Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! 2012

I think I'll make 2 resolutions, well, 3 really . . . 1) Post more to my blog 2) Exercise more (this is wide open as I don't exercise at all now 3) Lose 30 lb. by Nov. when we go on Son #1's cruise wedding.
Do you have New Year's resolutions? If so, what percentage of a chance do you give yourself of accomplishing them? I give mine about 50%. :-D

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Staunton, VA boyhood home of Bill VandeWater and gourmet goat dinners

  • Although Bill was born in Newton, Iowa, he moved to Staunton, VA when he was 10. He therefore considers himself a Virginia gentleman, a loyal member of the ACC conference, and still likes to go around saying annoying things like "save your Dixie cups, the South shall rise again."
  • So, it was with great anticipation that on our way to visit Colonial Williamsburg at the beginning of Oct. 2010, we planned to spend the night in his old home town. We arrived around 6 p.m., checked into a "been there since he was a kid" Howard Johnson's (are there still HoJo's?) and took off to see his old house, church, and Staunton's community park before it got dark.
  • I have the feeling that Staunton has been a town of between 20-25,000 all its life (about 1757), but I'm probably wrong on that. But a nice, small town with some interesting buildings. Bill's father worked as an engineer/director at American Safety Razor while they lived there. There's an extremely interesting article about Staunton in Wikipedia. It seems that it was much more than just the place where Nina Wilson went during the summer following her senior year of high school to visit a friend and in the process met Bill VandeWater, a friend of her friend's boyfriend. Imagine that!
  • It was home to a resort-style lunatic asylum which later became a regular asylum which later became a men's correctional facility which is now being turned into condos. Oooooow, no thanks. Bad karma. It was the first city to practice a city manager form of government. Home to President Woodrow Wilson. Home to Staunton Military Academy; home to an expensive girls' college called Mary Baldwin; and some 200 buildings designed by architect Thomas Jasper Collins (1844-1925) whose firm is still in business today. Not to mention all that important Civil War stuff. It even has an Amtrak station which is more than I can say for Nashville!
  • It didn't take Bill long to find the old house on Oriole St. It looked exactly like it had some 45 yrs. ago with the exception of some new concrete/stone to build a retaining wall, replacing the former railroad ties. Oh yes, and the "End the War" homemade/hand-lettered sign in the front yard.
  • Next, we headed to the 215-acre Gypsy Hill Park where Bill played little league baseball and went swimming and had lots of boy/teenage adventures. If you don't have a park like this (golf course, swimming pool, ball fields, tennis courts, basketball, bike path, dog walking, picnic tables, etc.) in your home town, you have missed out and should start whining to your city council. Bill had a sparkle in his eyes when he talked about the fun he had there. If I've heard the story about how their senior class took a lighthouse from the senior prom decor and put it out on the little island in the middle of Gypsy Hill lake, I've heard it a dozen times. One of those glory-days memories that never gets old like we do.
  • We then headed to the Main Drag where we had been told there would be restaurants and were told by a man exiting one that we should eat there, it had been "really good." So, relying on the kindness of strangers, we did. It turned out that it was one of these new-fangled restaurants that deal in green grocer food or in regular English, food from local growers. So, Bill had a local goat and I had local (I'm guessing not) tilefish. Both our dishes had lots of gourmet roots and veggies that as a child you would definitely have foregone dessert not to have had to eat them. And I like veggies! I don't recall seeing salads on the menu nor was bread served, making it a rather expensive, strange little meal. The tilefish was very salty. I don't know if it comes this way or the cook was a little wayward with his seasoning that night. Anyway, we didn't stand on the sidewalk afterward and encourage people to go in for a delicious repast.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I am not usually one to blow my own horn, but I think my pumpkin turned out awesome this year, thanks to Google images. I just "googled" jack o lanterns and liked this one and "Bob's your uncle." There it is!
Speaking of "Bob's your uncle", if you haven't seen The World's Fastest Indian on DVD starring Anthony Hopkins, you should. It's a delightful movie, based on fact, about a 67 year old man from New Zealand who wants to ride his motorcycle in Utah's annual Bonneville Salt Flats race. I've been trying to get my kids to watch it for years. I get no respect!
Anyway, back to Halloween. I'm posting, after a very long hiatus, to validate that we had 76 trick-r-treaters - our most ever - and topped Missy's next-door neighborhood by 36, which has never happened. I don't even know how to begin to analyze that, but it even ran through my mind that maybe the economy had something to do with it. That's how focused we are on the subject with the election today. People without jobs and children starved for candy because of it.
On Halloween we have a tradition of eating chili and cornbread and then talking to my Mom when it's over to compare how many kids we had. Mom has been sort of complaining for several years now about how their aging neighborhood doesn't get many trick-r-treaters anymore. True, they only had 26. They love Halloween. And until this year, they have been carving a pumpkin - yikes! At 88 and 86. This year, though, Cheryl bought them the plug-in variety.
Our neighbors up the hill on Broadwell had their usual display of life-size Halloween characters, some of which are motion sensitive and light up and say scary things. We walked Mojo up to see them on the 31st and our neighbor Paul was still hooking some up, so we got a chance to introduce ourselves and ask him where he had gotten his "friends." He said just from all over the place - Spencer's Gifts, Lowe's, the Halloween tent that sets up in the Mall parking lot, Walgreen's, etc. I wonder if the little kids skip that house as they might look pretty scary to them!
While watching all the parents who come with their children (it was a nice mild night I might mention), I thought about halloweening when I was a kid. We certainly never had a parent with us. I asked a friend on fb (facebook) whom I've known since I was 5 if she remembered ever having a parent with her, and she said no and the only thing she remembered about it was on the next street over from ours, the people had a bowl of pennies and you got to reach in and take as many as you could hold. I remember that now too. How many pennies do you think a 7 or 8 year old could hold? Not enough to wipe you out financially, but the teenagers that come would sure try . . . as only a teenager can!
I do have this not-important piece of info for you, though. When given the choice of Reese's peanut butter cup, a Hershey's chocolate bar or a packaged Rice Krispee treat (the chocolate ones are incredible), the resounding fav was: Hershey's chocolate! I thought it was going to be Reese's. Now I know what I will buy next year. Because what I don't give out I can use to make a "some-more" in the microwave. Yuuuum!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sinatra Party - December 12

Ol' Blue Eyes' birthday was December 12 so that was the date for the 17th annual Frank Sinatra party given by one of Dave and Grant's friends. I don't know how we first got invited - I think just running into Scott and Ivy (the friends) and a led to b led to z kind of thing. To tell the truth, I enjoy going just to see how the kids clean up - and their friends. Because the thing about the Sinatra party, other than the fact that only Sinatra music is played, is that it's a formal dress party. Well, in their fashion - one year someone might wear a tux and the next year a vest and tie. But usually cocktail or long dresses for the girls and suits and ties for the guys. Since neither of my children is exactly with their significant others, I mostly have pictures of Bill and me. Two of my favorite people at times. I'm also sticking in a picture that Bill took of me and the boys in front of the mantel when we went out for dinner on my birthday, Dec. 11. We went to Shogun and watched the whole, fire, knives, spatulas, and grilling at the table routine. We eat there about once a year and what was different this year was everyone was given a fork and we had to actually ask for chopsticks! Well, that and more and more of the hibachi-ists look hispanic, which seemed to bother some people in our group more than others. I'm too busy watching their hands and trying to work my chopsticks to look at their face! Two things - I'm sure there's more - I still haven't mastered: crochet and chopsticks. I use the chopsticks, but I still don't feel comfortable with them.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

One couple married with children, 3 married without children or spouse, and 1 w/o spouse or children

. . . Though the stats above are somewhat non-traditional, we had a GREAT Thanksgiving. We spent around $2,000 to relax in Palm Springs with sad Sean and our boys, 1 who is divorcing and 1 who is trying to reconcile. Just so you know there is never any relaxing for me (although I've finally decided to talk to someone about that, which is another whole post). Although Sean doesn't think he's any better than he was 4 months ago when Bill and I left him following Michael's death, in reality, he is. I only mention the $2K so that a future generation can know how much it cost to fly the cheapest airline in the U.S. (with one free ticket and 3 paid, traveling on the Sat. before and Fri. after in order to get the best fares for the holiday) . . . . . . . . . . For one thing, he has a new friend who he left us Wed. to go see, saying he'd return at 9 p.m. (He returned about 10:30, so he must have been having a good time. Good for him.) For another thing, I asked him what percent of the time he is a mess and tried to pin him down when he couldn't answer - like 100% of the day, 50%, 75%. He then answered 50%. I said that was good ; I thought that was an improvement from Aug. and if he just improved another 10% every couple of months, he'd be doing really well. So, I just tried to get him something to think about in a quantifiable way. . . . . . . . . . . When we left, all this uncontrollable crying on both our parts (mine in a more empathetic way) came from Sean having given the boys some black leather boots that had belonged to Mike when he was Auxilliary Mounted Police in Central Park, NY. That made it real to Sean: Mike was gone and he doesn't need those boots ever again. Also, we were leaving and he would be alone again. Yet, life goes on, and he would call his friend and hopefully see him or at least talk to him that day. . . . . . . . . . . As he said to me when I asked him (we are both candid) who would be better to have been left alone, he said definitely him because he was always more of an extrovert and would make new friends whereas Mike never would have. He would have just come to live with me, which would have been OK, but Mike in Nashville, away from his pool and beautiful view? Anyway, didn't happen. Whew . . . and so, when Grant saw all the tears as we were leaving, he asked me in the car if Sean would be OK and I said I didn't know yet. He then asked if I was going to be OK and I said sure. I'm thinking Sean will be too, but I tend to look at the glass as just a glass, thankful to have a drink of water no matter what the amount. . . . . . . . . . . T'giving day was spent at: you guessed it, the Spa Casino champagne buffet at $26.99 a head. Winnie, Sean's 25 yr. old step niece, drove over from L.A. because she didn't want to spend the day with her in-laws who had come to the area for T'giving (and 9 additional days) without consulting Winnie. Winnie decided she would cook turkey on Sat. but had to be with Sean and us on Thursday. She really liked us, Sean later reported, and said I reminded her of Michael. How nice. She stayed till way after dark (that's about 3:30 when the sun goes behind the mountain) and we had a lot of nice talk with the 6 of us. My boys are very smart and she was, as Sean said, a brainiac, getting her PhD at U. of Cal. in organic chemistry which is what you do if you are going to make developing drugs your life's work. I told her about doing nerve pain, but I knew she would say that first she had to do Parkinson's Disease for Mary Lou, her step mom, Sean's step sister. She's married to a Marine helicopter pilot, so she and Bill could talk military (who knew Bill would ever talk military???). I could squeeze politics in occasionally. David did his polite share and then went inside to be the token football fan (another surprise - only 1 male Vandy at the football table?). Perhaps Grant was with him. . . . . . . . . . . At any rate, I think this post is long enough, so I'll break it into 2 and maybe type a little more tomw. :) My turkey is in the oven, but I think I still have plenty of time to take a nap. You know how you never sleep as well in a "foreign" bed. Our king-sized one sure felt good last night when we turned off the light around 1:30 a.m. Zzzzzzzz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, November 2, 2009

A REAL pumpkin in a REAL graveyard - kind of . . .

  • I guess we had a pretty "cool" Halloween here on our cul-de-sac. This is not a neighborhood with very many children, so one is not going to go broke handing out the goods. This year I found packages of pretzels for the older and pkgs. of teddy grahams for the younger trick or treaters and some candy if that wasn't enough and to have for the biggest trick-or-treater at my house (hint: not Mojo).
  • I haven't carved a real pumpkin for years, probably since they hit $5-$6 and I had a nice electric one that smiled himself silly and then got carried back up to the attic each year. But this year, we bought one for $2.50 at Aldi's since I got a hankering to do a real one. All my pumpkin faces look the same since I have no carving tools and cannot do curves. Maybe one day I'll catch a Martha Stewart on TV when she shows how to carve a really neat pumpkin face and I'll get better at it. Not likely, though, since they took Martha off and put that silly doctor show on which tells you what is going to help you out because it's being developed, but it's still "many, many years down the road." Well, that's one too many "many's" to help me.
  • We had 57 ghouls and no ghosts. I remember a ladybug and a bumblebee, a cheerleader, and a pirate, and just things, really, that kids have been "being" for years. Now isn't that nice?
Oh yes, and that's a "real" graveyard because Mr. Pumpkin is sitting on Gracie and Lucy's headstone. Oooooohhhoooooooo!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weddings : more fun than my last post

If you read about my older brother Mike in the last post, then you know that I am next in the pecking order. Following me is a brother, Steve, who is 5 years younger and my baby bro', Bruce, who is (ye' gods!) 10 years younger. OK, that being said, Steve and wife Patti's son Greg and fiancee Jamie (nee Cox) got married Sept. 19, 2009 in Euclid, Ohio. Our son Grant was in Milan (yes, Italy) on a business trip, but Bill and son Dave and I drove the 9 hrs. to my parents' home in Mentor, Ohio. My parents are now 85 and 87 but plan on staying in their home forever (as well as living forever - my mom anyway, and she may). But that is another story as the saying goes.

It was a wonderful wedding. I'm not being cliched here; OK, maybe I did chose alliteration. But, you decide. Filet mignon at a sit down dinner and a dessert table to knock your eyeballs out. Too bad I had already had them knocked out by the free-flowing spirits and didn't think to take a picture of it. Actually that's not true. It wasn't until the end of the wedding that I found out they had a price per person, and here I had been trying to take it easy on my brother with the cosmo's and wine. David may have put the Pine Ridge Country Club out of business on that front however. Maybe together we broke even along with Bill who was our designated driver.

But, back to the 4-day weekend. We drove up on Thursday afternoon, arriving just after 10:30 p.m. My parents are night owls so that time is not a problem. They also don't ever get up till after 10 a.m. On Friday my mom and I got our hair and nails done and we all even snuck in a trip to Malley's (for ice cream sundaes) after the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal was at a place called Cabanas, but I have no idea what 'burg we were in. Very fun. Always good to see the nieces and nephews. And hadn't seen Patti's 2 sisters in years. On Sunday, we drove home through at times torrential downpours and at other times just rain. Not so fun. They didn't let me drive, but they made me ride shotgun. I think that was because they wanted access to the car's DVD player in the back seat. I handled the torrential downpours and riding shotgun with a little clonazepan. If you don't know what that is, you are blessed not to have an overactive fight-or-flight response. Seriously, back in the tribe, I would have been put on sentry watch for the tiger.

As I said, weddings are so much more fun than funerals. They are additions rather than subtractions. I always cry at weddings of family and sometimes relative strangers as well. But printed inside the program of this wedding was the following:

The candle on the alter burns for the loved ones we have lost. They are forever in our hearts and always in our thoughts. We miss and love them all.

There were 3 families (or more?) that had suffered significant loss at this wedding. But, one father, who will be 90 in Nov. (and lost his son who was in his 20's or 30's at the time) got out on the dance floor and jitterbugged with his wife like he was 40. Now that looked like a blessing to me!

Pictures: Big Dave (my dad) and Little Dave (my son); Patti and Steve; Greg and Jamie; flowers our table (I love to look at flowers and I would love to have lots in my yard if I had a gardener!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And so I move to the head of the class . . . Good-bye to Officer Wilson.

Pictured at right : Sean, Nina, Mike
  • And so the summer from hell ends. Bill and I flew out to Palm Springs on July 11 and back home on August 10. Michael died of AML leukemia (and/or pneumonia) on July 27. I was both privileged and devastated to be there and to have spent 2 weeks living in the City of Hope Hospital and taking care of Mike for those 2 weeks. Nurses may have changed the drip bags full of chemicals to stream uselessly through his body and to painfully turn his body so that he wouldn't get bed sores, but we fed him, sang to him, and held his hand.
  • And, oh, we thought he would live. We thought he was getting the "super chemo" that would get his blasts back to the point where he could get a stem cell replacement. I don't think I even knew that this might not work, just that the super chemo might kill him, not that it might not kill the blasts. But, it evidently did nothing, and in a very short time we were telling his brothers and parents that if they were coming, they better hurry, which they did, arriving first-class from Cleveland in 2 days.
  • I just wish we could have had a few years post retirement to have had a little fun together - the 4 of us. It is what we had planned. And, oh, I could write so much more, but I am still a little angry and depressed over the whole thing - I even called it the City of Hopeless yesterday because there's a part of me that thinks they could have tried harder or did something differently. I haven't looked up the stages of grieving yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm not through them yet. There is just an innate sense that we all ought to get to play by the same rules in life. It is so hard to accept the whims of the world. But I will make my peace with it (if it kills me)!
  • I'll just say as a tribute to Michael that, while he had his faults, he was always my big brother, born just 2 yrs. and 3 mo. before me. I followed him around as a small child and I followed him off to Ohio State when my close friends were going to Ohio U. He was in retailing for years but then found his true calling in becoming first in graduating from his police academy class when he was 44. Thank you "no age discrimination" in California. He had 2 squad car partners that were straight guys who still loved Mike and he them and who called him at the hospital and wanted to come down and see him. But he wouldn't let anyone see him while sick. And he had already had to retire early from having kidney cancer in 2001, so he knew what it was to be sick and then in chronic pain from that operation. So, his skills as an authority figure and his intelligence made him an outstanding officer and a great big brother. He was my earpiece always.
  • No, I don't think I want to step to the head of the class. The shoes are too big to fill.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

SAD, so sad 5th of July

MCNAIR SLAIN scream the headlines of today's Tennessean newspaper, McNair being our Titans' quarterback for 9 years, the franchise's for 11 and then 2 more with the Baltimore Ravens. He considered Nashville home, and, indeed, this is where he died yesterday, shot multiple times. He died too early at the age of 36.

  • He grew up poor in Mississippi and went to a small college when no other large universities would offer him the quarterback position. But he was impressive enough at Alcorn State to be 3rd pick for the Heisman Trophy and to be drafted by the pros. He took our team to the Super Bowl the 3rd year in town ('99). He was considered a warrior, a strong scrambler, able to play through pain and injury. He always took a nap right before game time, lying down on a training table wherever. Adults looked up to him. Little boys too. But especially to the black community he was another example of someone who had made it. In his own words, "you don't think about playing on TV . . . or the money. You just want to be able to go back home and have those folks say 'Hey, Steve did OK for himself. He did us proud.' That's good enough for me."
Now, it's ironic that we first heard yesterday around 6:30 p.m. as we were turning into LP Field, where Steve took all those pre-game naps, that our son Grant called and told me that McNair had been shot and was dead. I was so shocked. We turned on the radio and found out the circumstances of a possible murder-suicide (eventually anyway) and his several month affair with a 20 year old girl. He was not divorced. She had had a DUI with him in the car just 2 nights ago. He had had DUIs himself. He was a good person, but a flawed person. As we all are.
  • I think that when we have so much pressure on us in one area of our lives, it some way releases itself in disfunctional ways in other areas. He needed to strive for perfection as much in his personal life as he did in his professional life. But, as I said, we are all flawed. He paid the ultimate price for his flaw. It can happen. Be advised. I think McNair would want you to take something away from this.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

We checked the weather in the a.m. and saw that there was a 40% chance for rain and thunderstorms at 9 and 10 p.m. so we were prepared. So after careful research and deliberation, we decided to watch from our car parked in LP Field, the Titans' football stadium. We didn't see anywhere that it cost anything, but keeping the rule in mind that nothing's free, we shelled out $10 to park. Our hubris then led us to venture out and sit over beyond a row of trees because "the grass is always greener of the other side."
  • We even took our umbrella, our new folding, camp UVa lawn chairs, and books to read and wait for about 2 hours - or so we thought. When it began to look ominous, around 8:15, they began the fireworks, which was an hour early. But it was dark and presumably they hoped to beat the storm. But it was already drippy and halfway through our beautiful display (top 5, I've read 3rd in the nation, but maybe 4th), the skies let loose.
So, had we followed our plan to be sitting in our car in case it rained? No. We were still sitting where the grass was greener in our comfortable new lawn chairs. And even though we had an umbrella and were already drenched, we felt we had to make it back to the car so as not to be struck by lightening - Bill with constant eyes to the front because his arm was breaking from carrying all the stuff (he later said) and me, Nina, with my head turned sideways to still watch the fireworks while he shouted "Are you keeping up with me?"
  • Not the best of 4th of July firework displays, but one of the coolest's. When I got home I had hot chocolate. Now that's saying something for July 4th in Nashville!

  • Our hearts still go out to the boys in Iraq - I believe 5 were killed there this week. Brave, brave men and women.

From the book I'm reading now (fiction):

Breathes there the man so dead

Who never to himself hath said,

"This is my own, my native land!"
  • Wouldn't it be nice if we all could be at peace in our own native lands? I have a dream about that!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friday night wine tasting . . . straight from the Napa vineyards

  • Grant took a trip to Napa Valley a over Memorial Day weekend. We had the pleasure as always of babysitting Magi, the grand-dog. He had a great time. I'd say the weather was delightful since it was northern California, but actually because it is inland it was warmer than San Francisco (with the added bonus of sunshine). No - it was a little unseasonable Nashville temp: 90! But, to the point, he went to several wineries, his favorite being one on Sunday, arranged by his wine tour guide of Saturday. The owner set aside 3-4 hours for an individual tour and lots of food and wine. Grant loved it! So much that he joined the winery (Tres Sabores) "wine a quarter" club and would really like to go out again for their yearly party.

  • So, on Friday night, Grant came over after dinner to drop off Magi for us to dogsit on Saturday and brought over one of the bottles (red) that he brought home from Tres Sabores. Together we drank the bottle and watch a Netflex movie we had called Children of Men. It's a utopian piece that was originally a novel by the well-thought-of mystery writer P.D. James. Grant and I recommend it and Bill thinks it's too depressing. But all 3 of us agreed on the wine : winner!

  • The next morning Grant ran in a 5K race in which he had raised over $500, enough money to send 25 kids to school for a year in Kenya. That actually ties in well with the movie.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I've been shedding a few myself lately . . .

My cousin Kyle sent me an email with pictures of the The Teardrop Memorial pictured above. The point made in the email was that this memorial hadn't gotten a lot of attention in the media even though it was a fairly impressive gift to us from the Russians in memory of those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack. The following is some information about it:
* * * * * * * * * *
Variously known as "The Tear of Grief," "The Teardrop Memorial," and "The Memorial at Harbor View Park" — as well as by its official name, "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" — this monument to the victims of 9/11 was built by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli on the waterfront of Bayonne Harbor, New Jersey and publicly dedicated on September 11, 2006. It was, in the words of Vladimir Putin, "a gift from the Russian people."
* * * * * * * * * *
The monument comprises a 100-foot-tall bronze tower with a jagged split down the middle and a 40-foot-long stainless steel teardrop suspended in the gap. It stands on an 11-sided slab of black marble carved with the names of every person who died in the September 11 attack, as well as the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
* * * * * * * * * *
The brightly lit memorial is visible even at night from the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, the Staten Island Ferry, and other locations around the Hudson River. Though not well known in the United States, Zurab Tsereteli is renowned for his work in Russia, as well as public sculptures he has erected all around the world. He reportedly spent $12 million of his own money to complete the Bayonne Harbor monument.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two finishers who didn't come in 2nd to last place . . .

This new picture in from the Music City Marathon of
Grant and Keri crossing their finish line.
April 25, 2009

Okay, I named my last post correctly . . .

Mine that Bird in last place and Mine that Bird in first place ---------------> * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I ragged on my horse in the title of the last post because, much as I wanted my horse to win, I knew he wouldn't. I'm just not lucky. And after I Want Revenge scratched this a.m., Friesan Fire was the Favorite, and the Favorite hasn't won the Derby in a long time (I don't believe). * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So, to make a long, miserable story short: my horse came in 2nd to LAST, and the horse with the worst odds, 50-1, Mine That Bird, came in FIRST. Well, congratulations to Bird. The best thing I liked about the typical dumb press interviews with his trainers was when they kept referring to his 21-hr. drive to the Derby (from AZ) with his broken foot and when finally asked what he would say if his horse won the Derby, he said "Maybe we could start talking about something other than (and you know he wanted to say damn) drive over here." A $2 bet on him would have paid $103. But, the Bird is gelded. Isn't that strange? I'll have to research the why on that one! Grant's horse, Pioneerof the Nile, came in 2nd and paid $8.40.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Oooooh, Erin just called to say she bet on Mine That Bird and won, but I couldn't understand how much she said. I'll have to find out later. I usually have trouble hearing what people are saying on cell phones compared to my regular home phone. She did say that every year she will play the horses that have the real high odds just in case they come in. She's getting her PhD in Math so she thinks like that. Of course, I've told Bill quite a few times that that would be a good thing to do, but figure I only have one bet with Grant.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
But, still, quite a race; always good to shock the horsy crowd. They said it was the 2nd biggest
upset in Derby history, whatever that means (I guess the odds). "With Musket Man taking third and Papa Clem fourth, the triple had handicappers blinking in disbelief with a payoff of $41,500.60. The superfecta returned a staggering $557,006.40." Hmmmm, I wonder if my kids bet the right 4 horses. Now that's one bet I'll take: bet I would have gotten a phone call on that!

GO Friesan Fire, you miserable disgrace of a horse!

It's less than 4 hours until the 135th run for the roses, this year's Kentucky Derby. And where might the VandeWater children be? That's right, in Louisville, betting their hard-earned $$$ on the horses. They tell me, however, that they always make $$$ or break even on the Derby. Grant called a bit ago for my bet and I'm putting a whole $20 on Friesan Fire - $10 to win and $10 to place. I'm sure I'll lose; I only win when I haven't actually put real money on a Derby horse. And of course the kids don't go to the Preakness or the Belmont. Meanwhile it's raining here, so I'm hoping for a nice, sloppy track to slow down some of the horses that have only run on synthetic (not my horse and one of the reasons I picked him yesterday and could find no reason to discard him today).
I picked the picture from the Derby's website to show the twin steeples on the left because it reminded me of our Batman building in Nashville. And the roses on the right because they are so beautiful that I thought I'd highlight a little info on them.
From the website: In 1904 the red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. The tradition was strengthened when, in 1925, New York sports columnist Bill Corum, later the president of Churchill Downs, dubbed the Kentucky Derby the "Run for the Roses." The garland as it exists today was first introduced in 1932 for the 58th running won by Burgoo King.
Burgoo King ???!!! Still want to eat HAMburgers from that place? :>
Kroger (grocery store) has been the official florist since 1987, and each year 400 roses go into the garland with a single rose in the middle pointing upward to symbolize the struggle and heart that goes into reaching the winner's circle. I would assume that means struggle and heart of all involved: owner, trainer, jockey, horse, and racing fans everywhere. The garland is made at one of the local Kroger stores each year and is put on display the night before for fans to view. Sounds like a mini Rose Parade to me as I would love to see both!
So, here's why I'm "voting for" (what I used to say before I was a money placer):
  • his jockey is wearing green, my favorite color
  • he isn't one of the horses that has only run on a synthetic track; it is a sloppy track today
  • his pedigree is down from Seattle Slew, a Triple Crown winner
  • his trainer was the trainer of Eight Belles, the filly who broke her legs and had to be put down immediately following the Derby last year; Larry Jones has also already announced his retirement after this year's Derby; the jockey, Gabriel Saez, rode Eight Belles and Jones has stuck with him which shows a lot of character to me as well
  • he's a pretty horse :>

Happy Derby Day to all!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Atta Boy!

Yesterday was Nashville's (about 9th) Music City Marathon. Unlike some cities that only host a marathon, Nashville runs a half marathon as well, and both Grant and Keri ran in it - and finished happily, I'm happy to say. Although Grant said 40,000 runners were there, the paper today said 31,200 of which 25,500 ran in the half marathon. One 26-year-old young man, who ran in the half marathon, died, the first ever death in the event for the city. How tragic for the family, who has asked that his name and the circumstances of the death be kept private. They did say it was not heat-related although this was the "hottest" marathon ever with tempatures some 15 degrees above normal for this time of the year. The paper made much of the heat, noting its effects on runners, even experienced ones. Now I wonder what the ideal temperature is for running a marathon.
* * * * *
This was Grant's first marathon; he only began running a few months ago. His time was insignificant as he chose to run with Keri to make it more fun and could have finished faster if running alone. He said that he wasn't really aware of what an "event" it was until Thursday night before the race when he realized how many people ran in it and how far away they traveled from to do so. Also, he said, the bands that played along the running route made it so much fun and made the time go by quickly.
* * * * *
I chose the two pictures from The Tennessean above because Grant said one of the greatest sights along the route was when he crested a hill and could see the thousands of people running in the race and because, if we had gone, the picture on the right was the viewing spot I had chosen from a map showing the route as possibly a nice shady place to watch from. Turns out I would have been right, and there would have been room to set up a couple of chairs except the fact that there are no chairs makes me wonder if that was a road blocked off to traffic. Anyway, the race started at 7 a.m., with staggered times, and Grant and Keri finished around 9:30 which is just about when I'm drinking my 2nd cup of coffee. Besides Grant is big enough to do what he wants without Mom and Dad saying "atta boy!" I believe. Nevertheless, job well done, Grant and Keri.

Friday, April 17, 2009

We all looked nice on Easter . . . promise.

Happy Easter! Everyone looked nice in their Easter go-to-church clothes. I should have taken a picture as soon as they got here. Erin is still dressed in her church duds. But David and Grant decided they were going to play frisbee golf with some friends, so they changed into their "play" clothes before they left.
At any rate, it was the 5 of us for dinner. We had a yummy spiral-sliced ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans almondine, fresh pineapple, deviled eggs, ripe olives and sweet pickles, biscuits, and pineapple upside down cake for dessert. In other words, the usual (for us).
I told David that next year it's some family games after Easter dinner! Please! Bill and I didn't go to all that work to just have them run off. We know they like to be outside with their friends on a nice day, but a couple of days ought to be with family - like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. And maybe Mother's and Father's Day. And Halloween. And Memorial Day. And 4th of July. And Earth Day. And Saint Patrick's Day. You get the picture.
We had also been with them on Good Friday for Erin's birthday dinner. We were going to chow down at Taste of Tokyo in Hillsboro Village (Vanderbilt area), but when Bill and I got to the door we looked inside and it was empty. Empty as in no tables, chairs, etc. The kids arrived shortly thereafter and said we could go right next door to a restaurant called Jackson's. It's so nice that they are wealthy enough to have eaten out at half the restaurants in Nashville! We have built-in restaurant critics when we need them. Anyway, it was tasty and we had arrived early so when finished, Grant went to his church (West End Community Church) and Bill, Erin and I went to her Lutheran church, which was on the way home for us.
I honestly can't remember ever going to a Good Friday service. I mentioned this to Mike and he said, as he remembers, in our day, they were held in the afternoon. Probably true as most people had Good Friday off. I don't know if it just wasn't a big thing in the Methodist Church or just too much hassle for Mom to get 4 children ready for church 2 times in 1 weekend. I swear I don't think it was a big thing in the Methodist Church because I don't remember much about people going when we went to Stow Methodist. Bill liked this service because the minister dressed up as a Roman soldier and talked about the events leading up to hanging Jesus on the cross from the Roman soldier's point of view. It was a very dark and depressing service, which, as I mentioned to Erin on the way out, makes people so happy to go to Easter service. Too bad I couldn't go to Easter service. But when I have to prepare a big dinner, that's all I have energy for. Could be the Lyrica I take for my chronic pain. Makes people tired. Need to take a nap. Zzzzzzz . . . .

Sadly, we're not going green at the VandeH20's

TIMBER! After 12 years at this address, our beautiful juniper tree finally grew too large for our rather small backyard. In 1996, it was probably about 1/4 of the size it was before it met it's demise this April. I didn't want to cut it down because the birds loved it, and we loved the birds (we're getting old, you know - into our bird watching years :>). But it also closed off the v iew of our backyard from our sunporch. For instance, now we can see the beautiful doublefile viburnum and pink dogwood and spirea in the corner with some white iris soon to be in bloom.
And we have sodded the whole dogpen area (inside the crummy looking, but does the job chic ken wire fence) so it now has grass again. The next step will be to decide what to do with the whole area underneath where the tree was. We had mulched that area a few times, and we left that stump since I think I'll move my birdbath over there and just sit it on the stump. At any rate, all in good time, all in good time.
Rome wasn't built in a day and that is about the pace at which these homeowners move. We are getting new countertops next week, though, and I'll take before and after pictures. We're replacing beige with, well, more beige! But, it's bye bye grout!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I bet we're the first street in Franklin to have one of these babies:

Isn't it cute?
* * * * * * * *
That's our next door neighbor's, Ken's, new Smart Car.
* * * * * * * *
We saw them several years ago in Holland, but they aren't all the rage in Williamson County (still home of the SUV but crossing over :-) ).
* * * * * * * *
But Ken is evidently an early adopter because he was willing to go to Atlanta to get one. He's from California, so he believes in recycling and other things that Wmson. Co. hasn't heard of yet either. I'll say it for the last time: I don't think they're very many in Williamson County if not seeing any others on the roads is any indication!

Notice who doesn't get to play? Bill said I could be the groupie.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More February Delights

Well, this worked out: having the boys' birthdays so close that we could get away with combining their expensive dinner out this year. We like to go to Margot's in East Nashville, a small chef-owned restaurant with a limited menu that changes with a decent degree of frequency. And look at the yummy desserts. Grant got the one on the right, and I forget exactly what it was 6 weeks later. But I got the one on the left because it was meringue layers and buttercream chocolate in the middle. Kind of light but decadent at the same time. The only other thing I remember is that I got the fish of the evening, which was skate. It was very good, but just take my word for it because if you look it up in wikipedia, you won't want to eat it as it looks like a stingray or an underwater bat. The waitress said it's what some unscrupulous places might sell as scallops.
You'll notice that in front of Margot's (looks like a dive, doesn't it?) is a little of the white stuff that we see so seldom in Nashville. How nice! After dinner we went back to Dave and Erin's and play that rock band game on the Wii that everyone (except me) loves so much. Erin is a regular Ringo Starr-Buddy Rich-Keith Moon-you get the point. And who knew that Dave could sing? I've never heard him sing in my lifetime until the other life. Worth the price of admission (which was quite a bit actually). Bill and Grant could play the guitars. I took a couple of mediocre pictures because the boys always yell at me when I photograph them. They probably have blogophobia. I can't say that I blame them, but I try not to say anything about them other than in passing. Haven't you noticed? On to Springtime now. It's March Madness, you know.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday Night Smackdown . . . at the 7 count, but, then, who's counting? ME for one!

It's going to take a lotta $$$ to CURA our ACURA because she's'a pretty sick'a puppy after being smacked in the fanny last night on our way to Bridge Club.

This is the 7th time we've been hit since we moved here in 1991. This time was 5 minutes from home, yielding onto Cool Springs Blvd. from Carothers. Only the 21 yr. old girl (with her friend) in her 2-month-old Jeep didn't yield. She hit us pretty hard; her car did a 90-degree turn and sustained a pretty decent amount of damage to her front end (driver side door wouldn't open, etc.). When I originally got a cell phone, I immediately programmed every police force nearby into it and since we live by the mall, the Franklin police came within 5 minutes. It still took 50 min. to get us back on the way to bridge club. Lucky for cell phones, I could call our hostess and tell her why we would be late. Also lucky for cell phones, the driver called her mom, and she came to give her daughter moral support (hopefully not holy hell).

The nice thing is Bill had previously encountered a woman in a grocery store parking lot, resulting in a small, no-fault dent in the bumper of the Acura which we didn't want to pay for because it would have cost $1000 (since that's the least you can pay for body work these days). I had just said "wait, we'll get hit." So, last night, 1 second after impact, I didn't ask Bill if he was OK, I just said "well, you just got your bumper fixed." Not the best way to do it though.

But, we're in good hands, the girl - Kelsey Owen - she has Allstate.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A word to the wise . . . and you know who you are

  • I got my hair cut yesterday at our favorite low-price shop, Great Clips, because we are so much poorer than our children (not) who would never get their hair cut there. Of course, I do appreciate it when they look good as they do when they have full beards or are clean-shaved.
  • At any rate, this little story is about AML (acute myeloid leukemia) cancer, which her daughter had when she was 15 (she is now 23). As Wikipedia defines it:
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, is a cancer of the myeloid line of white blood cells, characterized by the rapid proliferation of abnormal cells which accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. AML is the most common acute leukemia affecting adults, and its incidence increases with age. Although AML is a relatively rare disease, accounting for approximately 1.2% of cancer deaths in the United States,[1] its incidence is expected to increase as the population ages. The symptoms of AML are caused by replacement of normal bone marrow with leukemic cells, resulting in a drop in red blood cells, platelets, and normal white blood cells. These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, easy bruising and bleeding, and increased risk of infection. Although several risk factors for AML have been identified, the specific cause of AML remains unclear. As an acute leukemia, AML progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated.
  • My stylist, Debby, told me they took her to St. Jude's and they believe that hospital is why she is alive today because in the year they were there she could have died 4 times. She went into remission quickly but then took 164 days for her immune system to come back. During that time she got aspergillus (fungal) infection in her right lung, which was lucky because you have three lobes on the right and only two on the left. So I guess they had to remove one. Anyway, my mom had an aspergillus lung infection a couple of year's ago.
  • Another at any rate, MDS, myelodysplastic syndromes (formerly known as "preleukemia") are a diverse collection of hematological conditions united by ineffective production (or dysplasia) of myeloid blood cells and risk of transformation to acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Anemia requiring chronic blood transfusion is frequently present. Myelodysplastic syndromes are bone marrow stem cell disorders resulting in disorderly and ineffective hematopoiesis (blood production) manifested by irreversible quantitative and qualitative defects in hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells. The median age of diagnosis is between 60 and 75.
  • As thankful as we are to places like St. Jude's, and M.D. Anderson, and UCLA, who work so hard to save lives, I am so glad that we now have a president in office willing to make stem cell research available. Onward into the 21st centure - if the cure doesn't come from the United States, it will come from Europe, and with our economy at such a low point, we need any leg up that we can get.
  • Obama, if fact, recently told Democrats at a private meeting that he will sign an executive order to reverse the executive order signed by George Bush in 2001 which limited embryonic stem cell research. He told House Democrats he wants to work with the House and Senate to ensure his executive order on stem cell research has teeth. "God gave us (the) power to make smart decisions to cure diseases, to alleviate suffering," the president said.
  • I know that I have signed my driver's license to donate my usable organs when I die. I think that if I was a usable embryonic stem cell that no one wanted to parent, I would want to be a part of curing someone's disease. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Doggy Day Care - we get to be Granddogparents again today

Our baby Magi was returned to us last night. We just want to say thank you for all the amazing support we received from the community. We got tons of calls giving us ideas, advice, support, and potential sightings. There were even people who drove around looking for her who we had never met!! And then last night when the founder posted on craigslist we got even more calls and emails helping us put the pieces together. We may not have found her without all of you, so THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts - and Magi's too!!!

That is the post that went out this morning on Craigslist.

I suggested to Grant last night that she spend the day with us, people she loves and who love her rather than home alone while he works and so she is here. She still wants to play ball but seems a little more tired than normal and has not played with Mojo as usual. Grant said she was smelly so we have given her a bath. That is the royal we. Bill is the bather in the family. I am the blogger. And now it's time for me to get something other than blogging done . .

Meet the parents: Martha and David

Meet the parents:  Martha and David
Aren't they cute?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007
In Atlanta with the Pfaff's

Bill and I had a wonderful time with Dave and Erin at Erin's parents, Roger and Muriel Pfaff, in Marietta, GA. We drove down on Sunday and spent 2 nights at a Drury Inns & Suites, but ate all our meals (except the free breakfast at the motel) with the Pfaff's. Erin has one sister, Alison, and her boyfriend, Mike, were also in attendance. Mike is a med student at MCV, where Bill's brother Jim went (a few year's ago!).

We got hooked on dominoes, which we played when we weren't eating one of Murierl's wonderful meals. Of course, when we played we ate homemade cookies and candy, made by Erin and her mom. Dinner Sunday night was a wonderful chicken dish over pasta; Christmas Eve was 2 kinds of hearty homemade soups and homemade rolls; and Christmas dinner was prime rib. Wow! Were we impressed. Best thing to me: sticky pecan rolls at Christmas breakfast. Super yum.

On Christmas Eve we went to a candlelight service at 11:00 p.m. at the Pfaff's Lutheran church. It felt very similar to our Methodist candlelight service. I think the big Christmas present was something called a Wee, an interactive games thingy played on your TV. Like all playstation things, it's beyond me.

March 2008 Snowfall

March 2008 Snowfall
Our only snow this year which was with us for one evening and the following half day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Bridgestone Racing Academy

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Favorite Quotes

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life . . . Picasso

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind . . . . . . . Dr. Seuss

The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth,' and so it goes away . . . Robert M. Pirsig "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret . . . Henri-Fredric Amiel

What worries you, masters you . . . . Haddon W. Robinson

When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience , so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape . . . Louise Erdrich in The Plague of Doves

Queen Lucy . . . RIP

Queen Lucy . . .                  RIP
The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too. ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

Princess Gracie . . . RIP

Princess Gracie . . .  RIP
black dogs aren't as photogenic

The girls

The girls

Sharing VandysView

Sharing VandysView
Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull


Dave and Erin's lucky stray that walked into their front yard and got adopted - he's a very joyful dog

Magi when she was a puppy

Magi when she was a puppy
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams


The VandeWater boys - Bob, Bill and Jim

Bob Bill and Dr. Jim

Bill's mom Ann (DeLanghe) VandeWater

Bill's mom Ann (DeLanghe) VandeWater
birthdate: 6/3/1915

Jim and Bev

Jim and Bev
Bill's brother

The Women in my Life

The Women in my Life
Mom, Patti, and Cheryl

Dad's 83rd birthday

Dad's 83rd birthday
Our Christmas baby

Where is that other brother?

Where is that other brother?
Nina, Mike, my handsome older brother, and Bruce, my handsome youngest brother

There he is!

There he is!
Patti and Steve, my handsome younger brother

Sean and Mike - Lake Tahoe

Sean and Mike - Lake Tahoe

My nephew and his girlfriend

My nephew and his girlfriend
They're cute too

The whole Motley Crue

The whole Motley Crue
Aren't we cute?