Monday, November 30, 2015

The Rose in My Life

This Thanksgiving, like all in the last three years, was different.  Since my Dad passed away in 2013, every Thanksgiving is spent in a new way.  It can be bittersweet, but this year, I reflected a lot on my Mom and past Thanksgivings with her.  

My Mom has been gone 15 years and some holidays I miss her more than others.  This year, I thought about her constantly during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Mainly because of one of the many things she taught me that applies so perfectly today.  One Thanksgiving years ago, we had come home from a day at my Granny's.  For my whole life, until my Granny went into a nursing home, we spent every holiday at her house. She was an amazing cook and I absolutely loved being at my Granny's.  She was a role model to me in being an independent woman.  I digress, but we came home and I had a message from a friend of mine.  This was pre-cell phone days, when you didn't get texts or voicemails and got messages when you returned home.  Ahh, the more relaxed life.  

My friend had spent the day with her family and had gotten home from her festivities and was home alone in her apartment.  I could tell she really didn't want to be alone and no more than I played her message, Mom said "Go on, spend the evening with her.  One day we'll be gone and you'll need to make your own memories on holidays."  That was just one way my Mom (and Dad) encouraged me to be independent.  So off I went.  

This year, one of my friends asked me if I had plans for Thanksgiving.  Now that my family is gone, I am blessed with lots of options and open invitations from so many friends that I always have a place to go.  I told her I had many plans but asked what was up.  Her family was going out of state for the holiday and she had to work the day after Thanksgiving, hence, she would be here alone.  I did some checking on some options for us and told her I was free and we'd go out for Thanksgiving.  I called one of my favorite places in the area - Claudia Sanders Dinner House - and confirmed their Thanksgiving buffet schedule, and when they predicted it to be the least busy.  We arrived about 4:30 and had a minimal 10 minute wait.  The food was amazing (as always) and made even better because they bring around hot yeast rolls about every 15 minutes.  Not good for the diet, but oh so good for the tummy!  It was a fun time with great food.

I thought much about that scene with my Mom I described earlier.  How years ago she taught me to make my own memories on holidays.  I couldn't stop thinking about that one moment that seemed insignificant at the time, but has taught me a lesson I'll never forget.  Oh how I wish she was here to tell her, "Mom you were so right!" And I'd share with her how my memory of that lesson is brighter today than it was then.  I'm oh so thankful for countless things, but this year, my Mom is at the top of the list.  She was the sweetest, most fragrant Rose in my life.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Recently, the new Peanuts Movie feature film was released and I was fortunate enough to see it on opening weekend.  For all those Star Wars fans pre-purchasing their movie tickets, I was more geeked over the release of this movie.  

For those who haven't seen it, and plan to, beware, there are some spoilers in this blog.  But, do come back to read this once you've seen it and comment if you agree (or disagree).

I grew up going to Peanuts movies in the theater.  From A Boy Named Charlie Brown to Snoopy Come Home, I didn't miss a showing.  You see, I was a huge Peanuts fan.  So much so, that I was never without a stuffed Snoopy in my arms. I had so many variations of stuffed Snoopy that when one would wear out, my Mom would say "he went to stuffed animal heaven" and I'd get a new one.  Seriously, I'd wear the "fluff" off of them!  I even had a Snoopy that was half the size of me dressed as the Red Baron.  One of the Snoopys made it into my annual photo shoot.  The Red Baron Snoopy was so worn out that his neck flopped to one side from me carrying him around everywhere by his neck before he "retired".  To this day, I still have a stuffed Snoopy.  Don't judge.

Hearing that a new feature film would be released stirred excitement and skepticism all at the same time.  I wanted it to be as good and the movies I remembered, but feared that surely now that Charles Schulz is gone, it wouldn't be the pure representation I longed for.  Au contraire mon frer.  It was simply the best.

The animation was exquisite and stayed true to the form of the original Peanuts cartoons and comics.  No mobile phones, no talk of Facebook or Twitter.  Praise Jesus.  An old-fashioned rotary phone still rang and made an appearance.  All Peanuts movies, cartoons and comics should have this timeless look and feel.  Thank you Blue Sky Productions.

The story has many running themes throughout the movie - a toy airplane for one - that takes us into Snoopy's life as the Red Baron.  And the little Red-Haired Girl plays a big role in the movie.  Charlie Brown is still trying to impress her and it seems, like always, he fails.  When he's recognized for having a perfect score on a test, he realizes it's Peppermint Patty's test, not his.  So, on stage, in front of all his classmates, he admits he's not the guy to receive Miss Othmar's medal.  He walks off the stage hanging his head.  At the end of the school year, everyone picks summer pen pals, and much to Charlie Brown's surprise, the little Red-Haired Girl picks him!  As she is getting on the bus to go off to camp, he asks her why.  And her response..."That's easy. It's because I admire the type of person you are."   Charlie Brown says "a wishy-washy failure?" and she recounts all the reasons why she admires him (which I'll omit so you can really enjoy the movie).  

If I was a Mom, I'd run to the theater to take my children to see this movie.  It is wholesome family entertainment, but more than that, it teaches them that good guys (or gals) don't always finish last.  Thank you Schulz family for bringing back my childhood friends in the most amazing way.  

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Table Topics: Fall Favorites

It's Fall y'all!  Ok, that phrase is not one of my favorites, but this Table Topic theme is all about favorites...and not so favorites.

Tis the season in Louisville where you need to keep summer and fall clothes options readily available at all times.  Last week we had two days of 50 degree weather, and then back up to the glorious 70s.  But it is October and time to think about that short season of autumn that happens before we hit the cold, hard winter months.

I have to start with something that isn't my Fall favorite...Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Let the lashing begin.  I adore Starbucks and I adore pumpkin, but put the two together and I'm not impressed.  I've had one Pumpkin Spice Latte and it was less than enjoyable, which isn't my normal Starbucks experience.  Now, I'm happy to eat a pumpkin muffin from Starbucks whilst sipping my White Mocha, but spare me the pumpkin-flavored coffee.

A Fall favorite is s'mores!  Now s'mores can be made all year long, even during the summer camping seasons, but s'mores around a Fall bonfire are just yummy.  I'll share my s'mores indoors recipes.  First, hover a marshmallow over a fireplace and you got the makings of yummy goodness.  Or, if you are desperate, over a candle. That takes much longer and may end up tasting like vanilla bean.  The easiest recipe is to put your s'more together and then zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Voila!  S'more!

Another favorite is the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin fragrance from Bath & Body Works.  This is by far my favorite smell and I try and stock up for those months when they don't have it in stock, even online.  There is something about this scent that makes me feel like wearing sweaters, curling up with a good book, or munching on popcorn while watching a movie in my snuggie.  I stumbled upon this fragrance years ago and I'm SO thankful they haven't discontinued it.  My sales alone I hope will keep it popular.

So, now it's your turn...

What are your Fall Favorites?

I'll "leaf" the discussion in your hands...

Monday, October 05, 2015

Reflections on Oregon

Last week, Chris Harper-Mercer, opened gunfire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  Nine victims lost their lives and it was ruled by investigators that Chris, the shooter, committed suicide after shots back and forth with police.  My heart breaks when I hear of these shootings, but sadly, I feel the more I hear, the more numbness sets in as to the gravity of what happened.

Whenever a mass shooting like this occurs, the cry for gun control rings loudest.  I agree that we need to control the accessibility to guns, but the issue goes so much deeper than that.  What if Chris decided to build a bomb and blow up the college, with most likely even more lives lost.  How do we instill "bomb control?"  

I grieve for those that have lost loved ones, a pain that is difficult to reconcile.  But, I also grieve for Chris' parents.  His father was interviewed by CNN and he stated that his son lived with his Mom in Oregon and he hadn't seen him in two years since they moved.  The very next statement in the CNN article said that they had a good father/son relationship.  Whoa, what?!  You haven't seen your son in two years, yet you have a good father/son relationship?  My heart grieves for the destruction of the family unit.  We will never know what the split of Chris' mother and father did to him, but even deeper, we will never know how that impacted Chris' mental and emotional state.  God help our families to turn to You, make You the center and not take the marriage covenant so lightly.  

It was reported that Chris asked each person if they were a Christian and those that weren't were shot, but not in the head.  If you answered affirmatively, Chris shot you in the head.  Reports said he even referenced them seeing God quickly.  What a powerful testimony these victims have.  Would I be that strong?  I surely hope so.  I don't know what sickens me most - the act of the killing of innocent people, or the pure mockery of Christianity.  Lord help us.

When the news broke and my social media feeds filled with speculation and cries for gun control, the first thing I thought of was the true problem here.  Sin.  Chris was struggling with an unbelief in the One who created him, possibly due to a manifested feeling of being the cause of his parents' divorce.  The next thing I thought of was how little we value life.  The continual saga of the Planned Parenthood videos and their destruction of babies in the womb reveal our world's inability to value life in the womb.  If we don't value life in the womb, why do you think we'd value it outside of the womb...those lives attending a community college?  

I heard a report today that a woman who was shot said to Chris, "I'm sorry you've had the life you've had" and he shot her.  This tells me he expressed his feelings on his life very openly to these people.  And his outpouring of this emotion came through the killing of innocent people.  

The problem isn't gun control.  The problem is this world needs a Savior.  Even so, Lord Jesus come quickly.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Time Marches On

One of the lines from my favorite movie, Steel Magnolias, is uttered by Truvy, the character played by Dolly Parton, "Time marches on, and sometimes you realize it's marching across your face."  

Time does march on, and with the march come change.  I'm normally very open to change and the refreshment it brings, but of late, there has been some changes that haven't been all that encouraging.  Recently, they came in threes (keeping with my recent Birthday Trifecta post).  

A few weeks ago, Kingfish closed their location on Blankenbaker near my home.  Kingfish is a local seafood place in Louisville that used to have a location on 4th Street near the river.  The Belvedere happened and Kingish closed and a new location opened across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  There was still a few locations around town, and one still on the Ohio River on the Kentucky side on River Road.  That one still remains.  Kingfish on River Road was one of my family's favorite locations to eat.  My Mom loved the seafood, as did my Dad and we'd frequent that location a lot.  After my Mom passed away, we moved on the East side of town.  Even when my Dad remarried, they eventually moved near me.  Dad found the Kingfish on Blankenbaker his new favorite.  I met my Dad and Stepmom there many times for dinner or lunch.  And we frequented there to celebrate birthdays and holidays.  When news released of its closing, I felt like I lost a little bit more of my Dad.

This past weekend I received a flyer in the mail from the Ben Franklin Store in Middletown.  I got very excited expecting this to be a sales flyer as we are entering the holiday season.  Unfortunately, it was a letter stating that after 32 years of business, the family was closing the store.  I was devastated.  Ben Franklin is where I always bought my crochet yarn, and lots of other craft goodies.  It's close to home and they also carried lots of great Christmas decorations for reasonable prices.  But more than that, this was one of the places I would frequent with my Mom.  My love of crafts comes from her.  She was always working on a project.  A day out with my Mom would be either going to the movies and trying a new restaurant, or going to a craft store and spending the day shopping and then trying a new restaurant.  In fact, since my Mom passed 15 years ago, I sometimes just wander around a craft store when I'm missing her.  And this is big, folks, because I loathe shopping, but a craft store or bookstore is where I could spend hours. With the news of Ben Franklin closing, I felt like I lost another part of Mom.  She's been gone 15 years this year and memories fade, so losing this tangible place seemed sad. 

Then, the icing on the cake.  There is a Wendy's on Blankenbaker (technically Kentucky Mills Drive, but close enough) that I frequent in the mornings on the way to work.  Their Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal is to die for!  And, they are the only restaurant I pass on the way to work where I can get a fountain Coke Zero. (Thornton's doesn't count)  I also like to swing through there to get a Tropical Green Tea when I'm feeling the need for a healthier option for a beverage.  Earlier this week I did just that and as I got my Green Tea, I noticed the sign that said, "As of October 1, this location will no longer be serving breakfast.  Please be sure to visit our Middletown location for your breakfast need."  Really!?!  I decided since I didn't pay homage on the final days of Kingfish and Ben Franklin that I would for Wendy's breakfast.  Yesterday I went to Wendy's to get their amazing oatmeal and my Coke Zero and almost shed a tear as I drove out of the parking lot.  

They say as you get older, change is more difficult.  I really want to fight against that because I do get rather energized by change.  But, when it impacts good memories (sans Wendy's), I prefer those be around until Jesus comes.