Saturday, October 18, 2008

PhotoHunt of the Week: Family

The theme of the week is: Family.

This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. My first choices were photos of my son and husband, but I thought that was so typical. So I thought about what family means to me besides my husband and my son. It means many things - my in-laws are family to me. And, of course, my brother and sister are family, and I have some friends that feel like family. But deep down, when I think of family and home, I think of these people.

This is my family - my parents, sister, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. The photos were taken in my aunt and uncle's backyard in Bladenboro, N.C. Our family has changed since these photos in 1966. Sadly, our grandparents and our parents are no longer with us. Most of us have married and had children, and some of our children have had children. But, we have a lot of memories of times spent together that will never be forgotten. And that's what family is all about - the fond memories that warm your heart.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

PhotoHunt of the Week: Lazy

The theme this week is Lazy. I looked through my photos and didn't find anything that I thought fit the bill. After reading a beautiful post by Swampwitch, and since I've been wanting to do my own post to honor some special people as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I've decided to combine the PhotoHunt and that post into one - the only thing lazy about this post is me.

I really admired the way Swampwitch honored people using her photos and I hope she doesn't mind me borrowing her idea in this post. If there is anyone that you would like to have honored during this month, please visit her site. Not only will she post a photo and the person's name and any information you want to share, but she will also donate $1.00 to Breast Cancer Research for each person listed on her site. UPDATE: Swampwitch has an anonymous donor who is matching her donations, which means that for each honoree on her site, $2.00 will be donated to Breast Cancer Research. She is also honoring the honorees from my blog, which means an additional $6.00 is being donated for them.

The first person I want to honor is Pam, who was recently diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer, after being cancer-free for 10 years. Pam is married to my cousin, Woody, and I've loved her from the first time he brought her home when they were dating. I'm so glad he chose to add her to our family. Pam and Woody have three daughters: Natalie, Erin and Meghan. Everyone is holding Pam in their hearts, knowing that she will beat this thing again.
The photo was taken at a fresh market in Nice, France when we visited our son at the end of his semester abroad.

I would also like to honor Donna, who lost her battle with breast cancer in October, 2007, after a courageous battle. Even though I didn't know Donna personally, I felt as though I did because she was so loved by my very dear friend, Anne. Donna loved teaching high school math and was loved in return by her students. She is survived by her husband, Gene, and her children: Chris and his wife, Jessica, and Heather and her husband, Gary. Donna is missed by many friends, but Anne asked that I mention Drexel and Becky who have been especially supportive to both Donna, during her illness, and Gene in learning to cope with the trauma of losing his love and best friend.
The photo was taken at Atlantic Beach, NC. Donna enjoyed spending time at the beach with her friends and family each summer.

I saved my Grandma, Mary Carter Starling, for last, not because she's the least important, but because I wanted to write a bit more about her. My Grandma had breast cancer twice, but she still lived to be 85 years old. This amazing woman raised 18, yes 18! children. My grandmother was 20 years old when she married my grandfather, who had 5 children from his first marriage. What was she thinking!?! She then had 12 of her own children (one died when she was 5 months old). Her youngest son was just 4 years old when my grandfather died, which was 3 months before I was born - yes, I had an uncle only 4 years older than me! A couple of years later, Grandma married my step-grandfather, who had 2 young sons. Again, what was she thinking!?! Grandma actually helped to raise even more children. Her sister was 9 months old and Grandma was 12 years old when their mother died, so she had to take care of her baby sister. Then there are all of us grandchildren who were sent to Grandma's at some time or another. Some of them stayed with Grandma most of their lives. I spent about 6 months with her when my mother was going through a divorce. In other words, it's hard to say, how many of us she helped to raise, but it was a lot! The woman was BUSY!

Sometimes when I'm complaining about things like my dryer being broken, or when my microwave died, I think about my Grandma and her life. Not just that she had all those kids and I only had one to deal with - I'm talking about the things that I take for granted, which has become everything! The first time that I remember going to her house I wouldn't use the bathroom because it was an outhouse. Yes, people, those still existed in our lifetimes - at least in mine. I was 6 years old and I saw a spider as soon as my mother opened the door - no way was I going in there! and I was supposed to pull my pants down! Then, when my mother pulled me in there trying to convince me to use it, I saw the hole I was supposed to sit on - NO! I knew I would fall in! I ran out, screaming that I'd rather pee in the woods! The next time I came, I was 7, and a bathroom had been added on to her house - thank heavens! I had worried the whole way there about that hole!

That was the time I stayed 6 months with Grandma, and I remember that she used a washing machine that she had to wring the clothes by hand, and she had no dryer - maybe nobody did in 1958? I'm not sure, but she still had at least 6 boys at home that I can remember, a cousin and me staying there, her and my Pop - that's a LOT of laundry to wash, wring by hand and hang on the line! Then she had the IRONING to do! Even the sheets got ironed by Grandma - in Florida, in a house with no air conditioning! In between all of this, she cooked 3 FULL meals, with biscuits, each day for all of us! She couldn't get away with giving us PB&J, you know? Lunch, which was called "dinner", had to be almost as big as supper. The boys came home from their jobs, or school, to eat and they ate a lot! Cooking and washing dishes for this crowd three times a day, in a kitchen that did not have a microwave or a dishwasher, or anyone willing or able to help her. I guess you do what you have to do, but when I think about this and compare it to my life - I have it soooooooooooooo easy, yet I bitch and moan at the drop of a hat. And I never heard Grandma complain.
The photo is a lilac tree in my yard.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fun Monday - The White Glove Test

Our lovely hostess this week is Mommy Wizdom and she gives us the following:

The assignment:

Themes to choose from:

  • A visit by your mother in law

  • Bedtime Stories

  • Raising a Teenager

The words: Ostrich, goosebumps, magazines, soup, cats, lethargic, noodles, tequila, doorknob, biscuit

Wild card words: prehistoric, Jedi Knight, cactus, periscope, humor

Your job is to write a story (true or made-up), poem, song, letter... whatever strikes you ABOUT one of the three themes. You must INCLUDE all 10 words. Wild cards words may be used in addition to or in place of the main 10 words


I'm one of the lucky ones. Most women I know have a hate-hate relationship with their mothers-in-law. A friend of mine once said that she was sure that her mother-in-law must be a dinosaur because every idea she ever had was prehistoric. I was blessed because my mother-in-law was also my best friend. However, I didn't know that in the beginning. I had no idea what to expect.

RJ's mother comes from a pretty famous Southern family. Practically everything in their hometown is named after her family, so I expected that she might be a little bit uppity. She was also the type of woman who got up and dressed every day as if she had someplace to go even if she didn't. I'm talking about dressed to the nines. And the woman never wore a pair of pants in her life. She belonged to the Junior League, too, for goodness sakes. Not only that, the woman could cook! Can you tell that I was a little intimidated? And this was all based on what I'd heard - I'd never even met the woman.

How was I supposed to measure up to this woman? I came from a middle class family that had nothing named after it. If I'm wasn't going anywhere, you can bet that you would catch me in my blue jeans and a t-shirt, and back then I could barely heat up soup with noodles, let alone bake a biscuit.

So you can imagine that I was more than a little nervous when I heard that RJ's parents were coming to visit. In fact, I wanted to turn into an ostrich and bury my head until the weekend was over! First of all, RJ and I weren't married. He had moved in only a couple of weeks before this and he was sick with mono. His parents wanted to visit to check on him. I was sure that they also wanted to check out this girl that was corrupting him, convincing him to live in sin. They probably had this vision of wild parties with the Jedi Knight serving tequila shots. Ok, that might be pushing it - she might not have known who the Jedi Knight was, but she probably imagined the wild parties, or so I thought anyway!

We lived in an old rental home, that I could only do so much with. No matter how hard I tried to clean it, it still had the lingering odor of the previous owner's cats, who must have used the carpet as their litter box at some point. But I cleaned and cleaned for days for this visit. Poor RJ couldn't help because the mono made him so lethargic, but he tried by straightening up the magazines and a few things in the living room. By the time they were due to arrive, I didn't think the house had ever been cleaner.

When they pulled up out front, RJ, turning the doorknob as he looked out, said, "Oh my God, she's broken both her arms!"

As she walked up the walkway and got closer, we saw that it wasn't casts on her arms, but she was wearing formal white gloves that came above her elbows! When she reached the door, without cracking a smile, she said, "I'm hear for your white glove inspection. Step aside, please."

She walked in and proceeded to run her fingertip along my mantel! The rest of us were cracking up. She turned around, hugged me, and said, "Never worry about the shape of your house, dear. We are coming to visit YOU, not your house. Now, do you have any ice tea?"

That was when I discovered that my mother-in-law had the very best sense of humor, and that she was to become my very best friend in the world.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

PhotoHunt of the Week: Sad

I had another photo in mind for this week's theme: Sad. But I was driving past the Colonial Inn and decided to stop and shoot some photos. Anyone who has lived in Hillsborough long enough to remember when the Colonial Inn was a thriving inn and restaurant is saddened by its current state. Most are angry.

I've lived here since 1983 and even before moving here, I would drive to Hillsborough to eat at the Colonial Inn. It was famous in the area for it's delicious food served family-style. The building itself was beautiful. It was hard to believe that it had been around for more than 200 years. The porch was lined with rocking chairs, inviting one to sit for a spell. This is my son sitting in one of those rockers in 1995.

It's not hard to believe the Inn is over 200 years old when you look at it now. The current owner, Francis Henry, bought the Inn after it closed in 2001. I don't know why. He paid $410,000.00 for a beautiful historic landmark, only to let it go to ruin.

In 1781, General Cornwallis used the Colonial Inn, then called the Tavern House, as his headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Aaron Burr and Dolly Madison were both guests at the Tavern House, so this is not just any old building - it's a building with history. Even without the history, this building is loved by the residents of Hillsborough.

Francis Henry has been asked, fined, practically begged to repair the Inn. But he has continued to let it sit and grow worse each year. When he bought the Inn, it had been closed for a year so it's possible that some damage was already beginning, but had he started making repairs right away he could have stopped the progression of the damage. But perhaps there is hope for our beloved Colonial Inn. A recent article in the Chapel Hill News tells us there is.

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