Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve 2011!

Happy New Year's Eve, Y'all! I hope everyone has a wonderful, fun and safe New Year's Celebration with your friends and loved ones! Thanks for coming back each week to read about what's going on in my world. Here's to a great 2012 for each and every one of you! All the best!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Christmas Vacation

I’ve been on vacation this week, which has been a nice break from the day to day activities of work. Our plant shut down this week and so there’s not anything going on that I’m missing which is also nice because there won’t be a lot of missed work to catch up on when I go back on Tuesday, January 3.

On Monday, I went to the gym and had big plans to go to the grocery store, but decided to wait until later in the week because I wasn’t quite sure what all I needed yet. I did manage to stop by Wal-Mart and pick up some baking supplies which they had marked down as well as some red bows for my wreaths. I get new bows for the wreaths each year and so it’s always nice to get that half off. After coming home and showering, Willie and Jackie stopped by with Willie’s dog Zoey. Willie wanted a play date with The Tide even though I wasn’t quite sure about it because The Tide doesn’t really get along with other dogs. They stayed for about an hour or so and we were able to chat while Zoey slept in the chair with Jackie and The Tide stayed on the couch with me. The Tide wasn’t very thrilled with Zoey invading her territory but thankfully no blood was drawn.

Not long after they left, I got a wind of motivation and decided to finally start the kitchen project that has been in the work for months now. I painted the wall where my cabinets are a turquoise color. I got three coats on the bottom before calling it a night. On Tuesday morning, I painted the wall above the cabinets. That evening, my dad and I went to the Huntsville Times Classic and watched a couple of basketball games. When I got home, I decided the cabinets needed a new coat of paint and I started on that.

Wednesday morning I woke up not feeling too great. My stomach was upset; it had actually started not feeling so great on Tuesday night. I went on to the gym and when I got home finished painting the cabinets, all the while dealing with my upset stomach. About midday is when I started hugging the toilet for the rest of the day. Thankfully I had the foresight not to eat anything or it could have been a lot worse than it was. Some friends from church brought me some Gingerale after church on Wednesday night and it was such a blessing because when I am sick that is usually the one thing I want the most and there was no way I could have gone out and gotten it myself.

Today (Thursday) I have felt a lot better and have drank a lot of Gingerale and eaten a lot of Saltine Crackers. I also braved the waters and ate some rice and cream of chicken soup as well as some pineapple. So far, so good. I also managed to get the kitchen back in order. It’s always a sure sign that I’m feeling better when my out of order house is driving me bonkers. On Wednesday I didn’t care how out of order things were.

Friday I have big plans of putting away the Christmas decorations, taking a trip to the gym, visiting my brother, finally going to the grocery store and getting the house in order. I may also go to the movies to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It depends on how worn out I am by the time evening rolls around. Saturday I’ll be preparing for the New Year’s Eve dinner my dad and I are cooking for family and friends. So, hopefully I will be feeling much better the remainder of my vacation.

I hope you and your family have a happy and safe new year’s celebration!

The kitchen before

The kitchen after

Christmas 2011

I don’t know about you, but it already seems like Christmas was a long time ago when really it was just four days ago. I went to church on Sunday morning and afterwards came home to load up my car with all the food and presents for the day’s celebration. I also cooked some sausage balls as I was told we would be eating finger foods after church. Turns out we only had sandwiches and sausage balls. Not sure where all the other finger foods were.

After eating we opened presents. I got the 10-cup food processor I asked Santa for and I am looking forward to using it soon. I also got a new purse and a few other surprises and a new piece to my Grinch Christmas set. My parents got all sorts of good gifts as well. I think everyone had a nice Christmas.

We finished unwrapping our gifts about 3:00 and my dad’s side of the family was scheduled to arrive around 4:00. I was planning to lie down for a few minutes, but my uncle arrived early and then everyone else started trickling in and so a nap was out of the question.

Jackie also came over for our Christmas dinner and we played dirty Santa where I ended up with $20 and Jackie ended up with a scarf, some texting gloves, a hat and an umbrella. She was pretty fired up about those texting gloves. We began dinner around 5:30, or maybe 6:00. I honestly don’t know what time it was. My cousin’s daughter Sydney, who is three apparently didn’t like any of the food I cooked. She tried the red velvet cake and said, “I don’t like it,” which gave us all a good laugh She also didn’t like my rice krispy treats or the cookies I made. I guess you can’t please everyone.

The party started breaking up about 7:30 or 8:00 after which I went home and crashed. After cooking for three straight days and not sleeping well, I was ready for some rest. Hope your Christmas 2011 was as good as ours!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

As is tradition, my parents hosted a Christmas Eve breakfast which began at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve morning. I don’t know what year this little soiree started, but they’ve had it pretty much ever since I can remember.

My granddad Bill was in attendance as were lifelong friends Naaman and Cheryl (who brought yummy monkey bread); also there were some other friends of my parents’ and of course my parents and me. My dad cooked bacon, sausage, country ham, biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs. It was a good meal and it makes me hungry just thinking about it. My stomach is growling right now at the thought of biscuits and gravy! Yum!

After the breakfast, I came home to begin cooking Christmas Eve dinner and also start on Christmas Day dinner. I had made two loaves of cornbread that morning before the breakfast and that afternoon I mixed up the dressing as well as coleslaw and made the potato soup we were going to have for dinner on Christmas Eve. I made some molasses cookies for our dessert. These are some of my most favorite cookies; they are so good!!

My parents and granddad Bill came over for dinner on Christmas Eve and after dinner, we headed out on the town to look at Christmas lights. My dad had mapped out a route of sorts for us and we hit a lot of the more popular Christmas lights displays in Huntsville. Some friends of ours live next door to one of the houses we went to see and our friends had a sign in their yard that said “Ditto” and pointed to the house with the lights. We laughed and laughed about that sign. It truly made the night.

I got back to my house a little after 9:00 or so and mixed up and baked a red velvet cake and also mixed up sausage balls. I finally got into bed about 11:00 but had a hard time sleeping in anticipation of Santa’s visit. It was a low-key yet enjoyable Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Start of the Christmas Weekend

I certainly hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I sure did. I’ve spent most of today just resting and trying to recover from what I’m calling the Christmas hangover. I’ll begin a recap of the past few days and continue it over the next couple of days.

Friday night (Christmas Eve Eve) was the beginning of the Christmas weekend and I spent it with Jackie and her family. Before heading over there, I wanted to get some baking done in order to have some treats to pass out to folks over the next few days. I got home from work about 4:30 and managed to make a homemade batch of brownies, peanut butter fudge and caramel rice kripsy treats all before heading over to the Bells a little before 6:00.

When I arrived, we all gathered in the kitchen for a prayer and then began fixing our plates for dinner. Jan had made a pulled pork dish that was served over rice with salsa, queso, chips, etc. It was really quite good. She also made some bodacious brownies for dessert but by the time I was done with dinner there was no room for dessert. After we started eating, mine and Jackie’s friend Willie stopped by to spend some time with us as well. He lives in Colorado now and we only get to see him about once a year.

Jan’s birthday is this week so her girls got her some cupcakes from Gigi’s to celebrate since they all won’t be here this week on her actual birthday. She got some lovely framed photos of her family and a gift card from Chico’s.

After dinner and Jan’s min-birthday celebration, we got to the gift opening. Ashlyn opened first. I gave her a framed photo of her and two of her friends which was taken at her birthday party this year and also a Fancy Nancy Christmas book. Troy received a small Harry Potter Forbidden Forrest Lego set and a Griffyndor scarf. He jumped up and gave me a big hug when he opened it which reminded me of my brother when he was little. He would always jump up and give people big hugs after each gift he opened. I received the Alabama football door decoration I mentioned seeing a month or two ago. It is awesome and will be going up on the door in time for the National Championship game. Jackie, Tim and Jan opened their gifts and I think everyone liked what they got. Tim and Jan gave me a Vera Bradley purse and a gift card to Rave movie theater which I plan to make good use of this week while I’m on vacation. (I forgot to take my camera so no photos to share.)

Willie and I left around 8:30 so that the family could exchange gifts and enjoy their Christmas together. When I got home I bagged up all of the treats I had made earlier in the day so that I could give them out over the weekend. Then I went to bed to get some rest which didn’t turn out too well as I slept terribly on the 23rd and 24th. Guess I was excited about Santa coming to town.

It was a wonderful night as always. I certainly enjoy spending time with Jackie’s family as they are my extended family and each hold a special place in my heart. It was a great way to kick off the Christmas weekend.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mery Christmas 2011!

Merry Christmas from Nat and The Tide!
Hope Santa brings you everything you asked for!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The King James Bible Tour

Sorry for the late posting today - 'tis the season -

Last night I was able to participate in a tour of the history of the King James Bible. Did you know the King James Bible is 400 years old this year? Clearly the Bible itself is much much older than that but the King James version is now 400 years old. The tour took place at Mayfair Church of Christ and was conducted by Ron Wicks who guided the tour which was of his personal collection of Bibles, cuneiform stones, Dead Sea Scroll fragments and the like. This man has an amazing collection.

His tour of the King James version of the Bible is sponsored by Thomas Nelson publishers and was quite interesting and fascinating. The history of how the bible came from stone tablets to the form we have today is explained in the tour. He gives an in depth insight into each era of the Bible's transformation and the people who helped to translate it from Greek and Hebrew to Latin, French, German and eventually English.
The books and articles in the cases were facimilies of the real thing, but Mr. Wicks had his personal collection there last night and we were able to see the actual stones from 4,000 years ago and an original "He" King James version of the Bible from 1611. It's called a "He" version because these first copies had misprints in various places, including in the book of Ruth, particularly Ruth 3:15 where it refers to Ruth as "he".

Mr. Wicks explained how the Bible came to be in the hands of the common people and how it came to be in the form people could carry around rather than just in a large format, more commonly known as a pulpit Bible. He also explained the difficulties various writers had in translating the Bible into English, many of whom lost their lives as a result. It definitely gives you a greater sense of appreciation for how we came to have the Bible we now use.

My dad organized the tour for a group of us (he has seen it previously and found it to be quite informative) and Erika and her mom also attended. I think they enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm not sure how much longer the display will be at Mayfair or how much longer Mr. Wicks will be giving tours, but you can probably call the Mayfair church office for more information. A link to their web site is here and you can get the phone number off the bottom of the page if you are interested in learning more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Letters to Santa: 2011 Edition

Dear Santa,

It's been about a year since I last wrote you and I want you to know that I've done my best to be really good since then. It's been a year of ups and downs for me, Santa and I know you can't really deliver good health and happiness but if perhaps you can and I don't know about those special powers, then please send some my way. These last couple of months have made me really tired of being sick. I'm ready to feel better!

I don't really want much for Christmas this year. For one, I don't need that much and two, I don't have room for it in my small but wonderful home; not to mention that the economy is in the crapper and I know you can't afford to pay the elves the premium salaries you paid back in the 1980s when you brought Barbie Dream Houses and Go-Karts and Trampolines on Christmas morning. Ah, those were the days. So, really there's just one thing I want this year Santa, and that's a Cuisinart Food Processor - 10 Cup Capacity if you please. I'm making a special place for it on my kitchen counter and it will look really great there! It will also come in quite handy throughout the year when the only thing people want me to bring to gatherings is coleslaw. Just think, I'll be able to make coleslaw in half the time which means more time for napping!

As always, Santa, you are welcome to bring some surprises, which I realize you don't always like to do, but seeing as how you've known me for 34 years, surely you can think of something special to place in my stocking. Thanks for the early surprise of the Christmas apron! It was nice of you to special deliver it before Christmas. Hope the reindeer didn't get tired making that extra trip down south. I will put it to good use and wear it while I'm cooking over the next few days.

I will be sure and leave some milk and cookies for you Santa. Hopefully The Tide won't eat them before you arrive, but if she does, just remember it's the thought that counts! Be careful while you are out making your deliveries!

Natasha Jo

Dear Santa,

If you could please just bring me some treats for Christmas this year, I sure would appreciate it. I've done my best to be a good dog this year. I haven't done anything too bad like I did when I was a puppy. I've grown up and fled the errors of my puppy youth. I do occasionally rip a hole in the sheets on the bed but really that's my mom's fault because she doesn't get my nails trimmed as often as she should. Hey, it's not like I can drive.

I would really like a squeaky toy but those get on my mom's nerves so maybe you shouldn't bring that after all. I realize my mom has a stockpile of treats, but you can never have too many, especially those of the bacon variety so feel free to add to our pile.

I will try not to eat your cookies before you arrive Santa, but they are so tempting just sitting there on the edge of the table and I know my mom makes good treats. So, if the cookies happen not to be there when you arrive, well, I'm pretty sure it was the cat from next door who took them.

I'll leave a treat for the reindeer because I know they work hard on Christmas Eve and we animals like to take care of each other. Be careful out there Santa and watch out for the hooligans!

The Tide

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

This past Friday, believe it or not, I went to the movies to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I have been to so few movies this year one would think I didn’t enjoy going to the movies. For whatever reason I just haven’t made much time for one of my favorite things to do; but somehow in the midst of this season of hustle and bustle, I managed to take a little time out for myself.

The first Sherlock Holmes movie which came out two years ago was fabulous I thought and so I was very much looking forward to seeing this sequel, once again starring the ever so entertaining Robert Downey, Jr. and the always adorable Jude Law. I was expecting to be just as entertained as I was the first go around and while this sequel was good, I think the first one was better.

There was an interesting plot in this movie which at times was not as easy as you might expect to follow, or it could have been the sinus medicine causing my brain to be foggy. Downey, Jr. and Law provided laughter throughout and once again made a wonderful pair as Holmes and Watson. Rachel McAdams made a brief appearance as Irene Adler, but I was sad to see she wasn’t as big a part of this film as she was the first go around.

There were lots of twists and turns and a lot of action as well. Many times I caught myself holding my breath while waiting to see what was going to happen next. There were, as expected, situations where you wondered how in the heck this duo would make it out alive, but fear not, dear friends, this is the movies and the main characters mustn’t be killed off.

This movie was rather delightful and served as a nice escape from the pressures this season of the year tends to bring. So, if you are looking for a good film to watch either by yourself or with your family this holiday season, check out this latest Sherlock Holmes movie. I think you will find it quite fun and entertaining.

Monday, December 19, 2011

13 Going On 35

This past Saturday was quite an eventful day. No, I didn't spend it shopping as many of you probably did, but in fact, it was my dear friend Erika's 35th birthday party, and it was quite a lot of fun if I do say so myself.

Erika wanted to have a roller skating party for her birthday complete with 1980s themed music. Jackie and I were pretty excited and had grand plans of wearing leg warmers and side pony tails, although when push came to shove, neither of us went through with it. Erika has always wanted to have a birthday party at the roller rink with the roller rink all to her self (she's an only child and doesn't like to share!), and so Mamma Kay (Erika's Mamma) made her dream a reality for the big 3-5.

The party was from 2-5 and both Jackie and I arrived there a few minutes after 2:00. Surprisingly, or maybe not, we drove separately and arrived at the exact same time. When we walked in, Mamma Kay and Erika and some others were already out skating. Erika's college roommate was there with her husband and four children, and Erika's cousin and her husband and children were there as well as some other relatives of Erika's and her new man, Charles. Mostly the kids were skating. I wasn't feeling well not to mention my leg is finally on the mend and so I didn't plan to do any skating, but Jackie finally twisted my arm just enough that I got up to go get a pair of skates.

I skated around twice and then decided to give it a rest because I didn't have a good feeling about my leg, not to mention it was hurting a bit. So, Jackie told me to go over and request some New Kids on the Block and as I went to step up on to the carpet, I wiped out and fell backwards on my large behind. Thankfully there is a lot of cushioning back there! Thus ended my skating for the day. Jackie skated a bit more throughout our time there.

About 3:00, the pizza arrived. It was from Jet's Pizza which I had never had before. It was deep dish pizza and it was quite good. Mamma Kay made some birthday cake cupcakes and they were quite delicious! I'm not ashamed to admit I had two.

After lunch, there was more skating to do so Erika and Jackie headed out to the floor while I went to turn in my skates. When I tuned in my skates, The Bangles song, Walk Like An Egyptian was playing and the girl working there asked me, and I quote, "How do you walk like an Egyptian?" At which point I knew I was old; but, I graciously showed her how to do it and now she will be the coolest of all her friends. There was a guy there who was doing the music. He apparently grew up on 80s music and did a good job picking out some good songs. Except after my New Kids on the Block request and he started to play "Step by Step" and I yelled at him that that wasn't a good New Kids song and he needed to play Hangin' Tough. Yes, I yelled at the DJ. What can I say, "Step by Step" was crap - it was after the New Kids were awesome.

Erika had a blast at her birthday party. she drank a suicide with her lunch - I didn't know or remember what a suicide was - it's when you get a little of each of the drinks from the fountain - and she said it was the best birthday party she had ever had. You could definitely tell too. She had a smile on her face the whole day and looked like she was as happy as a 13 year old. It was a really fun time, I just wish I had felt like skating more.

Happy Birthday, sweet Erika! I hope we're friends for the next 35 years and more!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Tale of the Little Smokies

Last Thursday, as mentioned, I got together with some girlfriends for our annual Christmas party. I would have written about it that night but didn’t get home until close to 10:30 and was ready for bed at that point; so, I’m a little late in telling this tale.

I picked up Erika at 5:15ish so we could head over the mountain towards Jackie’s house. The plan was to first make a stop at my parents’ house to pick up my dad. My dad and I would then drop Erika off at Jackie’s house so that she and Jackie could warm up the little smokies I brought (we all brought a snack food). After dropping off Erika, my dad and I were going to pick up Blue, which had been at the repairman for the past few days getting the passenger side window repaired. The plan, however, went awry.

When we arrived at my parents’ house, my dad was MIA. He had been in Nashville that day, taking my granddad up to the doctor and had not yet arrived home. So, Erika and I visited with my mom while we waited on my dad to arrive. The party was slated to start at 6:30 and a few minutes after 6:00, I decided that Erika and I would drop off the little smokies at Jackie’s house and then she and I would go pick up Blue and then drop off my parents’ car after the party. Just as we were getting ready to go, my dad arrived. He was driving my grandparents’ car and it needed to be dropped off at their house (my granddad ended up staying in the hospital).

Erika and I got in my parent’s car, my dad in my grandparents; car and off we went. As I was trying to pull out onto the highway, I basically tried to kill Erika and me as I pulled out in front of a car I didn’t see. Poor Erika will probably never again ride with me. Luckily the car changed lanes to avoid hitting us. It was less than pleasant to say the least.

We finally made it to my grandparents’ house and my dad couldn’t remember the code to the alarm so we had to call my aunt to find out what it was. At this point, it was 6:25 and the party was five minutes from starting and the little smokies were still in the wrapper.

Once my grandparents’ car was securely in their garage, we headed towards Jackie’s house where we dropped off Erika and the little smokies. We went to retrieve Blue and I headed to Jackie’s and my dad headed home.

When I got to Jackie’s the little smokies were warm but no one else had yet arrived at our party. I guess everyone was having a difficult time getting there on time and funny enough, we all arrived at Jackie’s about he same time – 7:00p.m.

We had a wonderful time catching up and chatting the night away. We had a dish towel exchange and everyone brought the cutest towels. I ended up with some towels with snowmen on them that I have hung in my bathroom. It was great way to enjoy the Christmas season – spending it with good friends – you just can’t beat that!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas on McKinley

My new Christmas dish towel
These are available at Bloom on Pratt Ave.
They also have one that says Christmas is Always Merry in Huntsville.

Christmastime has reached McKinley Avenue – how about your street? A lot of people have lights out and it looks quite festive as you drive down my street once the sun has set. Some folks that haven’t put out lights in the past put out lights this year. Next door, even Charlie has a tree up – it has all blue lights, same as last year. Who knew Charlie would be such a lover of Christmas?

Tomorrow night I’m getting together with my girlfriends for our annual Christmas party. We used to get together once a week during American Idol season, but once Paula and then Simon left the show, so did we and now we get together once every other month or so to catch up. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and enjoying a little Christmas spirit. Jackie will be our gracious host this year and I’m sure we will have a lovely time.

Blue has been in the shop having some repair work. As you may recall, Blue’s front passenger window stopped working and wouldn’t stay up, except with the help of Duct Tape. My parents have been out of town the past few days and so I was able to drive their car while Blue’s window was getting repaired. Blue and I will be reunited (and it feels so good) tomorrow night.

Tomorrow at work, we are having a snack day, which basically means we will be eating all day long. Hopefully there are some good cooks in the group. I’m bringing sausage balls and Rice Krispy treats, and I think a couple of guys are bringing a Boston Butt – that sounds good.

I still need to do some Christmas baking for a few gifts for the postman, friends, etc. I would like to get some of it done this weekend, but I have a busy schedule planned this weekend so I’m not sure that there will be a lot of baking going on. It might be put on hold until next week.

I suppose this is all the random rambling I have for tonight. I’m off to make some sausage balls and watch CSI.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I’m Happy to Report there are No Breaks

My leg is still bothering me a week and a half after I fell into what was once known as the furnace of my house. On a normal day, I would be in a spin class right now, sweating it out and loving the burn in my legs. Today, however, I am at home in pain – not fun.

I went back to the gym last Thursday and have been twice more since then and clearly it was not the right decision as my leg has gotten worse from the little improvement I experienced last week. Today I’m having trouble putting pressure on it and as far as crossing the left leg over the right – you can forget it.

This afternoon I went for my weekly chiropractor visit and Dr. Ross was kind enough to take some x-rays for me. There are no breaks or fractures, which is a good thing. He said I most likely just jammed it since I landed on it when it was straightened out. So, basically I just have to stay off it for a while longer and ice it down; also soaking in Epsom salts will probably be in my near future. I’m really grateful to Dr. Ross for taking a look at my leg for me because goodness knows I don’t have the time to wait around for hours on end at The Orthopedic Center.

Ya’ll getting old sucks! I guess it just gets harder and harder to bounce back from things the older you get; but, again at least there are no breaks. That’s all the news from my little corner of the world. Until next time, I’ll be hobbling along!

Monday, December 12, 2011

USPS Online Redeemed

I know, I know, I haven’t had a new post in a few days; but, I have nothing of great interest to write about and I didn’t want to bore you to tears but unfortunately, that’s probably going to happen anyway with my post today. Here’s what’s been happening.

As you may recall, I bought a new printer on Black Friday; a laser printer in fact. I feel so fancy. It only prints black and white but that’s all I need for coupon printing and what not. I finally set it up over the weekend and it works perfectly. I even set up the Wi-Fi portion without having to call any of my techie friends. I’m cool like that.

After setting up the printer, I used it to go online and print some postage for a pair of shoes I needed to return. I went on a rant a year or two ago about how terrible USPS online was but I have since changed my mind. Well, I would never order stamps from the site again, but I would definitely use it to print postage for a package as I did last night. It saves you from having to wait in line at the post office, which is a huge blessing this time of year.

This afternoon I took my package to the post office just to drop it off but some person had stuffed the mail bins so full that you couldn’t even open them. I didn’t want to wait in line to turn in a package with postage so I decided to leave and as I was leaving a man came out to collect the mail from the outside drop boxes and he took my package for me. It worked out quite well.

I finally got all of my presents wrapped and under the tree. Most of them I finished wrapping the weekend before last but finished up the last two or three this past weekend. So, I suppose I am now officially ready for Christmas.

Other than that, there’s not much else going on. I had a rather uneventful weekend, which was quite nice in my book since this coming up weekend, and of course the next will be all a bustle with various activities.

I guess that’s about it for now. I’ll try to be back tomorrow with something else boring to tell you about. In the meantime if you know of any good books out there, please leave a comment as I am looking for the next good read.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Diet Coke Moment

Diet Coke atop my Christmas Tree
(Thanks, Candy!)

Well, I’ve run out of fun and interesting events to write about. That’s just how it goes some weeks. I didn’t do anything exciting on Tuesday night and Wednesday was church and no one streaked through the church building, so nothing to write about there.

My leg is doing much better and in fact my plan is to finally return to the gym tomorrow (Thursday) night. I absolutely cannot wait because people, the pants are getting tight and I am in desperate need of some physical activity. I know I will feel better after the first day back and am looking forward to shedding some of these lbs I’ve put on in my four week absence from the bike.

I did want to tell you about something exciting that happened recently. Well, you may not find it so exciting, but I sure as heck did. As you probably know, I love Diet Coke. In fact, I wrote an Ode to Diet Coke in the early days of ye old blog. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have a Diet Coke, well, rarely a day anyway.

Last week on Twitter, Diet Coke (yes, I’m a follower of Diet Coke on Twitter) tweeted “Final exams are coming up. You know, we make a pretty good study buddy.”

To which I replied, “Amen to that. I became a Diet Coke addict during college finals over 10 years ago and love it still.”

It’s true people; when I was in school at The University of Alabama, I put a dollar in the coke machine in Bidgood Hall and much to my chagrin the machine was out of Coca-Cola and I had to settle for a Diet Coke, probably because I was in immediate need of caffeine; either that or I couldn’t get my dollar back. At any rate, it was the first Diet Coke of my life and I never turned back – I’ve been a DC drinker ever since.

So, back to the Twitter – Diet Coke responded, people! Diet Coke responded to my tweet by saying, “That’s extraordinary. Here’s a Diet coke toast to 10 more years with you by our side.”

Needless to say, it was a defining moment in my life; well, my Twitter life anyway. Diet Coke responded, to little ole me! I could hardly believe it. I think a tear formed in the corner of my eye! Oh, Diet Coke, you do not have to worry. I’ll probably die holding you in my grasp!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Concert - The Heritage Bell Ringers

On Monday night, my mother hosted the Ladies’ Night Out for the gals at the church she attends. Clearly my dad is not a lady and so therefore couldn’t participate in the evening’s activities so he and I went to Trinity United Methodist Church for the Heritage Bell Ringers holiday concert.

This event takes place each year usually on the first Monday in December and is free to the public and in my opinion is one of the best Christmas events the city has to offer. Not only is the music delightful but watching the bell ringers is absolutely fascinating.

The concert started at 7:00 and we arrived about 15 minutes before. The sanctuary was filling up but we made our way to the front row and sat next to some other folks. The seats were great because we were able to see the bell ringers up close.

The show started a few minutes after 7:00 as the bell ringers made their way down the aisle for the processional. There were two conductors for the show (one at a time) and each gave a little introduction to each of the songs the ringers played. The concert lasted about an hour and was fantastic, just as expected. We gave the ringers a standing ovation and while standing we noticed the church was pretty packed. Clearly we are not the only people in town who love the Heritage Bell Ringers holiday concert.

The Heritage Bell Ringers’ next concert is on Monday, May 07, 2012 at Trinity. You can find more about them at their web site here. If you’ve never seen these people in action, then you should definitely try to go to their next concert or their 2012 holiday concert.

Here’s a list of the songs they played on Monday night:

Processional and Joyful Dance
Overture from The Nutcracker
Anitra’s Dance
Carol of the Bells
Christmas Meditation
God with Us
On Christmas Day
March of the Kings (My dad liked this one a lot)
Frosty the Snowman
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rui, Rui Chiu (This was liked by both me and my dad)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Trip to the Vet and Then a Parade

Saturday morning was time for The Tide’s annual appointment at the vet’s office for shots and a check-up. I scheduled the appointment a couple of months ago to insure that we would have the first appointment of the day, otherwise, we would end up waiting for who knows how long. A vet’s office is just like a doctor’s office; the later in the day you go, the longer you have to wait.

We arrived about 15 minutes early for our 8:00 a.m. appointment. I planned to just sit in the car, but The Tide would have none of that. The Tide, you see, loves to go to the vet’s office. I’m almost certain she’s the only dog in the world that looks forward to her annual visit. The only thing I can think is that she remembers fondly the days she lived there after her hip surgeries. Who knows; but at any rate she always gets excited when we turn into the parking lot.

As we were sitting in the parking lot, The Tide started whining and pacing in the back set and nudging my shoulder with her nose. She couldn’t wait to get out. I was a little slow to get out of the car thanks to my fall the night before and my impatient dog kept nudging me and nudging me until I finally got out of the car. She ran over to the door wanting to go inside but not realizing that she was still going to have a bit of a wait.

The Tide, anxiously awaiting the opening of the vet's office.

Once they finally opened, she ran inside as if she might not ever get to go again; even the guy working there said to her, “You sure are glad to be here.” We were finally called back and The Tide was weighed (64.2 pounds) and tested for heartworms (negative) and also had her nails trimmed. Then she got her yearly shots, a year’s supply of heartworm medicine, and some ointment for a sore she has on her belly and a lot of money later we were on our way out the door.

We made it home a little before 9:00 and I did some cleaning and then a few minutes after 11:00, my dad came and picked me up for the parade. My mother didn’t feel like going and I made the decision not to take The Tide along as she can sometimes be unruly when she’s out in public.

We found a spot down close to the front of the route near Church Street and snacked on sunflower seeds until the parade began. The Rocket City Rednecks were the Grand Marshalls of the parade; an odd choice in my opinion but no one asked me I guess.

The Alabama A&M band was the first band to come through and one of the first groups as well. I always enjoy seeing them

Mayor Tommy Battle came through on an old fire engine.

There were search dogs from HEMSI.

The downtown trolley made an appearance as well.

There were clowns from the Huntsville Hospital Klown Club.

Lots of horses made the parade, even ones with Christmas painted hoofs.

Mary and Joseph even showed up!

There were old cars.

And my favorite car – the Volkswagen Carmengia.

The J.O. Johnson band as well as Grissom and Huntsville and Lee marched by too! The Grissom drummers decorated their drums with tinsel.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a parade without Santa at the end!

In all, it was a pretty good parade. Oh, and there was a lady across the street from us who cracked me up the whole time. Each time a car would go by she would yell, “Rev it up!” and she also yelled at all the dancers that came by which was hilarious! It was a lot better than we thought it was going to be. Maybe we had really low expectations because Candy didn’t think it was that good. My dad wore a crazy Santa hat and got lots of compliments on it. I wore an Alabama sweatshirt and got lots of “Roll Tides!” The parade last a little less than two hours but it was an enjoyable time if I do say so myself.

My dad and his Santa hat

Ready for the parade!

I would like to go to the parade of boats at Ditto Landing but haven’t been able to find any information on it. Does anyone know if they do that anymore? It’s the time of year for lots of fun activities. What have you all got going on?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just Call Me Grace

Friday afternoon when I got home from work, I used what little daylight was left and then some to pull my outdoor Christmas lights out of the shed and decorate the outside of the house. It took me about an hour or so to put up the lights and the two wreaths and get the storage bins back in the shed. I wanted to get the outside stuff up before the rains came this weekend, which as I type it still hasn’t started raining.

Christmas lights are up and shining!

After putting everything away, I went to the spare bedroom to gather up some Christmas presents to wrap and as I was walking back I noticed that there was a cave cricket in my return air vent. I get cave crickets in my house all the time. I don’t know if that’s the correct term for them or not, but that’s what I call them as does Jackie. They are the brown crickets with long spider legs.

A little background - my return air vent is in the middle of my “hallway”; actually, it pretty much is the whole hallway. It was once the furnace for my house but back in the late 80s or early 90s when my grandparents had central air put in the house for my great-grandmother, the furnace became the return air vent.

Back to the story, I pulled up the grate to get the cave cricket out and instead of me being quick enough to pick the little critter up, it jumped out. After attempting to stomp it a few times, I finally managed to get it under the paper towel I had in hand and stomp him and scoop him up. I turned to go to the kitchen to dispose of the critter in the garbage and clearly didn’t remember that the grate was not down and I stepped and fell into the return air vent; probably a three foot drop. I managed to pull myself out and wallowed in pain on the kitchen floor for a few minutes before I managed to get myself up.

Needless to say, I was in a lot of pain. I’m still hobbling around today, but not quite as badly. I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my left leg as it is in an immense amount of pain especially when I turn my leg certain ways. So, if you hear me cry out like I’m in pain, it’s because my leg went in some direction that I didn’t need it to go. I also have a big bruise on my left thigh and my right knee is bruised in three places, once from my tumble in Tuscaloosa on Thursday and two from falling into the return air vent.

So, here’s to hoping I don’t take any more falls over the coming days because I’m not sure my beaten and bruised body can take much more.

Front Door Decoration

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stadium Dogs Were Served

Well, it's been a long and exciting day for me today (Thursday). This morning, I got up at my normal time, but instead of getting ready for work, I got ready for a football game. Madison Academy played in the state finals in Tuscaloosa and my dad and I headed south about 7:15 this morning to go watch the game.
We first made our obligatory stop at the Hardees at the Decatur exit. Anytime we head south in the early morning hours, we stop at the same Hardees and this time I was prepared with some coupons. After getting some breakfast we got back on the road and made really good time as we missed the Birmingham rush hour and there were no accidents along the way.

We took the Coaling exit to get to Tuscaloosa; I think I’ve mentioned before that this is the exit I used in college and like to use to this day because it takes an indirect route into the city and therefore you miss all the crazy traffic on McFarland Boulevard. When Justin and I went to Tuscaloosa in May, we took this exit and were not able to get through because the roads were still blocked from all the tornado debris. Now, seven months later, most of the debris is gone, but the landscape along the road is practically bare.

This was my dad’s first trip to Tuscaloosa since the tornado and he was amazed and the vast emptiness that the tornado left behind and said he was glad to have not seen it when it was full of debris. After driving through Alberta City and down 15th street, we then had the challenge of making it over to the stadium and finding a place to park. Since classes are still in session, there are student cars on campus and finding a spot to park was not as easy as one might expect. The Baptist church was charging $20 to park in their lot; but finally we found a spot and didn’t have to pay anything, which was our goal in a parking spot.

We made our way to the stadium and headed towards the coach statues as my dad also has not seen the Nick Saban statue and wanted to take a look at it. As we were walking towards it, in a moment Jackie probably wishes she had on video, I somehow missed a step off the sidewalk and fell over, landing on my knees and hands which were subsequently scraped up. There was a cop sitting in the car right where I fell and he got out and asked if I was okay. My dad asked too and asked again after I just sat there for a minute. My eyes teared up and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I chose laughing. It’s typically the best medicine.

Outside the stadium, folks were passing out free megaphones and pens and even Elsie the Bordon Cow was there serving up some samples of chocolate milk and eggnog and passing out free cups and notepads. I don’t even think we have Bordon dairy products in Huntsville, do we? If so, I don’t know where they are sold.


My dad and Elsie

My dad had got out tickets online so we made our way inside and found a seat on the Madison Academy side and in the sun which kept us warm. Before the game got started, I made a concession stand run. I saw a lot of people eating stadium dogs and I just couldn’t hold out any longer! The dog was good, but not up to par as the bun was old and my guess is it was left over from the last home Bama game two weeks ago.

Stadium Dog!

MA got off to a good start and was up 7-0 and the game was 7-7 at the half. At the half, I got another stadium dog from a different stand hoping I would have better luck with the bun – I was wrong; but, at least I got one more stadium dog for 2011. MA went up 14-7 in the second half and then late in the last quarter, Handley scored. They went for two but didn’t make it and it looked like MA had the championship in the bag – for all of about five seconds. Handley kicked the onside kick and recovered it, drove the ball down and scored, making it 20-14. MA had 44 seconds to drive the ball down the field, which is what they did. With five seconds left, from less than 20 yards a pass was thrown to the end zone and caught… but the receiver was out of bounds and the game came to an end. It was definitely a game of ups and downs. One of the best games I have seen in a long while, if only MA had won it would have been perfect!

My nervous dad!

After the game, I was handed the keys for driving and thanks to my mad knowledge of the campus, we were able to avoid all the traffic on University Drive, which was crazy. Actually, they have a built a ton of buildings since I was in school there and I did take one wrong turn where there was once a road that went down to the river but now is just a turnabout; but I got us out of town after that one mishap and we got on the road a lot quicker than other folks, I would venture to say.

We made a stop at The Fish Market in Birmingham which is one of our favorite places to eat. The food was just as wonderful as expected. Then we got a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts, 2 for me and 20 for my parents because Deb loves some donuts, don’tcha Deb?

We made it to my house at about 5:30 and our day of adventure came to an end. It was a fun and exciting day. Despite the loss, we had a great time. Here’s to a championship for MA in 2012.