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O Christmas Tree

When I got home last night from my stitch group’s annual Christmas party, this awaited me:

2014treeIt’s been over 13 years since we’ve put up a tree; I know we haven’t done one since my father’s illness and death.  This particular little one was given to us by my friend Vicky in an effort to encourage us to be more festive.  Richard got it out of the basement last night while I was gone and put it up.

Now I guess it’s time to get out all those ornaments I’ve worked on over the years and dress it up.  Nothing worse than a nekkid Christmas tree.

Survived phase 1….

Well, we survived Thanksgiving.  Had lunch at Copelands, which was mobbed, even though we opened the place.  One man behind us in line was muttering about how you never get your money’s worth at buffets – turns out he was seated near us, and the dude was on his third plate by 11:10 (the line opened at 11:00).  Evidently he took it as a challenge.  The food was ok, but truthfully, I actually missed my own cooking (and a lot of you know that I’m not that great a cook).  We decided that for Christmas, we’ll pick a couple of our favorite dishes, throw a turkey breast in the crock pot, then eat at home.

Did the whole Black Friday shopping thing.  It actually wasn’t that bad – either that or my taste isn’t that trendy. Worst lines I found were at the Vera Bradley outlet (ok… I’ll get in line for that) and at Coach (there was nothing in there worthy of me waiting in a line wrapped around the building in the cold – went back the next day and walked in with no wait).  Most disappointing part of the trip was upon checkout from the Sleep Inn when the new manager told us that they would only have one pet friendly floor in the future. Serious mistake, considering all the dogs I saw around there!!

On the way home, I streamed the Tech-UGA game on my phone… while we were stuck in traffic behind an overturned semi. Took us 6 1/2 hours to get home (normal time is 3 1/2).  Lost the feed, then ended up listening to the Bulldog announcers on satellite radio, who rather disgustedly announced “Georgia Tech wins”.  That was cause for much rejoicing!!

Last weekend we moved all the furniture I’m taking from Mom’s house down to our storage unit.  I dissolved into puddles if you looked at me during the week – I was so dreading the task.  Mom’s caregivers Johnnie and Charlotte came to help – those ladies have been such a blessing to me – they’re just a part of my family now… Mom’s neighbor Quillian has been there for me, and Johnnie’s son in law Ricky brought his friend Eric, who thank goodness had worked for a moving company and knew how to secure furniture in the truck I had rented. I was amazed at how quickly Ricky and Eric moved things and got them all secured in the truck.

As the house emptied, it became sort of surreal… I can’t recall the last time I saw those spaces without anything in them. I know it’s going to get stranger as it goes.  I’ve got probably a couple of more days of work up there before I schedule the estate sale that will totally empty everything out.  I figure my best course of action at that point is to leave the state the weekend it’s going on. Nothing good can come out of me being there.

So now we’re trying to get ourselves ready for Christmas, and I’m trying to get the business ready for tax season. Finding joy in the Christmas season has been difficult for quite a few years now.  I’m hoping that being able to attend services on Christmas Eve will help this time.

To all of you who have sent me messages of support – thank you so much.  I appreciate knowing that you’re there.  I hope to get this blog back to it’s usual silliness in the new year. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving

I see that it’s been nine months since I last wrote a blog entry.  Enough time to birth a baby… Sometimes with all that’s gone on, it seems like that’s what’s gone on…

The year has been consumed with settling Mom’s estate and with the process of going through her house and sorting through 52 years worth of stuff.  I came by my pack-rat mentality honestly; I’m amazed by how much Mom had stored through that house (which, much like a Tardis, was bigger on the inside.  My parents never moved… they just kept remodeling and adding on to the house.)  Considering her dementia, it’s been a painstaking task of going through virtually everything to see what might be hidden.  I’ve been so very blessed to have two of her favorite caregivers helping me with the task. They are good women, God believing and God fearing salt of the earth types and I consider them family. They cry with me as we go through things.  It’s been an emotionally draining experience.  I’m trying to be very picky in what I take home with me.  Heaven knows I have enough stuff in my home after 30 years of marriage, so I’m trying to only keep things that mean something.

And I’ve found some surprises.  Who knew my dad was sentimental enough to keep the receipt from their honeymoon trip in his wallet after 50 years? I found their wedding vows, carefully typed out.  I found photo albums my mom had very carefully pulled together in better days, culling only the best pictures of all of us so I’d have them all in one spot. I found that they’d kept my acceptance letter from Thornwood and all my grade reports from Thornwood, Darlington, Emory, and Georgia Tech (with my grade average very accurately calculated on each in my mom’s handwriting).

In a couple of weeks, I’m taking a truck up there to gather the rest of the things I’m moving south — my grandmother’s dining set, my aunt’s antique table, the rocking chairs Dad loved to sit in on the sun porch and some other items… I’ll incorporate all these into my life somehow.  Then I’ll face putting my childhood home on the market.  More emotional upheaval.  Being a grownup truly sucks.

Some of it will go to our place in Highlands.  We were able to realize a dream when a condo in our price range was still available after we’d looked at it last summer.  We’ve had a bit of remodeling done (the baths were vintage 1973) and that’s going to be completed soon… so far we’ve managed at least one trip up each month, and we love it there.

So I face my first holiday without either parent.  Another rite of passage. Richard and I decided that for this year, we’d celebrate the holidays as a couple as a start to the rest of our lives.  For Thanksgiving, we’re gonna open up a buffet here, load Penny in the car afterwards, and head to Pigeon Forge.  I figured the mature thing to do was to run away from the situation.

This year I’m thankful for my husband, who has been my rock through everything; for my group of besties who listen to me rant and rave and cry and love me anyway; for my church – I can honestly say I don’t know what I would have done without the loving group of people at Covenant Presbyterian and without Zeta, our pastor.  I’m thankful I live in a country where I’m free to work, to worship, to speak, and to do what I please. I’m thankful there are people who make sacrifices so I can be free.

I’m thankful that I grew up with loving parents who continue to care for me.  Love you and miss you.


It has been a week since my mother passed away.

In the end, it wasn’t the dementia or the emphysema that took her; it was a massive stroke that acted quickly.  She didn’t linger (which was her great fear), and thanks to the compassion of an emergency room physician at Redmond Regional, I was able to bring her home before she passed.  She was at home, in her own bed, which is where she had wanted to be.  I promised her I’d keep her in her house, and I’m so thankful that I was able to keep my word.

For those of you following the weather in Georgia… the services became something that I’m sure will be funny when I look back on it. We ended up rescheduling them three times because of the snowstorm (once, I’m proud to say, because unlike most of Georgia government, I took the forecast seriously).  We laid her to rest yesterday with a simple graveside service as she had wished – in reality, it was probably longer than she wanted.  

I am so blessed – even though my remaining extended family couldn’t be there (and frankly, I encouraged them not to travel for such a short service), I was surrounded by my “adopted” family from my church, my mother’s church that I grew up in, close business associates, and other friends who are very special to me. Many of them drove up from Atlanta just to be there for me.  The idea that so many would make such an effort to support me is so overwhelming, and I am so very grateful.

Today I should be at church, but through all this I’ve come down with a raging case of bronchitis, so I’m resting at home so I can work next week.  I owe lots of people W2s and 1099s, but I have some incredibly understanding clients – again, I am so very grateful.

I admit to feeling just a bit lost.  I always joked that I had three full time jobs: my business, my mom, and my church.  I’m down to two (even though I know there’s going to be work to do on Mom’s estate).  I always called Mom three times a day: 8:30 am, around 5 pm, and 7:30 pm.  I find myself reaching for the phone; I know that habit will be hard to break. I wanted to tell her about Penny playing in the snow. I catch myself worrying about what’s going on with her and the caregivers… I’ve been worried about her since December 2001 since Dad died.  I’m adjusting to the fact that particular worry is gone.

I know Mom is whole and happy and with my Dad.  I know I’ll see both of them again one day.  I know both of them are feeding my precious Oscar all the chicken biscuits he wants. And I miss all of them terribly.  But I’ll adjust.

So… when we last spoke…

Yeah.  I kind of disappeared for the better part of a year.  It’d be fair to say that 2013 wasn’t the best for a lot of people I know.

So what happened??

Did I mention the lawsuit?  Where partner #2 didn’t pay partner #1 and I got collected as collateral damage and had to pay a ton of legal fees to save my business?  That got the year off to a fan-freakin-tastic start. I was seriously considering shutting down my practice before paying either of them another penny. I’m blessed to have found two very sharp legal-eagles who handled everything for me. It’s all settled now (well, my part is anyway, and I’m shed of them both – they can work it out amongst themselves as long as both of them leave me alone), but it left me incredibly angry and bitter for quite awhile.   There’s still some serious snark that comes out about it… there probably will be for awhile.  We’ll just say I’m still doing some free work to clean up some messes that were left and leave it at that.

Came to the realization that a group of people that I interacted regularly with in an internet group and I did not share a similar value set.  They kicked me out just as I decided to leave. Stung for a bit, but given everything else, I came to the conclusion that I needed positive attitudes and positive influences.  I wish them all the best.  I just needed to be somewhere else… and I’ve found that several other folks had the same idea.  We formed another group and created our own little support system, and we’re just fine.

Mom’s dementia continues to take a relentless toll on her.  She does pretty well during the day, but when evening comes, the confusion overwhelms her. We appear to have a stable group of caregivers now; there was a theft during the summer which caused us to have a shakeup eliminating one of the younger caregivers… but the ladies now with her 24/7 are caring and seem to treat her well. And I check on her.  A lot.   She’s also having trouble with the emphysema that was the end product of all those years of cigarettes that wouldn’t hurt her… but so far the breathing treatments seem to help.   I still go to Rome at least once a week, if not more, to grocery shop and handle business.

I lost a couple of very good friends this year… Big Jim Streeter passed suddenly in July.  How I miss that big teddy bear of a man!  And shortly before that, my pastor’s husband, Bill Lamberson, lost his battle with some chronic illnesses he’d been fighting.  I didn’t know Bill for long, but he was such a blessing to me with his big bear hugs and his listening ear.   In all, our church lost 5 members this year.  It was a big blow to our relatively small congregation.

In good news, after being laid off from Oracle last year, Richard is now a full time employee of AutoTrader.  He seems to really like it.  I really don’t like their health insurance.

Penny continues to be completely rotten (as if you’d expect something different).  Princess Chunky Butt is up to about 20 pounds now and she has us trained perfectly.

So, I’m hoping for a calmer 2014… one that has everyone healthy and happy… and one where I feel like writing obnoxious blog posts.

Happy Birthday, Penny!

Today is March 13 — and our little Penny is four years old.

pennyatfourWhen the breeder first told us that the litter with Penny had been born, she told us it was on March 13, which happened to be a Friday.

We suspect that she got spooked and figured that people wouldn’t want dogs born on Friday the 13th, so the birthdate on Penny’s registration has been shifted a day to March 12.

We consider March 13, 2009 to be the luckiest of days that gave us our lucky little Penny.

Happy Birthday, girlfriend.  No doubt there’s some bacon in your future for a celebration.




It’s 4 years today since my little Oscar went to the Rainbow Bridge.



Love you and miss you, my little man.

In which I am nearly banned from the Rome GA Kroger…

As many of you know, I’ve taken over most of the day-to-day stuff for my mom… which includes grocery shopping.  I travel to Rome roughly once a week… her caregivers make a list of what’s needed, and I head out during my visit to secure provisions for the next week.  I try to buy ahead a little bit just in case business or the weather keeps me from making the trip.  My husband can tell you I’m a huge fan of having things “on hand”.

Let’s just say Rome is limited in its selection of grocery providers.  On the East side of town where Mom lives, you’ve got Kroger, Wally World, and… uh…. (insert Jeopardy music here)… that’s about it for your major retailers.  The powers that be up there keep saying a Publix is coming…

So this past Thursday, I took my list and went to Kroger to buy what was needed for the coming week.  First off, they’ve remodeled and enlarged the place, so I’ve got to learn where everything is all over again.  Fortunately, my list was small this week, so it wasn’t that big a deal.  It didn’t take long to gather items on the list and head for the checkout.  Mom and her caregiver were at the hairdresser; I needed to buy groceries, take them back to the house and store the perishables in the fridge, then meet them for lunch.  So I had a bit of a time crunch.

(As an aside – I’m happy Mom is feeling well enough now to go get her hair done.  You can pretty much tell the health of a Southern woman of a certain age by whether or not she can make her weekly visit to the hair salon.  If she misses her appointment, it’s Defcon 1.)

I get in line to check out.  Now, there are two young men trying to bag my groceries.  To protect the guilty, we’ll refer to them henceforth as Dumbo 1 and Dumbo 2. (You can see where this is going now, can’t you?)

Each week, I purchase a half gallon of buttermilk and a half gallon of whole milk.  Anyone who grocery shops can tell you that you always have to dig to the back to get the milk with the latest expiration date and therefore, the freshest milk.  I was pleased to have scored expiration dates nine days out.

Dumbo 1 bagged the milk together.  I looked over, and one of the milk cartons had busted in the bag.  The bag was filling with plastic milk jugs swimming in free-range milk.  He placed the bag in my cart.  I began to sense that this wasn’t going to go well.

“Hey, wait just a minute…”  The cashier stopped.  I motioned to the equivalent of a milk-filled water balloon in my cart.  “The milk broke open.”  She looked at Dumbo 1 and said “You know better than that.”  He took the seeping jug out of the bag…. and put the remaining milk-filled extravaganza containing the second half gallon back in the cart.

“No, I’m sorry… I’m not taking that.  It’s going to get all over my car.  I don’t have time to clean that up.  I want two different containers of milk.  And please mind the dates.   I shop for my mother once a week, and I need the dates as far out as you can get them.”  (At this point, I had the idea of an olefactory nightmare as the seeping milk bag got all over the Hummer and curdled in the hot Georgia….winter… it was 75 degrees today.)

Enter Dumbo 2.  He was assigned the task of fetching the brand new containers of milk while I finished the checkout.  I pulled my cart over to the side to get out of people’s way while I waited.

Dumbo 2 moved with the determination and speed of a snail. He finally reached me — with one container of milk.  He very proudly showed me that he had checked the date and it was indeed the farthest one he could find.

“Thank you.  I really appreciate that… but I had two containers.  This is just the buttermilk.  I need the whole milk too.”

Brooktrout. (You know. That look like a fish staring at you with its mouth open, completely expressionless.)

“Nobody told me to get that.”

“Well, I need that too.  And please check the date like you did for this one.”

Dumbo 2 scurried back to the dairy case with the speed of a snail on barbiturates. He finally came back with a container of whole milk.  I looked at the date.  It expired in two days. My patience had begun to wear thin.

“No, I’m sorry.  That milk expires in two days.  I told you that I shop once a week for my mother.  Would you want someone giving your mama that milk?”

“I guess I can go get another one.”

“No.  I want you to watch my cart while I go get it.”  I hurried to the back to get the milk while placing a call to mom’s caregiver, because I was going to be late for lunch.

When I returned… Dumbo 2 had abandoned my cart, and was making time with a young woman several checkout lanes away.  At that point, I lost it.

“Hey, thanks for watching my cart!” (snarky tone)

“Oh, you’re welcome.  Would you like me to help you take that stuff to your car??”

“Oh. My. God.  You’re so stupid you don’t even recognize sarcasm, do you???”


I turned to leave, but I had to make one more stop.  Customer Service.

“Is there a manager on duty?”  “He’s on a conference call.”  “GET. HIM.”

At that point I saw the problem.  On the wall at customer service, they had a sign that said their target customer satisfaction rate was 73%.  Not 100%.  Not 90%.  Not even 80%.  These people are professional underachievers.  And they didn’t even make that.  Their rate last month?  67%.

So the manager came.  I pointed out Dumbo 1 and 2.  I told him I could understand that the milk busted by accident, but their service went downhill from there.  Of course, he promised to address it.  And in true underachiever style, I’m sure he never did.

I’m also sure someone snapped a photo of me with their phone and put my picture in customer service with a “Beware” sign.

Happy Birthday, Dad

January 4. This year would have been my dad’s 84th birthday.

I often wonder what he would have thought about things going on now… from the changes in banking to the Wall Street meltdown to Congress (scratch that – I can tell you exactly what he’d have thought about that crowd).

I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately.

Miss you Dad.  Take care of Oscar till we get there. I know you’re feeding him all the chicken biscuits he wants.

Pennies from Heaven

I’ve been reminded recently by my stalker friend Pat that I hadn’t posted in awhile, so I figured the last day of the year was as good as any to try to get one up.  

I spent New Year’s Eve rolling coins before hubby and I had our annual fondue dinner at home. We don’t go out on New Year’s Eve since it’s “amateur night” – you know… all those people who never party choose this one night to go tie one on, and it just gets ridiculous out.

So we’ve been in most of the day, and I rolled coins.  I know that there are those machines where you can put the coins in, and it’ll count them for you – but it also takes about 8% of your money for the privilege of doing it. I’m a banker’s daughter, and by golly, I’m gonna roll my own. And in that time, I always feel a little closer to my dad.

When I was a little girl, Dad would bring coins home from the bank, and we’d spend hours looking at them… the dates, the mint marks, the condition… and we’d look them up in a coin book we kept at the house to see if we’d found anything of value.  Oh, we’d find a few here and there… not many… and we’d spend the rest of the time rolling up what was left over.  We used those flat coin rollers that were “one size fits all” and were the absolute devil to get around the coins before they all spilled out because that’s what they used at the bank, and that’s what I learned to use. 

Years later, I realize that the value I found was those hours with my dad.  He never said a lot, and I’m guessing he was thrilled to find a way to keep an inquisitive child busy when there were only 3 channels on a black & white TV.   Every time I roll coins now, I’m taken back to those times I spent with him. 

So today, I rolled a quart mason jar full of pennies.  I looked at each one carefully to see if there might be one of value.  Got a total of $12.50 rolled… and wouldn’t you know it, but I found two wheat pennies.  Doubt they’re worth much more than a penny, except they represent a world of memories to me. 

I wish all of you a happy, safe and healthy new year. May our troubles be few and our joys be many.