Sunday, March 16, 2014

Flowers, Fried Chicken, and Family

March 15th was my Aunt Billie's birthday. Everyone called her Mildred, but to me, she was Aunt Billie. I'm not sure how that name difference came about, but my mom always called her Billie as well.  I think she would have been 85.

Today on Facebook, someone asked me how Aunt Bille influenced my life. I didn't think Facebook could do it justice, so I'm dusting off the blog for a post. 

This picture is of my mother (far right), her sisters from left to right, Aunt Mildred, Aunt Tena, Aunt Luella, and my youngest Uncle, Sherley. Not pictured are my other Uncles - Bob, Lawrence, and Ed. They are all gone now, except for my mom.  We miss them all. 

Some of my earliest memories of Aunt Billie are of her gardens. She had the most fabulous garden year after year. Lilies and poppies, wildflowers of every kind, hostas and ferns, and tons of hens and chicks. Her home in Fairborn had a detached garage that had a trellis that went over the top of the doors and sides. She planted purple Morning Glories that bloomed until noon. Then sometime around six in the evening big, white Moon Flowers would blossom. Her trees and flowers made that tiny house and yard seem like a magical place. I loved that little yard. 

I'm a gardener too, although my gardens aren't nearly as nice as hers were. Mine start out nice at the beginning of the summer, but once August arrives and I have to think about the upcoming school year, everything goes to seed and gets weedy. I sometimes feel sorry for my neighbors. 

Aunt Billie could cook! She loved to cook, and she would stop whatever she was doing if someone was hungry. All my three-year old little brother had to do was say "sgetti peas," and Aunt Billie had the pasta in the pan. Fried chicken was her company dish. She would make it when we came over to visit, and she made it when we had our large family reunions. Later in her life, I would come to visit her at her home in Kentucky.  She still made me fried chicken. She was quite ill with diabetes by then. She suffered dreadful sores on her feet that wouldn't heal, and she had seven heart attacks. I am also diabetic, and I will not suffer like she did. I will find the will power to take care of myself. The other alternative is insane. 

Aunt Billie loved her people. With abandon. Without question. With open arms, and cupboards, and lemonades and lawn chairs. She was bossy and boisterous and big-hearted, and I loved all of those things about her. Her family was the most important part of her life. She loved her children and grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, her brothers and sisters. I'm sure that wherever she is, if she can, she's celebrating her birthday with flowers, fried chicken and family. Happy Birthday, Aunt Billie. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Resolutions and Good Reads...

I don't know how you feel about it, but 2013 went by FAST!  It was cram full of mostly good stuff, so I'm not complaining -just surprised that it's gone already.
Some of the highlights:
  • I let Daughter go to Nicaragua. It's scary sending your 15-year-old to another continent without you. Unnerving to put her on a plane and in the care of others - even when you know the folks she's traveling with are great people. The house was very quiet for those 10 days. I made a point to keep quite busy. She had a wonderful experience, and now has grand plans to travel the world. I'm certain she'll make that happen!
  • We took a family vacation to Hilton Head. It had a bit of a rocky start - major thunderstorm, lots of traffic, a hospital stay... but everything turned out okay. Hilton Head is a lovely place, but crowded. My favorite part was a dolphin tour. It was a small group - only my daughter, her friend, and me. We saw lots of dolphins. This guy came right up to the boat!

And Daughter got to drive!

  • Last December I decided I wanted to learn how to quilt. I jumped right in and joined the Ohio Valley Quilter's Guild. Best decision ever! I learned a great deal from their fabulous speakers, and I've finished 2 1/2 queen-sized quilt tops along with a few smaller projects. 
  • This one is directly related to last year's New Years Resolutions. I had lunch every month with my good friend and critique partner, Kathy Wiechman -who, by the way, just sold her first novel to Boyds Mills Press! 
I'm going to keep the 2014 Resolutions simple this year:
  1. Continue to keep a balance in life - work is work, home is home, family comes first.
  2. Continue to have extended lunches with Kathy at least once a month. 
  3. Learn everything I can about quilting, and begin designing my own quilts.
  4. Dust off my most recent neglected novel, and finish writing the dang thing.
  5. Read at least two novels each month. 

And finally... The Annual Good Reads List from 2013! I didn't quite make my goal of two per month, but 20 is close!
THE MAZE RUNNER, James Dashner
DIVERGENT, Veronica Roth
INSURGENT, Veronica Roth
ALLEGIANT, Veronica Roth
THE ENCHANTER HEIR, Cinda Williams Chima
THE DREAM THIEVES, Maggie Stiefvater
MERLIN, T.A. Barron
AMERICANAH, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
SCARLET, Marissa Meyer
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
FLIGHT, Alyssa Rose Ivy
CRESCENDO, Becca Fitzpatrick
THE RAVEN BOYS, Maggie Stiefvater

Happy New Year! May 2014 bring you many blessings!