Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Remember Punky Brewster?

I didn't get out much during the 80's because I had 3 children in an 8 year period. But I do remember people talking about movies like Dirty Dancing or the Brat Pack movies but we spent most of our time at home during those years. What I do remember from the 80's are the television shows. We watched a lot of television - Designing Women, Murphy Brown, The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Punky Brewster. Yesterday my sister called to ask for costuming ideas for my niece's "Tacky Day" at school. I immediately thought of Punky Brewster. Here is my adorable niece wearing her version of Punky Brewster. The cutest ever!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

No Pressure This Week

Next Sunday as a part of a church class I have been taking, individually our class will be called before the church and asked two questions. The first is what do I ask of God? Then, what do I ask of the church?

Each Sunday in prayer, the priest asks that anxiety be taken from our lives. So today in class I just had to let the class know that my entire week will be ridden with anxiety over sharing my responses with the entire church body!

I will be the first one to admit that normally when I say my prayers there are tons of selfish, small and large requests that I focus on. Last week as the lottery got bigger, I even prayed to win the lottery! In all honesty there are lots of other good causes on my list - including world peace though I don't think that response would be appropriate given that it sounds like a beauty pageant response. My wish board is filled with all sorts of far fetched dreams . . . .

This week I will be filled with anxiety and focused on coming up with 2 perfect answers to two very difficult questions. How would you answer?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thinking About Getaways

What is it about January that makes you think about vacations? This time last year I remember coming home from work after a particularly stressful day and booking a trip to France. Within days I regretted booking so impulsively. Not because I didn't want to go, but because I would have booked a longer trip if I had thought it through. When I called to change my ticket, I found out that it would have cost me double what my original ticket cost. So we went to France for 6 days.

So here it is, January again, and as I work from my "office" at home, my mind drifts away to places I have never been but would like to go - India, Morocco, Thailand, Greece, Brasil , Puka Puka . . . . Then I think about places I have already visited but wish I could return for a longer period of time - Portugal, Lebanon, Cornwall (U.K), Netherlands and of course France.
Instead, this time of year I curl up in my bed, or "office" and surf the web. The internet lets me go sightseeing until my heart's content. I feel so royally French in my bedchamber. If you have visited Versailles, or read about it on the web, you know that Louis XIV's bedchamber was the key setting for ceremonial events, entertaining and other business. I prefer to keep my bedroom as my own little sanctuary, so given the history of the bedroom, the next time you decide to hang out in bed...just think of yourself as royalty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Mimi taught me a new vocabulary word when she moved to Portland. Over the holidays she rented the movie Once bringing it home, telling me to watch it so that I could better understand busking.

While I had seen/heard street performers in D.C., N.Y., and other major cities, it isn't something so common in Atlanta and I have to admit that I had never heard the term busking. Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Buffett are examples of performers who got their start busking. (Read more about busking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busking).

Portland is full of musicians, open mic venues and apparently opportunities for street performers. Today the temperatures were in the low 30s and Mimi was out on the street, busking.

MLK Service Summit

A terrific crowd of volunteers came out to help with our service project yesterday. At the senior center we had 2 rooms to paint, some outdoor cleanup, indoor organizing and a children's project. Lucky for me, I was helping with the children's art projects. We made placemats and a dream quilt. Anyone could share their dream by writing it down on a card. We then "quilted" all of the cards together to create a dream quilt. There were all sorts of wonderful dreams shared but as a grandmother, this one touched my heart.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Day On, Not A Day Off

Tomorrow is our day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also a day when I really miss Mimi. We always spent the day together in service - it was a tradition for us. The last year we worked together she made some amazing stencils that were used for a bulletin board at Walden Middle School. Faculty at the school still talk about the art. Tomorrow we will be at a Senior Center that is located just a few blocks from the King Center. Senior citizens will be on hand to share with us their memories of Auburn Avenue during the Civil Rights Movement. Mimi, I learned so much from you. Here is me arriving for our volunteer day in 2005 in the 24 degree weather. We left the day of service to go walk in the parade on one of the coldest days of the year. Mimi, what are you doing tomorrow?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winter Weather

As long as I have lived in Georgia, I can't recall experiencing two different snow showers happening in the same week. We did experience an exciting 14 inches of snow in Warner Robins back on February 9, 1973, which was a weather record. Today, being the second show of the week, just might be weather history as well.

We woke up with overcast skies and by 9:30 we had sleet that turned into snow. This wasn't my idea of the snow day I had wished for (a special pajama day off) but I made it a special day just the same. Today became a movie day. I watched two wonderful films, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (for the 16th time). Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison are both wonderful but my favorite is the cottage, Whitecliff by the Sea. Of course every time I see the film I can't believe that Lucy had the Monkey Tail Tree cut down. A four foot Monkey Tail Tree in the Atlanta market costs several hundred dollars! Anyway, the film is wonderful and I enjoy it no matter how many times I watch it.

Tonight the temperatures are dropping to 19 degrees so the snow will still be outside when we wake up. We won't be able to sit on the front porch to have our coffee because it is too cold but we can look at the window from the dining room and see our neighbors snowy yard. Hope you like the view.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snug and Warm

Today was a big day for a couple of reasons. First, it snowed AND then the young woman seeking asylum planning to stay with us was released from detention. The snow is exciting and we will go to bed hoping and praying for a snow day or even just a delayed opening. I hope when we get up things are still snowy outside. If so I will post a photo or two.

The young woman staying with us while waiting for her hearing was released early this morning. She was up most of the night being transported to Atlanta for release. She stood outside waiting to be picked up with no coat and only flip flops for shoes - it was 38 degrees outside. A few folks in our HR Department took up a collection and at lunch Nicole took her shopping. Besides a coat and other necessities, she was able to buy a snuggly pair of pajamas. It was amazing to watch her struggle with new experiences like getting on a escalator. Guess they don't have escalators in refugee camps. She also saw snow for the first time in her life; before today it was something she had only seen on television. I don't want to use her name on the blog so I will have to give her a nickname. That will be another post.

We finally got home around seven and Hassan had a fire burning in the fireplace. I helped her get settled in her room and for the first time since the beginning of September, she put on her new pajamas and snuggled into a warm bed in a room all her own. No jail noises.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunrise or Sunset

Last week I attended a seminar and one of our icebreaker questions was which we preferred - sunrise or sunset. I have been trying to honestly answer the question ever since. To me it is glorious to watch the morning sky light up with color and to see the moon slowly fade away. But then again, the evening sky lights up with amazing colors and objects become silhouettes against a colorful canvas. The only sunset I don't like is the sunset on Sunday evening. It reminds me that the weekend is over.

Which is your favorite. . . sunrise or sunset?

Monday, January 14, 2008

At My Local Grocery Store

Yesterday after church I stopped by my local grocer to pick up a few items. Our local grocer is not one of the major grocery store chains. The company owns 12 stores in many of Atlanta's lower income neighborhoods where the major chains dare not trod. The store in our neighborhood is small and very run down but the people are nice and it is convenient so I try to support local business. It is a fact, though, you can see some unusual sights while shopping. I happened to have my camera with me yesterday and took a picture of one of the most unusual items in the produce section. Here is a link to learn more about dirt eaters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pica_(disorder)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Wedding

I woke up today only to realize Caitlin is getting married in just 6 weeks! It isn't that I haven't known that she was getting married but somehow March 1st seemed so far away. Now I need help. Any ideas on a what to buy for a wedding gift? It has to be something special, unique and meaningful. Please feel free to post or email me with any suggestions.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Scary Moment

When I was loading photos off the camera I noticed a picture from Hassan's family home in Beirut. It is a photo of the living room and immediately I noticed something missing from the photo - a porcelain cache. When Sami was 1o months old or so we spent 3 months in Beirut at Jeddo Sami's house. At that time there was a beautiful Sevres porcelain cache (only a few centuries old) on the coffee table. Sami, who was just learning to walk, stood and balanced himself on the coffee table and for some reason reached for the precious porcelain and lifted the lid. I remember both Ramsey and I inhaled, held our breath and waited as Sami carefully put the lid back in place. Only after he took his hands off the valuable piece could we breathe. Then I quickly whisked Sami out of the room.

I don't see the box in the photo and perhaps Souad decided it best to move it. Watching Sami handle the box was one of life's scariest moments for me and seeing this photo reminded me of that scary time in 1981.

One of My Favorite Things

Today was a Scott's Antique Market weekend. Once a month the market comes to the metro Atlanta area and today the market was packed with shoppers. What a great day to go poking around for a treasure. We used to have a monthly market called Lakewood which to me was so much more fun but it shut down in October 2006. At Lakewood you could spend a couple of days just going through all of the buildings (and enjoy great barbeque while you were there). Some of the vendors moved to Scott's but somehow the Scott's market is more formal and not as much fun, though it doesn't stop me from going. Today I came home with a beaded bag and a brooch. The fun part of going to the market is that you never know what you might find.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Trapped in a Parking Deck

So my husband says that a picture of handcuffs on my blog is scary. That is true, but, so is having to spend time in jail. Last night I was feeling imprisoned by a parking deck. It seems these days parking decks are replacing attendants with machines. There is nothing wrong with that when things work but when things go wrong trying to get out the the parking deck is impossible. Last night I spent 25 minutes in a line up of roughly 18 cars that were all paralyzed by automation. During that 25 minute wait I spent my time looking at a wall and listening to lots of angry folks honking horns.

I have never been so happy as when the line began to move and I was on my way home. It was then I got on the freeway, turned up the radio and listened to The Jazz of the City - 91.5. Great evening music.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Let the Sun Shine In

The weather warmed up and today has been absolutely beautiful. It is just one of those days that makes you want to rejoice and give thanks. On the weekends one of the things I especially appreciate is being at home and being able to see the sun shine through the windows. Hope that you were able to enjoy some sunshine this weekend too.

Classes at the Alliance resume tomorrow so my posts might not be as regular but hopefully my French will continue to improve.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Free At Last - Maybe

I volunteer with a group called GAIN, the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network. It is an organization that helps provide pro bono legal assistance to persons fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in the United States. Working with this group I met a twenty-one year old (yes the same age as Mimi), woman from Liberia. This young woman has no living relatives and has been living in a refugee camp since she was 14. Since arriving in the United States in September she has been detained. The pro bono attorney representing this young detainee applied for parole for her so that she doesn't have to sit in jail while she waits for her court date and this week we learned this week that parole has been granted. My husband and I volunteered to serve as sponsors which means that we will have a house guest for a while. Today I spent the afternoon cleaning and making ready for her arrival, hopefully this week. We are praying for the best but her future here is not certain. I am sure that in the weeks to come you will be hearing more about her.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Yesterday I received a late Christmas present from my one of my dearest friends and it is hard for me to decide what meant more to me, the gift or the message enclosed. The present was from my girlfriend Aggie. Well, I know her as Aggie and have called her that since we first met in 1974, but that is another story. Aggie is a textile designer, and a very talented and well-respected one at that, and anytime she shares one her commercial projects with me I am thrilled. In my mind, handmade/heartmade gifts are the best gifts of all. The present is pictured – a pillow featuring the peace symbol. I would have to write for days to describe Aggie’s special spirit but her thoughts on the peace symbol is that it is not a trendy symbol from the 60’s but it is something to be shared. I believe she is right. The enclosure card that came along with the gift read, “Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear,” a quote from Aesop’s The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

I have placed both the pillow and the quote by my bed. The pillow to remind me of my precious friend who has an “eye that sees"* and is generous in sharing herself with others. The quote will remind me that there is peace to be found in simplicity.

*Carolyn Snow - Art in Everyday Living – Home Economics Department, Berry College (1974).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Brown Days

Brown days are here, the plants in the garden are dead or dormant which means it is time for catalogs! This is the time of year when I look forward to looking at garden catalogs and start shopping for new plants. I was even more excited when I read the latest issue of Garden Gate and saw that Bluestone Perennials is ranked number one for mail order plant shopping. You will find their web link in my list of favorites but their catalog is great too. Normally in January Bluestone will have the buy 3 get 1 free sale. Of course we still have watering restrictions in place but I am hopeful that Mother Nature will provide.

If you make it down to visit us in East Point you will notice lots of brown still hanging around in the garden. I am not one of those gardeners who is quick to prune, trim or rake away the dead plants. Instead, on decent weather days, I enjoy being outside and listening to the rustling noises - the music of the garden.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Can You Say c-c-c-cold?

Various weather reports keep declaring a range of ridiculously cold overnight temperatures but no matter how you read it, it is cold. I love the way southerners react to the cold. You will see plenty of guys walking around in t-shirts trying to pretend that it isn’t cold. Then there are folks like me who layer up like an Inuit unable to deal with the cold. Inevitably every southern woman who owns a fur pulls it out because there is finally a chance to actually wear a fur in Georgia. Of course everyone starts dreaming of a snow day and usually someone will make a comment about how people in Georgia don’t know how to drive in the snow. My favorite reoccurring conversation is the discussion of bugs. People usually comment on the fact that a good cold snap is going to kill off next summer’s bugs. Now there may be some truth to this bug extermination but I would be willing to bet that even with the cold, the bugs will still be with us next summer.

The Surprise Party

Last night my husband, Hassan and I enjoyed a little surprise party. The party wasn’t really for us but we enjoyed it just the same. In the late afternoon we had just decided to a nap when our daughter Mimi announced that she had organized a birthday party for herself. The party was at a pub in Decatur, Georgia. The problem was that she wanted to enjoy beer, legally, but needed someone to do the driving. Needless to say we got up and hit the road doing our best to do so with an enthusiastic spirit. Driving to Decatur had not been a part of my evening plan. Sometimes taking a detour from “the plan” brings with it unexpected pleasures. The nice surprise for us was that the group of young people gathering for a birthday toast happened to be many of Mimi’s high school friends. These are young people we really enjoyed knowing but most of whom we had not seen for some time. It was so nice to get to visit with everyone, to catch up a bit and to see how these kids are becoming young adults. An added surprise was that one of Mimi’s friend’s mom came to visit too.

I am always so grateful to my children for their ability to coax me out of my routine while encouraging me to take detours. Even though it was Mimi’s birthday, I enjoyed the surprise party and enjoyed the gift that her spontaneity provided me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Possum Has Dropped! (click on the title to read about the Possum Drop)

The celebration goes on for one special Naja. My daughter Mimi turns 21 today, thus becoming legal. It occurs to me that all three of our kids are ADULTS! Where did the years go? Mimi has planned her own celebration with her friends this afternoon. Meanwhile we will be celebrating the New Year with our usual black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn muffins (our own take on cornbread). It is said that peas represent coins and the greens represent money and by eating these foods we are guaranteed some of both for the coming year. Most southerners I know wouldn't dare start the year without peas and greens. Do you have a different traditional meal for New Year's day?

So here we are with a fresh new year ahead of us. I have always loved the quote from Anne of Green Gables when Anne Shirley said Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it. This quote reminds me that we have a year full of tomorrows ahead of us full of possibilities and opportunities.

BTW, Mimi's is having a corn muffin birthday cake and she has asked me to share the recipe with her. Thought I would post it in case others want to enjoy it too. Here is the recipe:

1 Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cottage cheese (can substitute with sour cream or yogurt)
1 stick melted butter
2 eggs
1 box chopped broccoli, steamed

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins and spray with Pam. Mix all ingredients and fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.

I rarely measure anything but make sure your batter is not too thick but not to liquidy. Hope you enjoy.