Sunday Night at Home with a Movie

Today I’m taking my inspiration from my good friend Debi Walter and her wonderful blog The Romantic Vineyard. I’m not referring to Debi as my good blogging friend or Facebook friend. We literally have been friends for 40 years, and she is every bit as wonderful in day-to-day life as she is on her blog. Actually, she is more so.

In case you’re not familiar with The Romantic Vineyard, check it out here. It provides “a rich harvest of ideas to help your marriage grow.” It says so right at the top of the banner.

Debi and I are as alike as we are dissimilar. She writes a romance blog. I write a humor blog. Clearly that’s one way we’re similar. Okay, we both write. I’ll leave it at that.

When I read her Five Friday Favorites – At Home Meal and Movie Dates, I was inspired. I told Debi that I was wondering what I would serve for my home meal and movie date.  What would go with some of my favorite comedies? She told me to go for it, so here you are.

First, the disclaimer, Debi is a wonderful cook and she loves cooking. It is one of the ways she shows love. I view cooking as something that I have done more than enough, but I am willing to cook – if I have to. I’m even a pretty decent cook, but the thrill is gone. One of the ways people can show me that they love me is to cook for me. I’ll just put that out there in case anyone needs an idea. Already you can see why Debi and I have a well-suited friendship.

Favorite Comedies (not exhaustive, of course)

Movie #1 – RED with Bruce Willis – All this movie needs is a glass of red wine. That’s how I read the cover.

Movie #2 – Groundhog Day – This takes a little more planning. The night before, make a double batch of whatever you’re cooking and save enough to serve during the movie.

Movie #3 – The Help – I know this one is not a comedy, but it has its moments. It made Debi’s list, too. All you really need here is a big batch of chocolate cream pie served at just the right moment.

Movie #4 – Back to the Future – hamburgers, fries, and a Tab or something else without sugar in it.

Movie #5 – The Big Year – wings

Movie #6 – Fever Pitch – I try to watch this on Opening Day of Baseball Season. Hot dogs and beer with sides of peanuts and Cracker Jacks is perfect.

Movie #7 – The Court Jester – Perhaps my all-time favorite comedy. It doesn’t matter what drink you offer as long as it’s not served in the Chalice with the Palace. Try the Vessel with the Pestle instead, but be careful you don’t break it and have to use the Flagon with the Dragon.

 

Do you have any movie pairings you can add to the list? What are some of your favorite comedies?

 

This is Post #28 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Assumption

Last week was my friend, Kathy’s, birthday and I gave her a special gift. To say it was special doesn’t quite cover it. It was extra special because it was adorned with the face of Bob Ross. You may know him as the happy-little-trees painter, but we knew him as the friendly guy in our neighborhood who received injured squirrels from our kids.

Kathy was so excited to receive a mug with Bob Ross’ face on it. Building on that, as if that wasn’t enough, when you poured hot liquid into the mug, one of his paintings magically appeared. She couldn’t wait to show it off to her husband John and said this would become her morning coffee mug. We left our luncheon full of hope.

Bob Ross mug before

Kathy with her happy little mug

Bob Ross left us some great quotes:

  • “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
  • “I believe talent is just a pursued interest.”
  • “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Alas, a week passed and I received a text from Kathy. “Darn that John! He made Bob have a happy little accident!”

A happy accident or something more?

The irony of this was not lost on us. This never should have happened! The mug came with instructions. For instance, clearly printed on the underside of the mug were the words: USE OTHER SIDE. John assumed he knew how to use a mug. We so often get ourselves in trouble when we assume. If only he had taken the time to read the supplied instructions. They directed the new mug user: “Are you unfamiliar with mugs or their proper use? For a free refresher course, watch our inspiring and instruction video.”

 

 

Video courtesy of Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

As a woman who drives her husband crazy with her instruction reading, I can now point to this incident in defense of every useless instruction I have ever read. Now, you can, too.

 

This is Post #18 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

These are the Days of Our Lives

Like sand through an hourglass

“I WILL NOT BE WATCHING SOAP OPERAS – unless for comic relief.”

This is a quote from my dear and funny friend, Pam. One fine day, she made the mistake of leaving the room while watching the news at noon and when she came back through, the soaps were on.

Here’s a peek at our texting conversation.

Pam: I stopped for a moment to see what I was watching. Excellent acting, by the way – NOT!!! I cracked up laughing and changed the channel. I felt like I was in Another World.

Me: You weren’t in Another World, these are simply The Days of our Lives. Think about it, we used to be the Young and the Restless. Now we’re the Bold and the Beautiful. We’re older and wiser.

Pam: Look, right now I feel like I am in A Secret Storm and it’s not yet The Edge of Night. But, As the World Turns, so does my life.

Me: True. And you only have One Life to Live. At least that’s what I tell All My Children.

Somehow, in the midst of this deep conversation Pam and I had forgotten this was a group text. That is, until another voice was heard: You are casting Dark Shadows over our text stream.

Alas, we were. Such is the danger of group text.

Side note: Do you remember Dark Shadows? Pam’s mom wouldn’t allow her to watch it. Since I was allowed, we are now afraid that our childhood selves could never have been friends. It’s so sad to see a friendship between people who didn’t yet know each other be thwarted by a television show!

So, Now I’m Famous(er)

I am overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from you, my wonderful readers and friends. You shared my post about my new book over 20 times, and I have received an enormous amount of encouragement from you in my comments and on my Facebook feed. Thank you!

I have to say, I’m having the time of my life. This is a dream come true for me. It is made possible by my friend and writing mentor, Rob Swanson, who is the creator of Prevail Press, the micropublishing company that has walked me through the entire project to create this beautiful book (illustrated by Anna Kester). Rob has a vision to enable good writers to publish good books. He knows the challenges of traditional publishing and the time involved in that pursuit and realizes that it won’t work for everyone – actually it won’t work for most of us. I love his business plan. You can check it out here and see what is going on in these beginning stages of Prevail Press, as well as meet their other authors.

In addition to all of this, I am now a YouTube star! I know what you’re thinking – it was just a matter of time. Please check out my video explaining why I wrote the book. Filming it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done, but you have to give the public what they want!

https://youtu.be/NWygNFDc0BE

Thanks again and remember, just in case you haven’t ordered it already, ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC is available through Prevail Press and on Amazon in both print and electronic versions.

Click here to order on Amazon.

 

I’m a Fairy Blog Mother – Meet my Blog Daughter

I recently became a fairy blog mother. That is to say, barely a fairy blog mother. I have a wonderfully funny friend named Roxanne who has been threatening to start a blog for some time now. She asked me if I would meet with her to help her get started. Yes, she is that funny – I laughed and laughed. Only she was serious.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that all of my computer prowess is attributed to the wonderful man I married, Bob the Engineer. (Yes, that is part of our wedding vows. I must ascribe to him all tech glory.) It is only because of him that I have not thrown the computer out the window.

You might not be aware, since I have been doing this blogging thing for a while, that I have a fairy blog mother. Her name is Debi and she is one of my bestest friends. She writes a blog called The Romantic Vineyard. She had the painstaking job of getting me on WordPress. She is very patient.

Roxanne and I met one day to get her started. The first thing I wanted to establish is why in the world she would ask me for help. She said (and rightly so) we think alike. It will be fun.

2 Ibuprofen for the laughter headache

The first meeting would have been more fun if Roxanne had remembered to bring her computer, but still we plugged along. We met again, this time with her computer. We were definitely making progress. Not! I suggested we call Debi, who I keep on speed dial.

Debi came to the rescue. She planned a meeting with Roxanne on a day that God chose for me to have other plans. (He is a good God.) They got it together. Now, Debi is a fairy blog grandmother. It’s always nice to have a grandmother around, blogging or the regular type.

Roxanne just started her blog, Not That Big a Deal, last week. Please check her out. I know you will love her as much as I do. Click here to laugh along with Roxanne.

And, if you would like to check out Debi’s blog, which is all about inspiration for your marriage, you really should! It’s a great resource. Click here to be inspired by Debi.

Happy reading!

 

Is There a Time Machine in Your Future?

I love making new friends.  I’m not talking about facebook.  I am talking about real, flesh-and-blood, face-to-face humans that I can reach out and touch.

I have a fairly new friend from church and we are enjoying getting to know each other.  We are both writers so there is an instant bond there.  A bond which might cause us to assume things about each other.  And you know how that usually works out.  One thing she obviously assumed about me was how computer savvy I am, which is not much.  (Not that I didn’t appreciate her higher opinion of me.)  I discovered the error in her perception when I received the following email from her, which I read from my phone.  This was all that showed on the screen.

IMG_4831
Honestly, I thought her account had been hacked.  A time machine for her desktop?  Asking me for advice about backing up my computer?  Clearly we need to spend more time getting to know each other.

I asked my resident IT guy (yes, he resides with me; he’s my wonderful husband) about it and he quickly resolved my questions.

  1. She had not been hacked.
  2. There is such thing as a time machine. It is used to back up data.  No, it does not look like a British phone booth, but that would have been awesome.

This was a relief and a disappointment.  While I was relieved that she wasn’t hacked, I was hoping maybe she had traveled in time and met future me, the computer wiz.  That would have been amazing.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together for Lunch

Carolina Wren hiding in bushes

Carolina Wren hiding in bushes

One of the things that I miss from my old house is my backyard birds.  I had a feeding station set up just off my porch.  Watching the birds was one of my joys.  I guess you could say I’m a birder, but not one of those go-out-in-the-great-beyond birders who knows where and when different species migrate to add them to my life list.  I wait for them to come to me.  They are my perfect little pets.  (They never mess up my house.)

As the crow flies, I don’t live far from my old home.  It was suggested to me that I leave a trail of breadcrumbs so my feathered friends could find me.  If that would have worked, I probably would have done it; but I figured it was time for me to make some new feathered friends and let the new owners of my old house enjoy the regular visitors there. I guess you could say I’m branching out to a new birding environment.

So we set up the feeding station in our new backyard and waited.  I could hear the birds in the trees which surround my yard – hear them but not see them.  Days passed and I wondered what was preventing them.  I know there are hawks around.  Perhaps these birds weren’t willing to risk going out in the open.  At long last, the blue jays came.  I appreciated their loud cackle alerting me to their visit.  Eventually a titmouse popped in and soon returned with his whole family.

I was a happy girl…for a while.  Here’s an analogy that might help you understand my temporary happiness.  It is the reason why I shouldn’t open a large bag of M&Ms.  I can start out with a few and be content, but soon I want more.  I don’t have to see them.  I can hear them calling me from the pantry – just like the birds in the trees.

The sound of cardinals in the trees really bothered me.  What was it going to take to lure them in?  Sometimes I would see one on my fence, but he never stopped at the feeder. I also heard a sweet little bird called a Phoebe, whose call sounds like his name. I would hear him every day but never lay eyes on him.  Until today.  Phoebe stopped by.  He doesn’t spend much time at the feeder but he loves to perch on top of it and fly from perch to perch around the yard.  While I was looking at him, the cardinals stopped in.  (They usually travel in pairs.)  I caught a glimpse of the female leaving as the brilliant male made a pit stop.  This is happiness for me.  Watching the birds relaxes me and is one of the things God uses to still my anxious heart.

He uses my friends that way, too.  Today I had lunch with two such friends.  I’ll call them Phoebe and Cardinal.  I often hear how they’re doing on Facebook or receive a phone call or text, but I really need to see them.  Visit a feeder with them.  Spend time with them.  One of the things that I’m adjusting to is my access to my friends.  They are not as readily available, but I’m only 15 minutes away from that old neighborhood.  That is practically nothing.

Patience was what it took to see birds at my feeder.  Intentionality is what it takes to keep friendships near and dear.  Even if those friends are only fifteen minutes away.

Isn't he beautiful?

Isn’t he beautiful?

Starting Over – It Only Feels Like a Punch in the Gut

Bob and I have been on the fast-track ever since we returned home from our trip to Europe at the end of April.  Our feet hit the ground running, or maybe they were shuffling and dragging.  Who can remember!  All I can tell you is – it’s been non-stop (our lives, not our flight from Europe).

Over the summer we had enough major events in our lives to do our own Lifetime made-for-TV movie.  Our youngest son got married.  Our middle son, his wife, and their baby, who had been living with us, moved to Michigan.  We sold our home of 32 years.  The home in which we raised our kids.  The home that Bob drew up the initial plans for.  The home which we had chosen every detail from floor to ceiling.  The home that was in a neighborhood where most of our closest friends live.  Okay, enough of that.  And, we bought and moved into a new (for us) house.  Now, after forty years of marriage, we are official empty-nesters.

This morning as I was trying to get pictures hung on the wall, I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to hang this one.  I’m not talking about my usual challenge to do anything handy around the house either.


This is not the home where my story began.  Plus, I’m a little old to begin a new story.  I guess I should have left this plaque at the old house.  It doesn’t seem to belong here.

I remember when I bought it.  It was an encouragement.  Now it confuses me.

Yet, I cannot sit in the silence of my lovely new home and not write.  Soon I will have the last of the pictures hung and the last box unpacked.  What will my excuse be then?

So today is a small beginning for me.  This is my first written offering from my new home.  It was not without challenge.  I am writing in a new space with less ready-made distractions – no neighbors that I know and no people living with my husband and me (especially no cute little grandbaby).  It’s going to take some getting used to.  I can do that.  I got used to eating spinach.

For now, I think I’ll post this and go hang my picture.

From Two to Ninety-Two

Easter Sunday afternoon has changed a lot for us over the years. Bob and I have always lived close to my parents. For the most part, we were the only of my four siblings that lived near them, and we’ve never lived close to Bob’s family. That made for fairly easy holiday celebrations. Mom and I would take turns having events at our houses. We’d flip Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, but until the kids were teenagers, we usually ended up at their house for Easter afternoon.

They had a beautiful backyard on a small lake.  The beach area was dotted with palm trees and citrus trees lined the edges.  Mom loved hiding Easter eggs and the kids loved the hunt. Those times were uncomplicated. Once in a while relatives or some friends were there, but things still fell on Mom and me; and we liked it fine. My mom and I could throw together a holiday dinner with hardly a thought. We just split things in half. We each had our specialties.

This Easter we met at our house. We equals Bob, me and our four kids, three spouses, six grandkids (plus one in the oven), my mom who is 86, Dad who is 90, and Bob’s dad who says he’s 92 but is really 91.

That means there are five wives to cook. What a spread we could put on! What culinary masterpieces we could display. How our taste buds could be titillated! But I choose Costco, the happiest place on earth. Nothing beats picking up a spiral ham (no slicing), Hawaiian rolls, redskin potato salad and a vegetable tray. Throw in paper plates and you have yourself a perfect day. Okay, we did have homemade deviled eggs and desserts – we’re still human.

It has taken me a while to be able to admit this publicly, but simply put – it’s time for me to simplify where I can. 20140425-141648.jpgI’ll also admit that when I see Facebook posts of lovely tables set up in anticipation of Easter lunch, I feel a little guilty, but the feeling disappears as fast as a bowl full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.

20140425-113424.jpgThose wonderful, simple days of eight of us celebrating together are gone. I love having 18.25 of us together and look forward to the number growing. The challenge for me is remembering it’s about enjoying the people, and I don’t want to be so worn out from prepping and cleaning up that I don’t get to relax and play with them. Also, our people span 90 years. That means keeping the floor clear for a walker and a wheelchair, making sure I have my dad’s favorite root beer on hand, and giving Bob’s dad some time to tell a story to his grandkids and spouses. It also means having a portacrib for the youngest with a sound machine to drown out noise, and taking some time to play a board game with the kids. And, of course, there are always activities beyond the egg hunt in the backyard. Our oldest son is great about getting the kids outside and active. We have the added joy of our neighbors’ grandkids playing with ours – three generations of friends.

The Quest for the Golden Egg

The Quest for the Golden Egg

We are an exhausting group, so Bob’s and my parents don’t stay as long as they used to. My mom brings bags of treats, but now they’re for her great-grandchildren. We still have the egg hunt as the Big Deal of the Day.  My kids and I hide the eggs and Mom watches us.  I think she loves watching the children scour the yard for treasure more than any of us. I like to observe my mom. She stores up treasures in her heart more than the kids store eggs in their baskets. I want to be like her.

20140425-121402.jpg

And let’s not forget about Jesus.  I’m not sure how we went from the resurrection of our Savior to dying and hiding eggs, but I don’t want Jesus to get lost in the shuffle.  When my oldest son was little, he and his buddy were into action figures.  They had all the usuals and a few unusual ones.  Among those were Jesus and Moses.

20140425-141704.jpgThis past week I found Jesus in the top of my closet, just in time for Easter.  I handed him to my grandson.  He couldn’t guess who it was and tossed him aside in favor of the Millennium Falcon.  I picked Jesus up and set him on the mantel among the chicks and bunnies.  He looked out-of-place, but I know better.

 

 

Love Hurts (But It’s Worth It)

I'll miss your sweet smile, Ruby.  Love you!

I’ll miss your sweet smile, Ruby. Love you!

Do you have anyone in your life who makes you smile every time you see them?  Someone who is the perfect mixture of funny and serious?  Someone who is welcoming and warm with a dash of rascal?  That’s how I would describe Ruby (okay, maybe two dashes of rascal).

I always told Ruby that she was my oldest friend.  She turned 92 earlier this month, and she went to be with Jesus last week.  I will miss her.

This has been a sad time for my family and friends.  We’ve said “good-bye” to three friends in as many weeks.  Love does indeed hurt, but the hurt is soothed by sweet memories and assurance of our friends walking the Streets of Gold in Heaven.  In my mind’s eye I see Ruby, Russ and Carl.  They have arrived at their final destination.  It’s new for them, but immediately they know they are home.  For those of us left behind, we grieve, but we have hope (I Thes 4:13).