IT'S NOT EASY BEING A SOUTHERN BELLE-EVEN AFTER YEARS OF PRACTICE!













Monday, December 31, 2007

REFLECTIONS ON A YEAR

Where did the year go? They seem to fly by faster and faster as I get older. There must be some scientific theory concerning how slow time goes by when you are a youth and as you get older and older it goes by faster and faster. The Theory of Increased Speed of Time With Increased Age. I am going to apply for a government grant for the study of my new theory. This study should be worth at least a cool million dollar grant. If you would like to volunteer to be one of the subjects of my study, please let me know. There will be no pay as I will be keeping all of the money for myself in the tradition of those applying for government grants.

This year has brought change, as all years do. Life is always full of change and the challenge is to adapt to the change and trust in the divine wisdom of life's architect. My kids are on the move with The Jennings in Erie and Gabe now in Austin. Gabe's move should be an improvement for us. Although Austin is a greater distance than Baton Rouge, the boys are all in the same place and this helps. Scott and his family have bought a house and will be settling into a routine with their new home. Caleb and Cade have physically and emotionally matured by leaps and bounds this year. Adam & Camille have settled into their lives in Erie nicely. Adam has accepted the challenge of medical school and Camille has settled into a new job and new friends. She has the wonderful capability of making friends wherever she is planted. What a gift!

We have seen our small group grow in numbers and grow in the Lord during this year. We have had our share of challenges with the illness of our beloved friend, Dale. We have pulled together in prayer and work to serve these dear friends. We will continue to grow together, serve together & love our Lord together. We are blessed to have this spiritual community.

Our elder family members continue the march we all make to the end of our days on this earth. Life is not always kind and time can be cruel. We are challenged to make these days as good as possible while reassuring them of the love that surrounds them as only family can. The day is swiftly approaching when we will be the senior patriarchs of the family and our desire is to serve well in that capacity. As generations before us, we are observing and making mental notes of what we hope to do or not do when our day arrives.

Friendships have grown and time has been well spent nurturing and enjoying those relationships. We are blessed with life long friends as well as those that have appeared in our lives in the latter days. How does the old song go? "One is silver and the other gold." Wise songwriter. Fun and memorable trips to the beach and the mountains. Many a laugh and plenty of food-makes for "good times".

I've watched the days fade into night; the sun rise and fade; the moon appear over the horizon and the stars light the sky. I've seen icy winds turn to cold spring rains, spring rains bring the southern Gulf showers, mild warmth has turned to sultry humid summer days, that slowly faded into autumn crisp evenings; that once again became glimpses of icy cold as winter approached. The barren trees and bushes have turned to spring buds sprouting from the ground and leaf buds on tall hardwood trees, green stalks with buds ready to burst forth sprang from the beds, and flowers adorned every bed until late autumn, when dropping leaves and fading flowers signaled the end of growth. The birds appeared by the season and nests were built, eggs laid, chicks chirped for worms and bugs, and fledglings flew. There is such predictability in the order of the seasons as there is with the order of life. Sometimes the timing is thrown off, but as the scripture tells us for everything there is a season. We have to trust that our seasons will be as God directs and know it is for our best,even when we question and do not understand.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS-

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make His Face to shine upon you, may He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. My New Year Prayer for us all.

On a much lighter note, I went to the Quick Care this AM after not running my morning run. I felt as bad all last night as I have since I contacted the bubonic plague. When I don't get up and push myself through a run, I am dragging big time. The following medical formula should bring restored health in time for the Houston Marathon-which is 13 days from today:

2 Shoots + Antibiotic Prescription-Old Decongestant+New Decongestant =
Well Lora





Sunday, December 30, 2007

NEW YEAR'S ADAM

To quote our Pastor, today is New Year's Adam, since Adam came before Eve.

Still suffering from a cold, but may have turned the corner. This is not the time to be under the weather, since I am loosing ground before the marathon. Yesterday's run was twice as hard as the 22 miler. This was the worst time to get a cold, but there is not much I can do about that. Just keep taking the decongestants and making the runs and pumping the fluids. What will be will be.

Here is a little story I tried. I have felt like the writing vibes have stopped for a while and I am trying to get them going again. This is a little story about our last dog, Lucky Girl. She was a great pet and we hated having to give her to a really nice couple way out in the country, but after attacking a neighborhood dog twice, she had to have a new home. I understand from her neighbor, Mona, that she is truly in "Doggy Heaven" now.

Feed Back is Welcome!

Lucky was out for her midnight stroll that she took every night. Once the humans had gone to bed and all of the lights had been turned off, Lucky felt like her duties of watching her family could be delayed for a little while. This was Lucky’s favorite time of the day, her time to sniff around the neighborhood and make sure all was well. It was a silent ritual with the only sound being the soft padding of her paws as she made the rounds. The light from the moon lit her path, but even in the pitch dark her eyes adjusted and she could make her way down the rutted paths that she trotted down every night, no matter what the weather. Her ears were perked up for any sound and her nose was pointed into the wind following the familiar smells as they drifted through the night air.

The house next door was quiet as Lucky approached it. She had to be careful of her steps since the kids that lived in this house left their toys in different places everyday. Lucky made her way to the garbage cans for a sniff. Human’s garbage told a lot about them and their lives. As Lucky smelled the tall green cans, she noticed the broken toys thrown into the bins beside the cans. There had been an entire new batch of toys that appeared a few nights before and the kids had been busy playing with all of them since then. It seemed the toys in the bin were a combination of toys that Lucky had sniffed many times and a few of the new toys. The house full of kids was always active and fun to play with, but you had to be careful since they could play very rough. Lucky always picked her time to go by this house, since it was always best to trot over when the kids had already been playing for a while, they didn’t play quite so rough after they had been out for a while. There was lots of squealing, laughing, shouting, and sometimes crying from this house, but Lucky enjoyed her infrequent visits. One more sniff before moving on and Lucky detected the left over fish sticks and chicken nuggets that she often smelled in this garbage. These humans always had fish and chicken and sometimes macaroni and cheese in their garbage. Lucky was not interested in these left overs tonight, since she had been well fed by her humans and it was a lot of trouble to turn over the cans.

Lucky trotted on down the path to the next house and found lights still on and loud music coming from the room high up in the house. This house was always full of lights late at night, but if you went by anytime in the morning it was quiet. The garbage cans were full of tin soda cans and cardboard boxes full of pizza crust. The cans were always full of soda cans and often had cardboard or styrophone boxes with the smell of food on them, but almost always empty of food. Lucky did not understand these humans. Most of the humans in her world were out and gone early in the day and came home when it was dark, but these humans had different patterns. The big humans followed the same pattern as all of the others, but there were humans who lived in this house who stayed inside during the daylight time and were noisy and busy during the nighttime hours. This was difficult to figure out, but Lucky did occasionally enjoy the midnight game with the ball they played.

It was time to move on down the street and the next house was dark and quiet. Lucky approached the cans knowing that she would not detect any smell. These humans had garbage with no smell and Lucky was curious about that. Just to see what was going on; Lucky had turned the can over one night. She had discovered once she tore through the first big sack that there were more sacks inside. Upon tearing into those sacks she found each sack contained different things. Some sacks had only paper, some sacks had only cans that had all been washed out and had no odor, some sacks had food that had been carefully wrapped and taped up. These bundles of food were very difficult to get into since they were so tightly bound with the tape. Lucky did not understand these humans and their sacks in sacks, so she just gave a quick sniff and trotted on down the street. Some things were more trouble than they were worth and this house with its neatness and order was boring and empty of any interesting smells.

The next house was dark, but for some strange reason as soon as Lucky trotted up to the cans, a light came on-right over the cans. The cans were all by large stakes that had chains attached to the cans. You were lucky to even get a sniff at this house before one of the humans came running out of the door yelling at you. Some humans were just not very friendly and better avoided. Lucky always went by, but never stopped since she knew she was not welcome.

As Lucky began to head back home, she decided upon one last stop at the house across the street from her humans. These were her favorite humans on her stroll everyday. She knew she would not have to sniff around the garbage here, since these humans always left her a snack by the back door. Tonight Lucky was really lucky, the bowl had a steak bone left from the cookout earlier in the evening. Lucky had smelled the delicious aroma when he was tending to his humans. She knew that at the end of her walk tonight there would be a treat in the bowl, since they always left Lucky a treat. When these humans were outside, they always had a friendly word and a pat on the head for Lucky. They were her favorite humans, except for her family.

Lucky took the bone and headed home. She slowly circled on her warm blankets getting just the right spot for chewing her bone and maybe taking a nap. It was time to guard her family and listen for any strange noises from the evening. The night would be quickly over and tomorrow would bring another busy day. Lucky relished in the bone and then slowly nodded off to sleep. The neighborhood became quiet and still and Lucky dreamed doggie dreams of being indeed a “Lucky Dog.”

Friday, December 28, 2007

"STUFFY NOSES"

I am sitting here in a "fog" of decongestants thinking I am getting better. I have now decided that I must have a cold-well whatever-I can't breath unless I stay on the "drugs". Usually a cold last 2 weeks, but the only symptom I have is the stuffy nose-ok not stuffy-TOTALLY CLOGGED. I am not under the weather often and don't like not running on all cylinders. Tomorrow is the "LAST" double digit run before the marathon, and it is only 15 miles,but it is difficult to run when you cannot breath. Oh well-I will think about that tomorrow.

I have had a wonderful fire burning all day today. The fireplace brings wonderful warm memories from my childhood forward. I don't really remember much about the house that I spent my first 5 years in, but the house on James Avenue in Farmerville had a wonderful fireplace. Now when I think about it, I realize how contemporary it was for the time, but at the time, it was perfect. Daddy had a marble seat built the entire length of the wall that the fireplace was on. It was the perfect height for sitting and had pillows on the ends to put on top of the cold stone when you sat. There was no mantle-thus the contemporary look, but the brick went all the way from window to window over the marble seat to the ceiling. We had bucket wicker chairs that were perfect to pull up "right in front" and you could prop your shoeless feet right in front of the fire. AAAHHHH! My favorite seat in the house.

We had a fireplace in the first home that Bobby & I owned together on Hundred Oaks Drive in Ruston. It also was my favorite place to sit in the house. It was on the end of the den and reminded me a lot of the fireplace in Farmerville. We had a glass door in front of it that we closed when it was not in use. All of our children played around that fireplace and the hearth by it was where we kept the baskets of toys. During the cool winter months, my chair was always as close to it as I could get it. When the babies were small, I even pulled my rocker right by it to rock them and enjoy the warmth.

Our home in Vienna has a small den with a fireplace. There is really only one place right by the fire to put a chair. Bobby is very kind and allows me to sit in this "special" chair almost all of the time. I love the smell, the crackle, and the sight of the wonderful fire during the cool Louisiana days and evenings. Yes, the fireplace brings instant warm and wonderful memories for me. I could never imagine a home without one, even though that day may come. For now, I am relishing in the warmth and comfort of a wonderful Louisiana fire.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A FEW PICS

Uncle Conin Michael & Boys
Santa Came By Last Night


The Jennings & Pappaw















Nannie & Gabe






















The Seney's


Madeline & Uncle Bob


Merry Christmas to All & to All

A Good Night!

IT ALWAYS CATCHES UP WITH ME!

I am a bubble off center today! I seem to have a sinus infection which I am aggressively fighting since yesterday. When I don't get enough rest and over-do, I sometimes get under the weather. Under normal circumstances, my body is pretty good about fighting off any malady, but when you are also running LOTS of miles-well this tends to pull from your reserves. DUM DE DUM DUM! I am taking decongestants trying to unclog, but I seem to have a snout full. I even woke myself up snoring last night and BC finally gave up and moved to the couch. I have spent the day chilling and trying to conquer this before our long run Saturday. Ironically 15 miles doesn't really sound like much of a challenge, so hopefully I will just go and blow-literally!

My friend, Debbie, has jumped on the blogging wagon. HIP HIP HOORAY! I was beginning to think that none of my peers would ever join me in the OCD Trail of blogging. I have warned her that it becomes habitual and feeds that OCD tendency, so she can't say that I didn't warn her. Debbie is a hoot and has plenty to say about plenty of things. She should be a very enjoyable writer-until she jumps off the cliff of political rhetoric. Be fore-warned Debbie, I will not read closely all of the political ramblings.

Gabe left after lunch tonight, so Bobby and I are "Home Alone" once again. It will take a couple of days to get used to the quiet and get back into our routines. It was wonderful to have everyone here and that had not happened in quite some time. We are blessed to have such a sweet family!

I sent all of the left overs with Gabe. I probably would have just thrown them away. After 2 or 3 times, I have had it with the left overs. He had no problem taking them and saying he would be glad to finish them off. Good for him!

This is the annual "lull" between Christmas and New Years. I get the feeling we are in "no man's land" of non-activity between holidays. The big eating days and gift days are over and the annual "wait" for the New Year is pending so we are in limbo. This is a very busy time of the year for Bobby, so he is working lots of hours. I am not a big shopper, so the "sales" are not very alluring. I need to get out that stack of books and magazines that I need to read. Why haven't I already thought about that?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

WHAJA GET?

Did Christmas really happen? When you walk through the house, it is quiet as a tomb. The decorations are still up, but there is no sign of anyone being here, except for the dirty clothes pile that I am working on. Everyone, except Gabe, has pulled out for their homes and you wouldn't think it every even happened. After your children are grown, you don't have the stacks of toys to try and find a spot for in already over flowing toys boxes, so order is restored in a pretty quick fashion. If you open the refrigerator, it is still crammed with leftovers and Gabe still has a little pile of his belongings to pack up, but there is really no other sign of the past 5 days. It is kind of sad, but the good time overshadows any sadness. We made lots of good memories!

I finally got what I have been asking for as a Christmas gift from BC. A SUPER DUPER POWER WASHER! This is the latest in a long line of "Romantic" gifts that I have asked for and received. There was a chain saw, a wheel barrow, a GPS, and the list goes on and on. It took MANY years for BC to learn to get me what I have asked for. Each and everything that I requested, I have loved and use frequently. I have had my share of "Romantic" gifts, but the ones I treasure are the ones that he listened to me wishing for and took the hint. It's Not The Gift-It Truly Is The Thought!

Camille had a harrowing experience trying to get back to Erie. As they were landing in Detroit, the flight attendant announced to NOT BE ALARMED, but thye would be making an emergency landing, complete with fire trucks and ambulances. All turned out fine, but they were pretty alarmed. There connecting flight was then delayed because of mechanical trouble and they finally got home at 2 AM. She had to get up and work this morning-BUMMER! I am certainly glad that we did not know all of that was going on. Probably would not have slept well had I known. Ignorance is truly bliss.

My friend, Ivory, had a major bummer on Christmas day. She is a single Mom and was getting gas and left her billfold at the gas pump. By the time she went back, it was gone along with all of her money, her debit card, her checkbook, and her ID. She is MOST UPSET, and I am sad for her. To top that off, she has developed "runner's knee" and it still is hurting, even after laying off for a week. "When it rains, it pours."

We ran 8 miles this AM. I went to the massage therapist this afternoon for a hour session of "Pain and Agony". THE MAN CAN INFLICT SOME PAIN! I have one more session before the marathon. It truly has helped to keep everything flexible and the knots worked out. Today's torture found spots in my legs that would have made a "Big Man" cry. The end though is definitely in sight!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We are winding down from a wonderful Christmas! We have taken the Jennings to the airport for their return to Erie. The Conville's are packing up all of the toys and all of their other stuff and getting ready to leave early tomorrow. Sylvia is leaving early also, so we will only have Gabe here. It has been a whirlwind of fun, but the whirlwind has flown by at warp speed.

We have had LOTS of visiting from the James crew and babies, the Willises from next door and new grandbaby, Nancy & Michael, and Nannie & Pappaw. Church services-eating-cooking-eating-opening gifts-eating-playing with new toys-eating. I guess you get the drift. It has been a wonderful long weekend that went by entirely too fast.

The favorite toy of the weekend is the new WII. I am not brave enough to even try it, but all of the little and big kids love it! They have multiple games to go with it,and the technology is unbelievable! You cannot teach old dogs new tricks!

You don't know what you are missing until you get a little taste of it. Thus it was with the Jennings-it was SO hard to take them back to the airport. It is a long way to Erie and even though you can talk everyday and see them 3 or 4 times a year-IT IS HARD! Our sweet little Camille is such a delight and Adam is her perfect compliment. We are grateful for that blessing! The only thing that made her leaving bearable was Adam going with her. We know they are so happy and that he is taking good care of her.

One of the most fun things of the weekend was singing Christmas songs with the boys. Camille is the ideal "Camp Director". She had us all singing the favorite fun songs including the "12 Days of Christmas". We all took parts and had a great time hamming it up. What fun!

Another Christmas has come and gone and it was quite a good one. As Poppa Bob and Caleb were discussing tonight, Christmas will come again in just one short year. WHOA! I am not thinking about that tonight!

We run 8 tomorrow after running 6 on Christmas Eve. The marathon time is closing in and I am delighted! It is time to be thinking of something besides the next run.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

CHRISTMAS!

The Conville's are invading the Conville's are invading!

The troops are beginning to arrive! Adam & Camille arrived last night, just a little late, but then we had to wait for an hour for the ground crew to unload the luggage. When they arrived the plane was on time, but they were not allowed to deboard until the ground crew got caught up. What I did not understand was there was no other plane there-so what were we waiting for? Then we waited the hour for the luggage to be unloaded. What the heck were they doing? We stopped and had a wonderful Chinese meal. They are enjoying the LA food and we have food in every conceivable corner and stuffed in the frig in anticipation of the rest of the crew arriving.

It is really remarkable that you can pick up just where you left off when the kids come home. Camille is playing the piano, just like she did 6 years ago and enters the room to a song and dance number. She is quite the girl! You don't remember how much you miss her until you are back with her again. Adam is the perfect husband and it is wonderful to see them interacting together.

Gabe arrived late this afternoon after a hard trip with lots of traffic! He walked in and it was deja vu to 10 year ago. He has his LP&L hat on, shades of Pappaw ,and his "Salvation Army" Texas tee shirt. What a boy! We are sitting here interacting and enjoying each other's company. It does not get much better than this.

Scott, Caroline & boys will be arriving tomorrow and Sylvia, Caroline's mother, Monday. We will officially have a house full then. GOOD TIMES!

Friday, December 21, 2007

HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!

I am borrowing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel to describe the current feeling flowing through every ounce of my core. I HAVE FINISHED THE LAST LONG RUN! "Tra La La Boom De Yah-Tra La La Boom De Yah! OVER FINISHED THE END! What a relief! The last 22 miler was today beginning at 5 AM in a THICK fog. It was sort of like running in pea soup-up hill. You could not see 20 feet down the road and therefore the drivers could not see us-even with my reflective vest on. This meant lots of jumping curbs to get out of the road and the oncoming traffic. Not the best of circumstances to run in, but since this is Christmas weekend, we had little choice. Now comes the taper. For the next two weeks we slowly begin decreasing the distance of our runs finishing with the final week before the marathon having short runs only. We are letting our legs recover from all of the pounding now that we know we can go at least 22. That last 4 miles-well- WE WILL SEE! In the last marathon, I hit the wall at mile 23 and the last 3 miles were at a walk for almost all of it. I just had nothing left to give. When your head tells your leg to lift your foot and nothing happens-that is true fatigue. For now I am satisfied with being past the real work and satisfied with knowing that we can now begin to back off. The marathon-well as one of my heroes said, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

We are picking up the Jennings family this afternoon at the airport in Shreveport. Camille has already requested to stop for Mexican food for supper. There seems to be a shortage of the highly seasoned and tasty food we have grown to expect in the South in Erie. We are excited about the entire clan being here and looking forward to a wonderful Christmas.

Hopefully I will have time to blog or at least post pictures. You will probably be to busy to read it anyway. ENJOY YOUR CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ANOTHER CHRISTMAS STORY!

Our visit with the Thompson's was wonderful! What a blessing and gift their friendship is and has been! The only problem was it was TOO SHORT, but I will take what I can get. Busy busy getting ready for the holidays. The troops start arriving tomorrow. We can't wait.

This isn't my best work-but you learn by doing!

HERBERT THE MEDIOCORE ELF

Herbert heard his alarm go off at the normal time of 6:30, just like it did every morning. He sighed and slowly sat back and pushed off the covers as he put his feet on the cold floor. Off to the bathroom and, after washing up, he put on his “elf suit” just as he did every morning. The “elf suit” is red and green and since it was the required uniform at work, there was never an option of wearing anything else. A breakfast of oatmeal and orange juice-everyday- and out the door and off to work went Herbert.

Herbert was assigned to the “rag doll section” of Santa’s Workshop. The smart elves made the electronic toys, the artistic elves made the designer dolls, the fast elves were assigned the cars, trucks, bikes and another toy that rolled. The list could go on and on with all of the talented and smart elves assigned to specific toy departments. Herbert had tried several of these departments, but he was not really capable of any of this specialized work. After Santa had tried him-unsuccessfully-in almost every department, he had finally sent Herbert to the rag doll room.

The rag doll room was a mundane job sewing together dolls made from old rags. The stitches were pretty much a straight line and the face and features were created from buttons sewed directly on the fabric. The hair of each doll was yarn which was tied together and then sewn on the doll. These dolls were not really high tech or particularly attractive-JUST PLAIN OLD DOLLS.

Herbert went to work everyday and stayed in the “rag doll department” from the entire time he was at work. Since the dolls were neither technically difficult nor requiring any delicate hand work, the department was at the back of the workshop. Herbert worked at a steady, but not very fast pace and added doll after doll to the warehouse stockroom. The stockroom was stacked to the ceiling with every conceivable toy that any boy or girl could want. The ragdolls were stuck way back in the rear of the room. Herbert wondered why they even continued to make the rag dolls. With so many options of dolls for girls to choose from, he knew that his labor was more than likely in vain. Life seemed pointless and Herbert considered retiring. After hundreds of years of the same job, day after day, year after year, Herbert felt as if his usefulness had passed and the day of the “rag doll” had passed. Why would anyone want a “rag doll”, when there were more beautiful and smarter dolls on every shelf?

Herbert asked for an appointment to see Santa. Santa was a VERY busy elf, but he took the time to meet with Herbert and hear him out. When Herbert told Santa that he thought it was time to retire, Santa was shocked and dismayed. Herbert explained that he was not a particularly talented elf and the small contribution of making “rag dolls” had passed its time of need. Santa quickly took Herbert by the arm and led him to the file room. He told Herbert that he wanted to share some of his files with him, in the hope of dissuading Herbert from retiring. Herbert agreed to go, but he had his mind made up and only went with Santa to be polite.

The first file that Santa pulled was a picture of a cute little girl AND SHE WAS HOLDING ONE OF HERBERT’S DOLLS. Herbert was shocked, but he understood when Santa read him the girl’s Mother’s letter. Susie was blind and unable to see, but she loves the soft material of the “rag doll” and spent many an hour playing with the doll. Since Susie could not see, she relied upon her sense of touch and smell to identify her beloved doll. The doll’s body was made from the softest velveteen. She loved rubbing the material. The doll smelled like Christmas itself since it had absorbed all of the aromas which floated around Santa’s Workshop. Susie could smell her doll as soon as she entered the room and following the smell, she could find and identify the much loved doll. Herbert’s doll had given Susie many hours of joy and was her must treasured possession.

The next file was from a daughter of an elderly patient in a nursing home. The doll had been a present to her beloved mother and she spent all of her waking hours holding and tending to the doll. Her mother was often confused and unaware of the world around her, but the doll brought her a touch of the reality she had once known. The daughter was so grateful for the doll and the mother cherished the “rag doll” and the sweet memories it stirred. The doll was capable of bringing calm like nothing else could and the daughter was thankful for the sweetness it stirred in an otherwise absent mother. Time had not been kind, but the precious mother’s love was reflected in the way she cared for and loved the “rag doll.”

The final file that Santa pulled was from a family that lived far back in the hills. The daughter of the family had been affected since birth and lacked a “normal” child’s ability to learn. She would never speak and her mother had to tend to her every need. The girl was unable to dress or feed herself. She stayed in a state of confusion since she was unable to communicate and was often restless and distraught. The “rag doll” that Santa had brought was the girl’s only comfort. She carried the doll with her every moment she was awake and even took the doll to bed at night. Unable to play with the more sophisticated toys of today, the “rag doll” was the perfect toy for the girl. Tattered and resewn, threadbare, and well worn, the “rag doll” was the calming element in a confusing world-the PERFECT GIFT.

After Herbert had read the files, Santa asked did he now understand how important his job was? Herbert had always thought his job not important and that he was expendable. He now understood that each and every job in the work shop was important and well worth his best efforts. Herbert slowly smiled and thanked Santa. As he slowly walked back to the “rag doll” department, he resolved to continue to do his very best. Each and every rag doll was meant as a very important gift to a very special person. Santa had shown Herbert that his job was indeed important and as he walked back to work, Herbert resolved to do his very best when sewing together each and every “rag doll”. After all you never knew who would end up with the special “Herbert Created Rag Doll.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SWEET ANTICIPATION!

Our dear friends, The Thompson's, are on their way as I write. I am sitting here with "Ants in my Pants" waiting for their arrival. All is prepared and ready-we just need their sweet presence.

I ran to Monroe this afternoon to finish my shopping. I am PLEASED to say that I AM FINISHED! What we don't have we don't need. Another big grocery shopping trip on the horizon and beginning to cook, but I should have plenty of help beginning Friday evening. We are so looking forward to the ENTIRE crew being here for Christmas. This will be the grands first Vienna Christmas and I am trying to make it special.

I saw a really cute idea on "Mr Food" a couple of days ago. You roll two scoops of ice cream-one larger than the other. I suggest you put these in the freezer and let them get really hard. When you are ready to prepare, put one on top of the other. The hat is a chocolate mint patty with a peanut butter cup on top. The eyes, nose & mouth are made from cake decorating candies. The scarf is a red licorice piece wrapped around the middle of the two scoops. The arms I can't remember, but use your imagination. You hang a small peppermint stick from one of the arms. Place this on a dessert plate with icing around the base and coconut sprinkled around it. This will be a fun activity for the kids and I look forward to helping them.

We ran a slow, but fun 6 miles this AM. Trying not to push and save those legs for the-----DRUM ROLL!!!!!!!!-------FINAL BIG RUN- Friday. At this point in time-just get through it!

I have one more Christmas story about Herbert the Elf. I hope I have time to transfer my idea to words and send it to you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS!

All of the local kids are out of school for the Christmas holidays. What a great time that always was! The long anticipated two weeks to enjoy and relish Christmas and New Years. My children were able to enjoy trips during their breaks at Christmas to some rather exotic places. During the good old days, this was unheard of. I cannot remember anyone going skiing during the years while growing up. To begin with, the travel was not as easy. There were mostly two lane roads and certainly not a hotel on every corner. The idea of a resort was not around. We actually took a few summer vacations, including a trip or two to a "Dude Ranch" in Texas. It was not easy to get where you were going and long trips were pretty much out. The day of ability to fly to any distant corner with the ease of planning from your computer were long off. We had to be satisfied with the simple pleasures and I have one distinct memory of just such a "trip".

The Girl Scouts camped for a few days-maybe even a week one Christmas vacation. What made this even neater was the fact that we had snow! We were camped in a bottom and across the way in the same bottom was the local Boy Scout troop. IT WAS COLD! I remember having layers of clothes on and sleeping in the same clothes that we wore all day. It was muddy, since the snow was melting and almost impossible to get into your sleeping bag without getting mud inside it. We had a rotating job assignment chart including KP duty. When it was your turn to "do the dishes", you boiled water in a galvanized pail first. The heavy and hot pail had to be moved from the fire to the dish washing table. I have a very distinct memory of, if I remember right, Adrian and Ann's mother spilling the hot water on her leg while doing this chore. She had to go to the doctor, but recovered without incident. The week was a great week and lots of fun, but the part I remember most, was this incident.

I have gotten over any need to camp in my older years. My idea of camping is the Holiday Inn. I love the outdoors, but have no desire to sleep on the ground. I can enjoy all of the virtues of nature without having to suffer a sore back.

I am in high gear trying to finish getting ready for Christmas. I am almost through with my shopping, have started making my weekend menus and grocery lists, and have one more BIG grocery shopping trip to make.

Our dear friends, The Thompsons, are coming for the night tomorrow. We both are so looking forward to picking up where we left off last. GOOD TIMES!

Babs & I walked 5 miles this AM. At this point in training a 5 mile walk is not even a blip on the screen.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A SPECIAL VISITOR



We had a special visitor come by the Conville abode Sunday evening-THE OLD MASTER ELF HIMSELF-THE TOP CHEESE-THE OLD MAN-SANTA! He stoppped by to ask us if this is where our grandsons, Caleb and Cade were spending Christmas this year. He has not been by the Conville home in Vienna in many a year and was just doing a trial run to make sure he knew the way. It was good to see Santa and we are looking forward to his return visit on Christmas Eve. All good boys and girls that BELIEVE receive a very special visit at this time every year and I hope that Caleb and Cade are expecting a magical Vienna Christmas.
While Santa was here, he asked about our
special friends, The Boersma's. We told him that we could run him over to see for himself how they were, so across town we drove. As you can see from the picture, Mrs. Helen was particularly pleased to see "The Jolly Fat Man". Dr. B even had a grin and hug to share with the "Man from the North". What a fun evening and just think in one week he will be back with a sled pulled by reindeer filled with good cheer!
Today was a COLD day for a run! It was some where in the 20's depending upon which thermometer you read and believed. This required about ten extra minutes for layering. I believe I had three layers on my top when I finished, but only one pants layer. The legs get warm and stay warm after about a mile or so. Two pairs of socks including a "smart wool" pair and gloves and mittens. THE REALLY GREAT NEWS is that I have found an answer to the really cold and numb hands dilemma. BC bought me these disposable hand warmers that hunters use. THEY WORK GREAT! The only problem I had today was that I broke one of them open toward the end of my run, probably from squeezing my hands together too tight. Fortunately they were between my gloves and mittens, so no harm done. By the time we finished, I had a coat of frost on my back from the prespiration freezing in the cold air on my top layer. For the first time IN A LONG LONG TIME, I wore a hat. That is a mistake. Next time maybe ear muffs, but no hat. My head was soaked by the time we finished.
I had lunch with Babs, Larry & Sandra at Sweet Pea's. SOUL FOOD! I especially love the chicken & dumplings, old timey fried chicken, & MOST OF ALL the fried corn bread. I LOADED UP! It has been a good day and I am blessed!
TEN MILES ON MY 59th BIRTHDAY-NOT BAD FOR AN OLD LADY-HUH???????

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A CHRISTMAS STORY FOR YOU!

Fiction loosely based upon fact. ENJOY!

CHRISTMAS ON PEACHTREE AVENUE

The air was brisk and the sky was clear and it was time for my annual Christmas Eve stroll through my neighborhood. For the 25 years that I had lived on Peachtree Avenue, this had been my tradition-to walk the sidewalks of my familiar home ground and reflect upon the wonder of Christmas and the neighbors that surrounded our home. Through the years, no matter what the weather, I had come to look forward to the end of the whirl of the season and relish the stillness that the late evening brought with it.

As I turned out of my drive and headed down the block, the first house I came to was the Walker’s home. The Walker’s were a new family to the block and had a house full of children of all sizes from babies to young teens. The yard was strewn with bicycles and toys and there was a constant state of disarray as you passed by from day to day. Christmas though was a magical time for the Walkers and their offspring. Every window was bright with lights. There were inflatable Christmas decorations in the yard and icicle lights hanging from every eave of the house. The cypress tree growing in the front yard was full of colored lights. The house was so decorated that you felt like the ground might collapse from the weight of it all. I had come to love it! When they first moved in and began decorating in this extravagant style-I was overwhelmed and thought it way over the top. The one year that they missed decorating, when Mrs. Walker was sick, had left a hole in Christmas. The hustle and bustle from the house next door was a sweet reminder of Christmases past and I loved passing by and soaking in the energy that literally haloed the house. The Walkers and all of their children were a sweet page in the story of life and Christmases past.

A couple of houses past the Walker’s I passed the Taylors. The Taylors had grown children that had moved from their home town and started lives of their own, following their graduation from college. Mrs. Taylor loved Christmas and all of the warmth of the season. Known for being the Martha of the neighborhood, Mrs. Taylor’s decorations and parties were renowned. Everyone loved getting an invitation to their annual Christmas Open House. The children came home every year for Christmas and the sense of family permeated from the house. The Taylors had begun preparing for Christmas and actually gotten all of the traditional decorations in their place and then Christmas seemed to have ceased at their home. Mrs. Taylor had become sick and surgery was required. The diagnosis was overwhelming and a daunting fight was in the future. The Taylors only wish for Christmas this year was for restored health and freedom from pain. Christmas was still looked forward to by the Taylors, but the things that once seemed so important had now taken a back seat to other pressing needs. The Christmas prayers that flowed from their home this year had taken on a new importance and family had now become the focus of each Taylor. This season of celebration would be subdued, but the family was rallying around Mrs. Taylor and their love and support would be her best Christmas gift.

As I continued down the street with the street lights twinkling in the evening, I came to a house that seemed to rock and vibrate with the spirit of Christmas. The Blacks had lived in the neighborhood since before we had moved here. A particularly close family the Blacks had raised their four children in this house and now the Black children and all of their children were home for this Christmas. Mr. Black had been ill since late in the spring and seemed to be losing ground in his fight for restored health. Mrs. Black had determined that she would have each and every inch of their home decorated for the holidays and it was an absolute wonderland when you entered the door. I am not sure where they had put all of those children and grandchildren, but they were determined to be together this holiday. A little discomfort was a small price to pay for the feeling of being united and celebrating this wonderful time of the year. Both of the Blacks had been elated when the entire clan was able to gather from far ends of the world and all over the country. The house was noisy and seemed full of bodies in every nook and cranny, but what a delight. The Blacks and their offspring knew how to celebrate and the fun and merriment filled the air. This was indeed a wonderful Christmas for all of the Blacks, even in the midst of illness. The telling of the Christmas story would take on new meaning this year as they all clung to the comfort that only family can give.

The last house on the block, before I made my turn to go home, was dark. Mrs. Conner was alone now since her beloved husband had passed away a few years back. The time had passed for much decorating at Christmas and the only real sign of Christmas was the Christmas cards on the mantle of her fireplace. The Conner children and their children were spread out all over the nation. They all lead busy lives and had important jobs with pressing needs. The years had brought a distance, not only in miles, but also in connection. Mrs. Conner loved to tell you of the years when her children were home and the memories of wonderful Christmases served as her solace during the holidays. Christmas had become a time of reminiscing of years gone and the sweetness of memories of family and friends in days of yore. The house was dark, but Mrs. Conner was warm with the memory of a life full of love and laughter and special Christmases well spent.

As I headed back to the warmth of my chair by the fire, I reflected on this special time of the year. The years had brought many Christmases and many stages of living life. There had been years of babies, toys, bicycles, and special Christmas Eve Communion Services. There had been teenage children with new cars, electronic gadgets, and plans of their own. There have been new family members including children’s spouses and the best of all-grandchildren. The neighborhood had grown into a reflection of life and all of the stages we pass through as we travel down the road. Once again, as I turned into the drive, I said a prayer in gratitude for each and every season of life and the neighbors that surrounded us. God is indeed good and Christmas is a most special and blessed time of the year. As I opened the door and entered our home, my mind shot back to that magical phrase from a story oft told, “Merry Christmas to All and to all a Good Night.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

TOO STUPID TO GET IN OUT OF THE RAIN!

We started our run this AM at 6 which was the first mistake of the day. We should have started at 5 and maybe gotten through before the bulk of the rain came. It was not just raining-IT WAS POURING! We had agreed to run, unless it was lightning and when we began it was not lightning. When we got to the very farthermost point from the start, we saw the first lightning. We ended up stopping 4 times and getting under a porch to try and out wait the lightning. This made for a long run. When I tell you we were soaked, I don't think I have EVER been quite this wet. My shoes weighed a ton from all of the water in them and my sleeves were 6 inches longer than usual because of the pull from all of the water. The cold air started blowing about half way through the run and my hands were so numb I could not get my fuel belt off when I got home. That long hot shower felt great! I think we now have successfully trained in every type of weather that could be in Houston. The hottest of the hot, the below freezing, the sun, the fog, and now the monsoon rain. It really is not smart to run when it is lightning, but when you get out that far, you have to get back. We kept thinking it was over, but then another bright halo of light would flash and a low rumble of thunder. In the great words of Babs, "Well I can't say that it was enjoyable, but it was memorable." Just as many days of life blend into each other, so do runs begin to blend and look alike. Runs like today make for good stories when we are sitting around talking and laughing and reminiscing about "good times."

We had the James family Christmas get-together tonight at brother, Robbie's & Laurie's home. The star of the evening was Adrian and Caleb's daughter, Audrey. Shades of Camille many years ago. She absolutely entertained us all evening. She is quite a cutey and has a personality not unlike her Aunt Ann & cousin, Camille. DRAMA QUEEN! Her little sister, Abby, is really cute, and crawling everywhere. She is in the stage when she only wants her Momma. I laughed and told her Mother that when my kids went through this stage I had a pet name for them, which I will not post. We only had all of Noel's family there since mine and Robbie's kids are spread out all over the nation.

Robbie had invited old family friends from Farmerville, The Holders. I was telling Mrs. Holder about writing about Momma and she told me a couple of short stories about Momma & Daddy.

She told me she remembered coming to our house for dinner when Noel was a baby. She said that Aunt Mattie Maude and Uncle Bryant came by after dinner and took Noel home with them to spend the night. This obviously is before the family split. She did not have many details for me though of the evening.

She also told me a story of having a wreck not far from our home on James Avenue. She said that Daddy & Robbie were the first to come to her aide. It seems that Daddy took care of everything and was very reassuring to her. She remembered Robbie being young at the time.

Another little piece of the puzzle!

I am sitting by the fire and Christmas tree enjoying being warm and at home. It doesn't get any better than this!

Friday, December 14, 2007

DON'T GET IT WRONG!

We have a couple of REALLY good cooks in our small group. When we were having our Christmas party at the Boersma's Wednesday night, Mrs. Artie brought among other things this really delicious pecan pie. Unlike the rest of us, wannabe cooks, she makes her crust from scratch. When Jack was extolling her cooking prowess, she said, the recipe for pastry is in "Cotton Country" (the Southern Bible of Cooking), just use that and you can't go wrong. OH MRS ARTIE!- I can go down the Road to Wrong without even buying a road map. When it comes to cooking, the route of choice when experimenting around is the Wrong Road. If I had a dollar for every flop I ever ginned out of my kitchen, I would be in my cabana in a tropical isle sipping a cool drink collecting those monthly annuity checks. I love to cook, but things like making pastry from scratch, well that is just a little beyond me. At the same party, Mrs. Artie also brought some candy that is delicious. I asked her for the recipe and she looked at me and said, " Lora do you even have a candy thermometer?" I really got a good laugh with the tone that she used, as if "OK, this is beyond you, Old Girl." Well, in fact, I do have a candy thermometer and actually use it occasionally. It did turn out that most the the women in the group did not have one though. When I started talking about the old timey method, pre-thermometers of dropping the candy into cold water and seeing what stage-hard-medium-soft, the candy had cooked to just drew blank stares from almost everyone.

I have lots of long lists left to get ready for Christmas: gifts to buy, groceries to shop for, presents to wrap and cooking to do. This morning I get up bright and early to tackle some of these tasks. Bobby looks at me and says, "The leaves really need to be gotten off the house, out of the gutters, off the decks and drives, and out of the yard before it starts raining. I guess I will try to quit work early and come home and do that." Now he never really asks me to do it, but there is this huge implication that I am just sitting around and why haven't I already done that. So I shop for a while, and then come home and get busy in the yard. I finish up all that I think is absolutely required, and come inside. I start blogging and look up and Mitch, our nice young yard helper is driving up. BC has obviously called in the Calvary. I sent him up on the roof to finish what I did not get to, since I will not climb on the roof when I am here alone. Mr. C will be pleasantly surprised when he sees how much the two of us have accomplished.

As I was outside in the cold and it was sprinkling on me, I thought of my Grandmother James. She would say, "Miss, get out of that cold, you are going to catch your death." Where in the world did that saying come from? I can just hear her saying it though. After running in the rain and getting soaked the other day, I thought about her and how she would have been very unhappy and convinced I would get sick. Aren't we all thankful that all of those "old wife tales" have been disproved.

I also remembered how my Daddy used to call me "Missy Weewhoa". I assume when I was learning to talk I could not say Loralu and called myself Weewhoa-HOW FUNNY! It is an old Southern tradition to call young girls in the family Missy and I remember my Grandmother James, my Daddy, and my Aunts calling me Missy. You never hear anyone use that now, but it really is a cute custom. My younger brother, Noel, was call "Man" and my Daddy, who was the youngest in his family, was called "Baby" by his family-literally until the day he died. We have come a long way and the cute family nicknames have fallen to the wayside. I am not sure if that is an indication of the times we live in or the disintegration of the extended family. Whatever the reason, it strikes me as sad.

We are off to BC's office Christmas party tonight and a meal of "surf&turf". Fuel for that long run tomorrow, which is only 14 miles-A WALK IN THE PARK!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

THE RUTTED & DIFFICULT PATH

For those of you that are not runners, you will find this difficult to believe, but running can become a lesson about life. When you run all months of the year and in all weather conditions and on many different kinds of trails, you begin to realize that this is not unlike the path our lives take.

There are days that your run is pure joy-sunshine or stars light your path, the weather is perfect, the company is ideal, and you physically feel like this could go on forever. There are days though that the run is pure torture and nothing but toil and trouble. The weather is horrible-it is way too hot, or it is freezing cold, the rain is falling or the fog is so thick you can't see where you are putting your feet, or there is lightning and thunder and impending doom on the horizon. You feel like you are running alone, even though someone is in the road just in front of you or just behind you-you still feel so alone. Your body is not coorperating and you feel every single ache and pain as you struggle to just make it down the road. The path is strewn with obstacles and holes are in the road, yet you must continue on as the only way to the end is down this path.

I find myself in the season of life with many of my loved ones facing rock and rut strewn paths. They are having to jump puddles with no end in sight and the going is tough-VERY TOUGH! The path should lead to the glorious finish line, but that line is not visible and the only thought they have is of just quiting and giving up. Quiting though is not an option, when you are running down the path of life. Life can become a terrible obstacle course with no end in sight and no clear knowledge of the path you are going to have to traverse.

I hope you know, friends, that I am RIGHT beside you! I am whispering in your ear and encouraging you every step that you take. I will pull along beside you and I will be your encourager. I will help you find the right path and if you fall, I will be there to pick you up and brush you off. You are not going down this rutted and difficult path alone, I will make every step with you. If you do not feel me beside you, it is because I am running just behind you. I will shield your back and watch out for the obstacles that are coming your way. No matter what path the race leads you down, I am willing to go with you and when your strength has been sapped from you, I will lend you my strength.

This life is like the run that I love to take-I never know when I go out the door what will be in front of me, but I know that I will run until I get to the "Glorious Finish Line."I thank God for my dear friends. I thank God for the strength to be there for my dear friends. I pray for each of you everyday and I pray for the wisdom to know how to help you continue to "run the race." We will all cross the finish line one day and what a glorious celebration we will have knowing that we have run the race well. Yes, life is truly like one of my runs and I am so glad that I have you all to run that race with!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CALL ME CRAZY & MARTHA OR CRAZY MARTHA!

Just before time to jump out of the bed this morning at 4:55, I hear the rain begin. We had all agreed that unless it was lightening, we needed to run our 10 mile mid week run today. I get up, ready, & out the door. On the way to our appointed start, Babs calls and says, "Are you on your way?". You could hear the disappointment in her voice when I answered affirmative. Susan, the smart one, didn't even bother to get up nor call that she wouldn't be there. She probably thought no one would be so stupid and run in the downpour. Larry, Babs & I were that stupid! Before we had run a quarter of a mile, Babs realizes that she is in severe pain. She has a blister under one of her toenails. As we have discussed before-THIS IS REALLY PAINFUL! It hurts so much that you cannot stand to have the sheet touch your foot in the bed. She stops and Larry and I continue on. Larry actually keeps me in sight until we get past W. California, which is a little sketchy. We run through intermittent pour downs and sprinkles with much effort going into trying to avoid big puddles. Crazy as it might sound, if your feet get really soaked, this can lead to blisters-so we try to put that off as long as possible. About the time we are going to start the HATED Harvest Run at about 5 1/2 miles, Larry heads back to the cars. He has already gotten a blister on his big toe. I head into the Harvest Run and the last 4 1/2 miles by myself-in the rain-and questioning my sanity. LONG STORY SHORT-it's over! My fast twitch muscles seem to have gone on sabbatical. I thought I was running faster today, but once again the time is slow. At this point in time, it is probably too late to fix it, so I will just hope I can finish before they close the finish gate at 6 hours. It was hot, wet, and I was covered with road spray from passing vehicles-but I am down to ONE more 10 mile midweek before I begin the taper. THE END IS IN SIGHT!

When I got home, I started cooking for our small group Christmas party tonight. I found two oldie but goodie recipes that I was inspired to fix. Momma was never a cook, but once or twice she made these cheese rolls that you rolled in paprika that I loved. I found a recipe close to that and have it ready to go. I also cooked a cookie that I used to make many years ago with a peppermint inner icing in honor of the Christmas season. When I put the final chocolate icing on, I hope to decorate the top with a little Christmas decoration. I love to cook, which is pretty strange since I never had a role model to follow in that department. Momma was never much of a cook and didn't really enjoy gardening, decorating, or other pursuits of mine. I am not sure where the love of all of these came from, but I am grateful for the time to pursue them.

Bobby is in Atlanta at a business meeting since yesterday. I was a "whirling dervish" yesterday trying to get too much done in a short period of time. Today after coming home from a good soaking-I am finding things to do in the dry-inside. Christmas is coming and once again I am vowing to not let it sneak up on me next year. That probably will not happen-AGAIN-but my intentions are good. You do know what they say about "Good Intentions" don't you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET GABE!

Today is sweet Gabe's 31st birthday. All three of my children have sweet spirits, but Gabe probably has the softest heart of the three. He was our bicentennial baby and in honor of this special occasion, I will tell you the story of his birth.

Bobby and I both were thrilled when we learned that another child would be coming to our little family. We busied ourselves with preparation of a nursery and attending Lamaze classes. The yellow check gingham wallpaper was put up, since back in the good old days, you didn't know the sex of your child before the birth. That was part of the wonder when giving birth. I seem to remember if Gabe had been a girl, her name was to be Elise. We were all set and ready for the anticipated arrival date of the day before Thanksgiving.

We made no plans for Thanksgiving since I just knew Gabe would be here by then. He decided to take his sweet time. That should have been a forewarning of things to come! I am sure the doctor was off on his date, but no sign of a baby came until almost 3 weeks later. I was so discouraged and having no signs of any baby so we went out to eat. The local Mexican restaurant at the time was El Polino which was in the old Village Shopping Center. I ate up-big time! We walked outside the restaurant and WHOA the first sign of a baby coming appeared. We had prepared for natural childbirth, but since I had stuffed myself with food, that would be the only option.

We went home and waited for regular pains so we could go to the hospital. We watched television and I paced for the next few hours. When it was finally time to call our doctor, he was in Shreveport having his office Christmas party. BAD TIMING ON HIS PART! We finally went to the hospital around 1 in the morning. After an hour of pushing to try and get that big James head out, the nurse finally laid across my chest and stomach to help push him out. It was a long hour and I was not happy with anything that Bobby had to say at the time. Finally a BIG baby boy emerged into the world. We were elated. This was after 5 in the morning, so we had not had any sleep. They brought Gabe to us because he was screaming his head off and no one could comfort him. He was not a happy camper and was very difficult to calm down. The 11th of December, 1976 was a cold winter day, but the glow of our pride was all of the warmth we needed that day.

Gabe has a gentle spirit and warm heart. He is an interesting combination of mine and Bobby's personalities. He can charm the pants off of you, but sometimes I feel like he is like me in that the social interaction can be taxing for him. He is wonderful with his nephews and a staunch defender of not only the nephews, but any other family member or friend. He is a joy to be with and quick to jump to my aide. We won't call him Saint Gabe since he has been known to have his share of trouble. Gabe is just like all of us and has his short comings, but his wonderful spirit far outweigh any negatives.

We pray for Gabe and our other children everyday, but today especially I give thanks for the gift of Gabe and all of the joy he has brought to us.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GABIE!

Monday, December 10, 2007

HONORED ELDERS

We were privileged to be invited to a "Farewell Party" for our friend Geoff's father, Mr. Ragegea. Geoff and Anne are in our small group and bring an international flavor to the group. Geoff is from Uganda and teaches English at GSU and Anne is from Rowanda and works in the Financial Aide office at GSU. Anne's family were affected by the genocide in Rowanda losing many members including her brother. She and Geoff have helped the extended family raise the nieces and nephews of her "Late Brother". We found our self in a diverse group from many nations in Africa at the party. The youngest niece is now living with Geoff and Anne and attending GSU. All of the nieces and nephews have done really well and education is a top priority for them. All have graduated from college except for the two youngest and the eldest of those will graduate this week. What an accomplishment and what a testimony to family.

We find our African friends very gentle and polite people. They are always soft spoken and not attention seeking. Just as we Americans come in all sizes and shapes, so do those from different countries in Africa. Anne is a very tall woman, probably at least 6 feet tall and has what I often identify as traditional African features and build. A high forehead and round face with a sweet smile that shows beautiful white teeth, she often wears the traditional dress and it is always very beautiful and so feminine. A soft heart and sweet spirit were evident the very first time I met her. We are blessed to have them in our group.

The celebration was to say farewell to Geoff's father who is returning home to Uganda. Mr. Ragagea is 90+ years old, but he and Geoff go to the track every morning and walk 2 miles. Mr. Ragagea only speaks broken English, but his demeanor is very gentle. Anne told us that he has 4 Bibles in 4 different languages. Every day while they were at work, he prepared a devotional for that evening which they had at 9 every night. She said they often sang a hymn or two, listened to the scriptures, and his thoughts and prayed together before retiring. He gave a short speech before the evening was over that Geoff translated. This is the text of what he said-

"I thank God for this day and this hour that you have come so that we can say farewell to one another. I thank God because I didn't think that I would be able to come. I didn't think that I would be able to fly again because of my failing strength. But it was not because of me; it was God's will. I thank you for the fellowship and friendship as people of goodwill and for being Christians, people of Christ Jesus. Now let us read Second Corinithians 13:ll----
'Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.'"

Such a Godly man and his family holds him in such high esteem. It was an honor for Bobby & I to be a part of this sweet celebration. We are praying for Mr. Ragagea's continued good health and hopefully his return to Ruston.

On a much lighter note, I ran 6 this AM with my legs screaming No-No-No. It is good to know that my head can override that and push me to keep going. It was not pretty, but it is over. Friend Sandra's daughter Suzanne had her baby today-a petite precious girl. The number of grands among the runners continues to increase since Babs also just had another grandson. This gives us something delightful to discuss as we put in the miles. Every diversion is truly a blessing!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

"PERFECT TREES"

Bobby is able to ignore me and my habits that would drive most Saints crazy most of the time. The one time every year that I would send him over the edge was the annual trip to the Christmas tree farm. Over the years we have patronized several different tree farms. The last one we went to, before the change to the "unreal tree" was owned by a retired couple out on old Hwy 80. The couple had all of the necessary equipment and did all of the manual labor themselves. The trees were very reasonably priced and they helped you put the tree into the back of your car. The last time I went to the farm I was by myself and that is not fun. The next year I had an artificial tree.

The trip always started out with good spirits. The kids always went along, until they reached the age of losing interest. Camille actually accompanied us until she graduated from high school. She seemed to love the outing.

The trip started with looking at EACH AND EVERY tree on the farm. The really hard trick was to remember where you saw the better trees and then retrace your steps to find them again after the initial discovery. BC just did not understand why you had to look at all of the trees. He did want a straight trunk and was good at observing if too many lower branches would have to be removed, but beyond that-He could just take the first one he came to. OH BUT I WANTED A PERFECT TREE! Look-search-walk around the tree- look-search-walk around the tree. IT DROVE HIM NUTS! I would finally have everyone stand by the trees that were the finalist and then make a decision. It was never simple and it took a LONG TIME.

Once the tree had been cut and drug back to the shed, it had to be shaken and then wrapped in the plastic netting. Getting it into the back of my Explorer was always fun and what is ironic is now we have a "yard truck" that we could use and I don't go to the farm anymore. Off we went back to Vienna and the REAL Fun.

Everyone was usually so exasperated with me that we would have to wait at least a day or two to put the tree up. There long suffering patience with my need for perfection had come to an end and the next step would have to wait.

We learned over the years to finally get an "EXTRA HEAVY DUTY TREE STAND". The little red stands that so many use just would not hold up the trees that I seemed to gravitate toward. The trees with the really wide trunks and that were so heavy that it required two of us to carry. Trying to get the tree to stand up in the big stand was even more of a trick. It was a task of manual labor! Once we got the tree into the stand, then it had to be brought into the house. Another Fun Job! It was quite a job and by the time we had it in the house and finally in the correct place-BC was out of there. He was not interested in anymore tree chores!

I do remember one year that the tree fell over not once but two times! It was always after we went to bed. The loud crash would pull you out of the deepest sleep! Finally BC tied a string to the top of the tree and drove a nail into the ceiling to anchor it to. This is just one example of things we have done to anchor the very heavy trees to prevent the ultimate calamity.

I decorate my tree with ornaments that we have collected over the years while the kids were children. No decorator or "Southern Living" trees for us-just old fashioned ornaments with memories attached. I have learned over the years the God does not make "Perfect Trees" just like He does not make "Perfect Humans." I thank Him for the imperfections that make both such a joy!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

JAMES STICK TREES!

Running Formula

Hot+Humid+Running=Dried Salt +Friction=Chaffing + H2O=WHHHOOOOAAAAOOOOHMYGOSH

The above formula is an absolute when running long 21 mile runs in temperatures that began at 67 degrees at 5 AM. Four hours later-the resulting yell in the shower. There were a couple of places under my arms that actually began hurting about mile 15 and I knew were going to hurt when the water hit them. I was going to be SOOO smart and put Vaseline over the chaffing, but the place on my waist in the back and the places that the elastic hit my upper legs-WELL THAT SNUCK UP ON ME! Tired legs can even jump when the water hits that burn!

My earliest memories of Christmas include a "Normal" Christmas tree. Somewhere along the way before I hit the double digits, we began having stick trees. I will have to give Aunt Mattie Maude credit, as this was her original idea. Momma was never one to "copy" anyone else's idea, so I assume Daddy insisted upon us also having a stick tree. Momma would say, "If you can't be first and set the trend, then don't get in the mob and be just a follower." Or something like that.

We began getting American elm branches. Now not just any tree branch would do-it had to be an American elm which had little wings on the branches. You painted the branch white and put it into a pot or stand to hold it up. The tree was then placed in the front window of the house. We put glass solid color ornaments on every conceivable surface. There was then a spot light shown from the bottom of it up through the branches. The effect was so beautiful. From the road,the glass ornaments looked like lights shining in the branches and twinkling in the night.

I have actually had one of these trees in all the years that Bobby & I have been married and it was the "extra tree." Somethings though are just better left as a part of your childhood. We started our own tradition of the "real thing" tree when we married. The annual trip to find the "perfect tree" is another story. We have finally evolved into an "artificial tree" which I didn't think I would ever do. Some parts of Christmas are reserved for the years with your children, and the "real tree" with its amazing smell were a part of their childhood that I hope if "magical" for them.

Friday, December 7, 2007

IN MY DEFENSE!

If you have not read Camille's post (click on blogging buddies-the Jennings Secede) from yesterday, you need to read it for this to make sense.

I got a really good laugh from Camille's post yesterday. I sat chuckling as I read with Bobby wanting to know what was so funny. After finishing, he had me read it to him. I get dead silence, no reaction. I then ask, " Don't you think that is funny?". I then get this long lecture on saying what you are feeling, never knowing what is going on in my mind, yadda, yadda, yadda. I think she struck a nerve in her Daddy.

While growing up, Momma believed in corporal punishment. I do not believe she was ever much of a student of the Bible, but someone at sometime must have preached this sermon and she latched on like a mad dog. The rod nor the belt nor the switch were ever spared at our house. It was applied liberally and you came to fear Momma and her wrath. When Momma spoke, you dared not sass or disobey. Along about the time that Daddy died, the spankings died with him. I think for a lot of years Momma lost her fight. She just existed and tried to provide for the three of us, but was very removed from most day to day family activity. She still knew how to throw a fit if you did not clean the house just like she liked it (able to eat off the floor), but she finally lost that connection. In fairness to her, the years before Daddy's death had been very difficult. She was far from her family and thrown into a difficult situation without much support.

One thing Momma could do and do well was lecture during those years until I left for Tech. Once you set her off, on and on she went. I remember when I was about 16 or 17 telling her to just beat me and leave off the lecture. Well that was dumb, because it just wound her up for Round 2. I hated those lectures and swore I would never do that.

When my own kids came along, I obviously used the silence tool very effectively. In my defense, I learned a long time ago to not say anything in anger that you might regret later. Once those words are thrown out there, they can never be taken back and they are never forgotten. I would get steamed, but I held my tongue-waiting for the moment of calm and reason to return to me. At the time, I did not realize that my children were affected by that silence. All I knew was that I was angry and knew to wait for the appropriate moment and not let something petty escalate into a major deal.

I also come from a LOOOOOOONG line of passive aggressive people. We are not in your face confrontationist, but more I'll slip this in the back door and get you, before you know what has happened. We fight, at our best, when we just completely withdraw. I don't usually say many things in real anger, but Mr. C, now he can push that button and get a verbal rise like no one else can. I think he relishes in getting my dander up enough to get that response out of me. Still, my usual tactic is silence- silence- and more silence, until the moment or the anger has passed.

This was really never a disciplining tact for me, but rather a try at not allowing angry words to come between me and my loved one. I am glad that God chose to use it as an effective tool and delighted that my children care enough to be concerned about me being displeased with them.

Each child is different and with their different personalities come different responses to my actions and moods. Scott is definitely much more like me and if he was ever affected by my anger, I never knew it. Gabe & Camille-they are very verbose, just like their Daddy. They don't understand or get the "silence" deal. If they are upset, you will know it, for they will tell you. They just do not as their Daddy does not-get me holding my tongue.

I thank God we are all different. This makes the world so interesting and fascinating. If we were all verbose and confrontational, would we ever get to hear the glorious beauty of occasional silence? I think it would be more like a Conville Family Reunion, when I am not sure who is listening because each and every one is trying to talk over the other and getting louder and louder with every word.

Thankfully God used my silence, and my children, all three are wonderful individuals that are loved by all that know them. What one man intends for his purposes, God can turn around and use it to glorify Him and those that love Him.

Your Honor, The Defense Rests.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ms Hygentist & Mr. Doctor Dentist

Today was my, way behind schedule, six month trip to the dentist-a few months late. I do not ever go to the dentist that I don't have a flashback to my childhood. Good Old Dr. Billy was our family dentist. A family friend and fellow 4-H club parent, Dr Billy was a BIG MAN! He was taller than my Daddy who was 6 ft tall and unlike, by skinny Daddy, HE WAS ROTUND! I don't know if you have ever noticed, but generally speaking, really large people have REALLY LARGE HANDS. He had this really round face which you saw from a prone position. This meant that the first thing you saw was the extra neck roll that extended up into what we all would call jowls today and then the round puffy cheeks. Dr. Billy would first say, "OK open wide." Then proceed to try to put his extra large hands into my extra small mouth. I know many of you will find this difficult to believe, but I REALLY DO HAVE A SMALL MOUTH." Once the hands were at least part of the way into your mouth, the questions would start. "How's your Momma and Daddy?" Me"Gsxyt fme txbl." How are your sheep and cattle coming along this year' Me "Ukebelf dolebke boqueft." I would finally try to talk with my eyes, or nod my head, anything to try and communicate. It was always hard to understand why the questions never began until he got those #12 mitts crammed into your mouth, but that was always the way it was.

After adulthood, I have had a couple of different dentists here in Ruston. I like both of them a lot, but have I ever heard some great comments. One dentist asked me wouldn't I like to trim my gums so my teeth would look more uniform. Now I assumed this meant with a knife and would require blood and pain, so I insisted that I was not that vain. The other dentist told me to "Unhinge my jaw" one time. For the life of me, I cannot figure out where the hinge is, much less how to unhinge it. Today Ms Hygienist, who is a lovely lady, told me to relax my lips. OKAY- I know how to relax my legs, my arms, and lots of other things-BUT MY LIPS? This is another one that I am not really sure about!

BC & I have an on-going disagreement about who has the small mouth. I often tell him that HE IS UNDER THE ILLUSION THAT HE HAS A SMALL MOUTH. The man carries it to the limit when he insists that he needs a salad fork "Because his mouth is too small for the regular size." I have seen him do everything but use a shovel when he finds something he really likes. You all know him, do you really think he has a small mouth? The dentist did tell me today that my mouth was so small that he had to use child sized gloves when examining me. I CAN'T WAIT TO TELL MR. C THAT ONE! Thanks Dr. L!

Sandra & I walked 5 this morning and it was once again cold. Just wait though the hot weather will be here for our Saturday long run. It should be 65 degrees when we start at 5. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to that fun-sweating, chaffing, & blisters for 21 miles!

I went by to see my sweet friends, The Boersma's today. Dr Dale was in good spirits and a delight to see that way. Helen is busy putting Christmas decorations on every conceivable surface in her house and it looks a lot like Christmas. We continue to pray for that miracle for our sweet friend.

Tomorrow should be rest day and get ready for Saturday. I found out that I have to go mow & mulch up the leaves at the church and then I have a great young man coming to help me with my yard. NO REST FOR THE WEARY! I will not have to get up at 4 or 5 and THAT MY GOOD FRIENDS IS A VERY GOOD THING!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

IT PAYS TO LOOK DOWN!

For all of you nay sayers out there, I will give you one good reason to run, jog, or even walk. As Susan and I were running our last mile in our 10 mile run this AM, she was a few steps ahead of me. All of a sudden she comes to a screeching halt! She is pointing to her left at the folded up $10 bill! We both point then a few steps ahead of that and there is another $10 bill! This is one of the reason that we run. We are always looking down to see where we are putting our feet. One of the perks from this is finding money. We are always finding coins-all along the road. The discovery of bills is really rare. I know Sheila found a $20 bill one day, but that is a rarity. We will all stop and stoop down to pick up the money unless we have run about 20 miles. The amount of money has to be more than a penny, nickel or dime for a stoop down at that point. It is too hard to get down and then back up after all those miles. We talked it over while running that last mile and decided to donate the money to CCA to help brighten someone's day. Don't ever tell me that it doesn't pay to run-for today was definitely Pay Day!

Look at Camille's blog today. They are having Big Snow and she has posted pictures. What must it be like to not only get a big snow, but for that snow to stay longer than a couple of days. I may just have to make a trip to the Great Frozen North later this winter to see this for myself. The sight of that Great Lake frozen with fishermen all over it intrigues me every time I think about it. I am looking outside at a beautiful sunny day and planning yard work. What must it be like to live in a Frozen Wonderland?

I do remember, as I am sure you all do, one Christmas that we had snow. It was so cold and, as always, we did not have electricity. Here it is a day or two before Christmas and we have no lights, no heat, and little travel. Bobby loves this kind of weather, so he had gotten chains for his car. He mostly loves to be out in the middle of it, just like my Daddy always did. Bobby went to get Momma, who also had no heat, and brought her back to the house. We closed ourselves into the den with the fireplace going. At the time, we had an insert in the fireplace, which keeps the fire from projecting into the room. Without the blower working on the insert, the heat was almost non-existent from the fire. IT WAS SO COLD! Robbie did call and he had a motel room for his family with heat. He came to get Momma since she was quick to dessert the ship when there was a promise of heat.

I got out one of my old camping pots and we warmed soup on the fire. It was truly a pioneer experience. We were all close-since the only way you could stay warm was to combine that body heat. We did have warm clothing since we had ski clothes. This is one of my most memorable Christmases. The fact that I had not finished my shopping, could not cook my traditional dinner, had not Christmas lights did not deter my Christmas spirit. I just looked out the window at the beautiful snow covered woods and Christmas was once again magical.

I need to run now. I think I will buy a lottery ticket. MY LUCK APPEARS TO BE GOOD FOR TODAY!