never do that again if I tried.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Here we are, nearly half way through July already.
When it gets into the 90's like it is now, I'm ready for fall.
Bring on the pumpkin pie, I say!
Okay, I know this is out of my hands but I would be happy with fall temps all year 'round.
One thing I do love about summer is the position of the setting sun in relation to my backyard.
Every evening the filtered sunlight coming through the woods creates the most gorgeous contrasts.
I was out puttering with my camera and these leaves just seemed to speak to me.

Do you hear them too?
So okay, enough of this...on to why we're here...
Joyce's Hodgepodge

...where........say it with me now...
she asks the questions and we answer them on our blogs.
1. When was the last time you chatted with a neighbor? About what? (sharing that last bit is optional)

Just a couple of days ago, actually. The conversation came about after her little schnauzer, Amelia, has become determined the past few days to make our yard her yard. She was even coming up on our back deck, peering into the glass door...apparently her way of way saying "Can Oscar and Tasha come out to play?"  Of course my two went ballistic whenever they would see her. During the conversation I had with my back door neighbor I found that young little Miss Amelia has come into her "season" sooner than expected and she was looking for a boyfriend! The heck with Tasha, she wanted Oscar! Poor old Oscar has never been with a woman and he was beside himself. I guess we'll be going out the front door for the next couple of weeks. 😉

2. River, lake, ocean, or waterfall...which one are you most like and why?

Hmm...I'm having flashbacks of that old Barbara Walters interview when she asked Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be. I have never likened myself to any kind of body of water. When I really think about it, I'd say that depending on what was going on at the time would dictate what my answer would be, including one that isn't on the list...a stagnant pond. If I'm being honest here, I have to admit to the times when I have felt like that stagnant pond...nothing really flowing in or flowing out...getting kind of "stinky" and self-absorbed. Getting "re-hydrated" by The Living Water is ,of course, the remedy for this...to make it possible to go with the flow of life, like a river that never stops...even if it dumps you off at the falls. It's always a good thing to never let go of that "Life Preserver". Whoa...that was going out a little deeper than I had intended...

3. July 13 is National Delaware Day. Ever been to Delaware? Delaware is called 'the first state' because it was the first to declare independence from the British. What's your state's nickname and does that moniker make sense to you? If you were in charge, what nickname would you give your home state?

I have never been to Delaware and the only significance July 13th has for me is that is the day when I gave birth to my baby boy, Adam, back in 1982. Adam will be 35 on Thursday. Gee...I feel old.

Happy Birthday, Adam  

And while we're I'm on the subject, as I was looking through photos of him. I came across this one I posted on his facebook page a couple of years ago on his birthday...

I will never forget that morning when he was somewhere around two...I heard something in the kitchen one morning when I was still in bed and when I went downstairs, there he sat... all up in his high chair, a half a box of Rice Krispies poured into the tray and he was eating them dry by the handful. Resourceful little guy, huh? I would have loved to have been able to see just how he managed this! I was glad I had my camera loaded and close by. Okay, enough doting on my baby boy...back to the rest of the question...

So probably the most popular nickname for North Carolina is "The Tar Heel State". The reason why is just too long to explain but you can click here if you want to know. I have not really given this a lot of thought but if I was in charge, I might give NC the name "The Best of Both Worlds", you have the mountains to the west, the sea to the east. What's not to love?

4. What dish did you contribute to the last pot luck meal you attended? Do you have a go-to recipe for pot luck suppers?

Many of ours are potlucks are on Sundays after church at lunchtime. A crock pot of meatballs, a mashed potato casserole and a razzleberry pie were the last items I brought and they are easy and delicious. The meatballs are bought frozen, thrown into the pot and nothing could be easier than dumping out a bottle of chili sauce and a jar of grape jelly onto them.  The casserole is also among the easiest of dishes...prepared instant mashed potatoes (I like the Idahoan Baby Reds, adding some sour cream) layered with shredded cheddar and then topped with more cheddar and French's onion rings. The pie is usually a Marie Callender's and although I can bake a pretty mean berry pie myself, I will not be doing so on a Saturday night before church the next day. EASY is the name of the game! :)

5. What is your number one tip for a brand new parent?

Now that's a tough one, especially in this day and time...but first and foremost, I'd say lean on God and ask for His wisdom. You'll need plenty of His grace and mercy as well. If you have a good mom, get her input and take some (a lot) of her advice and suggestions. And don't be afraid to ask her to babysit. That is all.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

It is 10:00 PM on Tuesday and I'm ready to hit the sack. 
So, that's it for another Hodgepodge...
Good night and God bless!
Didn't Red Skelton used to say that??

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Red, White and Blue Hodgepodge

Hello, and I hope everyone enjoyed a fabulous July 4th holiday!
Jim was working his 5-day stretch so Aaron and Michelle had me over on Monday evening.

I had to share this photo of Aaron's very organized grill...it looks like a summer food wreath!
If you ever saw the inside of his shop, you'd also find it very organized as well...
...a place for everything and everything is in it's place.
He did not learn this skill from his mother, unfortunately. 😒
After we feasted on dogs, burgers, fresh corn and squash and red velvet cake,
the boys presented us with a little fireworks show.
My phone was just about out of juice and this is the only photo I got...oh well.

This is my sparkler...some people never grow up.
As I write this post, it's Tuesday afternoon and I have spent the day just hanging out with the dogs...
...this kind of dog too.
I rarely eat hot dogs but something happens around the 4th of July and I get a real hankering.
I wasn't going to fire the grill up for a couple of dogs so I did the next best thing.

Hey....it works great!
It was delicious and I plan to have another for supper. 😉

So anyway, let's get on to the Hodgepodge...

...where Joyce asks the questions on her blog and we answer them on ours.
Click on over and join us!
1. When and where were the best fireworks you've ever seen? The best fireworks display that I ever remember seeing was several years ago in Troy, OH when we were visiting my oldest sister. We sat out in her backyard and had the best seats ever since they live right across from where they were shooting them off. They went on and on and the grand finale went on for even longer...it was AWESOME! Speaking of fireworks...do you know your hot buttons? The things people can say and/do to set you off? I don't really have many...but OK....people driving like idiots would probably be close to the top of my list. And just let me say this...you can mess with me but you better not mess with one of my kids, especially when they were young. Now I'm not saying that they didn't deserve getting messed with...if you get my drift. 😠Then there are those people who are still, after six months, not able to accept the fact that Donald Trump is our president and choose to spew hatred toward him on a daily basis. When was the last time someone pushed one of your hot buttons? Hmmm....don't remember...that's a good thing, right?

2. Have you hosted any outdoor summer parties this year? Nope. Attended any? Yep, last night. What makes for a great outdoor party? Not too hot and no bugs.

3. What does freedom mean to you? It really means everything to me although I would be lying if I said I have never taken my freedom for granted. Oh, unintentionally, for sure, but it's easy to do when we don't have to live in constant fear and just settle into our little comfortable lives. More and more, I am being reminded on a regular basis of just how precious it is. Not only the freedom that I have of living in this country, but the freedom of being able to know and have a personal relationship to The One who sets every captive free.

4. July is National Cell Phone Courtesy month...what annoys you most about people's cell phone habits? I've mentioned this before. For the life of me, I don't know why in the world some people think that perfect strangers want to hear their personal phone calls as they walk the aisles of the stores...or wherever...in the bathroom stall next to you...talking away in voice loud enough to be heard 50 feet away! What is wrong with people??? OR... how about the person you are in a face-to-face conversation with constantly looking down at their phone?

5. What's your current summer anthem? "On the Road Again". We will be heading to Ohio in a couple of weeks for my family reunion. Later this summer, we plan to return to Tennessee to watch the kiddos for a week and hopefully will be able to sneak a beach weekend in before fall.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. If you like fresh lemonade but don't want all of the sugar, you might want to try this....oh, it's SO good! And it makes it taste more like fresh, old-time lemonade by cutting a slice of lemon and adding it to your glass. It only has 15 calories and 2 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass. 

And while were on the subject of old-timey stuff, have you had any Cracker Jacks lately? I was in the Dollar Tree today and picked up a few boxes. I used to get SO excited when I was kid and Mom would come home from the store with some. Well, the Cracker Jacks might taste the same (although I'm sure the boxes were bigger and so were the kernels back in the day), but the so-called prizes inside leave A LOT to be desired...just look at this....a dumb little sticker of some kind. Where's the "diamond ring"?

So..... that does it for another Independence Day and another Hodgepodge.
Enjoy the rest of your week.😊

Monday, July 3, 2017

Stuff and Things

Well, I'm back!
I've been home nearly a week and haven't posted nary a thing.
I was counting on the Hodgepodge to get my two cents in for the week but well...
you know...no hodgepodge...but that's okay.
So for the lack of coming up with something better,
I present to you some stuff and a few things.
When I last posted we were getting ready to visit the yungins in Tennessee.
And that we did.
What was predicted to be a rainy weekend turned out to be just gorgeous
with only a small shower or two on Friday.
This was also an occasion to celebrate Adam's and Jim's birthdays which are later this month.
For Adam's birthday, I had the idea to make a Waterlogue canvas print of their home.
I was able to sneak a photo off of his facebook page, "Waterlogue" it from my phone,
and then I had it made into a 16 x 24 canvas print.

I ordered it through Amazon and it was to be delivered to their home while we were there.
It actually came the day before we arrived and sure had them guessing where it came from!
Ordering something sight unseen online can be risky and I must admit I was a little nervous about it.

But they did and excellent job...Adam and Carrie were both thrilled with it!
They have some gorgeous purple cone flowers out front of their house
and you can almost always find butterflies or bees on them.

I had never seen a zebra swallowtail before and it was stunning!
Notice how it's wings are somewhat translucent...you can see the color of the flowers through them.
(Please excuse the quality of these photos. The sun was so bright leaving a stark contrast...
...my editing has left them a bit funky looking.)

Adam surprised Jim as well and gifted him (us) with a picnic table for his birthday.
He had it set up down by the creek (close to where we will be building) before we arrived.
Now that's the kind of gift I like...one that I can enjoy too!

On Saturday we packed up a picnic lunch and spent a good part of the day across the road...
...talking over and planning the next steps that we will be taking...."X" marks the spot.

Here's a better look at it.
It's exciting and a little nerve wracking all at the same time.

I'm not sure what they were pointing at but I'm sure they did!
The kids had fun wading in the creek and catching crawdads.

It almost feels like you're in a different climate down by the creek...
so cool and refreshing and soothing to the soul.

Parker has learned to handle the 4-wheeler well and enjoys taking Olivia for rides in the meadow.

And no birthday of Jim's or Adam's is complete without the celebratory black raspberry pie.
Since their birthdays are in July, they usually share theirs.

There seems to be a running joke (a good joke) about my pies.
At one point in time, Adam started saying "This is the best pie you've ever made, Mom"...
...even when I know good and well when it's not...
...not enough sugar, the crust is too hard, the pie is too juicy, bottom crust is soggy, etc.
But I do have to say that this one was pretty darn good!
This has also become the favorite dessert of Parker and Olivia.
I see many more black raspberry pies in my future, as if their weren't already! :)
So back on the home front, a nearly ripe German Johnson awaited me when we returned.

This is the first time I had grown this kind of tomato.
They usually grow to be quite large...and they make for the best "mater sammiches" :)

And in other news, my trusty Jeep Liberty has a new home after 13 years.
I drove her off the showroom floor in 2004 and she has served me well.
But 230+ thousand miles is a lot of miles and it was time for something a bit newer.

It was actually a tad emotional for me to see her with a FOR SALE sign in her window.
But before I even had time to squeeze the first tear out, someone bought her up...
...ONE DAY was all it took sitting at the corner of Aaron's front yard!
I will miss her, maybe a little....BUT...

I really like my new-to-me Honda :)
I may be back tomorrow but if not,
have a safe and fun Independence Day!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summertime and the Hodgepodge is Easy

Actually, in my opinion, the Hodgepodge is never easy...
..in fact, some of the questions really make you think very hard!
But yes, summertime is officially here.
I do enjoy summer but to tell you the truth, I really prefer spring...
and I tolerate the summer until fall comes.

It's also Wednesday and time for Joyce's Hodgepodge...
where she asks the questions on her blog and we answer them on ours.

If you've never joined in, you should give it a try...
...you just never know what you might learn about your fellow bloggers!
Here are this week's questions:
1. The first day of summer rolls in later this week. What are ten things you'd put on your list of  quintessential summer activities?
1. Visit my Tennessee Bunch...happening tomorrow!
2. Make and eat black raspberry pie and ice cream for Jim and Adam's birthdays.
3. Head to Ohio for a family reunion...happening next month.
4. Sit on the porch and listen to the rain.
5. Take a weekend trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
6. Eat some watermelon.
7. Head to the beach after Labor Day (when it's cheaper).
8. More porch sitting.
9. Anticipate the arrival of fall. (no doubt I will be ready for it)
10. Use up as many of the 80+ hours of accrued vaca as possible before September 30...or I lose it.

Will you try to manage all ten this summer?
I will do my best to accomplish these goals. 😄

2. Do you collect seashells when you're at the beach? Sometimes, depending on how collectable they are. What do you do with them once you get them home? When the boys were little (or the grand boys) they have been known to put them in their fish tank, lizard habitat or whatever critter they may have had at the time. Years and years ago I made a wind chime out of some smaller shells. Usually they just stay in the plastic bag that I brought them home in. What's your favorite place to comb for seashells? You don't find many whole shells at our go-to beach (Carolina Beach) so I don't even try...but I might be on the hunt if I was at the Outer Banks.
Shells from Ocracoke

How many of these 'best beaches for hunting seashells' have you visited? Destin, Ocracoke and the Bahamas.

 Sunset at Miramar Beach, Destin, Florida
Beach at Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas

Which one would you most like to visit? Calvert Cliffs State Park (Maryland), Jeffrey's Bay (South Africa), Sanibel Island (Florida), Shipwreck Beach (Lanai Hawaii), Ocracoke Island (North Carolina), Galveston Island (Texas) and The Bahamas. I would go back to Ocracoke in a heartbeat but not necessarily for the shells. I love lighthouses and it's closer to home. Unfortunately, any photos that were taken are in an envelope somewhere with the negatives...no digital camera in those days.
3. At a snail's pace, shell out money, come out of your shell, go back into your shell, drop a bombshell, happy as a clam, clam up...which 'shell' phrase could most recently be applied to some event or circumstance in your life? Explain.

It would have to be a combination of snail's pace and shell out the money. Home improvements can creep along like a snail and you can't do it without shellin' out the dough!

4. What summer activity do you dislike? Sweating. Why? I think you know why. And speaking sweat, I was playing around with my macro lens over the weekend and as I was trying capture the water drops on my rose bush leaves, something else came into view.

Who knew that a teeny-tiny sweat bee was so colorful? I have seen these annoying, bothersome little creatures all my life and I have to say that I was stunned by the beauty of it. I am so thankful that you can never grow too old to be amazed by God's creations!

5. What's something you see as quickly becoming obsolete? Kindness and respect. Does that bother you? Very much so.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
After 13 years, I may be getting a new 'ride' this week. It's kind of exciting! 😊

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Heat, Humidity and the Hodgepodge

Well, I think summer is finally here, although maybe not yet officially by the calendar.
 Last week I was just saying how absolutely gorgeous the weather was here.
Even though it's not that bad, the heat and humidity have kicked in this week.
Now that it has arrived, it's likely to hang around until September.
Looks like it's time to get the pool ready!

No, this little pool was not for the grand kids...they were already in their teens when I bought it.
I actually got it for myself a few years back and yes, I actually got in it.
I was home by myself and there were no other witnesses nor were there any photos of me in it.
I was very careful not to have any "evidence" in case there was ever a threat of blackmail.
Images of a beached whale come to mind....it sure was refreshing though!
So welcome back to Joyce, hoping that all is well in your family...
...and welcome back to the Hodgepodge...
...where she asks the questions and we answer them on our blogs!

1. The Hodgepodge lands on June 14th this week, Flag Day in the US of A. Do you fly your country's flag at home? Sometimes, often, or every single day? 
Every single day, you will find Old Glory either waving with a gentle breeze or flapping profusely on a windy day, getting all wrapped around the pole. 
Have you ever visited the city of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia)? Did you make a point of seeing The Betsy Ross House? Have you ever made a trip to Baltimore? If so, was Fort McHenry on your itinerary? (where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write The Star Spangled Banner

No, I have never been to Philly (even the state of Pennsylvania) nor have I been to Baltimore, although the thought of visiting those historical sites sounds interesting. If I was heading in that direction, I would most likely be planning to visit the Lancaster area and Amish country.

2. Red flag or white flag? Which have you encountered most recently? Explain.

No real warnings or surrenders going on here currently. Boring, I know.

3. Are you a stay in the car listen to the end of a song kind of person?

I rarely (if ever) have the radio on in my car anymore. It may have something to do with the fact that both of my back speakers are blown and it sounds like two sheets of sandpaper rubbing against each other...not a pretty sound. My little Jeep is old and I have no intention on replacing the speakers...BUT...hoping to replace the vehicle, itself real soon! Now riding in Jim's car is a different matter entirely...his radio is usually blaring. 😒 I used to always have music playing in my car and I am sure there were even times when I have stayed in the car to hear the end of a certain song...it's been a while though. These days I like the peace and quiet when riding in any car...getting old and set in my ways? Maybe. What kind of person is that? I really don't know what that says about a person. I'm not so sure that you have to be a certain kind of person to either do that or not.

4. What are some of the traits or qualities you think a good dad possesses? In other words, what makes a good dad?

Someone who sacrificially loves the mother of his children and shows that by being a hands-on kind of guy...that would be a bonus. He is firm but soft and is a good provider. Back in the day, most men didn't get involved much in the day-to-day raising of the children...it's just the way it was. My dad was not what I would call that kind of dad either but I never doubted his love for me. I have described him as 'the softer side of sandpaper' here on my other blog.

What's an expression you associate with your father? "

"In back of who's barn?" My dad was always full of funny expressions and words and this was his way of asking, "What did you say?" There are many more where that came from but I bet you already guessed that.

5. What's one rule you always disagreed with while growing up?

My parents, especially my mom, was very strict and we were not allowed to do many of the things that our friends were able to do. I'm talking about things like going to school functions, including dances, basketball games, etc. and visiting friend's homes that Mom didn't know well. I really didn't understand why but just knew it was the way it was. Don't get me wrong...neither one of my parents, especially Mom, were mean at all, just very strict.

Is that rule somehow still part of your adult life?

I believe it contributed somewhat to how I raised my boys but to a much lesser degree...still erring on the side of caution, so to speak. We definitely made sure they had opportunities to be involved in school activities, sports, mission trips and other extracurricular activities. They had many friendships but we were careful to know as much as possible about the family.

Is that a good or bad thing?

I think being too strict is not always a good thing. I speak from personal experience when I tell you that I truly believe it caused rebellion...mostly in the last of us three girls. Praise God for His amazing grace. And that's all that needs to be said about that!

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Is anyone else tired of hearing about Russia?

Have an awesome week!
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