Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eulogy .....memories of Aunt Ginny

MeeMaw, Aunt Ginny, Virginia – was the second to the youngest of eight children. She made us believe that she would live forever. We could never imagine not having her in our lives. How can we live without someone that has been such a presence? All of you already know how you feel about Aunt Ginny – or you wouldn’t be here. I’m probably not going to tell you anything you don’t already know. She was generous, giving, a great planner, a good cook, made wonderful banana pudding, was warm and loving.

When I was thinking of what I’d like to share about Aunt Ginny, I realized that three words, pretty much sum up her life. Those words are Faith, Family and Friends. Her Faith made it possible for her to face each day and overcome the loss of her two sons, three husbands, and seven siblings. Her Faith was what she leaned on, when everything else failed.

Her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, step children, step grandchildren, nieces, nephews, step nieces, step nephews…..the list just goes on and on…..were all a part of the families that she successfully blended together. Regardless of where you fell in her family tree, you were her family….and she loved you warmly and deeply.

Her friends were extended family………people that we all grew to know because Aunt Ginny loved them like sisters and brothers. She depended on them, and they on her.

She was our Social Butterfly …..she never missed an opportunity to socialize whether it be a wedding, funeral, graduation, reunion, whatever. One Saturday night, she called (or I called her) and she told me how tired she was. I questioned what she’d done that day……and she was almost breathless as she said “I had 3 events today, and I had to run home and change clothes between each one.”

Several of us have taken road trips with her. Earlier this year, a cousin was coming from out-of-town and I told Aunt Ginny that they would come down and pick her up. She told me she would rather drive. I asked why and she said “Because I don’t like riding with anyone else”. I said “Well, Aunt Ginny you ride with me.” Her very indignant response was “Well, I keep my eyes closed.” (And, let me tell you….she could, and did, give driving instructions….even with those eyes closed.)

I’ve wondered how I am going to live without her….and those often, daily, phone calls. I’m going to sit….in the rocker….on my front porch….and I’m going to look, at the old homeplace….the house where she grew up. When the cicadas are singing, in chorus, in the trees……I’m going to remember her. I’m going to remember the fun times, the funny things she said and did…..and I’m going to be so glad that I was blessed with this wonderful aunt……..the one that I thought would live forever. And, like me, each of you have your special memories of times you shared. Those memories will see you thru the days to come.

For those we love remain with us, for love itself lives on, and cherished memories never fade
because a loved one's gone.
Those we love can never be more than a thought apart, for as long as there is a memory,
they'll live on in our heart.

Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day ..... 67 years later


Memorial at the American Cemetery
(Photos by Sarah W. Gorrell)
  67 years ago today, on June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy, France. Many of our men lost their lives in that D-Day landing.

The memorial (shown above) welcomes visitors to the American Cemetery which sits on 172.5 acres atop a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches in the invasion) and the English Channel. The cemetery is the resting place of almost 10,000 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations in WWII.  1,557 names of the missing are inscribed on a semicircular wall, east of the memorial on the "Walls of the Missing". Rosettes mark the names of those that have been recovered and identified.

A bronze statue "Spirit of American Youth" stands in the middle of the the memorial. Every hour, chimes play familiar hymns and the church bells ring.

A visit to the cemetery is a very somber and sobering experience, as one walks among the rows of white marble crosses, aligned perfectly from any direction.

Some have names, rank, company, state from which they came, and the date they died - like the cross shown (left).

Many have only the inscription “Here lies in honored glory, A Comrade in Arms, known but to God”,

Waving in the wind, two flags stand watch over our men who gave their lives so that we might be free. Let freedom ring .......let us never forget how much was given so that we might freedom!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sharing Thoughts: A history lesson on Memorial Day's Southern roots

Sharing Thoughts: A history lesson on Memorial Day's Southern roots: "Friendship Cemetery's memorial to both Confederate and Union soldiers. On Monday, May 30, our country will be caught up in hot dogs an..."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

                         Welcome to my front porch!

Come, and sit, and visit with me in my favorite place; my front porch! Let's talk about things both old, and new.

We'll listen as the wind brushes the tops of the tall pines. In the spring and summer, we'll watch the hummingbirds, and in the fall as the leaves drift slowly to the ground; we'll watch the squirrels as they rush about gathering acorns. If we're lucky, a deer or turkey may wander through the yard. Somewhere, in the distance, a whippoorwill calls out. The songs of the cicadas, in the woods by the house, will help to stir our memories of long ago. In the winter, we won't always be able to sit on the porch; but we can see it from the living room as we sit beside the fire - waiting for the first hint of spring, so that we can get back outside!

Come and sit, and let's talk, laugh, and reminisce. Along the way, we'll remember a recipe, or a tip that we like. We'll dig through old photographs, and maybe find a few to share.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a part of your day with me!

Apple Salad

2 medium red delicious apples - unpeeled, chopped in small pieces (I put some lemon juice in the bowl and dredge apples in the juice, as I chop, so they won't turn brown)
1 large can crushed pineapple - drained
1/4 cup chopped nuts

2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Drain lemon juice from apples.
Mix apples, drained pineapple, and nuts
Mix dressing ingredients and pour over apple mixture
Refrigerate until time to serve, and enjoy!

Names changed to protect the guilty.......

My brother recently wrote about customer service, or the lack thereof, on his blog:

For the past couple of days, I've been dealing with my own frustrations regarding this diminishing role in our ever-changing society. In many instances, I believe it's either a lack of training, by managment, or a lack of an adequate number of employees on the schedule - again a management issue.

I've been attempting to book a space, in a Virginia RV Park, for the month of July. Many of the RV Parks barter with a handful of campers - camping space for a few hours of work. Often, these "working campers" are more camper than worker ....... meaning that some of the people manning the registration and phones have never worked in an office. A miminal amount of training is also provided.

This was never more evident than my Saturday phone conversation with someone named "Janie", and it seemed to get worse today, Sunday, when I had to talk to "Lucy".

On Saturday, I asked questions about their facilities (in addition to what was already shown on their website), and I told Janie what we needed to accomodate a Motorhome of our size. We discussed the dates that the site would be needed. After going over their online map and discussing various sites, Janie told me "If I were you, I'd take site A66". Sounded like a good deal to me! It was a large, tree-shaded site. Thought we were set. And then came the clunker......"but it's not available". "Really? You're kidding me! We've been through all these sites, and you've made your recommendation - with which I agree - and it isn't available. Tell you what, why don't I call back tomorrow!"

So, today I call again and this time I get Lucy. (And yes, the name did fit.) Once again, I went over what we needed and the dates we expected to be there. Lucy asked if I minded if she put me on hold while she checked to see what was available. Nope, not at all.....please check!

And, on hold I was .........ten minutes (exactly) later I looked at Bob and said "Do you think I should hang up and call back?" So, that I did. This time, someone named Lura answered the phone. I said "Lura, this is Sarah Gorrell, put me on hold." Her response was "No, that was Lucy, but she had to go to the bathroom." (Did she forget me?) Lura further added "I don't know how to use the phone, so I'm just going to lay it down." (Again, are you kidding me??)

Finally, Lucy returns from the bathroom.....picks up the phone and says "Can I help you?" I respond with "This is Sarah Gorrell, you put me on hold." And, her response was "And what did you need?" I almost screamed my question of "Oh my God, are you kidding me?"

Now, about this time - everyone is wondering what is so special about this RV campground, with its incompetent staff, that would make me continue. It's the fact that our friends are going to be "working campers" (and they do this on a regular basis - so they are qualified) and we want to camp where they camp! (Near the Blue Ridge Parkway where it will, hopefully, be cooler than July in Mississippi!)

They say all's well that ends well, and this finally ended well. Lucy picked up the slack - sent working camper hubby, Shorty, to check out a few sites for us. We have a reservation for the month of July, even though it isn't site A66!

The campground has a large lake for fishing and paddle boats, two swimming pools, an 18 hole miniature golf course, and a water slide. Bob is already looking forward to the water slide. (Just kidding!)

Yep, I think it's more a lack of training than a lack of customer service. Even though Janie, Lucy, and Lura gave me a few more gray hairs .....they WERE very friendly!! (Now, we can hardly wait until July ......gotta' see what these three look like!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Call '911', I think I'm dying.......

Yesterday, after finishing a couple of doctor's appointments and awaiting a third, we passed time away by going to the bookstore. I've never understood how these major bookstores can operate like a library, and maintain a profit. (Grab a book, magazine, or newspaper ....sit in their coffee shop and read 'til your heart's content.)

While perusing (I just love that word!) the magazines, looking for something interesting to read, I noticed one (don't recall the name) with a catchy phrase on the cover. It read something like "Take this test and find out how long you will live". So, no doctor, or psychic, needed .....just read the magazine.....take the quiz and get your answer.

I quickly picked it up, backed up and sat down on one of the benches in the center of the aisle and turned to Page 54. I didn't bother to read the preamble to the article....I just rushed right to the questions.

Question Number One: Do you eat healthy food? Well, is ice cream, donuts, chocolate candy, and fried food healthy? That would be "No".

Question Number Two: Do you drink alcohol? Does one or two glasses of wine count?

Question Number Three: Do you smoke? That would be "No".

So far, I've gotten points for not smoking - but are the points for questions one and two deducted?

Question Number Four: Can you climb three flights of stairs without stopping to rest, or being winded once you get to the top? Heck, after the first flight, I have to stop and take a breath ....after the third, please call '911'.

Question Number Five: Can you get up, from a sitting position on the floor, without putting your hands on the floor and pushing up?  Are you serious? I can't get up, out of a chair, without pushing!!

There were five more questions - I have no idea what they were - I had already failed 4 out of 5, and I was very depressed!

I closed the magazine and decided I'd take my chances with the psychic. I didn't like these questions. Maybe I'd better go home and call the Undertaker! Who thinks up these things, anyway!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm a vision in my own mind.....

To alleviate the boredom of the hotel room, during my many years as a “Road Warrior”, trips to the nearest mall would often take place. On one of those shopping expeditions as I was leaving the dressing room, I noticed some appropriately placed packages of ‘Spanx’. Spanx is a spandex girdle, designed to make you think it will put everything back where it is supposed to be. This was marketing at its best. Unless one is built like a model, we all need a little help to corral all those extra rolls of fat that somehow attach themselves to inappropriate places on our bodies.

I had just finished trying on two or three outfits. One of the outfits I had chosen was a pair of slacks along with a long tunic type sweater – one that would go practically to my thighs and cover up what I call the “wave effect”. I am sure that you have seen the wave – it is when the tummy and thighs have those rolls of fat like the waves on the ocean. So, here I was, just the perfect victim for their sales gimmick. YES, I wanted those Spanx – they would certainly get rid of my waves. (Now, don’t you think the term “waves” sound so much better than fat or flab?)

I stood there, looking at the size chart on the package, trying to decide the best fit for me. I was at the top of the Size C; but vanity, ego, or just plain stupidity – call it whatever you will, would not let me look at Size D. After all, I once was a Size 8 and I was now on Weight Watchers; why buy a size that was going to be too big after just a few more points! I grabbed my Size C Spanx and headed for the cashier, not only was I going to be well-dressed, but I was also going to look very svelte with everything in place. I could just see an image of myself in my head – all slim and trim (and it only took one trip to the store to have this vision swirling in my head).

I was so excited, I could hardly wait for morning! I pulled the Spanx out of the package and unfolded this tiny piece of spandex. I held it up to my body and saw that this was going to be one tight fit! I briefly considered waiting for those Weight Watcher points to take effect. I sat down on the side of the hotel bed, brought my right leg up and crossed it up over my left knee to make it easier to put on the darned things. As I was getting ready to pull the right leg of the Spanx over my right foot, I noticed a defect. There, in the crotch, was a hole! Upon closer inspection, I could see that this wasn’t a tear – the hole had been left there, on purpose.

I got up off the bed and dug the package out of the trash can. I had my own suspicions of why the opening was there, but I needed to read it for myself. There, on the back of the package, the benefits of my Spanx were listed. Included was “Slit in crotch for when necessity calls”. Now, hadn’t they just thought of everything! I could even be trim while I pottied. It’s just such a shame that the visions in our heads aren’t the ones that look back at us when we stare in the mirror. I had not yet gotten them on, but I knew in my heart of hearts that putting this wonderful garment on was going to be no walk in the park!

I sat back down on the side of the bed, and once again, I crossed the right leg and foot over the left knee. And, I started. I got the Spanx onto the right foot and up on my ankle. I put my foot down and leaned over and got the Spanx over the left foot and onto the ankle. I pulled and tugged, and tugged and pulled until I had them up to my thighs. I continued pulling and tugging. I sat on the bed, and I lay on the bed - sweatin’ like a pig. I waddled over and looked in the mirror. How in the world was I ever going to get them up over my butt, and where would all those lumps go? It looked to me like there was a lot more of me left than there was of Spanx. I began to rethink that size thing.

After dancing around the room for several more minutes; losing a fake fingernail in the process, I won the battle. I was absolutely worn out, and every inch of me was drenched, in sweat. But, I was completely dressed, in Spanx, from my knees to my waist. There was only one small problem. I had managed to put the Spanx on over a pair of underwear and a pair of pantyhose. (Just like a man would do, I had read the instructions AFTER I started putting them on.)! Either I would ignore necessity calling, all day, or I would remove these things and start again. About that time, necessity did call – loud and clear.

I decided, since I had to remove them anyway, I might as well put them on like they were designed to be worn, with pantyhose on top. Let me tell you, putting those things on a second time was no picnic. The first time was bad enough, but trying to pull Spanx onto bare, damp (from sweating) skin was like trying to put a 4 inch square peg into a 3 inch round hole! I struggled and pulled and twisted and danced around that room like I was having some sort of fit. Finally, after about 15 minutes and a couple of hot flashes, I was once again wrapped in Spanx. To say they fit like a glove is an understatement.

I looked into the mirror, and I have to tell you that the sight just made me sick. I still had waves in all the wrong places. I had believed everything in the ads. I had really imagined that this wonderful garment would absolutely and miraculously get rid of all my lumps and ridges. Their ads had truly made me believe in magic. In my mind, I could see myself looking like I had 20 – 30 years ago. Not!

The mind can do really strange things. I could still imagine those new pants and that new tunic top making me look all slim and sexy. After all, I had the Spanx on – the image, in my head, would surely appear (in the mirror) when I was fully dressed. Let’s just say the image in my head looked better than the one that stared back at me after I had on those new duds. To say that I was disappointed was putting it mildly.

I suffered through the day. You just can’t stuff a Size 14 body into a garment meant for a Size 8 and not expect discomfort. And, as for the “hole for when necessity called” – well, that didn’t work like it was supposed to, either.

The darned things were just about as hard to get off as they were to get on. But, I tell you one thing – there is one place where they fit very well…….in my dresser drawer. I hang onto them for times when I need to look like a model. Do I put them on? Heck no, I open the drawer and look at ‘em! The image in my head is quite enough.