Friday, January 29, 2010

It's My Blogiversary!

~~~ This Giveaway Is Now Closed ~~~

Today is my blogiversary! One year ago today I started this blog at the encouragement of my friends. To think that it’s lasted a year so far is quite an accomplishment. After all, the last time I attempted to start a blog it last for all of five seconds… ok, maybe five weeks. But, this one has been going for a year and I’m really thrilled that it’s lasted this long and that my five loyal readers have stuck in there with me.

So, today, because I’ve made it a year, I want to reward one lucky reader with one of my most favorite books. You guessed it, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. This cookbook is so wonderful! It has tons of great recipes in it and most all of them are easy to make. As I’m sure you know, I went to the Pioneer Woman book signing in Nashville back in December and the book I am giving away is also signed by her.

To enter, just leave a comment and let me know what you like most about the blog and/or what you’d like to see in the future. If you are someone who I don’t personally know, then please be sure and leave an email address so I can get in touch with you if you win. As always, the winner will be selected using The contest will end at 7:00 a.m. Central time on Monday morning, at which time I will announce the winner – and Monday’s my birthday too; so, the winner will essentially receive a gift on my birthday. That’s pretty cool. Good luck everyone and have a nice weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Photography Class #4

My apologies for not updating this here blog yesterday. My DirecTV was knocked out because of the recent storms and I had to stay at home and wait for the repair person to arrive – he was scheduled to arrive between 8:00 a.m. and noon; he arrived at 2:40 p.m. But, at least I have TV again, which is nice and I got a free DVR upgrade, which is even nicer! I watched my first DVR recorded show last night. It was awesome.

So, on to the photography class update. This week’s class was Digital Photography One, and once again, we didn’t learn very much. I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been really disappointed in these classes. I would hate to think that I had actually paid for them. I’m glad they came free with my camera. No offense to Mr. Vaughn, who is a lovely man and very knowledgeable about photography. I guess I was just expecting a more detail oriented class about how to operate the camera and make fantastic pictures. I keep hoping it will come; but, now I’m not so sure. I think Candy has decided not to return to any more classes; but I plan to stick it out for the final two of this series.

So, here are some bullet points from this week’s class – some related to photography, most general observations and quirky facts:

• Mr. Vaughn and all the Wolf Camera employees wear all black. Tony dubbed Mr. Vaughn, “Farley Cash”.

• The best time to take photos at a wedding is at the reception; but, be sure and get something to eat first.

• Use exposure compensation when the picture is too light or too dark.

• The faster the motion of the subject, the faster the shutter speed should be.

• There was a lady at the photo kiosk when class started. She kept ordering photos and the screen was beeping and getting on our nerves. When she left, she knocked over some photo frames, etc. Lisa said she was Bull’s cousin; Bull being the lady with the metal camera case from class #2.

• Aperture wide = shallow depth of field and vice versa.

• In class #1, one of Mr. Vaughn’s doctor’s was present and said he was there for his wife. We think we found the doctor’s wife, now referred to as DW. Mr. Vaughn asked the lady on the front row if she had used her macro lens yet – she had not. The lens cost $500. We decided she has to be DW!

• Most digital cameras have a black and white setting.

• A picture of an owl popped up on the screen during class and as soon as it did, I hooted. Don’t ask me why. I guess I’ve been teaching toddlers at church too long.

• You need to give your photo “somewhere to go”.

I guess this about sums things up. Next week is Digital Photography Two and I may be the only one that shows up. I’m not sure if Lisa has made a decision yet about whether or not she plans to go. Tony will probably attend again. So, keep your fingers crossed and maybe one day soon I can pass some useful photography tips along to you.

And yes, the woman who took photos of the slides last week did it again this week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Local Orbit

Tony’s in a band called Local Orbit. He’s been in this band since he was in college and they play shows from time to time around town. This past Friday night, they played a gig at Olivia’s off of University Drive. I hadn’t been to a show in a while and they have some new songs Tony wanted me to hear so I decided to go. The problem with going to see them play is that they often don’t get started until midnight, which is way too late for me. Tony told me they were to start at 11:00 on Friday, so I got there a little bit before 11:00.
Well, as luck would have it, they didn’t start until right after midnight. Luckily I had stopped at Starbucks and gotten a venti Caramel Frappacino; so, the caffeine allowed me to stay awake long enough to take a few pictures. Here they are in all their glory:

Tony - he's the drummer!

Lead singer and lyricist, Anthony.

Bass player and all around crazy guy, Wes.

Guitar player and often silent, Josh.

Did I mention Tony is the drummer?

Local Orbit also has a crazy following of people. Honestly, it is the strangest most eclectic group of people I have ever encountered in all my life. Some of these folks are scary, but let me tell you, it makes for some really good people watching. If someone had been with me the other night, I probably would have laughed so hard I would have wet my pants. But, since I was solo, mostly I just sat there in shock and awe and occasionally had a chuckle to myself. Come to think of it, my Uncle Buddy said he would go hear Tony play some time. Maybe I should call him up. I know he would get a good chuckle out of these people!
These crazy kids are playing another show this coming Friday at Whiskey's on North Parkway. I have no idea what time they start, but if I had my guesses, I would guess midnight. I will probably be sleeping when they take the stage, but feel free to check them out, if you dare.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tornado Photos

As promised, I took some photos of the tornado damage from last Thursday night. Here are some of the photos:

These first three photos are from the night of the tornado. I was able to brighten them up a little so you can see them better.

This is just down the road from my house. A large tree fell on this power line and beside this house.

This is where the tree in the above picture was split.

Emergency vehicles one road over from my house the night of the tornado.

The next photos are from Friday, the day after the tornado. They were taken in the afternoon after I got home from work. A lot of clean up had been done by this point. I was really impressed with the city of Huntsville. They did an excellent job removing debris from the roads and getting power back on to the residents that had been without.

Utility worker in front of my house working on the power lines.

Just down the road a few utility poles had been knocked down. Here the utility crews are working to get those back up.

A tree uprooted down the street from my house. So many of the large trees were torn into pieces or uprooted - very sad. You can really tell a difference in the skyline.

This house is just about eight or 10 houses down from me. A large tree fell into it. Also the house next door to this one sustained a lot of damage.

Another house down the street.

Another uprooted tree.

This tree managed to stay rooted in the ground, but a lot of the large limbs were torn off. This house is just down the street from Tony's house.

This brick wall was blown down. Isn't it strange that the columns managed to stay intact? Tornadoes are so bizarre. This is also close to Tony's house.

Here a tree fell onto this truck just a few streets over from my house.

This tornado could have been a lot worse. It was categorized as E-F2. Thankfully it didn't ever fully touch ground. Tony's house had some roof damage it turns out. He is missing some shingles and plans to call the insurance people today. But we are thankful that it wasn't any worse than that and that no one was seriously injured.

Here are some photos that someone took from downtown. Jackie sent these to me and someone she works with sent them to her. We are not sure who actually took them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Survived The Great Tornado of 2010!

I sure didn’t expect to be writing a post about tornadoes today, but life is sometimes full of surprises. Yesterday after work, I ran a few errands, picking up prescriptions and groceries, etc. It started raining right after I left Publix. The rain drops were unusually large. At times I thought it might be hailing out because of the sound of the rain, but I didn’t see any hail while driving; only the large rain drops. When I got home, about 10 minutes after five it did start hailing, but only for a few seconds. I was able to get all my groceries in to the house and let The Tide outside.

I turned on the TV, let The Tide back in and started to put away the groceries. Then the tornado sirens started going off and I honestly didn’t think much about it because they go off often. I looked at the TV and regular programming was on; there wasn’t even a watch or warning posted on the screen. Then the lights started flickering, and I knew something was wrong because that almost never happens. I hurried to get the cold items into the refrigerator and then the power went completely out, and that’s when I heard it.

I opened the front door and heard the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life. I know you have probably heard people say, “it sounded like a freight train,” and they were not exaggerating. The noise was so loud as the tornado tossed and tore anything in it’s path including the utility transformers, which I heard looked like fireworks when they exploded. I managed to grab Tide by the collar and drag her into the bathroom along with my phone, and some blankets. I called my parents’ house. I was hysterical! I don’t get scared in storms. I think a lot of people in this area overreact a lot of times when it’s storming out, but last night I was truly terrified. I asked my mom if there was a tornado and she said it was at Chapman Mountain and I said, no, it is HERE!

I got in the bathtub and The Tide laid beside it and we waited for the storm to pass. Minutes later, someone came into the house. It was Tony. He lives close by and it had hit a house at the corner of his street. He had tried to call, but couldn’t get through and came to check on us – me and The Tide that is, or maybe just me. He said it was over and so The Tide and I emerged from the bathroom unscathed, just shook up.

The tornado hit just down the road from my house. There is a whole lot of damage. I tried to take some pictures last night, but with the power out, it was pitch black and the camera wouldn’t cooperate, even on the night setting. My house and Tony’s house were both okay. The tornado literally went right between our two houses. It did hit the house of our secretary’s daughter and many other houses as well.

I plan to go out this afternoon and take some photos to share with you all. My buddy Adam, who lives close to both Tony and I, took the photo below of the tornado. This particular shot looks like it could be parallel with my house. I’m sure this was about the time I was hiding in the bathtub. I’m so thankful that no one was seriously hurt and that Tony and I didn’t have any damage to our homes. We were very lucky!

Thanks to everyone who called or sent a text to check on me last night! My phone hasn’t had that much action, ever! I really appreciate you all thinking of me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Twinkle Toes

Since I don’t have kids, I don’t typically keep up with the latest fashion craze that has hit the local elementary schools. But, this past Saturday, I was introduced to Twinkle Toes, which apparently is all the rage right now and every little gal from here to Oregon needs a pair of these bad boys.

Ashlyn wanted a pair of these and so Jackie kindly gave in to the peer pressure of a six year old and bought her a pair last weekend. Ashlyn said “thank you” a million times, I heard. She let me take a photo:

If you have a little girl, look out, Twinkle Toes may soon be on their want list.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photography Class #3

Last night was the third of our photography classes. Only Lisa and Derek and I showed up. Candy and Andrew didn’t have a babysitter, and Tony wasn’t feeling well. So, the three of us went to dinner and then headed over to class.

This class was titled, “Organize, Print, and Share,” and it was the most boring class I have sat in on in quite some time. Basically the class was a demonstration as to how to go about setting up files on your computer, download pictures to your computer, the various ways you can print photos and the various ways you can share photos. In other words, I didn’t learn anything new. Derek played Mah Jong on his palm pilot and Lisa said, “You know this is two hours of your life you will never get back?” “Yes, but think of the quality time we are spending together,” was my reply.

The class was once again taught by Mr. Farley Vaughn and Bobby was no where to be seen on this particular evening. However, the very unfriendly Lindsey was there. She is another employee at Wolf and she never smiles and basically looks like she’d rather be dead than be at Wolf Camera. She really needs to get out of the customer service business – she scaring people away! When Mr. Vaughn started the class, Lindsey turned on one of the photo processing machines (at least I assume that’s what the monstrosity is) and we could barely hear what Mr. Vaughn was saying. So, it was a good thing we already knew how to do what he was teaching.

An older lady a few rows in front of us brought her camera with her to class and she took a photo of every single slide Mr. Vaughn put up on the screen. We called her red because she was wearing a red sweater. I don’t know if she is new to computers or what, but I had to hold in my laughter every time I heard the snap of her camera. I took a picture of her with my phone. Here it is:

Also new to the class last night was a wooden pointer stick that Mr. Vaughn used to point out different items on the slide. It reminded me of being in grade school.

We also learned last night that we were all cheated when we bought our cameras at Wolf. Apparently they have a deal where you can purchase an all in one printer for $44 when you get an SLR at Wolf – only no one told us about it! At first Mr. Vaughn said it was free and the class was up in arms. Then he corrected himself and said it was $44 with the purchase of an SLR, but $76.58 if you didn’t purchase an SLR.

Last night also brought about the return of Susanne Anderson, the mother of my college sweetheart and yes, I went over and spoke to her and apologized for not recognizing her a couple of weeks before. And yes, I also brought my chair in a bag again last night; in fact, one of the other students said it was a good idea. So, look out, because it’s catching on and next week I may not be the only one who brings my chair.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Troy's Basketball Game

Troy had his first basketball game this past Saturday. It was so exciting! I think Jackie was probably more nervous than he was. She’s going to be one of those yelling mom’s – you know the ones I’m talking about. I can say that since she is my best friend. Here are some shots from the game:

Troy is running onto the court from the inflatable tunnel in the background.
How exciting! Pay no attention to the blurry legs - I'm still learning, people!

Here he is in line to shoot a basket during warm-ups

He shoots...

He misses (next time buddy!).

Troy rode the pine for the first quarter, but at Upward everyone gets to play; so, his time is coming. The kid next to him looks scared to death!

Coming into the game

Getting in on the action

The coaches had Troy guarding this #41 kid in the blue. That kid was the best player out there. I think he probably scored the most goals. He was also a little over-dramatic when he fell down. He’s practicing for the big show.

The game was a lot of fun. He plays again this Saturday and I have plans to go. I hope to remember my other lens so I can get some better shots. Maybe I can learn a trick or two before next Saturday.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Movie Review - The Lovely Bones and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Over the weekend I saw two movies, “The Lovely Bones” and “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” Here’s what I thought…

The Lovely Bones

Candy, Kendra and I went to see this movie on Friday night. Candy and I had both read the book years ago and were looking forward to seeing the movie, especially (for me anyway) since it was directed by Peter Jackson (love that guy!).

As I have mentioned numerous times before, the book is always better than the movie and this was no exception to that rule. In the book when Susie was in the “in-between” I pictured it as nothingness, or at the most a lot of clouds as she was waiting to go to heaven. But, in Peter Jackson’s world, the “in-between” was much different. It was very fantastical and way over-the-top in my opinion. In fact, these particular parts of the film didn’t even hold my attention and I found myself thinking about other things and wondering how much longer this film was going to be.

The “real-world” parts of the film were well done. Mark Wahlberg did an excellent job as the distraught father of a murdered daughter. I think his pain really resonated on the screen. Stanley Tucci was absolutely horrifying as Mr. Harvey. I actually ran up to my house to unlock the door when I got home and had bad dreams Friday night and I’m sure Mr. Tucci played some part in that. Susan Sarandon was hilarious as the grandmother. I actually don’t remember a grandmother in the book –was there one? Anyone?

There were some differences in the film that weren’t in the book, as always; but in this case it didn’t take away from the film. As a whole I didn’t think the film captured the essence of the book. The film seemed really empty to me. If I had it to do over, I certainly wouldn’t have paid $9 to see this movie; nor would I even rent it on DVD. The book is one of the many books that I loved when I read it and this film does not do it justice.

P.S. One of the things I loved most about the film was that while Susie was at a bookstore in the mall with her grandma, there was a large sign advertising “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkein – Peter Jackson you are so clever!

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” is the movie Heath Ledger was filming when he died on January 22, 2008. Upon his death, actors, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell stepped in to finish up the role of Tony, which was played by Heath… and it worked!

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,” was written by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown and tells the story of the immortal Dr. Parnassus (played by Christopher Plummer) and his traveling theater group. Going into this movie, I expected not to understand anything that was going on but the story was quite easy to follow and actually quite good. Dr. Parnassus’ is able to guide the imaginations of people when they step through the magical mirror on stage. Once inside, people have a choice if they chose wrong, then the devil gets their soul. The three actors that stepped in for Mr. Ledger each played Tony after he stepped through the mirror and so when Tony was inside his imagination, his face looked different. Each time he stepped through, he was wearing a mask and until those gentlemen took off their masks, you couldn’t tell if it was Mr. Ledger or someone else. It was a remarkable transformation and didn’t take away from the film at all.

I must admit, the main reason I wanted to see this movie was because it is Heath Ledger’s last work. He was an amazing actor and his life was cut too short. However, despite my reasoning for going to see the film, I actually liked it quite a lot and wouldn’t mind seeing it again. I thought it was quite wonderful and the ending was rather nice as well.

If you want to read more about either of these films, click the link in the titles above.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random Sevens

I was perusing several of the blogs I frequent today and saw this post from Pastor Ryan about random sevens. I found Pastor Ryan through The Pioneer Woman. And come to think of it I don’t think he even likes to be called Pastor Ryan; but, since PW calls him that so do I – it’s catching on!

Anyway, he suggested in his post for folks to post seven random things on their blogs and link back to his blog and then everyone can see how “whacked out you are” – his words not mine. I probably would have said how nutty you are.

So, since I have nothing of importance or non-importance to tell my five readers about today and since I posted random things last Friday, I figured, why not? So, here are my seven random things:

1. I love “Friday Night Lights” more after every episode. I never think I can love it any more than I presently do and then I watch another episode and I think, “man this show rocks; I want it to go on FOREVER!” and then the previews for the next episode come on and I usually end up crying because I feel as though the characters are my personal friends and I want them all to have wonderful lives. I am weird. You don’t have to remind me. “Friday Night Lights” is an amazing show – check out the first few seasons on DVD. It should be coming on NBC some time this spring. Since I have DirecTV I have been able to see the new season ahead of its NBC release – it is GREAT!

2. I have a sinus infection. This is like the third one in a row and I am so sick of taking medicine and trying home remedies! I just want to feel better and be snot free! I’m beginning to wonder if that’s even possible. I guess I’m going to have to break down and go to the ENT.

3. Tomorrow is Troy’s first basketball game EVER. This is the first year he has ever played and tomorrow marks his game debut. I’m looking forward to it. I hope I don’t forget my camera.

4. Powerade is yummy. I especially like the blue.

5. Tonight I am going to see “The Lovely Bones” with Candy and Kendra. I read the book many moons ago so I’m hoping I won’t be too disappointed if the movie doesn’t follow the book closely because I’m not even sure if I can remember what all the book entails.

6. So far I am 100% on my goal of being a daily Bible reader this year! I’m really proud of myself.

7. My friend Tina birthed her first baby on Wednesday - Cecelia Anne. I am so happy for her a Chad! I know it's been a long time coming and after many, many prayers a beautiful baby is now here on earth. Congrats! Here's a photo:

Hope all five of you readers have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photography Class #2

We (Candy, Andrew, Lisa, Derek, Tony and I) had our second (well, Tony’s first) photography class this past Tuesday night. The title of this class was “Intro to Digital Photography.” There were some items repeated from the first class, but surprisingly, most of it was new information.

Once again, the sweet Mr. Farley Vaughn taught our class. The pleasing part was that although Bobby was at the store, he was in the back of the store and didn’t interrupt our class. So, we were able to listen to Mr. Vaughn without interruption, which was nice. Here are some of the things we learned:

There are four types of cameras. Fun cameras are for the kids. If you have a kid interested in photography, pick one of these up for $15 or less. Compact cameras are point and shoot cameras or “pocket cameras.” Bridge cameras look similar to an SLR, but you can’t change the lens, and SLR cameras are the “granddaddy” of cameras.

The more megapixels you have, the larger prints you can make.

The advantages to digital cameras are: the convenience of sharing, the convenience of home printing and editing, using images in documents, archiving and cataloging, and photo albums and scrap booking.

Power systems are the types of batteries your camera uses

Storage media is different for each manufacturer.

Camera icons and controls are universal, even though the cameras may look different.

PPI = Pixels Per Inch

Always use the largest amount of pixels your camera will allow. You can always downsize your photo, but not upsize with good quality.

I have a few other notes, but looking through them, it doesn’t seem to make for good blogging or I covered it in my first photography post. So, I’ll spare you the details.

The class was once again very informative. I’m looking forward to the upcoming classes and hope we get more involved with our cameras and learn how to take better pictures.

Candy ended up being the teacher’s pet. If you are a reader of this blog, then you know my friend Candy and her husband are little people. I guess Mr. Vaughn was really concerned about her not being able to see so he had her scoot over a little so she could better see the front. Then, when a man came in late and sat down in a few rows in front of Candy, Mr. Vaughn asked him to move over so he wouldn’t obstruct her view. It was cute.

We did have an intermission this week and some people left at that time. About 9:00 the natives started getting restless and were ready to leave. One woman got up while Mr. Vaughn was talking and left. She was so loud when she got up. She clanged around against the folding chairs. Her camera case was one of those old metal camera cases and it clanged against the folding chairs and almost hit a lady in the head. The when she got to the door, the case hit the door and made another loud noise. I’m surprised it didn’t break the glass in the door. We had a good long laugh over that.

And, for those of you wondering, yes, I brought my stadium chair in a bag and sat in it during the class!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shaggy’s: A Review

A new restaurant recently opened in Huntsville – hardly a surprise, I know. It seems a new restaurant opens in Huntsville every week. This restaurant, Shaggy’s, is owned by David Martin, the mastermind behind Rosie’s Cantina, Steak-Out, and Blue Plate Café. Basically, anything this man touches turns to gold, which is why Tony “hates” him. Envious would probably be a better word.

Shaggy’s is located out in Research Park – it is sandwiched between the Target shopping center and Rhime Village Apartments, or whatever they are called these days. Shaggy’s serves burgers and tacos, an odd combination, but two of my favorite foods, nevertheless.

Last night before photography class (more on the later when I retrieve my notes from the car), Candy, Lisa and her husband Derek, and Tony and I (yes, Tony was able to get into this class!) went to Shaggy’s to give it a try. The décor is retro 1970s I suppose and there is a peace sign above the logo. So, I’m assuming they are at least trying to be retro 1970s.

Lisa, Derek and I had hamburgers. Lisa and I both had the small burger and Derek had a regular burger. The small burger was enough to fill you up, in my opinion and I think Lisa felt the same way. But, we are girls and maybe dudes need more burger; you’ll have to ask a dude. The burger was really good I thought, and the prices were rather reasonable. Tony had two chili dogs, which he said were good, but nothing spectacular and if it were up to him he’d just go to Mullins and get chili dogs from there instead. Candy had a chicken taco, which she said was spicy and good. It came with chips and salsa which she said tasted similar to Rosie’s. I agree, she let me have a taste. Along with the burgers and hot dogs came with mixed fries, which was a combination of regular French fries and sweet potato fries. Both seemed a little bland to me. Lisa thought the sweet potato fries needed a dipping sauce; neither had any seasoning. I prefer my fries to be salted when they come out of the fryer so that the salt will stick. I don’t even think the fries at Shaggy’s were salted at all. I had never had sweet potato fries before, and they were okay, but nothing to brag about, and also lacked flavor in my opinion. Derek tried one and didn’t like it and since Derek didn’t like it, Tony didn’t even bother.

Overall, the food was acceptable; but, if you want a burger – go to Five Guys. If you want chili dogs – go to Mullins. If you want tacos – Rosie’s is hard to beat. I don’t know how many people have tried it, but it wasn’t very crowded which surprised me since it just recently opened. If others feel like I do, then word must be getting out to spend your money elsewhere. I doubt Shaggy’s is a place we will be frequenting.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mrs. Effie Phipps

My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Effie Phipps, passed away yesterday morning. It makes me so sad. She was such a lovely, kind, wonderful person and an extraordinary teacher. Some people may not remember their kindergarten teacher, but I remember Mrs. Phipps as though I was in her classroom just yesterday.

Mrs. Phipps left a private school in town (where she was my pre-k teacher) and started her own kindergarten. The kindergarten was held at her house, which sat up on a hill, and was called Happy Hill Kindergarten, and it was indeed happy there.

I learned so many things from Mrs. Phipps. She taught us countless Bible verses, Bible facts and hymns; and to this day when I hear, read, or sing those, I think of her. From pre-k I remember she had a puppet that she would bring out during story time and she also gave us red hots to munch on during that time. I suppose looking back on it they were probably more like cinnamon candies than actual red hots. I doubt a 4-year old could handle red hots.

One of the things we would use during arts and crafts was egg shells. I suppose she kept egg shells from when she hard boiled eggs and dyed them different colors for us to use when having craft time. Even now at 32, when I crack open a hard boiled egg and peel away the shell, I think of Mrs. Phipps.

Mrs. Phipps had a webbed foot and we were all in awe when she showed it to us. I remember vividly one day when she was stapling some papers together and accidently stapled her finger and it started bleeding. She never uttered a bad word or let us see her cry, but walked out of the room and dealt with her injury.

Her husband, Mr. Elmer Phipps, was always around. He would watch after us on the playground and show us things out in the yard. He was so soft spoken. He passed away about a year ago.

I remember trying to learn how to tie my shoes at Happy Hill and Mrs. Phipps was patient with each and every one of us.

Paul “Bear” Bryant died when I was in kindergarten at Happy Hill, and Mrs. Phipps brought us in to her living room where we watched his funeral on TV, that was in January 1983.

We had fantastic field trips at Happy Hill. My cousin, Wes, also went to Happy Hill when I did. I think he was in the pre-k class when I was in kindergarten. I remember one time when we went to the television studio for a filming of Grunches and Grins, a local PBS show. When the hostess pronounced my name wrong, Wes promptly told her how to correctly pronounce it.

The influences Mrs. Phipps had on my life are countless. I couldn’t possibly name them all here in this post. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman and she will be missed. When I called my mom today to tell her the sad news, she said, “The angels in heaven are rejoicing.” Indeed they are.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Few Random Thoughts for Friday

Alabama won the National Championship last night! It’s been 17 years since that happened. What an amazing night. I only wish I could have been there. My hat goes off to the Longhorns who played a great game, and almost came back to win with a freshman quarterback who was thrown to the wolves. But ALABAMA WON and I couldn’t be happier! I probably would have cried last night if Tony had not been at my house watching the game with me. I can’t even begin to describe my love for The Tide (I’m talking about the team today, not my dog). I’ve been a Bama fan since I was sprung from my mother’s womb. Next to God and family, it’s the third thing I’ve loved my whole life. Every time I go to a game and the band starts playing, my eyes well up with tears. My eyes are tearing up now just thinking about how much I love Alabama football. Congrats, Alabama! Thank you, Saint Nick! The world is a much more beautiful place today than it was yesterday.

Tony and I tried the new Dominoes Pizza last night. We both hated Dominoes. This is not an exaggeration. It has been my least favorite pizza for about as long as I can remember. Have you seen their new commercials where the girl says, “The crust tastes like cardboard?” Well, I’m almost 100% sure that I have spoken those same words. Empty, dull, boring carbs is another way to describe it. Not my favorite. However, a few months ago when we were having our United Way campaign at work, I won a gift certificate for a free Dominoes’ pizza. So, I figured we‘d give it a try on National Championship night. Why not? We ordered a large with pepperoni and sausage. It was good! No joke. I would order it again. There was a lot of sauce and the sauce was actually really robust and had a kick to it – a lot of flavor, which is a huge change from before. The crust was also good, although I did not taste the garlic in it as the commercial says. Tony liked it too. Give it a try. They actually have a good deal right now – two medium pizzas for $5.99 each.

I always have a lot of sour cream in my fridge. Told you this post was random. I meant to take a picture of this scenario this morning and then I forgot because I was trying to keep warm. Or something like that.

We got some snow yesterday! Not as much as I would have hoped for, but it was wet and white nonetheless. In fact, it was snowing a little while ago again! I went to a meeting and caught a glimpse of the free world through a window in the door in the back of the building. I doubt we will get much accumulation today, but it has been a winter wonderland here and the roads are not even that crazy – yet! I sure hope we get a “big snow” this year! It has been so long since we’ve had a “big snow” in Alabama. I think I was in junior high the last time it happened. I had gigantic snows when I lived in New York and large snows in North Carolina. But, I’m hoping for the big one in Alabama this year!

If you live in Alabama, have you seen the Alabama Department of Public Health commercial with Scott Cochran, the Alabama strength and conditioning coach? It is fantastic! The best commercial I’ve ever seen. He’s the guy that holds up four fingers on each hand during the fourth quarter of the games and jumps up and down constantly. This guy has so much energy. It amazes me! The commercial is encouraging folks to get their H1N1 flu shot and it is hilarious. If you haven’t seen it, look for it. It will most definitely make you laugh.

Did you hear that Alabama won the National Championship?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow and Football

It’s snowing today, which may not seem abnormal to most people, but when you live in the South, it is very abnormal and people start to panic. And panic, is not an understatement. As soon as the weather folks start predicting snow, there is a mad dash to the grocery store to buy bread and milk; you know – the essentials. I never understood why bread and milk are the two most popular items to purchase upon the prediction of snow.

When I woke up at 5:30 this morning, there was no snow on the ground and in fact it had not even started snowing. I arrived at work at 7:00 and still, no snow. But almost an hour later as folks started pouring into the office, I heard them all talking about the snow, and I don’t think it’s stopped yet. I honestly don’t know because I never see the outside until I either leave for lunch or leave for the day.

Already people have started leaving work to get home and hunker down with their bread and milk. It’s understandable, the leaving that is. A lot of people here commute from long distances and have to cross mountains or bridges to get home. If you live in New England, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but when you live in North Alabama, it is a big deal for a few of the following reasons:

1. We don’t have snow plows in Alabama
2. We do have salt trucks, but they don’t work as well
3. As a result of #1 and #2, roads close quickly
4. As a result of #1, #2, and #3, there’s a mad dash for folks to get home and the roads get jammed with cars and people down here don’t know how to drive in the snow and then they start having fender benders which causes rubber-necking which causes more fender benders which causes road rage which causes more finder benders.

You get the point. Snow in the South does not make for good driving conditions, which is probably why people run out to buy milk and bread – they don’t want to be without while they are stuck in their homes. But, my question is still, why milk and bread? Why not milk and doughnuts or soda and bread?

Truth be told I actually made a run to the grocery store yesterday at lunchtime. I figured it would be a good time to beat the crazed crowds and I was right. It wasn’t too crowded and I got a few things I needed in order to make meals over the next few days in case I can’t get out to the stores – including, wait for it…. milk and bread! In my defense, I drink a lot of milk and drank the last of it yesterday morning and I had not bought any bread in two and a half weeks. But I also bought some other things like chicken and hamburger meat and chips and dip!

Snow, you gotta love it! And yes, I plan to leave work early today to avoid point #4 mentioned above.

In other news, did you hear that Alabama is playing for the National Championship tonight? If you live here and didn’t know it then you must have been in a coma for the past few weeks or even months. The last time Alabama won a National Championship (in football) I wasn’t even able to drive! It was 1992 and I was 15 in 1992! Granted the game was actually played in January of 1993, but I was still 15! The point being I could not legally drive a vehicle by myself when Alabama last won a National Championship.

One of the things that I love about living in the South is that EVERYONE gets fired up about football. Well, almost everyone. But, around these parts there are “Roll Tide” and “Go Bama” and “Dehorn the Longhorns” and “Beat Texas” signs everywhere you look. Why would you not want to live in a place that loves football? I’ve lived in New York and North Carolina and neither of those places loves football as much as the state of Alabama. It’s just nice to know that I’m surrounded by fellow football lovers. And since kickoff starts in about nine and a half hours, I’d better head home because with the snow, it might take me that long to drive the 12 miles to my house.

Roll Tide, baby!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Photography Class #1

Photography class has begun and it was rather interesting if I do say so myself. As you may, or may not know, I bought a fancy new camera (Nikon D3000) back in the fall (thank you, interest free financing for 12 months!). And along with the fancy new camera came some fancy photography classes at Wolf Camera. Last night was the first of these classes, titled “Intro to DSLR Photography.”

My friends Lisa and Candy also bought new cameras – Lisa got hers a couple of weeks before me and Candy got hers a couple of weeks after me; so, we were all able to trot on down to Wolf Camera last night and take the class together. But, first… we ate, after all; any good night must start with a good meal. Candy, Lisa and I had dinner at Atlanta Bread Company where I devoured the veggie sandwich, which is divine, if I do say so myself.

When we arrived at Wolf, Candy’s husband, Andrew was waiting on us. Lisa’s Derek had signed up for the class but had to work and my Tony, well, he didn’t call in time to get put on the list (sarcastic gasp of shock here!). We walked in and were immediately… disappointed. Lisa and I thought there would be tables for folks to sit at while learning the ins and outs of photography; but, instead, it was a group of folding chairs in the middle of the store. I don’t know about you, but I hate sitting in a folding chair. It hurts my bottom. They are not comfortable. There’s just nothing good about a hard folding chair, I’m sorry to say. I told the girls that next week I was going to bring my chair in a bag – and don’t think I won’t because I so will and everyone will be jealous.

Well, we found seat, but not all together. Lisa and I sat together and Andrew and Candy sat in front of us. When we sat down, a guy named Bobby was explaining to everyone about RitzPix and asking everyone to fill out a form. He had a very country voice and he started explaining RitzPix over and over and over again. He could have saved a lot of time and energy if he had just started when everyone had gotten there. While Bobby was ramblin’ on about RitzPix, a lady closer to the front waved at me multiple times. I vaguely recognized her face, but wasn’t sure if she was waving at me or someone secretly standing behind me. So, I blurted out in a not so tactful way, “Do I know you?” “Yes, Susanne Anderson,” she said. “Oh yes, how are you doing?” I said as my stomach dropped to my ankles. You see, Mrs. Anderson is none other than the mother of my college sweetheart, Chris. Oh the horror! At any rate, Mrs. Anderson has lost some weight since I last laid eyes on her and it has been over 10 years since I’ve seen her so cut me a little slack here, people. To answer your pending question; no I didn’t talk to her after class, but that’s only because she left the class as soon as it was over and I didn’t have an opportunity to fill her in on how I’m still single and without children. But, there’s time for that next week.

On to the class – after a not so brief introduction by Bobby (who promised an intermission, but didn’t deliver), Mr. Farley Vaughn got up in front of our group and started teaching the class. Now for those not from around these parts, Mr. Vaughn was a fantastic wedding photographer in his day. In fact, he was booked the day my parents’ got hitched so they had to go with someone else. Mr. Vaughn is, I would venture to say, in his seventies, but I found him fascinating. Probably because I knew of his reputation and who doesn’t want to learn from a master?! He’s like the Yoda of Huntsville photography!

Mr. Vaughn taught us about SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Cameras and how they work and told us about different modes that you can shoot on. He tried not to get into too much detail because we have many more classes yet to attend. Some things that we learned are: the smaller the lens number, the faster the lens (not talking mm here). Aperture and controls the amount of light let in and also is a major factor in the degree of depth of field in a photograph. Shutter speed will control the stopping or blurring of movement in a photograph. A Puffer softens the light of your pop up flash and is available for $19.99 at Wolf Camera. When you increase the ISO you get a better picture, but a grainier or “noisier” picture. There are both round and square filter systems. Because of limitations with a pop up flash (only 10-12 feet in range), the ability to add an auxiliary flash is one of the major advantages of a SLR. When you change the lens on a camera, get in a corner and turn the lens side of the camera down to prevent dust from entering the camera. Always have a lens or a cover on your camera – no naked cameras! Cameras – they don’t make pictures, they make memories!

I don’t know about the others, but I really enjoyed this class. My only complaint is the chairs and the fact that Bobby interrupted a lot to put in his two cents. The class lasted about 2.5 hours and I’m looking forward to next week’s lesson.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions?

Who out there makes New Year’s Resolutions? I have never really done this. From what I always hear on the news, only 6% of people that make resolutions actually follow through with them. I guess one of the reasons I don’t make resolutions is that I don’t want to set myself up for failure. Who knows?

This year is no different. I haven’t made any resolutions of losing 100 pounds or anything drastic like that. Often in life, however, I have set goals for myself. I feel like if I set a few obtainable goals, that I am more likely to accomplish those than to actually make a “resolution”.

So, having said that, the goal I have set for myself is to read the Bible in full this year. I have been attending church my whole life and this is something that I have never actually done – cover to cover per se. I’m sad to say that this goal actually came about by accident. And I’m seven sadder to say that I’ve got to give some credit to Tim Tebow – the one man in America I get sick of hearing about. You see, on January 1, Florida was playing Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl and Tim Tebow had scripture in his eye black as he always does; and I as I always do, I decided to look up the verse and read the message that young Tebow wanted to relay to all of America. Then, all of a sudden it hit me! Today is January 1 and if I start today I can be a daily Bible reader every day this year and I can read through the Bible.

A couple of years ago on my birthday, my parents got me a Daily Bible, which puts the Bible in chronological order by how it was written. It also has explanations of things that are going on during the time of the writing and helps break down the scripture for you. So, I grabbed up my Daily Bible and read the passage and explanations for January 1 and I am happy to say that I have done this so far every day this year. The Daily Bible provides a layout for reading through the Bible in one year and it puts the Bible into a new perspective. Check it out if you get a chance.

How about you? Have you set any goals for yourself this year? Let’s hear about them!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome 2010!

Happy 2010! Can you believe it is already 2010? It seems just like yesterday that we were welcoming in 2000, and now it is already a decade later. Amazing! Time really does fly by when you get older.

I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as well. I had a wonderful Christmas. I should have brought in some photos to share with you all, but I just didn’t think about it. I got the coat I asked for from Santa and Tony gave me an iPod, which I desperately needed since my old one pooped out on me. He also gave me a Cornelia Marie hoodie, which was a great surprise and I love it! For those of you who may not know, I love Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel and the Cornelia Marie is one of the boats on the show.

For New Year’s Eve, my dad and I cooked a dinner of Beef Tenderloin, twice baked potatoes and fruit salad. It was really yummy if I do say so myself. The dinner ended with Red Velvet Cake or Apple Dumplings. Most people had both.

I spent the last week at home in my pajamas and that’s not much of an exaggeration. I went to a basketball tournament with my dad last Monday, but other than that, I didn’t really get out much. I just stayed in and watched a ton of football, which was wonderful. It was so nice to not have anything pressing to do and I really enjoyed the time off from work as well.

Tony and I saw a couple of movies since I last posted – Up In The Air, and Sherlock Holmes. With any luck, I’ll post a review this week.

Tomorrow night I start my photography class and my friends Lisa and Candy will also be there. I’m sure it will be interesting and it might even give me something to write about.

In the meantime, I would like to say Welcome Back, Sara! My friend Sara has a blog and until last week, she had not blogged since before Thanksgiving. If I had not seen her at church, I might wonder if she were alive. If you want to check in on her adventures, check her out at:

Another blog to check out is my friend Candy’s blog. She hasn’t updated in a while either, but if you want to look in on the life of a little person raising a tall person; check out Candy at:

Until next time…