Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Blessings

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To all my friends, I wish you a blessed Christmas with family and friends.  I am so thankful for all of you and your support in 2012.  I pray that each of you will know God's peace and comfort during this blessed holiday.   Much love to all.

Kat

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My First Car


     What teenager doesn’t dream of their first car?  Not your parents’ car that you drive when you first get your license, that doesn’t count.  You dream of YOUR first car; the one that actually belongs to you; that you buy and pay for with your own money.

     What will you get?  Maybe a red sports car…or maybe blue, powder blue.  And what make will it be…perhaps a camero, or better yet, a mustang!  (You have to remember, this was a long time ago!)

     For me, the year was 1971.  I had moved in with my sister’s family for the summer, after graduating high school.  I got a job about 8 miles away at Stuckeys and needed a way to get back and forth to work.  At 18, and working in the diner at Stuckeys, I was your typical struggling young woman; in other words, flat broke.  Obviously, my first car wasn’t going to be anything fabulous. 

     Since I knew absolutely nothing about a car and my brother-in-law did, he set out to find me an affordable car that would get me back and forth to work.  Me, I’m still hoping for that cute little sports car.

     Finally, the big day came.  Gayle had found me a car and I couldn’t wait to see it!  Imagine my surprise when I saw this…


     That’s right!  It was an early model Rambler.  A box on wheels.  Skin color beige.  Undoubtedly the ugliest car I had ever seen in my life!  Maybe that’s why I don’t even have a picture of the actual car, but, the one above is very similar.  I’m not even sure what year model it was but I think late 50’s or very early 60’s. 

     But, on the up side, it did run and it was in my price range.  By summer’s end, I had become quite fond of my box.  I kept it until fall when I got a job at a bank in Louisville and would have a much longer commute back and forth to work.  I then traded my little clunker in for a gold Chevy Chevelle.  I finally had my sports car.

Until next time…that’s my view.
Kat

Written for this week’s GBE prompt – Your First Car


Monday, December 3, 2012

My True Love Story


     This story was originally posted on Valentine's Day.  I am reposting it today in response to today's GenFab bloghop.

     By special request, I have decided to write a love story that fits in very well with this week's GBE2 prompt,  Do-Over.   This is a true story so any resemblance to real characters is completely intentional.

     Recently in response to an award that had graciously been bestowed upon me by Jo over at My Wandering Mind, I made the following statement about myself:

6.  I had a full academic scholarship to college that I gave up because I fell in love with the earlier 
     mentioned dairy farmer and couldn't bear to leave him for 4 years.  I would do it all over again.

     To my surprise, this statement seemed to catch everyone's attention and many left comments wanting to know more; so following is my true love story.

     It was the summer of 1971 and I had just graduated from our small high school, only 26 in my graduating class.  I graduated Valedictorian and had been awarded a full academic scholarship to Franklin College, a small Baptist College near Indianapolis, IN. where I was to attend in the fall.  Like most teenagers, I couldn't wait to get out of our small town so the very next day after graduation I moved to Kentucky to live with my sister and her family for the summer.  

     First thing on my to-do list was find a summer job, which I found at the local  Stuckey's out by the interstate.   I had worked at restaurants every since I was old enough so working behind the snack bar there was a breeze.

     At that time, my sister's family lived in a trailer at the Country Club, sort of as night watchmen.   The addition of another person in the trailer made for cramped living quarters but my sister and brother-in-law were so wonderful.  They took me in as if it were no big deal and I'll always love them for it.   Anyway, living at the country club was a great way to meet people.  I met several nice people my age who played tennis or came to the swimming pool.  Since I had never played tennis in my life, I spent a lot of time watching the others.  Eventually, I gave in a bought a tennis racket.

     Both Kenneth and his brother, Steve played tennis and their dad played golf.  Their mom came out a lot and either rode on the golf cart with Fred or sat and watched the boys play tennis.  Believe it or not I actually got to know her before I did Kenneth.  

      At that time, my brother-in-law drove a milk truck that delivered the local farmers milk to the dairy processing plant in Louisville.  Since Kenneth's family milked cows and Gayle picked up their milk they were friends.  Kenneth often stopped by to talk to Gayle if we were outside when he came to play tennis.  

     If you've ever lived in a rural area you know that the big entertainment that draws everyone in the county is a tractor pull.  At least that was certainly the case here.  Everyone who was anyone was there.  Not having a clue what a tractor pull was, I went along with my family to see who I could see.    Once there I was amazed at the crowd and actually found it interesting watching these big tractors try to pull a moving box of weights further than the others.  I had never seen anything like it.  I grew up in a small town, but I lived in town.  We weren't really what I would consider a rural area; there were some farms but it wasn't the main economic source.  I had never heard of a tractor pull.

     Anyway, I was having a good time and had run into several people I had come to know.  When it got dark I happened to run into Kenneth's mom sitting with a friend of hers in their pick-up truck watching the tractor pull.  They invited me to sit with them.  I jumped at the chance, hoping Kenneth might come around.  Sure enough, not long after I got in, here he came.   Just as we started talking my sister walked up and said they were ready to go home.    Not now, I thought to myself, but said nothing.  Before I had a chance to say anything Kenneth spoke up and said, "You can go ahead, I'll bring her home."   Needless to say, my heart did a cartwheel! 

     I can't say that it was love at first sight because we had seen each other before...but I might have to say it was love at first date.  That wonderful night that changed my life forever happened late in June and I don't think we missed a day seeing each other until we married a year later.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

     We had a wonderful summer dating and I dreaded the approaching fall.  He had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen and I fell more in love with him every time I looked into them.  We hadn't really talked about what was going to happen beyond the summer until one night when we couldn't put it off any longer.   I knew I didn't want to leave him, it was so far and long distance romances were so hard.  I was sure he felt the same way but we had to discuss it openly and honestly.   Giving up a scholarship was a big decision and not one to be made lightly.  He had me at, "I am sure I don't want you to go because one day I want our last names to be the same".   To this 18 year old it was the most romantic proposal I could imagine.  

     Instead of going away to college I found a job at a bank, bought my first car to drive to work and stayed with my sister's family until the following June when we married.  Kenneth took me to the farm several times and introduced me to my first real cow.  I had been to the zoo but cows aren't usually found in the zoo and besides, you don't really get up close and personal with zoo animals.  But hey, when you're young and in love you think you can do anything and even a huge cow looked like a teddy bear, and I could get used to the smell, right?   I could be a farmer's wife..no problem.

     That summer was like living my own personal fairytale.  Kenneth presented me with my engagement ring on Christmas Eve that year (but that's a story for another blog).  We were married on June 25, 1972 and will celebrate our 40th anniversary this year.  The fall after we were married I received a phone call from Franklin College telling me that my scholarship was still open if I would like to change my mind.  I thanked them and explained that I was happily married and would not be accepting their generous offer.  I've been asked over the years if I ever regretted my decision and my answer to that is always the same.  That is one decision in my life that if given the chance to do it over I would do it just the same all over again.



Until next time...that's my view.

Kat



Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Smile for You

     Who doesn't love a smiley face?  You've seen those cute little faces that people include in their emails and on their facebook status updates.  Did you ever wonder where they come from?
 
     Believe it or not, a website called myemoticons.com has a download that gives you an endless choice of emoticons to suit every message and mood.  It is completely free and once downloaded, you can add those cute little pictures to your facebook status, facebook messages, emails, and even twitter updates.  Who wouldn't want to show your friends how you are really feeling with facebook smileys chat!
 
      When you download the facebook emoticons, you get 3 separate galleries of different pictures.  Maybe you are feeling tired, or upset, or right down mad...there's a smiley for that.  Perhaps you want to express that you are jumping for joy...there's a smiley for that.  And when you are feeling all warm and fuzzy, there are all kinds of smileys for expressing your love.  Then let's not forget the holidays...there are plenty of smileys to cover that.   No matter what you are feeling, there is a smiley to express it.

     So the next time you chat with a friend on facebook, why have a boring chat with plain old words!  Instead, why not have a facebook smileys chat!

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat

This post brought to you by your good friends at myemoticons.com

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Heart of a Home

     How can you not get a warm fuzzy feeling when you see an empty kitchen?  Neat and tidy as it may look now, in your mind, you see a completely different picture.    In your mind's eye, you see your new husband embracing you as you cried over your first burnt meal.  You see the joy on everyone's face as your son squeals with delight while smearing icing from his first birthday cake all over his face.   You see flour covering the counter and sprinkles all over the floor as you and the kids decorate Christmas cookies.  You see the tears flowing as your daughter sits with you at the table crying over her first love lost.  You hear the laughter of all your relatives as you sing Happy Birthday to your 80 year old mother.

     Throughout our entire lives, the kitchen is the heart of our home; the hub of activity where the family comes together to eat, pray, share, rejoice, celebrate, create, solve problems and grieve.   The one room where we come together as a family, with common objectives and goals.  The room where we share love, laughter, fun, secrets and dreams; where we entertain our friends; where we make plans for the future and memories that last a lifetime.

     A quiet kitchen is only a prelude to what is to come.  The calm before the storm.   Soon, it will be filled with the hustle and bustle of family activity.    You've heard the phrase, "If those walls could talk",.  Well if they could, the kitchen walls would definitely have the most interesting stories to tell.  I guess it is a good thing they can't, but anyway, the kitchen will always be the heart of my home.

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat

Written for this week's GBE2 picture prompt.  Picture courtesy of Elizabeth Grace.






    

Friday, November 16, 2012

Disturbing Numbers

     Patriotism - n., devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty

     Above, you will find the dictionary's definition of patriotism.  Notice that the key word here is country.  Nowhere in this definition does it say, but only when my choice is elected President.

     I normally avoid writing or discussing politics like the plague.  So why now, when the election is over and done with?    Because I am increasingly distressed by the large number of people who seem to have lost all
patriotism and replaced it with hatred and vengeance.

     It seems that many, on both sides, have lost site of what it means to come together and work for the good of the country.  I can remember a time when Americans felt the office of the President deserved our loyalty and respect, no matter which party was in office.  Both parties would work and support their candidate, but when it was over and a President had been chosen, life went back to normal and we all agreed to work for the good of the country.  I still believe that.

     What has happened to the feeling of patriotism the whole country felt when Pearl Harbor was bombed?  Or, when the Twin Towers were bombed on 9-11-01, did you stop to think about whether your man was in the white house or not before you felt united with every other American?  Patriotism should not be reserved for times of panic and tragedy.  It should be an every day feeling, embedded deep in your heart, and not taken for granted.

     This disturbing trend of pitting Republicans against Democrats and never the twain shall meet, or agree, has gone way beyond elections.  It has become a nasty war that is dividing the nation, with serious consequences.  It not only effects friends and neighbors, but goes all the way to the house and senate in Washington.  Congressmen are so determined not to cross party lines that they have completely lost sight of doing the job they were elected to do.  They no longer care what is best for the country and their constituents.

     Even facebook, which should be a happy place, has become a political forum for bashing the President.  You've seen the stories and the pictures...we are now on the titanic and the country is going to sink; God is going to end the world because Obama was elected; and on and on and on.    Come on people, let's get real.

     As long as we have had a President, there has been a winner and a loser.   That is how it works in a democracy.  The important thing is once it is over to come together as one nation under God, the way our forefathers intended.    I don't believe that any rational person who proclaims to be a Christian can honestly believe that God chooses sides in an election and would end the world if a certain side doesn't win.  I find it offensive that anyone would even make such a statement.

     A new year will soon be upon us.  My wish is for a new beginning for our nation.  It is not unreasonable to think that everyone, including our elected officials, could come together and remember the principles on which this great nation was founded.  Let's remember the lives that were lost to keep this nation free and put our petty bickering away.  Let's make it a priority to always put our country and it's people first and show the world that our numbers are many and we stand united for a common cause.


Until next time...that's my view.
Kat
    

Photos courtesy of microsoftoffice.com









Monday, November 12, 2012

Online Eyewear - A Viable Option

      In this day and age, it doesn't surprise me that if you can imagine it, you can probably buy it on the internet.  Until just recently, though, I would never have thought about buying eyeglasses through the mail.  

     In just the last couple months I have been contacted by two different eyewear companies wanting me to blog about their products.  Naturally, I checked them out before agreeing to do so.    Through my research, I have found that online eyewear companies can be a viable option for those who don't like to pick out glasses at the eye doctor, right after having your pupils dilated, or, for those who just like to shop online from the comfort of home.

     All it takes to get quality eyewear from home is a copy of your prescription, which you can get from your eye doctor, and a credit card or paypal account.  With virtual try-ons and even in home try on programs, finding the perfect pair of glasses is not only virtually possible, but easy.

     The latest company, called Warby Parker, has some beautiful frames to pick from.  Their new line of sturdy metal eyeglasses is made of titanium.   Titanium is not only extremely durable, but makes fashionable looking frames that could be seen on any fashion runway.

    Unlike the first company,  Warby Parker did not offer me a free pair of glasses to review their product so I have not seen them in person.   After looking at their website, though, I do like what I see, especially the looks of the metal eyeglasses.  If you are in the market for new prescription glasses or sunglasses, you might check them out for yourself.

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat


This post was written in cooperation with the good people at Warby Parker.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beginnings: A Season of Blessings





       Two days ago, I watched through my kitchen window as the leaves of my pecan tree fell to the ground like rain.  It was a strange site because it wasn't raining and there was no wind blowing; yet, the leaves were a constant stream, flowing with the speed and consistency of a well running machine.  By the time they quit falling, the leaves were like a gently placed quilt, blanketing the ground and the tree was nearly bare.  I was fascinated and couldn't tear myself away.   As I watched, I couldn't help but think about what those falling leaves symbolized, at least for me.


     Some might see the falling leaves as the end - the end of the beautiful fall colors - the end of warm autumn days.   I prefer to look at them as a beginning.  I believe the falling leaves signal the passing from one season to another; from the season of change and color, to the season of thanksgiving and blessings.   I love this time of year when everyone begins to show the gratitude and expressions of thanksgiving that are often forgotten the rest of the year.    Not that people don't appreciate their blessings the rest of the year, I know they do.  It's just that the months of November and December seem to bring a much deeper awareness and a greater tendency to share their gratitude openly.

     I love November and December because I love the excitement and anticipation of Christmas and the warm feelings it brings.  Everyone seems just a little kinder, a little more thoughtful, and a lot happier.   Maybe it's my inner child, but I look forward to this time of year with the same unbridled enthusiasm as my grandchildren.  I still get excited over cute or elaborate decorations and I can't wait to start playing Christmas music; some of the most beautiful music ever written.  One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching the corny Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.   But my very favorite event of the season is definitely the get-togethers with family and friends. 

     Spending time with loved ones is the most important time spent.  Luckily, the season from Thanksgiving to Christmas provides many opportunities for just that.  The laughter, warm hugs, good food and memories shared provide us immeasurable blessings.   And, the fact that we all like to win at board games always makes for an interesting time.

     As we approach this season of love and thanksgiving, may we all remember to not get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we forget what the season is really about.   Remember to let those you love know how much you love and appreciate them.  Thank God constantly for the wonderful blessings in your life.  Even through the hard times we have so much to be thankful for. 



     Too often we go into this season just like the leaves falling from my pecan tree - in a whirlwind.  This year, slow down and enjoy life.   Spend your time wisely on who and what is really important to you.  Let yourself enjoy the festivities without the stress of worrying about every little detail. 

     Finally, let me close by telling each of you how much I appreciate and love you.   My world is just a little more blessed this year because you are in it.

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat





Written for this week's GBE2 prompt - Beginnings








Monday, November 5, 2012

If I Could Write A Letter To Myself

     One of the writing groups I'm in called GenFab (short for Generation Fabulous) is a wonderful group of fabulous "women of a certain age", or, baby-boomers.  I love this group because no matter where we live, how much money we have, what kind of lifestyle we live, there is still a common thread that binds us all together.   As women at this stage of life there are common traits that we all experience and can't escape, no matter how hard we try.  Whether we are pre, post, or currently experiencing, we all have to face menopause.  And this group is the most honest bunch of women I've ever had the pleasure to come across.  They are definitely a no holds barred, let it all hang out, nothing's off limits type of group.  That is why I love them.  It is so comforting and so educational to know we are not alone.  It's a great group of women.  

     This week, the group decided it would be interesting if we all wrote a letter to our 20 year old selves.  Sure, sounds like fun....but now, not as easy as I thought.  What would I say to myself to prepare me for the next 40 years?    Here goes:

Dear Karen,

     It is January, 1973, and you just turned 20 years old.  You have been married now for just a little over 6 months and you have so much to look forward to.  You don't know it yet but you are pregnant, and on September 6 you will deliver a beautiful baby boy.  He will bring you so much joy and happiness; you can't possibly imagine how your heart will swell with love.

     The next few years will bring a lot of joy, but also a lot of heartache.  You will face a lifetime of pain and surgeries, and will not be able to have the second child you so dearly want.  Even though it will be rough for a while, you will get through it and it will only bring you and Kenneth closer together.  No matter what the world throws at you, the two of you will always face it together, and be stronger for it.  It will only make you appreciate and love the gift of your son even more.  And, remember to always keep your faith.  It will bring you through a lot of rough times over the years.

     The happy times will far out-weigh the bad times.  You will learn to be a good farm wife and a good cook.   You will have a great life raising your son on the farm.    Just remember to appreciate the little things.  Don't get so caught up in trying to do everything for everybody that you forget to enjoy the simple day to day things that happen.  Learn to say no.  You can't do it all.  Pick and choose which meetings and organizations are really worth the time spent.

     Spend as much time as possible with family and friends.   Nothing is more important than family time.  It should always be your first priority.   You will make some amazing friends over the years.  Cultivate those friendships because as you get older they will be even more important.

     Whatever you do, never forget to appreciate those you love.  Make sure they always know how you feel about them.  Find the good in every day, no matter how hard that may be.  Always be thankful for the many blessings you have, and they will be many.  Thank God for them daily.    Beyond this, just enjoy the ride.  You have an amazing life ahead of you.

Love,
Me














Thursday, October 25, 2012

Homestyle Love

     Last week my friend Amy, From the Mom Cave,  shared her recipe for Beef Stew on facebook and it started a lengthy conversation about beef stew.  Beef stew is one of those old-fashioned comfort foods for which most people have a favorite recipe.  Maybe one that has been passed down through the family, clipped from a magazine, borrowed from a friend or maybe from a favorite TV chef.    Wherever it comes from, it is a perfect recipe for those cool fall days or to knock off a winter chill.

     My recipe was passed down from my mother-in-law, whom so many of my recipes came from.    She was a true country cook and was very well known for her amazing cooking skills.  This was one she made often and shared with many people.  Here is her recipe for

Magic Stew

2 lb. or less stew meat, cut up
2 - 3 large onions, sliced (less if you prefer)
4 stalks celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
3 large carrots, cut in chunks
3 large potatoes, cut in medium pieces
3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 TBSP flour
3 TBSP white sugar
1 1/2 c. tomato juice
1 c. water

Line bottom of heavy baking pan with meat.  Arrange carrots and potatoes on meat.  Lay onions and celery on top.  Combine salt, pepper, flour and sugar.  Sprinkle mixture over meat and vegetables.  Pour tomato juice and water over all.   Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil so it is airtight.  Bake 4 hours at 275 degrees. DO NOT PEEK DURING BAKING!

     I will have to admit that I was never a big fan of beef stew, but even I love this.  It is so easy and taste delicious.    For those of you who want to make it even easier and quicker to put together, I have created my quick version.

     Same as above except, omit onions, celery, carrots and potatoes and substitute 1 (29 oz.) can Veg-All Homestyle Large-Cut Vegetables.  It contains the very same vegetables, with a few added peas.  Works great!

Hope you enjoy!

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat











Thursday, October 11, 2012

Free or Not, It's All Good

     Who doesn't like to get something for free?  We've all been lured by claims of getting something for nothing.       I'm no exception, so, I was intrigued recently when I received an email from a company called www.firmoo.com offering me a free pair of eyeglasses in return for writing a review on my blog.  It just so happened it was time for me to see my ophthalmologist and I knew I needed new glasses, so, I decided to give them a try.  

     Before agreeing to the deal, I looked up their website and checked out their company.  Everything seemed to be on the up and up.  They had a wonderful selection of frames to pick from and even had a virtual try on where you could upload your  own photo and actually try on the frames you like to see what they look like on you.   After picking out the frames I liked, I sent my prescription, and ordered my glasses.  That's when I found out I hadn't read the fine print close enough.   Their offer of free glasses only applies to single vision prescriptions.  If you are only near sighted, or only far sighted, you qualify.  Unfortunately, I am both, plus I have astigmatism.  Definitely not single vision.  But, all was not lost.

     Firmoo still offered me free frames and I just had to pay for the lenses.    I am very particular about my glasses.  Besides the differences in vision, I will only wear glasses that have progressive lenses, as well as transition lenses.  If you have bought glasses with these features you know that my last several pairs of glasses purchased at the eye doctors have cost me from $400 to $500.   My glasses ordered from www.firmoo.com   cost me a total of $61.90.    Before receiving them, I was a little concerned about what the quality would be.  I have to say I am very pleased.  They are well-made, quality materials and I can see great!  Actually, I didn't realize how bad I was seeing with my old glasses until I received these.   So, what do you think?


     Firmoo is now offering a free pair of glasses to all first time customers.  Again, this is single vision, but includes both regular glasses or sunglasses.  If you don't need prescription they will send you a pair of non-prescription sunglasses.   Why not check them out at http://www.firmoo.com/free-glasses.html .

     Even though my glasses were not free, I am still very pleased with them.  My husband also ordered his glasses from http://www.firmoo.com/free-glasses.html and he, too, received a quality pair of glasses.  If you need new glasses or sunglasses, why not check them out?

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat


 












 
   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Perfect Fall Day

     







     Monday was a beautiful fall day and perfect for a day in the country with friends.  My friends and I drove out to Huber's Farm to spend a leisurely day eating delicious comfort food, browsing the farmers market, enjoying the breathtaking fall colors and wine tasting at the winery.   

    







      
     Of course the first thing on our minds when we arrived was eating. Their homestyle food is wonderful.  If you haven't had the fried biscuits with fresh apple butter (seen in the picture), let me tell you it is like heaven in your mouth.  I'm talking 5 women who usually eat very little bread ate 2 and 1/2 baskets of these luscious delights.    While we were devouring the hot bread and waiting for the main course, we belatedly celebrated Kelly's birthday with cards and gifts.


     
     After the delicious lunch, it was time to walk off all that bread while we checked out the cute, and not so cute fall decorations.   There was lots to see and the weather couldn't have been more beautiful.
 
      






       
     Three of the girls took the wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch while Libby and I decided to stay in the gift shop looking at all the goodies.  When they returned we loaded up and went down the road to the Farmers Market and Winery.
 
      








     When you walk into the Farmers Market, the smell of baking bread, fresh out of the oven, seduces your senses like a passionate lover.  And, as if that wasn't enough to entice you, there is a large glass case filled with fresh, made from scratch, fudge in several flavors.   This is just the bakery end.    They also tempt you with tables of apples of all varieties, along with any other fruits or vegetables in season, and shelves of jams, jellies, honey, sorghum and many other mouth-watering foods.  Outside you find all sorts of pumpkins and squash.   


    
          As you can see, we had a wonderful day.  There is nothing better than a beautiful fall day spent in the country with great friends.

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat






Sunday, October 7, 2012

Santa's Merriest Christmas

     Old Man Christmas, as he was lovingly known around town, had been playing the role of  Santa Claus in the town square for nearly 30 years.   Even as a young man he had been perfect for the job.  No one had ever exuded the spirit of Christmas from their very being like Chris did.  From his twinkling eyes to his naturally white beard he was the kindest, jolliest, most generous and most loving person anyone in town had ever met.   He genuinely loved the kids; all kids; and he had a way of talking with them that seemed to calm even the most difficult children.   Chris loved Christmas so much that for him it just came naturally to be Santa; it had never been like playing a part.

     This year was different.  Maybe it was time he hung up his red coat.   He felt old and tired, and couldn't quite shake the uneasy thoughts that had begun to creep in over the last couple of Christmases.    Was it his imagination, or were kids losing their belief in Santa at a much earlier age?  He had seen an increasing number of children whom instead of bright faces filled with wonder and awe had come to him with attitudes of distrust and indifference.   Maybe he had outlived his usefulness as Santa.  He would retire before he became anymore disillusioned with the thought that children no longer believed in the magic of Christmas.

     Chris was out on his regular morning walk around town.  Halfway through the park he stopped to rest on a bench overlooking the pond, as he did every morning.  Suddenly, movement from the bushes caught his attention.   Not sure of what he was seeing, he got up to take a closer look at what was huddled under the biggest bush.   "Well, hello there," he said to the wide-eyed little girl.  

     "Are you going to hurt me?" she whispered in a frightened voice.  "Oh no, I would never do that.  I love children, Chris said calmly.  "My name is Chris and I would like to help you if you will let me.  Won't you come sit on the bench and talk to me?"

     Even in her young years, 6 year old Chy (short for Chyna) had learned to be a pretty good judge of character.  Deciding that Chris was someone she could trust, she slid out from under the bush and walked to the bench.  Chris immediately removed his coat and laid it around her shoulders to stop her shivering.

     Wanting to find out who she was and why she was in the park alone so early, Chris asked Chy a few questions.  He soon learned that getting information from her would not be a problem because she was quite a little talker.   She told him that she and her parents had moved into the homeless shelter last year after her dad had lost his job and couldn't find another one to support his family.  He was working at the local hamburger place but barely made enough money for a little food and keeping her in school.   Her mom helped out with cooking at the shelter.   Chris felt the tears in his eyes as this tiny creature told her story.  Suddenly, with a startle, he realized her story had taken a turn.  She was almost bubbling, her whole face beaming, as she told him that things were going to change soon for her family.  

     "Can you keep a secret?" she asked Chris.  "Of course", he said, intrigued.  "I sneaked out this morning to go see Santa Claus.  I know if I ask him he will bring my dad a new job and we will be able to move into a house again!  Santa will help us!"  Chris was taken aback at the sincerity in that little angel's face.  What could he say to her?  His mind was racing.  All he could think of right now was to tell her that she was too early.  Santa wouldn't be in town until next week.  And he couldn't tell her that he was Santa and he might not be there at all this year.  Right now he needed to think.  First he must get Chy back to the shelter.

     When they arrived at the shelter, Chy's parents were frantic with worry.  It wasn't like her to run off.  They were so thankful and relieved when Chris walked through the door with her.   The four of them sat down with steaming mugs of hot chocolate and talked for nearly an hour.

     Chris thought of little else for the entire week.  The day came for the Christmas parade and he knew, without a doubt, what he must do.   He buttoned his coat, pulled on his boots, and laughed a jolly ho ho ho as he closed the door behind him.

     Following the parade, Chris took his familiar place on Santa's throne.   The doors were opened and it was no surprise to him that Chy was the first in line.   As she sat on his lap and whispered her wish list, Chris couldn't help but grin from ear to ear.   He wished her a Merry Christmas and gave her an enthusiastic belly laugh as she slid down.  Her faith had never wavered.  She believed in Santa with all her heart.   Chris's heart, too, was filled with the spirit of Christmas.  He had a secret he couldn't wait to share!

     The idea had been forming in Chris's mind all week.   He was getting up in years and he had no family.  His wife had died before they were able to have children.  The huge house and grounds where he lived was getting to be more than he could handle.  It all made perfect sense.  He had formed an instant bond with the Sims family from the moment he found little Chyna in the park.  They had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own and were good people.  Helping them would fill a void in his own life that he hadn't even realized was there.  It was simple; the Sims family would move in with him.  Mr. Sims would take care of the grounds, gardens and house repairs while Mrs. Sims cooked and did the housekeeping.  In return, he would provide them a place to live, free of charge and a decent salary for their work.  They would be like the family he never had.  He just knew Chyna would keep him on his toes and, therefore, keep him young.  

     Most days Chris hated to see the last child come through because it meant he had to go home to his big, empty house.  Tonight was different.  He couldn't wait to meet with Mr. & Mrs. Sims to present his proposition.  He just knew this was going to be the merriest Christmas ever.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This story is complete fiction and was written in response to the GBE 2 picture prompt.  The picture, seen at the beginning of this story, is courtesy of morguefile.com.






Wednesday, October 3, 2012

High Praise

     On Thursday, September 20, 2012, my nearly 91 year old Dad took the trip of his life.    Thanks to a wonderful non-profit organization called Honor Flight Network, Dad took his first plane trip since World War II.   Honor Flight Network honors our veterans and their many sacrifices for our country by flying them to Washington, D.C. to visit the war memorials.   And the amazing part...it is at absolutely no cost to the veterans.

     Upon arriving at the airport at the early hour of 6:00 a.m., Dad was welcomed into a group of 105 veterans who would be his traveling companions for the day, along with around 60 volunteers.   They were each given a disposable camera to take pictures with.  On the morning flight they were served breakfast and on the return flight that evening they were served a hot dinner.    Landing in Baltimore, MD., they were greeted by some active duty soldiers.   They were then loaded on a tour bus to start their day that would include visits to all the war memorials.  At lunch they were provided sack lunches.

     The first and most important to my dad, was the World War II Memorial.  Dad was a Navy Air radio operator in a bomber plane.  He also had 2 brothers who were also in World War II, neither of which made it home.  Both were killed, one at Normandy and one at Iwo Jima.    I wrote more about them a couple of posts ago.



     Between Dad and the nice volunteer couple who assisted him all day, he got some good pictures to remember his visit.  Here are some of them:

      



    Dad at different areas of the World War II Memorial
The couple who assisted Dad
This wall is covered with 4000 gold stars.  Each star 
respresents 100 soldiers who died.

 
 
 Dad took up all his pictures at the  World War II Memorial, but they did visit all the other war memorials.

          




         
 The whole group.




Washington Monument
Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima







                                                   
                                             

     Upon arrival back at the Louisville airport, the tired veterans received a hero's welcome home.  There were groups of people waving American flags and a choir of voices singing patriotic songs.  These deserving men and women were treated like royalty the entire day.

     This is such a wonderful opportunity for veterans like my dad who would never have otherwise had the chance to visit Washington D.C. or the war memorials.  I would like to send a special thanks to the Honor Flight Network, and especially the Honor Flights Bluegrass Division, for giving my dad such a special gift.  He loved it and was so happy when he got home.  I truly appreciate all the volunteers who made this possible.

     If you are a veteran or have a parent, relative or friend who would benefit from this trip, the Honor Flight Network has regional chapters all over the United States.  Check it out by clicking on any of the links in this post.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Girls' Getaway 2012, In Retrospect

     On our yearly girls' getaway to the Smoky Mountains there is never a dull moment and this year was no exception.    Last Thursday morning, eight of us set out full of excitement and anticipation.  Several stops and a few hours later, we arrived in Pigeon Forge, starving.  Naturally, our first stop was a restaurant to eat dinner.  A friend of Libby's had told her about a place called Calhoun's and none of us had eaten there before.   It was wonderful!  We liked the restaurant so well we actually went back on Saturday night.
 

  On Friday, we spent the day shopping in Gatlinburg, following a huge breakfast at one of the many pancake houses.    We literally shopped till we dropped.  That evening we ate at Bubba Gumps Seafood where our waiter looked exactly like a young John Travolta.



     Each night we would get comfortable at the cabin and laugh till we couldn't hold our eyes open.   Nothing like a big comfy couch, hot, buttery popcorn and some good, juicy girl-talk!

     
     On Saturday, we went to Pigeon Forge.  Down by the Old Mill they were having a Heritage Festival with lots of booths, crafts, food and entertainment.  Lunch outside at the Old Mill Pottery House Cafe was perfect.  Brenda's brother and sister-in-law met us there and had lunch with us.
    



     Of course, you know no trip with this bunch could ever be event free.  Every year something out of the ordinary has to happen to give us that one unforgettable memory.   This year, it was Saturday night.

     During dinner at Calhoun's, Brenda told us about this place her brother had been and thought we would enjoy.  It was in Gatlinburg and was a place where they made moonshine, had wine tastings and live music.  It had been a long day of shopping and Libby, Pat and I really didn't want to go watch moonshine being made.  We were ready to go back to the cabin.  So....here was the plan.

     The 3 of us would take Brenda's car.  We were going to check out some cabins we had heard about right out of Pigeon Forge, and then we were going back to the cabin.  All the rest were going in Linda's suv to the moonshine place in Gatlinburg.    We get in the car and thinking we had plenty of time, I decide to drive out Wears Valley Road to see if I can find a gift shop that I had been to years before that had cabins out behind it.  We didn't find it so finally turned around and started back toward the parkway.  About that time my phone rings.  It's Brenda wanting to know where we are, did we find the cabins.  Now this should have been the first red flag, but, since I had no reason to think they were anywhere other than on their way to Gatlinburg, I explained where we were, not thinking another thing about it.  On the way back up the parkway, we pulled through Krispy Creme Doughnuts to pick up some to take back to the cabin.  We were leisurely enjoying our quiet time, never once thinking anything was up.  By now our friends should be reaching Gatlinburg and looking for the moonshine place. 

     Not far past Krispy Creme was the road where we turned to look for the cabins Libby's friend had told her about.   I remembered the directions, which were in my purse, had said 1/2 mile out this road and then turn left.  Thinking a 1/2 mile was not very far I figured it would probably be the first road to the left; therefore, when we came to the first road I turned, immediately realizing it was not the right road.  I backed up to turn around and then sat there while I dug out the directions.  Back out on the first road, we continued on, looking for the right road.  Unfortunately, when we got to it, we missed it because the road sign was hidden down in a ditch and the one on the other side had a completely different name.    Of course, as soon as we passed it we saw the sign.  There was no place to turn around so we had to drive a little further and around a curve.  Finally, turned around we headed back to the right road.   We knew before we got there that this was a gated community and we wouldn't be able to drive up to the cabins, but we figured we would at least be able to see where they were and what they looked like.   Pulling up to the large gate, we were looking at the cabins that were scattered up the mountainside.  Suddenly, this huge black suv pulls up behind us and started blowing the horn.   Now remember, our friends, whom we had no reason to doubt, were in Gatlinburg.  This must be someone wanting in the gate and he wants me out of his way.  But I have no place to go!  The gate is in front of me and he is behind me.  The longer I sat there the madder I got.  That idiot!  Where does he expect me to go!  I can't move if he doesn't!  What a jerk!  Pat was about ready to get out of the car!   Finally, he backs up and leaves.  We do the same, getting out of there as fast as I could go.

     We get back to our cabin, and low and behold, our friends are already there.  I thought that seemed strange but knew there must be a reason.  Sure enough, when we got inside, Paula was lying down, not feeling well.   They said that was why they came home early.  Trusting souls that we were, we still didn't think anything was going on.   We all settle in and start planning for next year.  The first thing they wanted to know was did we find the cabins.  Of course, we told them all about the idiot jerk who pulled up behind us and wouldn't move.  That's when something began to sound fishy.  I looked at Linda and she looked like the cat who just ate the canary.    Suddenly, it all made sense.  The phone call, the black suv, them getting home first.    "It was YOU!  You were the idiots who pulled up behind us!"  I said to Linda.  At first they denied it, but when Libby told Brenda to look her in the eye and tell her it wasn't them, she couldn't without busting out laughing.   So here is their version of what happened.


     After leaving the restaurant, they decided they didn't really want to go to the moonshine place.  Stopping to get gas, they decided to try to find the cabins and be there waiting when we got there, but didn't really know how to find them.     Not knowing we were going to drive out Wears Valley Road first, they couldn't figure out what was taking us so long; that's when they called.  Finally, they saw us pass and decided to follow us, without letting us know they were.  They didn't see me make the first wrong turn until they passed and Linda saw us sitting there.  Not knowing what to do, they pulled off in a driveway that dropped under a hill and sat there waiting for us to pass.  Once we did, they waited sufficient time for us to get down the road and pulled out to follow.    By this time they are thinking we saw them following us and pulled off on that first road to hide from them.  So when they hid from us in the driveway, they are all cracking up laughing so hard.  They start back down the road and who do you think they pass coming the other direction?  We had turned around and were now headed back to the road where we were supposed to have turned.  They just knew they were caught now, we had to have seen them, or so they think.  But, being the trusting souls that we are, we still think they are in Gatlinburg, and let's face it, there are only about a million black suvs on the road.  Pulling up behind us, they are all rolling in the floor from laughing so hard at our game of cat and mouse.  Linda thinks when she blows the horn we will all get out of the car and come back there.     Now, why she didn't just pull up beside us so we could see it was them I'll never know.   And I wasn't about to get out of the car and walk up to strangers in a vehicle.  For all I knew they might have a gun and be in a bad mood.   Anyway, flying back to the cabin, they decided to wait to see if we knew it was them before they said anything.   Barely making it back ahead of us, they hurriedly staged this whole scene to make it look like they had been there awhile.

     Needless to say, when the whole story came out, we all laughed so hard we nearly got sick.  We all ended up hoarse from laughing so much.   It was probably the funniest thing that has ever happened to us on one of our trips, although, I know it loses something in translation.  It is just one of those stories that can never be told with the same comedic punch as when it happened.    Looking back, I guess, you just had to be there.

Until next time...that's my view.
Kat

















    

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deja Vu or a Guiness World Record?

     Lately, there has been a lot of commercials, magazine articles, blog posts and discussions about menopause.  Some are funny, some serious and some very informative because they forgo the "beating around the bush" and tell it like it is.    If you are a female of a "certain age", you know exactly what I mean.  But I don't think all the information in the world could have prepared me for my so-called menopause.

     My doctor once told me that I never did anything like normal people.  I've definitely proved him right more than once.   But when it comes to menopause, I am either experiencing deja vu or else I've set the world's record for the longest menopause in history.  

     Maybe I should start at the beginning.  I was forced into menopause before I was 30 years old, following a series of 4 female surgeries.    Lets just say what followed would have made an hilarious skit on the Carol Burnett Show (again showing my age).    At that time, my son was young and I was an over-active mom involved with PTA, 4-H, little league, room mother, youth group, church committees, etc. etc.  In other words, I was often in meetings or in front of people.  Just imagine being a 20 something mom in front of a group of people and suddenly break out in a clammy sweat, feeling like you were on fire from the inside out.  For those who have never experienced it, it's like having your own private tropical summer in the middle of an air conditioned room.   You start peeling off every article of clothing you can legally take off.

     Some of the most memorable times were always at night.  I remember one particular night in the middle of winter.  It was extremely cold outside with snow on the ground.  In the middle of the night I woke up feeling like fire was consuming me, starting inside and working its way out.  I was so hot a cold shower wouldn't have cooled me off.  I sat on the side of the bed and opened the window, storm window and all, and stuck my head out the window!

     Luckily, after a long while, symptoms eased off.  I thought I was completely over all that....until lately.  Lately I have been having hot flashes again.  Not sure why but it certainly is like deja vu;  been there - done that.    Either that, or, like I said earlier, I'm going for the world's record for the longest menopause in history.  I was 28 when it started the first time; I'm now 59 - you do the math.   I'm hoping it's not more menopause.   After this long, the only tropical summers I want to experience are ones that take place in the Caribbean.


Until next time...that's my view.
Kat

Written for GBE 2 prompt - Deja Vu









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