Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Engagement Test

     They were trying to drown me. It had to be a test. I couldn't help but think about the Salem Witch Trials. I had heard they would hold an accused witch under water for a certain length of time. If she drowned she was not a witch. If she lived, she was considered a witch and hung. (And we think our judicial system is bad!)
      The city girl from Atlanta (me) was engaged to the country boy from South Georgia (him) and they wanted to know if I liked to fish.
       "I've never been....fishing."   You would have thought I said "I like to vacation on the moon."
       In that big, booming voice of his, my father-in-law-to-be said,"Well tomorrow we'll take care of that. Can't let my son marry a girl that's never been fishing, now, can we?"
        I wasn't sure why we couldn't but I was willing to learn....didn't look as if I had a choice.
       I had watched my fiance' and his parents with their rod and reels, fishing in the acre-large pond in front of their house, so I had no reason not to believe that's what would we would be doing. But apparently that was not the "testing ground."  The four of us crammed into the cab of the old Ford pick-up after loading very long sticks they called 'cane poles' and went to a place they called Sue Rose.  I soon discovered that Sue Rose was not the name of the place, but the name of the woman who owned the official testing ground.
      I was given a long stick with a string and cork on it and something nasty on the hook, and told "Stand over there and chunk it in the water."
      Of course it would be hilarious to say I threw the whole pole into the water but I'm not that ignorant and that would be a lie.  I got as close as I could to the water without sliding off the bank, dropped the cork in and then it happened. It started raining.  I tried to hide my smile as I said, "Too bad. Maybe another time."
     The four of us threw our poles in the back of the truck, piled in and sat. And sat. I wasn't quite sure what we were waiting for.
      "There we go," boomed the man, "Looks like its slacking off! Let's try again."
      We piled out, retrieved our poles and continued the test. FOUR times we piled into the truck waiting for the rain to "slack off"! FOUR times I thought "this is it, we're heading back." FOUR times I wondered if this is what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
       I caught nothing. Not even a cold. I was very okay with that. I had no idea what I would do with a fish if I had caught it. The men caught about four between them and my future mother-in-law, I discovered has a gift. She caught twenty-seven and three of those were while we were waiting out the storm.
       It was decided that any girl that could withstand those conditions with a great attitude was worthy of their son. That's funny cause I don't remember having a great attitude, but I guess its worked out pretty good.  Just don't ask me to fish...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Meet My Friend, LOLA

     This is my post about diet and exercise...and LOLA.
     LOLA and I have known each other for 43 1/2 years but I have to confess its only been recently that I have given her the respect that is due her.  She has been a way better friend than I have been to her, but now that I've finally chosen to acknowledge her as a friend, and not an enemy, life is much happier and ...better.
     I've never been much of a dieter. I'm just not into self-deprivation. I'm not a huge chocolate lover like a lot of people so that's never been a big issue, but hand over the bread basket and nobody gets hurt! 
 (This is one of my favorite pictures of LOLA and I , after we made peace with one another.)
     How many happy dieters do you know? They rejoice over the pound or so they've managed to lose during that week, but then face depression as they return to their deprived life-style. Happiness becomes a goal to be attained that will surely surface when "goal-weight" is also attained.
     BAH! I say! Happiness is not something that depends on a ridiculous number. Happiness is a choice I make day-in, day-out and I'm not going to deny, that on occasion a hot, buttery roll puts me in a state of ecstasy. Those self-proclaimed dieters would then suggest that guilt and remorse would set in because they had been "bad".
     BAH! I say! Since when does food have a personality to even cause me to do something "bad"? I have no need to feel guilty because I am not depriving myself. If I chose to eat the entire basket of buttery rolls, instead of one, or a piece of one, then I would feel terribly bad, not because of guilt but because LOLA would suffer the consequences and then we would both feel awful.
   LOLA is what I've decided to call my physical body. "Wow! This lady is crazy!" you say, yet you are still reading.  As I passed that blessed fortieth birthday (with an awesome 80's party!) I evaluated all that I am thankful for, my health being at the top of that list. For without it I wouldn't be able to truly appreciate my many other blessings.  I understood that I had put my physical body through a lot of stuff, yet basically treated her like an enemy. I was always pointing out her faults, reminding her of her failures and blaming her for every conceivable thing, including my emotional well-being.
    I started thinking about the way I treated my friends. It was far better than the way I treated my self. My body has been good to me and been so faithful, despite the awful way that I've treated her over the years. So, call me crazy (where I live its a prerequisite) but after 43 years I've made peace with my body. I've even asked her forgiveness. I choose now to admire my hips that are a testament to the lives I brought into this world, I even enjoy the flappiness under my arms that I hope my future grandchildren will one day appreciate. My nine-year old sure does! He'll even stop playing video games to play with Mama's flab! Why would I want to get rid of that?!
     My diet is this: I ask LOLA what she needs and then I listen. You'd be amazed at what your body is trying to tell you! Sometimes she says carbs; often she says protein. She loves salads, vegetables, water, fish and doesn't really care for desserts as much as I thought she once did.
     She loves to go to God's Gym. Even if I could afford a gym, I'm not forking out dough to compare LOLA with other bodies. We don't want to make the rest of them jealous because we are not striving...we have accomplished.  So we go to the river walk, and the parks, and the trails and smell the air, breathe in sunshine. Sometimes we walk. Sometimes we run. We always sing.
     I go for check-ups and they tell me I'm in excellent physical health. I've never, I mean NEVER had a doctor tell me I need to lose weight. Not so in the magazines or the world standards. To them I'm surrounded by "Ugly Belly Fat" and "Unsightly Bulges". BAH! I say again! Get a stinking life.
    And to the woman on TV who just lost a bunch of weight, can now wear a bikini to the pool and her son's friends whistle at her....ummm...YUCK! Get some therapy, lady!
     By the way, LOLA stands for Looking Out for Leanne's Anatomy. I thought it was cute and as the song says "whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Its a Southern Thang

My Mama loved being from the South. She was raised in down town Atlanta in a community called Grove Park. She was always running into friends she grew up with who also lived in or around Grove Park. But she pronounced it "Grove Pahk". She didn't talk like that at home a lot, but when she was in public she could turn on the Southern Charm!


She lived in and around Atlanta for fifty-seven years. Then four years after Daddy died she packed her things (well, we, her children packed her things) and she moved to St. Simon's Island. If she thought living in Atlanta made her a Southern Gal, living on The Island (that's what the locals call it, cause its surrounded by smaller islands: Jekyll and Cumberland) made her Southern Beauty.


She worked for a while at a resort called The Cloister. Many of the rich and famous came to stay there and Mama worked the switchboard. I believe she got the job because she would say, "Thank you for calling The Clawstah. How may I help you?" Its all about the image.


Fortunately The Cloister closed for remodeling because she was able to find her Dream Job, a tour guide for the Golden Isles. She would turn on the Southern Charm and the slow, drawn-out drawl that (pardon me) Yankees (we know the war is over, but we're still a little bitter) and Internationals would just eat up!


She didn't just give historic facts like a lot of the guides. She researched (and probably improvised) all sorts of colorful tales that the tourists absolutely loved.


As the bus drove by the Farmer's Market one sunny Saturday, Mama pointed out that it was the best place on the "Ahlahnd" (Island) to get the sweetest tomatoes for your sandwiches, and don't leave without trying the best Bald Peanuts in the world.  Thirty minutes when she finished her tour, a gentleman (not sure if he was from New Hampshire or Devonshire, doesn't matter, he still got suckered...) said ,"Thank you so much for the tour but I have one question. I don't know what a Bald Peanut is. I've never heard of that. Is it a peanut with no hair?"


"Hahaha! No, dahling! That's when you drop green peanuts into Balling water with a lot of sahlt and they ah out of this world!"


"Oh, you're saying boiled peanuts."


"Of course, honey...bald peanuts."


He gave her a $50 tip and she pointed to where he could buy his very own peanut tree.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What a Busy But Fabulous Friday!

WOW! Today is a very busy, blog day!
First I want to welcome all the Friday Followers!
Please keep reading, even if you're not doing the blog hop.
There's a treat at the end.
Friday Follow
so if you want to follow along just click on any of the blogs below and see what's happening today in other parts of Bloggy World.


MckLinky Blog Hop


She's also asked me to mention the sponsor this week which I am very happy to do.


Finally, I have two confessions: 1. I haven't exercised in a while. (Waaah!) AND 2. I always (and I do mean ALWAYS) wanted to be a cheerleader. I would have been a great one, but due to low self-esteem issues I simply would not even give myself the chance (Waaah! again.) Now that I've learned to like me and get over those issues I am the best cheerleader in the world! I grab my pom-poms and cheer for my kids.

"You can do it! You can finish that homework! GO! GO!"
"Every team needs a bench warmer! S-S-S-I-T!"

And then, of course I cheer for my man. "You're the BEST!" "Pay, Pay, Pay those bills!" "Go, BABY, GO!"

You get the idea. So to help me get motivated to do both, and maybe help you get moving as well I'm posting a GREAT oldie! So grab your pompoms (you too fellas!) and let's get shakin'.

HERE'S YOUR TREAT!


And this is linked up to Tristan at Transient Pod  http://the-transient-pod.blogspot.com/


get your freak on friday

Have a Fantabulous Day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waiters, Makers, and Wet Hens

"There are those who wait for things to happen, and those who make things happen." 

I'm not sure who said it originally, but I just heard it recently.  Unfortunately I fall in that first category. Things happen in my life but usually not until after lunch. Occasionally things will happen after my third cup of coffee, but that's on a really good day.

Then there are people like Amanda. She drifted into my life like a breath of fresh air...no, more like a rushing wind or hurricane. And I'm so thankful she did. This single mom has a personality that is bigger than.....well, something that's really big!

We got to know one another as we went to a women's conference together. She drove. I'm still not sure she understands the concept of "share the road." Her horns works. A couple of times I had no idea what she was honking at. I didn't see anyone on the road. Oh wait, there's a car a half a mile in front of us, "Move it!"

Once we arrived at the hotel, the lobby was filled with impatient ladies waiting to check in. Check in time was at 2:00, and an hour later people were still being told the rooms weren't ready. The lobby could have just as well been filled with wet hens, mad as these women were. So there they stood with their monogrammed luggage, looking forward to a weekend of no husbands and kids, and getting madder than hornets. And then there's Amanda.

She looked around and saw that no one was really making any progress. The employees seemed to be just waiting for notice from housekeeping, but not bothering to go and help them. So she made her way to the counter (its a good thing she didn't have her car horn) and looked up at the hospitality expert with her doe eyes and in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear and with a nice, thick Southern drawl says, "Excuse me, are you going to find me a room or are you just gonna keep standing there looking all cute?" I think she winked too.

Amanda didn't notice that the room got quiet and then everyone relaxed and laughed. The handsome, young gentleman blushed profusely, but he was grinning from ear to ear and yep, he found her a room. What's really amusing and that everyone who tried that technique afterwards, failed. You gotta be the first.

I've tried to learn from people like Amanda and Kim (see Kim's Pantyhose Story). Not only do they get things done, they make people feel so good, especially about themselves. I understand this ability is mostly a gift; a personality trait; and a survival method. Both of these incredible women have been through some extremely hard trials, and have come out on top. But I believe some of  it can also be learned or at least imitated to a point.

I heard a friend of mine say yesterday she was "heading out to make good things happen." Sounds like a marketing ploy, and it is, but if its my life I'm trying to market, then I can think of no better purpose or product than I can sell. 

So excuse me now while I go "make some things happen!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We All Need Friends Who Will Raise the Roof

     Do you have friends that would do anything for you?  Is there anything you wouldn't do for them?
I was reading about the paralyzed man who was lowered into the house by his four friends. 
     It really got me thinking about these guys, cause we hear a lot about women and their girlfriends, but in this scenario we have these four scruffy men coming home from work and like always, stopping by to see "Joe", who maybe was hurt on the job years ago. Regardless of how he became paralyzed or how long he had been that way these men cared about their friend. On the way to Joe’s house one of them might have asked, “Hey, have ya’ll seen or heard about that healing dude?”

     "Yeah. My sister-in-law went to see him but He said He couldn’t help her face.”
     Guffaws. Back-slaps. Its what men do.
     “I think we oughta take Joe to see him.”

     “You think?”

     “Sure. Why not? My wife’s making fish loaf again so I’m in no hurry. How about you fellas?”

     “Do you think he’ll be up to it?

     “Joe? We won’t give him a chance to argue. We’ll take him out for air like we always do and just happen to wander over to where he’s staying.”

     So they meander over to Joe’s house who is in his usual place, on the mat, on the floor. The guys set their lunch pails down. Joe hollers to his wife who is outside sweeping dirt, that he’s going out with the boys and will be back in time for supper.  They each pick up a corner and begin strolling down the lane, looking to find Jesus. Joe finally speaks up.

     “So guys, ya’ll are kinda quiet today. Old man Jedekiah give you a hard time?”   No one answers.

     “Um, fellas? Cat got your tongues?”

     They notice a crowd up ahead. They seem to be pouring out the front door and overflowing all over the front yard. Joe hears the commotion.

     “What’s going on guys? Is it a riot?”

     One of them named…"Lou"…speaks up.

     “Well Joe. We sorta have a surprise for you. This fella, Jesus, is a healer. Not a phony like those other clowns we used to see. This guy claims His power is from Jehovah and well…we believe Him.”

     “Oh guys,” answers Joe. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but we’ve been through this so many times. Why in the world do you think this guy would be any different? Just take me home. Its getting warm out here.”

     “No, Joe. We’re here now. Let’s just go in and see him.”

     “There’s gotta be a hundred people trying to get in there! I’ll have a heat stroke while I’m waiting and worse than that, Marta will kill me if I’m late for supper. Frankly, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.”

     “We’ll think of something.” They all look around.

     “I’m serious, guys. Take me home. Now.”   Lou glances upward and nods his head at the others, directing their attention to the roof.

     They leave Joe on the ground and huddle away from him as they make their plan. Joe keeps insisting he wants to go home, then demands to know what they are plotting, on and on. One of the friends turns to Joe and says, “Sometimes I wish your tongue was paralyzed.” They laugh. Guy humor.

     So these burly men, who apparently would give the shirts off their backs, break all the rules to get their friend some relief. They vandalize a neighbor’s home, break in front of the line, demand the Lord’s attention and they get it.
     And I believe Jesus laughed. I think its not recorded when Jesus laughed because He did it so often! The writers of the Bible, particularly those who knew Him personally didn’t think it necessary to say “Jesus laughed” - of course He did!      Jesus is possibly holding the hand of a sick child or smearing mud on a blind man when straw and bits of clay begin raining down on him from the roof. He looks up and then looks at his host who shrugs his shoulders and says, “I thought we got that fixed.” Jesus can’t see what’s going on because the sunlight is pouring through the hole in the roof, but it disappears as a dark form begins hovering overhead. He hears a voice.

     “Okay, fellas! Joke’s over. This is ridiculous. You’ve gone too far. Josiah will never speak to me again for destroying his roof. Hi, Josiah, this wasn’t my idea.”

     As this figure descends in front of Jesus head up, head down, head up, head down, He looks up and sees four men each holding a rope that is attached to a corner of the mat trying desperately to keep their friend from sliding off right onto the floor. The crowd who had once grown quiet when the straw came through, is now madder than hornets. And Jesus laughed.

     Maybe even guffawed…it’s a guy thing. He waved up at the friends and gave them a thumbs up or high five or some cultural equivalent as if to say, “Nice work!” He looked down at the paralyzed man and with a knowing smile and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

     Joe, or whatever his name was, looked up at his friends with a quizzical look but they smiled and nodded at him and one another. “Oh, yeah…this guy’s the Real Thing.”

     Jesus’ smile suddenly vanished. Joe couldn’t see who He was looking at but it wasn’t him.

     “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to this man ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘get up and walk’?” His smile returned as he looked up at the men staring down through the roof. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He grinned at Joe. Not only was his face smiling but his eyes as well. “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Joe didn’t hesitate. The Word specifically says he got up, got his mat and walked out in front of them all.
     What the Word doesn’t say is what happened to the friends. I’m thinking two fell through the roof, landed in front of Jesus, who was laughing again, while the other two lost their balance, slid off the roof, landed on a crippled lamb who was brought by a child to be healed. “Sorry, kid…Here, see, he’s fine. Look at him go! The sheep is catching up with Joe. Hey, look, kid!”

     Anyway, they body slammed, back (and booty) slapped, pretty much moved as one unit as they headed back to Joe’s place, laughing and guffawing the whole way. The four friends spied outside while Joe sauntered in the door and cried out, “Honey, I’m home!” Marta fainted.

      I was struggling recently and frankly tired of fighting temptation.  Father said, “Ask your friends to pray.”

     “Ask for prayer. Let your friends present you to Christ as the four men did.”

     So I sent a brief text that simply said, “Please pray for me.” I receive these messages all the time and I honor the request, why wouldn’t mine be honored? No one asked why I needed prayer or said they were too busy. They simply responded back, “I’m praying for you now” and “OK”, which sometimes bothers me but this time was a great relief. And like the man who immediately got up and took his mat, I knew immediately what I should do. My way was clear, my day was ordered. I was empowered and the enemy was gone! I read back over my entry and imagined the guys falling through the roof, possibly landing on top of the Son of Man and I guffawed. Guess it’s not just a man thing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Happiness Project

Today's post is "sponsored" (I've always wanted to say that) by
LEIGH Vs LAUNDRY


Photobucket



I'm supposed to post something that makes me happy.
This is it.

One of my very favorite cookbooks.
It makes me smile whenever I take it off my shelf.
It has some delicious recipes (some not so delicious)
You be the judge on which category this recipe comes under.

That's a shadow from the overhead light. NOT grease from over use.
And I think this chick is related to me. Anyone else feel that way?
I'm also the featured devotion at
http://belovedga.com/weekly_devotionals.htm
this week. Click on March 21, 2010.

 

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Curious Case of the Blue Paint

     Paula entered the double wide lugging Rubbermaid tubs filled with fabric, wallpaper, and enough knick knacks to make a ninety year old woman jealous. She was also dragging bags stuffed with paint brushes, rollers, tape, paint trays, paint sticks,and those little tools used to pry the lids off.  Tied to her waist was a little red wagon that carried paint cans of assorted colors.
     "You're accessorizing at Hope Depot again. Nice, but takes a little getting used to," I remark.
     "I'm here to spruce up your home."
     "Thanks, Martha Stewart, but its a trailer. The wallpaper is what keeps the walls from collapsing in on us. Its permanent and can't be removed."
     She raises a roller in one hand and a brush in the other.  "But it can be painted!" She does a dramatic game show wave...or maybe it was more like a magician's assistant. "Let's get started."
     At 3 a.m. she gathered up the leftover materials, stuffed them back into bags, tubs and piled it all on the little red wagon and headed out. I weakly waved goodnight and mumbled something like, "thramk shoe." Then I collapsed on the freshly vaccuumed sofa. (I didn't even realize those things needed vaccuuming!) I dreamed the Cat in the Hat had invaded my home with Things 1 and 2, put things in disarray, back in order and left without leaving evidence that they had even been there.
     Paula, however had left plenty of evidence. I entered my bathroom...only it wasn't my bathroom. There was a new shower curtain, fresh paint, decorative border paper and neatly arranged counter tops. I dashed to the kids' bathroom. It also had been made-over from blah bath to spa bath! Did I leave her here alone? I barely remembered the evening before. I went and checked the trash. There was no sign of foul play, including no beer, wine or liquor bottles.  I vaguely remembered her telling me to keep an eye on the kids or clean my closet, while she busied herself.
     "What happened? Everything is beautiful! Thank you so much!"
     "My pleasure," she assured me. "I've been wanting to do something special for you, because you all have been such good friends to us."
     "Wow. Thank you. I do have one question. Do you have anymore of the navy blue paint? I'd like to put some on the walls in the boys' room."
     "I know. You asked me last night. I left it for you. Gotta go! Love ya!"
     Hmmm...I didn't notice the paint. I'll look again. I looked everywhere. Closets, behind doors, outside, under the beds. Then I had a marvelous idea, "Ask her where she put it." So I did.
     "I handed it to you when I left. Ciao!" (She's very busy...)
     I looked again. Oh well. She obviously thought she gave it to me but didn't.
     A week later I was at her house for lunch.  I tried to ask the question in  a subtle manner.
     "Did you ever find the blue paint?"
     "What?"
     "The blue paint that you were going to leave at my house for me to do the boys' room. Did you ever find it?"
     "No," (she seemed a tad miffed. I don't know why...she had come to my house and redecorated my home and here I was so concerned about a can of blue paint. I was getting a little crazy...)
     "I didn't bring it home. I gave it to you."
     That should have been the end of it, but for some strange reason I could NOT let it go.
     While she was in the bathroom I peeked into her garage. ( I also open medicine cabinets. Be warned.)
Trust me, the people at The Container Store come to her house, specifically her garage, for inspiration. That's how organized she is. Her garage is lined with gorgeous shelves, each carefully labeled and stacked with boxes that are also labled and color-coordinated. I quickly (like .36 seconds) find her shelves of paint cans with all the labels facing outward with a streak of paint carefully brushed across the front so one knows immediately what color is to be found inside the can. There are also colored labels on the shelves themselves to tell a person what color is missing and where it goes when it is returned. I can not miss the gaping space marked with a label in bold lettering: NAVY BLUE.
     "Maybe she misplaced it." I glanced into the sparkling garage that is the envy of Home Depot and realized how idiotic that thought was.
     I wish I could tell you I just let it go. That I never thought about such a trivial thing as blue paint anymore, but it was a complete mystery. I couldn't explain what happened to it. I had looked in every conceivable place and absolutely the worst of all: I was still convinced she had it.
     Fortunately our friendship was (and is) very strong and had withstood many storms. I did my best not to mention it, although whenever we were together it haunted the crevices of my memory.
     We invited her family over almost a year later. We had finished a great meal and were just laughing and enjoying ourselves and then we began to reminisce.
     "Do you remember when you came over to help me spruce up the double wide and took that blue paint home with you? hahahaha!"
     Oh my gosh, what am I saying?
     "hahaha. I remember coming to help you clean your house and I left the blue paint here.HAHA."
     Enter the five year old. "Are you talking about the blue paint in the freezer?"
     Nobody moved! Seriously we didn't move. It was really weird. Paula and I looked at each other and looked back at the five year old. We had to raise our voices above the men's howling laughter.
     "WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" I screamed.
     "There's a can of blue paint in the freezer." 
     "I CAN'T HEAR YOU.  HEY! (to the fellas) Can you knock it off a minute?"
     "I said, there's a can of blue paint in the freezer," responds the five year old. "I thought you were trying to make it purple."
     Ah, yes. Of course. The old "turn-paint-colors-by-putting-it-in-the-freezer" trick.
     I calmly walk to the upright freezer in the hallway and open it. Staring back at me are three packs of three year old deer meat (not gonna happen), two ziploc bags of boiled cabbage (an experiment in vegetable freezing gone awry), lots of freezer ice (broken defroster) and on the bottom shelf a frost-covered can of navy blue paint.
     Mystery solved. Paula comes over, help me spruce my home, in my exhaustion I fall asleep on the couch, while I'm sleeping the Cat in the Hat comes in with Thing 1 and Thing 2. Thing 1 gets hungry, looks in the freezer for snack, finds old catfish, snatches it, looks around for something to replace it so I won't notice anything missing, sees blue paint, puts it in the freezer, they exit, case closed.


buffalopaintinginc.com
eardstapa.wordpress.com

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Sampling

A friend of mine is a chaplain at a local prison. The men often see her as a mother or grandmother figure and she has made a huge impact on their lives. One young man called after his release to tell her how amazed his dad was with the change in his life. "My daddy said if he knew it would work for my brother, he'd send him to prison too!"


I have a friend who is a singer, entertainer, and inspirational speaker. I went with her to a local prison where she was giving a presentation. She often engages the audience by mingling with them and asking questions in talk-show fashion. Knowing the men are not required to come to chapel services she asked an inmate "what brought you here?" "A police car, ma'am."


My preacher husband encounters many characters as he visits with people in the community. One such woman was so proud of the way she had tried to steer her son down the narrow way. "Son," she said, "if you're gonna sow your wild oats, you better pray for crop failure!"


Another friend is a speech therapist. She had one boy who kept telling her was hungry. She walked him to the vending machine and told him to pick out what he wanted. He scanned the colorful bags of chips and crackers and then looked up at her with big eyes and said, "Miss, ain't you got something with a bone in it?"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

She's Such a Diva

She simply cannot stay out of the news! I believe our little city of 20,700 (July '08) is such a Diva.
Can you blame her? Her original purpose was to serve as the State Capitol, which she did for 65 years (1807-1868)! The Governor's Mansion and the Regal Capitol Building still proudly stand  today. 




She continued to make news when in 1837 the Georgia State Legislature established the "State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum" to care for mentally insane, disturbed, physically disabled, etc. Although the name was changed several times and finally settled on Central State Hospital, she has had a very difficult time shaking that reputation. Honestly I'm not convinved she minded the negative publicity, as long as it was publicity!




After all The State Asylum  became known as the largest mental facility in the United States and served over 12,000 consumers during the sixties.  There is also more than 25,000 bodies buried throughout the 1,750 acres. Even though most of the campus buildings are now closed and the consumer count is almost nil, Georgia residents will continue to associate our quaint city with The State Asylum.


She gained noteriety by playing a part in such celebrities as the early film comic star, Oliver Hardy who lived here with his mom for a while during his formative years. The hotel where his mother worked is now  a bank that boasts its reputation with an historic marker out front.


She also is the birth place of nationally-known author, Flannery O'Connor (read about my encounter with her in my post "THE STALKER").


In 1990 she rose to stardom again as a new actress from Georgia played a character in a flick entitled "Pretty Woman". Newcomer, Julia Roberts' character, Vivian Ward was from this town.


And two weeks ago, she was in the news again, thanks to this man.


On March 5 Ben Roethlisberger, "two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback" was accused of sexually assaulting a twenty year old college student within the city's borders.


So it seems that she doesn't mind what type of publicity she gets, as long her name of Milledgeville stays in the news.


What's your hometown known for?





http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ga/county/baldwin   eileenmcadams@windstream.net
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~asylums/central_ga/index.html
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1222
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0100405/
Union Recorder, March 19, 2010, article by Jessica Luton, pg. 1A, unionrecorder.com

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lovely Day

I woke this morning to more rain. Gray skies, fog, cold again...and honestly it kinda put a damper on my mood. I didn't mean for it to, but it just did. You would think my husband's homemade biscuits (yep he does) would help but, sadly, they did not.

I wasn't even motivated to really blog this morning, which is highly unusual so I was perusing (great word) some videos and BAM! There it was! I started smiling, and singing and the sun came out (in my spirit at least).

I've blogged about Beloved before and will again, count on it. I am biased. Cause these ladies are just that good. But I'm not even sure if they know this video is out "there". A fan put it together and although its a little jerky, the pictures are beautiful. This song is the title song from their second CD titled "Lovely Day".   You can find out more about them at http://belovedga.com/  (Yes they will be receiving my bill for the publicity. hahaha! Just kidding, of course. )

Have a LOVELY DAY!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luck 'O the Irish!

In honor of this momentous occasion I shall:
Relax on my Patty O'Furniture and enjoy my favorite dessert,        Ore O'Blizzard.  And I'll watch this amazing video ALL DAY!



I've also chosen this day to share another major award! It was actually awarded to me last week, but like so many academy winners I was "not present to receive". (I couldn't figure out how to get it and I was stressing over who to pass it on to!)


But I've chosen today to post it because it was awarded to me from my dear friend, Shannon O'Riley. Well, I'm not sure what her last name is but I'm pretty sure its not O'Riley (sorry Shannon) BUT her name is SHANNON which is very Irish and her beautiful blog is called Faith-Hope and Love!
   http://shananagins2468.blogspot.com/    LOVE IT!    She is truly one of the most encouraging people I've come across and there's a BUNCH of you guys that are! So go see her.


Now here's my list of recepients. I was worried about giving this award to people who've already received it but tell Katharine Hepburn she can only win once (she's won four Oscars, which is the most!) or Taylor and Beyonce' they only get one Grammy. "Sorry girls, its not fair to everyone else if you take home all the toys..."


But I do have to put my own twist on this prestigous award:


MY NEWEST FRIEND award to Farmgirl Paints  http://farmgirlpaints.blogspot.com/
her art is gorgeous and  i love the music she has in the background. I turn it on instead of the radio now.


MOST LIKELY TO CAUSE ME TO LICK THE MONITOR goes to Mennonite Girls Can Cook
http://mennonitegirlscancook.blogspot.com/   just go see for yourself! Tell me you're not tempted to lick your screen!


YOU SO GET ME AND THAT'S A LITTLE SCARY award is a tie. See, we strange birds have to stick together. We know the world can be a frightening place but we are armed with more sarcasm than the entire cast of the Office! So Bring it on!
http://www.wendiwinn.com/  (she likes stuff)
http://imnotyouraveragesoccermom.blogspot.com/  (and she has cute painted toenails)
http://soundsliketomatoes.blogspot.com/   (still not sure where the name comes from but trust me, it doesn't matter)
http://www.suburbsanity.com/  (love her banner)
http://leighvslaundry.blogspot.com/
http://seemomsmile.blogspot.com/
http://thehumanrace600.blogspot.com/


I know there are many, many others and ladies (and gents) I want to thank you for making me laugh a lot!


PLEASE DON'T GO AWARD to
http://www.georgiamom.net/
http://ethelmaepotterweneverforgother.blogspot.com/


BETTER THAN PROZAC award goes to (for its soothing, spa-like qualities)
http://queenbullock.blogspot.com/
http://www.butihadatiara.blogspot.com/
http://roseteacottage.blogspot.com/

MORE PRECIOUS THAN SILVER awards
http://homeswheremyheartis.blogspot.com/
http://lifeforward.onsugar.com/
http://www.lifeasaluttrull.blogspot.com/
http://transparentmama.blogspot.com/
http://hegavemeadream.blogspot.com/

and finally (I have no idea how many of these I'm supposed to pass out but I'm on a roll!)
for the guys in my bloggy world! This is mainly to see if they'll post a cute flower on their blog. But you'll enjoy reading them regardless.
http://50already.blogspot.com/
http://bearded-tongue.blogspot.com/  ( i helped him name this blog)


One more treat for the day! Please notice I have a button up. Yep, built it myself. Hopefully I'll have a really cute, professional one someday, but in the meantime I would go nuts (in a great way) if you took it with you and let me know if it works or not.


Have an incredible day and if you're not wearing green go pinch yourself and consider it from me!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hide the Pencils!

I don't usually consider my nine year old to be particularly cautious. I mean he's not like one older brother who once tied his friend to a golf cart so he could hoist him up a tree (this did not end well). My nine year old would probably never race someone down a steep incline on skateboards (this ended worse), as this same brother did.


He is most certainly like his other brother who considers walking outside a risky venture. But still, he doesn't often express his concerns, or that he's worried about anything. He is generally a funny, easy-going kid. Which is why this conversation, actually it was more like a monologue, was so amusing. I don't think he was being totally serious, he was more on a rampage.


"Mom, school is very dangerous. I'm not sure I should be going anymore. Its very dangerous!" (I try to interject things like "oh my goodness", "is everything okay?" "are you being bullied?" etc. but he doesn't even pause to give me time to breathe much less interrupt him!)


"Let's start with pencils!" (Huh? I think.) "Pencils are very dangerous. The other day this kid was handing me a pencil but I received it incorrectly (his words exactly) and it jabbed into my hand and it really hurt but its okay now but pencils are still dangerous to have in school."  At this point he goes into great detail about how often he has "received pencils incorrectly".

"And spiral notebooks, you know Mom, the kind with the wires coming out? (I nod my head affirmatively) They are way too dangerous to have at school. Sometimes the wires start coming out and I have gotten them stuck in my butt (I didn't even have a chance to remind him that we don't say butt) like five times! " Again, more detail but I was distracted by Journey singing "Don't Stop Believing" on my oldies (kidding me?) station. I hear nothing else when Journey comes on. That's just how it is.

"And don't even get me started on how dangerous the playgrounds are! (his words...) I got my nose kicked by this kid who was swinging on the monkey bars. (A look of shock sincerely washed over my face but he didn't pause for me to ask more questions.) It didn't bleed but it hurt for a LONG time. Maybe we shouldn't have monkey bars at the school, or at least they should give us helmets to wear to protect us! (That comment made me start thinking, 'this kid is messing with me.' )"


"Mom, even the library is dangerous! (okay, now I'm convinced he's on a roll to see how far his mom will let this go on so I let him continue. We're both smirking a little.) One of my favorite books in the library is "Ripley's Believe It or Not" except for this one page that shows the ladies eyes bulging out. I just hate that, Mom! Its scares me when I see it. When I flip through the book I try really hard not to see that page so I close my eyes when I turn the pages. The other day I opened it randomly so I wouldn't see her and BAM! (his words again) I opened right to that page! That was the page I did NOT want to see, Mom! I might have nightmares."


I'm beginning to giggle.  "Don't run with scissors! How many times have we heard that? But there are still kids at school who run with scissors! Can you believe it? Its like they don't care who they hurt! What if one of them runs into me and accidently stabs me with a pair of scissors? I'm telling you, school is too dangerous."

"Have a great day, honey! (he exits...still talking...) I love you! Be careful!"

He shuts the door, "Mom, I could get hit by a bus!" (There are no busses near the car drop-off.)


"Lord, watch after these funny, beautiful kids of mine." Amen.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Major Award! (FRAGILE')

"IT'S A HAMSTER WITH A MUSTACHE. THAT'S WHAT GOT YOU SO EXCITED?"
Asks the non-supportive man who calls himself my husband.
I am very excited because today I have been validated.
I have been given true value and my life is worth living one more day.
(Maybe I'm going just a bit overboard here)
But you are valuable because you are here trying to find out if this chick is really funny or not.
Great, now I'm worried again...
Have an awesome day and kiss every hamster you come across today!
Thank you Leigh vs. Laundry for this awesome recognition.
See her fun blog by clicking on her outrageous (can you tell I'm excited?) button to the left.

The Flying Car

The good news was she had lost twelve pounds. The bad news was she was dying for a cigarette.
The good news was she she was trying to quit. The bad news was she was planning to start tomorrow.
The good news was she was out of cigarettes. The bad news was she was out of cigarettes.
The good news was the convenient store was down the street. The bad news was the brakes were going bad.
The good news was it wasn't that far to the store. The bad news was it was mostly downhill.
The good news was the light was green. The bad news was the car in front wasn't moving.
The good news was she made it to the store. The bad news was she couldn't slow down to take the turn.
The good news was the parking lot was empty. The bad news was there was a convenient store.
The good news was there was a parking bumper. The bad news was it made her airborne.
The good news was she was in a '78 Ford Station Wagon: built to last longer than today's Ford Trucks.
The bad news is they don't make them like that anymore.
The bad news was the store didn't have a drive-through. The good news was she made one.
The bad news was she went through the store. The good news was the car stopped before going out the back.
The good news was no one was hurt. The bad news was the manager only said "women drivers..."
The good news was she really needed a cigarette now. The bad news was they were out of her brand.

Twenty-five or so years ago my mother did drive our green with faux paneling '78 Station Wagon through the Sing Station. No one was hurt and amazingly the only damage to the mighty vehicle was a cracked windshield.  I went by the store that evening to survey the damage. They did not even close. They had someone board up the front and went on selling candy, gas, ice cream and cigarettes. The employees were having a blast talking about the crazy woman that drove the store!  Yep, that's my mom! Always special, never simple! (see previous post under the same name.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tuna Fish for Peanut Butter

     At our church fellowships and monthly dinners, folks have differing opinions over the preacher's wife dishes. I find it very intriguing that the majority can pick out my offering, whether its a dessert, salad, or main dish. I'm going to assume its a compliment.
     Here's the thing: It is well known that I may start with a recipe, but then I adapt. I am not afraid to make substitutions ( I once told a lady that tuna fish was a great substitute for peanut butter! She believed me for a moment) and I don't believe in planning ahead. If I'm planning to make chili but forgot to pick up tomato sauce, ketchup may take its place. If I'm out of ketchup, I have been known to add red food coloring to mayonnaise.
     Either you have just left this page and are still dwelling on red mayo for ketchup, OR you're intrigued and are hanging with me. I hope its the latter and here are some of my very recent favorites.
CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
     Soon after we were married I wanted to make a special meal for my handsome hubby. He confessed that he had chicken cordon bleu at a wedding dinner and he would like that sometime. I searched all my cook books, but apparently this was not a dish that Southerners prepare often (especially since "blue" is spelled wrong!). I finally found the recipe in a newspaper and followed it precisely (mostly). I pounded the chicken until it was transparent, I grated bread crumbs and added all the appropriate seasonings. I got the ham and cheese from the deli and carefully rolled everything together and served it with a hollandaise sauce. The dinner was delightful. The entire process took me about an hour to prepare and when it was just the two of us that was fine.
     I have two rules when preparing food: 1. It takes no longer that thirty minutes to prepare and 2. no more than six ingredients (not including salt and pepper)
     You may think I'm cheating my family but if it takes longer than thirty minutes or has more than 6 ingredients, I figure we might as well go out! Surprisingly we don't eat out often.
     Okay, okay, here's my easy CCB and then because I started thinking "I think I can make this even easier" I came up with CCB casserole. Made it last night and I loved it. Hubby likes the whole breasts (duh!) better but I'm planning to do the casserole for the next church meal.
      By the way, my son and his friends BEG for this dish! When teenagers beg for something you know you've scored!

four deboned chicken breasts, rinsed
four slices sandwich ham
four slices swiss cheese
1 egg
1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
1 stick of butter or margarine
Melt the butter in a 9"x11" pan on 350. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise but do not to go all the way through. Lay a slice of ham and cheese inside the chicken breast to make it like a sandwich. Beat the egg in a bowl. Hold the sandwich together tightly and dip both sides of the chicken breast-ham-and- cheese sandwich in the egg then dredge through the crumbs. Lay the breast in the melted butter then turn it over so both sides are buttered. Repeat with all the chicken. Bake for about fifteen minutes, turn chicken over and bake 15 more minutes. Pierce thick part of chicken with fork to make sure juices run clear. We did away with the hollandaise but you can make your own with a mix or substitute (YAY!) Ranch dressing.
CCB Casserole
Same ingredients as above except no egg and add Cream of chicken soup (every good casserole has cream of something soup)
Boil the chicken breasts in water until done (About 20 minutes) Cut chicken into cubes and put in large bowl. Slice the ham into small pieces and add to the chicken. Add soup and 1/2 can of water. Stir well. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish (the same 9"x11" as before works well). Tear the cheese into pieces and sprinkle over the mixture. Mix the crumbs with the butter and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. Yummy!!
--Leanne

Friday, March 12, 2010

This Looks Familiar

This may look familiar to two of you. You know who you are. I have posted this TRUE story before but it was early in my blogging career (which started less than four weeks ago), and it bears repeating.

THAT'S DEBATABLE

I looked around the class and thought, “They are so lucky to have me in their group. We will have a great presentation because I speak so well in front of an audience.”



I was a theatre major taking the required course, Speech 101. Our assignment was to research a controversial topic and be prepared to debate the argument. Apparently I was absent the day our group decided to argue the topic of 'euthanasia'.


I smiled and agreed to do my part of the research. I headed toward the library wondering, “What could possibly be wrong with the youth in Asia?” I didn’t dare ask anyone. I was afraid to admit I couldn’t remember the last time I picked up a newspaper except to see what movies were playing.


I pictured those poor, hungry teenagers in China having to steal food from market stands just to survive the Communist regime. Why wouldn’t the Chinese government take care of their young people? Don’t they know that these youth were the Future of their country? I was beginning to get a bit irate at the injustice of it all. I could not quite imagine why this was a controversial topic. Who in their right mind would defend such a selfish governmental stand? No problem. I was determined to arm myself with facts and research that would have every eye in that classroom weeping. I imagined giving such an emotional presentation that the next flight to China (I do hope China is in Asia) would be filled with students sold out to saving the Youth in Asia!

I spent at least a week (okay, two hours) looking up “youth”, “Asia”, “China” ( I do hope China is in Asia ), “Asian Youth”, “Young People”, “Communist Young People”…you get the idea.


I found out some very interesting facts about Asian young people but nothing I thought would be pertinent to a debate. I was anxious for the next organizational meeting to see what kind of information other group members had gathered.

“How do you spell ‘euthanasia’”, someone asked. Apparently I was not the only one having trouble with the assignment. I was quite dumb-founded to hear it started with an ‘e’, but at least I was now on the right track.


And for those of you who are still trying to figure out what I'm talking about this would be a good time to use a dictionary (that's with a 'ti' not 'sh').


ON ANOTHER NOTE:
I saw this sign in the restroom at Dairy Queen yesterday: 
Employees must "wash hands" 
Since they weren't taking the hand washing issue seriously, I decided to see if they "washed hands" at McDonald's.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Stalker

She's been following me for several weeks. Its beyond creepy. Its...spooky!


She grew up just about ten miles from the spot where I am sitting. Our paths have crossed once or twice but always in expected places. We bumped into each other at the library once, then maybe at the coffee shop. But this is absolutely ridiculous!



I read an article in a magazine about Patricia Heaton (The Middle, Everbody Loves Raymond) and Patricia started talking about her like they were the best of friends. All I could think was, "That's odd." Odd? Who uses that word? But that's all I could think.



Less than a week later she was in my church. She has NEVER been to my church (that I recall). But alas, there she was and her words were remarkable. In the past her words seemed cold and rather...odd. But now her words were...enigmatic. Yes. That's exactly what they were.

I acted as if I had not seen her and didn't imagine we would run into one another any time soon.


Two days later. Yes, as in forty-eight hours, and 250 miles away, there she was again! I nearly tripped (actually, I think I did) when I heard her name mentioned in relation to "the concept of grace." Grace?


What does she know of grace? (I was way too quick to judge. I know that now.)

Now I was worried. What must she think of me? Making judgement when in reality I don't know more than her name and her place of origin. What if she had judged me the same way? I was ashamed. And determined to spend time with her. Get to know her better...tomorrow...or the next day.


Only, once again, she found me before I had the chance to find her!


Of all things, watching episodes of a show that has taken a spiritual turn. I was becoming engrossed in the story when SHE appeared. As if she was only there for me! I asked my husband, "Did you see her? Did you see her staring at me? Was it my imagination? Is she really on LOST now? (Have I truly lost all my senses?)

It was true. "Jacob" was indeed reading a book by Flannery O'Connor. Her name was in bold letters as if to say "I see you and I know you're judging me!"


I had never heard of the author until I moved to her hometown. I still have not read her works but I will...tomorrow...or the next day. She has not made another appearance since LOST but I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting.

At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.
-Flannery O'Connor
1925-1964

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Happiness Project

Leigh vs. Laundry runs a Happiness Project on Tuesdays.


Photobucket





This is a vacation spot called "River Glory"
and I can go back there in my mind, hear the
rush of the river and I am in a VERY happy place!

Kim's Pantyhose Story

This is not my story. This is Kim's story. She has told it countless times. It gets longer, louder, crazier every time. I can't do it justice, but I don't think its ever been in print. I have her permission, so this is my attempt to recreate what has come to be known as THE PANTYHOSE STORY.

"The top is something you go over!"    This describes Kim perfectly! Everything about her is over the top: makeup, hair, clothes, personality, friendship, her love for family and for her God.


She won a regional pageant singing Reba McIntyre's "Fancy" and went on to become Miss Georgia, 1993. She hosts a local TV show but that's about to change....


Beloved was just getting off the ground and had been invited to sing at a fundraiser. Kim suggested they do a costume change in the middle of the program. The other two girls weren't really in favor but when Kim makes a "suggestion" she's really saying, "here's what we're going to do!"


They decided to change from denim outfits to something more dressy so Kim went to buy pantyhose for the occasion.


 Kim reviewed  the size graphs on the back of the charts. Do you remember the day when, according to the graph detailing your height and weight, you had moved from A to B, or B to QUEEN? (For the gentleman and younger readers I need to say that although women are generally in favor of being a queen, or being treated like a queen, when it comes to pantyhose we would rather not be considered a 'queen'.)


Kim is not petite. She is 5'9" and will tell you herself she gained "ten pounds for every year and I've been married five years. Do the math!" Thankfully she passed the fifth year without adding any extra, and she is a beautiful woman who works it. According to the pantyhose chart Kim was well into the 'Queen' category.


But Kim was feeling sassy. Kim was feeling confident. Kim was getting...cocky. We've all been there.


"These charts often run large. If you look real close I'm closer to the B shade than the Q shade. Its reeeally close. I didn't eat breakfast either so that should put me in a B. Oh! And I had to park clear across Egypt and must have walked half a mile across the parking lot so that would definitely put me in a B."


So she got off-black, control-top, sandal-foot pantyhose, size "B".


I once heard that Dolly Parton's daddy told her "you can't squeeze fifty pounds of mud in a five pound sack."  Kim was attempting to do just that.


Push, pull, shove, rearrange, twist, untwist, take them off, start again. Bend over, stand up, sit down, back up, lay down. Squat, stand, squat, stand, squat, stand sloooowly. DONE! Everything's in a nice, neat smooth package. Nevermind the bulge across the top of the band, thanks to the 'control' part. Don't even think about the burn in the crotch. Turn sideways and look in the mirror. Oh, yeah! That's nice!


The ladies go back onstage to close out the meeting. The money has been collected. The mood is quiet and prayerful. Kim begins speaking in a somber tone with her head tilted slightly down to introduce the final song. 


"We want to thank you for this oppor..." BOOM! Zzzzzzippp! The sound of a car tire exploding would not have been more disruptive. She raised her head to see if anyone heard. All eyes were staring straight at her as if she had just turned green. Kim, not one to be outdone, even by exploding pantyhose, preceeded with her speech. " You all have been so...BOOM! Zzzzzippp! The other leg gave way, causing her to jolt forward.


"My off-black, control-top, sandal-toe, size B pantyhose immediately became fish-nets!"


The five pound bag had exploded and fifty pounds of mud came oozing out. The lycra threads that were trying desperately to hold themselves together pulled tight against her flesh, giving her legs the texture of corrugated cardboard.


For most of us we'd be through. We would leave the stage and never look back. We'd certainly ask someone else to pray why we scadaddled! Kim is not like the rest of us.


She leaned forward, pointed her long, manicured nail at the gentleman sitting on the front row to her left. The poor man's face was white as a sheet, not because he had been called out, but because the woman standing in front of him was apparently exploding or imploding; either one being very, very bad.


"Sir," she stared at the frightened man with mesmerizing blue eyes. "You may want to move. These off-black, control-top, sandal-toe, size B pantyhose are giving way and you are right in the line of fire!"


He moved.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More is More

Here are some memorable quotes heard at Beloved Retreat 2010:

"Big girls do not do ruffles unless they're in a bag with a foot long and a Diet Coke."

"People ask 'How do you get your lipstick to stay on for sixteen hours?' I tell them take out that tube and  Re..A..Ply!"

"Never leave home without first putting on the 3 B's. If you'll remember your Bronzer, your Brows and your Bra then you're good to go!"

"I love all-natural make-up. Everything that goes on or in this body is natural, except for that Ding Dong and HoHo I had last week."

"My daddy was so excited with the changes in my life, he said if he thought it would work for my brother he'd send him to prison too."

"I was so hungry I went to the drive-through at McDonald's and ordered a Burger King!"

"Less is NOT more. MORE is more!"

"The bigger the rear, the bigger the hair."

"Are you going to find me a room or are you just going to stand there and look cute?"  (She got a room while everyone else waited another hour.)

"I feel like I have resurrected Elvis wearing this jumpsuit!"

 I also heard:

"If you go more than one hour and you don't think or talk about Jesus, you're probably not abiding."

"When Satan gets your mind, he has you."

"What we're longing for...what we were made for...is intimacy with God."


I could go on and on. I've got enough material for a month, but for now I'll close with this: the theme was all about 'influence'...those who have influenced us, as well as those we influence.

Can I hear from you? Who has been a big influence in your life or even harder, what kind of influence are you having on others?