"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Sorting Finds and Gadets

Earlier this year I went to my parents' house several times, and we enjoyed sorting through old pictures they had collected over the years. Included were several files that my grandmother had kept, and I found letters my mom had written her parents and siblings while she attended boarding school 600 miles from them.

This Valentine included a tiny picture of her, and she sent it home to her parents and little brother. (The two boys born after her were at boarding school with her at this point. She's the oldest of 4.) The picture is about the size of a fat thumb, and the valentine says something about "be my Valentine." I thought it was a cute especially seeing my mom's photo on it.

I sorted many things at my parents' house into piles for each of my siblings, but I took a lot home with me to sort as well.

Something for Daniel's pile. He was a huge Hulk fan back in the day. This looks to be Hulk and David Banner. See how, ahem, muscular the Hulk is? 

For awhile my upstairs had little piles like this where I sorted things into Pictures of Mema, Pictures of Mama, Pictures of Me, on and on.  I had Papers about Mema and Pop, Papers about Pop's Parents, Letters from Momzi, and so forth. I even had smaller piles of pictures to send my uncles or cousins. Even some extended family got fun mail because Momzi (my great-grandmother) often mentioned her children and grandchildren so my mom's cousins greatly enjoyed letters from loved ones gone way too soon.

Among all this stuff, I found this cute letter from my mom's youngest brother:

Here is her brother playing with some cousins in South Carolina. The family liked this when I posted it on Facebook a couple months ago.

And, of course, the Mystery Lady who was among my grandmother's pictures. I wonder if she is an aunt. My sister pointed out how much like HER this aunt looks...different hair, but I can totally see that! Even Will and Michael said, "is that you?" when shown this picture!

I found this cute picture of me and Pop.

And here is a picture of my dad's family with my dad looking disgruntled for sure!

My brother started going through old video tapes, and recorded parts of them on his phone, and then shared snippets with our immediate family on Messenger. We had some good laughs at those. His doing that prompted me to find a cassette tape Daniel and I made over two decades ago on a stereo-system my dad had at the time. I remember it had a way to record our voices and then we'd play the tape and record our voices again, and again, and again. Each time we did a different part...and we're not all that great, but it was fun playing this final recording and hearing something that sounded like at least 6 people were singing, but NO, it was just us!   I'm not sure this will upload and play correctly, but here is a bit of that.

I took the video on my phone, and I videoed the stereo that was playing this cassette so ... 

By contrast, my mom and her dad used to sing together in church, and while I'm not in love with how super-high this song (chorus part) is for my mom, I love hearing her and Pop singing here!  He was such a joyful person; the world definitely needs more folks like him in this oft-gloomy world!

My mom was 20, and her dad was 45. She actually was not married at this time so the Fuqua is not correct for the time of the recording, but is for when it was labeled and emailed to her (which was sometime in the last couple of years).  And she used to sing at this church for years after she was married, and, thus, a Fuqua so, there's that.

Speaking of gadgets - 'cause I kind of was with talk of stereos, right? -, I downloaded Zoom for Andrew the other night because the church youth leaders were wanting to hang out since they'd not seen each other in a few weeks. Andrew normally loves being with these people, but quite honestly, Zoom was a bit overwhelming for him.

He said he much prefers in-person visits with these dear folks!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April Books

I don't think I'll finish another book before the end of the month so here are the books I finished in April. Kind of hard to believe we are finishing another month of 2020. What a year!

The First Mistake by Sandie Jones -- I enjoyed this fast-pace, easy-to-read book about best friends Alice and Beth with their questionable relationships. It was a nice read while I'm also plodding through a thick non-fiction book.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson -- When Ted and Lily happen to meet in an airport bar, Ted reveals that his wife has been cheating on him, and he'd really like to kill her. Surprisingly, Lily offers to help him do that. What?! An exciting - if not, different - tale of a sordid cast of characters. What a world!

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg -- I saw this book last October when we were at a Barnes & Noble in Myrtle Beach. I often jot down interesting-looking books to see if my library system has them. This one was rather large, so when the library was getting ready to close for the coronavirus, I decided to tackle it during this time. Class has been with us from the beginning with England sending over its undesirables and often those who were forced to work off debts. It's only continued over the years. This book acknowledges this fact, and, well, it was a pretty interesting read (especially if you break it up with some fast-paced fiction.)

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson -- This book was OK, I didn't really love the main character's back and forth with her almost-ex husband, but I appreciate the "between"-ness of her life (the Deaf world and the hearing world; her bio family and her adoptive family; her living between two bigger Georgia cities.) I'm not a huge fan of this author though I think many do like her. Still, I grabbed this book in my Get All the Books sessions before the library closed for COVID-19 so I read it.

An Arabian Journey by Levison Wood -- "One man's quest through the heart of the Middle East." I didn't enjoy this as much as Tony Horwitz's book from years ago when he traveled through this region, but I enjoyed this tale and reading about places in the news, and even a place I went to back before Syria was changed so much by their civil war. I finished reading it last night (4/8) in the near-dark because straight-line winds knocked out power on my street. This morning I thought about that and how many people in these regions have intermittent power. Even during the visit we took to Damascus years ago, in peaceful times, we had power outages that were unrelated to trees knocking out power. 

Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline -- Cate Fante is appointed a federal judge, but after she rules from the bench two people end up dead. Also, her secret nightly activities come to light and the chief judge wants to remove her from the bench. The nerve!  Cate vows to fight for her job!

The Road from Chapel Hill by Joanna Catherine Scott -- this book follows the lives of three young people in the South at the outbreak of the Civil War. Eugenia's family is of recently-reduced circumstances and she travels with her father where he works in a mine. Tom, is an enslaved man, who is given to Eugenia by her father. They become friends. Clyde is connected to Tom in that Tom's mother, Old Mary, works for Clyde's family. A decent book; nothing special, but not bad.

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman -- a new author for me, and a mystery of sorts. Maddie Schwartz decides to leave her marriage at the ripe old age of almost 37. After living the good life, Maddie is in need of a job and wants a newspaper columnist to put in a good word for her so she can become a reporter. Maddie becomes the assistant (letter opener) to the guy who does the "help me" advice column, and answers a query that leads to a dead Negro body in a fountain.  Pretty good story

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty -- I had this book on a list of books to read, but never got around to it until I saw that curbside pick up was closing at my library last month. I hurriedly put a few books on hold that I saw online were not checked out. This was a fun read. I like the author's sense of humor which came out in several of her characters. These folks - Frances (romance novelist), Ben and Jessica (married couple), Tony (former sports player), Napoleon (teacher) and Heather (midwife) with their daughter Zoe; Carmel (single mother of four daughters); Lars (extremely handsome divorce lawyer) all meet at a health retreat center run by a Russian immigrant to Australia named Masha. Along with Yao, a former paramedic, and Delilah, she runs Tranquillium House. What an experience for these guests!

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman -- this is the second I've read in this Hope River series, and it was out of order, and still not the first in the series, but I liked it very much! The characters are adorable, it's fast-paced and interesting, and I just really like her books. This one focused on Becky Myers as she returns to West Virginia with the doctor she worked for for the last seven years, Isaac Blum. After Dr. Blum's wife dies in an accident and is rendered mute or catatonic (they aren't quite sure what is going on), Becky believes they can go back to his hometown where she plans to take care of him in his family home. Only...it's been auctioned off for back taxes or some such thing, and Becky is trying to figure out how to survive during those difficult days. I love the addition of the CCC in this book. Andrew and I love hiking in the mountains and so often the CCC is referenced; my hat is off to you fine folks who worked hard to make things wonderful for us to enjoy today. And my thanks to the American taxpayers who funded this project when so many of you were in dire straits!

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout -- I really wanted to read another book of hers, but it's been checked out for awhile so I got this one to read during the library shutdown, and it was decent. Nothing special, but not terrible. It had a rather good message, I think, about families sticking together. Twins Bob and Susan, and their idolized big brother, hot-shot lawyer Jim. Jim's wife Helen features heavily in this book as does Susan's son, Zach. An OK read.

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline -- Eric Parrish is the Chief doctor of psychiatry at his hospital, and he is introduced to a teenage boy taking care of his dying grandmother. A few things about Max's story ring alarm bells, but not enough for Dr. Parrish to break patient confidentiality. Later, however, he second guesses this as Max disappears and a teenager is killed. An interesting, fast-paced book.

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith -- ever since I read his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, I wondered what his other books were like. I'd noticed another series or two in the library as well as this book about Emma which is "a modern retelling." I didn't like it as much as I enjoyed the tales about Mma Ramotswe and her sidekicks in the detective agency and attached garage, but it was a decent story. To be fair, I'm not a great fan of modern retellings, but this one was OK!

Gone Too Long by Lori Roy -- this book deals with Imogene soon after her dad dies and she's exploring an abandoned house on the property. She is amazed to discover a young boy living in the basement, and later finds out how the boy came to live there. This book deals with the KKK in more recent times. A decent story. 

The Watchmaker's Daughter by Sonia Taitz -- as the author puts it "this book is a love letter and a tribute" to her parents, both concentration camp survivors. I enjoyed the author's tale of her life in New York City with her parents and grandmother and brother. My mom checked this book out from the library before it closed so I'm now reading some of her books!

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon -- another book that my mom had checked out before the library closed down; a good story about Evelyn, trained as a lawyer, but mostly not taken seriously in this role in England a few years after the Great War. She works on a couple of cases - one involving the murder of newly-married Stella and another in the case of Leah Marchant who sent her children to live in a home, but cannot get them back. I enjoyed this book pretty well!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Recent Ancestry Finds

The other day I logged onto my library account to check on something, and noticed that during this Covid-19 shutdown, we have access to things from home that ordinarily we wouldn't (I guess.)  For instance on the page that shows the books I have on hold, I noticed links to about 6 different things including Ancestry! Granted it's the library version which means my tree and hints don't show up, but it's great in that I can search for a few things that I've wanted to look for in recent weeks, but cannot because I don't want to purchase a subscription to Ancestry in order to do so.

Last August when Ancestry offered free looks at their Yearbook collection, I had fun finding pictures of some family members including my mom, dad, and Andrew's mom, dad, himself and his brother.

This time I looked up my parents' names again, and found this of my mom that either wasn't there last time or I failed to notice.  It's from her days in college when she was in the traveling choir.

I did some screen shots so you can see her better:

Second from left: 

Front row, long dark hair: 

She said she cannot remember why she was posing this way...dramatic! 😎😎

Also I looked up my dad's good friend from his US Air Force days. He and Bill kept in touch for many years afterward, but we never heard from him after 1998 when his hometown of Spencer, South Dakota, had killer tornadoes. We often wondered if Bill died in them. And, he apparently did not, however, his death was just two days prior to their arrival. My dad has looked online for him some over the years, but we never were able to find much. 

For some reason in early March and again a couple days ago, I searched some more. In March, I did regular Google searches, and the other day, I checked Ancestry.  I couldn't open this newspaper because I don't want to give them my credit card information for my free trial, but I was able to see enough plus I found an official record that listed his name, and identifier (namely US Air Force Vietnam) which made us conclude that Bill died in 1998 at age 52. 

Bill used to send us bizarre, but fun packages. I still remember arriving home from school or church or visiting a grandparent and finding a package on our front stoop. Once my mom recalls he sent pheasants on ice! And I wore a Miami Dolphins t-shirt that he sent in one "care package."

I hate that he died so young, but have enjoyed hearing stories about him from my dad. Bill was sent to Vietnam, and my dad was sent to Canada, but they met at an Air Force base in Alabama, I believe.

I also found this death notice about my great-grandmother who died in China when my grandpa was about 4. Report of the Death of an American Citizen.

I found some other stuff about the Kiriazis family which I may post another day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Graduation Picture and Silly Faces (again)

I think I shared this picture of my grandmother before, but since we are nearly in the graduation season, I'll post it again.  My grandmother - Mary Kay* - is to the right of the little girl in the front.

* Kay was her last name before she married, not a double-called-by name that is common with the name Mary

Also, Sophie called us the night of her birthday, and we did more of these faces. Here are some good ones of her and Andrew.

She looks a lot like her mom in this one. Not that Megan wears much make up or has colorful hair, but still...



Oh my! 

Cool dudes

Andrew liked this one of himself as a hand

Sophie recently pulled her second tooth. Neither time did she tell anyone it was loose!  The dog on her head is also showing off missing teeth...rather creepy-looking to me, but it's just a Messenger Effect.  Andrew's face!!  At least he has all his teeth, right?

Monday, April 20, 2020


 Today is Sophie's 6th birthday! I miss hanging out with her so much, but thankfully we've chatted a few times and did these funny Messenger "effects" to make ourselves look . . . bizarre!

Sophie and Susie

When life gives you lemons, make . . . faces?

New looks

Here's one with Andrew:

Looking awesome

Also, recently I saw this Easter bunny challenge on Facebook so I decided to collect weeds in my own yard. Here is the example from Facebook:

And here's mine. I had to take the plants inside because it was a very breezy day. I was coughing afterward so I think I was allergic to a couple of those weeds.  I think the rosebud adds a nice touch, don't you?  I've become a little sad for some of my northern friends who claim they don't have grass or any flowers so far this year. I know they have beautiful snowy landscapes in winter whereas we ... usually don't, but I would rather have late falls and early springs than to live in leafless and flowerless areas for much of the year. IT'S APRIL! BRING ON THE FLOWERS AND GRASS!

The week before Easter Sunday, we'd been warned for days that there was a good possibility of very strong/severe storms that had a history of producing tornadoes. The weather folks were saying the conditions were good for a strong storm based on the "ingredients" they saw that were coming together.

My brother and I grew up watching educational videos including those on the weather, especially fascinating things like tornadoes. I recall a regular thunderstorm might pop up, and we'd hide in my mom's walk in closet with our Bibles, singing hymns as if we would be delivered from a tornado just like God got Paul and Silas out of jail with an earthquake. Only, we didn't want the walls to come down for us. We were fine with things staying as is - with our house intact and our lives spared.

Anyway...so ever since then I've been wary of tornadoes as are, I'm sure, much of the population.

I'd heard tips about wearing bicycle helmets and shoes and putting pillows, blankets, and clothes over you in case of a tornado. The timing of the storm was such that it was coming to our area anywhere between, like, 3 and 11 in the morning. Friends in Athens, Georgia, were planning to sleep in the basement.  We don't have a basement nor an interior room with no windows in this house, so I prepared a safe space for us in a place that I hoped would be ok if a tree fell on the house. I put Andrew's bike helmets there, my shoes, our go bags, along with the pillows and afghans I keep on the couch. We set our phones to received Emergency Alerts, and went to bed rather late. I was nervous so I didn't fall asleep until after midnight.

I woke around 3:00 and saw the storms were still a good ways off. Our local weather teams were keeping track and offering Facebook Lives for those too nervous to sleep. I checked in and saw where the line was, and went back to bed. Woke again around 5:30, checked the phone again and the storms were in the next county so I stayed up, keeping tabs on everything from our safe space while Andrew snoozed awhile longer. I had just walked into the bedroom to wake him up when our phones both alerted us to Tornado Warnings nearby, and Andrew was awake anyway. He said the lightning woke him.

We went into the living room, kept watching the news, and put on our protective gear. You can see I snapped this picture around 6:18. Andrew was putting on his shoes.

Andrew occasionally looked out at the storm whereas I told him to get away from the windows since we have some tall trees in the back and I didn't want one crashing down on him.  Finally we saw that our area was clear of the line of storms, but, wait....there was suddenly a Tornado Warning for southern Alamance County near Sutphin (near Saxapahaw and Snow Camp). Later it was confirmed as an EF1 and not just a radar-indicated tornado which sometimes doesn't actually get to the ground.  Thankfully no one was killed or injured that I heard, but I did see pictures of property damage. And some friends in South Carolina had a stronger tornado hit their area in Seneca. And still worse were storms in, I believe, Mississippi and Alabama. It was a great time if you like severe weather.

Between that (which actually brought down fewer limbs and sticks and we kept our electricity) and the roaring wind a few nights before (see previous post), I've picked up a lot of sticks in our yard lately. As I toss those in a trash can for the city to pick up, or in a pile somewhere, I often think about books I've read where people gather sticks for fires, so they can cook and eat, or heat water and clean. I thought of some areas where they've used all the wood they can find because they cut down their trees so there is no longer sticks that fall to the ground. I think of those people in past years (I want to say especially in parts of North Korea), and wonder about the blessings of trees. Even if you don't like picking up all those sticks strewn across the yard, trees are nice for the most part.

In one other, totally unrelated, tidbit for this post, I posted this picture for my mom last week. She didn't ask me to, but she went along with it. There was that Facebook thing which I actually loved because it was so funny seeing some of my friends' graduation pictures, and she couldn't find her yearbook, but had this 8x10 of her with most of her classmates, and I zoomed up to get mostly her in the shot. So, here's my mom in 1969 when she graduated from high school (which she loved.) I loved high school, too, but not so much my graduation picture. I don't think I ordered the ones the school did, but had some taken at Olan Mills.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Just some roaring wind!

So the last 3 days (Monday through Wednesday), we've had warm, sunny days for the most part, with a 30% chance of PM storms. Monday and Tuesday we had a small rain storm come through my area around 3:00, drop rain for about 10 minutes and then it was fine the rest of the day. I thought yesterday (April 8) would be similar, but 3 PM passed with nothing although the weather folks said there was a line over Kentucky and West Virginia that might hold together and affect us between 6 and 9 PM.

after the wind came through, it was pretty

Skip, after the wind came through

I had been outside in the back, walking a little while Andrew was unloading his mowers, etc., and then I decided around 6:45 to read on the patio.

Well, it was dark back to the north, but when I checked the radar the storms were up near the Virginia border counties so maybe 45 minutes to an hour away. Future radar even looked as if the storms would fall apart before arriving here.

But then maybe 10 minutes later, the wind just started roaring so I turned around to look and the trees were all blowing so I went inside thinking a tree might bonk me on the head as I sat reading. I decided to gather a few things in case a tree fell on my bathroom and bedroom***, and I went to flip a light switch in the small hall bathroom which has no window, therefore it was dim, and realized the power was out. The wind had only roared at this point for about 5 minutes, and, thankfully, only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes more.

It was just wind ahead of thunderstorms which we never got. No rain, no hail, no thunder at my house (though some folks got those things). The actual storms fell apart before they arrived in Graham, but the wind ahead of it was scary.

Our neighbor had a tree fall through his building (shed), and we drove about a mile down the road and saw other trees/limbs down from the straight-line winds.

Andrew ate a peanut butter, honey, and corn chip sandwich while wearing a headlamp last night. We also talked to Sophie who thought Andrew wearing a headlamp was funny (I texted her a picture.)

The flash from my phone makes it look lighter than it was in there.

Later we read on the couch with headlamps, and tried to go to bed early (10:00) since we'd been going to bed later lately. Well, that was fun. No fan, and then Andrew's gurgling stomach kept me awake!  Yes, not his snoring (which he doesn't really do much), but his stomach. Haha.

I went to the couch where I fell asleep finally only to wake up to him coming through the house to make his lunch box at 1:30 in the morning.  The power came on at 1 (I slept through it), but he was awake and decided since he was awake to make his lunch box.


We had joked about waking up to eat ice cream when the power came on, but I was not up for that at 1:00 this morning. But apparently Andrew was fine with peeling oranges and washing grapes. Who even does that? 


He text me this morning around 9:30 asking if the ice cream was all right!

*** ever since Hurricane Michael came through a couple years ago and took down a big tree on the border of our yard and hit (barely, but still) my next-door neighbor's yard, I've been even more scared of high winds toppling a tree. I love trees, and want to keep them around, but I hate what damage they can do when wind or ice topple them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Scavenger Hunts

Although this is possibly true of Southern living ....

I am rather partial to beautiful flowering things so I'm glad I'm here where we can do Outdoor Scavenger Hunts and find leaves and flowers and grass in mid-March.  I say that because I posted this on Facebook,

and two of my friends in Massachusetts mentioned their lack of leaves* or grass. Too bad. Later that day I was social-distancing in Graham near the library and children's museum when I decided to enjoy the pretty day by doing the Outdoor Scavenger Hunt! It was fun!

* our trees weren't all that leafy just yet (it was March 18th when I did my hunt), but don't you have bushes with leaves in the Northeast? And you can see from my pictures, that I actually found leaves leftover from last year

Here are pictures I posted on Facebook.

Leaves that look different; I did more than 5 because I wanted to include all these little cuties!

something that is heavy

flowers - real and fake

something that smells good

something(s) that need the sun to live

something you like to play with; well, Sophie does;
it's the mouse outside the library

something brown; something smaller than my thumb; a stick bigger than my hand;
something to recycle; something that begins with M (mulch)

Back at my house:

a flat rock and one with spots

ten blades of grass (until a couple blew away) and something very light

For my Massachusetts and other friends who don't have flowers or leaves or grass at this time of year, I also posted this Indoor Scavenger Hunt.  I may do this one sometime.

And then .. THEN yesterday, I found all these which I wanted to save here!  I should get going on that last one because it's already April 1, and Spring will be over before we know it!  (Though, truthfully, I could do that one later in the year if need be.)