Thursday, December 25, 2014

The True Meaning of Christmas

Since my last post I have learned some wonderful and very valuable lessons.  As I wallowed in my self-pity thinking I was the only person capable of providing a wonderful Christmas for my family, God showed me differently.  It was truly a thing of beauty to watch Him work through others to orchestrate what has turned out to be one of the most blessed Christmas seasons I have experienced.  

By disabling me on many levels, I was able to stop long enough to enjoy the help of friends and family who so lovingly gave of their time, treasures and love to ensure the gifts were wrapped, food was prepared and we came together as a family to remember why we celebrate Christmas.  I was slowed down long enough to throw off all of the commercial trappings and spend time truly connecting.

This Christmas has been about letting go and letting God work through others.  I was forced to stop my frantic activities so I would be available long enough to hug a friend who lost someone dear and shed tears with her.  I have had time to pray with and for people whose path has crossed mine in some of the most interesting ways.  To sit quietly and truly listen to what others were saying.  But most importantly, to be reminded that Christmas is about Jesus' birth.  

So, do me a favor and ignore that last post.  This Southern Belle found her Christmas spirit and also discovered how very blessed she is.

Merry Christmas to all and may God's blessings rain down abundantly upon you and your family in the coming year.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Southern Belle who stole Christmas

I am depressed.  It happens every year at this time and you think I would have learned by now.  It's almost unimaginable that I would fall into this same cycle of despair every year but, yet, as if on queue, I waltz right into the heavy sigh, I am not worthy, just bury me in the backyard because I am too worthless to live attitude.  So, you ask, what in the world is triggering this depth of despair?  All of those dadgum magazines that arrive in November and December with photos of pretty Christmas trees hovering over perfectly tied bows on presents that are color coordinated with the 12 dozen Christmas cookies in the silver tray positioned perfectly beside the cocoa (with homemade marshmallow of course) on the coffee table.  I take one look and think "I can do that!!"  

Every year I make lots of lists in my head of cute projects I will complete, complicated desserts I will prepare, holiday soirees I will host with my well groomed and perfectly dressed husband by my side - smiling as we greet national dignitaries who have dropped in for a visit.  My family will receive the absolute perfect gift that they did not even realize they needed but is now essential to their being.  Oh the greatness!!!  Martha Stewart will ask me to be a special guest on her show to demonstrate my technique for preparing standing rib roast while wearing an evening gown.  Yes, it could be spectacular.

But here is the reality.  I work full-time and most days it's a struggle to get a decent meal on the table.  I give my time to non-profit organizations and do a lot of community service projects so my time is limited.  When I wrap a gift (that has most always been ordered online) there are bumps and lumps and the bow comes from the dollar store and was extracted from the bag of 4 dozen with different colors.  Sometimes I get lucky and the bow color coordinates with the paper I have used but most of the time it doesn't.  Gift bags are my saving grace and I grab dozens every time I walk by the aisle at Target or Dollar Tree to stifle my fear of running out.  I have not decorated a Christmas Tree in 5 years and love my sweet Son for always hosting the opening of presents at his home so the bumpy, lumpy gifts and bags can be under a tree for a few minutes.  I have good intentions but life just seems to get in the way.

So, here is to all of the other women who are just like me, hanging their head in shame during December because you feel unworthy to have hormones.  Buck up gals.  Our kids turn out just fine, our husbands are happy and our hugs are just as wonderful as the lady in the neighborhood who vacuums her floor while wearing pearls.  Don't know about you but I am boycotting Pinterest until the madness is over.

Now excuse me while I explain to my husband why the poinsettas have died....


PS:  I don't forget the real reason for the season. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Out of the box tips for surviving the week.

Note:  I was wandering around backstage at my blog and noted I had several posts that had not been published. (go figure) Could explain why people would look at me funny when I would reference them knowing full well they were regular readers.  This particular outburst was written in 2012 and, upon review, just too good not to share.  Unfortunately the 2 aging and cranky cats mentioned have gone to kitty heaven so my girlfriend may be in for a houseguest on Sunday evening.  Hope you enjoy... 

So this whole exploration of methodologies for surviving the week has taken on a life of it's own and has outgrown Facebook (sorry Marky Z).  It has become a full blown blog post.  Let's recap shall we?

I started this deep philosophical discussion by asking my gentle Facebook readers to help me with motivational tips to get excited about Monday mornings.  The suggestions collected are as follows:
  • My idea was purchasing a new outfit each weekend to wear on Monday.  This idea received several positive nods of approval but, upon reflection, it would adversely affect my retirement savings and increase the years I would need to be motivated.  Darn!
  • One of my girlfriends suggested I spend the night at her house on Sunday night.  She has a rambunctious household filled with family and was assured I would be dying to get out of there come Monday am.  She forgot I have my own rambunctious household including 2 aging and cranky cats so her house actually looks calm.  Idea nixed.
  • Going in late on Mondays held a certain charm.  The practice, however, could result in an early termination of my employment so a bit extreme.  Next...
  • Starting the week on Tuesday was next.  As soon as I complete that time machine I am building in Husband Unit's garage this might become a viable option.
  • Taking Tuesday's off.  That one was from Son Unit and actually holds some promise.  If I can make it through Monday....
  • Another one of my gal pals suggested I wear my Red High Heels everyday.  She forgot I had gone flat before my time.  (Please reference earlier blog posts for background).
  • 2 hour lunch.  Since most of my lunches are with current or potential clients most of them are 2 hours already.  Besides, I am always fighting my weight so encouraging excessive exposure to food not so good.
  • One of my co-workers suggested getting to see her should be motivation enough.  She is a continual source of blog postings if I were brave enough to publish them and we won't even go there.  Love ya J!
  • Retirement!  Now there's an idea.  Unfortunately the person who suggested it did not offer to support me in the style to which I would like to become accustomed.  Poop!
 I am now reviewing the suggestions for Tuesday while I am writing this on Wednesday.   Hang on!  We are going to figure this out.


PS:  If you haven't figured it out by now, I escaped the McDonald's and the grasp of the farmer's with little to no harm and did not have to be locked in the freezer.  My weather alert was set for the wrong zipcode. 

Double Spanking Best Practices (replace k with x)

The sabbatical from blogging is over. I have to thank a good friend who sent me an encouraging word and urged me to start writing again. It felt good.  I think it makes her feel very normal when she reads my posts.

However, Husband Unit is not so sure he is ready for his reprieve from having his wife's ditzy doings emblazoned in Cyberspace so let's keep these stories to ourselves for awhile shall we?

For the most part, this post will only be understood and appreciated by women, however, I have recently been informed men are now utilizing those stretchy undergarments called Spanx. Who would have thought! It was this new tidbit of info that prompted me to publish my "best practice" list. Especially if you double spank (replace k with an x).

1. Those little buggers are TIGHT. If you are going to use them, do not be vain and try to squeeze into a size smaller than you wear. The people selling these undergarments already know you have rolls of fat you are trying to disguise so buy that extra large if you need it.

2. Make sure someone else is at home at the time you will be removing these contraptions from your body. I did not adhere to this rule and had to sleep with one half-way pulled over my head. Luckily I was able to wiggle around enough to get my nose poked out so I could breathe.

 3. If you wear the "camisole", it holds in your stomach really well. It also holds in your boobies. You will not only have a flatt(er)stomach but also a flat chest.

4. I read somewhere that Gayle King wears double Spanx. I tried it. It hurts. My underwire bra almost had to be surgically removed. I also had to take really, really short breaths and could not sit down but I was several inches smaller all over. Haven't figured out where the extra "fluff" was hiding in the Spanx cuz it sure flopped out when I got the things off. 

Hope these little tidbits help you as you prepare for that next Class Reunion.  Me, call me chicken but I am afraid there will be a weak spot in my Spanx and I will explode in front of everyone.  No thanks!  I want to be remembered as the girl who still has her sparkling personality instead of the one who took out half of the class with her underwear.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Dance of the Sweet Potato Fairy

I want to take a brief detour for a rant so hang on.  Why the heck is it you always need to find your glasses when you don't have them on?  Drives me crazy!  I can't see heck and now I have to wander around the house like an Israelite in the desert groping around trying to find my glasses so I can see where I put them.  Maddening...

Thank you for allowing me to get that out of my system and let's move onto the business at hand which is talking about how sweet potatoes can fly.

First, some background.  November 2014 was the month/year of "the bug."  For those of you living in the Memphis area, you will remember this nasty bugger sidelined several of our dear Grizzlies which caused much weeping and gnashing of teeth as they are having a spectacular season.  Since I live in the suburbs, I felt no threat as not many folks want to make the drive from downtown to our humble little abode way out East so my confidence was high that the bug would stay quarantined near the river.  Unfortunately my theory of bug travel turned out to be wrong and it hit our family like a firestorm in a dry desert.  First Mom, then me and finally my hubby.  All "sidelined" during Thanksgiving Day.

Being the good Southern daughter, wife and daughter-in-law that I am, the holiday could not pass without some type of large feast so, after recovery, I set to cooking on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Pulled crowder peas from the freezer that had been purchased from The Farmer's Market in the summer, cooked cornbread dressing and bread stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, bread, broccoli and the most requested dish of the day - sweet potato casserole.  My feet were flying across the kitchen floor as I directed pots and pans and skillets and ovens.  The Joy of Cooking application was singing to me in the background.  It was one of my finest performances.  The timing on every dish was just perfect and each star of the show was going to finish cooking at just the right moment.  Sockfoot Contessa (my cooking alias) was in the zone.

Well, there must have been a small meteor shower that caused some type of atmospheric disturbance because as I was gently whisking the turkey stock into my roux to make that silky gravy I remembered the sweet potatoes were browning in the oven.  Dropped that whisk and sprinted over to find I was within seconds of having some crusty marshmallows. Grabbed my trusty mitts, opened the oven door and whooshed out the casserole dish.  This is where the dance comes in....

BAM!  I am not sure what angle the earth dove into when the casserole dish achieved orbit and flew out of my hand but let's just say Sockfoot Contessa did a dance only rivaled by Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Sweet Potato flew all over the house.  It ended up on the back on my jeans and we even found some on the back on my Mother-In-Laws pants and she was not even in the kitchen!  A spot ended up on the couch in the living area which had to travel 20 feet and turn 2 corners.  I am sure they felt the earthquake in Japan as the entire house shook.

Everyone was very sweet as we scrapped sweet potatoes from every surface within a 5 mile radius.  I recovered and arranged the rest of the food for us to eat.  I have to admit, the meal turned out well but I sure did miss my sweet potatoes and especially those browned marshmallows on top.

So, kiddos, the lessons I have learned from this adventure as as follows:

  1. Never try to make gravy when the sweet potatoes are browning in the oven and
  2. Yes, Virginia, sweet potatoes can fly. 
Thanksgiving 2014 is officially over for the Citrones but, I  have to confess, harm was done to innocent vegetables while making the dinner.

PS:  I have the top to a nice 2 quart round casserole dish with holder if anyone needs it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

$3 Lint Roller

And speaking of practicing for retirement...

As you are aware, I am in the RED ZONE for retirement planning.  This weighs heavily on my mind so I am always looking for opportunities to cut our household expenses.  In my quest for savings, I have turned to "The Dollar Store" (insert appropriate brand name here) for certain items.  One of the said items is the sticky lint rollers you tear off in sheets.

I have 2 cats so fur and lint management is high on the list of things to do in my home.  I keep lint rollers in my closet, suitcases, tote bag and car.  It's amazing how cat hair can show up on your clothes in New York when you defuzzed yourself thoroughly before leaving home, while riding to the airport, in the airport bathroom, and in the hotel room before leaving.  But, sure enough, during a crucial part of your presentation you look down and there is a big fat cat hair riding on your boob.  Could throw you off of your game OR you can pretend it is a part of your accessories and saw Carrie Bradsaw from Sex in the City wearing the same thing on one popular episode.  You get the point.

During an especially busy time in our lives I let our lint roller stock get low.  To be honest, every lint roller stick was bare. Not a sticky sheet to be found, even in my secret stock I hide from my husband.  Luckily, there is a Target right across the street from my office so I breezed by and picked up a dozen on my way home.  Just whisked in there with my pants on fire, talking to 3 people on the phone, typing up a proposal on my iPad and weaving a blanket while stalking and buying those jewels.  Never even knew what the total price was until I got home and reviewed the ticket.

"$36! $36!  You got to be kidding me!  I paid $3 a piece for lint rollers!  (It's ok to suck all of the air out of the room while reading this.  Resume when ready).

My mind began to run the calculations in my mind.  No sweet tea for the next 24 meals, work another 12 years, buying cheaper cuts of meat.  Horrors!  What have I done to my family?  I dare not tell my husband as we might have a hospital bill on our hands from shock therapy.  So I put those little precious items in their appointed places (closet, car, tote bag, suitcases etc.) and pretended nothing had happened to adversely affect our budget.

The next morning I nervously grabbed the lint roller, unveiled the sticky paper and rolled it across my black pants.  What, what??  One roll and the cat hair dissipated.  It was surely a fluke so I tried again, this time across my gray jacket.  Eureka!  Gone.  Then the true magic happened.  I grabbed the used sticky sheet to reveal the next layer and it came off straight and neat. 

No rolling around in the floor to get the used sheet to release, no tattered and torn sides as it ripped halfway revealing part of the stickiness of the next layer, no using 50 sheets to get one unfuzzed leg.  I might have stumbled upon the 13th wonder of the world.

That is when it dawned on me that I could actually save money by using these $3 lint rollers.  It also dawned on me that the reason I was always covered with cat hair was from rolling around on the floor fighting with the cheap ones.

Needless to say, I was relieved to discover my initial panic was unnecessary.  Our budget would survive and sweet tea can be consumed at future meals.  Life is good.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thoughts on Aging

This is a departure from the usual Southern Belle Blog post. I am aging. I don't like it. I don't like seeing people I love age and get sick.

That was cathartic to get that thought out into cyberspace. Much like an alcoholic standing up to admit their problem in a public meeting, I felt the need to admit my issues with growing older. Please do not tell me there is nothing I can do about it, that I need to embrace it and live life to it's fullest and all of the other cliches that come to your tongue in response. I am having a moment and just need to dwell deep inside it for a little while. Thank you.

People tell me I do not look my age. That is flattering and I do appreciate their kindness but the fact is I have a hard time getting out of bed with the aches and pains that have suddenly come to live in my bones. I find I have to think a little bit longer to remember something simple and I always keep a notepad in my purse for jotting down things I cannot afford to forget. Where did the time go! My son is over 30, my grandchildren are growing up and my parents and in-laws are beginning to need me more than I need them.

Lastly, I have thoughts of so much time lost. So many people I have not met, have not touched in some way and the many dreams that will be left unfulfilled. Please do not get me wrong, I have been richly blessed and, perhaps, that is the key to this issue. I love my life so much I cannot bear the thought of leaving it behind. Even though, as a Christian, I realize heaven is going to be wonderful I am not ready to leave what I have come to love... my home, my family, my husband, my friends and life.

So, thank you for allowing me to have this little moment of anxiety.  Tomorrow is another day.  Looking forward to the sunrise.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

High altitude

Pikes Peak

What I Learned While Living at a High Altitude for One Week

Hubby and I just returned from a glorious, lovely vacation week in Colorado visiting our Besties.  Their home resides at 7,000 feet which, as we learned, dictates a little adjusting.  Felt it was my duty to share the things I learned while living in the air in Colorado in case you decide to take a little trip to the area.

  1. Wildlife does not appear upon command - even at the Zoo.  Many thanks to my "friends" who offered suggestions for drawing bears out of the woods for viewing including "tying a steak around my neck."  I do, however, have to admit that by the end of the week I was so desperate to see a bear that I thought about it.
  2. Heavy breathing is acceptable even in non-romantic situations.  Have mercy! It was embarrassing to call friends back home and leave messages.  I am sure several people hung up thinking was some type of pervert leaving a message as it took me several raspy draws of oxygen before I could start speaking.  Perhaps this is the reason I never saw a bear.  They heard me coming from a mile away.
  3. Things packed at a low altitude explode when opened at a high altitude.  I experienced this with sunscreen.  Luckily I was on the side of a mountain stream and sunscreen went everywhere and I mean everywhere.  I covered myself, hubby, friends and most of the fish in the stream.  Do fish get sunburned??
  4. You get "fluffier" at a high altitude cuz the air is thinner and doesn't hold in your fat.  Bring your big pants.
  5. The margin of error while driving up the side of a mountain at 14,000 feet with a 12,000 foot drop off on the left and a shear cliff on the right is.... 0.
  6. You not only get "fluffier" but you also burp a lot cuz the air is thin and the burps just jump right out with absolutely no warning!
  7. People who live at 7,000 feet do not have air conditioning.  WHAT!!!!!!!  Yes, it is true.  I lived in fear of having a menopausal hot flash and going crazy enough to strip off my clothes to run naked through the yard.  Probably would have seen a bear though.
  8. Finally, life is much sweeter when you have good friends to share your experiences.  Love ya David and Marsha.  Thanks for sharing your high-altitude home with us.  It was a blast!!!  Even though we didn't see a bear.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Unplugged and Frazzled

Spoiler alert... This story does not end happily. I was a raving lunatic without my technology. No text messages, no Facebook, no Twitter, no email. And unlike some of those other folks you read about that "found themselves" when they unplugged, I didn't. I am firmly entrenched in the digital world and love it.   "My name is Cheryl and I am a geek!". There I have admitted it to the world.  

The annual trip to Michigan for July 4th started like any other. I packed my work computer, IPad and phone ensuring I had all of the correct cables and power cords. Clothes are never my biggest worry but I will flat come unglued if I don't have my cable to sync my IPod. In fact, on this trip I sacrificed a bit by not packing my IPod. Thought I would rough it a bit without my multiple gigabytes of music readily available. After all, I had Pandora and Spotify and IHeartRadio on my phone. Checked my easy tether to ensure I could use it as an on ramp to the Internet because Husband Unit's Aunt did not have Internet access at her home. Another sacrifice to make for the good of family unity but I'm a good sport and knew I could survive.

 Off we go to the North Country obviously oblivious to the fact the entire Northeast had been blown off the power grid due to storms. And I am also a weather geek! How embarrassing. My first foreshadowing of trouble happened when we had to drive an extra 4 hours our first day due to every hotel room in 3 states being occupied by families without power. No Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn... Heck I couldn't even get a spot on the lobby floor of the Motel 6. We finally ended up securing the last room available in Ohio, Kentucky or Michigan by football tackling a young man walking in the door of a Quality Inn and grabbing the door keys from the frightened desk clerk's face. He was already shell shocked from the activity so when this frazzled Southern Belle with no makeup left on her face came barreling toward him, he just froze and threw up his hands. Smart guy.  

We rested and headed the rest of the way to our final destination when I started noting I was unable to send text messages. My email was sporadic as well. By the time we arrived at our final destination, I was foaming at the mouth just a bit. If we had no text message capability, the chances of communication with our son were slim to none. We stopped verbal communication with him several years ago. I rolled around scenarios in my mind and concluded I could fire up one of those little text apps you can download and all would be well. That was when I discovered all data access was disabled during the storm.  Foaming at the mouth increased.

Husband Unit immediately assessed the situation and called the family together to formulate a plan.  "I've seen her in a technology snit before so this could get dangerous.  I will go ahead and use the tranquilizer gun to prohibit anyone getting hurt.  That usually lasts for severals hours which gives me time to come up with a long range plan".   You can insert a big blank here because I do not remember anything for the next 24 hours.   However, when the drugs wore off and my mind cleared I was on the haunt for an unsecured router to get some type of access.  Surely there was someone living in the nearest town that had not fully read their installation instructions and left their router unsecured.  If it was within the next 5 counties, I was finding it.

I piled Husband Unit in the car and commanded him to DRIVE! while I clutched my IPad and phone in my hands desperately searching for access of any type.  We briefly achieved 1 bar of connectivity which allowed me to assess the McDonalds 5 miles away had free Internet access.  I was saved!!!  Eureka!!!

The next morning I woke up at dawn, grabbed all of my geek tools and headed to Micky D's.  Life was going to get back to normal.  Facebook here I come!!!  I strolled into that McDonalds loaded down with my plethora of electronic devices, ordered an Egg McMuffin, hash browns and 120 ounce sweet tea, settled into a booth and hooked up.  I had just started reading my emails when I noted I was surrounded by farmers gathering for their coffee and story time.  Not another woman in the place except for the counter crew.  No problem, I can manage that but then I noted this huge, very black and very suspicious cloud out of the window followed by high winds.  My weather alert went off and I realized I was about to be in a compromising position with a lot of farmers.  There was a tornado headed our way so my mind began to race imagining me, 30 male farmers and the McDonalds staff locked up in the cooler for days after the tornado took out the town.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

And so a New Year Begins

I have to admit, 2010 has not been my favorite year. Upon review, my lack of blog posts seem to reflect the tumultuous year I lived. Family is the most important part of my life (only superseded by my relationship with God) and there have been many, heart breaking days for our family this year including the death of my beloved Dad on December 1. He left a big hole not only in my life but in the lives of many others. With this said, I wanted to post the tribute I read to my Dad during his funeral. I also want to publicly thank my cousins Richard, Danny and Cliff for also providing wonderful eulogies that set the tone for my Dad's life to be celebrated and not mourned. Perhaps with this post I can turn the corner on this healing adventure and get back to life as I will know it without my Dad. Happy New Year ... and thank you for allowing me to share this tribute with you.

"You are never ready for this day are you? Losing a parent has to be one of the hardest moments life has to give you. I have a new appreciation now and believe no one understands the pain and frustration unless you have lived through it. At least I didn't. So I want to thank each of you attending today who have come to pay tribute to my Dad. Mother and I have been so comforted by our family, friends and neighbors. We simply would not have made it through the last several weeks without your prayers, support, calls, text messages, Facebook posts and e-mails. Our hearts are full of gratitude for your kindness.

I need to say a special thank you to my Mom for her devotion to my Dad. They were married for 55 years and gave me a healthy and dedicated model of marriage. Mom's sacrifices over the last several weeks while she cared for my Dad have been amazing. It was his wish to be at home until the end and Mom made it her mission to honor that wish. For that, I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

I learned so much from my Dad. First and foremost, he instilled in me the importance of family. He was our bedrock, wise counselor and leader. He spread his love among all of us – daughter, wife, sister, sister-in-law, nephews, nieces and grand nieces and nephews. He made each of us feel special. My Dad and my Mother sacrificed to pay for private school and to assist me with college. Sacrifices that I will never be able to repay but were and are now appreciated. An entrepreneur of the grandest kind he has often been described as a man that could "sell the horns off of a billy goat." I inherited that entrepreneurial spirit and being his daughter instilled in me a confidence in trying new business ventures.

My Dad was a mechanic, grocery store owner, and used car salesman (he always had a "cream puff" or a “jewel” on the lot with low mileage). All ventures started without the help of private equity firms or loans or complex business plans and always profitable. During the time he and Mother owned "Burch's Grocery" in Williston, a plethora of items sat by the door with a for sale sign, waiting on the right buyer with the right amount of cash. I don't remember anything going unsold and nothing was ever sold without a profit.

I also like to think I inherited my sense of humor and story telling from my Dad. He could make the most mundane activity into a side splitting, tears pouring down your eyes from laughing so hard tale. Even during his illness he kept his sense of humor. When Mother told him he would be transported from the Somerville ER to Baptist East via helicopter he responded – “I’m not so sure about that.” When the hospital wing nurse arrived and began to do her assessment she asked Dad how old he was. Without hesitation and confidence in his voice he responded “I’m 42.” When I gently reminded him he could not be 42 as I was 52 he responded “Hush Child!” When the Hospital Wing staff began to load him into the air ambulance, he told the helicopter pilot (and I quote) "Move over. I believe I would like to try and fly this thing." We are grateful the helicopter pilot graciously refused his offer.

He also entertained family members and friends who came by the hospital with tales of he and Mother rolling around in the flower bed. "I walked outside and your Mamma was rolling around in the flower bed like rubber ball. You should have seen the conflabaration she had gotten herself into. Got down in the flower bed and couldn't get up. I got behind her to help her stand up but she had to try and help and pushed with her legs. I went down, your Mamma landed on top of me, the table with the flower pots went all over your Mamma. Pots and flowers was flying everywhere. When I got up , I looked around to make sure none of the neighbors saw us rolling around. No telling what they would have thought we were doing." I must let you know I did not learn of this incident until he was in the hospital. Lying in the hospital bed looking so pitiful, he summoned me to his side and as I leaned close he stated – “Did I tell you about Mamma and me rolling around in the flower bed?” Since he had been somewhat delirious with fever, I panicked and replied – “Daddy, I don’t believe I need to know that level of detail about you and Mom.” Oh how I will miss those stories.

I learned how to care for those less fortunate from my Dad. When I was about 12 years old, a couple with a small child moved to Williston. They had suffered some financial setbacks and were working hard to survive. When Dad found out they were not going to be able to provide Christmas gifts for their little girl, he and Mom moved into action and gave them toys for Santa Claus to leave under the tree. That act of kindness touched my soul. I also remember when serving as a Deputy Sheriff he had to remove an abused child from her home. Even though the child was filthy dirty, Dad took her into his arms and carried her to the squad car. He then gave her a piece of gum and talked quietly to her assuring her everything was going to be alright. I thank him for teaching me to serve others.

Finally, I learned public service from Dad. He always served his county and town with a smile and a sense of duty. During his life he served as a volunteer Deputy Sheriff, was the first Fire Chief for the Williston Fire Department (which was all volunteer) and a member of the Fayette County Rescue Squad (also volunteer). He served on the Fayette County Public Works board for 8 years before accepting a full-time post with the Public Works Department. He also worked for the Fayette County Board of Education overseeing the fleet of school buses that transported hundreds of kids to public schools.

I have been one lucky daughter to have been raised by a Dad that gave me and others so much. These last 6 days have been an emotional roller coaster, full of anguish and heartbreak but I am truly grateful to God I had time to express my love to him before he passed. I couldn't have had a better Dad and encourage any of you here today to take advantage of every minute you can spare to cherish your parents. You can never get them back once they are gone."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Practicing for Retirement - August 22nd

Many thanks to all of you who have sent e-mails and called indicating the information being shared during this series is of value to you. I am so glad I have several already mentors who are teaching me the ropes. This is the last day for this session of practicing for retirement. Alas, I have to go back to work and get those financial issues in order now. Quite frankly, I've eaten about all of the early bird specials I can stand and ready for some good home cooking. But, today's activities consisted of:

  • Church followed by breakfast at the local restaurant that offers a Sunday special. Husband Unit splurged on a short stack of pancakes. I will have to counsel him about that as the extra pancake cost of $2! Holy Cow! If he keeps that up he will blow our iced tea budget!
  • Took a Sunday ride in the golf cart around the neighborhood. Husband Unit got embarrassed when I pretended I was a beauty queen and practice my wave. He's just lucky I didn't hide my tiara in the glove compartment.
  • Family dinner tonight. Always a tradition on the last evening we are in residence and the activity I cherish the most. You only have so many hours to spend with your family and we love each and every moment.
Thanks for tuning in. This is the last post for this series but I'll be sure to alert you if I get one more practice session in.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Practicing for Retirement - August 21st a.m.

Gotta get a golf cart if you are retired. Doesn't matter if you play golf or not, a golf cart is required equipment in retirement. You do not use it on the golf course but, rather, to transport items from house to house, ride to the pool, and, as Husband Unit and I discovered this a.m., very handy for yard work.

I loaded the trash can in the passenger side of the golf cart and rode that little bugger around the entire yard. I would jump out, trim up the bush or clean out a flower bed and plop the trash right in the bucket. Used a bungie cord to tie my rake on the back and the little containers on the side were just perfect for my trimmers.

PS: Also good to run from alligators if you get too near the pond.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Practicing for Retirement - August17th -20th

I have to be honest, most of the activity over the last several days has been focused on recycling old computers which, I guess, is a practicing for retirement activity. But, I have gotten in a couple of good practice sessions. Such as:

  • Wendy's has a hamburger for 89 cents!!! Woo hoo!!! Great lunch.
  • Go to the Sam's during lunch if you don't want Wendy's and eat the samples. Wow!
  • Watching the sunset on the beach for the millionth time. I will never get tired of that.

Only have a few days left to practice so I guess I better put in that $1 movie and start watching so I don't have to pay a late fee.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Practicing for Retirement - August 16th

When I left you at the last post we were headed to Nicola's Restaurant to take advantage of the Early Bird Special. We lost our heads and ordered straight from the menu but Husband Unit and I each brought half of our meal home for dinner the next evening. So, if you divide 4 meals into $30 that is less than $8 per person!!! I understand the target price per meal per person for Sr. Citizens is $10. We beat that by $2 which meant I could splurge on a glass of wine (house brand to save money). Other activities I practiced yesterday included:

  • Watching a movie on Encore instead of renting one,
  • Wearing socks with my sandals,
  • Driving the golf cart around the neighborhood AND,
  • Borrowing a book from the neighborhood library instead of driving to the community library - saving gas.
By my estimation, I am WAY ahead for the week and can afford iced tea with my meals through September at least.

OH!! Did I mention we fed 5 people breakfast for $23 by ordering the sampler platter and splitting it? McDonald's also has 49 cent hamburgers one day a week.

Stick with me kiddos. I'll have you trained so good you can retire at 40.

Until tomorrow....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Practicing for Retirement August 12th - 15th

I realize I have several years left before I can retire but, in my opinion, one can never start too early with saving to finance your retirement years and, equally as important, one must practice retirement activities often so they will good at it when the day comes. There is a plethora of information on the financial issues of retirement but none that I can tell on the very important tasks that must be mastered to be a successful retiree. I am sharing my personal experiences here to help those younger than me plan accordingly. Please stop back often to get an update.

Thursday evening August 12th - Dinner at the Piccadilly with Husband Unit. Got the $4.99 special which includes entree and 3 vegetables and a choice of cornbread (stick or jalapeno) or roll. Tea is $2 extra and we splurged.

Friday August 13th - Grabbed cheap fare to Florida to visit the family. Had to leave at dark thirty and spend 6 hours traveling because of connections and layovers (non-stop gets there in 1 hour) but we saved $238!! Woo hoo!! We can afford tea at the Piccadilly several more times now!!

Saturday August 14th - Driving my father-in-laws honking big Mercury Marquis around town. The car gets there 30 minutes before I do the hood is so long. I have also backed out in front of 2 people in the parking lot which is also a required driving skill.

Sunday August 15th - Took the day off. This practicing is wearing me out!!!

Monday August 16th -- Headed to Nicola's for the early bird special. You get a big plate of spaghetti, rolls and a salad for $6. We are going to splurge and get tea since we saved so much on airfare.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Cat, A Veterinarian and The Police

I believe enough time has passed to adequately protect the innocent parties that were involved in the incident about to be documented. Also, I wanted some time to pass so my Husband Unit would not call the men in the little white coats (again). But, I digress.

This all started when Husband Unit (HU) decided he and his best buddy were going to take a little road trip down to Florida to visit the folks. History has a tendency of repeating itself and previous trips out of town where he left me here unattended have equated to me backing into a tree, breaking several valuable things and general chaos. I don't know what happens but I seem to lose my mind when he is gone. I think it is because I have to pump my own gas and the fumes make me dizzy and ditsy.

Well, as you know, we are the proud parents of a 17 year old cat - Big Girl. She has a thyroid problem and takes medicine on a daily basis. The veterinarian we have been using was having some problems getting her condition under control so I decided to change to a new (and highly recommended) Vet. Since I was taking a "staycation" during HU's absence, I volunteered to take the little kitty to the vet. No problem right? Put the cat in the carrier and transport her to the vet. After all, HU had assured me there was no problem putting her in the carrier and "she rides really well." He lied.

Our appointment was at 10 a.m. so I put Big Girl in the laundry room at 8:30 a.m. so I would be assured of finding her when we needed to leave. Needless to say, she was not happy to spend 1.5 hours in the same room with the dryer. For some reason, she just doesn't like the dryer. At 9:15 a.m., I retrieved the cat carrier from the attic, placed it on the floor, grabbed Big Girl from the laundry room and walked across the floor to place her in the carrier.

Her arms and legs went out and attached themselves to the four corners of the carrier. Superglue should have so much staying power. I pushed and pulled and tugged and coaxed and twirled to no avail. I think at one point the cat was upside down and inside out. She finally gave out of energy at which time I made my move, unattached her from the corners of the carrier and pushed her inside. By this time, the overwhelming amount of activity has caused me to have a hot-flash which has caused me to soak through my clothes. We are now at 9:30 a.m. and I run to the closet to change clothes and dry my hair.

Running back into the den, I grab the carrier (noting it was very hard to grab) and place the entire package in the car. Screams begin to emit themselves from the carrier. (Reference the earlier comment HU made about "she rides good."). I swear you could hear her 3 states away. The long, LOUD screams of a cat that has been turned upside down and inside out is a little discombobulating but I successfully back out of the garage and begin the drive outside of the neighborhood and then... I spot the car.

I had noted this same car sitting at the entrance to our neighborhood over the last several days which caused my Miss Marple gene to kick in. Being a good Neighborhood Watch participant, I promptly called the police and reported this suspicious vehicle. Unfortunately, about the time the dispatcher picked up the phone, Big Girl let out a deafening scream which caused the phone to disconnect. I redial and explain to the dispatcher that I am taking my cat to the vet, she is not happy, and the screaming she hears in the background is not someone being murdered but an unhappy cat. She begins to laugh hysterically but restrains herself enough to take the information and assures me she will dispatch a car to check out this potential terrorist.

I am pulling into the parking lot when my cell phone rings, I answer and promptly greeted by an investigator from my local police department.

"Mrs Citrone, Sgt so and so here." I hear a little snicker from his end of the phone about the time Big Girl lets out another eardrum bursting scream. "I just wanted to let you know I am the person sitting in your neighborhood." In other words, I have called the police on themselves. Great. Now I have a screaming cat, I have had another hot flash and the police think I am a blooming idiot. He did thank me for being such an observant neighborhood watch member and wished me a good day.

Now it's time to get the cat into the vet. I run around to the passenger side of the car and retrieve the carrier. As I pull it out of the car, I note the handle is on the bottom. Oh! That is the reason it's so hard to carry. I have the cat in the carrier upside down! No problem. I just put the carrier on the ground and slowly rolled the cat over until she was right side up.

Of course, by this time the screaming from the carrier has caused the entire vet staff to come to the door to see what is going on. Here I am rolling the carrier across the parking lot to get the cat right side up. Oh yea, this is a great day. I have never seen these people before and the first glance they have is of me rolling my cat across the pavement.
The cat is now right side up, the police have been called off, I have the handle in my hand and we are proceeding into the reception area. As soon as we get in the door, Big Girl quiets down and doesn't squeak a peep. The vet tech pulls her out by the scruff of her neck, pokes, prods and other things we won't mention here. When they bring her back in the room., they put the carrier on the floor and Big Girl jumps right in. That witch!

Needless to say, it was a very upsetting day and one I do not wish to replicate. I finally confessed to HU who just shook his head and called our Son to chastise him for not checking in on me more frequently. He also explained that the cat won't go into the carrier if it is upside down. NOW he tells me!!!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

My Hippie Gene has been activated

The arrival of the Earth Boxes caused almost as much stir as the arrival of the Nutrisystem boxes (reference earlier blog post for details and background). Why is it I always seem to have a contentious relationship with my hubby whenever a brown box(es) is delivered to our front door. The conversation always starts with "what are you to up to now!?"

He acts like I am always carrying out wild crazy schemes for some reason. I view them as experiments in life. Some of them have failed, some have been successful but they ALWAYS turn out for a good blog post.

Thus, the Earth Boxes. He actually knew these were going to arrive so the controversial conversation actually happened pre-delivery.

When I left The Farm I swore I would never go back. In my mind's eye I would be a career minded, sophisticate with tons of friends dancing on rooftops in my groovy apartment in some big city overlooking the skyline. I would always be dressed in evening attire (white ball gown flowing in the breeze as my loyal assistant made sure the food was served on silver platters that never needed polishing). I think I watched too many old movies growing up.

It never occurred to me you needed a trust fund to finance such a lifestyle. I quickly realized I had to work during the day to pay off school loans, apartment rent and I like to sleep. Staying up in the evenings entertaining (and I never could afford those silver platters and they DO need polishing) made me one cranky camper during the day. So fast forward and I have settled into a very nice normal life with husband, son, granddaughters, parents, in-laws and huge family gatherings. I have to say, it's quite nice and my apron seems to fit me better than the white ball gown.

This "normal" lifestyle has obviously turned on my Hippie Gene. I have become fascinated with Farmer's Markets and solar energy and wind turbines and... yes, growing my own food. The issue is we live in a zero lot line so there isn't a lot of green space to have a garden. Luckily, I grabbed an issue of Mother Earth news from my local hippie grocery and discovered Earth Boxes. They are these neat little mini-gardens in a box so you can grow your own food right on your patio! When I saw the ad my eyes bugged out of my head. Eureka!! I can feed my family from the porch!!

I slept with the magazine under my pillow for weeks plotting and scheming about the purchase of these little buggers. When I logged onto the website and viewed the videos I was hooked. That credit card got whupped out of the purse and I ordered 2 to ensure I would have enough food to feed the neighbors should a natural disaster occur. Up until this time my Hippie Gene was in low gear. When I pressed the "submit" button, it got cranked into 2nd gear and I'm revving up.

Well, the Earth Boxes arrived this week. I haven't been able to stop shaking long enough to open them up. My heart has been racing and a cold sweat has been permanently affixed to my forehead since I drug them into the foyer. Because... when I open those boxes it's admitting I have gone back to The Farm. You can't get away from your roots and I may as well give into it and enjoy the ride. I think it's ok though. The Barefoot Contessa has a barn so I feel certain I can have one too.

Stay tuned for the next episode of my gardening experience. I have to run read my Mother Earth News, Entertaining, Cook's Illustrated magazines right after I review the website that teaches me how to build a straw bale garden. Now, where did I put those flowers for my hair?????

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do I have to return the casseroles without eating them?

First, my sincere apologies for stirring up such a hornet's nest yesterday with my blog post. I had NO idea just the first few lines of the entry would show up on Facebook and lead so many to believe that Husband Unit and I were having marital issues. Let me assure you, we are just fine. He is a fiery Italian and I am a stubborn Southern Belle but our marriage is on solid ground.

The e-mails started flying when people saw the post. One of my girlfriends went into her closet and spent the morning praying for us. She was very upset with me as she had errands to run. A very dear friend offered to be available day or night if I needed to talk. Thank goodness my Mother is not on Facebook or she would have dispatched the entire clan on both sides of the family to intervene including Uncle Guido from Italy. That would have been terribly, terribly embarrassing - especially since Husband Unit was in the dark about the whole mess. I finally did confess to him, under duress, and he laughed. I am fondly calling if our Faux Divorce.

The question I have for my gentle readers is... Do I have to return the casseroles in a Faux Divorce? I know you have to return the gifts from your showers if you call off the engagement and you need to write notes to those inconvenienced when a family member passes out in public from too much medicinal drink and someone reports he died but my Belle Manual says nothing about what to do about returning the casseroles if there is a Faux Divorce so I'm keeping them and eating them. I will return the dishes in the prescribed amount of time and offer my sincere thanks for kindness.

By the way, the green bean casserole was yummy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Think My Marriage May Be in TROUBLE

I am so glad to have this blog as an outlet for my overwhelming emotions at this moment. My marriage is in trouble. Yes, Husband Unit has made an unforgivable error in judgment and, quite frankly, I am not sure I can continue to live with this man.


(For those of you needing some background on how attached I am to that darling little kitchen gadget please read the November 2008 post "Sockfoot Contessa - a Baker is Born" below.)

I do believe and swear on my Granny's grave that I blanked out for a few minutes. Was I experiencing some type of space time warp continuum thingy? Certainly I did not hear the love of my life, the man I have spent over 12 years with and suffered through child raising issues with asking me to do this most unspeakable act.

"Sweetie" I said, "let's go take your blood pressure. I do believe it is high as you are just not thinking clearly. In fact, let's take mine too because something has affected my hearing. Did you just ask me to put my KitchenAid Mixer under the counter?"

"Yes, I did." Husband Unit says with a most convicted of all voices. "I simply do not like the counter tops cluttered with your kitchen gadgets. Something must go under the counter."

Well, all I can say is that man is lucky the butcher block with all of the sharp knives was clearly out of reach because my blood pressure no doubt went into overdrive after my ears processed that statement. Had he lost his mind? The angels sang when I brought that baby home. He has been the lucky recipient of many baked goods compliments of that blessed kitchen gadget and now he turns on it like a rabid dog. Have mercy!!!

It was obvious he was not to be swayed with logic which included him being proud he had purchased his wife such an incredible machine or the fact that I may feel the incredible urge to make Parmesan Thyme Crackers on a moment's notice and simply would not have the time to extract it from under the counter OR the fact that it looked so lovely where it stands beneath a little spotlight. "No," he says "it has to go under the counter."

I was simply struck dumb. Words cannot express the shock and amazement I felt. And so, like any good Southern Belle, I pulled out the big guns..... I stomped my foot and started crying like a baby. Big whopping, slobbery sobs that would have drowned out Big Foot at the Monster Truck show. Husband Unit was taken aback. He knew that he had stepped in it and promptly began initiating the "Oh poop I stepped in it and better step out of it" plan.

My KitchenAid mixer is still on the counter. Just love that man.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life with Frank

Frank - Whatcha doing Pookster?

Cheryl - Writing my biography for our new website at work. I think it's too long though.

Frank - Well, honey, you are a lot older than your co-workers so it's going to be long.

ER Physician - I think Mr. Citrone should be able to be discharged from the hospital on Monday.