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Just a spot to share some wisdom from God's Word for women of all ages...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Life As I Know It - Thanksgiving Holiday Havoc - A Trip to Remember

The holidays are usually stressful – lots of shopping, cooking, gifting and for those of us who are natural over-achievers (see previous Thanksgiving blog) it can be a time when a little escape from the trimmings can be especially nice.  On top of the normal day to day, we own a Bed and Breakfast and are often consumed with cooking, washing, fixing, maintenance, decorating, bookkeeping, marketing, changing sheets, vacuuming, dusting… so with the holidays there are a lot of little extras to take care of.  Sensing our need for a little down time, my husband offered to take us on a little side trip on the way home from our B&B community.  It was a pretty day, cool but with lots of sunshine in the forecast and it seemed like the perfect thing to do.

Allow me to set the stage for this little bit of travel….we, or rather I go back and forth between our residence and our B&B community all during the year and I have to have some of the same items with me at both locations.  So each trip is like packing to go camping.   We haul baskets and coolers with food items for us and our guests, clothes, and I have business obligations so portable office equipment is ported as well.  This particular trip home we were also hauling non perishable garbage (papers, magazines and such) back to our home garbage bins as we are helping to clean out the little home we are purchasing in our B&B community that is now in the final stages of probate.  This has given us incredible insight into the previous owner who was a lovely lady – but this is extra work to do right at the holidays and a little extra added incentive to have a get away day.

With adventure in mind, we head out from our B&B on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving for a lovely scenic drive.  With the van filled to near popping capacity loaded with groceries, baskets, suitcases, office paraphernalia, garbage, the dog and us we set our course for adventure on Hwy 100.  We are in an agricultural/farming area and since harvest time is coming to a close, the farms are now cut back and the rich soil is turned to wait for the new season.  It is really pretty and with the summer foliage gone, you can see the lay of the land.  As we drive down the road we decide to make a turn to see the town of Stony Hill, Missouri.  We take a right and begin to take in the large farms and homes.  After a while we decide that it is probably time to turn around and start heading back toward home.  We find a driveway that looks suitable and pull in.  My husband puts the van in reverse and nothing happens.  We do not go backwards.  He takes it out of gear and puts it in reverse again.  Still nothing.  It becomes suddenly apparent we are in the middle of no where, in a stranger’s driveway that we cannot back out of and we have little to no cell service and we are stuck.   My husband gets out of the van and begins to walk around the property back and forth to survey the situation.  I’m praying he doesn’t get shot.  He tries to see if we can pull forward and around to get out of this person’s driveway/yard.  This is when he meets Stony Hill resident #1.  He knocks on their door and asks if we can pull through onto their property so we can get out.  This nice gentleman tells him that that is fine as long as we don’t tear anything up.   How nice… I doubt we would tear anything up and the other alternative is we sit in his driveway through the holidays.  While the survey is going on I determine that if we pull forward onto the patio, there is enough angle to let inertia pull the van backwards and we could basically get turned around without driving through the yard.  My husband actually agrees to this plan and we pull forward onto the concrete patio.  Our first pass we meet with a concrete garden block and it stops our slide backwards, but we pull forward again and turn the wheel a little more, the van rolls back and we are good to pull out forward onto the road!  Our excitement is only momentary as we realize going down the road that the van will now only go 25 miles per hour and will not pick up speed beyond 35 miles per hour on the windy, hilly back roads of Stony Hill.  Our transmission has a problem and we are in a little country village with no stores, stations or garages.  We stop and pull into a second driveway that has a circular style drive and see an old farmer out by his 4x4.  My husband decides he will talk to him and see if we can check our transmission fluid there.  (As a side note, stopping and talking to strangers is not something my husband does on a regular basis as opposed to me who will talk to anyone and usually pass along a business card, invite them the dinner, ask about their kids…. )  Stony Hill Resident #2 is really nice with bushy eyebrows and gray hair. He helps check the transmission fluid level about 6 times and gives directions to a nearby garage.  This is great news!  There is a garage just down the street.  How did we miss that?  He tells us we can pull forward and turn around and even pull off on the grass if we need to do that to make the turn.  We turn left to head back toward the garage and away from civilization.

The garage is closed.  Yep, closed.  No signs of life.  I get out and walk our doggie around and let her leave a deposit out back.  Now I really have to go pee.  That’s who I am, I have to go pee at the most inopportune time, so it serves to reason that I am at a closed garage in the middle of nowhere and I've got to go really bad.  I decide to get in the floorboard and go in a cup.  I’ve got pretty good aim in a wide mouth cup so this should be no problem plus I have tissues.  Wrong.  Somehow the cups either slips or I miss or something happens and I get the front of my undergarments wet.  This is not cool, well actually it is, cold and wet and I’m uncomfortable.  So be it.  Even though I have all of my clothes in the back of the van I figure this is not the time to entirely disrobe and change.  My husband decides to go to the house next door and see if he can talk to Stony Hill Resident #3 to find out about the garage or transmission fluid.  He gets to the back door and is greeted by a very large dog that is not happy he’s there.  My brave husband stands there like the dog is his best friend and fortunately the owner comes out.  The owner, who is also very nice, comes out and Mr. Huff explains our dilemma and they guy tells him it sounds like the transmission to him.  As my husband looks around the yard, which, by the way, has 3 transmissions in it, thinks, yes it looks like he knows what he’s talking about…   graciously he lets my husband know that the garage is really down the street just a little further and points it out from the yard.  He calls his dog off (he minds his owner) and we head down the road in search of fluid and maybe an ounce of encouragement.

We make it to the garage and now my husband must talk to Stony Hill Resident #4.  I decide to stay in the car since I’m a little damp.  Once inside Mr. Huff discovers the garage owner doesn’t deal in little bottles of liquid – he has big containers (tanks) of fluid that he has to put in a smaller container for us to pour it into the van.  He is outfitted for farm equipment and large volumes.  I mean, why not?  My husband borrows a container, I have since located a funnel and we add the fluid.  It doesn’t take all the fluid that he has paid $5 for, so now we search the van for a portable container to keep the remainder of the fluid so we can return the one the shop owner let us borrow.  If you are tired by now, remember I had to live it then type it.

After we complete this process we start off again.  The van still will not go in reverse and we are still stuck driving between 25-35 mph on windy, hilly roads.  We set course for civilization.  We need to make it to New Haven.  We don’t even know how far away it is from where we are.  We begin to laugh as we ride going 25 mph and then go downhill, pick up momentum, get over 35 mph then have to drop back down to 25 mph to pick up speed again and repeat.  We do this for about 14 miles and finally arrive back on Hwy 100 in New Haven.  We decide to pull into a Motor Company that is directly across the street.  We wait for a good traffic opening, cross the road and look for help.  They are closed.  Oh my gosh, is this funny yet?  It’s 4:00 in the afternoon, we have traversed Stony Hill at warp slow, peed my pants and now I have to go again and our destination is closed.

We call our future son in law to see if maybe he can drive out and rescue us thinking we may have to have a tow.  He could come, but he only has his car and it will not hold us and all our “stuff” (see paragraph 2).  We decide we need to make it down the road a little further and will touch base.  We make it to a Casey’s (Gas-Food-Potty) and try to breathe and regroup.  I get some fresh undies and head for the bathroom.  I’m relieved it’s very clean and I make a quick change.  It’s nice to be dry.  Mr. Huff contacts a towing service and discovers it will cost $350 to tow the van back to St Louis.  He entertains driving home and avoiding the tow charge.  We might make it home by Easter.  While discussing our situation, Mr. Huff remembers that he could actually lock the van transmission out of over drive and he decides we are going to go further down the road – one to get closer to the expressway to possibly meet our future son in law and possibly save money if we need a tow.  He puts it in drive and off we go, again, but faster.  This little lock out actually enables us to go normal speed.  NORMAL SPEED!  We can go 55 mph or even faster.  My jaw drops.  We call future son in law and tell him we think we can make it in if we just go all the way in on Hwy 100.  He agrees.  As we head down the road we make a decision that we can probably now stop at our favorite Goodwill just down the road as long as we can park where we can pull forward.  (I mean, wouldn’t you?)   We make a super fast run through Goodwill, make a potty run, of course, and head out because we are still going to try and make it home before NCIS comes on (a TV show I watch and call my Dad in GA in between commercials). 

To stay on Hwy 100 we need to turn to the left.  I see a sign for Old Hwy 100 and ask is there where we turn?  Mr. Huff thinks so, so we begin our trek on 100 to head home.  We drive and drive and go through a nice residential section and after about 20 minutes we are back onto Hwy 100 in Washington, almost where we started.  We drove in one big circle.  I suggest we stop at the Walmart and get fuel since this may be a long night.  I’m good; I didn't have to go potty.  I ask, where is the real Hwy 100?  We can’t go in a circle all night!  We pull out as I’m checking the GPS which shows we are going the wrong direction – until it recalculates....OK we’re good.  We decide we can go fast enough to get on the expressway if we need to so we head towards I-44.  We get almost there when we see the real sign for Hwy 100.  We turn left.  The rest of the trip is actually very uneventful as we drive through several communities and then traveled a brief distance on the highway to make our exit to home.  We raced indoors with the dog and plopped down on the sofa.

We were only 15 minutes late for NCIS. 

We will put the van in the shop next week for repairs.  I’m having a Porta-Potty installed on the back, mainly for convenience.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life As I Know It....A Mother's Day Tribute

My Mom:
My mom is a wonderful mother…and she’s my best friend.  She has loved me through really great times and through some of the worst times of my life.  We may not always understand each other, but the deep love of a mother and daughter is one of the greatest gifts a daughter can know.  My Mom is a prayer warrior.  The time spent on her knees literally and figuratively have most likely rescued me from deep dark pits of despair and have sustained me over the years.  She boldly entreats the throne of God on behalf of her children and we have been the blessed recipients of those prayers.  She is also a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and dedicated her life to serving faithfully in the church in music ministry, women’s ministry and mentoring others.  She’s a consummate hostess and I have learned much about making others feel comfortable in my own home from the lessons learned by her hand.  She has truly lived out Proverbs 31 in the presence of her husband and children. 

My Grandmothers:
My Mom’s mom was an entrepreneur.  She ran her own beauty salon in the South side of Atlanta and dedicated herself to helping women look beautiful.  She was a lovely woman  and probably not appreciated enough for the many selfless things she did for others.  I spent many a Sunday afternoon at her home with my cousins after church – she had gotten up early and started a big lunch for her family and often we all enjoyed a batch of homemade peach ice cream on the back porch in the summer time.  She was an amazing business woman… and she may not have had the cleanest house, but we all loved being there with her and my Granddad.   

My Dad’s mom was a homemaker, seamstress, gardener and a golfer!  She had a way of making you feel awesome and served some of the best food you ever put in your mouth.  She spoke her mind and was fun to be around.  I still, to this day, miss her garden vegetables and homemade soup.  You could have one of those tiny bottled Cokes when you visited, but just one.  She would ask the grocer which apples would “spit in your eye”… she liked them crisp and juicy.  She won a few golf trophies in her day and was quite a character, but you didn’t talk to her on the phone in the mornings until she’d had her coffee.  Personality-wise I think I’m much like her…

A tribute to Sarah and Ryan’s Mom:
I am blessed to have two very precious step kids.  Ryan is an independent fellow, very smart, conservative and handsome.  We don’t see much of him, but he will show up for food. 

Sarah lives at home and is my unexpected blessing.  A college kid, she’s in and out like the wind and sometimes at a pace that can leave a breeze… but she’s grounded spiritually and is a loyal friend. She is beautiful and looks much like her mother….

From what I have learned over time, Mary was a beautiful woman that loved her family.  She had incredible faith in God that gave her strength and fortitude through some very rough times.  She was an amazing example to her children and husband.  I’ve stumbled across various things she wrote and what I found was a woman who put her faith in God and trusted him completely for the outcome.  I cannot imagine her thoughts or her heart when she faced the remaining days she had on earth… I cannot imagine the prayers for these two kids.  But I know she would be proud and pleased with who they are and what they have become.  She certainly deserves great honor and recognition for Mother’s Day.

Many of us are surrounded by or have been blessed to have truly amazing women in our lives.  My heart felt thanks to those who have loved me and invested in me over the years.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Life As I Know It….. Bedtime Story

I love an opportunity to go to bed on time or early even.  There’s always this grandiose idea that you’ll go right to sleep, get a full eight hours in and feel totally refreshed the next morning – it’s such an awesome thought.  It’s such a great thought and idea, that I’ll even plan how the next morning is going to go.  I’ll wake up feeling wonderful, have a quick snack and toss on the sneakers and go outside to walk in the beautiful morning sunlight.  I get giddy thinking about it.  Reality is that I might sleep ok (eh), but I’m never fresh, I’m pillow hugger and a bed magnet all rolled into one.  I hate the alarm, I don’t want to get up, I have sleep in my eyes and I hit the snooze 3 times.  Now I’m running late, I have to get a shower, fix breakfast which includes caffeinated coffee, literally drag two dogs around the neighborhood to pee and poop (no you don’t have time to sniff the clover much less pee on it!) then toss on some work clothes and race out the door to the car for work.   There is absolutely no time for any irregularities or variances to the schedule. 

One of the main reasons I don’t get in the bed early is because I married a night owl and his off spring is a night owl.  I am a regulated person whose sleepy timer goes off between 9:30 and 10:00 pm without fail.  And even if I make a normal bedtime this still doesn’t make me a morning person.  None of us can make a coherent sentence until after 10:00 a.m. and then that’s pushing it.  Oh we can get up before the crack of dawn if we have to but it needs to be for something good (like a trip out of town).  We all shuffle around like 80 year olds first thing and look like we belong in the nursing home.  If you come to visit, just keep quiet until you hear one of us speak first.  Loud sighs do not count as words.

The other night my peaceful sleep was interrupted by an invasion and I’m still having trouble getting over it.  My night owl daughter had friends over late and the TV was on.  I just couldn’t tune it out so I did venture downstairs to remind them that I was going to attempt to awaken at 6 am.  No problem, volume down.  I had settled back into bed when I heard a crazy noise.  In my mind I decided my youngest pup had probably gotten into the trash and pulled out something to chew.  I flipped on my trusty flashlight to find her sleeping peacefully.   Ok fine lay back down.  Noise starts up again.  This time it must surely be my oldest dog that snores like a sailor.  Trusty flashlight on, find the dog… yep, sleeping peacefully.  My mind is still not fully functioning and I lay down again.  (Did I mention hubby is sleeping peacefully too???)  Bless his heart.  I close my eyes and then I place the sound, it is above my head and it is tiny little feet scampering in the attic.  Squirrels!   

These little rascals had backed up a U-Haul, hired two men and truck and were moving in.  I’m pretty certain they had their little stereo blaring and had brought in a keg of beer.  Frat party.  They had staked off an entire section of the attic from the master bedroom to the bathroom.  Luxury living….wood floors, well insulated and in a fairly upper class neighborhood.  They quickly ran from one end of the upstairs apartment to the other arranging furniture, hanging pictures and unloading boxes.

Meanwhile I am underneath with my trusty flashlight following their movements.  I am wide awake and madder than an old wet hen.  I go turn on an overhead light and peruse the room.  Both dogs are still sound asleep and so is hubby.  Nary a movement from the three of them.  Both dog breeds are European and from stocks that were originally bred to protect the home from rodent invaders.  Obviously Westernization has ruined these two. 

My sweet hubby is breathing lightly and still sound asleep.  I shake his arm and ask loudly, “do you hear that?”  He’s a gracious fellow and politely asks what I’m referring to.  I point to the ceiling and say “that” as five squirrels race across the attic floor in their Nike sneakers they just found in the box marked “shoes.”  He is not amused and lets me know that he’ll take care of it.  I should go back to sleep.  He’s kidding, right?

I manage to get the light off and crawl back in the bed fearful one of those critters will fall through the ceiling and landing on me a la “Christmas Vacation.”

Sleep still eludes me as low flying helicopters begin to circle around our neighborhood for about an hour.  I watch far too many cop shows for my mind to think it is anything but police looking for a criminal…but it did make the squirrels quiet down.  Hummm, had these wiry rascals just escaped the nut house and now the cops were in hot pursuit?  I’m the one going to be ready for the nut house soon… I can tell.

Did I go to sleep?  Well eventually.  I mean I guess I did since I had to wake up to hit the snooze button three times.  Lucky for me I’m off tomorrow and can sleep in a bit, but the sad thing is I’m going to be making a trip to the DMV which most of us fondly call the Little Shop of Horrors.  …..Squirrel!

Friday, October 26, 2012

LIfe As I Know It... The Writing Table

 A friend posted yesterday that her life is a situation comedy…well I have to steal that line from her with our adventure last night.  If there had been a video camera recording our trip to pick up the writing table it could possibly rate right up there with Seinfeld.

First we leave to pick up a table and chair in my VW Passat (get a visual).  The van has been under the weather and is still full of stuff from our last “running out of gas” adventure.  It’s all better now, but there was just too much to unload to make room.  Not only do we leave in my car, but we also have two dogs in tow.  They haven’t seen their “mommie” all day and of course want to “go for a ride.”  I do realize we will have tight quarters on the way back.

It is quite a long distance to retrieve my $50 table and chair so there’s no time really for supper and we told the seller we’d be there between 7 and 7:30.  Mr. Huff gets us on our way and doesn’t have to consult the Mapquest directions until our exit.  The directions tell us to get off on exit 251 for MO-100.  That’s simple enough, right?  Well when we get to exit 253 (just prior to 251) it has the MO-100 sign at that exit as well.  Since it’s MO-100 that should be where we get off, right? 

We travel quite a distance and finally it is decided that we’re not exactly where we should be.  I offer to get the GPS going which is fine.  Now it takes it a while to make a satellite connection and once it knows where we are and our destination it tells us 487 times to “make a legal U-turn whenever possible” and offers several street names to do it at.  We’ve traveled quite a ways and we’re NOT turning around now.  I offer that if we ride a ways, maybe the GPS lady will make an adjustment and re-calculate.  Finally she does and now tells us to turn on Hwy T to reach our destination.  I read the directions and yes, we need to take the left onto Hwy T to be on the right MO-100.  Question: why are there two MO-100’s?  

Anyway, we wind and wind down some very dark roads with another vehicle on our tail.  Don’t like that speed buddy?  You won’t like the next one.  We let him pass.  We actually pass a location where the band has played and have a slight bearing on where we are.  We pass a place called “Labadie”… a major discussion ensues on how you pronounce this town.  LA bah dee or La BAY dee?  I find the second southern version more palatable. 

Finally we hit MO-100 to get on MO -44 (that’s right at the Walgreens and other points of civilization).  We continue to follow the GPS lady’s instructions and there is still another approximately 15 miles to go.  We cross the Missouri River….we go over the field and pass Grandma’s house….. meantime I have left a message for our seller as it is now 7:45 and we are still a little ways out.

We arrive at the sellers house, a very sweet lady.  She has already dismantled the table and wrapped it in shrink wrap to save us time.  The table is really nice by the way.  We quickly share our life story, how we met, why we wanted the table and a good singles dating site.  Normal stuff.  We load the table top, legs and chair in the car and move two dogs to the front seat with me.  We are packed in like sardines.  Oh, and now I have to pee.

We leave the way we should have come in in the first place, find a place with 2 whoppers for $5 and a potty.  I convince the dogs to stay in the car.  We re-load and go find a gas station for fuel to make it back.  Now I must eat a hamburger with two dogs in my lap who are very hungry and didn’t have dinner either.  I give up after eating ½.  They didn’t care for my Sprite but were really interested in the vanilla milkshake…

Once we get back on the expressway at what we discover is the 251 exit we realize that we have gone about 30+ miles out of our way with our little “detour.”  I’m sure it’s lovely in the day time.   We hit more rain on the way in, but make it home safely, unload the car, feed the dogs and set up the table.  It’s perfect. 

I checked this morning and the table is set up in the guest room.  It was not a dream.  If any of you know how to pronounce Labadie…. let me know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life As I Know It….. Shopping at Wal-Mart – Home Away from Home.

Going to Wal-Mart is a necessary evil.  They are the premier store for just about anything you would need.  Underwear, got it.  Dishes, 43 different sets await you.  Denture cream? Aisle two.  Frozen pizza?... head to grocery.  There is a reason that one builds a super store and sells its products at rather reasonable prices.  I don’t even know why a community builds anything other than a super Wal-Mart.  The smaller stores do not carry anything.  In one small community, to fill up counter space, they had rows and rows of Styrofoam coolers.  Now unless there is a run on Salmon swimming upstream in Sometown, Georgia, I find it difficult to fathom the reasoning behind this.  The smaller stores have a grocery, but they are terribly lacking in carrying the 10,000 brands of deodorant we have all grown accustom to sorting through.

Although I need to make purchases from Wal-Mart, I physically and emotionally dread going there.  Just maneuvering a cart through 3,000 people for 10 hours is draining.  Many stores have gone through a re-organization process so nothing is where it used to be, and it is rare, now, to find any two laid out the same way.  If you frequent a couple of stores in neighboring towns you have to remember where items are in each store.  The result is that you can spend literally hours or days wandering through the store trying to locate what you want.  Are the cleaning products in with grocery in this store or in a separate section near gardening?  Logically you will find pet products right next to wrapping paper and greeting cards.  You can whip right from light bulbs directly into auto.  The housewares department is four blocks long and did you know that nobody sells plastic butter dishes anymore?  Shocking.

There is a method to the madness at Wal-Mart.  As you wind from aisle to aisle you always see something you need, but didn’t know it before you left the house.  There is no getting out of Wal-Mart for under $100.  I go in for hair spray, a fan and a quart of soymilk.  Those three alone come to $25.  However, I leave with a garden hose, a watch, three new tops, two birthday gifts, two cards and wrapping paper, plums, nectarines and apples (I passed produce), a new toilet cleaner, two gallons of paint and an SD card for my camera.  I passed up the clock radio because it would have pushed my total to over $200.

Now it is time to check out.  Joy.  Never mind that the store is laid out with 28 check out registers for clerks and eight kiosks for self check out. You will only find 4 registers open with a clerk and lines stretched back to baby goods, or lingerie if you’re lucky…then you can pick out some pj’s to sleep in while waiting to pay.  You can actually find everything you need for the overnight check out at the store…. Futon, pillows, jammies, TV, movies and snacks.  You can even get a magazine and read about “Ten Ways to Fix Your Hair.”  If it’s an especially long wait, some stores have hair salons and nail techs so you aren’t wasting time.  If you plan properly, you can get an eye check up and order new glasses in less than 40 minutes. 

On one of my recent trips I got in an extremely short line, there were only two people ahead of me.  I thought I had hit pay dirt, only six hours till I could leave.  Wrong.  The first person made it out relatively unscathed.  The next lady was purchasing plastic storage bins with lids.  Maybe I could get lucky and make it out in three.  The woman in front of me decided the price was incorrect and now a store employee had to go check it out.  I was thinking of heading over to shoes for a fresh pair of flip flops, but decided I needed to watch the spectacle in front of me.  The woman’s grandson had a Dasani water and proceeded to pour part of it on the conveyer belt for store products.  I just knew it would malfunction and I would be there for an overnight while we waited on a repair man.  There is really no sense in switching lanes once you’ve unloaded.  People always stare when you reload your cart.  Finally the price was determined and the purchase was rung up. Now the lady had to count out every individual dollar for payment.  When I made it to the register the clerk had the nerve to ask me which of my purchases was leaking.  If I had actually put something from the frozen food department on the belt, wouldn’t it stand to reason it would thaw in 6 hours?  I haven’t quite figured out why they don’t have microwaves at the checkout so that you can buy a dinner and prepare it for your family while you wait in line.

We really are blessed here in America…. We have lots of choices with thousands of breakfast cereals, a multitude of toothpaste options and cleansers for every imaginable stain.  Actually I get quite overwhelmed with the choices and sometimes frequent much smaller store chains with fewer options with the hope of checking out in less than an hour.  Don’t be offended if your gift came from the Dollar Store, it could be the difference between getting it on time versus two months late.

This next week I’m sure I’ll have a serious anxiety attack though, I have to make a couple of returns, where else but Wal-Mart?  This is July; I should be back around Thanksgiving.