Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The weather

I believe I've already established that I am not a fan of winter.  So with that in mind, I have a question for you.

Do you think you could live in an area completely different than the climate you have lived in all your life?

Like moving, permanently, to Arizona?  Or Alaska?   Naturally, that question only applies to people who don't already live in those two states.  You understand my question, though, right?

I never thought I could but I'm into heavy contemplation right now.  Blame it on the never-ending snow.  I know for sure I could go elsewhere for Jan., Feb. and March.  Maybe that would be enough to take the edge off of winter.

My son lived in England for 6 years.  Then he moved to Japan for 3.  I thought for sure that the pull of his roots would bring him back to the US one day but maybe not.  He's taken up residence in Thailand now.  So the whole "roots" thing may not hold true for everyone.

I think I might be able to live year round in one of the Carolinas or Virgina or Tennessee but not further south or west. 

Food for thought.    

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day of Dance: 2013

Our local hospital, Allegan General, hosts several Spirit of Women events throughout the year.  One of them is called "Day of Dance" and we certainly did.

It ran for 3 hours yesterday afternoon and offered 30 minute sessions of:  Yoga, belly dancing, hip hop, Zumba, Jazzercise and Salsa, etc.

There were also health screening stations in the lobby of our high school performing arts center as well as informational booths set up along the hallways.

The afternoon began with two speakers who delivered "heart" felt speeches and then the sweating began.

   People registering and milling about before the fun begins. 
The Allegan General booth.  Hi, Shel!
The ItWorks! booth.  My sister, Lisa is a distributor.  That's not her, though.  That's Miss Pam, another IW lady.
A visual aid for "this is what happens to you if you don't take care of yourself."  Just kidding.  This was the kids station.  They could check vitals on a teddy bear.  Cute, eh?
My sister, Lisa, on the left who has apparently abandoned her ItWorks! booth and is hanging out with one of my all-time favorite women, Gerah - the Zumba instructor extraordinaire.

Now let's Jazzercise!  In the top picture the firecracker in the front is my instructor, Brenda.  In the back left is Denise who teaches in Otsego.  To the right of Brenda is Kim who teaches in Allegan as well and Kendra on the far right who kills the ladies in Plainwell.  You could not possibly find better instructors anywhere.

Here we are in the Zumba session.  Tons o' fun.  The instructors (my favorite, Gerbie-derbie) are amazing.  Full of energy.
I got in line for the massage area too late much to my disappointment.  I was soooo looking forward to the laying on of hands.  Oh, well.
    The afternoon came to a close.  Everyone looked like they had a great time thanks to, Jen Dentler, who is the Spirit of Women organizer.  I took my salt-encrusted body home and stood under the shower for a very long time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Small town bashing

You know what I'm tired of?  Small town bashing.  Allegan is a small town but we have a great school system.  They offer a huge range of subjects and levels.  We are very lucky.

Yes, there are shortcomings (although I can't think of any at the moment) but aren't there issues in every school system?

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people say, "well, you know, I graduated from Allegan so . . . "  If they're blaming their stupidity on the school system here then it is definitely misplaced blame.

I hear the same crap about the hospital.  Unless you need a brain transplant there's really no need to go elsewhere.  The doctors all come from the same place - a medical school.  Even when they delivered babies at Allegan General people went out of town to give birth.  Ok, I understand if there are special circumstances but normal delivery?  I don't get it.

Same with salons.  This will probably annoy some of my friends but I'm sorry.  I just don't understand driving 30 or so miles to get my hair cut.  Again, the stylists all went to cosmetology schoolI pay $20 (tip included) for my haircut.  What do they pay?

Pardon me.  I'm feeling a bit snarky after just having read a dis on Facebook about the Allegan educational system.

I've taken some deep breaths and have calmed down a bit but I'm not going to delete this blog.  It's mine and I get to say what I want to say.  I'll admit; I'm kind of liking the power thing. hehe 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Birthday brunch

Today I went to a brunch at my friend, Jan's, house. Seven ladies gathered for wonderful food, to share memories of the birthday girl and laugh.

Our mutual friend, Sue, would have turned 63 today.  She died at age 47 back in 1997.  Those fifteen years have flown by and we all miss her like the dickens.

I posted this picture last October on the anniversary of her death but I think you need to see her smiling face again. 

                                 Fruit.  Isn't it pretty?  Tasted good, too.

                                Homemade bread with a very tasty jam.

The short one on the right is, Jan.  We were brunching in her home.  The lady with her is her daughter, Carrie.
                                               Egg and asparagus quiche. 

I'm guessing here but I believe this was a French toasty thing.  You'd think I'd know since I had two helpings.

Scenery break:  Jan and her husband, Bill, live on the Kalamazoo River.  It's a beautiful spot; very serene.

Melissa brought the cupcakes for Sue's celebration.  She would have loved seeing all our lips take on the icing color.

 These dishes were Sue's; Jan is the proud owner of them now.

This card was given to Jan by Sue back in 1995.  No truer words were ever spoken.

Happy birthday, Sue.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

So, it's the "hearts and flowers" day, eh?  Petey and I have never really gone whole hog on this holiday.  As a matter of fact, I bought a pair of earrings last weekend for myself and we called it good.  I showed them in the "New store alert" blog.

I got him a hand towel with chili peppers on it for his "bowling towel."  Romantic, doncha think?  Well, I also threw in some cashew clusters from Something Sweet.

I can hardly wait to hear about all the envious comments he gets this afternoon at the bowling alley.  

The sun is shining here in Allegan - I hope you're catching a few rays wherever you are, too.  Whether you get into the V-day thing or not, I hope it's a good one for you. 



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A horse story

Y'all remember that I'm a volunteer for our hospice's bereavement program - I've been with Wings of Hope Hospice for 13 years.  I'm very proud to be associated with this wonderful organization.

Sunday night I attended a fund raiser at our local movie house for hospice.  My buddy, David Green, had an idea to show the documentary, Wild Horse, Wild Ride to raise $$$ for two programs that he runs for middle school/high school students.  Kids grieve and grieve deeply.  They need outlets for their grief.  The Seabiscuit and Pegasus programs help them with the outlet process.

The theater wasn't packed to the rafters (this was the first time for this event) but it was well attended.  I was thrilled to see so many faces.

Betty Jo on the left and Theresa Lynn (executive director) in the middle.  I have no idea who the guy is on the right.

Two attendees; Shelly on the left and David's wife, Emily on the right.  David was recovering from surgery and was unable to attend. That's Amy behind the glass holding up one of the tickets.

                 Milkduds anyone?  How about some pop corn?  

I went to the movie because I support hospice every chance I get but I really thought I'd be yawning my way through the film - hoping it wasn't too long.

Boy, was I wrong.  It was fabulous!  Petey and I were completely taken in by the story.  We laughed, I cried; we never once looked at the clock and it ran for an hour and forty-five minutes.

The story focused on 10 or so people that participated in a program called "Mustang Make-over."  They took a wild mustang from government land, brought it home and had 100 days to train it for a competition at the end.

The hours and hours that went into the training was fascinating.  Of course, each person fell in love with their horse and after the contest was over their horses were auctioned off to good homes.  There were tears.  Men crying does me in every time.

I left with a smile on my face and red-rimmed eyes.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New store alert!

We recently drove up to the mall.  I'm guessing that we haven't been there in quite a while because there is a store there now that wasn't there the last time we strolled the corridors.  I would have noticed.  I didn't have my camera with me (and I don't have a fancy phone like the rest of y'all) so I didn't get store shots but I captured the end results.

Oh, yeah.  The store.  It's the Brighton store.  I've never been on the cutting edge of fashion so I was a late-comer to Brighton.  I bought a bracelet back in, I think, '03 while we were in Memphis.  I liked it immediately and was surprised at the price - very reasonable.  I have worn the hell out of it since.  It's my "go-to" bracelet and it's by Brighton which I didn't pay any attention to at the time.

Besides loving the price, you don't have to polish Brighton pieces every time you turn around.

I wasn't really in the market for jewelry when we came upon the new store (there since November) but a phenomenon occurred.  They must have turned on the magnetic force field because I was literally pulled into the joint.  It's all shiny and bright and happy.  You cannot stop yourself.

With Petey's encouragement I selected a pair of hoop earrings that I knew would be perfect for my disk beads.  The lady that waited on me, Suzie Palazzolo, was a delight and this is how she packaged up my new hoops.

                                  How cute is that bag?

                 And how about the tissue paper and the ribbon?

And still another bag inside.  This one is cloth!

Finally!  The earrings (sorry I didn't use the tripod so the pic is a bit fuzzy).  The best part is these hoops only cost $23.00.  Two bucks less than the ones I bought at Target when they were not on sale.  And there's a one year guarantee on the clasp!

Still no tripod but you get the idea, right?  How cool do my disks look on these babies?

    So next time you're at the Grandville mall, check out the Brighton store.  Tell 'em Ellen sent ya.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A class act.

As one of the trustees for the Mignon Sherwood Delano Foundation I get to give $$$ away to non-profits in and near Allegan county.  It is a position I am honored to hold.

I also get to dine in cool places and eat fantastic food.

This is the Park Club in downtown Kalamazoo.  That's Becky (another trustee) on the left.  She wouldn't move out of the shot.  I kept yelling, "Becky!  Move!"  She wouldn't.

As you can see, this is a very, very old building - with a lot of class.

 Wouldn't you like to have a window with your initials etched in the glass?

The Park Club is a private club.  Lucky for us that one of our trustees is a member, eh?

 Look closely and you'll see a private dining room on the right.  The biggest wooden pocket doors you've ever seen closes it off.  That's where we always sit.  Separates us from the riff-raff. hehe

 Now - on to the food.

                  The appetizers included a curry-ish shrimp.

 I didn't order these scrumptious goodies so I'm guessing here.  This one was very Asian.  I know there was soy sauce involved and it was tasty. 

                                      Coconut shrimp.

This was my dessert.  I remember picking up the spoon and then everything went black.  When I regained consciousness - this is what I saw.  It was Chocolate Lava cake with peppermint ice cream.

Notice anything?  Wondering what I had for an entree?  Again, I was sooooooooo into the dining experience that I totally forgot to capture my shrimp scampi.  Take my word for it - outSTANDing!

I have an interesting side story regarding the Park Club.  When women came to the club (mostly for men but women came, but I don't think very often) they had to enter through the back door.  That is until Phil and Ailene (I hope I spelled her name correctly)  Dietrich became members.  She refused that back door thing and proudly walked through the front door.  She was a lady to be reckoned with.  Her husband, Phil, was one of the founding members of the Delano Foundation and we miss him very much.

Lest you think that our happy little group dines like this all the time, let me set the record straight.  Once a year we have a lovely dinner with 3 grant recipients at the Delano Inn in Allegan.  Once a year we have a very nice dinner (most of the time at the Park Club but we've been elsewhere, too) with our banker dudes who manage the foundation's $$$.  The food at our other meetings is not near as fancy - pizza and sammies.

So there you have it.  I dined in quiet elegance for an evening and I only said "ass" once. Aren't you proud of me?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My newest obsession

I recently found a new author.  A mystery/thriller/quirky gal.  Her name is J.D.Nixon.  I found her with my Nook on the Barnes and Noble site.  She's from Australia and she mentions a cookie called a Tim Tam.

After finishing two of her books (I could not put them down) I started wondering about Tim Tams.  Does anyone remember the search for my favorite breath mints?  I tracked a retailer down several miles away and convinced Petey we needed to make a trip.
I bought an entire box.

So after Googling Tim Tams and revving up my curiosity - an obsession was born.

The internet told me that Target sells the US version made by Pepperidge Farm.  I was geeked because I go to Kalamazoo fairly often on freelance jobs.  Yesterday was the day.  I left a bit early and arrived at the store with time to spare.  It's a good thing, too, because after searching on my own, two Target peeps had to come to my rescue.  To no avail.  The shelf was empty.  Bummer.

Then I remembered that World Market was mentioned as a retailer.  Aha!  My time had run out, however, and I had to run off to my job.  Downtown.  World Market was in the opposite direction of my home so after the job, I called them to make sure they actually had the goodies before I drove out there.

Yes, indeedy, they had 'em.  You'll notice that you don't see the name Tim Tam on the package.  It has something to do with marketing them in the US; can't use that specific name.  So if you're looking for them at World Market, make sure to look for Arnott's.  Although if you ask the staff for Tim Tams, they'll lead you directly to the stash.

Did I enjoy them?  You be the judge.

The one on the top is the original; chocolate.  The next one is caramel.  The chocolate they're encased in is fabu, baby.  The wafers are crunchy.  Those were the only two kinds WM had so thankfully that's all I bought.  The price of $3.99 for a small amount was also a bit of a deterrent.  I'm looking forward to trying other flavors as they rotate through the store.

It doesn't take much to make me happy.    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Family dynamics

I've been thinking a lot about family dynamics recently.  So many things can affect a person's life.  The number of children in the house, mom and dad both working full time jobs, parents without jobs trying to raise their children, a grandparent living in the home, etc.

I know a young woman who has an older brother who is mentally impaired/mentally challenged/disabled.  I hate labels but I guess they're necessary - most of the time.  

Anyway, I was curious about how her life was shaped by having a sibling that was "different."  Since they are 8 years apart she wasn't aware of that difference until she was older.  She related falling easily into the helper category, putting his needs first in many situations.  Often times wanting to be the "relief" for her parents.

That kind of family environment can really change a child.  The change can go either way - good or bad.  This woman definitely came out on the good side.  She's strong, supportive and positive.

I wonder, though, about resentment, anger and embarrassment.  The hearing child who doesn't want their Deaf mom and or dad to come to school conferences because they talk with their hands and make weird noises.  Maybe they grow up to become kick-ass interpreters.  I know a few of those.

How about the child with a mentally ill parent or sibling?  Frequent trauma, fear and trips to the hospital.  All the attention being focused onto the sick person and none on the child that's "normal."

I can not imagine what it is like for a youngster to visit a parent in jail.  It has to affect them whether they're aware of it or not - on some level.

Again, I look at my life and thank my lucky stars.