Tuesday, October 9, 2018


I’ve  been writing this entry for a while.  At least in my mind.  And it explains the lapse of time since my last entry.  

We are building a mountain home.  Not a mountain house, mind you.  It is our home.  Everything about it is custom.  We’ve stuck our nose in every part of it so far.  And are driving people crazy as we do it.  

We are on mountain time.  

Through this year (we started in February) we’ve also had a wedding of a grandchild and the birth of twin grandchildren.  If the Lord allows, we’ll also become Great grandparents in December of this year.  This proves to us that life goes on no matter what we are doing.  It also proves to me that after I die, life will still go on.  And so standing will this home.

It’s been a very stressful year.  Many decisions had to be made in a timely manner.  Things I never dreamed of, or even had a fleeting thought of, we had to decide on.  Some things I have had to turn over to the One who Knows:  The Hubs.  Because I have no clue.

2 master closets
view of deck from master
For instance… insulation.  He gets all into the numbers.  How many inches?  Who cares, just put something in there.  Or stonework?  Slap some stones on the wall, I say!  But, no, he wants small stacks of colors, and absolutely, no blanco.  

He takes care of the smallest details and these details are important to him.  (Ultimately they will be important to me, only I am unaware.)

However, my thing has been the way the front of the house looks.  I have been adamant about not changing a thing.  But what do you do when the house is elevated several feet because The Hubs wants a full basement instead of just a larger crawl space?  Everything is proportionally off and has to be re-adjusted.  What then?

Or what about when you have to move the home and garage 20 degrees to fit it onto the best grade of the lot before you even start framing?  Certainly that affects the way the front of the house looks!  But you don't know that until you are well into the adventure.

We are into drywall.  Here are some pictures of the inside.
kitchen/living room
pantry under stairwell
upstairs loft/library
upstairs Bedroom 3
Jack & Jill bathroom upstairs
Balcony upstairs
between Bedroom 2 & 3
master bath

front door

So we are half way through the process, well, at least according to the draw requests.  We are hoping to be finished within 6 months, which means about April or May.  But we are not rushing it.

Who could rush Mountain Time anyway?  

spiral staircase in the middle
of the living room?
master bedroom
halfway through

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Take on Journaling

I am a proponent of journaling on scrapbook pages.  It is essential that you add explanation so as not to have to lean over the shoulder of the one who is looking at the page with constant finger-pointing and dialogue.  I mean... really?  Will you be here 100 years from now when your great-great grandchild is looking at this very same album?  I think not.  

That being said, I do not hesitate to write (in my handwriting) on my pages.  I even write titles!  How I became comfortable with this is a mystery to me.  I suppose it just happened that way.  When I think about it, though, I think this is how I overcame my fear.  

Before I started scrapbooking and with an interested friend, I took a calligraphy course taught by a person with a master’s degree in art.  She used her writing to make a very good living.  She claims to have written 1200 envelopes in one night for an open house using paint colors that she matched to the invitation.  She was an indisputable expert.  

She taught us to write correctly with a calligraphy pen filled from a bottle.  She eased our fears by telling us that it was all in the way you held the pen; properly and loosely.  The pen had to have a flow that we were comfortable with and that was up to us.  

We practiced.  The course lasted 6 weeks; we met twice a week.  We practiced some more. 

Surprisingly, our last class was short.  She encouraged us to develop our own style.  She encouraged us not to be such sticklers about the proper formation of certain letters.  Just go with the flow.  (No pun intended.)

So I took it to heart.  I wrote some wedding invitations for friends.  I invested in a light board to keep my lines straight.  I had my own swirls and tails and it was my style.

And I do believe this confidence helped me overcome my fears of journaling.  Heck!  I've always loved to talk!  I just needed to get all my thoughts down on my scrapbook pages. So I wrote just like I talked.  With all the expressions and just being myself. 

Recently, I found a favorite free-flowing gel pen that flows with all those thoughts.  These days I know I've made a great album if I've gone through 2-3 pens when it's completed!  

So if you have a fear... just sign up for a class!  These days you can YouTube it.  Read all you can about journaling and prompting your memories.  Tackle your fear.  Your handwriting is precious, beloved.

Man! It's a shame I can't remember that teacher's name.  ;-) 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January 4th.

Just your average day?  Not really.  This day is the day that my sister graced the Earth with her presence.  Today is also the day my fourth child was due-to-arrive, 35 year ago.  Why, o why wasn’t my son born on this day?
My sister was very excited back then when I gave her the news.  I know she was thinking my delivery would be a c-section and therefore scheduled on her birthday!  But it was not to be.  We decided to birth him before the end of the year for a much-needed tax deduction.

This past year my sister left us behind and went on to Heaven ahead of us.  I cannot tell you how much I miss her.  If I tell you a little bit about her, then maybe you will understand what she meant to me.

My sister was 14 when I was born.  She helped take care of me.  According to her, she was my MAMA.  I don’t doubt that was the way it happened.  But I do know that acted like a dear and devoted mother all throughout my life; during the time our mother was estranged from us and even after mother had passed and we had all reconciled it.  Or did we ever?  A few years later, and she was diagnosed with her future path... the way in which she would go..

Defender.  As a child, when the other siblings teased me, she would defend me.  She was the most peaceful person in our family.  Not PERFECTLY peaceful, but pretty peaceful.  

Teacher.  My sister taught me the meaning of true love.  She demonstrated a loving, partnering marriage and as a young child of 6, I saw it play out during my formative years.  She and my brother-in-law were living proof that marriage could work and that it was hard work, but it was worth it all.  !

Historian.   My sister loved family.  Just the concept of it.  She knew all of our family heritage and proudly proclaimed that we all were RAWLs.   (That's plural to Rawl not Rawlses)  She could answer any question about any cousin in our family!  This history was important to her.

Manager.  She was a smart business person.  I’d have to say she got that from our father.  I believe we all got SOME business sense from our father who was self-taught and taught us with on-the-job training.  Some more than others.  She managed a household.  She managed a classroom.  She was a leader. 

Put-together.  She was an organized person.  I loved going to visit her; I came home with motivation to straighten and organize my stuff.  She loved knowing where everything was in her home.  “A place for everything and everything in its place.”  OK so she might have gone a little crazy if stuff was not in the right place... !

Teacher of Children.  She was an awesome teacher.  Okay, so she never actually taught me in school, but I believe she could seriously teach some sixth grade math!

Traveler.  She loved to travel and sought adventure!  The hubs and I traveled with she and my brother-in-law to Central America in May of 2007.  The memories we made together with be with me forever.  By traveling together for an extended time, we learned more about the two of them.  Every time I say, "Are you sure about that?"  I think of her.  :-)

Talented.  She loved music and had an incredible soprano voice.  Throughout her high school years she learned she had the talent and won many awards for her voice.  Later she enjoyed her church choir and the camaraderie associated with it.  But music gave her her infectious joy that I so wanted to imitate.  

Warrior.  My sister was a fighter.  She enjoyed quality of life and would strive to do everything she could to keep herself strong.  Watching her made me realize the true meaning of the words, battling cancer.  I could never accept the fact that she was not going to be around for my entire life.  I had never known life without her in it.  

When she attend my weekend crop at the Lake.
She didn't bring enough to do.
Preservationist.  She was an avid scrapbooker.  This fact about my sister is essentially the hardest one to live without.  She was my first scrap partner.  When we were together, my creativity just flowed.  She was instrumental in helping me create a “grief album” after I suffered loss.  “Choose your favorite photo and that will be your title page,” she directed.  She was right. As she was most of the time.

We discovered Creative Memories the same day in November of 1995.  We attended our first directional class the next week at the YWCA.  We were both hooked and our albums were the subject of a lot of our conversations.  We motivated each other and enjoyed each other albums.  It was our thing.  My sister taught me the importance of preserving her family history.  When she left Earth, her husband, her siblings, each child and each grandchild had their own albums to cherish.  I will always think of her when i scrapbook over 16 pictures on one page.  

I miss her so much.  "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living. My Big Sister you'll be." 

Monday, October 10, 2016


I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  I suddenly could relive my Precious Years of Memories anytime, any place.  

Let me explain.

It started with the Days of Yore, 1981 and before. 
Then I went to Precious Years of Memories, 1982-84.  

I added Precious Years of Memories, 1985-90.

This was my life in pictures from the time i was about 10 until I was 35.  


I may not be particular about a lot of things.  Those who know me know that I am fairly flexible and bend in a lot of different directions on just about everything.

But when it comes to family history in photographs… I do not yield.

I was recently introduced to a company called FOREVER.  They venture to live up to their name.  They keep your family’s important photographic history safe forever.  Come what may, they say.  They will keep it safe. 

Initially I was not impressed.   So what?  I am pretty technically savvy.  I back up my photos on three sources.  I recently have had all my old VHS tapes, cassette tapes, slides, negatives and photos digitized.  (I spent a small fortune doing it.)  And it was important to me.  And I would guess that it is important to you, too!?

So I wasn’t impressed.  But then I learned that the company has a trust to tuck away funds to always be able to convert and return your important family stories back to you!  Read all about it RIGHT HERE.    Scroll down past the cost  to the important stuff.

I was all in.  Now, let me tell you my FOREVER story, since now I am an AMBASSADOR.

I decided to have my traditional albums digitized because when I signed on as an Ambassador to FOREVER, I received a $50 gift coupon to have digitizing done… who can pass that up?

I purchased an album box for $150 (and had another $25 off coupon for Ambassadors to use toward the scrapbooking software and content) so I really got the box for $125.  Oh and I must not forget to mention that I will be paid commission on that “sale”!  

Well, this album box I placed the pages from three albums, minus their page covers.  I sealed it up and used the prepaid Federal Express label that came with the box.  I marched it down the block to my Fed-Ex drop off point.  

Three weeks later I had the most wonderful e-mail stating that my project was in my LIBRARY.  We were traveling at the time and I was able to see my wonderful pages on my FOREVER APP.  

As I looked through my pages, zooming in on the photos and journaling…  I cannot tell you how it made me feel.

“My goodness, that granddude looks just like his Daddy did at 14 months!”  (I had forgotten.)

“It was a cold Christmas in South Georgia that year!”  (We had to wear our coats in the house!)

“It must have been a Friday.  I could tell by what I’d made for breakfast.”  (Reliving my daily routine that I thought would never end, until it finally did…. FOREVER.)


These few memories would always be there for my future generations.  No matter if there was flood or fire, they’d be there.  I can now rest easy.  


Friday, September 23, 2016

Land of a Thousand [Dances] [Lakes] Islands

We are visiting a place we never knew existed.  You see, we grew up in the South and in the South you don’t know (or care) about any places up North.  

However, there is such a place, in New York, no less, called Thousand Islands.  It's a Region.  

When I was a teenager, we talked on the phone.  That’s what teenagers did in the 60’s and 70’s.  (And the 80’s).  There was no e-mail, i-message or text messaging.  We actually communicated via the telephone.  And to miss a call… well that could be crucial to your social development.    

While sometimes away from that land line (or home), I would always assume my Daddy would be taking messages for me.

“Did anyone call me, Daddy?”

“Yep.”   (My dad was a man of few words.)

“So.  Who was it?”

“Somebody.  Told them you was at Thousand Islands and was gonna spend a week on each Island.”

“Really, Daddy?  Who was it?”

“I just told you.”  And that was that.

So, of course, I never knew who called.  In addition, I thought Thousand Island was a place my Daddy made up.  Right?

I‘ve learned that my Daddy was so much smarter than I ever imagined.  He knew there was such a place.  Thousand Islands.

Now, being here,  I only wish I had really been there when he told that person I was there when they called!

This part of the country is beautiful this time of year (September).  Though it may be the shoulder tourist season, and lots of things are closed (or diminished) already for winter, we are enjoying the weather.  We also are loving these little tiny communities that we are stumbling across.  Houses of all sizes line the St. Lawrence River.  I don't believe there are strict covenants and restrictions here.  Everyone seems to take care of their places and the ones we have seen are all well groomed and manicured.  We saw mansions from yonder years, once glorious but now struggling to “stay alive”.  These mansions are housed their own little island.  We even visited Bondt Castle, the biggest tourist trap you’d ever see, but even THAT house has much class and has been well-loved. 

On the banks of the St. Lawrence River
near Rockport, Ontario, the statues is seen
only from the water.  St. Lawrence holds
the Bible in one hand and a gridiron over
which he is said to have been roasted.
Bondt Castle Welcome

The line is drawn.  Left island is Canadian
and Right Island is American.
The SLR is our first taste of the Thousand islands.  (But they tell us that there are over 1.800 islands in this place called Thousand Islands).  

We crossed over the Thousand Islands Bridge and got a taste — eh? — of Canada. There’s a tower there…(of course) the Thousand Islands Tower.  If you climb up the spiral staircase, you can see all the islands, we were told.  (There is also an elevator).  Only it was raining the day we were there so we didn’t bother because you really need a clear day.  
They tell us the area is in drought.  The River is way down.  But it is so clear and pristine!  We are betting it is cold, though we are told it is pretty warm for this time of year… 75 degrees.  The sky is crystal clear and sun is perfectly warm.  A great time to visit.  Except when it is rainy.  Then the temp drops 20 degrees and you can only imagine what winter must be like here.

Ever wonder where Thousand Island Dressing originated?  Yep.  You guessed it.  Right here in the Thousand Islands region.  And you didn't even have to GOOGLE it.

This place has been the summer homes for so many people for so many years.  We’ve seen overnight trailer parks, permanent trailer parks, small little batches on the edge of the water, regular sized homes and million-dollar mansions.  We, from the south, can liken all this to the FLORIDA that we know.  The only difference is... People are nice to you here.  

It’s a great place to visit.  

But I wouldn’t wanna live here. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


I really must be getting old.  I never thought I’d ever be saying this… but it is too hot for the beach in the summertime.  It is nice to be 20 degrees cooler when the City is about 100 degrees... so we head for the hills!

I remember visiting mountain destinations as a child.  Maggie Valley (Ghost Town in the Sky) and Cherokee, N.C. were two destinations my parents enjoyed with friends of the family.  As I recall, we would drive straight through to get to cooler climates. 

Hubs really likes to do the hiking.  The hikes are more and more challenging each year for me.  This year’s mountain visit holds the records for NO Hikes taken.   By me.   I had all sorts of excuses.  “Looks like rain!”  “The trails are really slippery.”  “Ah, Man!  That trail that I wanted to do last time washed away in the heavy rainfall they had last year and they have closed it off!”  This year the Hubs ventured out on a short hike on his own, claims he got lost and I was frantic!  (I think he just wanted to be away from me.  He always did like to commune with nature.)

We do spend some time in the car driving to scenic viewpoints that will take your breath away. We love to get the breezes that go along with that scenery even if you can’t (won’t) do the hiking anymore.

Retro Signs excite me!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is our favorite destination and is a great source of scenery.  We discovered it a few years back, tasting a little bit during a jaunt with our friends who have a second home in smalltown, Virginia.  We both agreed we’d like to see more of it.  We first planned a trip in April and May, thinking we’d get to see lots of spring flowers.  

It was too early for spring.  Spring happens more like May and June.  We started in Cherokee, N.C. and journeyed all the way to the Shenandoah Parkway in Virginia to extend our scenic views.  On the Shenandoah Parkway we got to experience snowfall; or I should say “snowfell.”  There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground but the roads were clear.  It had snowed a few days prior to our arrival.  But the skies were crystal clear and blue.  I understand why Mountain Men will never give up Mountain Women.

A few years following, and every now and again, we long to taste the mountain air and so we plan a couple of weeks on the parkway, exploring sections we’ve not yet seen.  One of our favorite places to go is Mt. Pisgah Inn in North Carolina.  It is the only inn actually on the parkway in North Carolina.
Mt. Pisgah - The Peak of the Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an untouched gem in the south that I hope (and pray) will be preserved by the National Park Service for many generations to follow.  And I just pray my grandchildren will be able to enjoy the views and the cool air away from the Cities (from wherever they hail) that their Granddad and I have enjoyed so, so much!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monkeys in the Far East

Singing a song in Thailand
I got an opportunity to shoot some monkeys last Christmas holidays.  We traveled from Sydney, Australia to Singapore.  After that it was up and around some of the amazing Far Eastern destinations I had only dreamed of.  Indonesia and Thailand offered many “monkey shows”.  These monkeys were trained to do various tasks:  retrieve coconuts, sword fight, eat with a spoon, count (well, not so well) and even [appear to] sing with a microphone.  These poor little monkeys were so unpredictable the trainers had them tied to their feet. 

I was looking for more interaction with the monkeys.  

I really considered being a volunteer when they called for volunteers to have their wrists tied together with a rope and allow the “Baby Monkey, 2 years old” to untie the knot.  I was glad I did not volunteer.  Seems the Baby Monkey’s attention span was short; he climbed all over your head and neck and around your shoulder and back.

The main reason I decided not to volunteer was because they brought the antibacterial gel with them into the audience.  A dead giveaway.

Upon the conclusion of the show and for only $200 US (and a small tip for the monkey) you could have your picture made with Baby Monkey and receive a souvenir-Thailand-wood-framed rendition of your monkey experience.  The Hubs looked at me and said, “No.”  (I didn’t even ask!)

I did get to shoot these monkeys.  Best of all, these weren’t the only monkeys I got to shoot.

My favorite shots on this trip was from a random spotting.  Upon second thought, maybe they weren’t so random in the spotting; I am positive the driver knew they were there.  While touring the island of Sihanoukville, Cambodia by tuk-tuk we spotted a small troop of gray spider monkeys by the road.   And, conveniently located across that road was a fruit stand selling — get this — BANANAS.  (That was my first clue that this might not have been a random spotting.)
A Grandpa in Snookyville, Cambodia

This monkey troop had all the characters:  old gray Grandpa sitting on a fence watching the action; the Mothers; the Babies that were holding on for dear life; and, best of all, the mischievous teenagers who were trying to stir up trouble!  

As we “shot” these guys, I was prompted to tell my story of my pet monkey to anyone who would listen.  My pet Wilbur was a spider monkey and he looked like the ones I photographed on the fence.

Hubs just sat in the tuk-tuk, shaking his head and trying to get a cell signal on his phone.  (I think he was afraid of being bitten.)  He’s not a real monkey fan, I guess.

As we left we saw a lot more monkeys high up in the trees, swinging from limb to limb and tree to tree.  I could have watched them for a longer time (but the majority decided to move on).  

All gone
Do they really bite!?
We also looked for monkeys at the Big Buddha site outside Old Town Pantong, Thailand (where the big tsunami was in 2004).  All we found were signs.  And no sign of a monkey.  Our guide told us they had all been rounded up to perform in the monkey show up the road.  How very sad for those monkeys and for us.

Our greatest loss, however, was to spot nary a Proboscis monkey in Brunei.  They are only found in Brunei!  We even endured the river “cruise” with the hope of seeing and shooting one.  
Must have been too hot!

The Proboscis monkey-- what we SHOULD HAVE SEEN

It was the wrong time of day and we missed them.

 Monkeys, monkeys everywhere… but, that day, not a baby or a mama OR EVEN A GRANDPA to shoot.