Blogging With Julie, Continues On….
Welcome to Blogging With Julie, Continues On….
My name is Julie Lancaster-Whann
Once again I’ve had to start a new blog post as I have a hard time posting on the previous one. I can still post but the page doesn’t refresh like it should. Yet, I also think it’s a good idea to start a new one as we are entering into a New Year, 2018.
Everything new, and yet everything old, all at the same time.
When I listed all of my blog posts below it is kind of embarrassing there are so many of them.
But there is really nothing I can do about that. I wish my website were in a better order than it is but I also do the best that I can given that my website experience is learning as I go. I’ve also had a saboteur from day 1!
I do write about him in my What It’s Like to be Cyber Stalked, blog.
He is also in my Twitter and Instagram accounts. He loves letting me know that. He always leaves behind his subtle clues, for example, I will suddenly notice that I’m following Melania Trump when I know I didn’t. He tampers with my settings so that my location and email address is exposed. I’m also incapable of reading my stats because he tampers with them so that I can’t access them.
He even controls the order in which my blog posts appear, or don’t appear, on the Search Engines. Making sure my Home Page doesn’t appear if anyone were to search my name. (After all, What It’s Like to be Cyber Stalked is on the home page.) There are also “Security Warnings” for many that come to my site. What better way to scare off readers than to put up warnings? There is nothing wrong with my site, it is perfectly safe.
I no longer get the large traffic volume that I used to before I started exposing him as my STALKER, by blogging about my experiences with him. But oddly enough that is o.k. as my website is becoming more of a diary and we don’t always like just anyone reading our diaries, do we? But if someone is willing to avoid the “warnings” that Paul puts up, yet still come to my website and look around, then you are very welcomed!
So, if I am to be judged by the appearance of some of my blog posts, or the order in which they are in, there is nothing I can do about that. However, feel free to judge me by the content of my posts.
I’m very happy you are here,
P.S. I have started a Go Fund Me post in the hopes of raising some money to help me prosecute my Cyber-Stalker.
Here is the link:
It was last night, August 5, 2018 that I was once again on the phone with my security company that protects my website, informing them that Paul was back in it. (He loves to let me know that.) So, they ran their scans and of course found the usual malware and malicious code. It was at that point that the whole Go Fund Me thing popped in my head and that is where I turned for help.
I am asking for $50,000.00 in the hopes that I can get at least $10,000.00 for all the expenses that it will entail to gather all the evidence. Then of course there will be lawyer fees that will follow. I do realize that in these times I feel very selfish asking the public for money to help me? I mean, my husband has a good job and we are by no means hurting, but there just isn’t the money to allocate toward going after Paul. And by all means that if you have a choice between helping a family in need, or an animal that is being abused, then by all means help that family and that animal over me. But for those of you that can help I would appreciate it.
I at least hope to bring attention to it by starting the Go Fund Me in the first place.
You know, I was watching a Huffington Post woman complain about all the trolls that have gone after her and a few other employees that write for them, and she was visibly upset at all that they have done to her. I was so sympathetic towards her. But then she said that she had been going through it for the past 2 years. 2 YEARS? 2 YEEEARS?? That’s all?? Try 2 DECADES!!!!
I would trade places with her in a minute!
Thank you for your time, I’m happy you are here to visit with me.
(I seriously doubt that anyone will help me. Whenever I have ever asked for help in my life I have never received it from people. The universe has helped me far greater than any person ever has. My main goal is just to bring to light the abuse that I have suffered under Paul Gray, and to hopefully put an end to him and his destruction.)
(For past blog posts in descending order, see the Julie Blogs at the top of the homepage bar, or click on the links below.)
We have been having lots of fun on Twitter if you would like to follow us:
(My Twitter Account)
(Gordon’s Twitter Account)
Blog Posts Start Here
November 23, 2018
Happy Belated Thanksgiving!
I hope that all of you had a lovely Turkey/Chicken Day.
This year the dinner was all up to me! I did it all by myself! 🙂 And I am quite proud too. Oh, Gordon did help me a bit with the oven instructions on the phone via overseas, but I wanted to bake a chicken that my modeling agent, Libby Stone, taught me how to make many, many, years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina in the early 80’s.
I was in my late teens/early 20’s when I was modeling in Charlotte. Libby was my Modeling Agent and I lived with her and her family. She was widowed with 3 daughters, 2 of which lived with her as well. We were a house full of women, and Libby’s grandson Wesley. Models would come and go through that house at all hours. Libby’s modeling studio/agency was a few miles away where she taught modeling classes, met with clients, and even sold a cosmetic line that I cannot even remember the name of right now. I’ll have to write about Libby someday soon but for now I need to stay on topic, my Thanksgiving Chicken.
When I was modeling I never really dieted. I didn’t have to. I was tall and thin, I had a high metabolism, so I never worried about what I ate, which was mostly a lot of junk food, and my favorite nachos. (p.s. How to tell if someone has a high metabolism is to look at their hair. If it is straight, high metabolism. If it is curly, low metabolism. Which is why most models have long, straight hair. My hair may look curly to you because I get perms, but my hair is very straight and thin, but I have a lot of it.) Libby was always trying to get me to eat healthier but I told her that I didn’t know how to cook? She then got me a chicken and showed me how to bake one. I think they call it “roasting” now, back then it was baking. But all she did was to rub mayonnaise all over it with some salt and pepper and that was it. It was so delicious! And I was surprised at how easy it was to actually make. So, when I started thinking about what I wanted to cook for Thanksgiving I knew that I didn’t want some turkey, not even a breast, I figured that it would just be a few people here so I didn’t want something big, I wanted something that I could handle myself and that’s when I decided on Libby’s Chicken. Gordon suggested that I also use the remainder of his Ono, which was delicious!
My Roasted Chicken Ingredients….Hellman’s Mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and Gordon’s Ono.
Left with Mayonnaise (Hellman’s), right with Gordon’s Ono
(The reason I name Hellman’s specifically is because it is best used in a lot of southern cooking and really makes a difference. Gordon prefers Miracle Whip in all of his foods where mayo is required. But Miracle Whip just doesn’t enhance the southern recipes. So, now that he is overseas our refrigerator is stocked with Hellman’s and Duke’s.) 🙂
My favorite part of any holiday is the decorating, the props, the cutlery…..and Gordon usually does the food.
Paper I pulled off a tree in Hawaii at Camp Paumalu in 1998
When Gordon and I were Girl Scout Leaders we took our troop of girls, (and Brodie) to Camp Paumalu for a few days. It was there that I found these trees with the bark literally coming off in strips of paper. So, I took some to show the girls, and to keep for myself. This was the best example of how paper comes from trees. The bark was literally nothing but strips of paper all around it. Well, I came across this a few years ago, I am a collector of all things after all, and I set it aside to use in one of our Thanksgiving’s. That day came this year, as noted in a few of my photos.
My Grandmother’s Southern Cornbread Dressing
Helping the Cornbread to go Stale
Saving a bit of the cornbread for some Black Eyed Peas.
(In the poorer southern families of the era I grew up in, stale cornbread is not something you throw out! You either pour cow’s milk into it to soften it up and eat it like that, or you place Black Eyed Peas and their juices into it so soften it up. My step-father, although a General Surgeon, grew up very poor in Texas and sometimes he ate dinner as if he were still poor.)
The Cornbread Made into my Grandmother’s Dressing
I may be able to substitute a chicken for a turkey, or do away with my beloved Green Bean Casserole, but I CANNOT do without my Grandmother’s Dressing on Thanksgiving. 🙂 This year I placed it into cupcake cups. A bit more casual and easy to eat.
I Even Made Two Pies This Year, one to eat…..
and one to give away……
All in all it was a really nice day.
Oh, Brodie did give me some lip about putting together our nice new outdoor storage cabinet, which is now in two large sections in the living room that we have to trip over, and Monk did poop in his waterfall water dish, and as I am trying to dry some of my cuddly cozy blankets I noticed that the dryer no longer had heat and no longer was working…..
It was a GREAT Day! 🙂 🙁 I never said it was a Perfect Day!
November 3, 2018
Another Great Halloween
(I Want To Believe)
I’ve started taking down the Halloween decorations in the dining room and will soon be putting up the Christmas decorations.
With Gordon overseas I will not be doing that much decorating in the dining room. Oh, there will be a tree, and there will be some Christmas nic-nak’s, but I will not be going overboard as I usually do each year in the dining room. I will however, focus my attention to my kitchen nook and I do have something quite grand planned in that room. You will just have to wait and see. 🙂
But this year was the first year that I did Halloween all by myself in a very long time. During Gordon’s 20 year Navy career he was gone many a Halloween, but the kids and I worked together to always pull off a great one! But this year was all me. I enjoyed every aspect of it though. I always do. Even when Gordon is here it is always mostly me. And what I seem to enjoy the most are the trick-or-treaters. A few years ago this cute little girl saw our big cement foo dog statue out front and remarked, “I love your Mulan decorations.” That comment made my Halloween when she said it. But this year, it was these two little boys, probably about 10 years old. They came to the door, I answered it, they said their “trick-or-treat”, I gave them both big handfuls of candy, AND a Moon Pie each, so with big smiles on their faces they thanked me. And as they were hurrying down my sidewalk I heard them say to each other, “WOW! This was the BEST HOUSE YET!”
(Me, up in the ladder taking photos down below.)
That is what I will always remember. That is also what they will remember.
(I did wear my bone dress for Halloween. Where else will I ever be able to wear my bone dress?)
Gordon can easily tell you of the greatest Halloween he ever had. It was when he was about 12 and he and 3 other friends went to this home when he lived in Charlotte, North Carolina where the mom had cooked some excellent treats to pass out to the neighborhood kids. Gordon and his friends were so excited about their treats and when they ate them they were sooooo good! So the boys all switched costumes and went back to that house hoping that the couple wouldn’t recognize them and would give them the same treats all over again.
Halloween is probably the only FUN holiday that we have. It’s not an emotional holiday like Christmas or Valentine’s Day. It’s not a “family” day like Thanksgiving and Easter. It doesn’t matter if you have a date, or a sweetheart. It’s just FUN! It’s also about being someone else for just one day.
“What are you going to be this year for Halloween?” “Who are you going to be this year for Halloween?”
It’s not serious. It’s just fun! It’s magic and it’s make believe.
This is why I love Halloween!
Until next year…….
Just a Head’s Up!
I am working on so many blog posts, especially those for Halloween and that are Autumn related. Gordon is even helping me work on them from overseas. Other than that, things are fine here. Hope you guys are doing well.
October 13, 2018 and October 16, 2018
(I added some photos.)
I just updated my Ghost Writer Blog
Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil
Yes, we actually know one of the characters in the book. Hint: Clint Eastwood’s daughter played her in the movie. 🙂
Nancy Lee Hillis (Mandy)
(If I got a few things wrong in the write up then I am open to correcting them. But, I am writing this as I remember it.)
My nephew Joseph, and my son Brodie at Colonial Park Cemetery in downtown Savannah.
(Hugging Ghosts) 🙂
Cute Little Joseph Hugging Ghosts
My favorite city in the world, not that I’ve seen them all, but my favorite city at least so far, is Savannah, Georgia. I grew up in Rome which is about a 6 hour drive away. Savannah is old and historic with a rich history. It is also beautiful and charming. My brother Johnny lived there with his first wife Cathy about 20 years ago as of this writing, October 13, 2018. She even gave birth to their first child Kate, in Savannah. Cathy is originally from Ireland and fell in love with Savannah strickly from reading the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Johnny and Cathy’s Front Door that led up to their 3rd. Floor Apartment.
I believe it was Cathy’s idea for them to live there. Savannah does host the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in all of America. I believe even outdoing the one in New York. There is also a beautiful famous Catholic Church in downtown.
The Beautiful Catholic Church that my former sister in law would frequent.
In addition to its great beauty the city itself is unique in the fact that is has so many squares. The streets are lined with them. When you drive down Savannah you aren’t driving on many straight roads. You are driving around neighborhood squares, one after the other. If you saw the movie, Forest Gump, Tom Hanks is sitting on a park bench in Savannah on one of those squares.
Tom Hanks, Savannah, Georgia
Although I think they have since removed all the park benches. The town was made that way so that if there was trouble everyone would run to the middle of the square in their neighborhood to receive whatever news that was important. And I believe, someone would run from square to square to spread the news so that everyone would then know what danger was coming their way.
Savannah was one of the few towns that the Yankee’s didn’t burn down during the Civil Woah (that’s the only way I know how to pronounce it), because the towns people cooperated with them.
Juliette Gordon Low
Savannah is also the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Lowe, the woman who founded Girl Scout’s here in America. Gordon and I, along with our children have been to Savannah a few times where we have had the most wonderful of vacation’s.
Incidentally, I was a Girl Scout for a few year’s when I was growing up. Our daughter Veronica was a Brownie and a Girl Scout during her formative years. And, both Gordon and I were Girl Scout Leaders to our daughter’s troop when we lived in Hawaii.
Savannah is also one of the most haunted places in America. Some say THE most Haunted City in America. You see, when the town was built they didn’t bother moving the dead that were buried there, they just moved the tombstones and left the bodies.
As evidenced in the photos below…..
My Favorite Headstone, just tucked away.
Check out the Skull and Crossbones
The town was built on top of graveyards. One thing that I have come to realize just through my growing up in the south, especially the low country, the deep south, is that southerners tend not to be that scared of ghosts. Our African-American communities can be, but the white southern culture that I grew up knowing didn’t fear them. I don’t know why? And I just remembered a summer camp that I sent my daughter to in Rome one summer while we were living in Hawaii, but in Rome for summer vacation, where they went around to various places in Rome, even graveyards, and she learned legends and stories of ghosts. One particular one that stuck with her was “Spear Finger.” I’ll have to someday have her recount it because she learned it first hand from a Story Teller. Common day Bard, I suppose.
But, the story that I want to tell you does take place in Savannah, but first I need to lead up to the story and fill you in on the background, something that southerners are very good at doing. 🙂
I would like to introduce you to Charlie Hillis. I don’t have a photo of Charlie. But, Charlie went to medical school at Emory University in Atlanta with my step-father. They were the two oldest in their class. They hit it off and got along very well, even keeping in touch up until Charlie died about 8 years ago, or so? His 5th. wife tried to kill him. Really! I’ll get to that later on. But when I first met Charlie it was when I was a young girl in the 60’s. He was married to his 1st. wife Verice. She was lovely too. She looked just like Mary Tyler Moore. She was tall, thin, had dark hair. I don’t know how long they were married but they had 3 sons together. The boys ranged in age from about age 5, to late teens. (I do have photos of all of them but I will have to add those later on as I have too many things in front of the cabinets right now where I keep my photos.)
But I do have this……
Me, age 8
This photo was taken at a cabin that we were renting with Charlie, Verice and their boys, in the mountains one winter.
(I just wanted to add something about my step-father here that I believe is very noteworthy. If you are a regular reader of my blogs then you know that I do talk about the abuse that I have suffered from him from the time he came in my life when I was 7, and up until the time he died when I was 52. But, I have also stated that he was a brilliant doctor and that I would always give him credit for that. I just wanted to share with you that when he was in medical school in the 60’s, with Charlie Hillis, that he wrote a paper tracing AIDS to monkey’s in Africa. In the 60’s!! Scientists have now been able to connect those dots that do link AIDS to monkeys in Africa 6 decades after my step-father did. He was working on Astral Projection a few decades before he died. One of my most vivid memories of him is everywhere we went he would be sitting there bolt upright in a chair with his eyes closed. We always thought he was napping. But he never was, he was working on having out of body experiences where his body was with us but his mind was elsewhere. What progress he ever made on it I will most likely never know. But he was always writing on his computer. He could sit there for days writing. I do wonder if my mother isn’t sitting on a goldmine of information that no one will ever know about. As much as I hated the man, he was brilliant and I will always be in awe of how intelligent that he was.)
So, you’ve met Charlie Hillis, now meet his 3rd. wife Nancy. I cannot remember where we were living when we met Nancy. I thought it was while we were living in Roanoke, Virginia, but my mother says that it was Sevierville, Tennessee. Regardless of where we were living I do remember meeting Nancy. She was much younger than Charlie and she was stunningly beautiful! She was short in stature and even a bit chubby, but none of that detracted from just how lovely that she was. She also had a history of winning beauty pageants.
Nancy at her 1966 Homecoming
On one visit to see her and Charlie I got a look at all her trophy’s that she had on display. WOW! I couldn’t tell you any titles she has won as none come to mind, but I do wonder if she didn’t influence me a bit in wanting to get into pageants? I was in the Miss North Carolina USA beauty pageant when we were living in Rockingham. The pageant was held in Winston-Salem. I was dating Gordon at the time. He was there. And no I didn’t win, or even place, but it was an experience. I did have a few titles from my Charlotte, North Carolina modeling days though. I was Miss Izod and Miss Pepsi Cola. The reason I don’t talk about any of that is because I look back on it as being silly and ridiculous, and shallow and immature. BUT, I was very impressed with all of Nancy’s accomplishments. Because she was short she would do everything in her power to be taller as those were the girls the judges were more impressed with, so Nancy told me once that she would lie in bed all day the day of the pageant because that made her ¼ inch taller naturally. Does that really work? Who knows? But Nancy swore by it. I do know that astronauts come back from space taller than they were before they left because gravity tends to compact us more down here than it does up there. So, their spines become longer thus making themselves taller. Maybe Nancy did know what she was talking about after all.
Nancy and Charlie went on to have a son together, his name was Jacob. She already had a son, Wes. I remember we visited them a few times when they were living in Fayetteville, Georgia. They had a swimming pool. Nancy had a broken leg and was hobbling around on crutches. Her dog had eaten her big diamond ring so every time the dog would poop Nancy would be going through it looking for her ring. 🙂
My mother and step-father went on to keep up with them but I no longer really did as I was living in Hawaii. I don’t know when Nancy and Charlie divorced. I do remember being at home in Rome visiting one time when Charlie came by for dinner. He was between wives at the time. I think from his 3rd. to 4th. wife? I always liked him. He was always very funny, charming, and entertaining.
I did hear from my mother that Charlie helped Nancy to buy a bed and breakfast in Savannah. She could sing really well and worked as a nightclub singer in a club, Sweet Georgia Brown’s.
Nancy was known for her Pink Feather Boa.
This was all during the writing of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, or as the locals of Savannah call it, “The Book.”
The Famous Bird Girl Statue
John Berendt also fell for the captivating Nancy, or as he calls her in “The Book,” Mandy. If you haven’t read the book, you need to! The movie is forgettable, The Book is memorable! The movie starred the great, John Cusack, and Kevin Spacey, along with Jude Law and Alison Eastwood, (wonder how she got that part?) The movie was directed by her father, Clint Eastwood.
I remember being upset about the casting of Alison Eastwood to play Nancy in the movie.
Alison Eastwood as Mandy in MITGOGAE
Alison is a lovely woman but Nancy’s beauty was just a bit extraordinary. Not your average beauty. She had dark hair and dark skin because she always seemed to have a tan. I remember once we all went somewhere together when Charlie and Nancy were visiting and Nancy wore a halter top and short shorts one summer day. Men stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Nancy. I was a teenager at the time and I was very aware of how people viewed her. The men were positive, the women were negative. When Nancy first saw me I was this awkward, teen with pimples and greasy hair and Nancy was still sweet enough to give me a compliment and tell me that I had a very “pretty smile.” (Compliments at that time of my life were few and far between so I do tend to remember them.)
Meet Nancy Hillis, The Vamp of Savannah
Nancy tells HER Story!
So, Nancy is living in Savannah, working as a nightclub singer and owning a B&B that her ex-husband helped her buy. Nancy lived in the basement apartment and rented out the upper floors to tourists. She came and went as her schedule revolved around her nightclub job. She may have had one or two more jobs at that time but the one that sticks out most in my mind was that one.
They say Disney’s Haunted Mansion was based on this house.
Nancy would decorate her B&B with nice furniture and somehow, she came across a portrait of a Yankee soldier and hung it on the wall. I don’t remember which room but obviously she would have hung it somewhere like the living room, dining room, or even a sitting room. Somewhere out in the open for the guests that stayed there to view. Interestingly enough, every morning she would find that portrait of that Yankee soldier sitting on the floor beneath where it was hung. It was never broken, it didn’t fall, it was placed there. Even when she was all alone in the house every morning that portrait would be sitting there on the floor as if gently placed there. Nancy finally got the hint and put the portrait away in a closet. (How many people do you know that care to respect a ghost’s wishes?) So, was it a ghost? Savannah has a reputation for being haunted, so why not? The house was built on top of graves. Yet another “unexplained” event. We in the south believe in ghosts. We’ve even seen a few.
There are many more accounts of the haunted B&B by guests that have stayed there. Nancy sold the house and then moved to St. Simmons Island. (Where the first Brunswick Stew was invented.) Or so they say…. 🙂
Nancy Lee Hillis
(Once a beauty queen, always a beauty queen.)
I asked my mother over a year ago to send me some photos of Nancy and Charlie because I wanted to add them to this post when I originally got the idea that I wanted to write about them a year ago, but she never did. My mother does have a massive collection of photos though. I did find a few of Nancy online. She died on August 9, 2016 of ALS, she was 67. Here is the write up I found online about her:
Nancy Lee Hillis, aka, The Vamp of Savannah, 67, of St. Simons Island, Georgia, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. She was a lifelong resident of both Savannah and St. Simons Island. She entertained thousands through her gift of song. She was easily a recognizable character because of her signature pink boa and her Dixieland jazz sound. Also known to many as “Mandy” from the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Nancy was a lady of many talents and her most recent accomplishment was her published autobiography “Nancy Hillis, The Vamp of Savannah”.
Survivors include her two sons, Wes Bonner, Jacob Hillis and many lifelong friends and adoring fans.
Her celebration of life will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 13th at Whitfield Square, Downtown Savannah, Georgia.
Flowers may be received at Fox and Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel. In addition, the Nancy Hillis Memorial Fund has been created at The Bank of the Ozarks.
I was sad to have found out that Nancy had died. She was a lovely, and interesting character. I also appreciated that she was so nice to me when I was growing up. She made me feel good about myself. Those are the people that we want to know in life. Let’s forget about the ones that make us feel bad, and only focus on those that make us feel good.
And as for Charlie Hillis, he went on to have two more wives after Nancy and at least one more child. He had a daughter with his 5th. wife, the woman that tried to kill him. She poisoned him. He was on his deathbed but he didn’t press charges against her because they had a 5 year old daughter and he didn’t want her to be without her mother. He didn’t want her going to prison. That has to be the most selfless act of love and kindness that I have ever heard of! The fact that she tried to kill him means that she hates him, so you know that she will never say good things about him to their daughter. Also, the daughter being 5 at his death will not remember very much, if anything about her father. I also doubt that any of Charlie’s other children have anything to do with her seeing as how there are so many ex-wives and so many children, not to mention the ages range from 60’s down to a teenager. What Charlie Hillis did in the end, while on his deathbed, was nothing short of extraordinary. That is something that I will never forget.
I may have started this blog post about how interesting that Nancy Hillis was, but I want to end it with how brave and strong that Charlie Hillis was.
October 6, 2018
I took this photo the day of Christine Blasey-Ford’s testimony. I was feeling empowered.
I’ve written in the past in some of my blogs here on my website of my abuse that I have suffered at the hands of my mother and step-father throughout my life but I’ve never really told my story. And I suppose what I mean by that is by giving more details, not just of the abuse but in how it has affected me, as in behavior’s that survivors have that others don’t. Worry’s that survivors have that others don’t.
Christine Blasey-Ford and Brett Kavanaugh
As with most of the nation I watched in great interest the testimony of Christine Blasey-Ford before the senate and the world, her recount of her sexual assault when she was 15 by the Supreme Court Nominee, Brett Kavanaugh when he was in high school as well. She described in as much detail as she could muster the account of her attack. I was impressed with how well she told her story and how composed that she was. After all, speaking out about what we survivors have experienced is hard enough, now try doing it in front of the world. As for me, I am more comfortable writing than I am speaking. When I write, the words just flow out of me and sometimes I’m surprised at how well I can explain something in such accuracy when I can’t speak it as clearly. I will say that it brought me great joy to watch how well most people treated her. Whether or not they believed that she was assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh (although I think they do) they still believed that she had experienced this great trauma. They weren’t just telling her that she was lying or that she just dreamed the whole thing up. (Like my parents said to me.) Now, just take into consideration that as traumatized as she was she was not raped. She was sexually assaulted, of course, but she was not raped. Now consider the girl/boy/man/woman that IS raped. Ms. Ford was 15 when this happened to her and she did recount in some ways how the experience has affected her life negatively. She did mention that her grades suffered for years after. Another example was that when she and her husband bought their home she insisted that there be two front doors and not just one. An escape route ingrained in her psyche. But the extra door was something that I believe she said that she and husband did argue over.
My son Brodie and I were talking about the testimony’s of Christine Blasey-Ford and Brett Kavanaugh and he asked me why I believe her? I told him that it was because I recognized myself in her and her testimony, and I recognized my step-father in Brett Kavanaugh and his.
Also, I think that everyone has known a Brett Kavanaugh growing up. One of the “good old boys” that just seem to be able to do such damage yet get away with it over and over again.
I have always suffered abuse in one form or another from my mother and step-father. When I was younger it was physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse from my step-father. I suffered physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse from my mother. The only two abuses that ended as I got older were the sexual abuse and the physical abuse. Probably because I grew taller than both of them. But the other abuses continued until my step-father died in 2013, and until I finally parted ways with my mother permanently this year. Although I haven’t had much to do with her or him starting in 2009. My step-father was a psychopath until the day he died, and my mother is a narcissist. I thought that I would talk a bit about how they met and this whole blended family happened. Because of all the secrecy in my family I’ve had to piece a lot of this information together from things my step-brother has told me throughout my life, a few things that my grandmother has accidentally said to me before she died, some things I remember my grandfather saying, some things that I myself have either overheard or witnessed, and even some things that my half-sister’s mother has told me long ago. For example, I always wondered why my mother divorced my biological father, Charlie, so I asked his second wife? She told me that my mother ran off with an older man. O.k then! What do I say to that? I pretty much just sat there and said nothing. I didn’t know what to think, and I didn’t know who to believe? I have of course come to believe her as I finally saw my mother for the person that she really is, a cold- hearted woman that has no good feelings toward me or my nephew Joseph. (My mother only cares about who John Lancaster told her to care about and seeing as how both of us aren’t his, we aren’t/weren’t important to either him, or her.)
I could very easily argue that without any of the abuse that I state above, that my childhood itself could be considered abuse in the fact that we moved around so very much. Before my brother Johnny was born when I was 8 years old, I had already lived in 6 different homes in 3 different towns and one city, and attended 6 different schooling environments. All before the age of 8. My mother gave birth to 4 children. I am 8 years older than my brother Johnny, 10 years older than my brother Frank, and 14 years older than my brother Ben. (I have said in the past that I was 15 years older than Ben because I had just turned age 15, 2 days after Ben was born, but I was actually only 14 years older than he.)
I found out that my mother met my step-father at the hospital they both worked at in Rome, Georgia. My step-father was a doctor, and my mother a medical technologist. He was married at the time to another woman and they had one child together, Scott, my step-brother. My mother was pretty much the “other woman.” Scott told me once that he walked in on them once when he was 6. Seeing as how I am two years younger than Scott, that means that my mother and step-father were having that affair for a while before they married when I was age 7. I will never forget the day they married. Oh, I have no idea what day of the week it was, or even the date. They never mentioned it in the 44 years they were married. I always wondered why they weren’t like other couples in celebrating anniversaries although I’ll get to that in a minute. The day they married they dropped me off at a library, I believe in Dahlonega, Georgia with my Spirograph.
They left me there for hours while they went to some Justice of the Peace to get married. Oh, they never told me why I was being left at the library all alone, they just told me to stay there until they come back for me. So, I did. I read a few books and I played with my Spirograph. No one talked to me, not even the Librarian’s. I just sat at the table and entertained myself. When they came back for me we were in the car. I was in the backseat. I think we were in my step-father’s red Oldsmobile but I’m not sure. They told me that they had gotten married. I didn’t believe them. They had to show me their marriage certificate and even then I was very skeptical. I think their behavior was bizarre to me even then, I mean who leaves me alone at a library for hours and runs off and gets married? Who does that? I realized that’s why they left me alone and I wondered why I couldn’t have come with them? I found out years later from my step-brother Scott that at that time in Georgia it took one year to get a divorce so they married the day after his divorce from his first wife came through. I was also informed that my mother was about 5 months pregnant at the time with Johnny, which is why they never advertise the day, or the year they were married.
Me, aged 7 Gainsville, Georgia
Dahlonega, GA. I loved to sleep on that tiger as a pillow.
Turning 8 in Dahlonega
(I do remember that Spice Cake.)
As much as my brother’s have complained about all the moving around that we did when we were growing up I sometimes have to remind them that I endured more of it than they did.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 1978
Me, Johnny, and Frank in the Middle
My step-brother Scott and I were always close growing up, but Scott was always someone not to be trusted. He could be very sneaky and manipulative. He could also be very funny and entertaining. He learned at a young age how to manipulate people into giving him what he wanted. For example, when he was 6 he was flying to visit us one year and the airplane did get into some trouble. Scott was flying alone, as in no adult with him. He became afraid and started singing Jesus Loves Me. Soon, everyone on the plane started singing it as well. When the danger was over and they landed, adults were so impressed with Scott that they started giving him money. Scott used his cherubic/Rickey Schroder looks (something that he has bragged about), in order to get whatever he wanted in life. Scott liked making it YOUR idea to give him things. For example: If he wanted new clothes for Christmas, instead of just asking for them, he would show up for visits with us wearing his worst clothing, some with holes in them just so you would feel so sorry for him and run out and buy him some new clothes. I asked him once why he would do that? He said that it’s because his mother would purposely not give him things that he wanted so he learned how to get what he wanted another way. I parted ways with Scott in the spring of 2001 when I found out he lied about me to all the Texas relatives. I had been warned for years not to trust Scott by my mother. (Who interestingly enough, she and Scott are ‘2 peas in a pod’ now.) She told me how he would bad mouth me out there in Texas but I didn’t want to believe it because I adored Scott. But, when I was finally faced with how he lied to them all about his father’s Will and he was caught in the lie, that he threw me under the bus to save himself. He told everyone that I was the one that told him that he wasn’t getting anything from his father. The Texas relatives took it to mean that I was such a bitch to their poor little Scotty. (Which by the way he was given quite a bit before my step-father died.) Scott wanted everyone to feel sorry for him and give him things, that’s what the lie was all about. I came to realize that Scott was something of a sociopath and that I was much better off without him so when I was faced with yet another lie, I ended our brother/sister relationship and said goodbye forever. I have come to realize that it was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done in my life and I have not missed him one day since. Which kinda surprised me because I used to adore him.
Christmas, Rockingham, North Carolina 1981??
Scott, my mother Mary Keith, my step-father John, Me, my baby brother Ben, and my Grandmother Nellie Mae
Photo taken at the lake house.
Look at all the Stockings…..
I suppose I’m getting a bit off topic. I really don’t want to talk about my step-brother, I don’t like him being inside my head, but he has been a source of information about my mother and step-father and I wanted to sort of introduce him to you. Scott would always come and visit us in the summer’s and right after Christmas every year when we were growing up. He even lived in Hawaii with us at one point while he attended The University of Hawaii. He is an actor and majored in Australian Theater. He is now a college Librarian in Texas.
Me with Johnny
(See the medical bag by the door? We grew up seeing that medical bag by the front door since forever.)
I have come to believe that the reason that my mother and I left Rome and moved to Atlanta….
Me, and my mother in Atlanta
…..and then Gainsville, and then she went on to marry my step-father and we lived in Dahlonega, Georgia, is because they were probably both fired/and or quit, from the hospital over their affair. I liked Dahlonega and I had lots of friends. I was very happy there. I was close enough to Rome that my grandparents would come and visit us often. I would also go back to Rome with my Grandparents for nice visits. I liked school and I liked my teachers. But upon reflection it probably was good that we left Dahlonega and went on to more diverse places to live. The rural/small town south can be a very dark place to live because of their beliefs and ideology.
I had the best friends In Dahlonega.
The REAL ME!
(I was always standing on my head, doing handstands, gymnastics, I would toss my little brothers in the air with my feet and catch them with my feet. I could toss a foot stool in the air and catch it with my feet. I was very acrobatic. Sometimes I wonder where I got that from?)
Christmas’s in Dahlonega
(Can you find Snowball?)
Roanoke and Charlottesville, Virginia
Before I entered the 5th. Grade we moved to Roanoke, Virginia. My step-father wanted to be a surgeon and he went to school in Roanoke, and Charlottesville. We lived in Roanoke for 2 years, my 5th. And 6th. Grades. Then we moved to Charlottesville for 6 months, then back to Roanoke for a year and a half. Those 4 years were probably some of the worst of my life because that is when my sexual abuse started.
I was one of the first girls to start my period at age 11. I remember how upset I was to be outside playing only to come into the house to use the restroom and I saw all that blood! I called for my mother! She came into the bathroom. I showed her my underpants and she just stated that I had started my period and handed me a white elastic belt and large white pad like thing and then left the bathroom. What in the hell am I supposed to do with this? I called her back into the bathroom and she acted annoyed that she had to show me how to use it. I didn’t know what was wrong with me? I didn’t know that this was a normal thing that happened to all girls. All that I knew was that I was bleeding and my mother gave me something to trap the blood but she never explained to me what was happening to me. I went to school the following day a bit devastated. I didn’t understand what was happening to me but I knew one thing, that I was different from all the other girls. I didn’t know exactly why, but I just knew.
I was also starting to get breasts in 5th. Grade as well and I was one of the first girls to start wearing a bra. It as at this time that my abuse, all forms of it, got really bad. I don’t know what triggered all of it, but these are the bad years.
You know, for starters, Roanoke was not very welcoming to newcomers. School life was pretty depressing for me. I did make some good friends though. (One friend of mine, probably my best friend Alliceon, her father was an oral surgeon who ended up going to prison because he hired a hitman to kill Richard Nixon’s lawyer. Oh, the interesting people that we knew there.) We lived in a house on Yellow Mountain Road that had the best hill beside it and I spent most days kicking a ball up that hill, having it roll down toward me, only to kick it up the hill again, over and over and over. I was very athletic. I was the best player at school recess in soccer and kick ball. Most times I did it barefoot too. The boys even said that, and I will never forget it, “Julie can kick a ball to the moon.” It was the only time those boys were ever nice to me. When it came to sports.
I will say that it is because of Alliceon Gardner that I had my very first taco at the mall. Alliceon also threw me the best parties whenever I would move, which was TWICE from Roanoke. Alliceon was beautiful, slender, funny, popular, and I could never figure out for the life of me why she liked me and wanted to be around me? I wish that I knew how she was, and where she was, but I do wish her the best none-the-less.
It was during my 5th. And 6th. Grade years that I started sleep walking and talking. I would roam the house at night wearing my nightgown. Walking all around. I was very sad and depressed. I was being bullied horribly at school and then I would come home only to be bullied by my mother and step-father. My grades suffered terribly. My mother was no different than the cruel kids at school. They would call me names, and she would call me names. The only time I was happy was when I was outside kicking that ball up that hill, climbing trees, or reading Nancy Drew, and comic books.
Me, 7th. Grade Charlottesville, Virginia
When we moved from Roanoke that summer before 7th. Grade I was actually happy to do so. I think because all my friends would be going to private schools in 7th. Grade and I would going to public school. So, it might as well be in another city. Although we were only there for 6 months I don’t have bad memories of Charlottesville. I wasn’t sexually abused there. I don’t know why? Maybe my step-father was busy? I was having lots of trouble with my mother though. At one point when we were unpacking boxes she would push me and I remember falling into the boxes getting hurt. She would also suddenly slap my face for no reason and then when I would ask why she would say that it was because she didn’t like the expression I had on my face. The thing is that I don’t even know what expression I had on my face? I would just be sitting there, whether it be in the car, or sitting on the couch watching t.v. I do wonder if that is why I work on having a pleasant expression on my face to this day even when I am all alone?
I did fly in an airplane for the very first time while I was living there. I loved it! It was to visit my grandparents. I felt so grown up and sophisticated. Understand that there are always good memories even in the midst of bad times. But it was when we moved back to Roanoke for that year and a half that it was particularly BAD!
When we moved back to Roanoke we moved into this 3 story house. It was really nice too! I had my very own bathroom attached to my bedroom and I loved it! I didn’t however, like my new school, James Madison Junior High School. It was a horrible public school of thugs, bullies, criminals and such. Going to school every day was about survival, not learning. I was so bullied on the bus that most days I would walk home. As in MILES! That was more preferable to riding the bus home for me. I think my mother would take me to school, but I was to ride the bus home.
Sadly, there were no great trees for me to climb in our yard or neighborhood, but when some construction was done to the apartments next door to us, there was scaffolding all over the side of it and I would scale that to the very top! I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to. I’m sure that now people would complain, but not back then. I could climb it like a monkey, I had no fear, and no one cared that I was doing it.
It was while we were living here, in this house, that I have the most vivid memories of being sexually abused by my step-father. He would leave the house very early in the morning to go to work but he would first come into my bedroom, just as soon as he would leave my mother in bed. He would then touch me. I would pretend to be asleep because I didn’t know what to do. I just froze. I knew it was wrong, I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t know what to do about it. I was unhappy at school, unhappy at home, happiness was something that I just didn’t understand. In my mind, being raised in the Bible Belt, the fact that this was happening to me meant that God hated me. That it was all my fault because I was a bad person. God didn’t love me. It’s my fault that I got breasts before everyone else did. It’s my fault that I look older than I really am. Everything is my fault!
I’m not going to go into details about my abuse, it’s just too painful to recount all the details. Which is why I commend Christine Blasey-Ford for being able to do so. But at that time, I did see a few doctors and I did tell them about it. So, I am one of those people that did report it at the time. There was no 9-1-1 to call, but I did tell my counselors/ doctors. What they did with that info? I will never know. But I did tell them.
What I had going against me is the fact that my step-father was a brilliant psychopath that could lie and manipulate and charm people into being on his side and seeing me as nothing more than an insecure lying teenager that needed attention. He could do it without conscience too. All he cared about was himself and his career. He also (apparently) didn’t have a problem getting my mother to go along with him and she turned against me. Not that she was ever on my side. But she was now officially against me. And she’s been punishing me ever since, in one way or another. Which is why I finally got away from her for good. I was tired of constantly being punished just for existing. It never mattered what I said, it’s that I said it. It never mattered what I did, it’s that I did it.
The only reason I have any self-esteem whatsoever is because I got away from her! Oh, she will punish me in the Will. All that I really wanted was the land that my Grandfather had purchased in Bent Tree, Georgia. That one lot. So many happy memories of Bent Tree, me and my children, Gordon and my Grandparents. That’s all I want. And she will most likely sell it before she will ever give it to me.
My Grandmother, Me, and Brodie and Veronica, Bent Tree, Georgia
October 7, 2018
I thought that since I’ve already opened this can of worms I might as well continue with it. I really wasn’t planning on doing this much writing but now that I’ve started, I really don’t know how to stop until I come to an ending that feels right.
I was so unhappy in Virginia that I started to become suicidal I just didn’t know how? I didn’t want to actually kill myself, I just wanted God to do it for me. I would go to bed at night just hoping that I wouldn’t wake up the following day. But, I always did. One morning I was applying my aerosol deodorant and I read the “warning” written in small print on the can. It said something to the effect that it could be lethal if it was inhaled. That’s when I got the idea to breath it in, even spraying it up my nose in the hopes that it would kill me. So, I did it a few times but it smelled awful and I stopped. That’s when I realized that I can’t even kill myself affectively. I really am pathetic! That pretty much ended my suicide attempts and I just resigned myself with just living in my imagination and finding happiness that way. Of course, my mother would always accuse me of living in a “Fantasy World” and she would mock me about it all the time. And to this day I have to say that I totally understand why people do live in their own fantasy world’s. Sometimes it’s preferable to their realities. Isn’t it also preferable to doing drugs? I worked out my abuse with exercise and a world I created where I could be happy inside my head. Is that mental illness? Perhaps. But it helped me to survive. One day I was particularly bullied at school and I came home needing to hear some nice words from my mother. Some little scraps of affection thrown my way for once. So, I told her about how it’s hard on me being bullied every day. She just turned about annoyed and looked at me and said, “Well, what did you do to them??!!” I tried to tell her that I didn’t do anything to them. I give them my lunch money every day in the hopes they will leave me alone. I get my hair pulled every day by some of the kids and the teachers don’t do anything about it. I walk 5 miles home from school just to avoid riding the bus where I risk being beaten up. But my mother just looked at me as if I were disgusting and deserving of such treatment so I dropped it from then on. No matter what happened to me for the rest of my life I never told her about it because I knew that she didn’t care and would never help me.
We moved to Sevierville the summer before I started 9th. Grade. I was to attend Sevier County High School as a Freshman. Great. Yet another new school, new house, new town, new neighborhood, new everything…..
Living in Sevierville was like going backwards. They were all wearing their bell bottom jeans and mocking me for wearing straight leg Levi’s which were all the fashion everywhere else in the world but there! They made fun of my southern accent because it wasn’t like their southern accent. (And yes, there are many southern accents and to my ears the worst one of the south, is the Tennessee one.)
Because we moved around so much all of our accents, my brother’s and mine, were a combination of everywhere we ever lived. So, therefore our accents were always a bit different. Southern, but different.
My sexual abuse had stopped before we moved to Sevierville so I no longer had that to worry about. But the other abuses continued to plague me, they never stopped.
The whole Tennessee thing took some time to get used to. I mean, what exactly is Clogging? Do you know? Well, it’s a mountain people dance. It looks similar to what the Irish do with their River Dance. (Probably where it came from to begin with.) But it was a total culture shock for me. I may have hated Virginia but at least it was more of a hub of modern America and now I’m stepping back in some hillbilly time capsule. “Where yun’s going?” WHAT? What’s a Yun’s? Hillbilly translation? Where are You Ones going? Understand now? There were lots of words like that I didn’t understand. I will say that it was a learning experience living there, and all the places I’ve lived. But it was definitely a culture shock at the time. I will say that because of the tourists and more Yankee’s that have moved to the area of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, that they have been brought a bit more into the 20th. Century. (And yes, I do know that I wrote, 20th. Century.)
The house we lived in when we moved to Sevierville was out in the country. There wasn’t a bedroom for me so I had to sleep in the combination living room/dining room. I had a chandelier over my bed. I had the largest room in the house all to myself. But it wasn’t private in the fact that I had a door that I could close and even lock, I didn’t like that. But after a few years of living there my parents renovated the basement and I got a very nice room down there and I had my own bathroom. I loved it! Finally, I had some privacy. I did manage to meet some very nice friends while we lived there. I also was finally happy! I not only had friends, but I had good friends. I will never forget them and I will always look back on them fondly.
I also think that my mother stopped bullying me for some reason. Either she was finally happy, or she was busy with my little brother’s, or I was busy and not at home very much. Perhaps she too liked the fact that I was not around as much.
It was while we were living here that I started gaining some confidence. My grades started to get better. I went to Europe with the French Club. I was in the marching band and I loved going to band camp, band competitions, football games. Oh, I never watched what was going on down on the field, I was too busy happily running my mouth in the stands to my friends. Talking, laughing, I was finally happy. I remember noticing everyone loudly yelling and cheering….that’s when I finally looked down at the field and asked to the amazement of those within ear shot of me, “Did we get a home run???” (That’s baseball, just in case your just as stupid as I was.)
There were a lot of “firsts” for me in Sevierville. I’ve written about that before so I don’t feel like going into that again. But, I did get a lead in a play I tried out for. It was The Skeleton Walks. I was so excited! I recorded the entire play into my tape recorder, except I omitted my lines. So, every morning while I was in my bathroom downstairs I would play the tape and while I got ready I learned my lines that way. But don’t get excited for me, 2 days before opening night I came down with the MUMPS! I broke out all over my body in these bumps and my face swelled up and was distorted. I ended up missing two weeks of school. Not only was I contagious, but I was supposed to be the “pretty” one in the play and there was no way that I was pretty now! That pretty much put an end to my acting career.
Living out in the country like that had its advantages and its disadvantages. The man that owned the land behind our house decided to do a “controlled burn” to this pasture and the fire got out of hand and was up to our backyard fence ready to start burning our backyard and then would have burned our house down in no time. I think my mother alerted me to the danger and I sprang back there using my shoes to try and stomp the fire out. It was a huge fire that stretched several acres and the entire length of all the property’s that bordered his. My mother handed me an area rug to use to try and beat the fire out. I think she may have gone for the garden hose but I stayed there for hours either using my feet or that rug to beat that fire out and prevent it from burning down our house. When it was all over I came inside to clean myself up and I noticed that huge bloody cut along the back of my leg. It was shaped in a C. It did turn into a scar that I hated for many years. One day I was telling someone about the fire and how I got a huge scar from it and when I went to show them, it was gone! All these years of using lotions and products finally just erased it all. I was sad. That scar represented me saving my family’s home. I grew to be proud of it. My “war wound” was gone. I just wish the scars on the inside would go away forever.
(The darkest chapter in all of our lives. Every single one of us.)
I don’t really know why we left Sevierville and moved to Rockingham, North Carolina the summer before my senior year in high school. I heard hints of things like, ‘John doesn’t believe politics belong in a hospital..’ And ‘Someone stole John’s coat at work.’ That’s pretty much all I heard about why we are moving from Sevierville. My mother does claim that she offered to stay behind with me and my brother’s in Sevierville so that I could finish my senior year there and graduate with all of my friends. I honestly have no memory of that but yet I do believe her. My mother could be extremely cruel but she has also done some nice things for me in life. Why I have no memory of that is beyond me? But I do believe her when she says that she did offer to.
Anyway, we moved to Rockingham which became one of the biggest mistakes of our lives and led to so much unhappiness and financial ruin for my family. This chapter is just so long and dark that I really need to be in the mood to write about this so I will stop here and talk about this another time. But I will end this with my brother Ben’s last memory of Rockingham. My parents, with Johnny and Frank in the family station wagon, picked him up from school and told him to put his backpack in the trunk. Ben opened the trunk and saw that it was full of luggage. So, he asked what was going on? They told him that they were going to Rome to live with Grandmaw. The long car ride to Rome….where they all went to live in Grandma Nell’s basement. They all went from living in a mansion on a lake, to my grandmother’s basement. I was married and living in Hawaii at the time. But I have never been so unhappy in my entire life as I was living in Rockingham, North Carolina. I have also never known the meanest and the cruelest people in my life as the people that lived there in Rockingham. (Not that my parents were perfect. But these people succeeded even them.)
I wanted to close by saying that the past couple of weeks has been very difficult for sexual abuse/assault victims. The message being sent to us is that we are disposable people. We aren’t important. We don’t matter. Our pain is not worth their time. The only ones that matter are the Brett Kavanaugh’s of this world. That is how my step-father viewed me. After all, I wasn’t his child and yet he is having to feed me, support me, educate me. I believe he resented that. I think he viewed me as fair game. He hated that I would stand up to him and he made it his mission to break me. Kinda like the horses that he used to break out in Texas. I think that’s how he viewed me. And if he couldn’t break me then he would try and isolate me from everyone else. Turn them against me. My mother, my brothers, anyone that came around he would go to work on them to make sure that they didn’t like me. He and my mother loved to go into the pecking order and what they wanted that new person to know is that I am not to be liked, or taken seriously. I think that he would have loved it if I had killed myself in my youth. That way they could place some portrait of me over the mantle, and he would love that he never had to deal with me ever again. He would not have minded that homage to me, probably feeling a sense of relief that with my death would go his secrets. And of course, he knew he had my mother to protect his secrets. And she still does to this day. Oh, she will carry them with her to the grave as well. Even though it would do her harm.
The damage that he did to me didn’t stop when the actual sexual abuse stopped. To this day I am more comfortable sleeping on the couch than I am in a bedroom. And by comfortable, I mean safer. I’m not hidden away in a bedroom where someone can abuse me without anyone noticing. I always preferred to sleep on the couch. I would have to force myself to sleep in the bedroom with Gordon. Not that I was afraid that Gordon would ever hurt me. It’s just been ingrained in my psyche to sleep out in the open. In the same way that Christine Blasey-Ford insisted on two front doors. I would also grab a couch pillow or a throw blanket to cover me up whenever my step-father was around. I felt like I needed to hide my body. I probably also have habits that I’m totally unaware of that are associated with my sexual abuse. To those that don’t understand our trauma and why it does stay with us forever it’s kind of like someone being in a car wreck and suffering injuries that just never go away totally. Even when the wreck was 30 years ago, that knee still bothers you. Or that broken arm you had in your 20’s always hurts during the cold weather in your 50’s. People like me needed to see justice last Saturday, when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to be a Supreme Court Justice. And we didn’t. But, a sleeping, and ANGRY giant has been awakened. I can feel it. More power to the movement!
Although I was planning on writing more originally, I posted these photos of myself and my brother’s Frank and Ben at Epcot in the 80’s.
I will someday write more about all of this but I will say this about my step-father, in the end he got what he deserved. Karma caught up to him and in the most perfect way possible. He suffered miserably because of his melanoma. He had a tumor the size of an orange in his head that gave him a horrible headache that it had to be removed. It spread to his organs and caused him great pain in the end. He said that it was because when he was 19 he got skin cancer from plowing the fields in Texas. Life literally gave him a time bomb at age 19 that was set to explode at age 76. I Thank the universe for that! What I have discovered is that when the law does nothing, life takes over and brings them down in the most perfect way!
Brett Kavanaugh will also get his in the end. That’s what Karma does.
Don’t worry. It will happen.
August 27, 2018
Gordon Overseas 🙂
August 21, 2018
Just a quick note to let you know what’s happening with us.
I’m just trying to work on some blog posts to get them updated. I have many to update……..
AND, I’ve got my projects lined up one after the other to put together and photograph.
Below is an example of the kind of things that I will be working on while Gordon is overseas.
Infused Olive Oils, Edible Gifts
These are what I call “Julie Projects” because they are small and fits in line with my kind of thing that I like to work on by myself. I’ve got lots of this kind of thing lined up.
My Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
I love putting together Edible Gifts that I’ve made myself.
Basket of Red Sauce
To me the best gifts are edible gifts. In the past the best gifts in my opinion were handmade gifts that someone either sewed for us, crocheted for us, knitted for us, painted for us……
But now a days, no one seems to do those things. But they do still COOK! Most people do appreciate the gift of food. When I was making my red sauce I called my daughter and told her to swing by the house on her way home that I have my spaghetti sauce for her with some pasta and olive oil and herbs. She told me that their A/C had quit on them and that they had the repairman trying to get it fixed. She has happy that she didn’t have to cook dinner that night because I had provided everything.
So, I’ve got plenty to work on these next few months. As well as projects that I want to do myself. So just stay tuned!
August 20, 2018
Finally Read all my Instagram Comments
I can’t help it! I am very weak when it comes to Elsa Pataky and the Hemsworth clan. I just did look her up and then I decided to read my many Instagram comments that I have been neglecting for months. Some were so very sweet and I so appreciated the gestures. And then there are the rude ones…..which is why I usually don’t read them. Isn’t it sad that the few rude comments always seem to outweigh the few good comments? It’s because all the bad stuff is associated with adrenaline. Anyway, It’s done! I follow interesting people and love what they post. Perhaps I will one day post on Instagram instead of just following interesting people. We’ll see.
But for the past few days I have been dealing with my cyber-stalker Paul Gray and that has occupied my time. He has been doing quite a bit of damage lately that I have had to deal with. Someday I will tell the entire story but I do have to hold back some info so Paul doesn’t know our retaliation tactics. 🙂
But for now…. ttyl…. Julie
August 17, 2018
Skin Cancer Update, etc.
Although I will be updating my Nifty 50’s Skincare where my skin cancer is concerned. I did want to write a bit here.
It looks like I will be fine. The photo below was taken the day my stitches were removed. The bandage is a skin colored one that is supposed to drop off anywhere between 1-4 days.
This photo was taken the morning that my stitches were removed. Although it is hard to see, you can see the area on my shoulder.
Vaseline and Bandages (Adhesive Island Dressing)
That is the name of them, Island Dressing.
Every time I put one on I want a salad with some exotic papaya dressing. 🙂
These bandages are excellent for this! I buy them at this pharmaceutical place. They are expensive though. I bought 17 of them and paid around $50.00.
My Bathroom Counter
I’m thinking about spray painting those baskets on my white shelf, white.
And I need to tidy it up a bit.
My Tub in my Bathroom…..
I have been cleaning everything to perfection. 🙂
Buying some new towels and rugs……
With Gordon overseas for the foreseeable future, it has always been something of a tradition of mine to remake my bathroom and bedroom into a Julie Bathroom, and a Julie Bedroom. I do this because it is important to remake it all into me. It’s nice to be the only person using the bathroom. It stays nicer longer. I have to find something good about Gordon’s deployment otherwise I would just cry all the time. So, I bring out my girly, frilly, things and set them about. That way I am remaking it into mine and I’m able to enjoy them.
We have to find something to look forward to. There are advantages to having your spouse gone for awhile. You just need to focus on those things and it makes the time go by quicker. For me it is to remake our bathroom and bedroom.
I’ll talk more about this later on but it is o.k. for you to enjoy the fact that they are gone for awhile. 🙂
(I now control the t.v. and can have some boring marathon on this or that without hearing Gordon say, “Do we really need to watch another episode of Monk?”)
August 15, 2018
Ya Know, I don’t eat much lunch. But I was doing some shopping and stopped by the Asian Supermarket for a few things. That is when I ordered this lunch. Which I sampled a bit here in the car. Then took it home for dinner that night, then the rest I ate for lunch the following day. One plate lunch I ate for 3 meals. That is how I am.
August 15, 2018
Website Write Ups
I just did finish the write up for the post.
This was the very last post that Gordon and I worked on before he left. We even worked on it a bit before he left so that no one would know when he left for overseas. 🙂
We also did do some Halloween blogging before he left as well. That will be coming very soon! 🙂
Have a super-duper day!
Gordon does work on the site from overseas as well. 🙂 He’s a babe!
August 12, 2018
Brodie Installing my new Brakes
About 10 days ago I was doing some shopping on the base and as I was driving home I noticed that when I applied the brakes my car would shift to the right, kind of like when you apply your brakes to a wet pavement and you start to hydroplane. Except that particular day we had no rain and the streets were dry.
I knew then that it was either my tires or my brakes but I kept on driving and as I approached a major intersection and was preparing the stop for the red light, I had NO BRAKES!! There was a Jeep in front of me that I narrowly avoided slamming into! When I realized that I had no brakes my mind went into Nancy Drew mode and I grabbed the emergency brake. I just did stop in time! By this time I am starting to panic but the light turned green and right after that intersection I can get onto the expressway, where there are no red lights, so I decided to try and get as close to home as possible and then decide what to do. So I took the expressway. It’s a toll road. We live out on the other side of Tampa towards Orlando so I had something of a drive to get home and I didn’t want to be stranded so far from home so I took the expressway knowing that I would be o.k. and just try and get close to home then if I need help I can always call Veronica, Brodie, or Brian. (Gordon had left for overseas prior to this.)
I had taken a Defensive Driving Course years ago so I knew how to drive with only the emergency brake but I hadn’t done it in a long time so I was a bit worried about it. (My only other driving experience with no brakes was back in Charlotte, N.C. when I was in college in the 80’s and I had no brakes on my Datsun 310 for about 2 months. I had no money to get them fixed. But I was young and stupid then.)
I started to feel better about using the emergency brake as I started to get the feel of it but I made sure that I was beside either a turn lane in the middle of the road, or an emergency lane beside the slow lane once I got off the expressway. I wanted an out just in case my brakes wouldn’t stop in time so that I had a lane to drive off into. Well, I made it home without crashing my car into the garage door. Luckily for me Brodie is a car mechanic and we ordered new brakes and pads etc. and he has installed them now. I rushed the delivery but it still took awhile to arrive. Now I’m all set!
But when Veronica and I were planning our day together I told her that she will have to drive as I have no brakes.
Her car isn’t working so Gordon and I are letting her use his since he is gone and it has no A/C. I told her that we can either use my car that as A/C but no brakes, or you can drive your Dad’s car as it does have brakes but no A/C.
We decided to sweat the day out with no A/C so she drove.
So, we are kind of playing musical cars until she buys a new one soon.
But we had a great day!
I wanted to say something about our American system when it comes to car wrecks. The reason that Veronica drives around in a yucky car is because when she had a nice car, our Ford Contour, someone hit her from behind, plowing her into the car in front of her, thus totaling her car in the front and the back. She had no choice but to buy a different car. Our USAA insurance sent a check for about $4,000.00. Not a lot of money for a decent car. The thing is that we have insurance of $100,000.00 out on all of our cars. So, she should have received a check for $100,000.00. But no! If there is a problem the insurance company won’t pay for it. So, we have to hire a lawyer to make the insurance company pay up and do their job. Insurance in America is a huge con job. A rip off! We are required by law to have it, but they don’t pay us when we need it. Thus, the con.
Veronica should have been given enough money to buy a decent car. But she wasn’t. She has been in litigation with our insurance company now for 3 years. And do you know how much money she was eventually rewarded? $4,000.00!! That is how sleazy USAA is. So, I let her use her father’s car while she looks into buying a new car.
I should tell you about Gordon’s major accident that happened a few year’s ago but maybe I will save that for another time. He was at a stop light when someone plowed into him going about 25 mph and he had to be taken into the emergency room via an ambulance. We hired a lawyer and Gordon was awarded a decent amount of money only because he is something of a hero. Yes, that’s right. Gordon not only has an excellent military career with many awards and medals but he also has an excellent civilian career that I will never be able to talk about. America is so damn lucky to have him on their side! They will never know how lucky they are.
August 8, 2018
(Had a little minor surgery on my shoulder. I’ll get to that sometime soon. Check out the Nifty 50’s Skincare for that info.)
(I suppose that’s me asking you what’s new when in fact I’m fixing to tell you what’s new with us.) ?NOTE: Do you see that question mark in red? I just noticed that. That is what my cyber-stalker Paul does. He adds those question marks to my writing. I have no earthly idea why? He just does it whenever he feels like it. I think that’s his way of letting me know he’s still here and that he’s not going anywhere. It’s tampering, it’s breaking and entering, it’s illegal, it’s sabotage. Just another example, just another clue, just another bit of evidence. You see, that’s how arrogant he is. He leaves behind evidence without apparently any worry. Isn’t arrogance usually the downfall of many?) ??? Huh?
This update will probably take me a long time to write, so check back periodically.
It’s been awhile. I hadn’t realized. The time has passed so quickly. The summer has flown by. In a way that’s good, but in another way that’s bad. The older I get the more I want things to slow down so that I can enjoy them and not have them fly by. I’m 57 and where did all those years go?
Enjoying My Julie Summer
Our big news of this year (Actually I have lots of big news) but….. our big news here was having our lanai extended by 18 x 36 feet and enclosed with a pool cage.
Our New 18 x 36 Lanai Extension
(Gordon even refers to it as, “Hey, let’s eat out on the 18 x 36.”)
No pool, just the pool cage. Believe me most people that we know that have swimming pools hate them. Sure, when you first get a pool you are in it every single day for the first 6 months but then you will never get in it again. A pool is a money pit that will cost you every single month to maintain. So, imagine having to pour money into something that you just don’t use anymore? We didn’t want a pool, but we did want to extend our living space out into our backyard without the bother of mosquitoes and other bugs, or our backyard critters, like the squirrels. We also would like to have some little vegetable garden inside the lanai where we didn’t have to worry about the birds and other animals eating what we grew. There will also be an outdoor kitchen out there eventually, but not for a while.
I also wanted to have some lovely flowers that the squirrels didn’t chew up just for the sheer fun of it!
For some reason Monk likes walking around in all that space. 🙂
If you are a regular reader of my blogs then you may recall our flooding problem in 2017 from Hurricane Irma?
Water Flooded Our Lanai
(Here Gordon is trying to save our home from being flooded by sweeping water off our lanai and trying to prevent it from coming into our home. He did this every hour on the hour until Irma passed us by.)
We discovered vulnerabilities around our house and we ALMOST had water to come pouring into our home when we lost power and our pump no longer worked.
(It works now, when we have electricity. But if we lose power in a storm then we are screwed once again!)
(I do think that it may be time to invest in a generator.)
We wanted to extend our lanai but we also didn’t want to invite any new flooding so our builders made the extension so that all the rain water will land on the slab and roll toward the back left, and then roll off.
Also, when we rebuilt the Herb Garden I suggested to Gordon to build something of a retaining wall between our Herb Garden and our lanai screen to perhaps help prevent water from coming into our lanai from that direction. We do seem to have a flooding problem on that side of the house when we have such major storms.
Here Gordon is building a retaining wall around our herb garden.
Gordon Working on our Herb Garden Retaining Wall
Gordon and Monk
Now that I’ve got my Clean Palate……
I thoroughly enjoying putting together the new Herb Garden this year.
So, while that was my project, Gordon was fixing up the area all around the Lanai Extension.
Gordon Laying Sod in the Front Yard and in the Back Yard
(He did this during a huge storm too. Poor guy!)
All of this work has been for a reason though.
We wanted to raise the value of our home in order to get a better loan than the one we had. And we did! All of this work has finally paid off. We bought our home in 2006 and once the financial crisis hit in 2008 our home’s value dropped to half of what we had paid for it! We then had to just wait until things got better, but in the meantime all the work that we had put into our home really did help. The lanai extension ended up being the icing on the cake. But we did it! That was our goal.
We have really been enjoying our 18 x 36! 🙂
(We do have plans to eventually put in electricity out here with about 3 ceiling fans to keep us cool.)
Father’s Day 2018
In a way it’s just one big space that we can use however we like. 🙂
The entire Lanai Extension took about 10 weeks to complete. We also had new gutters installed and a landing for the French Doors but I’ll talk about that later on. We were just so happy to have it all completed so that we could enjoy it between all these storms we’ve been having.
We have always had something of a “Wet June.” But this year we’ve had a Wet May, a Wet June, a Wet July and now we are going to see if we will be having a Wet August! (So far we are!)
Our 33rd. Wedding Anniversary, June 22, 2018
We literally spent our anniversary doing lots of shopping. I had meant to make a reservation at P.F. Chang’s but I forgot. But no matter, we swung by Sonic to grab dinner in the car.
Gordon started a new job in July. The contract ended on the job that he did have so all this shopping that we are doing here is mainly for his new job. I wish that I could tell you more about it but I can’t. He is deployed overseas now. I can’t tell you when he left, I can’t tell you where he is, and I can’t tell you when he will be back, and I can’t tell you who he works for. Sorry! 🙂
Our entire marriage has been his deployments while in the Navy, or with his subsequent contracts so this is something that we are both very familiar with. And as of this writing we just did get off the phone with each other. Our son Brodie, has moved back in so it’s not like I’m all alone. And there’s MONK!!! 🙂
Giving Grumpy a Bath
The roses Gordon gave me before he left.
We were just glad that we were able to spend all of our summer holidays and events together before he left. Father’s Day, our Anniversary, July 4th., Veronica’s birthday, our Website Birthday…. We even spent the day at Busch Gardens and had a blast!
As a veteran Gordon was given free passes so we took our son and two of his friends.
The tickets may have been free but we bought all of us the meal passes for about $35.00 a person. That meant that you could eat and drink every hour on the hour without paying. That includes the beer and wine. There were even lots of ‘Buy One Get One Free.’ It rained so much that day that the boys were happy to do nothing but EAT and DRINK and hit every restaurant there. They loved it! And haven’t stopped talking about it.
Gordon and I ate at the Serengeti Restaurant
The food was really good and I swear we had the best table in the house! A great view of the animals below.
My Favorite are the Giraffe
I had my favorite Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. (As a southern girl I can tell you this gravy was not impressive, but he chicken was!) And Gordon had the Shrimp Pasta.
It was just nice that we got to spend the day with Brodie and his friends that he/we have known since we moved here to Florida in 2003. Memories are all that we take with us. And we made some great memories that day. And for the last few months before Gordon left.
Gordon, Julie and Monk July 4th., 2018
We had a great 4th. The food was great! Everyone that we care about came over. Even though it did RAIN! It didn’t dampen anyone’s mood.
It was funny but everything kept breaking down before Gordon left. But I viewed it as a good thing. That way he could fix a few of these things before he left and I didn’t have to deal with it. I believe that the dryer was the first thing to quit on us. All that was required was to buy a new coil and install it, which Gordon did, saving us a lot of money.
Many times when a dryer will no longer get hot and dry your clothes it’s because the coil has broken. See photo above. Most people will either call a repairman, costing them a lot of money. Or, get rid of the dryer and buy a new one. All you need is that part and you can fix it yourself. There are plenty of YouTube video’s that can talk you through it. Saves you LOTS of money!
Gordon also replaced this thing, whatever it is…..
Also every drain in our house seemed to clog up at once and Gordon had his hands full, or rather dirty, dealing with all of that.
Poor Gordon, I had him removing old light fixtures and installing new ones. 🙂
Actually, it wasn’t a new one, it is a vintage one that we removed from our nook a few years ago and was keeping it in the garage until we decided where to put it next…..
Made Veronica a Birthday Cookie
I had seen cookie’s shaped like paint palettes online and I wanted to make one for Veronica for her birthday.
I had also bought her the pretty white paint palette platter with the colorful bowls so I just incorporated the bowls in with the cookie and gave her the porcelain palette by itself.
Royal Icing with Food Coloring in each Bowl
I then painted a little bit on the cookie. That was fun!
My idea is that you can tear off a bit of cookie and dip it into the royal icing in the bowls.
Veronica the Artist is 31 now!
So, happy Gordon was here for this before he left for overseas.
After the party we sung by Home Depot to buy my belated Anniversary Gift………..
a Peach Tree for this Georgia Peach.
It seemed as if every single day before Gordon left that we had a list to check off of things that we needed to do.
New Eye Glasses for Both of us.
Fix the A/C in Julie’s Car
FIX A/C IN HOUSE!!!
(It totally quit on us and we were having Hurricane Irma PTSD flashbacks.)
Help Brodie move back in.
Buy new refrigerator!
Make minor repairs around the house.
Make MAJOR repairs around the house.
Buy Gordon New International Cell Phone
Etc., Etc., Etc……..
OH! And the most important thing…… BUY BOTH of us NEW LAP TOPS!!!
The Top of our Kitchen
I’m up on the ladder and waiting for our new refrigerator to be delivered.
Our Old Refrigerator
I always hated it! I was never into any of that black and silver stuff. But, Gordon picked it out and I went along with it. It was about 8 years old and I think that Hurricane Irma ruined it. It was in April that we started noticing it getting warmer. The refrigerator part eventually turned into car air conditioning and the freezer part we started using as a refrigerator.
We lived with it being this way from about April to July. We had the construction going on in the backyard and I didn’t want to put money into anything new or expensive until that was paid for. So, we lived this way. The old refrigerator that we have out in the garage, that was here when we bought the house, became our main one. For months we would go out into the garage to grab dinner, or a drink, it was funny. 🙂
But, when the lanai extension was all paid off the first thing we bought was a new fridge!
Interesting…. in talking with our neighbors beside us she was telling me just a few weeks ago that she doesn’t buy food anymore because their refrigerator doesn’t work. She said it was only 3 years old. THEN, I noticed just 2 weeks ago that our other neighbor’s had a delivery of a refrigerator to their house. Hmmm… Could we all have lost our refrigerator due to Hurricane Irma? I’m thinking yes! Actually, it would be because of TECO. They are the reason we all lost power and it ruined our appliances. TECO is to blame because our power lines are buried in the ground so that we don’t lose power. We pay taxes on that! So yes, it was Tampa Electric’s fault.
Here is a tip whenever you buy a new refrigerator. Keep the drawers and shelves and sell them on Ebay. Even the smallest plastic drawer can cost about $65.00 from the manufacturer. So, if you sell on Ebay you will at least get half of that price on every shelf and drawer you sell.
Our New Refrigerator
I wanted the color white to blend in with our cabinets. I didn’t want anything black or silver or chrome. Yuck! That’s fine for you but I just didn’t want that.
It’s funny, but so far no one has said anything about my lizard lying there when you get ice or water.
Usually I hear some comment, but no! 🙂
We have a working refrigerator so life is good again. 🙂
We are even thinking about painting it and making it into a VW kind of look to it. We’ll see. For now I just want to enjoy it the way it is.
This photo was taken when we had a nice cookout in our backyard with Brodie and his friends. It’s our last cookout for awhile. I have no intention of grilling anything. We’ll just wait for Gordon to come home and cook for us again.
Brodie in the kitchen with Gordon and Justin. Jason is in there somewhere as well.
Brodie takes after Gordon when it comes to cooking. He is just as good of a cook. (And he didn’t go to culinary school as Gordon did.)
In some ways Brodie is exactly like me in many areas and Veronica is exactly like Gordon in many areas except when it comes to anything mechanical or food related, that’s when they are exactly alike.
They can fix anything, and cook anything. 🙂
Dinner at P.F. Chang’s
We did manage to take everyone out to dinner before Gordon left.
We all miss him.
Gordon is a very hands on husband and father. And what I mean by that is that he does a lot for all of us. He isn’t one of those men who expect to be waited on, or expects a lot from us. He gives a lot. He is the one that would do most of the grocery shopping and most of the cooking. He didn’t mind cleaning the bathroom, bathing Monk, cleaning out Monk’s ears 3 times a week, vacuuming the carpet, washing dishes…. You name it! Not only did Gordon work a full time job but he helped so much around the house without my having to ask him.
He was also always there if I need a foot rub, or a back rub, or a hand massage. Gordon loves his family and we love him. We do get to talk to him on the phone everyday. But, he will be gone for awhile so for now it’s just me, Monk, and Brodie. Veronica and Brian are right down the road.
I think the last time that Gordon was overseas (for any long length of time), was back in 2008. So it does feel kind of funny because we haven’t done this in awhile. However, I have never been one to not know how to entertain myself. Not to mention that there is plenty for me to do around here. Lots of projects to work on. I can tell you that there won’t be lots of food and cooking unless it’s something Brodie decides to cook and then I will whip out my camera and start snapping away. 🙂
I plan on loosing a few pounds now that the chef is away for awhile.
(I do have a wedding to slim down for, ya know?)
I have been putting off talking about our new lanai extension and even creating a new post for it because I wanted to wait until this area was complete. It is as far as the cement pour is concerned, but I still have things I want to do to it before I start snapping away with the camera.
The French Doors Entering into our New Lanai
It was my idea to install the French doors. Apparently, we are the only ones in the history of the world to do so!! The reason that I wanted the French doors to begin with was because I knew that I wanted to add some nice furniture to the lanai, (eventually) and I wanted to be able to place the furniture inside the enclosure. But, I also wanted this grand entrance/exit to be a part of our backyard as well. I visualized the doors swung wide open and people entering and exiting them while enjoying the backyard as well as the lanai.
Ready for the Cement Pour
So, when I get this area complete then I will most likely start a new post about our new lanai extension. But until that time, I suppose this is it. I have enjoyed updating you on our lives. Thank you very much for your interest. I am always happy when you stop by to visit.
June 1, 2018
What’s New With Us
My Take on the Rosanne Barr / Samantha Bee Controversies
I haven’t been posting very much on social media (Twitter) because I just haven’t felt like it. The fun newness has worn off. It does take up a lot of time, and I’ve wanted to use that time to do other things. I’ve been trying to catch up on the write up’s of some of our posts on the website.
Gordon and Julie Greek (Beta) is Almost Ready
I’ve also created some new ones. I’ve been working with some new people on more ways to protect my website, (for those of you that are aware of the troubles I’ve had.) I’ve also just wanted to catch up on things around the house that I have neglected for a few years. For the past 14 years I literally lived between my home and the beach condo (that I used to manage), so now that I no longer manage it I’m trying to catch up on things I have neglected around my home. I literally have had suitcases packed for 14 years! In some case’s I never even removed them from the trunk of my car because I was always having to drive out to Indian Shores for this, or that, and I would just spend the night in the condo instead of driving all the way back home. ( I used to wonder what the neighbor’s thought of me constantly loading and unloading luggage all the time in and out of my car, being gone for days at a time. Gordon and I would joke that they must think I keep leaving you and then coming back.) AND, even though I resigned back in December, I’ve still got my suitcases packed because I have no where to put the contents! I’ve had two of everything for so long. But it turns out that my no longer managing the condo ended up being a good thing because…..
A few months ago I hurt my back and that aggravated my sciatic nerve pain in my left leg. I had trouble even walking for ONE MONTH! ONE MONTH! Can you imagine that? I was in excruciating pain and taking my ibuprofen daily, an anti-inflammatory. I mostly just sat at my computer with two heating pads blasting heat on my lower back and my left thigh. For the first week of my hurting my back I slept on the Lazy Boy chair because it was easy to get in and out of. Not to mention extremely comfortable to sleep in as well.
After about a month I did start to get better but it was still painful. But the pain was manageable to me. I’ve always been very good at managing whatever pain that I was in but this pain knocked me off my feet and I’ve never had that happen to me before. I now know what a “shooting” pain is. I never knew. I mean, I’ve been familiar with “dull” pain, and “throbbing” pain, but never a “shooting” pain. Now I know! It SHOT straight down from my left buttock to my foot over and over and over. The only time it didn’t was when I was sitting down. But interestingly enough, I viewed it as an education. I now know something about pain that I didn’t know 2 months ago. Life is all in how you look at it.
But now the pain is gone but I am having to pick things up differently than I used to. I now do what I call the “Bunny Dip.” The Bunny Dip is how Playboy Bunnies were taught to pick up drinks when they were waiting on men at the Playboy Club.
Barbra Walters Learns the Bunny Dip (starts 4 minutes in)
Interestingly enough that is how I would pick up things anyway. I always thought it kind of vulgar to just bend right over something. However, when I was reaching for the coffee creamer that was on a lower shelf in the pantry I had to contort my body around a stepping stool and a large box, and that is when I hurt my back. But it is healed now and I am back to doing everything that I did before I hurt it. I just need to remember to be very careful from now on because I don’t ever want to feel that pain again! Sometimes I need to remind myself that I am 57 and not 37, or even 47, and I need to think before I move something. (Which is why I am glad that I no longer manage the beach condo. I was always lugging things back and forth. Heavy things! My mother would order furniture delivered out there and I would have to unbox it and set it up and even move it from one room to another. Not exactly good for a woman my age to be doing.)
The only “good” thing about hurting my back was that was when we were having our lanai extended and I could sit here at my desk and watch all the work going on. For the most part things did run smoothly and I think it was because I sat here watching them. I suppose your wondering why I haven’t been talking about our brand new lanai. Well, because it’s not finished yet! What was supposed to take 2 weeks, TOPS!, has turned into 9 weeks! Even now I am waiting for Robby, not his real name, to apply some sort of sealant and then the inspector will have to come out and approve everything. (Psst! An inspector came out last week to look at it but it DIDN’T PASS!) That’s right! So, I am kind of aggravated with how long it’s taken, not to mention that we are into rainy season…..
Rainy Season 🙁
Our Cement Entrance Landing is on Hold due to Weather
…..and our yard is nothing but mold and mud. It’s not like we can get out there and enjoy it. It has to pass inspection first before we can start moving things out there. When everything is done then I will talk more about it.
Julie Diamond/Junq Closet
This is one reason that Julie’s Diamond in the Junq Shoppe has been moved to fall 2018. (Not that any of you will ever believe I will finally get around to it.) Now that I’m not managing the beach condo anymore and I am no longer living between here and there, this is the year to get it started. We’re just trying to finish up some other things first.
And finally to the Roseanne Barr / Samantha Bee controversies:
Who is worse? The person who spouts racism, and has for decades, or the person who crudely and rudely calls out a woman for her role in destroying families and causing permanent damage to people’s lives by using vulgar language?
I didn’t want to put this on Twitter because I just don’t want to start a conversation that I then have to keep responding to. Although, if Samantha Bee does lose her job I might just do it. But to me, and again this is My opinion, on My blog, on My website that I pay for.
But, first I’ll start with Roseanne Barr.
The Original Cast, and the New Cast of Roseanne
I can remember back in 1988 when the show Roseanne first appeared on television. It was something of a breath of fresh air. It was funny, honest, a more realistic take on the average American family. After all, prior to that show, we had unrealistic family’s portrayed on t.v. like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. It was nice to see Roseanne’s t.v. kids eating cookies before dinner and Roseanne’s only problem with them doing that is that they didn’t use a plate.
I was never a diehard fan of the show but I did watch it occasionally off and on for a few years. But it seemed to take a raunchy turn and that is when they lost me. So, when I heard they were bringing it back my first thoughts were WHY? But then when I read that Roseanne was going to portray a middle class Trump supporter who was having a hard time in life and that’s how she would play it, that when all the criticism came at her I actually said that why don’t we wait and see what she does with it? I was not aware that Roseanne was an actual Trump supporter. I thought her show would be about portraying the hard times for middle class families under Trump and the republicans. That sounds like a better concept. So, I then went on with my life and forgot all about it. Until……. Her tweet about Valerie Jarrett.
What Roseanne said was horrible and I’m not going to repeat it here but had that been the very first time she said something like that then I would have said to just accept her apology and then we all move on. I was not aware that she had a history of saying such racist things. That changes things. I mean, we all screw up. We all have said things that we regret. We all have said things that we really didn’t mean to say, and I believe in second chances. But when there is a history of racism then it finally needs to be addressed and I applaud ABC for dumping her. I even applaud her talent agency for dumping her. I do feel though for all the people that her show employed because they all lost jobs because of Roseanne.
Which brings me to the next point. If you are responsible for that many people’s employment and livelihood, then shouldn’t you be careful that you don’t jeopardize that? Maybe take a more responsible attitude?
And as for Samantha Bee:
I love her! Did you know she is Canadian? I first watched her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and fell in love with her! She was funny, smart, quirky, intelligent, sensitive…. She is someone whose friendship I would cherish. She speaks truth to power. How many democrats do we have that do that? Not as many as we need. How many republicans speak truth to power? I think there is one and his name is Jeff Flake. Of course, I am referring to our Congress and Senate.
When I heard that Roseanne’s show was cancelled I let out the biggest WHOOP and HOLLAR! I haven’t done that to the t.v. news in the last few years. When I watched Samantha Bee’s commentary where she said what she did about Ivanka, I let out the biggest WHOOP and HOLLAR! As I said, I haven’t done that in the past few years. Seeing a racist taken down and being made accountable in a country where racism has been given the green light by this Administration, was rewarding. And having Samantha Bee call out a woman who works in this same Administration that is part of a regime that separates children from their parents and places some in large fenced in cages, places other’s in foster care, and looses a good 1500 of them, should be called out as well. Samantha did that. Ivanka had posted a photo of herself and her child on the internet which basically called out that she gets to keep her children, but we’ll take yours away from you just because we want to. How is this any different from Nazi Germany? We don’t know what they are doing to those children. That’s what’s so terrifying! Where are they? And what does it say about the republican party that they don’t care about them? And that they even threaten to take more away?
As a survivor of abuse I can tell you with great certainty that these people are being permanently damaged. Some will never recover. Others will be haunted forever by their experiences. This is just creating more mental illness and depression. I just wish that I could hug everyone of them. But I can’t, they’re missing.
This is the country that we now live in.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Rev. Martin Niemoller
May 14, 2018
A Belated Happy Mother’s Day to All
Mother’s Day Backyard Bamboo
I just wanted to wish my reader’s who are mother’s, a very Happy Mother’s Day. It’s not an easy job being a mother and raising children. When I think back over it all Gordon was deployed with the Navy most of the time and it was up to me to be a mother, and a father. That’s manageable when you have a village helping you, but not when you are in base housing on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no family and having friends that come and go, as in every few years we would know no one due to military transfers. We pretty much stayed in one spot during Gordon’s Naval career but everyone we knew would always move away. It wasn’t easy raising children that way, or even having a marriage but we made it through, and sometimes by the skin of our teeth. 🙂
Me, Brodie and Veronica at Waimea Falls
Oh, I’m not complaining mind you, I’m just pointing out how hard it is sometimes. We would some years have lots of friends that we knew and had lots of fun. But, they would then all move away and we were back to knowing no one again. Having to always start over. Hoping that we would click with some nice new families that would move in the neighborhood. The one thing that we all had in common was that we were all in the same boat. No family, and we were dependent on meeting people constantly to find friends for our children, babysitters, and even friends for ourselves.
Me and the Pineapples
Understand that I am not complaining, I am simply stating a fact.
I know that there have always been people worse off than me. What I hate is when people point it out to me and say that. As if because there are people that have it worse off than me that I therefore have no right to complain. I object to that rational. If someone is indeed worse off than me then that is the life they were dealt. I, however, do have a right to complain about the life that I was given, if I so desire to.
In the past I have written about the favorite Mom’s that I have admired. I haven’t done so in the past 2 years though. There are some that I still admire, some that no longer make the list, and there are some new one’s that I would love to include. But I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so I am keeping that info to myself.
I believe that we women just need to look inward for our inspiration. Not to anyone else! The older I get, the less I admire people. When I want advice I look to myself. When I want inspiration I look to myself. When I want guidance, I look to myself. So my message to you is to quit looking outward and start to look inward.
I think we need to have more faith in ourselves, and less faith in everyone else.
Have faith in yourself!
April 22, 2018
I have discovered this wonderful new series on BBC America called, Killing Eve.
The series stars the very talented Sandra Oh-My God!, and the very new actress, to me anyway, Jodie Comer from the U.K. Jodie seems just too young to be as talented as she is. She is just 4 months younger than my son but yet she seems as if she is an old soul and far more advanced than her young years.
The premise to the series is that Jodie Comer’s character, Villannelle, is a psychopathic assassin for hire. Although by the second episode you realize that she likes killing and will go out on a job without the express permission from the people that she works for.
Vilanelle and her Postcards
I’ve also noticed that she likes ice cream and has eaten it in the first two episodes which leads me to believe that ice cream will play a role in her downfall and capture in the end.
Sandra Oh’s character of Eve Polastri is a security operative and has been assigned to track down Villanelle. Apparently this series is based on the Vilanelle novels by Luke Jennings. I’m not a novel reader but this series makes me want to take a look at the books.
This series stars a great cast. I’ve only heard of one of the other cast mates, Fiona Shaw, but I can spot great talent and a marvelous ensemble as we have here. Kim Bodnia, Owen McDonnell, David Haig, Kirby Howell-Baptiste….just to name a few.
I can tell you where I predict this will go.
(Not psychically of course. Just as a fan and what I observe of the characters that aren’t real people.)
Owen McDonnell and Sandra Oh as Nick and Eve Polastri
I have never heard of this story until they started airing the commercials on BBC America and even then I didn’t know what it was about. I didn’t even know if I would like it. I am a regular viewer of BBC America because they play the reruns from Star Trek, Star Trek The Next Generation, and Star Trek Voyager. I don’t watch much t.v. because I just don’t really like all the new stuff so I tend to have it playing in the background movie’s on DVD, and the BBC America Star Trek shows. I rarely just sit down and “watch” t.v. It’s more like a fireplace to me.
Oh, and I have only “watched” the first two episodes with my back to the t.v., as I type away on the computer. (I have turned around a few times to look at what’s going on because it IS a good show!)
So, my predictions of where I think this is going given the fact that I listen to it more than I watch it, is that I believe that Sandra Oh’s husband on the show, Owen McDonnell, is the one that is informing the people that Vilanelle works for. Also I believe that whoever that character is that works for him or with him, is involved as well. Probably even helping Vilanelle to carry out the hospital killings.
Also, in the first episode Eve asked her husband Nick how he would kill her if given the chance? I think that will play a role in the future when Eve figures out her husband has been working with the “bad” guys all along and her husband will most likely have her captured and will remind her of that question that she once asked him and the correct answer he will give her. 🙂
Just my predictions, we’ll see won’t we?
The Trailer for Killing Eve
Tonight will be the 3rd. episode and Gordon and I are waiting with bated breath! I am now a new fan of Sandra Oh’s. I never watched that hospital drama she starred in and won all those awards for, but I did see her in Sideways and loved her in that. She is so funny and likeable and a bit quirky in this series and I can’t help but wish that I knew her and that she was my friend.
As for Jodie Comer’s character, Vilanelle, she is making Psychopathy interesting and the fact that she is a female in what is mostly a male dominated area you can’t help but root for her to succeed. I don’t mean to sound heartless but I think that Sandra Oh’s character is like me in the fact that Vilanelle gives us something fascinating to figure out, obsess over, and ultimately catch her and solve the crime!
But, if Jodie Comer’s character doesn’t become more likable then the series will not last. So far she’s interesting as HELL, but that only last’s so long. In order for us to root for her there has to be some redemption and perhaps she will go on to be some sort of La Femme Nikita working for the “good” guys.
My Personal History with Psychopathy
If you are a regular reader of my blogs then you know that I have written about my step-father who was a psychopath. He died this month 5 years ago. He married my mother when I was 7. My mother was the co-dependent spouse of the psychopath and a narcissist herself! Our household was dysfunctional at best. Imagine if your parents had no empathy for you? I was abused by both my parents and although I’m not going to get into any of that right now as I have written about it in the past, I would like to point out something in the Killing Eve series that reminded me of my step-father. My brother Ben once told me a few years ago that our mother had to teach my step-father how to behave in certain gatherings. For example, she had to teach him how to act around people, the kinds of things to say to them, that sort of thing. He was a surgeon and although I don’t think he ever had a problem talking to his patients, (people he would perhaps deem lower in status than him.) I think he had more trouble with so called “equals” than he did with just your average person.
To my point, there is a scene in Killing Eve where Vilanelle is at an ice cream parlor and she is observing the behavior of the ice cream server smiling at a little girl enjoying her ice cream. Vilanelle is closely trying to mimic his smile and reaction. That just reminded me of my mother having to coach my step-father on how to behave in public social situations. Because a psychopath just doesn’t know how.
Vilanelle is a “Crazy” Psychopath
Know that not all psychopaths are killers. Many are your neighbors, doctors, dentists, lawyers, in media…. also know that it is more rare for a woman to be a psychopath than a man.
I can tell you this. Never, ever, go up against a psychopath because they will always win! There is no line they will not cross. A decent human being will never to able to do such evil things that a psychopath has no trouble doing. Always my advice…..STAY AWAY FROM THEM!!
April 7, 2018
So, What do you do When you Find out Your First Boyfriend Tried to Kill his Second Wife?
Meet Laura Webb
What do you do when you find out that your very first boyfriend that you ever had in high school, tried to murder his second wife? And not only did he try to murder her, but he beat her for a good 9 years of their marriage.
My family and I moved to Sevierville, Tennessee the summer before I started 9th. grade. We lived out in the country on Old Douglas Dam Road. I was to start school at Sevier County High School that September. We had just moved from Roanoke, Virginia. As usual, I was terrified of the dreaded first day, first week, first month, etc. The high school was grades 9 – 12. I settled in and did meet a few good people and a whole lot of rotten ones. My father, and his new medical partner, Charlie Kidd would be the new doctor’s in town opening up their practice in Sevierville. Hey, we even made the front page of the paper………..Landcastle/Kidd, the New Doctor’s in Town. Our last name is Lancaster….. Off to a great start there!
I think it was the summer before 10th. grade that I started dating Mitchell Webb. He was older than me. I think he was a senior and I was entering my sophomore year. He played football, the quarterback actually. Funny, but at the time I didn’t even know that. I could have cared less about sports and I wondered why the other girl’s seemed to look at me with admiration that I was dating him? To me, football?? What’s so great about that??
That summer before 10th. grade I was at Band Camp at the University of Tennessee at, well, I can’t remember, there are so many of them in various cities in Tennessee. Oh well, I was at band camp. It was while I was there trying to learn my color guard routine that I was playing around the jumped over some bushes, fell to the ground, and dislocated my elbow and had to be taken to the emergency room. I was in a sling for weeks. When I got home Mitchell came to see me and brought over roses. That was the first time a boy had ever given me flowers. I remember when he came over for that visit that my mother had her soap opera’s on the t.v. and the character of Clarice was giving birth to her child and I was mortified that I was watching that on t.v. with Mitchell.
We continued to date throughout the summer and into the start of the new school year. I remember that my very first date with him was to see a movie in Gatlinburg at the movie theater there and it was called, Blazing Saddles. I can very clearly see this scene in the movie where they are all sitting around a camp fire eating beans and they all just started farting. I was devastated! My very first date and they are all farting!
Mitchell’s car, I don’t even remember it, except that there was a hole in the floorboard where I could clearly see the road beneath my feet. It reminded me of the Fred Flintstone car where their feet would pedal the car. I had to keep my feet straddled so that neither of my feet could suddenly fall through the flooring and into the road causing great damage to me.
I was also Mitchell’s date at some important cotillion in Knoxville where Mitchell was one of a few that were being presented to society. I had to buy my first evening gown for that and I needed long gloves that covered my elbows. I remember walking down some runway with him. We even got our photos taken. I probably have it somewhere but I don’t feel like looking for it right now. Not after what all I have learned about him.
I only dated him for a few months, maybe 3 or 4? To tell you the truth I can’t even remember. I do remember the day he dumped me though. I arrived at school one morning and he was walking arm and arm around the hallway with Sonja Hinkle. I think that was his way of saying, ‘get lost Julie.’ I got the message loud and clear and never spoke to him again. He didn’t go on to date Sonja, I think he just had her do that to send a message to me. Because he then went on to date a girl named Teri who was also in the band, she played clarinet. I heard that they did go on to be married and had a couple of kids. He must have divorced her because that is when I heard about Laura.
I only keep up with one person that I knew in Sevierville and that person currently lives in Atlanta with her wife.
You know, nothing really surprises me anymore. There are two people inside of each and every one of us. There is that person that we really are, and that person that we present to the world. Hopefully those two aren’t that far apart, but in some of us they are. For what Mitchell Webb did to his second wife he only got 90 days in jail. He was at the time in law enforcement for the post office. He ran his truck over his wife, Laura Webb, TWICE! Then he drove away and left her there to die! She crawled to the nearest cabin for help. The people in that cabin called for help and a helicopter transported her to the nearest hospital where she was for months until she could be released. Her rib cage had to be rebuilt with titanium. Mitchell Webb has robbed poor Laura of her good health for the rest of her life where she has to conceal her whereabouts to him for fear he will come back and kill her.
Because of what she has gone through she did start a program called, Laura’s Card.
Here is the Facebook Article:
For survivor, changing laws, lives now a calling JEANNIE ROBERTS Arkansas Democrat-GazetteMay 24, 2015 Laura…
Laura’s Card to Help Victims of Domestic Assault:
Laura’s Card is a program designed to help women that are being abused in their homes.
I will never know Laura Webb. But if she does come across my blog post I would love for her to know that I feel so very sorry that she had to endure so much torture from such a horrible man as Mitchell Webb. I would also tell her that I am amazed that she survived such a horrific, and traumatic experience. How she got the strength to survive it all I am so amazed. I am also in awe of how she turned her tragic experience around to try and help others. Laura’s Card is a wonderful start in helping women. I would also go on to say that I wish her the best. Although I never saw the monstrous side of Mitchell Webb, I do believe her and I feel a connection to her.
The teenage Mitchell Webb was my very first boyfriend, my very first date, my very first kiss, my very first flowers, my very first dance. Too bad you had to destroy all the good you were given in life. If I were to ever get the opportunity to ever say anything to you it would be: “Thank you so very, very much for dumping me!”
Julie Lancaster, Sophomore, Sevier County High School
April 2, 2018
Lanai Extension Update
(Photographic Evidence Saved the Day!)
If you have been a regular reader of my blog then you know that we hired a contractor to extend our lanai out into our yard to increase our outdoor living space. Our house is just under 2000 square feet and when we do have family over we have no choice but to spill over into our existing lanai and even our backyard. But when we do entertain in our backyard it does present a problem with all the bugs hovering around our food platters and dinner plates. Also, our squirrels can be quite the pests! They love to chew on my roses and hibiscus flowers. They especially love the buds before they bloom. Which means I get NO Roses or Hibiscus blossoms! Also, sometimes mosquitoes can be a problem. Not only are they annoying but they bite and can carry diseases. So we figured that if we could extend our lanai outward about 36 feet in length and 18 feet wide, and enclose it with a pool cage over top, we could have more living space in the backyard. So that we could spread out some more.
I took these photos on Friday afternoon after the cement pour.
Gordon took the day off to be here. I just didn’t want to deal with it all by myself. I think that I have a deep seeded resentment that for Gordon’s 20 year Naval career he was deployed a lot and it was always up to me to take care of everything. Now it’s his turn. 🙂
The Cement Truck and the Workers
Our contractor had subcontracted the cement job out to another company to do, which is a very common thing here in America. We were told the job would take 4 days. It actually ended up taking about 6 days spread out over a period of 2 weeks. Which is now, thanks to a big problem, will spill over into week 3. (Keep Reading)
Permits Taped to our Lanai Door in our Backyard
(I cannot tell you how many times I will look up and there will be an inspector plowing through that paperwork taped to our glass doors on our lanai, usually scaring me to death! I’m not a screamer but I am a yeller (hollerer), usually letting out a loud yell when I turn around and see a strange man standing there.) 🙂
For the past, going on 3 weeks now, I get up before dawn, shower, get dressed, unlock both of our backyard fence gates very early, prop open our screen door, (if that screen door is locked then inspectors will just walk away and then we are at their mercy as to when they will come back),
and wait for the trucks to arrive……………or not!
You never know when they will show up, if they will show up???
Sadly, that is pretty “normal.” I know from previous experience with the condo I used to manage out in Indian Shores, that whenever they would contract work out to be done to the building sometimes it was a total disaster in getting them there to finish the jobs they would start. According to so many horror stories I’ve heard, ours certainly isn’t that bad, not by any means. But, it is a delay and it did cost us some aggravation. (Keep Reading)
Gordon Searching for the Pipes
Found ONE, but Can’t find the Other one.
Because we have been undergoing this backyard work we have had the sprinklers turned off. Some of our things have died because of it. We have been watering with the hose a lot when we do go outside trying to keep some things alive. But when the dig was ready for the cement pour Gordon did turn on the sprinklers that night to give everything a good soaking because we then needed to turn them off again to get ready for this cement pour.
Ready for the Cement Pour
Gordon specifically made sure that the sprinkler’s were all working fine prior to the cement pour.
Also, we have appreciated all the hard work that these guys have done. They work on a few job sites at once so they tend to come and go from each job sometimes on a daily basis. Arriving at one job site at 8:00 a.m. and then arriving at our house at noon. They work very hard.
Pouring the Cement
The pour went great, there were no problems (that we knew of at the time.) The men worked hard, everything went according to plan. Gordon took off from work for the pour and between me and him, we took lots of photos. Luckily!
Of course, we usually always take tons of photos of everything that happens to us.
The cement pour was on Friday, and one of the workers came back Saturday morning to cut the cement. By cutting it once down the middle and twice along the width, that helps to insure that the concrete doesn’t break and relieves some of the pressure. The trenches that were initially dug with cement poured in them as well, are there to insure that the slab of cement is secure.
So, with all of that work out of the way I told Gordon to turn the sprinkler’s back on because we need to water our yard before everything dies. So he did, and that’s when Gordon noticed all this water pouring out the back of the cement slab! And that’s when he saw a long CRACK!!!
The crack is in a crescent shape and goes from one corner of the back left to the other corner of the back right. That makes it a good 18 feet, but because it’s curved that makes it more like 25 feet!
Gordon Digging Trying to Find our Pipes
Gordon called our contractor to tell him of the problem, with the assumption that he would then take responsibility for this problem that obviously his guys did.
Weh..heh..hell… Not So!
Our contractor told Gordon that he knew a guy that we could hire to fix the problem, and that he would email us his name and phone number. He assured us that what Gordon was describing to him was a ‘simple fix’ that shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars. Of course he went on to be friendly and talk about the rest of the work to be finished this coming week…..
I’m usually the panicker while Gordon keeps controlled… so yeah, that’s how it was this time as well. 🙂
It’s not funny but Gordon just assumed that our contractor, we’ll start calling him Harry, would take care of it, after all, he’s just so nice…..
What upset me the most is that Harry was going to pawn this off on us and not take any responsibility. He then started avoiding our phone calls. That’s when Gordon and I started plowing through all the photos that we had taken of the work being done and that’s when we saw
This is the same photo below, but we cropped the bottom shot so as to better emphasize the wooden stake that you see nailed into the ground to hold that cement hose back.
VIOLA!!! THE KILLER!!!
Suddenly we were Sherlock and Watson, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot!!!
And my personal favorite…………….ADRIAN MONK!
That is when we emailed Harry these photos showing the exact point of contact with our pipe, that stake! Hard to see in this resized photo, but it’s there.
It was a few hours before Harry emailed us back but as an empath I turned to Gordon and said, “He’s gonna pay for it. He’s gonna take care of it. I’m feeling it. He’ll let us know shortly.” So, Gordon was then relaxed by my news and went outside to bring in some things. A few hours later we got our email telling us that he would take care of it. (This is when being an empath is fun.) 🙂
So, good news right? It is good news that Harry is finally owning up to his responsibility to us as a business owner and hopefully decent and honest human being. We are happy that as I have been working on this blog post, a man did come by to have a look at it and has told me that it is much worse than what was described to him by Harry on the phone. According to him he will have to reroute our irrigation all along the cement slab and half of our yard will be on a new system. He assured me that Harry will pay for all of it, he just needs to get in touch with Harry and that the appointment to get this work done will take place next week.
Hopefully our plants won’t all die off until we can turn our sprinkler system back on. We are planning on buying a new front yard once this work is completed but until then we have to water all the plants located in the landscaping and retaining walls, and all around the house, with the hoses. That’s a lot of work! The grass in the backyard can die but nothing else can.
I suppose that problems do arise in these kinds of jobs and that is o.k. Both Gordon and I understand this. And it looks like our water problem will probably run up into the thousands of dollars. And that is terrible. It was no one fault and I appreciate that Harry is going to take responsibility for it. But I can’t help but wonder that if we didn’t have photographic evidence that we could use against him in a court of law, if that is what gave him the change of heart? Or could it have been the Easter Bunny? Hmm…. we’ll never know….
Actually I DO KNOW! Empath, remember???
March 25, 2018
Our Lanai Extension….in Progress
Monk Fell in the Trench
With the exception of hiring a business to give us a new roof, and the installation of a new water heater many years ago, we are new to hiring a construction company to have work done on our property. Gordon has been our construction guy for years building all of our retaining walls and landscaping, and installing our new appliances saving us money, but Gordon can’t do this. We are at the mercy of a contractor and the people he hires as his sub-contractors for jobs the contractor doesn’t do. For example, all the work you see above has been sub-contracted out to a cement business which is a fairly common practice with all contractors. HOWEVER, the contractor may assume that the people he sub-contracted out to are actually working……..WHEN THEY AREN’T!
We were initially told that this project of preparing and pouring the cement foundation would take 4 days. 4 DAYS! So, Gordon took off from work to oversee this all last week so that I didn’t have to. I am out of my league here. We thought that we could knock out the foundation and have this leg of our new lanai done, then clean up the outside and prepare for a great Easter dinner, and then resume the construction with the pool cage, electric, French doors, two outdoor ceiling fans, etc. But now we’ve been told that the entire project will take up to one month! There is no way that Gordon can take off from work for a month so it has to be ME to deal with this. (So, you know I’m happy about it.) 🙁
Because we never know when they are going to show up someone has to be here all the time. That falls to me! I love my home life but I also like to get out of it and go somewhere occasionally. I just don’t like it that for the next month I have to revolve my life around a bunch of workers that only show up when they feel like it. And yet, that is how it is here in America when you hire contractors.
Therefore, I will go with the flow, I will make the best of it, I will clean my house, work on my website, start a few new projects, and just have a blast in my home sanctuary. 🙂
My philosophy on life is to just bring a book and make the best of it. So that’s what I shall do!
March 24, 2018
How often does your February birthday fall on Fat Tuesday?
My Birthday, and My Childhood Charm Bracelet
In my young teens my mother bought me the above charm bracelet. From top, counter clockwise, a ballerina, a button that says, “Cute as a button,” a sleeping bag, a horseshoe with a pearl, a Christmas stocking, a record, and an antique telephone.
I wore that bracelet the night of my birthday celebration. You can see it on my wrist.
That charm bracelet is important to me because my cousin Susan gave me two of those charms. The ballerina (for the Nutcracker, a favorite of mine), and the button that says, “Cute as a Button.” You see, we were living in Roanoke, Virginia at the time and I was horribly bullied at school, Junior High School, and horribly abused at home, so when Susan sent me that button charm, it was at the height of my abuse. Receiving a charm that said, “Cute as a button” was the first compliment that I had received in years. So, when she sent me a birthday card this year, it reminded me of how good that she made me feel so many years ago, so I dug out my charm bracelet and wore it to dinner the night of my birthday. Actually, it was the night before my birthday that we had all gotten together at Tibby’s, a New Orleans themed restaurant.
Susan is married to my mother’s first cousin, Joe, my Great Uncle Ray and Great-Aunt Margie’s only child. That is the connection. My Grandmother’s brother and sister-in-law’s, child.
Gordon, Julie, Brian, Veronica, Brodie and Lauren
Gordon and Julie
Brian and Veronica, and Brodie and Lauren
(We are very lucky to have this great family! I love being the Matriarch.)
I turned 57 on Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
When I received the lovely card and letter from my cousin Susan I decided to write her and tell her of my abuse and to thank her for that very small gesture of the charm that said, “Cute as a Button”. I wanted her to know that sometimes the smallest gestures that we make toward people can be very powerful. I treasure that bracelet because of the charms that Susan gave me, not necessarily because of the charms that my mother gave me. The charms were very thoughtful from my mother. The sleeping bag, I loved my sleeping bag! I did a lot of camping and I would sometimes set up my sleeping bag in the living room pretending that I was camping underneath the stars. The horseshoe with the pearl. That to me is my horse riding experiences that I had. The horseshoe. I rode horses, I won ribbons, we even owned a few horses. And the antique telephone? Well, I have a love/hate relationship with the telephone. In my day growing up the telephone was the weapon of mean girls. I did enjoy talking on the phone but far too many times I had girls calling me up to say terrible things to me. So, even now when the phone rings I tend to cringe. I don’t run to it. I usually wait until someone starts talking on the answering machine before I go and pick it up.
The record because I loved listening to music on my record player. The Monkee’s, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, etc. etc. etc.
Susan wrote me back the nicest response. Telling her about my abuse actually helped to lift a huge burden off my shoulders. I do feel better. I suppose that what I want people to know from reading about this is that even the smallest gestures can make a difference in people’s lives. So do it. Go out of your way to let someone know something nice that you see in them. It can make a difference. I am proof of that.
March 22, 2018
My Instagram Account
My Instagram Profile Photo
I joined Instagram… O.k. I don’t remember when I joined Instagram but it must have been about a year and a half ago….??
Anyway, I have never posted ANYTHING ON INSTAGRAM, EVER, except my profile photo above. I singed up for Instagram just to follow a few interesting people. I really don’t care if anyone follows me back or even reacts to anything that I comment on. I have certainly given more than my fair share of “likes.” And I do make some comments here and there, but I don’t care to really get involved too much. As it is I have this website that I work on most days, adding content, photographs and doing write-ups. I am also active on Twitter. But I do know my limitations and all this social media seems to be quite a bit of a responsibility that I just don’t want.
I have discovered that the people on Instagram seem to be a bit “meaner” than on Twitter. In my year and a half that I’ve been actively on Twitter I’ve only encountered 2 nasty people and after some back and forth I was able to manipulate a softer tone from both men and one even apologized to me for starting the conflict to begin with. (The reason I use the word “manipulate” is because that’s what I did. To tell the story any other way would be a lie.)
I have discovered that Instagram people do seem to be a bit meaner, vindictive, high schoolish, petty…..
I’m assuming it’s because most are women. I love women, but women haven’t always loved me, or the way that I am. Women seem to have this love/hate relationship with me.
I set up my Instagram account using an email address that I never use. That way I don’t get notifications and never have to know anything if I don’t want to. I can walk away from Instagram at a moment’s notice and never visit the site ever again. Never. And unless I remember the email address that I opened up specifically for Instagram (which I don’t), then I never have to know anything that anyone is saying to me. So, when most people get excited about some notification, I tend to groan. Ugh! Not another notification!
Now, sometimes the notifications have been positive, but a lot of them have been negative, so most of the time I tend to ignore them. Sometimes I will click on them, I think the last time I did view them was about 2 weeks ago or so. There wasn’t anything mean in there at all, and there may not be anything mean in the ones I have now, I’m just not interested in reading them.
Used to I only had to contend with that red dot underneath the heart at the top right on the screen of my Instagram page, but now they are flashing numbers at me! If I want to look at it, then I WILL! I’m NOT Blind!!
Sometimes social media is great, and other times it’s just a pain in the butt!
March 6, 2018
One Special Summer
Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier
Of course Jacqueline Bouvier went on to become Jackie Kennedy Onasis and Lee Bouvier Radziwell, her sister. Jackie became our first lady, married to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was then assassinated in 1963, I was 2 at the time. I remember my mother telling me that she was pregnant with me when she stood in line to vote for JFK, just as Jackie was pregnant at the time.
Magazine Article and the Book
In 1974 I was 13 years old. I had read my mother’s Ladies Home Journal magazine with Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwell on the cover discussing a book that they had written together and I was immediately intrigued. I wanted that book! The article came out November 1974. So, by my birthday the following year, my mother had bought me that book!
Jackie and Lee had gone abroad in 1951. They wrote the book as a gift to their mother and step-father for allowing them to go on this adventure. Their mother preferred gifts from her daughter’s that were either written or painted. So, the girls gave them both. An account of their trip.
They Even Wrote a Poem
I remember seeing this particular shot and thinking how sophisticated that was. Just sitting in a restaurant in Europe all day talking, laughing, eating, engaging.
I love the “Snap Shots” terminology. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that.
What made me think of this book is that CNN is doing a series about the Kennedy’s on March 11th.. That’s when I got out this book.
I begged my parents to let me go to Europe in 1976, they let me, I was in the 9th. grade at the time, and it is all because of this book. My own European adventure!
I do love the “Photographer” illustrations that they do. Here is a favorite of mine!
A Wonderful Book! A Wonderful Memory for Me!
March 1, 2018
Brodie’s Class Lip Dub 2009 Jay Sean “Down”
Bloomingdale High School
Can’t believe I never posted it until now. 🙂
Oh, and their other 2010 video. Love it!
Brodie’s Class of 2010!
February 5, 2018
I do love this song by Johnny Cash. I grew up with him.
February 1, 2018
Welcome to February! My most favorite month of the year! 🙂
Well, we’ll get to all that later on but for now I wanted to post a photo of Gordon and our almost son-in-law, Brian.
The Moment that Brian asked Gordon for our daughter’s hand in marriage. 🙂
Can’t wait for this wedding…….
AND this wedding……
(I do that dotdotdotdotdot thing a lot, don’t I?)
January 22, 2018
A Treasure I Found in His Room
Brodie lives with his girlfriend but his room has been left intact. I started cleaning it up to use as a guest room and I found this cardboard likeness of him shoved behind a bookcase. I noticed that it was dated 2010. I never even knew it existed. So, being the proud mother that I am, and seeing as how his birthday was coming up, November 29th., I set it out in my nook, and draped it with lights. When he came over for Thanksgiving he saw it and was amazed that I had it out. He told me that he started the project at 10:00 p.m. the night before it was due. That’s my Brodie! The thing is, it looks like him! He did an excellent job on it! I will keep it forever. My little boy Brodie….
The thing is, Brodie is just like me, and Veronica is just like Gordon.
Brodie is my little protestor. My activist son. He speaks out when it’s unpopular to do so, just like me. He stands up against bully’s to protect an unknown person that needs help. He’s smart, informed, he is scientific. He can fix anything. He is an auto mechanic. We were always doing science experiments when he was young. We read Martin Luther King, Jr. together in Maryland.
Funny story: When we were living in Ft. Meade, Maryland and his 7th. birthday was coming up, we had just moved there a few months prior, I asked him who he wanted to invite to his birthday? We had decided on renting a movie theater that served a pizza dinner while you watched a movie. So he gave me the kids names he wanted to invite from his classroom and we sent out the invitations. All I had were names, I didn’t know anyone. So, we sent out all the invitations. Every kid RSVP’d that they would be there. We were thrilled! And when his birthday came around and everyone showed up, every child was African-American. 🙂 Only his friend Leonard was white.
You see, I was so proud of him on that day. All that I had taught him, mostly by example, had paid off. He chose his friends to invite, not on what color they were, but how he felt about them. They were his friends. That’s my Brodie! When I look at him I feel so much pride and happiness. He’s a good one!
January 22, 2018
Our little girl, Veronica, and her longtime boyfriend, Brian, are engaged!
He popped the question underneath the fireworks at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Ahhhh……
But then again, I did pick up on it before we even know a thing: 🙂
Just thank goodness that song is finally leaving my head. You’ll understand when you read the blog post.
Gordon and I are very happy!
January 21, 2018
Hawaii’s Missile Alert
As many of you know, on Saturday, January 13, 2018 the people of Hawaii were sent out a message that an incoming missile was going to hit them and that they had 10 minutes to take cover. Hawaii is reporting how that affected the entire island chain. There was a heart attack victim, various car wrecks, some chaos, and general panic!
When I heard about the missile alert my first thoughts were, “hackers.” Russian Hackers! I still believe that.
It was exposed last year that our government has no plan in place to save us if we are ever attacked by anything. Domestic, International, Alien…. However, they do have a plan to save themselves.
So, why in the world would “they”, our government, send out a “missile alert warning’ to a populace that they have no plan in place to “save?” Oahu is an island that is 30 x 44 miles long. It is the main island of the Hawaiian chain. Pearl Harbor would be a main Naval institution target, Kaneohe is the main Marine base, Hickum is the main Air Force Base… So Oahu would be the main target, and it would be destroyed instantly.
Let’s say you are a tourist staying in one of the Waikiki hotels and you were told to take cover? Where will you go? The hotel basement? If a missile comes in and you are in the basement then that hotel will fall on top of you.
There is no plan in place to warn, or save any of us. So why send out a warning? There is nothing in place to help save any of us!
I believe that it was hackers, perhaps sending a message of how they can throw our country into chaos with a simple little warning of an incoming missile.
And we all saw how that went, didn’t we?
Maybe next time we shouldn’t be so quick to jump on that bandwagon.
January 16, 2018
New Blog Posts
I’ve started two new blog posts that I’m kind of excited about.
The Nifty 50’s one isn’t all that great now, but I do have good plans for it as I go. Although the laxative story is funny.
AND, my new:
My Nifty 50’s Skincare
I do have something to contribute!
I hope you agree,
January 13, 2018
Mystery Date with Vivien
My Old Mystery Date Game from the 1960’s
(Sometimes it pays to be a hoarder.) 🙂
Johnny, Sabina and Vivien
We had family visiting from Ireland and I knew I would be spending time with my niece, Vivien, so I got out my old Mystery Date game and we played, and we played, and we played.
I won twice, Vivien won once…..
And we had the best time. Even though there is a 50 year difference in our ages.
What was a new game to her, was a happy nostalgic time for me.
Vivien looking at her cards underneath the table.
She enjoyed playing this game as much as if it were the latest most exciting toy of her day.
I miss this sweet little girl so much!
Until next time when we play again….
January 13, 2018
As I’ve mentioned before I’m just going to enjoy January and get my home in order. Nothing drastic, just packing up Christmas and holiday and putting it all away. I also want to work on my website and update a lot of posts. I’ve also been hitting my treadmill lately and I’m toning up a bit. I do see improvement but I don’t want to get on any scale yet until I know I’ll be pleased with the answer.
Oh, and we have to purchase a new front yard this month! Thank you Bloomingdale Home Owner’s Association Gestapo! 🙁
February…. My birthday falls on Mardi Gras this year so that will be a fun birthday to play with.
I also love February as the month has so many fun holidays. There’s Japanese Girl’s Day, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, my birthday…. 🙂
March….We have our lanai extended! Yahoo! $20 Grand, but hey, it’ll be great!
April/May…. Julie’s new Diamond in the Junque Shoppe happens!
Fingers crossed that Paul doesn’t screw with my Ebay auctions like he used to when I was listing the condo for rent. But, things are different now, and in my favor!! 🙂
So, bring on 2018! I hope that you, like me, have a lot to look forward to.
January 12, 2018
Today is Friday and I feel like doing absolutely nothing except working on my website. I even think that I’ll carry that mood over into the weekend as well. I’ve put in the movie, The Saint, with Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue. Oh, I won’t watch it, I don’t have to, it’s just going off in the background, like a fire place. I have the movie memorized anyway. Not that it’s that special to me, I just memorize things. For some reason I do love “watching” this movie in January? I think because it takes place in winter and even though our Florida winters are nothing like what takes place in the movie, my mood sometimes seem to go into hibernation in January and I suppose that I sort of relate to that cold climate mind set.
To me, January is something of a transition month. A time to rest up, pack up the Christmas and holiday things away, a break from all the holiday madness, and ours was “MAD as a Hatter,” as in Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter….
Vivien as Alice
All the work that went into Christmas was something that we don’t care to repeat for a very long time! It was hard work! Gordon and I did it all ourselves, it took about 2 months of planning and it was almost just too much for us to handle. If family from Ireland were not coming, then we would not have done all that we did. BUT, we created some great memories and that is what is important. Because when all is said and done, the important things are the feelings, and the memories that people give us.
There is much more that goes into planning something this big than just decorating and cooking.
My Typical Grocery Cart
Planning, shopping, cleaning, shopping, decorating the entire house for Christmas in general, more shopping, wrapping gifts, mailing gifts, the cleanup of the backyard, bleaching, pressure washing, decorating the entire backyard, Gordon even built a retaining wall in prep for this, setting up tents, tables, digging through my “prop room,” a.k.a. Veronica’s old bedroom, for platters, bowls, etc. Plowing through the attic and garage… It was exhausting!
Gordon’s Landscaping Retaining Wall
All the work that went into Christmas.
My hands looked horrible! As in my lack of a manicure, but my toes were perfect! Priorities…..
It was a lot of work, but we would do it all again, just not for a long while. I have enough website material to work on every day for the entire 2018, which brings me to 2018…….
I don’t feel as bad about this year as I did last year. Meaning, the direction our country is going. Oh, we’re all going to hell in a hand basket that’s for sure, but what is different is that there is much more of an awareness than there used to be where getting involved politically is concerned. People I used to know would look at me as if I were some weirdo because I was political and they would always ask me, “Why are you so into politics, Julie?” And I would answer them, “Because their decisions affect our lives!” What I wanted to say was, ‘Because their decisions affect our lives, you stupid idiot!!!!’ But I didn’t. One of the few times I was able to hold my tongue.
You know, I lost most of my friends during the Bush years after 9/11 because I spoke out about how dangerous that administration was. My “friends” responded by either never having anything to do with me again, or I was called “unpatriotic” and “un-American.” Those so-called friends that did still hang around me occasionally never really liked me anymore after that and because I knew how they felt, I parted ways with them. I was very sad to lose all of them but it made me sadder to know them. Because I finally saw them for what they really were. Haters, racists, bigots, war mongers, bully’s, so much anger…… And I grew to be very thankful that they dumped me. I’m a happier person, a better person, that I no longer have them in my life. Sometimes when I think of some of the happy memories that I shared with them many years ago I do feel nostalgic, but not nostalgic for the person they turned out to be, but for the person that they once were before all the Fox News hate machine got to so many. Rupert Murdock is one of the most despicable haters of our generation and has no problem with his role in this. Fox News has ruined the lives of at least 2 generations of Americans by filling their heads with so much hate. Our seniors now do nothing but sit on their couch’s and get angry about everything. Not living their lives and enjoying their senior years like they should. But at least some of their children and grandchildren are turning away from that. And it is for those people that I am grateful. They see how fragile that democracy is and if you don’t get involved then our corporations and their political tools can take everything away from you. So, although we have a lot to worry about in 2018, we also have more help and people on our side than we did in 2017.
I have a little bit of Hope back…..
January 5, 2018
Must be our DNA!
From the time that I was a young girl I HATED wearing SHOES! I went barefoot most of the time. Sabina told me that from the moment they got off the airplane and Vivien has shunned shoes! Every photo she takes of her and sends to her parents, Vivien is barefoot. Her parents even remarked, “Why did you not pack any shoes for Vivien?”
Ahh… That’s my girl!!!
January 4, 2018
My Hopes and Plans for 2018
Also Catching up…..
Family from Ireland is still here and we have fun plans with them before they leave. With holidays over, Gordon back at work, but me still cooking away, starting next week I am hitting that treadmill most everyday. Taking down the Christmas will just have to be a step-by-step process. As long as I get it all packed away by February then I’ll be happy.
The weather has been cold since New Year’s Day, we even have the heat on. But I am just happy that it was nice through Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I have a lot to look forward to this year but I also have a lot of work ahead of me. Cleaning out closets, the garage, the attic… Veronica’s room has become a room where we just throw things in there and never see them again. I need to fully organize my home. We are hoarders and it is finally becoming overwhelmingly obvious. Of course, my take on that is that we are big collectors and unfortunately we have a small house. If we had a larger home then our collections could spread out a bit more, but we don’t, so it’s time to downsize a bit.
I will say this, whatever project that we do, I have the props for it! Alice in Wonderland theme? Check! Pirates of the Caribbean theme? Check! Arabian Nights theme? Check! Hawaiian luau! Check! James Bond theme? Check! 50’s Happy Days? Check!
Well, you get the idea.
Oh, trust me I will NOT be getting rid of a lot of things but I will be downsizing a little bit. What I am mainly looking to do is to clean out the garage and create more storage to better organize our possessions. I also want to start my Ebay business and sell off some of our collectibles that way. Also all those vintage and antiques I’ve been purchasing for the past few years for my business. So for me, 2018 is about getting organized and starting a small business.
ALSO, I want to finish the blog posts I have here on my website that all say….. “UNDER CONSTRUCTION.” 🙂
(I know that bugs some of you.)
Oh, and I do have some news for you…. I Quit My Job!
I am no longer managing my mother’s condo. I’ve scrubbed the condo webpage off my site. I quit in protest over a decision she made that I very strongly objected to. She invited someone as a guest into the condo that I told her years ago that I would quit if she ever did. So, that day came, and I quit. To me it is akin to having someone like Donald Trump, or Steve Bannon, or Karl Rove, stay at the condo. And this person is a lot like Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Karl Rove.
My mother will never find anyone to do as good a job as I did but she never appreciate all the hard work that I did. I even saved the condo a few times during hurricane’s. I went that extra mile. I paid all the Paypal fees out of my pocket, I stocked the condo for the guests, I purchased my own supplies that I needed to keep the condo going. I must have spent a fortune in laundry detergent and gas getting myself to and from.
A few months ago she told me that the only reason I do a good job is for the “compliments.” Well, I certainly didn’t do it for the money! (Oh, and just to be clear, those “compliments” never come from her.) In everything that I do there is always a motive, or so she thinks. From the time I found out this person was coming, on December 1, 2017, in less than 24 hours I had written my resignation letter, CC’d it to a brother and my nephew, went to Gordon’s corporate Christmas party at Bahama Breeze, then drove out to the condo to retrieve all of my things. All that within less than 24 hours. THAT is how disturbed I was at the prospect of this person staying in the condo.
Gordon and Julie, Booz, Allen, Hamilton Corporate Christmas Party
Bahama Breeze Restaurant
I guess I look pretty good in the photo above considering that I only got about 2 hours sleep the night before because I was so upset at who my mother invited as her guest to stay in the condo. I had also resigned by 10:00 a.m. that morning.
The GOOD NEWS about this day was that we met the nicest couple at the party. I was actually dreading going considering how upset that I was but Gordon convinced me that I would have a good time. I told him that if anyone at our table sings the praises of Trump that I am walking out! (Gordon knows that I would too.) 🙂 But the couple we met had lived in London and when I brought up how excited I was about the Prince Harry/Meghan Markle union, she lit up like a Christmas tree and we didn’t stop talking until it was time to leave. It was great! We thank Meghan Markle for bringing us together because that is what solidified the friendship. 🙂
Me, in Front of Quiet Waters Condominiums
One Last Time
After the Christmas party at Bahama Breeze Gordon and I drove out to the condo to get all my things. And I do mean, ALL MY THINGS! We were taking things off the walls, cleaning out the owner’s closet, etc. The car was full!
You know, I knew that under whatever circumstances that I leave management of the condo that they would be sad. For example, if my mother sold it, or fired me, or I quit, or it was destroyed by a hurricane. So, my sadness is expected but overshadowed by how proud that I am of myself. I’m sure that some day I will miss the condo, but that day isn’t here yet. What is here is that I’m proud of ME for sticking up for myself, for doing what was right, and not letting my narcissistic mother throw me underneath the bus for the thousandth time. This is after all, the #MeToo generation.
2018 will be Empowering,
Oh and p.s., Sometimes I think it’s best to no longer have hope in certain things. Let them go and quit hoping things will get better because sometimes they never do and your left standing there with useless “hope.”
January 1, 2018
Happy New Year!
This photo, and the photos above, and below, are from our delicious backyard sunset picnic we had last night.
We wanted to take advantage of the fact that we still had these “structures” in our backyard that we had erected for our big backyard Christmas. Also, starting this spring we will no longer have a “yard” in this section of our property as we will be extending our lanai outward about 36 feet and placing a pool cage over top of it. It won’t interfere with any of the retaining walls that Gordon has built. Once the structure is built Gordon and I want to create a brick or stone path around the area and place alongside our fence a series of tall urns with some sort of tall foliage just so that we can have a bit more privacy. This structure will increase the value of our home, as well as our outdoor living space. But don’t worry, we will still have plenty of backyard to enjoy. Our house may be the smallest in the neighborhood but we have the largest backyard.
Our New Year’s Eve Picnic
The Centerpiece for our Backyard Sunset Picnic
Our Lovely Table
As the Sun is Setting
Gordon and I were getting tired of all the typical appetizers that we generally make on New Year’s Eve, so I suggested that why don’t we just get some sort of exotic take out? Before Christmas we wanted to have our children and their partner’s over to our house for some exotic take out foods but we never had any time. We poured weeks of work and planning into our big Christmas Day so we ended up not even having time to see anyone prior to Christmas. So, we never got our pre-Christmas foods that we wanted. But, we were able to have them last night and there are plenty of leftovers for the coming week which always makes Gordon happy.
Our Beautiful Exotic Table Setting and Meal
I also love any excuse to decorate and bring out our collections.
Bacon Wrapped Dried Figs and Dates
and an old recipe of my mother’s, Hot Olive Cheese Puffs
These are the only foods that we made for this dinner.
The rest we bought from Al Medina, an Arabic market and restaurant.
Falafel Platters with Hummas and Flatbread, Gyro Meat and Rice with Pickled Vegetables, Arabic Style Chicken and Rice, More Exotic Breads, Tons of Dipping Sauces, not to mention the desserts…..
This is the best dinner we’ve had in a long time that we didn’t cook ourselves. 🙂
(I’m not saying that to be bragging, I’m simply stating a truth. We are both very good cooks and our food tastes good.)
Gordon Enjoying the Preview of Apps Before the Meal
Here’s to Hoping that 2018 will be a Good One!
Mary Keith’s Hot Olive Cheese Puffs
I don’t mind sharing this recipe because they are delicious!!
Hot Olive Cheese Puffs
Oddly enough I found this recipe written on the back of a recipe that I had requested from my mother about 30 year’s ago. She wrote it thinking that someday I might want to make it. Well, that day came 30 year’s later.
They are delicious! I think it was based on a Cheese Straw recipe because when I made it, it reminded me of making Cheese Straws which incidentally, I will be making in the next few days.
Inside the Hot Olive Cheese Puffs
(They would look nice if they were stuffed olives, wouldn’t they? Pimientos do come to mind.) 🙂
(This is my mother’s recipe. We did veer away from it a bit, but not much.)
1/2 lb. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
1 Medium Jar of Green Olives (stuffed)
1 Cup Plain Flour, Sifted
1 t. Paprika
Dash of Salt
1/4 lb. Margarine
We used a variety of olives that were already pitted:
We also added Ceyenne Pepper in addition to the Paprika.
Allow cheese and margarine to soften, grate your cheese into a mixing bowl.
Add the Salt, Sift the Flour
Next Comes the Hungarian Paprika…
…but any Paprika will do.
Mix all of the ingredients together well.
The consistency is a very soft dough.
You want to make sure the olives you are using are dry so that the dough will wrap around them easily.
You can add as much or as little of the cheesy dough that you like.
We Sprinkled with a Little bit of Red Pepper
Place the olive cheese balls onto an ungreased baking sheet on a 400F oven.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Dates and Dried Figs
This is yet another favorite of ours except this year we didn’t have time to marinate the dates and figs in Brandy so we just quickly wrapped them in bacon and placed them onto a baking sheet.
400F oven for about 15 minutes or so until the bacon crisps up.
They look a bit black on the bottoms when they are done but that is just the sugar caramelizing.
The figs always plump up nicely.
I find it interesting that on New Year’s Eve right before the start of a New Year, 2018, that my photos are mainly of me peeking out around a veiled tent. I find it very apropos. I am hesitant to enter into a new year. I don’t view 2018 as something that will be good for all of us. There is just too much bad out there. As an empath I can say this with great certainly. Finding happiness out there in the world is going to be harder, and harder, and people are becoming meaner, and meaner. Resentment of those that have, by those that don’t. Life has been made harder for a lot of people. Rungs on the ladder have been removed so that many have a harder time climbing, some barely hanging on. Healthcare and medication will now be out of reach for many. And if you think that people will have it hard, animals will have it worse. My charity will go toward animal organizations, PETA, The Humane Society, ASPCA…..
And when I see someone on the street begging I will hand them cash.
As an empath I know which ones are sincere and in need of real help.
But I will say this, I am tired of people telling me that because I have life better than a lot of people that I don’t have any right to complain about the problems that I do have. And, what I have to say to those people is that, “There will always be people out there that are worse off than me. But to tell me that because of that, I have no right to complain, ever, is ridiculous. I feel very sorry for those that are suffering and I do help out when I can, but those were the problems that THEY were given. And I will concern myself with the problems that I was given.
I will always appreciate the good that I encounter and even find joy in the small day to day gifts that most people don’t recognize. My wish that for all of us to be O.K.. I think wanting more than that at this time is too ambitious. I have a lot to look forward to in 2018 and I will share that with you. But for now let’s just all try and be the best person that we can, be nice to each other, care about those that no one cares about. A kind word can go so far. So, having said that….. Happy New Year!”
Our Backyard Christmas
Alice in Wonderland, and Pirates of the Caribbean
With a bit of Beauty and the Beast thrown In.
I think most everyone is getting a bit tired of my adoration for Alice in Wonderland but I don’t really care. 🙂
To me, and people like me, and that does include Tim Burton, we find the story fascinating. Otherwise he would not have made two movies about her. It’s the story of a girl who knows of a world that no one else does. A world filled with interesting characters. A world that she cannot really talk about with anyone for fear of being committed into a mental institution. I suppose as an empath I can relate to that. People like me have been put into mental institutions for centuries, just because we can see things that most people can’t, somehow makes us “crazy?” Well, I say it makes us “special.” And not “special” in a condescending way, but “special” in a unique way. I do love the story and the characters, I also love incorporating them into my life in one way or another. Especially around the holidays, and I did!
I do hope that your Christmas was Grand!
Our Alice in Wonderland Christmas Tree
Hatter’s Hat on Top
Alice Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
I was shopping around Home Depot when I saw this tree on display as the only one left. I asked a manager if I could purchase it? I was told that I could purchase it “as is” and that I would not be able to return it if there was a problem. I then countered their offer with a “then give it to me with a big discount if I am to buy it “as is,” and they did!
As I was decorating the tree I got the idea to make it as if Alice were ‘falling down the rabbit hole.’ I had all this leftover doll furniture that I had previously bought at the Dollar Store for various projects so as I was creating this tree, I ran inside and found the furniture and then went to work creating. I never know how anything is going to end up looking. It just always evolves as I go.
Our Backyard Alice in Wonderland Section
This is a permanent section in our backyard. Our dog Sugar is buried here, Monk will follow when it’s his time. It’s fun, it’s playful, and it means something to me. When I look at it, I smile. 🙂
To me, this is Magical!
Painting the Roses Red
Gordon’s Backyard Retaining Wall
Gordon and his Retaining Wall
Finishing the retaining wall was an important part in getting ready for our backyard Christmas.
Here we are celebrating with our Limoncello and Pomegranate Cocktails
Happiest of Holidays
Me, and My Alice in Wonderland Tree Christmas Morning
Having a Quiet Moment Before the Guests Arrive
Our Pirates of the Caribbean Backyard Christmas
I seriously never thought I would ever say that. But I just did. And it was wonderful!
Gordon Erecting Our Pirates Lair
As with all my projects, they evolve with time. It was as we were creating our Alice in Wonderland Christmas that I got the idea to have a place for the guys to hang out. Something fun, rustic, and something they all knew about and loved, hence, our Pirates of the Caribbean. It is after all, one of the most popular rides at Disney World.
I also wanted Gordon to incorporate our backyard palm leaves and bamboo into making it a bit more authentic and try and hide those PVC pipes.
I will be writing more about this on our other blog posts but I did want to share some of the photos with you.
A Few Photos From Christmas
Our niece, Vivien, sitting on our nephew, Joseph’s lap, Gordon, obscured by the White Bird of Paradise palm leaf, Brodie in the back, and Jason with the red hair, in front.
(We always make extra food and buy extra gifts just in case some “extra” guests show up. Never a problem!)
Vivien as Alice
I could not have asked for a more perfect Alice, or a more perfect NIECE!
Sabina and Vivien
L to R: My baby brother Ben, sister-in-law Sabina, mother Mary Keith, brother Johnny.
Then, Veronica, me and Vivien.
Vivien with Joseph
We ended up repeating a lot of our same foods that we served for our Alice in Wonderland Easter in 2017, and our Pirates of the Caribbean Halloween. It was just easier that way.
I have to say that this was the biggest production that Gordon and I had ever done and we did everything ourselves. It was a lot of hard work and I doubt we will be doing anything like this again anytime soon. 🙂
It’s much more than just making food for everyone to eat, it’s a balance of everything from shopping, cleaning, decorating, creating, wrapping, yard work, building….. AND cooking. While still going about your daily life of work, errands, dog…..
Before we found out that our Irish family were coming for a visit we had originally intended to try our hand at a Christmas Carol theme. However, when I found out that Vivien was coming all Christmas Carol plans were put on hold until next year because I finally had my Alice! 🙂
And a Wonderful Alice she is!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!