Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting the Best Part

For those of you who know me, the one thing that no one can deny is how much I absolutely love my family. I have been blessed in this life to have a true relationship with not only my grandparents, but three of my great-grandparents. Yesterday, the last of those, passed away. At age 96 and 2/3rds, Clara Mae Stalvey joined those who have gone on before.

As my cousin and I spent time yesterday, we talked a lot about what we were so lucky to have over the years and all the good parts that we got because we lived so close. Any good southern girl knows how important Grandparents are, but when one lives so close, it's almost like another parent figure.

We never went to Daycare or the preschool... Grandma and Granny kept all 5 of us until we started school. Mom tells the story that she dropped me off at Grandma's early one morning before she had to go to work and had put a note in my baby tub telling Grandma that my vitamins were in the tub. Grandma interpreted this to mean that she was to disolve the vitamins in the bath water. Needless to say, I have had the healthiest skin and hair and nails ever since... maybe she had the right approach after all.

Speaking of Vitamins... Grandma always kept Flintstones Chewables and the really big Vitamin C tablets in her cabinet. We were allowed as many as we wanted... sometimes, we probably overdosed on the Flintstones... they just tasted good. The one thing our moms wished that Grandma would have left off on was the Garlic pills. (Absolutely no worries about vampires getting to us). She fed us garlic pills like they were candy... (I know gross, but she believed in them... ) But honestly, none of us have even been really sickly... in fact, we're pretty much healthy as horses...

Grandma could cook! She made the best buttermilk biscuits! She tried and tried to teach me how to make them, but I never quite mastered it. She did however teach me how to make communion bread. I still use the little tool that she used to make lines on it so that it will break easily when the plate is passed. And Peas... oh man, did I ever eat a bunch of peas at her house! The only other thing I think I ate more was greens! When I finally did learn to cook, she was game to try anything I would fix. The last thing I made for her was oyster stew... she ate the whole bowl... it was the only thing she ate that day...

Grandma's favorite candybar was a white chocolate hershey bar. If you knew where to look, there was always an extra one stashed in her pantry. (Only the special ones knew where to look) And she taught each of us to eat raw cake batter (Oh the bad things she taught us... at least she didn't put eggs in it first!) and chips with dip made out of onion soup mix. (That would still be my dip of preference)

From about the time I was 15, I had my own room and key at Grandma's. I spent so many nights and weekends there that I just kept clothes there. And she was the only one who would let you sleep as long as you wanted (All the people at my house were early risers) and wouldn't let someone else wake you up.

Grandma's house was always open to visitors. I can't tell you how many visiting preachers stayed with my grandparents over the years. But I was exposed to a whole lot more than most kids my age.

Until my Grandpa died in 1998, Grandma always wore her long hair in a bun. I can remember taking the hairpins out at night when we were getting ready for bed and brushing her long silver and black hair. After he died, we went and got her a very stylish perm and short hair cut.

When she had her first heart attack in 2000, I was going to school in Tampa at the time. I made it back to Gainesville in under 90 minutes. (Don't tell my mom, she'd kill me if she knew) When I would go stay at the hospital with her, she was always trying to feed me her hospital meals... come to think of it, she was always trying to feed all of us... (do you see a food trend?)

For 28 years, she has been right there... a stable influence in my life. She taught unconditional love through example (although sometimes maybe we needed some tough love instead) and even at the end, I knew she loved me and she knew that I loved her... and that... is getting the best part!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I have to say... my absolute favorite time of the week is Saturday morning when I can sleep until... 8:30ish... and then get up and piddle around my house the rest of the day. However, for the last month, I have been deprived of this soothing and restful routine. This morning, as I awoke to the sun streaming through a crack in the curtains in the bedroom, I stretched like a cat and laid there for a moment thinking about what a crazy month it's been. And since I haven't blogged lately, I thought I would catch you all up on what I had been doing with my Saturdays for the last month... so... here goes....

January 24th... left house at 7:30 am to take students to a Leadership Conference in Gainesville which lasted until 3:00pm... Then, turned around, came home and changed clothes and headed back to G-ville to attend a birthday dinner for a former student who called and asked me to go.

January 31st... toured strawberry fields in Plant City. Absolutely loved the trip, but when I went back to work on Monday feeling like I had ran a marathon all weekend... (and ya'll know I don't run because I fear black eyes)... I can say that I learned a whole lot about strawberries and now understand a little better the obsession that PC people have with that tasty fruit!

February 7th... Left at around 6:30 am for the first weekend of the state fair. After a stressfree drive down with 4 giggleing girls in the back seat, We competed in the Horse Judging Contest. When we loaded up and I asked them how they thought they did... I got mixed reviews... fortunately, on Monday I got great news... or bad if you consider the fact that I'm gonna have to give up another Saturday when they go to state.... (I'll tate it any day)

February 14th. Well, what can I say... probably my least favorite day of the entire year.... At 5am when I went to pull out of my yard, I backed into my mother's car... (she was staying at my house with me and the kids because I was leaving so early)... As I ranted to myself... alternating at frustration with her for parking behind me and myself for not looking... other things started going wrong with my car... the radio went out... the gauges started going crazy... the lights got dimmer and dimmer... Needless to say, I tried as hard as I could to make it to CHS without ending up on the side of the road. When I got there and turned it off, I tried to start it again only to find that it was dead. Thank goodness we were driving a van to Tampa instead of my car!

We loaded up and headed out... making sure that whe had Reebz's "new lucky clipboard" and the corn (which they forgot to rub)... Everything seemed to go okay until we got to the contest. From the point we got to the contest, things started going downhill again. We bombed a class that should have been easy (I take the blame for that one)... and then started the judging part of the contest about 30 to 45 minutes late. 3 hours later, they finished judging cows and started giving reasons... which took 2 hours... By this time, we are about two hours behind our scheduled departure time.

When we finally arrived back at the school... approximately 8:45-9:00... Daddy was putting a new battery into my car hoping that it would fix the problem. No such luck... the alternator had gone out... which meant more money and more time to get fixed. Needless to say... I haven't had such a bad day in a long time...

So, today as I enjoy the fact that I don't have to be anywhere at any time... I'm gonna thank my Maker that I don't often have bad days like that!

Otherwise, I'm gonna relax!

Friday, February 6, 2009


I know, I know... what single person really needs more "me-time". The truth is even a single person can get wrapped up in the things going on around them and forget to see to their own needs. (Because single people have different needs than not-single people)

One of my favorite "me-time" activities involves loading up in the car, taking my lap-top or a good book and heading to the best deli in Title-town. Sitting all alone enjoying a soup and salad combo with a huge sweet tea, I can just let everything on my mind just drift away... and enjoy being in the moment.

So, what is being in the moment for me? It's not worrying about the latest drama at work, or which family member needs things done, or even about the friend who's dating someone that deep down you worry isn't right for her. It's about letting the world just drift away and being totally engrossed in that sappy romance novel with the rich, handsome hero who sweeps the absolutely humble and beautiful heroine off her feet and rides into the happily ever after sunset. It's about laughing to myself as I browse the internet for new or different products that I wish I could afford or would absolutely never buy. It's about making eye-contact with a cute stranger or waiter and knowing that it's completely harmless and will never come to more than a smile that makes someone's day. It's about not letting being alone interfere with my ability to enjoy the things going on around me.

Sometimes, being single is a burden... when you have to go to another "couples-event" or when you go to a wedding or baby shower and have to answer the dreaded question "So, when are you..." over and over again. But most of the time, it's a blessing that few people ever learn to appreciate. (The clarity changes like the weather in Florida) It's the one time in your life when you can go and do and see and experience things without worrying about what someone else needs or wants. It's the one time in your life when if you truly want to, you can give God your full focus and seek His will. (I did not make that one up... it's in I Corinthinans 7:34)

I can't say that I have fully mastered appreciating single life... in fact, a lot of days, I forget all the good things about it, but I can say that I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't had the time to discover me... and figure out what a unique individual that I am! And hopefully, if Mr. Amazingly Right does happen to come along, He'll see the find of person that he just can't pass up!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rythmn and Routine

After an excessively long day at work, I drove straight home trying to beat the steady retreat of the sun. Using the last fading rays to help me, I gathered eggs, filled waterers, and doled out feed to the menagerie that has grown to include chickens, guineas, a turkey, goats, cattle, horses, and even three pigs that will soon share freezer space with old "Bellar" the yellow heifer that we fattened last year. And while the nasty cold did make me move a little quicker, my brain slowly wandered over what I had to do next.

You see, life on a farm has it's own routine. It's kind of like standing in the middle of a ballroom and waiting for the music to decide which dance to begin. Whether it's whirling through the rush of hay-making or the peaceful calm of filling water troughs for the horses, each season and activity has it's own pace and procedure.

The sound of crowing roosters and the soft cackle of hens laying their eggs provides the sound track for scattering cracked corn for scratching and filling waterers and then robbing the hens of their hard-earned prizes. And the challenge of battle from that small, over-confident banty rooster only adds excitment to the task. (Until he catches you!)

With the goats, there's nothing more soothing than watching as the baby goats twist and turn, jump and play while their mothers scramble to and fro for the best spot at the feed trough. It's remembering how that bossy nanny-goat was such a small, sweet baby when you had to get up 30 minutes earlier just so that you could feed her two bottles before you headed off to work, and how she rules the entire herd now. And, when the time is right, it's the soft, steady hiss of warm milk streaming into the metal pail.

With the cows, it's the rush of wind as you drive through the herd putting out range pellets or hay and the calls of calves searching for their mothers. Or the sun shining down on your cheeks as you race around the field on the 4-wheeler while you check for new baby calves in the spring and summer. And who could forget the rough tongue of an overly-friendly heifer who thinks that she's going to get fed any time you're near her. (I call her Precious... Daddy calls her Fatty!)

There are days, like today, when after 12 hours of work all I want to do is crash on the couch and make like a vegetable. But, more often than that, I find myself wandering around, listening to the rythmn of the farm and hoping for a chance to step into it's unique routine.

The Best Valentine's presents I've gotten in a very long time...

Okay... so with "Black Saturday" officially on the horizion at this point in time, I thought I would let you all know exactly what I am getting for Valentine's day this year!

(HaHa, it's not what you think!)

Tuesday, my older brother called to tell us that he had put in his two weeks notice and by Thursday, his family would once again be residents of the Sunshine state!

Now, I know that this might not sound like such an exciting present to some of you, but let me just say... The kids being in North Dakota has been absolutely horrible! From the time Bayley was about 6 months old (she's 8 now) until they moved to Virginia in 2007 they were at the house about every other weekend. She and Austin are so much fun... especially when they're in sweet mode!

Let me just say... Being their aunt is about the best thing ever to me! I used to have them trained to tell people who was the best, but I had to stop that when my other brother got married... since I wasn't the only aunt anymore... But even if they can't say it, I know. I absolutely love staying up late watching Home on the Range and Brother Bear over and over again because they're not tired yet. And laughing as Austin announces during Sunday dinner that he beat me at his pre-school board game. Or, watching Bayley "train" her favorite animals so that she can "show" them.

(Austin & Bayley on Valentine's 2007)

So, this year, for Valentine's Day, I'll be celebrating the return of the two sweethearts that stole my heart!