Bring Me That Horizon

Welcome to jennyweber dot com

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Home of Jenny the Pirate

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This will go better if you

check your expectations at the door.

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We're not big on logic

but there's no shortage of irony.

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 Nice is different than good.

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Oh and ...

I flunked charm school.

So what.

Can't write anything.

= Jennifer =

Causing considerable consternation
to many fine folk since 1957

Pepper and me ... Seattle 1962

  

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Belay That!

This blog does not contain and its author will not condone profanity, crude language, or verbal abuse. Commenters, you are welcome to speak your mind but do not cuss or I will delete either the word or your entire comment, depending on my mood. Continued use of bad words or inappropriate sentiments will result in the offending individual being banned, after which they'll be obliged to walk the plank. Thankee for your understanding and compliance.

= Jenny the Pirate =

Hoist The Colors

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Insist on yourself; never imitate.

Your own gift you can present

every moment

with the cumulative force

of a whole life’s cultivation;

but of the adopted talent of another

you have only an extemporaneous

half possession.

That which each can do best,

none but his Maker can teach him.

= Ralph Waldo Emerson =

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Represent:

The Black Velvet Coat

In The Market, As It Were

 

 

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Columbia Cemetery

To read my articles, click HERE! And don't forget to subscribe.

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Contributor to

American Cemetery

published by Kates-Boylston

A Pistol With One Shot

Ecstatically shooting everything in sight using my beloved Nikon D3100 with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR kit lens and AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G prime lens.

Also capturing outrageous beauty left and right with my Nikon D7000 blissfully married to my Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D AF prime glass. Don't be jeal!

Dying Is A Day Worth Living For

I am a taphophile

Word. Photo Jennifer Weber 2010

Great things are happening at

Find A Grave

If you don't believe me, click the pics.

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Dying is a wild night

and a new road.

Emily Dickinson

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REMEMBRANCE

When I am gone

Please remember me

 As a heartfelt laugh,

 As a tenderness.

 Hold fast to the image of me

When my soul was on fire,

The light of love shining

Through my eyes.

Remember me when I was singing

And seemed to know my way.

Remember always

When we were together

And time stood still.

Remember most not what I did,

Or who I was;

Oh please remember me

For what I always desired to be:

A smile on the face of God.

David Robert Brooks
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 Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

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Keep To The Code

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You Want To Find This
The Promise Of Redemption

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I BELIEVED, AND THEREFORE HAVE I SPOKEN; we also believe, and therefore speak;

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it, have never known it again.

~ Ronald Reagan

Photo Jennifer Weber 2010

Not Without My Effects

My Compass Works Fine


The Courage Of Our Hearts

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Daft Like Jack

 "I can name fingers and point names ..."


And We'll Sing It All The Time
  • Dream With Me
    Dream With Me
    by Jackie Evancho
  • Danny Wright Healer of Hearts
    Danny Wright Healer of Hearts
    by Danny Wright
  • Dreams
    Dreams
    by Neil Diamond
  • Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs From The Stage
    Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs From The Stage
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  • A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations (1955 & 1981)
    A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations (1955 & 1981)
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  • Bach - The Complete Brandenburg Concertos / Pearlman, Boston Baroque
    Bach - The Complete Brandenburg Concertos / Pearlman, Boston Baroque
    by Johann Sebastian Bach, Martin Pearlman, Boston Baroque, Christopher Krueger, Marc Schachman, Daniel Stepner, Friedemann Immer
  • Lead With Your Heart
    Lead With Your Heart
    by The Tenors, The Canadian Tenors
  • A Musical Affair (Amazon Exclusive Version)
    A Musical Affair (Amazon Exclusive Version)
    by Il Divo
  • Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
    Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
    RCA
  • The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion
    The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion
    by William Voegeli
  • The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
    The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
    by James Trefil, Joseph F. Kett, E. D. Hirsch
  • The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems
    The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems
    by Emily Dickinson
  • Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems
    Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems
    by Harold Bloom
  • On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
    On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
    by William Zinsser
  • Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
    Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
    by Steven Milloy
  • The Amateur
    The Amateur
    by Edward Klein
  • The Closer
    The Closer
    by Mariano Rivera
  • Malice Toward None: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
    Malice Toward None: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
    by Jack E. Levin
  • Where Are They Buried (Revised and Updated): How Did They Die? Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy
    Where Are They Buried (Revised and Updated): How Did They Die? Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy
    by Tod Benoit
  • Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary
    Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary
    by Frederick Buechner
  • The Black Bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and His Poetry (Chapel Hill Books)
    The Black Bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and His Poetry (Chapel Hill Books)
    The University of North Carolina Press
  • Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
    Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
    by Andrew Breitbart
  • 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative
    11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative
    by Paul Kengor
  • Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
    Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
    by Tom Jokinen
  • Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits
    Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits
    by Matthew Rolston
  • Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt
    Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt
    by Todd Harra, Ken McKenzie
  • Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman
    Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman
    by Robert L. O'Connell
  • Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board Book
    Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board Book
    by Alexandra Day
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
    by Lynne Truss
  • The American Way of Death Revisited
    The American Way of Death Revisited
    by Jessica Mitford
  • In Six Days : Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
    In Six Days : Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
    Master Books
  • Architects of Ruin: How big government liberals wrecked the global economy---and how they will do it again if no one stops them
    Architects of Ruin: How big government liberals wrecked the global economy---and how they will do it again if no one stops them
    by Peter Schweizer
  • Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews That Rule America From the Grave
    Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews That Rule America From the Grave
    by Brannon Howse
  • The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
    The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
    by Thomas Lynch
Easy On The Goods
  • Waiting for
    Waiting for "Superman"
    starring Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee
  • The Catered Affair (Remastered)
    The Catered Affair (Remastered)
    starring Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald, Rod Taylor
  • Bernie
    Bernie
    starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey
  • Remember the Night
    Remember the Night
    starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, Sterling Holloway
  • The Ox-Bow Incident
    The Ox-Bow Incident
    starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe
  • The Bad Seed
    The Bad Seed
    starring Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden
  • Knuckleball!
    Knuckleball!
    starring R.A. Dickey, Charles Hough, Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield
  • Dodsworth
    Dodsworth
    starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Mary Astor, Kathryn Marlowe
  • Act of Valor
    Act of Valor
    starring Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
  • Deep Water
    Deep Water
    starring Tilda Swinton, Donald Crowhurst, Jean Badin, Clare Crowhurst, Simon Crowhurst
  • Sunset Boulevard
    Sunset Boulevard
    starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark
  • Penny Serenade
    Penny Serenade
    starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Edgar Buchanan, Beulah Bondi
  • Double Indemnity
    Double Indemnity
    starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather
  • Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
    Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
    starring Gary Anthony Williams
  • Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
    Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
    Passion River
  • It Happened One Night (Remastered Black & White)
    It Happened One Night (Remastered Black & White)
    starring Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
  • Stella Dallas
    Stella Dallas
    starring Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley, Barbara O'Neil, Alan Hale
  • The Iron Lady
    The Iron Lady
    starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Harry Lloyd, Anthony Head, Alexandra Roach
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (4 Disc Set)
    Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (4 Disc Set)
    starring Peter Sallis, Anne Reid, Sally Lindsay, Melissa Collier, Sarah Laborde
  • The Red Balloon (Released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection)
    The Red Balloon (Released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection)
    starring Red Balloon
  • Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    starring William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck
  • The Major and the Minor (Universal Cinema Classics)
    The Major and the Minor (Universal Cinema Classics)
    starring Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland
  • My Dog Skip
    My Dog Skip
    starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, Kevin Bacon
  • Sabrina
    Sabrina
    starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden, John Williams
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
    The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
    starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee, Ray Collins
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
    Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
    starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport
  • Now, Voyager (Keepcase)
    Now, Voyager (Keepcase)
    starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, John Loder
  • The Trip To Bountiful
    The Trip To Bountiful
  • Hold Back the Dawn [DVD] Charles Boyer; Olivia de Havilland; Paulette Goddard
    Hold Back the Dawn [DVD] Charles Boyer; Olivia de Havilland; Paulette Goddard
That Dog Is Never Going To Move

~ JAVIER ~

Columbia's Finest Chihuahua

Simple. Easy To Remember.

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One Word, Luv: Curiosity

Monday
Mar022015

I'll fly away

I have another bird story for you. More recent and just as poignant as the last. Knock on wood.

It all started on Friday when Erica dropped by for a short visit. As she was leaving, we noticed a bird flapping around near the ceiling of the garage.

It looks like a woodpecker, I said. Not your classic Woody look, but although I'm no stripe of an ornithologist -- I can barely spell that -- something about him spoke woodpecker to me.

And recently, we have heard the rapid drilling sound of woodpeckers in our neighborhood which is replete with thousands of the longleaf pines favored by the species.

(I even mentioned it to Dagny as we strolled outside one day: A woodpecker's loud activity sounded in the distance and I asked her if she heard it. Pre-verbal as Dagny may be, I believe she did.)

This happens from time to time: A bird flies into our two-car garage and, despite the single massive door being open, wide open, the outdoors beckoning only feet away, the bird cannot figure out how to escape.

They fly frantically from high shelves to a windowsill to the door opener, refusing to go down a few inches and out to freedom.

You can't talk reason into them either. Believe me; I have tried. They do not listen. Catching them is also out of the question. You can't get close enough to salt the tail.

So it was that on Friday, after Erica left, I closed and opened the garage door a few times, hoping that Bird would pay attention, read the memo, and fly out.

He didn't.

Then I decided to open the back door to the garage, which pass-through leads to our pool area.

My thinking was, there will be a cross draft and he will sense that, and he will see that there is not one, but two routes of egress to his sky and his trees, his nest and his loved ones, food and water.

I got busy then, with supper and whatnot, and TG came home, and I don't know why -- because I routinely begin spinning yarns the moment I see TG at the end of the day -- but I did not mention Bird.

Later I noticed that both the garage door and the back entrance were closed. I opened the door from the kitchen into the garage and looked all around for Bird.

Not seeing him, I assumed he'd seen the light and resumed his normal avian lifestyle. Checked out with as little fuss as he'd checked in.

On Saturday morning I was home alone and in a different part of the house than the kitchen, when I heard a scratching noise coming from that direction.

I knew it wasn't Javier because he was spending the weekend with Erica.

The noise was loud enough that I went looking for what might have been the source. I found nothing to explain it.

In the early afternoon Audrey and Dagny dropped by. Having opened the garage door using the outdoor keypad and entered the house through the kitchen, Audrey said: There's something out here that you need to see.

I trotted up there and what do you think I saw? Bird.

He had wedged himself into the corner of the threshold at the kitchen door, and had fluffed his lovely shining white-speckled black feathers all out and hidden his beautiful little red-tufted head in them.

Audrey thought he was being cute but she didn't know the story. I knew he was in trouble. Listing near to the scuppers, as it were.

I ran for my kitchen gloves and put them on my hands. I picked Bird up. He was still alive but he did not resist.

Out in the sunshine, Bird perched on my gloved fingers and became very alert. He seemed to enjoy the cool breeze in his feathers. I sent Audrey back inside for my camera.

Dagny, secure in her mother's arms, was speechless the whole time. All eyes.

Speaking of eyes, Bird's were bright. He looked all around, like he truly cared.

A hope sprang up in me that Bird would be okay; that he would take a breather then recover, spread his wings and fly from the gloves, merge onto the sunshine road, find a fast food joint, have a meal, resume his Bird Life.

But he didn't. Eventually I set him down gently onto the driveway. Once there, he appeared disheveled, despondent, listless.

I picked him back up again. Don't judge. Do not judge me. I was doing the best I could. In college I studied not birds, but English and History. And that was a long time ago.

We toted Bird out by the pool where there is a pan of water that's kept fresh for Javier.

I put Bird on the edge of the pan so maybe he could drink, because surely he was dehydrated. He clung there, awkwardly, before flopping off.

I picked him up again and my plan was to carry him out to the part of the yard beyond a low retaining wall, where there was foliage and maybe he would have the strength to eat an insect which I hoped would be available.

But by the time I reached the wall and was looking for an appropriate spot to set Bird down, he expired.

He up and died! His feet curled like spidery fists and his eyes went dim and he was so still, I just knew.

I laid him out carefully on the retaining wall and although the sun shone bright on his still wings, it was cold.

Audrey and I talked about how we were glad to have been with Bird when he passed.

At least he wasn't alone, she said. Then: I have to put this kid down; my arms are breaking.

We all went inside. I got online and in no time had pegged the departed Bird as a red-cockaded woodpecker.

Later I fixed Bird up in a coffin lined with cotton. The black and silver box, which once held jewelry less pretty than Bird, had a hinged lid just like a real coffin.

I propped it open with a stick from one of the longleaf pines favored by the likes of Bird.

I viewed him briefly, admiring all he'd once been, and paid my respects.

Then, using an old serving spoon from the kitchen drawer, I dug him a grave in the soft reddish earth just beyond the retaining wall.

The stick was removed, the coffin lid closed. I placed it just so in the grave, then spooned the dirt back over Bird.

Using two more pine sticks and some green duct tape, I fashioned him a clumsy cross and made a sign: Bird.

I marked his spot and if you are still reading I am going to confess to you, I mourned Bird's passing.

The late winter sunset flamed the sky by then, glowing with the urgency befitting something with so little time to exist before the final fade.

I took a picture of that as I turned to go inside.

Another February was dying.

Later, a cold dismal rain fell on Bird's grave and I thought about that a lot, wishing things could have been different for Bird.

He was a good bird, a perfect and wonderful bird. I'm sorry he got trapped in our garage.

But: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. (Matthew 10:29)

God knew. He cared about Bird, His own creation, even more than I ever could.

His is a perfect plan, for all of creation.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Monday ~ Happy Week ~ Happy March

Wednesday
Feb252015

Wordless Wednesday :: Wings

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Happy Wednesday

Saturday
Feb212015

Three for three

Our third grandchild turns three tomorrow.

Remember Andrew? Born on two twenty-two twenty-twelve at two-thirteen in the afternoon?

And remember me, I'm the one who begged the doctor to fudge the time to two-twelve, so that Andrew could tell people for his entire life that he was born on two twenty-two twenty-twelve at two twelve?

Yeah. Or rather, no. That's what she said: No can do, Mamaw. Step off. Or words to that effect.

Or she may have only shaken her head at me in a negative fashion. At any rate she was disinclined to acquiesce to my request.

Killjoy. So much for that conversation starter.

But that minor blip doesn't keep us from celebrating. Sometimes even on a different day.

So yesterday little Andrew and his entourage arrived in the afternoon and we had ourselves a time.

I'd made this hot taco dip and it was a big hit. Follow the recipe to the letter except use extra-lean ground chuck or sirloin, the large chunky sized can of refried beans, and double the amount of Velveeta.

Booyah. For a crowd.

Also we ordered pizza, something the kids will always eat. Stephanie had prepared a lavish display of cupcakes frosted in red and white, in keeping with the Radio Flyer theme.

I wish you could have seen Andrew opening his presents.

He received new shoes and several outfits ranging from casual dressy to playwear. Those got a passing glance as he rooted past the garments to find the toys.

Amongst the trucks and soldiers and plastic guns was the item that lit up his little face like a summer sunrise.

A set of tools: Black and Decker Junior. From his parents.

He'd shopped online for this toy, fantasizing about it for many weeks before the fact.

No; my three-year-old grandson doesn't have his own computer. He's learned to borrow his mother's iPad and navigate to the virtual toy aisle.

Click, swipe. Drool. A kid can dream. And sometimes dreams come true. Joy was writ large in the boy's tiny face with the wide brown eyes that take up nearly half of it.

So for the remainder of the family's visit, Andrew put his toolbelt on and took it off several times, wore his safety goggles upside down, attempted to measure his sisters, and fixed some things I didn't know were broken.

He even FaceTimed with Uncle Andrew to show it all off.

Best of all, we were together, with something wonderful to celebrate.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Saturday ~ Happy Weekend

Tuesday
Feb172015

Look away Dixieland

Southern Cross of Honor, St. Peter's Lutheran Church Cemetery, Chapin, South Carolina

TG and I are in Savannah, Georgia, for a few days. We met Andrew here as he is on assignment with his unit. I'm so glad boom operators get days off.

If you like gracious lowcountry touches such as wrought iron and gaslight, Live Oaks harboring masses of dreamy Spanish moss, stunningly ethereal cemeteries, a staggering array of restaurants, and gentle southern customs, Savannah is the place.

View of Bull Street from Foxy Loxy Cafe, Savannah

All its myriad charms are like a gift.

Just over one hundred fifty years ago however, Savannah was the gift.

Ives Monument, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah

On December 22, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman, having concluded his infamous hyper-destructive March to the Sea, dispatched a message he no doubt considered clever:

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To His Excellency President Lincoln:

I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.

Signed,

W.T. Sherman, Major-General

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The festive holidays came and went.

In the new year, Sherman launched the Carolinas Campaign, which involved marching northward through South Carolina and torching Columbia.

Vinnie Van GoGo's: The place for pizza in Savannah

The nefarious act was accomplished on February 17, 1865, exactly one hundred fifty years ago.

The view of Main Street from the steps of the State House is a gorgeous one today.

Carriage horse, Savannah

In late February of 1865, however, thanks to a vindictive General "Total War" Sherman and his obnoxious Yankee troops, it looked like this:

Main Street from the Capitol, Columbia, South Carolina: February 1865

No; I didn't take that picture of the smoking rubble. I will thank you not to snicker.

Meanwhile, President Lincoln prepared for his second inaugural on March 4, 1865.

He would live barely six weeks after delivering it.

Louisa Porter Angel, Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah

Six days before President Lincoln's death, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. Grant, after one final engagement: The Battle of Appomattox Court House.

Every word of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address is fascinating when you consider the way things were going. Although not necessarily a fan of Abraham Lincoln personally, I am impressed by both his poetic wisdom and his political acumen.

William Scarbrough House/Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, Savannah

So on this day so historically significant for my adopted hometown, a city I have grown to love, I give you the closing words of that speech, which in these perilous times hold a haunting ring of truth for America and for the world.

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With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

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Happy Tuesday

Friday
Feb132015

Of hearts and wings redux

As it happens I am triskaidekaphobic around the edges as well as an incurable romantic (through and through). Therefore I consider the re-telling of this tale to be ideal for Friday the Thirteenth, Valentine's Day Eve.

Once upon a time several warm Marches ago, taking a wee break from work, I sat outside by the pool, savoring a half-cup of reheated coffee, watching and listening.

In the slanting light of the cool spring afternoon a saucy squirrel stopped chasing a friend long enough to prostrate himself on a truncated, sun-soaked branch high in a towering conifer, his vivacious throaty chirps mingling with those of his compadres higher in his tree as well as in neighboring pines. Their late-day badinage was punctuated by the tweets and calls of an equally energetic avian citizenry.

I lazed quietly on the swing and thought about many things: the perfunctory nature of life, the healing grace of God, the sad reality of loss, and the amazing power of dreams. And all the work I had left to do.

As I stalled, unwilling to go inside, tuning in to various genre of birdsong (nature's iPod), I was reminded of a long-ago mini tragedy.

It involved our third and baby daughter, Erica (she of the many phobias), and, as it happens, a bird.

Therein lies the tragedy.

Erica was about three when one day the kids were playing indoors. I was nearby in the kitchen when I heard an ominous thunk.

Hastening into the front room, I arrived in time to see a good-sized bird fluttering to the ground outside our picture window. He had flown smack into the glass and experienced an unplanned detour.

We hustled outside en masse and the children watched as I crawled around some shrubbery to take a look. The stunned creature lay on his back, eyes glazed, toes curled, wings askew, in shock but still alive.

In spite of my better judgment I decided to "rescue" the bird. Soon enough he lay cozily in Baby Andrew's playpen (minus Andrew and his toys) in the living room, warm under his makeshift blanket, attempting to recover. A buffet of a few breadcrumbs and water was available in case he should revive and crave a snack.

Stephanie and Audrey functioned as nurse assistants but the most wide-eyed and helpless aide was Erica. She was just old enough to understand but not old enough to contribute.

It took the bird several hours to die. He did it quietly, all on his own; we were spared the agonizing decision of whether to remove him from life support.

I suppose there was a shoebox funeral but honestly I don't remember. I had four small children! It is a wonder I'm coherent today.

That night TG and I put the kids to bed as usual and were ourselves asleep when, somewhere in the small hours, I heard sniffling. I went looking for the broken heart.

Turned out it belonged to a pale and trembling Erica, green eyes brimming, cheeks sticky with tears. I asked her what was wrong.

I -- I -- I wanted to keep that bird, she explained in a tragic sobbing voice.

I added my sundered heart to the heap and knelt in front of her. 

Oh baby, I said. Don't cry. If you can hold on till the morning, Mama will buy you a bird.

What a parent will say in the middle of the night in order to get a kid to go back to sleep.

But it worked, and I did buy her a parakeet the next day, which "pet" in due time she allowed to die of starvation and/or hypothermia. That's a whole 'nother Budgie blog. (And don't bother alerting PeTA. I'm pretty sure his demise was inevitable and either way the statute has run on that one.)

How short is life. How glorious its possibilities. How extreme its desires and how rude its awakenings. How decisive its true-ups and its letdowns.

How brief the time to shine, to fly in the open air with the sun on your face. How happy the moments when all seems lost but a viable solution is found.

How earnest the craving to accomplish something meaningful before your expiration date. How deep the need for someone and something to truly cherish.

Like the beak of a tiny wren, life is fragile but just as strong as it needs to be -- and perfectly designed for its intended use. Like the best, most inspiring art, form follows function and vice versa.

Eat enough to stay alive but swallow quickly so you can keep on singing to the end.

And never forget: Someone is watching and someone is listening. Someone stands by to offer comfort in the death hour. Someone will miss you when you're gone. Someone somewhere is loving you. 

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Happy Friday ~ Happy Valentine Weekend

 

Monday
Feb092015

Lowcountry lollygagging

Concrete Dalmatian, Central Station, Meeting and Wentworth StreetsWe day-tripped to Charleston last Saturday.

TG likes to attend Citadel home basketball games -- he played for the Bulldogs from 1970-1974 -- but that is not all. This past weekend marked the annual Alumni Game.

My man laced up his Nike Air Jordans and played nine minutes total. He even scored a goal.

Not that I was there to see it.

Erica came along for the ride and a change of scenery, and since the weather was very fine -- although not as warm as we had hoped; more on that later -- we asked TG to drop us off at Citadel Square while he went on to the games.

Patio lights, Christophe of Society Street

Besides simply passing the time, our objective was three-fold: Walk; take pictures; drink coffee.

Although we arrived at lunchtime, we didn't plan to eat out per se, on account of we were invited to dinner on Sullivan's Island later than evening.

We started out on the shadowy side of Meeting Street and quickly learned that was a mistake. The problem was not so much the temperature, which promised to top out at sixty, but due to gusty wind.

So we crossed over to the sunny side. Much more better.

We walked by a vintage "double house" fire station on Meeting Street where it intersects with Wentworth. One could spend many blissful days photographing the doorways of Charleston.

United States Custom House, East Bay Street

In due course we were in the full tourist-shopping district where caveat emptor was never a more appropriate warning.

Even so, we wandered into Sperry Top-Sider on King Street, Erica being enamored of the stylish preppy boat shoes. Just to look.

The Little Boo came away not with new kicks, but with a dressy-casual seahorse sweatshirt and coordinating shirt I encouraged her to buy.

One: I love seahorses. Two: Don't shop with me if you don't want to be told that you deserve to treat yourself. It's how I roll. Vicarious retail thrills and all that.

(FYI the folks at Sperry Top-Sider were having an epic sale. Not on their classic shoes, but on their apparel, which I didn't even know they had.)

Prudent snacking "R" us

After we had spent Erica's money, we were more peckish than ever. We began searching in earnest for a bake shop.

Where King Street crossed Society Street, there was a chalkboard set up on the sidewalk, with lots of tempting pastel-chalked words like chocolate and baguette and coffee. An arrow pointed down Society.

We followed and ended up at Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier, a fragrant establishment where we enjoyed French-press coffee with real cream and tucked in to a small brioche loaf, saving a third to take home to Audrey.

We sat on the red brick patio and tossed brioche crumbs to a fat little bird, and took pictures of the lights strung between Christophe's and a white brick house.

The sky was so blue!

Is that Davy Jones? No; it's only Erica. Do not frighten her.

Erica loves Moon Pies and there is a Moon Pie General Store on Market Street, so we swanned in that direction. 

Along the way we stopped at The Peanut Shop where one is invited to sample Virginia peanuts liberally dusted with every kind of flavored coating imaginable.

Most are delicious; some taste like Clorox. My favorite variety is Salt & Vinegar. I bought a small canister for prudent snacking at a later date.

After Erica bought -- wait for it -- a Moon Pie (double-decker) at the Moon Pie General Store, we wandered toward Charleston Harbor and the shipping terminals and Waterfront Park, pausing along the way to take pictures of random doorways and the stunning United States Custom House.

Down at the Port of Charleston, the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship was preparing for its late-afternoon departure. The passengers were all aboard and there was much loudspeaker-talking and tone-sounding and horn-blowing leading up to sailing.

Central Station, Meeting Street

We made our way out onto the pier to get a better look, and sat for a time in one of the ample swings that front the harbor. Fort Sumter is right where the Yankees and Rebels left it a century and a half ago.

But we got cold -- high temperature of maybe-sixty had been attained and lasted for approximately nine minutes, the same amount of time TG trod the boards at McAlister Fieldhouse -- so we moseyed over to the railing to be in the sun and wait for the ship to embark on its journey.

In a bid to warm up a degree or two, Erica decided to take her new sweatshirt out of its spiffy tote and tie the sleeves around her neck.

But she kept clutching at the tied ends, which she had not knotted. Finally she admitted that she was having a horrible non-carnival fantasy of her new sweatshirt flying off her neck and down into the water.

I said, give it to me, and she reluctantly obeyed, beg-warning me NOT to let it fly off the pier, and I fixed her shirt real cute on her back and tied it securely in the front so she didn't have to strangle herself with either worry or her own two hands.

Je Suis Charlie

Then she admitted she was terrified I was going to drop my camera (I have a tendency to hang my arms over railings with my Nikon in my hand, not strapped to me in any way because I can't stand stuff hanging around my neck.)

We pretty much cracked up at how paranoid Erica is. Her own shadow -- of which, yes, she is afraid -- laughed at her.

Still and all, we were so cold, we decided to walk back up the pier to Vendue Range. More refreshment was needed and besides, TG would be coming to collect us soon.

At Belgian Gelato we resisted both the gelato and the waffles they put it on. Erica bought me a Diet Coke and herself a black coffee. She broke open her double-decker Moon Pie and had her second grand snack of the day. Third, if you count the nutty samples she scarfed at The Peanut Shop.

Sitting outside once more in the sun beside a giant ice cream cone, we met Charlie.

Society Street entryway

He is a rescue dog who is clearly part long-hair Chihuahua and part Papillon, and the most precious little guy, sweeter than all the moon pies and waffles and gelato in the whole world.

His lovely owner sat and talked with us and it turns out she is from Columbia too, so we had a nice chat while Charlie let us alternately stroke his soft fur, exclaim over his ridiculous cuteness level, and take his picture.

While we passed the time with Charles and his human, the cruise ship left the dock and made its way to the sea lanes. We missed the whole thing. How something that big could get away a mere stone's throw from us, and escape our notice, is testament to how much we love dogs.

Then TG called and said where y'all at, and we divulged our geographic coordinates, and we walked to the corner where Vendue Range segues into Concord Street. I was shivering violently by then.

We hopped into the car -- well, Erica hopped; I more or less tumbled -- and I turned my seat-warmer on and tried to get my core temperature back to normal. I think I was teetering on the brink of hypothermia but there is no way we will ever know for sure.

Pastry stand and banners, Christophe Chocolatier-Patissier

Across the Ravenel Bridge (from which we spotted the Carnival Fantasy well underway) and onto Sullivan's Island we went, to the mind-bogglingly beautiful one-street-off-the-beach home of one of TG's college coaches, a man whose name I could drop because he's a minor celebrity in the world of college basketball, but which I won't because I just won't.

I will say that he and his wife are perfectly charming people and marvelous, un-fussy hosts and along with them and maybe six other couples, plus our Erica, we enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by our hostess.

In the lap of all that lowcountry luxury and southern hospitality, I finally got warm.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Monday

Thursday
Feb052015

I report. I deride.

Tuesday afternoon, at our local Kroger, I experienced grocery-store rage. 

Patience not being a virtue I possess in any readily-discernible amount, perhaps an episode of grocery-store rage was inevitable.

However.

What happened was this:

I had a limited amount of time to trot into the store and pick up four things -- which ended up being five on account of, pork loin was on sale for one ninety-nine a pound -- before I was needed at home.

It was the worst time of day for traffic, and you know how that is. But I'm not copping to road rage.

I buzzed around the perimeter of the store, making good time and arriving at the till with twenty-eight dollars and forty-six cents worth of necessities.

I pushed my cart into a line that looked short. As in, there was but one order ahead of mine and it appeared to be almost completely processed.

The folks being checked out were a lady of about sixty and a man who looked to be around thirty-five.

Caucasians, dressed casually but not fancy. Nothing about them really stood out except that the impression I got was mother-son. I could be wrong but you probably would have thought the same.

Mom needed to lose at least seventy-five pounds and seemed a trifle odd; I wasn't sure why. Nervous. Son was clean-cut and came across as normal in every way.

Yes; in my spare time, I profile complete strangers. Not maliciously but with mild curiosity. If you don't like it, you can always click out.

Because, having left my vocab cue cards in another purse, I had nothing else to do, I glanced at what the two seemingly healthy, unremarkable, vanishing-middle-class people in front of me were buying.

It was a large order. Mostly name brands, several fancy marinades and sauces for meat, et cetera. Nice groceries. A lot of very nice groceries, I noted.

Okay.

Then I was distracted when mother and son (let's just go with that version, why don't we) commenced to dither over whether either of them could make a Kroger-Plus Shopper's Card available for the cashier.

The scanning of which (the card; not the cashier) applies discounts to your purchase total.

It took basically three eternities for mom to locate said scrap of plastic on her keyring which was jammed with such scraps from stores all over town and even in other galaxies.

(I refuse to put those plastic things on me pirate keyring; step off, way off. My Kroger card had been sprung from my wallet and was even then in my hand in anticipation of actually having my paltry few viands checked out on that calendar day.)

At any rate, fortunes were made and squandered and the big-as-your-face iPhone18SDP (Super-Duper-Plus), yet to be invented, passed into planned obsolescence in the time it took mommie dearest to produce the Kroger plastic scrap.

In desperation, at one point I even offered my Kroger card for swiping.

The unpleasantly-plump lady acted as though my credit-card-sized plastic scrap was radioactive, declining to accept it with hand-fluttering and eye-rolling, no smile.

Okay.

In due time the planets aligned like such as that the cashier concluded his laborious scanning of the boatload of groceries and announced the total: Three-hundred-two dollars and change.

I thought, Mercy. That's after the Kroger-Plus card discounts.

An additional millennia (give or take) elapsed while the mom-son duo brought their payment source out into the light of waning Kroger day.

Meanwhile the cashier had begun -- and was taking his sweet time -- loudly lecturing the bag boy on proper procedure for packing up three hundred dollars worth of food. Much instruction about canned goods on the bottom, making for a good foundation.

I looked around me, silently seeking sympathy from fellow gridlocked customers. How many times have I winced when cans were thrown in on top of bread, and nobody said a word or thought anything of it?

Or when two jars of pickles and one strawberry jam were pitched into a single bag of plastic the ply of an anemic generic tissue, with maybe even a hole in the bottom, to clink and clank dangerously against one another?

But, okay. The teachable moment and all that.

Meanwhile the son had swiped what appeared to be a debit card and punched in his PIN and I spied a wee flicker at the end of the five-mile black tunnel that had become my existence.

So then the next thing I knew, the cashier was saying: That'll be eight oh one. As in, eight dollars and one cent.

What?

I thought, I thought they owed three-hundred-two and change.

I wondered whether, at the beginning of the check-out process before I queued up, mom and son had produced a stack of coupons that had been deducted at the end.

Were they extreme couponers? Was there a sneaky crew from TLC nearby, aiming their cameras at our checkout lane? I patted my hair and hoped my nose wasn't shiny.

But something about the demeanor of the mother-son shopping pair told me they weren't all that into reality. So what was the deal?

I snuck a peek at the big-screen register total -- at Kroger everyone and their Aunt Mildred's vegan, gluten-free cousin's blind pet ocelot can see exactly what you've purchased and what it costs -- and the answer was revealed.

Right at the bottom, in capital letters:

EBT TRANSFER

Oh. Okay.

Mom and son are likely still stashing into an already-bulging pantry their two-hundred-ninety-four dollars worth of groceries bought for them by the government. Wait. The taxpayers.

And yes; that makes me mad. I freely admit it. Judge, don't judge. That's your prerogative. It won't change anything.

And no; I don't know the specific circumstances surrounding the subject never-missed-a-meal woman and her grocery-shopping buddy who may or may not have been her son. I don't have to.

If you walk into a market under your own steam and walk out with over three hundred dollars worth of food that you yourself didn't have to pay for because you have a government-issued welfare card to swipe, there is something wrong. I don't know what it is in every case, but something is rotten in Denmark.

A pastor friend tells me that select folks in his congregation receive so much government aid for food, they can hardly use all the food they get. They give some of their primo groceries away for lack of space to store it.

They even swap food items amongst themselves for other goods and services.

They think nothing of it.

My daughter, a single mother who works her tail off to provide for herself and her child and who as a matter of sheer principle is not on welfare, was offered milk at the store by a woman as, side-by-side, they wheeled their carts out to the parking lot.

The woman had received more milk from welfare benefits than she could possibly use before it spoiled.

Don't tell me people are hungry. I don't believe it. Millions who could work but won't, have become fat and lazy. Victims? No. Feckless puppets duped by a lie? Yes.

They are willing accomplices, thieves, criminals, colluding with a corrupt and abusive regime, sluggish parasites who don't know or care that they've been assigned by those in power a minuscule value, and that merely as tools.

It is immoral.

And do not tell me that the majority of those who receive government benefits either need or deserve them. On his best day, having slept in the house and dined on turbo-charged Wheaties for breakfast, that dog will not hunt.

If fact if you have convinced yourself of that, I feel sorry for you. I don't know how you can be so naive and survive in this cruel world.

Forty-eight million people -- up fourteen million from 2009 -- in America receive what we once referred to as food stamps, which current mode of delivery is the doppelganger of a credit/debit card -- just like the ones used by actual paying customers who have worked for the money -- so as to remove the last vestige of a stigma from those who are shamelessly on the take.

What has happened to our country? Barack Hussein Obama has happened to our country. Food-stamp president? He's the coffin-nail president.

God help us. God, please help us.

TG said I should write to my congressman about what I saw. I plan to do that and I hope The Honorable Joe "You Lie!" Wilson has an appetite for the authenticity and intensity of my grocery-store rage because somebody needs to do something.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Thursday

Monday
Feb022015

Ralph and Ree and Mari, welcome. We've been expecting you.

I'm not particularly enamored of the month of January so, good riddance on that score.

Although I will say, at our house we kept so busy this past month, I barely noticed January. Our weather has been perfectly beautiful, so there's that.

TG did have a birthday. In light of same, let us commence with some rant and rave reviews.

The birthday was a week ago Sunday. TG was surrounded by females -- me, Audrey, Erica, Dagny -- and although we technically are not a family that is big on fawning, we girls did more than right by him.

Our kids had pooled their racehorses and bought their dad quite a dapper suit for Christmas. I'd done rather less for him than usual. Maybe less than he expected. He'd cut out his own tongue, though, before he'd complain.

Complaining is MY department, so step off.

But I sometimes deliver big. For TG's birthday, I pillaged an online after-Christmas clearance at Ralph Lauren dot com. Among other things I picked out a Polo Golf outfit and a bottle of Polo Double Black.

Wow, guys. You should see the gift boxes those items came in, free of charge.

They're sturdy but elegant and understated in midnight blue with RALPH LAUREN stamped on them in gold. They have nifty matching grosgrain ribbon that's stretchy, reaching around the box corners.

In no universe or language could these boxes be described as flimsy or half-baked. They go all the way to gorgeous, where they set up camp and settle in.

The purveyors of affordable luxury at Ralph Lauren are not stingy with snow-white tissue paper or embossed gold stickers or big creamy personalized vellum gift cards either.

In fact I imaginary-expected to discover toothy-grinned, twinkly-eyed, eternally-tanned Ralph Lauren himself on my doorstep, thanking me for my purchases.

And knowing me, I would have been tempted to say to a multi-millionaire: Here, please! Please take more of my money! Buy another twelve-thousand square-foot cottage in Newport!

There's genius in that, if not a whole lot of common sense. 'Merica. Doing all I can to keep it classy.

In semi-conclusion, the whole thing was better than I expected, and I expected a lot. Does that happen to you all the time? Because it doesn't happen to me all the time.

I Ralph Laurened another upcoming birthday as well, so there. Catch me if you can.

Preparedness is my motto.

I was prepared with food too. I made the Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake the day before -- I guess I'm all about brands -- and had the casserole ready to pop into the oven to heat through as soon as we got home from church.

Crusty bread and a salad, and you can be not only there, you can be deliriously there, smugly there.

Except, I worried -- seriously I do believe I lost sleep over it -- that my Sour Cream Noodle Bake wouldn't be as good as expected. That was because, after I made it, I read some reviews of the recipe on Food Network dot com.

You may or may not want to do that after you've already made a recipe and stashed it in the garage fridge for a birthday dinner the next day.

Lots of people who reviewed it described Sour Cream Noodle Bake as NASTY! No better than HAMBURGER HELPER in stroganoff flavor! Yikes. I had nightmares. So much was on the line.

I fretted, something at which I am even more adroit than present-buying. Erica told me to keep calm and soldier on (this was in Sunday School) and I had no choice but to obey.

Even so, to my computer screen at Food Network dot com the night before, I had audibly hissed: Goodness gracious, sakes alive, people. Take it DOWN a notch or ten why don't you, it's only NOODLES.

And I don't know what you were expecting me to say, but the meal was GOOD. Actually it was DELICIOUS to our palates, which I freely admit are tuned less to sophisticated cuisine than to food that is tasty, plentiful, and made from scratch with quality ingredients.

In quasi-conclusion I am giddy to report that our Sunday lunch in honor of TG's birthday was far better than I expected it to be. Booyah.

Caveat: When/if you make this dish, you will want to season your ground chuck (I use ground sirloin) as it browns. Be generous with the kosher salt and coarse-ground pepper. I don't know why Ree omitted that.

I'd put my homemade spaghetti sauce up against hers too. But I digress.

For dessert we did not have birthday cake. Instead, Audrey made a recipe cadged from my blogging buddy Mari.

And I will tell you, if I could do only one part of that birthday dinner over, it would not be Ree Drummond's Sour Cream Noodle Bake, successful as that endeavor proved to be.

That honor would go to Maribeth's Chocolate Streusel Bars.

I do believe I may have rhapsodized on this blog at one time or another about the scratch-made fudge that was one of many singular culinary achievements of my late grandfather.

The taste and texture of these streusel bars is uncannily like that of homemade fudge -- the old-fashioned kind that does NOT contain marshmallow fluff or chocolate chips. The kind nobody makes anymore because it's hard to do.

Mari's recipe for Chocolate Streusel Bars (skilfully executed by Audrey, who inherited her sweet tooth from me), may not have put me smack-dab on the map dot that was Papaw's mind-bending fudge, but it put me in the neighborhood.

I wasn't expecting THAT.

Promise me you will try this dessert. It exceeded my expectations, and I already knew it would be great. I am not one to pin a lot of flowers on things, so trust me. This one is well worth the effort.

So then TG opened his gifts and his cards and we all rested for awhile.

In actual conclusion, I regret to say that I did not take pictures that day. I cannot do everything although I fully realize I create that illusion.

Early last week however, Sugarlips came over and she was wearing this dark blue dress I bought for her at TJ Maxx, and she looked so darling -- wow, THAT was unexpected -- that I made her sit for some pictures.

She wore a special dress for her Papaw's birthday and soon I will have them pose together -- she in that dress, Ralph Lauren Baby, a gift from an old and dear friend -- and he in the suit his children bought him for Christmas.

I know you can't wait. But you'll have to.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Monday ~ Happy Groundhog Day