Polar Plunge

I’m so proud of my son Albert who raised $2,451 for Brewable Cafe today by doing the Alpharetta Rotary Club Polar Plunge.

Goodbye 2020!!

2020 was a challenging year for many.  I have to admit that I feel a little guilty that 2020 was an awesome year for me.  Should I even say that out loud? So many other people suffered through this year.

I will admit that the year began with some anxiety and uncertainty.  But then my faith in God kicked-in and I realized what an opportunity the year would be.  In February, my family flew to Australia and New Zealand for a six-week trip.  We had a wonderful time exploring New Zealand for 27 days before the US State Department told us to get home or plan to shelter in place for the duration.  Our trip home was surreal, but we arrived home safely.  

Despite the prevalence of the Wuhan Virus, that plague has passed over our house.  We have all stayed healthy this year.

In July, after more than a little cabin fever, we took a trip to the western states to explore our National Parks.  Once again, the trip didn’t not go as planned, but it was still a wonderful trip.  We spent 25 days driving across America the Beautiful.  We managed to visit Badlands National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for a second time, Crater Lake National Park, Golden Spike, Grand Canyon National Park, Hot Springs National Park, and Graceland.

So as 2020 draws to a close, I don’t feel deprived, I feel blessed.  It has been a wonderful year where I have been able to spend quality time with the one’s I love.

My prayer for 2021 is that it is better than 2020.  I hope that we will put the Wuhan Virus behind us and get back to normal. 

Ain’t Life Grand!!

Friday Wisdom

“If you can’t control your own emotions, you’re forced to control other people’s behaviour, That’s why the touchiest, most oversensitive and easily upset must not set the standard for the rest of us.”  John Cleese

Friday Wisdom

These are uncertain times and it’s hard to tell who you can trust, but one thing is certain, you can’t trust the Chinese Communist Party Facebook, or Twitter, electronic voting.

Voted

I voted today, so for me the 2020 Election is over. It would be a relief, but I will still have to wade through the campaign effluent until the votes are tallied in November.

The crowds were light where I voted at the Fulton-Atlanta Library.

I’m curious as to why the powers that be felt they needed to add the phase, “I Secured my vote” to the voter stickers. Probably to make me feel that voting is safe and secure. I just see it as more government Kabuki theater.

Down Syndrome Awareness

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. I know I’ve said it before, but having a child with Down Syndrome is, in my opinion, the closest you can get to God’s love. I know, from personal experience, that raising a child with special needs can be challenging. However, raising any child is challenging. Parenting is always like cutting and polishing a diamond. You focus on getting your child to develop as much as they are able.

My son is 24 years old and he is a daily joy, as he has been since birth. Each stage of his life has been fun. Of course there have been challenges, but everyday there has been love and laughter.

If you learn of a friend or family member whose unborn child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, comfort them and encourage them not to despair. Down Syndrome children are a daily blessing of God’s love. Brighter than diamonds. More precious than Gold.

Southern Hospitality and Love

Nothing represents Southern Hospitality like homemade Deviled Eggs. I believe this is because they are labor intensive. When someone shows up at a get together with Deviled Eggs, you can bet they spent some time preparing them.

If they are a meticulous cook, then they started the night before by flipping the eggs, so the yolk is in the center of the egg. The next day they boiled and peeled the eggs. The peeling is the work part. Then separated the yolks from the whites without breaking the white. Mixing the yolks with mayonnaise and other spices to make the delicious filling. Then spooning or piping the yolk mixture back into the whites and toping with a garnish or simply smoked paprika. If all this is done with love, then there is nothing like a delicious Deviled Egg.

Deviled Eggs for our tailgate party today to celebrate the start of SEC football.

Boyz Weekend

Shari has left the boys home alone. She is in Knoxville celebrating her nieces 50th birthday. Albert and I started Boyz Weekend by watching all The Hobbit movies. 9 hours of Bilbo Baggins.

Watching The Hobbit wearing our Hobbit t-shirts.

Happy Birthday, America

The Declaration of Independence might be more relevant today, in 2020, than it has been in years. The second paragraph strikes me as particularly relevant today. (Emphasis added)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness”.

Below is my favorite rendition of America the Beautiful sung by a great America, Ray Charles.

Abigail Update

My granddaughter Abigail came over today for a visit. Her mom has figured out that it is easier to work-from-home at our house, so we can play with Abigail and she can get some work done. Works for me!!

Turtle

Shari and I went for a walk on the Alpharetta Greenway this afternoon.  We saw this turtle and someone said it was laying eggs.  Odd that it was so close to the main trail.

Penny’s Baptism

This afternoon we attended the baptism of my Grand-niece at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Yonge’s Island, SC. It was a very nice ceremony. The church staff made it special, despite the Wuhan Virus restrictions.

Welcome to your faith family, Penny.

Family

We are in Charleston, SC this weekend visiting my sister, niece, and new baby. When we first arrived, we were a bit stand-offish because of the Wuhan Virus. Then my niece Daisy saw Albert and it was hugs and kisses. So much for social distancing.

25th Anniversary

I can honestly say that on my wedding day, I didn’t consider that this day would ever arrive. 25 years is an inconceivable amount of time. However, here it is. It has been an amazing, fun, loving, exhilarating , blessed 25 years. I would love to say it was without it’s trials and tribulations, but that isn’t life. Yet, despite them, I lover her more than I did the day we were married. I was very smitten that day, so that is saying a lot.

Happy New Year !!

We had a traditional Southern New Year’s Day meal of Hoppin Johns and Collard Greens today.

According to legend, during the US Civil War, as the Union Army made its way through the Southern States they killed the livestock and burned the crops. Believing that the black-eyed peas were feed for the cows, the didn’t burn them. Collard Greens they probably didn’t realize were edible. Because until they are cooked for a long time, they really aren’t. In the wake of the Union Army’s destruction, the survivors ate black-eyed peas and Collard Green.

Legend also says that the black-eyed peas are eaten for luck and the collards greens for money in the new year. So here is to “Luck and money in 2020.”

Goodbye to a Dear Aunt

While we were traveling in Europe we received word that my Aunt Marlene had died. At the end of the summer she had surgery to remove a mass on her brain. I think they knew at the time, the surgery would not cure her, but would make her more comfortable during the time she had left.

Marlene was married to my mother’s oldest brother. Uncle Dick died in 2001. In 2016 I travelled to Southern California for work and had the pleasure of taking Aunt Marlene to dinner. It was just the two of us and during dinner I asked her about how her and my Uncle had ended up together in Southern California. She was from Monticello, Kentucky and he was from Orlando, FL. She told me the story about how they met and the circumstances that brought them together again in Cypress, CA. I really enjoyed my visit with her.

Aunt Marlene was a very smart and creative person. Each year she sent me a birthday card that she made herself and address with calligraphy. I learned later that she did that for about 300 people each year.

We drove to the church for the funeral and arrived right at 10:00. My sister Martha texted as we arrived to say that she had seats for us.  The service was very nice.  My cousin Robert gave a great eulogy and did a good job of holding it together while he talked.  Afterwards there was a slide show with a lot of great pictures of Aunt Marlene through the years.  

After the church service, we rode with my sister Martha and her husband Mike to the cemetery.  The graveside service was short.  At the end the pallbearers took the white gloves that they were wearing and a white rose and laid them on top of the casket.  Next the children all  laid a white rose in her casket and then everyone was invited to lay a flower on the casket.

After the graveside ceremony we went back to the church gym where there was a reception. We ate lunch there and visited with family members.  I spent a fair amount of time talking to Jack, my cousin Jill’s. Son who is autistic.  He is a good looking guy and seams to be very high functioning, but he does get on some obsessive topics. 

Eventually, the church people had to run us out of the gym. Our Irish family has the gift of gab. We went back to the hotel and changed our cloths.  While we were in the hotel room I turned on the tv to watch some of the SEC Championship Game.  Georgia was loosing and it got worse from there.

After changing into more comfortable cloths, we drove over to Aunt Marlene’s house were the family was gathering.  When we arrived, My cousin John was standing outside talking to his next door neighbor Peter and two friends who were visiting from Serbia and Montenegro. After chatting with them for a few minutes, we went inside and joined the rest of the family.

I started out watching a little of the football game with my cousin Pat.  Albert watched too. I made my way around visiting with various family members. The guys were hanging around the pool, so I went out there for a while.  Then I went inside and visited with my cousins Jennifer and Aunt Rita for a while. It was a nice gathering and at the end we took a group picture to remember everyone who came together for Aunt Marlene and her family.

The family

Wicked

We attended the broadway play Wicked today at The Fabulous Fox Theater.  We left the house on time, found our parking garage, and walked up to the Fox.  The weather was clear and cool, just perfect for our three block walk to the Fox Theater.  The only bad thing that happened was that security wouldn’t let me take my two inch swiss army knife into the theater.  I had the choice of walking back and putting it in the car or throwing it out.  I chose to throw it away, because I have 4 more just like it at home.
The show was spectacular.  I always love the creativity of a live theater performance.  It is always a treat to go to the fabulous Fox Theater.  The moorish interior and lighting always impresses me.

A map of the Land of Oz
The Moorish interior of The Fabulous Fox Theater

Trick-or-Treat

Happy Halloween. The rain passed through in time for the little goblins to go Trick-or-Treating. We had about 50 come to the door. Our traditional Halloween night festivities includes a classic movie, Young Frankenstein.

Favorite Dinner

I’m in Irving, TX and I was pleasantly surprised to find an In-N-Out Burger here. So a Double-Double Animal Style was a must for dinner. It was delicious.

Abigail Update

On Sunday we had the pleasure of hosting my granddaughter Abigail at our house while her parents had a lunch date. She has been teething for the last few days and has not been in a very good mood. Of course she was a perfect angel while she was with her Nana and Pawpaw.

She is now 10 months old and has real hair. She is growing fast. Like most children her age, she loves to be held and walked around with so she can see the world from a taller perspective.

My daughter sent this picture of her eating breakfast this morning. This is her typical personality. A happy girl.

23 Years of adventures

23 years ago today, God blessed us with a baby boy.  We named Albert after his grandfather and great-grandfather.  We knew he would have challenges and wanted him to have a strong family name.

He was born with some health problems and at 4 months old had to have open heart surgery.  After the one surgery, he was a healthy and happy baby boy.

He has always been a fun and happy child.  We have had many adventures together and I hope we will have many, many more.  Happy Birthday to my baby boy.

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Comfort Food

I has been a stress filled week, so for lunch today, Rinktum Ditty. Strange name. My Mother made this when I was growing up. I’ve never asked my sisters if they remember it, but I still enjoy it. It is a very simple recipe. Canned tomato soup with cheddar cheese melted in the soup. Served over saltine crackers. Not something I eat all the time, but I enjoy it now and then. Definitely Good Eats!

Brew-able

Albert starts a new job today at Brew-able. It’s a coffee shop that supports special needs adults with job training. He only works a few hours a day, but it get’s him out, he get to interact with other, and learn new skills. It’s a Godsend for us.

Albert with his co-workers Meggy and Maddy

Notre-Dame Fire

I’m saddened to hear about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. My sincere condolensces to all Parisians. It is hard to fathom the history and beauty that was lost. I’m so grateful that I was able to visit it in 2017 with my family. I’ll cherish the memories.

Rainy Sunday Morning

This morning a thunderstorm rolled through. It was not the dangerous, twister making, thunderstorm. Just the rainy, windy, occasional clap of thunder kind of storm. We have the windows open in the house and I sat by an open window reading cook books and watching The Masters on television. Nice!

Happy Birthday, sweetie

My wife is very difficult to buy for.  I struggle every year with Christmas gift ideas and then her birthday is 3 weeks later. At least once, she mentioned wanting to go fly fishing.  So, for her birthday this year I gave her two tickets to Garden & Gun’s Ladies-only Fly-fishing Excursion.  She was thrilled.  She has spent several month planning for the trip and took her best girlfriend with her.

Yesterday she texted me this picture of one of the fishes she caught.  She said that she actually caught 4 fish, two baby ones and another that she lost just as she was getting it to shore.  The smile on her face says it all for me.  She had a really good time.

Forgiveness

I received a text over the weekend letting me know that a friend’s wife had passed away.  He was a friend from a previous work place that I regularly keep in touch with.  I had never actually met his wife, but only heard of her through my friend.  They were at a difficult time in their marriage. She was having health problem that, based on what he told me, may had degraded her mental health. What he described to me was someone who was cruel and mean, particularly to him.  She had isolated herself in a back bedroom and rarely came out and almost never interacted with him.  There were several instances where she had called the police on him alleging physical abuse.  According to him, she had even alienated her children.  She only considered her sister as family. Not an enviable situation to be in.

Receiving the news of her death put me in a difficult social situation.  I have seen before when an abusive spouse dies and immediately is forgiven of all sins and only the good times are remembered.   The first time caught me off guard and I committed a social mistake by not recognizing that death changed the situation.  I was guarded this time and would not make that mistake again.

I called my friend and spoke to him.  As I expected, he was devastated by her death.  Despite her numerous health problem, I don’t think he had mentally prepared for her death.  He spoke of her in loving terms as if their life together had been one big honeymoon. He was a dutiful husband and he sincerely loved her.

As humans, we have a tremendous capacity to forgive.  We also want to desperately forget the bad parts of our lives.  I think this is normal and perhaps healthy.  I think this is what true love does.  I have seen people who are bitter and never let go of the hate and abuse.  However, I think with those individuals are seeking attention and victim status from others. True love forgives and forgets the abuse and remembers the love.

Nota Bene:  I hope you found this post helpful, but it was really written to help me process my thoughts and feelings about this situation. I find it helpful to write about difficult situations.

Sunday Morning with Pawpaw

My granddaughter Abigail spent the night last night.  Her Mom and Dad attended a wedding in Athens, GA and thought this would be a good opportunity to see how Abigail would do, not to mention how my daughter would do, away from her parents for a night.

My wife spends one day a week with Abigail, so there is not problem with familiarity.  She knows her “Nana” and gets a big smile on her face as Nana comes closer.    She likes to be held so that she can see what is going on and she follows Nana around the room with her eyes.

On Sunday morning, after she ate some breakfast, we had some time together.  We played on the floor for a while with her toys. I brought out my GoPro camera because I know I will want to relive this day again sometime in the future.  We took a break and sat on the couch and played with the GoPro.  As you can see in this video, at 5 ½ months old she is exploring the world through touch and taste.

Remember my Grandparents

This weekend my Grandmothers have been in my thoughts.  I can’t help thinking this is because my granddaughter will be spending the night with us. Thinking about how I want her to remember me, has prompted me to remember my relationship with my own grandparents.

I grew up living in the same town and frequently visiting my paternal grandparents. Granddaddy and Grandma Williams both lived into their 90’s.  I was an adult when they passed away.  Grandma Williams was archetypal dominant matriarch and an excellent cook. I credit her for inspiring me to cook.  It was through her that I first realized cooking for your family was a way of showing your love for them.

One of my favorite dishes that she made was potato salad.  I was very sad when she died, and I realized I would never taste her potato salad again.  Then on a visit to Biloxi we ate dinner at a friend’s house, and she severed Grandma Williams potato salad. I asked her if she could give me the recipe and she said she could, but it was from the back of a jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. In the age of Google, I was able to find Grandma Williams Potato Salad Recipe. Oh, happy days!

When Grandma Williams died, I inherited the bowl she always served potato salad in.  I still use it whenever I make her potato salad.  It brings back fond memories.

As I begin being a Grandparent, I want my grandchildren to always remember me as an engaging and playful grandfather who loved them very much.  Since I love to cook, I’m certain that one of the ways I will show my love, is by cooking for them.

Meat-less Friday

One of the advantages of the meat-less Fridays of Lent is that it gives you opportunities to eat foods that you don’t normally eat.  Today for lunch I had an egg salad sandwich.  I cannot eat this meal without Pringles potato chips.  This combination, egg salad sandwich and Pringles, goes back to my childhood when I would visit my maternal grandmother’s house in Orlando. Grandma Callanan like egg salad sandwiches and she was an early fan of Pringles potato chips.  While visiting her house we would often have this for lunch. To this day, I never eat an egg salad sandwich without Pringles. Another potato chip would not be the same.