Friday, December 21, 2012

In a Fever

"We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout." - Johnny Cash

Yep, we sang that song the entire time on our honeymoon...but technically only that line as neither of us really knew the rest of the song by heart. If you've been following along, you probably know we were engaged on September 19. And then we got married on December 1. And yes, I did plan a wedding in two months. Which is really kind of a short time period for planning a wedding, but we were trying to keep the stress to a minimum (hahahahahahasob). So, two months to plan a wedding may seem like a very short amount of time, but it was the perfect amount of time for us. By not having a lot of wiggle room, there's no time for hemming and hawing. You make a decision and it stays made because there's just no time left to do anything else.

Thankfully, I had some really amazing people in my life helping me plan. I work in a very small office with mostly women my age, so they were all to willing to help me. Two of them even went with me to try on wedding dresses and even helped pick out the dress that I wore for the wedding. The dress was easily the easiest part of the entire wedding planning. Thankfully one of the few J. Crew shops that have wedding dresses on site just happens to be in Atlanta, so I was able to try on dresses there. And yes, I wore a grey dress. Several people have asked, why grey. For one, I didn't want to do the whole "white dress" thing again. It obviously didn't work out so well for me the first time. And, honestly, this might be the most important part, but the grey one was about $600 less than the white one in the same version. I think it worked out pretty well to be honest:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wedding Bells

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” ― Robert Fulghum

On the walking tour of the inn property

A year ago today, I would have never thought I would be planning a wedding. I was still so shell shocked from the divorce that even the thought of being married again was terrifying. But here I am, planning a wedding. I am marrying my best friend. In two months no less. I mean, shoot, we are going to get married anyway, why wait until next year sometime. Plus, 12/1/2012 just has such a great ring to it.

So, by this point, pretty much everyone knows we're getting married thanks to the wonderfulness that is social media. Jeremy wrote a beautiful post about our relationship that you should go read as well. But, I get to tell the story of the proposal. It's a sweet story, because Jeremy is the sweetest. I would like to preface the story by saying that I had informed Jeremy that when he proposed that it needed to be very romantic. I read a lot. I have high expectations. Also, I tend to micro-manage. I try to not do it, but alas, I frequently fail.

Back in the spring I purchased a Google offer for a bed-and-breakfast just outside of Charlottesville, VA. Due to work being crazy with the audit (I'm the finance director), we weren't able to use the coupon until a couple of weeks ago. We got up early on a Wednesday and flew to Richmond. Yes, it was almost two hours away from Charlottesville, but when you're flying stand-by, you take what you can get. After finally getting to the inn after a long day on the road, we pretty much crashed for a couple of hours. After we finally had enough energy to move, we took a tour of the property. The inn was pretty spectacular. There were chickens there, so we felt right at home. We took a hike through the woods,  sat for a while with the resident cats, and then decided to head into town for dinner. 

As the aforementioned micro-manager, I had prepared a list of approved restaurants for the trip. I do not enjoy eating at chain restaurants and I try to frequent restaurants that purchase their meats and produce from local farms. I'm a food snob. I can't help it. We headed to the first restaurant on the list...The Whiskey Jar. To say that it was the best food we've had in a long time would be an understatement. We had oysters wrapped in Virginia ham and covered with Gruyere for the appetizer. Then we shared the fried chicken and collard greens plate and the sweet potato dumplings plate. We also split a bottle of the best hard cider I've ever tasted.  After the amazing dinner, we headed down the road for some ice cream before making the trek back to the inn. 

Once we got back to the inn, we decided we would sit out under the stars for a while. The benches were all wet from the dew so we had to find an alternative to the bench. Jeremy found a log on the wood pile that was long enough for both of us and placed it on the bench. We used my stargazing app on my cell phone to find constellations  We couldn't really see them though because when you're in the country away from the city lights, there are millions upon millions of stars. We quickly gave up and decided to just talk and kiss and hold hands. We talked about how much we loved each other. We talked about how we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives. Finally, Jeremy asked, "are you sure you want to be with me the rest of your life?". I answered that of course I did. He stood up and said "well, let's do this right then." He got down on one knee and asked me to "put this ring on your finger". And of course I did. I teared up a little and we had the sweetest kiss with him still on one knee. It was perfect.

Later back in the hotel room, I asked him if he had been nervous. He said that he knew I would say yes, but he was a little worried that it wouldn't be romantic enough. But being proposed to underneath the stars on a farm, yeah, that's pretty much perfection in my books.

Since we were on vacation, we decided we would wait about telling anyone because we knew we'd be overrun with Facebook posts, texts, phone calls, and emails once the cat was out of the bag. It was so lovely just being able to revel in the fact that we were going to get married. We spent two more glorious days together before we called "the mamas". I think my mama was prepared for it seeing as how Jeremy had asked my daddy if he could marry me. Jeremy's mama was over the moon. And his daddy was too, to tell the truth. 

So we're pretty excited. Jeremy would be happy to just go down to the courthouse tomorrow and get married. And I understand his urgency. I'm so excited to be married to someone who has filled me with so much love, someone who has already been there for me through ups and downs, someone who shares my values and my upbringing, someone who listens to everything that I say and even remembers most of it, someone who I want to stand beside until my last day. I love him. He is already my better half. I can't wait to make it official.

The boy boo, right after we called the mamas.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Growing on the Farm

Yes, I live on a half-acre. Yes, I live in the middle of Atlanta. And yes, I've decided to call my little plot of land a farm. I mean, shoot, I have chickens in the back yard and a garden in the front yard. I think that makes it a farm. And seeing as how I grew up on a farm, I think I have the authority to declare it so.

I already knew from some of my experiences with Crop Mob that the farming community is amazing. But until I started raising chickens and growing a garden, I don't think I knew the breadth and depth of the care and the helpfulness of the farming community. When I've had questions, like "why is nothing in my garden growing?" I had several farmer friends (and my parents) pipe up that perhaps I am watering the garden too much. Apparently, watering your garden every single day, and at night, is wrong. When I needed help trying to set up my front yard garden, I had a farmer friend go with me to the nursery to get plants and then come back to the house with me and help me plant them. When I've had questions about why my chickens feathers are falling out or why their combs are looking all dry, a farmer friend gave me great tips about how to help the hens. When my tomato plants starting looking droopy and like they were dying, not only did my farmer friend tell me how to fix them, but she gave me the necessary tool to fix them (kelp meal, if you're wondering).

The really cool thing is how much more I have to talk to my parents about now that I am farming. They've been doing this for years and years, and I think they are surprised at my enthusiasm. I think they are exasperated by my constant nagging that they should be growing their garden organically, but they just put up with my hippie ways. I mean, they raised me, so technically it's their fault. But there really is nothing quite like calling Daddy in the morning on my way in to work and talking about my garden. I think he's rather proud that I've decided to do something that he loves. I go home and help my parents in their garden every chance I get. Their garden encompasses several acres and they do most all of the work by hand, so they need all the help they can get. Although, I frequently wonder if it's really necessary to plant an entire acres of just potatoes. But, in the words of Daddy, "farmers feed America." And my parents may not be feeding all of America, but they are feeding my grandmother and other widow women in the community. As my Daddy always says, "if you plant enough to share, you'll always have enough." And goodness me do they have enough. My mother has four deep freezers full to the brim of food that she has put away from the garden.

Oh and one of the really exciting parts about growing a garden in your front yard...people will stop and ask you what you're growing. And then you get to tell them about your garden. One day last week my neighbors' five-year-old daughter walked over to see what I was growing. I got to show her what each plant looked like and was able to talk to her about what would grow from each of them. Then she got to pet a chicken, which was pretty much the highlight of her day. It was pretty awesome to experience a child's first time to pet a chicken. Which sounds pretty lame, and it probably is. But this is the life I've been wanting to live. And I'm loving it.

Front yard garden, freshly planted
Side yard garden, after I stopped watering it to death

My parents' garden

Monday, May 14, 2012

You can take the girl out of the country...and apparently the country out of the girl as well.

Last week Jeremy and I went on vacation to Seattle. It was beautiful and wonderful and we walked over thirty miles in total. And I learned something about myself. I have turned into a city girl!

The first part of our trip, we stayed at a beach house owned by Jeremy's old roommate's family. It was secluded and peaceful and basically in the middle of nowhere. The closest grocery store was about a twenty minute drive, as were the closest restaurants. We were a thirty minute ferry ride plus a fifty minute drive from Seattle. We were not anywhere near the city.

Now don't get me wrong, it was a fantastic place to stay. Jeremy and I spent our days walking on the beach and reading on the patio. We didn't even turn on a television for five whole days. We were able to unwind and relax. I even had my first s'more (and probably my last one as I feel like we ate our weight in s'mores). The views were incredible. We saw a bald eagle. We had the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop for our sunsets. I mean just look at what we woke up to every day...

But after living in Atlanta for almost seven years, I have become accustomed to everything being right at my doorstep. I can walk to three different grocery stores from my house. Now granted, it's about a thirty minute walk, uphill, but still, basically walking distance. There are probably around one hundred restaurants within a ten minute drive from my house. And after three days of being in the country, I longed for the city. I longed for the hustle and bustle. I longed to be able to walk to a restaurant. I longed for the diversity of the city. I longed for stores and coffee shops. I longed to be out of the car.

And boy howdy, did I get my wish. After our three days in seclusion, we headed back into the city. We walked from the hotel to the marina. We watched boat planes take off from and land in the water. We saw the Space Needle. We walked nine miles (round trip) to eat Mexican food. And quite honestly, it wasn't even the best Mexican food we'd ever had, even after we walked for hours to get there. We walked from one hotel to another, which wound up being a five mile trip. We walked to thrift shops. We walked to antique stores. We walked to book shops. We walked to several more restaurants. We walked to and during the Underground Seattle tour. We walked to the train station to hop on the train to subsequently run to the gate at the airport to come home. In three days, we submersed ourselves in the sights and sounds of the city. And it was wonderful..


The interesting thing is, I will frequently find myself lamenting how much I dislike living in Atlanta. I don't like the traffic or the great crowd of people. But I guess I just needed to get away from my normal life just for a couple of days to find out that actually, I do love the city even despite all of my aggravations with it. I grew up in the country, right smack dab in the middle of rural Alabama. I spent my entire childhood in the middle of nowhere. But I found myself in the city. And I like who I've become. City girl and all.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Keep on the Sunny Side

In the past ten years, I've lost a number of people to cancer or have had friends lose family to cancer. I've had friends diagnosed with and beat cancer. I have friends who are still struggling from the effects that cancer has wrought. Shoot, I found out just this last week that a friend is undergoing chemo. Everyone and their mother knows that cancer sucks. It takes away dreams. It takes away family. It does nothing by weave a path of destruction. However, anytime I hear someone talking about cancer I always think about my Uncle Richard.

Richard is Daddy's youngest brother. He was still in elementary school when his dad (my granddaddy) died from cancer (he was 45, if you're wondering). When I was born, Richard was probably about fifteen or sixteen. I remember we all even called him Baby Richard. He was the baby after all. And he was awfully spoiled. Everyone in the family pretty much took care of him. I also remember when Richard got married my mother sat all the nieces and nephews down and told us that we had to stop calling him Baby Richard because he was a grown-up now.

But being a grown-up hit him like a ton of bricks. First, he was shot. Through the head. Accidentally. Amazingly, the bullet went right through his mouth and just took out some teeth. No real damage, you know, other than having to have some false teeth put in and having some wounds that had to heal. He dodged that bullet, so to speak, but the next one that came for him, well, he wasn't so lucky. In his late twenties, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I think it goes without saying, that we all know what kind of surgery is done for testicular cancer. A couple of years later, he was once again diagnosed with cancer. But this time it was lung cancer. He went through the chemo. All of his hair fell out. He lost lots of weight. My 6 foot 5 inch, almost 300 lb. uncle became my skinny uncle. The man who could still pick me up and hold me upside down by my feet when I was in high school, became weak and frail. It wasn't pretty. He came through the chemo pretty well, and was pronounced in remission. And then a couple of years later, he was once again diagnosed with testicular cancer. Another surgery later...and we thought he was finally in the clear.

But then, more bad news. About five or six years ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia. About two years into the treatments, he lost his job because he had pretty much maxed out his health benefits and was costing his employer more money than he was making them. He is in remission now, thanks to taking chemo orally pretty much every day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Family Matters

Every once in a while, you meet a person who you just make you think, "wow, I wish she were my sister or he were my brother." I had that happen with a couple that attends my church. Brent and Kathy popped into my life probably about three years's hard to say now as the years seem to all be running together. We met at church group pool party. Two of their three children were there with them. I guess you can say I was friends with their 4 year old son, MC, first. He took to me right away, kissing me firmly on the lips upon my saying hello to him. MM was probably a couple of months old, chilling out in her carrier, not paying me a bit of attention. This would change as she got older... she's definitely my buddy now.

But what makes this family so special to me? Well, when I met them, I was pretty much in the depths of despair over my marriage. I knew it wasn't going to work and I was in that stuck point between wanting to get out and not knowing how I could. Plus, at this point, my self-esteem had eroded to the point that I just didn't think anyone could love me. Brent and Kathy just seemed to have it all together. They were, and still are, very loving towards each other without being icky. They are like a comedy duo, always cracking me up. Of course, they aren't perfect, no one is, but watching them helped me to see what a marriage should look like. They both give to one another and work together and make compromises and just love each other. Oh, and they are the most incredible parents I've ever met in my life.

You see, MC, is blind. He has been blind since he was born. Hopefully some day there will be some sort of medical discovery and he'll be able to see again. But until then...blind. And if Brent and Kathy are the siblings of my heart, MC is the child of my heart. I haven't had a child of my own yet, but I already know that you just don't know what love is until you've been loved by a child. And goodness has MC loved me. Pretty much every since I met the family, I have sat with them in church so that MC could snuggle with me. He just plops down in my lap and hugs on me until it's time to go to Children's Church. Most Sundays, I would go to lunch after church with them so that MC could spend even more time with me. If there were a couple of Sundays that we didn't get to see each other, we would meet for dinner during the week so that MC could have some "Miss Amy Time". For the first couple of years until my immune system built up, anytime MC was sick, I was too. Mainly because when he talked to me, he would put his face right against mine. And secondly, because I'm a frail flower who gets sick very easily. Despite the runny noses, what MC did most for me was patch up my broken heart. Because you know what will heal a hurting heart more than anything? Being loved by someone who doesn't expect anything from you. And being loved by someone who loves you completely unconditionally.

As an aside, I do love their daughters just as much. Their oldest daughter C, just started college, and she is one of the most delightful teenagers I've ever been around. And of course MM, she's almost three now. She is my funny girl, always running out of the nursery so she can come see me. She even looks like me. Brent and Kathy tease that she's really my child. We both have similar facial expressions and we can both roll our tongues, unlike the rest of the family. They are all three great kids and I'm blessed to know them.

Oh, and what I was saying about their being the best parents ever...despite the fact that they have a child who needs them more than the other two, they have somehow been able to structure their life so that their two sighted children aren't slighted. They have to spend lots of time with MC, either going to a center for visually impaired people every week, or taking special swimming lessons, or helping him do things that their other children can do on their own like navigate around their home. However, they have somehow been able to structure their lives so that their daughters get an equal amount of time with them. I don't think either of their girls will ever wind up in therapy saying that their parents loved their brother more than them. I've watched them for three years now, and honestly I don't know how they do it. Jeremy has been around them too and even he is astounded at how they manage their family. I just hope some day, when I become a parent, that I will be half as good a parent as Brent and Kathy are.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Peaceful, easy feeling...yeah, that's not something that can frequently be used to describe my state of being. I'm kind of always ramped up, wringing my hands, worrying. Jeremy is wont to admonish me that I worry too much. My worrying nature comes partly from genetics, as I come from a long line of worriers, and partly from the fact that I'm the firstborn, the high achiever, the one who has to be in control. Being in control is good and all, but there sure is a lot of pressure to keep all the balls in the air at one time.

On top of worrying about anything and everything, I also probably put too much pressure on myself to take on projects and to do things. If you don't count the Peachtree In-Training (it's a 10K training program), I have the next five weekends booked. If you do count the training, I have the next twelve weekends booked. On top of all the stuff I'm doing outside my home (board meetings, volunteering, family,church, etc), I also have my chickens (that I still love) and I've gotten almost everything together to get my garden going. I have peppers and tomatoes in seedling cups in the house. But I only just started them last weekend, so I'm overly anxious that I've started too late and they aren't going to grow and I basically stand over the seedling cups every day just willing them to sprout. Jeremy's cousin was nice enough to give me some seedlings that have already sprouted, so I have a backup plan. Last night, I told Jeremy that we needed to bring them in the house because it was supposed to get down in the 30s overnight. He brought them in and asked if I'd been watering them. I hadn't been watering them...and one of those balls I was juggling dropped. Days earlier, another one of the balls dropped when I came home to be told that I'd forgotten to water the chickens and they'd gone a day without water and therefore didn't lay any eggs.

Last night as I was trying to go to sleep, I was just too anxious to sleep. I tossed and turned a little bit, and finally I said to Jeremy, "I'm not happy with myself. I'm failing at everything. I'm not taking care of things". He told me that I was in fact doing a great job and that I wasn't failing. I laid there a little longer, and I don't know if he prayed for me or if he was just sending me some good vibes, but I did start feeling a little better. A little more peaceful. Which was really kind of awesome. And made me feel a lot more thankful than I had being. I was thankful that I had someone that I could be honest with about my feelings and that I could lean on for support. And I was thankful that he was so willing to give me a good word. He could have scolded me for trying to do too much or for failing to do what I was supposed to be doing. But he didn't, he just encouraged me. And then I had a peaceful, easy feeling, at least long enough to fall asleep.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Superstition in the South

I have lived firmly ensconced in the Bible Belt my entire life. I grew up in Alabama and now live in Georgia. There are churches on pretty much every street corner down here. And we're not picky at all. We have Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, LDS, the list goes on and on. But after this past weekend's trip to Savannah, GA, I got to thinking, "if we're so darn religious in the South, why are we also so very superstitious?"

The whole thought process began when my friend M and I were heading back to the hotel after a night of people watching and she said "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" when the clock struck 12. As an aside, this is a British superstition that is supposed to bring you good luck for the month as long as it's the first thing you say on the first day of the month. M and I really got to talking about the roles of superstition in our Southern culture the next day when we took a tour of Downtown Savannah and the tour guide pointed out some of the superstitions of the folks there. For instance, a good number of the houses have a Mahi fish downspout. I was only kind of listening to the reasoning, but it has something to do with keeping out bad spirits.

It seems like most of the superstitions I have ever heard of, have been passed down by women. My mother is one of the most churched people I know. She's been in church every Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night for her entire life. But she is also one of the more superstitious people I know as well. My grandmother was the same way, and I guess she rubbed off on my mom.

Here are examples of some of the ones I notice the most:

  •  - If a cat crosses the street in front of my mom, she makes seven "x's" on her windshield. 
  •  - She does not wash clothes on the first day of the year. And since I've moved out of the house, she  calls me every year to remind me to not wash clothes. Apparently, if you wash clothes on the first day of the year, you will wash the clothes of a loved one who has died before the year is over.
  •  - She must eat black-eyed peas, collard greens, and ham on the first day of the year. This is pretty much considered a Southern tradition at this point, but let's be honest, this is straight up superstition. 
  •  - She will not sweep or vacuum under anyone's feet. So, if she's sweeping, she'll make you get up as opposed to making you raise your feet so she can sweep under you. I'm pretty sure this one is because if someone sweeps under your feet, they are sweeping away your chance at true love.

As much as I try to not succumb to superstition, I most certainly do not wash clothes on the first day of the year. And I do eat black-eyed peas, collards, and ham on January 1. But, my question to myself is always "why, if you trust in a sovereign God, do you let these rituals influence you so much?" It doesn't make sense does it? How is it that I trust so much in these superstitious acts to keep someone from dying or to bring me money in the new year? 

So what about you? Have you ever had this struggle? Are there any rituals that your family does that you can't make yourself not do despite the fact that you know they are unnecessary?

Mahi fish downspout

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fine China Friday

This week I'm linking up with Jana over at Jana's Thinking Place in celebration of Fine China Friday.

Growing up in rural Alabama, we never really had any reason to use fine china. My mother kept her china in the china cabinet and took it out maybe once or twice a year to wash it. It was for looking at not for actually using.  Until a couple of weeks ago, I was guilty of the very same thing. I had my china in a cabinet in the dining room all organized to look beautiful. And now, when I remember, we take out the china and use in on Friday night for dinner. I could probably even agree that the food tastes better when eaten from the fancy pants plates. 

But my favorite pieces of china aren't from the set that I have in the cabinet. My favorite pieces have, until this point, stayed wrapped up in tissue paper and tucked away in a box of styrofoam peanuts. They were too special to have anywhere that they might get damaged even a tiny bit.

When I was a freshman at Auburn, Dr. Gary Waters was the Associate Dean of Undergraduates in the Business Program. He took special interest in me and suggested that I apply for a scholarship. Scholarships are awarded to the business school on an annual basis, and I had just enough time to get my application completed before the deadline (interestingly enough, Dr. Waters helped me fill out a good deal of the application). I didn't actually expect to receive a scholarship. Despite my 4.0 GPA, I wasn't especially sure of myself when I was a freshman. When the invitation to the scholarship banquet came in the mail, to say I was happy would be an understatement. I had been awarded the Anne Phillips Pearson Endowment. Anne Phillips Pearson had worked for Auburn University for years and years in various and sundry departments, including the accounting department (which was extra special because I was an accounting major).She had passed away years before, but her niece, Barbara, always met with the reciepeints of the scholarship at the banuqet. She had loved her aunt so that she always wanted to meet the people that their family was helping.

The endowed scholarship was a four year scholarship, so Barbara and I really got to know each other. She took me out to dinner for my birthday every year. She gave me Christmas presents. She called me during the week just to check on me to make sure I was doing okay. Since she lived in Auburn, on days that I wasn't busy I would go to her house to visit. On one such visit, she pulled out a box. In that box was four dessert plates. Her Aunt Anne had given them to her and she wanted me to have them. She said that Anne would have loved me so and would have been happy to know that I had something that had been hers.

In the Master of Accountancy program at Auburn is a non-theses master degree. Instead, we have to do a giant group project and presentation. The night before my group was to present, Barbara's husband called me to let me know that Barbara had passed away. She had been diagnosed with cancer weeks earlier. She had one chemotherapy treatment and died the next day. I attended the visitation and then the funeral. I lost a special part of my Auburn experience, but I will always have the memories of our time together. And I will always have my four little china dessert plates.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Crocigator

There's not a lot that I remember about my childhood. I had a brain injury when I was 10 years old, and almost everything before that is kind of a blur. Except for one distinct occasion that stands out in my mind: the day I was almost eaten by a crocigator.

I'm sure you're probably now scratching your head. Well, let me explain. A crocigator is half crocodile and half alligator. It has the head of each, one on one end of its body and one on the other end. And wowza is it ever a mean creature. Seeing as how it has two heads and no back end, it has to no way to use the bathroom; therefore, it is a terror to encounter. The threat of a crocigator attack was always summoned when I was misbehaving as a child. Now granted, you probably didn't need a mythical creature to ensure your good behavior, but I was, and still am, a handful.

So, back to the day I came close to being eaten by the crocigator. I was probably about seven years old the day it happened. My daddy was cutting hay in one of our pastures and my sister and I had been tasked with picking sticks up out of the pasture so that they didn't dull the blade on the hay cutter. We were busy little bees for the first, maybe five minutes. But then, I noticed the flowers in the pasture. Oh, they were so pretty. And lo, my daddy was going to cut them all down. Obviously, I could not let them be destroyed so I began picking them for a bouquet. My mother noticed that I was not picking up sticks and admonished me to get back to work. I returned to my appointed task for perhaps a minute or two, then I was right back to picking wildflowers. I'm not sure how long I was picking flowers when I heard a loud shout from my Great Uncle R , "hey, watch out, the crocigator is about to get you!!" Thankfully, with his warning I was able to take off running at a breakneck speed and get away from the crocigator. I was so close to being eaten that day but my Great Uncle R saved me!

Until the day that cancer had so riddled my Great Uncle R's body that his memory was basically gone, he reminded me of the day he saved me from the crocigator. But honestly, that's not the only time he rescued me. He was quite a character. He was a combination of smart and mean that made lots of people not like him. But he picked me as his special project. He was not going to let me settle for mediocrity. He was going to make sure I succeeded. He reviewed every test that I took. If I got a 90, he wanted to know why it wasn't a 100. If I made a 100, he wanted to know why it wasn't higher than a 100 (as if I could conjure extra points). He reviewed every report card that I brought home. A report card with all A's earned me $20, in high school it was bumped up to $100. If there was a single B, there was no reward. My sister, bless her, got the short end of the stick on almost every report card. As high school drew to an end, despite the fact that my parents could have never afforded to pay for me to go to college, there was never a question of if, or where, I would attend. Great Uncle R had decided when I was a child that I would go to Auburn, his alma mater, and he started putting money away for my tuition. We graduated from Auburn forty years apart, to the day.

Had I not been able to attend college, I would probably still be trapped in the same small town that so many of my classmates couldn't escape. Now granted, I have friends who still live there because they want to, but small Southern towns have a way of holding their people back. I was able to escape because my college degree opened me up to options that I would have never had without it. I owe a lot to my Great Uncle R. More than I could ever repay really. But I will try at least. He didn't save me from the crocigator for nothing!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Middle

So, we're several weeks now into the Lenten season. And I have to admit I have done very well thus far keeping up with my challenge to myself. I have not missed a day of reading my Bible. I have however, realized something important. I think that when you read something when you are younger that you don't really get the full meaning of what you are reading. Like I have read books recently that I read when I was younger and they have so much more meaning to me now. However, reading the Bible now as opposed to when I was younger has just confused me.  I mean, yes, it is the word of God. But if I had not grown up in church and been taught by some increcdible preacher teachers, I would have a hard time with a lot of what I have been reading. And honestly, despite the fact that I was brought up in church, I am still having a hard time with some of it.

I haven't been following any kind of plan, I've just kind of been picking a book and reading. First, I read the entire book of John. Oh, how I love the book of John. It is so affirming and freeing. And I read a good deal of Psalms, which fills my heart with joy. And then I started reading the book of Luke. And I have to admit, the book of Luke makes me concerned that we're all going to hell. It is not an affirming book. It is terrifying really. It makes me think that there's nothing that we can do to get to heaven outside of nailing our own selves to a cross. I just can't see much grace in the book of Luke. I just see lots of work that you have to do to get to heaven. Maybe it's good that I've fallen under conviction reading this. But, I don't really know what to do exactly. I mean, I read the parts about picking up your cross and following Jesus, and I don't know what I need to do. And then I read the parts about having to hate your own family. And I don't know how to apply that to me. I don't think I can hate my own family. Sure, they drive me nuts sometimes, but I couldn't ever hate them. Maybe I"m taking everything much to literally. I'm not sure. I'm going to keep on reading the book of Luke, because I've read it before and I know it ends with the cross and the resurrection. And I know there's grace in the end. It's this middle part that's causing me to struggle.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why My Chickens Matter

Anytime I bring up the fact that I have backyard chickens, I am generally met with one of two reactions: either people love the idea of the chickens or they are completely baffled. I've had lots of questions as to why I would want to have chickens in my backyard. Well, let me explain why my chickens matter.

I grew up on a farm in East Alabama. My daddy, his two brothers, and their uncle (my great uncle) all worked on a farm together raising feeder calves. For the uninitiated, feeder calves are baby cows that my family would fatten up to be butchered. However, the calves weren't fattened up with corn in barns where they had no room to roam around. All of our cows were pastured. They were all grass fed. And the only medicine they received was for de-worming. My family wasn't on the forefront of the grass-fed movement. They just couldn't afford to raise the cows any other way. And, according to my daddy, only sick cows need medicine, not well ones.

I helped with the cows from as early as I can remember. My sister and I even got to name the cows (the ones having babies, not the ones that would be don't name an animal you're going to eat). We had cows such as Apple Eater and Apple Eater's Baby (yes, we were very, very original). I can remember getting up to see snow on the ground only to have my daddy load us all up in the truck to go check on the cows. I can remember driving around the pasture counting the number of cows that were pregnant, or just counting the cows in general in the event that a coyote had been spotted in the pasture. Our cows were (and still are) treated well.

Of course, that's not why my chickens matter. There's more to the farm story, obviously. Before I go on, I would like to say that I've not seen any of the movies or read any of the books as to why factory farming is bad. I don't have to, because I lived it for a couple of years. When I was in high school, a friend of my daddy's who had some chicken houses got to an age where he could no longer take care of them himself. So, he hired my daddy to do be in charge of the chicken houses. If you're not aware of what a chicken house is, it's kind of like a barn, a little over the size of a football field, that usually had about twenty thousand chickens in it. Since my daddy was in charge, my sister and I got to help (I say got to help as if we had a choice in the matter). When the chickens first get to the houses, they are tiny little babies and have plenty of room. After about four weeks, the chickens are full grown (thanks to the food full of hormones they are eating). So, just imagine, 20,000 full grown chickens running around with basically no room to run. It wasn't pretty. So, every day, my mom, sister, daddy, and I would head over to the chicken houses to pick up the dead chickens. We would also have to check through the chickens to see if there were any with deformities or limps...because we would have to kill them as well. It wasn't a glamorous job. And I'm not exactly sure why my daddy took it to begin with, other than the fact that we probably needed the money. It was years after the chicken houses were sold before my sister and I could eat chicken again. I still am unable to eat chicken that has a bone in it without gagging a little.

So, why do my chickens matter? Well, I like to know that the animals that I'm relying on for food are treated well. I like to know that my eggs aren't laid by chickens that are full of drugs. I like to know that every day, my chickens get to run around the yard, scratch in the leaves, eat my grass, and chase after bugs. I don't like the way animals in our food chain are being treated, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is. And you can too. You don't have to raise chickens in your backyard, but you can vote with your dollar. Only buy from sources that raise the animals in humane ways: cage free, free range, grass fed, pastured, etc. The only way we can make a difference is to force the market to change. My chickens matter, because I have made the choice to have the change that I want to see start with me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

If you say gullible really slowly, it sounds like orange

When I was in the second grade, I was tested for and accepted into the gifted program at school. I graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA. I graduated from the undergraduate program in accounting with a 3.89 GPA. I graduated with a Masters of Accountancy with a 4.0 GPA. I passed three out of four sections of the CPA exam the first time. (And I will always contend that the only reason I didn't pass the fourth part of the exam the first time is because I was so sick when I took it that I don't actually remember taking it.) I'm kind of smart is what I'm saying.

However, I think that when God blessed me with this intelligence, He knew he was going to have to balance it with something. You know, so that I didn't get too cocky. Oh did He ever balance it. I am what you might call gullible. It's not a naive type of gullibility. It's more of a, if I believe that you know a good deal about a subject, then I will believe what you tell me is true. This has lead to countless $100+ oil changes. I mean, it got to the point where I had to just say to the person changing my oil, "I want an oil change. That is it. Do not come at me with any other suggestions. I will not fall for this anymore."

Jeremy, my new fella, seems to take a special kind of joy in pulling my leg. And it started pretty much right away when we started dating this past summer. Of course, as everyone knows it's hot as four blazes in the South during the summer. I had long wanted a ceiling fan for the bedroom; however, my ex was anti-ceiling fans. Thankfully, after he was gone, Home Depot had a great price on a ceiling fan. Jeremy was in Texas working and the following g-chat conversation took place while I was in Home Depot:

Me: Now I'm gonna get a ceiling fan!

Him: : Awesome. Make sure it turns the right way for the northern hemisphere. They could be intended for places below the equator where the Coriolis effect works the other direction.

Him: Which would explain the low price.

Me:  Are you pulling my leg or are you for real!?

Him:  What do you think? Airplane propellers don't stop and reverse direction, do they? No, they change pitch. You can't spin an airfoil backwards and have it work efficiently

Me: :I don't know! You're making my brain hurt! Also I sent you a picture.

Him: So make sure they are intended for the North American market.

At this point in the conversation I was so aggravated that I called him to tell him that I couldn't find a sales person, and there was nothing on the box that gave any indication as to whether or not it was for the North American Market, and that I was just going to go home and not get the ceiling fan. And then I hung up.

I immediately received this message:

Him:  And I was just kidding. Pretty good BS work though, you have to admit

I bought the ceiling fan. And I kept dating Jeremy. So, it was a win for both of us. And now we get to tell this story to our friends and make them laugh. I mean shoot, even I think my gullibility is funny. Because what kind of life would I be living if I couldn't laugh at myself?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Journey

I grew up Baptist and never had really heard about the season of Lent. We Baptist went straight from Christmas to Easter with not much of a thought given to everything that happened in between the birth of our Savior and His subsequent death and resurrection. So, I didn't really know what it meant to give up something for Lent.

Now, I attend a Methodist church. I adore the Methodist church. There is so much love there. And so now, I celebrate Lent. I gave up something for Lent for the first time last year (desserts, if you're wondering). It didn't really go all that well, especially considering that I told my then husband that I wanted a divorce about a week after Lent began. So, that whole no desserts thing when right out the window, along with my waist line.

This year, I started thinking about what I should give up for Lent. I don't really have any vices. I don't drink sodas. I eat healthy. I exercise. So, I started thinking that maybe I could actually give up something that means something this year. I started thinking about things that I don't do instead of things I do. One thing came to mind right way. In the past six years, I stopped reading my Bible. I know that probably doesn't seem like much, but from about 6th grade until the first year of my marriage, I had a daily quiet time where I would read my Bible and pray. I stopped doing that the first year of my marriage. It was hard to read a book that said that I had to stay married to someone regardless of how I was being treated. I was just angry. I never got angry at God per se. I mean, I never stopped going to church. I taught Sunday School. I participated in Bible studies. But outside of church, I did not open the Bible very much at all. And I've actually felt a loss in my life because of not reading my Bible. Until I actually was able to reconcile a divorce with my faith, I felt a whole lot of emptiness even in church. Thankfully, I have been surrounded by some pretty amazing people in my church and in the blogging community who have helped me get to a better space in my mind in regards to my divorce and the scriptures. I am slowly but steadily becoming free from my anger.

So, this year, I am giving up not reading my Bible. In the next forty days, I hope to fall in love with the Word of God once again, and become free from the anger I felt completely.

Peace and blessings to you all as you begin your Lenten journeys.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who Are You Calling Chicken?

Some people are cat people. Some people are dog people. I, well, I am a chicken person. I tried having a dog before. And honestly, it was the worst experience of my life. I had all these grand ideas of what it would be like to have a dog. And then when I got the dog, it was horrible. The barking and the hair and the cleaning up poop from my floor and the walking the dog at all hours and in all kinds of weather, well that was just not for me.

As I was preparing to get the chickens, I was so afraid that I would wind up in the same place I was with the dog. But that has not been the case. Not even once. I've had the chickens for a week, and I've loved them more every day. They literally are the world's easiest pet. AND they give you eggs to boot. Interestingly enough, I would say that they are even more affectionate than my dog. I never imagined that a chicken could like to be petted. But these birds do. They literally will eat right out of my hand.


And they will pose for the camera so that you can see their gorgeous coloring. What a diva!

And here they are, mid-bath. I've never seen chickens more excited about a mound of dirt.

The next door neighbor saw us moving the coop this morning and asked if I'd "brought some Alabama to Atlanta." And I guess, he was right. I did bring a little bit of home to my new home. And these little ladies are filling my home with excitement.

Oh, and just since I'm sure you are all keeping count...the chickens have laid ten eggs so far.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Has Anyone In This Family Ever Even Seen a Chicken?

Every time I go out to check on the chickens, I think about this...

I have only had these chickens since Saturday and I am already acting ridiculous about them. Today while I was at work, Jeremy (that's my fella) sent me g-chat to see if he could use one of the eggs. I picked up the phone and called right away. An egg. He wanted to use one of my freshly laid, from my very own chicken, eggs. And I floundered a bit. I had kind of wanted to save the first egg. Of course, then I got a hold of myself and told him that he could use one of the eggs. We did get the chickens so that they would lay eggs so that we could eat them. Meanwhile, the whole time I was thinking, "If I keep this up, I'll be on the newest episode of Hoarders in no time!".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love and Things of That Nature

Since it has been a year, I guess it is now safe to joke about the fact that I told my ex-husband that I wanted a divorce ON Valentine's Day. I mean seriously, who picks a day like that to drop a big ol' bomb like that? I can't tell you why I chose that day in particular. Maybe I'd just had all I could take and the spirit of love that was flowing on Valentine's Day just prompted me to finally love myself and break free from a bad relationship.

And now...I'm in a great relationship. I am cherished. And not just by another person. I love me too. And that feels nice.

So, Happy Valentine's Day y'all! Go out and spread love. But start with yourself!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Birds of a Feather

I am a farm girl. Despite living in the city for the past six years, I am 100% a farm girl. I grew up on a farm in a very small town in Alabama. I have been around cows, chickens, horses, and gardens my entire life. Shoot, I even went to a "farm college". Farming is just in my blood. I have missed that part of my life a good deal. I have spent many a days dreaming about having my own little farm. But, with the way my life appears to be ensconced in the city due to my job, I have had to do without my little farm.

When I first moved into my neighborhood in Atlanta, I was quickly became a member of the neighborhood garden club. Two years ago, I became the Vice President of the Trowel and Error Garden Club (phunny right?). Being the VP isn't glamorous. It just means that I had to get the speakers. Thanks to the amazingness that is Twitter I quickly discovered Georgia Organics. They generously offered a speaker for the Garden Club. I anticipated learning about what Georgia Organics does. The lady who spoke, however, took a different approach. She taught us about raising backyard chickens. And the idea of raising chickens in my backyard really stuck with me. I could start my farm in the city. I could have backyard chickens. I could have a garden. I could do what I know with what I have. But the dream has just been a dream, until now.

Since I have started dating the world's most amazing man, I have talked non-stop really about having my own chickens and my desire to live more sustainably.  Finally, my new fella said "let's do it!". So I posted on Facebook to see where I could find chickens and we set to looking for plans to build a coop. About a month after my post, a friend of mine sent me a message to see if I could adopt her chickens. She had recently had twins, and twins and chickens were just too much work. So we really had to kick it into high gear to get the coop built. When I say we, I really mean my sweetie. I did help just the tiniest bit, but my inability to draw a straight line with the assistance of a straight edge quickly got me out of helping. After several days of working, the coop was finished!

Please gaze upon the beautiful chicken tractor! Didn't he do a great job?

Saturday, I drove to downtown Atlanta with a dog crate in my the back of my Prius to pick up my ladies. They seemed to make themselves right at home in their new coop!
(As an aside, yes that is an antique blue mason jar that is holding the chicken feed. I am nothing if not fancy.)

Last night when I visited them, I found my very first egg from my very first hens. And I literally am still excited about it!

Things I have learned so far:
  • - Chickens don't really have a way to hold on to dog crates and will slide all over the place when you make a sharp left turn.
  • - Hauling chickens in the back of your car will in fact make your car smell like a barn yard.
  • - Chickens do not need a rooster to lay eggs (I already knew this, but A LOT of people don't.)
  • - Chickens can actually be affectionate animals. One of our chickens, Mabel, will go out of her way to get to you to pet her.

My girls and I are getting along great so far. I didn't even mind having to get up earlier than normal this morning to go out and visit with them. Step one of creating an urban homestead in my back yard is complete. Now it's time to start planning my garden!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Introverts and Extroverts

This week, I am going to go waaaayyyy outside my comfort zone. And not in a way that would seem "outside one's comfort zone" to most people. I am having a birthday party for my fella at my house. Again, doesn't seem weird right? Well, I am not a fan of people being at my house. I don't like for people to be in my space. I don't like for people to touch my things. Shoot, I would rather people not even look at my things. But alas, I love my new fella so very much that I am going to scoot right outside my comfort zone for him.

Why you ask? Because having people around him is right up his alley. For instance, he didn't get called in to work today so he played tennis with a friend and then they went to lunch. If I didn't get called in to work, I'd not even leave the house. I'd hole up and read a book or something. I would not venture out where there are people. My job requires me to be around people all the time. I'm constantly having to talk to people and answer questions and by the end of the day I don't want to hear anyone say anything. And some days, I don't even want to be touched. So, suffice it to say, panic is already flooding my person in preparation for Wednesday.

The nice thing is that he knows how much of a struggle this is for me. And he appreciates the effort I am putting forward to allow people into my personal space...even people I've not met. And bless him, he is doing all he can do to help me become desensitized to having people around. But as much as he loves me, I just don't think he quite can fathom why I'd be perfectly happy going for days on end without seeing anyone or having to talk to anyone. And that's okay. It's okay for us to be different. I don't prevent him from being around his friends and he doesn't force me to be around people. But I do worry, if our relationship progresses, if it will eventually be a problem. Sure, I am able to rally and go to parties and dinners and all with him and his friends. But I also wonder when this will become a stumbling block to our relationship. Like will he eventually start to resent my not wanting to be around other people.

I worry about this, because I get my introversion from my mother. She too is perfectly content to not be around other people. My dad has even said something to her about not having any friends with which she likes to do things. He doesn't understand her either. Because he is very much an extrovert. The man has never met a stranger in his life (and honestly neither have I), but he just can't understand why she doesn't like to be around other people. But I get it 100%. It's not about not wanting to be around other people at all really. And it's not about being shy. We just both have so much going on in our minds all of the time that having to interact with other people drains all of our energy. So thus, I worry. I worry that someone who is energized by being around people and someone who is drained by being around people just won't work out in the long run.

How about you? Are you an introvert/extrovert and in a relationship with the opposite of you?  How do you make concessions for one another? How do you care for one another?