Two weeks in the South…

Two weeks in the South…

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time at all, then you know I’m Southern.  I was born in the Delta of Mississippi and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee.  My roots are there.  I fell in love and got married there many years ago.  My children were born there.  I have a long list of family and friends there.  And, yes, I still have a Southern accent…
 
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It was the first day of October and a Wednesday I’d been looking forward to.  I was flying home to the South.  It had been three long years since I had flown into Memphis…and that had been on the sad occasion of my beloved sister Gerry’s funeral after she had lost her courageous battle with ALS.  As the plane circled and descended into Memphis, I picked out a few familiar landmarks:  the winding Mississippi River, the Memphis-Arkansas bridge, the “Pyramid” and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.  Soon the plane was landing.

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Memphis skyline from the air. (Wikipedia)

Penny and Mike picked me up at the airport and we headed back to their home.  They were headed south to Gulf Shores the following morning for a few days, so this gave us some time together until the following week.  Penny fixed a delicious meal (including one of my favorites – Southern Fried Okra!) and we enjoyed time together before they drove me 45 minutes out to Sharon and Tommy’s home.  I call Sharon “my baby niece” but she’s actually only two and a half years younger than I.  She is my beloved late sister Dot’s only child.  After the death of her father when she was four months old, we all lived together and Sharon and I grew up like sisters.

I had flown with painful “fluid behind my eardrums” diagnosed by my doctor on Monday and once I arrived in Memphis, it proceeded to get much worse.  Unfortunately, I was sick!  My long-time Memphis allergies had hit with a vengeance.   Sadly, I missed my dinner with my dear friends from Lakeside Hospital where I had worked as a Registered Nurse with emotionally disturbed children for ten years.  I hope to make it up to them in the Spring!  Sharon took me to her doctor on Thursday where I got a shot and a CBC which verified it was allergies.  I was a sick puppy nonetheless.  The shot was a big boost and I felt much better the next day.  Sharon and I made it to the luncheon at Grisanti’s with my high school friends I had not seen in so many years!  It was wonderful to see everyone and, somehow, the years just melted away.

Below:  My KHS buddy David and I.  David is the youngest member of our graduating class and I am the next-to-the-youngest member!  We had not seen each other for 51 years!!  He is the same wonderful guy as always.  He has a PhD and is a well-loved professor at a local university!

 

Below:  Kathy is my best friend since the ninth-grade at KHS and I’m amazed to say that’s 55 years!  She is as beautiful as ever!  We see each other after any length of time and just pick right up where we left off.  We had a “sleep-over” one night during my visit and her sweet husband patiently put up with us pretending we were sixteen all over again.  We had the 60’s music playing in the background and reminiscing over days gone by.  Before we knew it, it was 1:00 a.m.!   Her sweet husband Bill treated us to a delicious dinner at Houston’s, a Memphis landmark for the past 31 years.   I enjoyed meeting one of their three sons, a very handsome young man.  I also introduced her and her sweet grandson and granddaughter to ancestry.com and we began a search for their family tree.  Her grandchildren thought that was cool and will be a big help with it!

 Below:  I was so happy to see my cousin, Joy, and fellow KHS graduate at the luncheon as well (although she’s 6 years younger than I).  You can tell by looking at us that we come from the same strong McGregor stock!  Her grandmother was my father’s sister and one of my favorite aunts!  We took one look at one another and marveled at how much we favored one another!

 

I loved my time with Sharon and Tommy.  Sharon is a wonderful cook and made several terrific Southern meals – including delicious homemade meatloaf, her amazing mashed potatoes, Southern vegetables and hot cornbread.  Another night she made delicious homemade chicken noodle soup and salad.  I was getting a bit spoiled!

The following Tuesday, we headed to the “hills” of Mississippi for a visit with my precious sister Eunice and her dear husband Eddie.  We had so much fun with them!  They live on 5 beautiful, treed acres with a barn and a beautiful horse named Cherokee.  Eddie is the “horse whisperer” and can make a horse do anything!  Unfortunately, since his hip replacement, he can no longer ride but still enjoys Cherokee.  Eunice is a great Southern cook and made a delicious dinner of pork chops, mashed potatoes, squash, green beans and hot cornbread.  Sharon made the dessert which was one of my favorites – banana pudding.  Another day, Eddie took us all out to dinner for another Southern feast.  They have a wide front porch all the way across the front of their home and each morning would find us out there sitting in the rockers or porch swing, enjoying our coffee and visiting.  Eddie recently turned 83 but doesn’t look a day over 70 and gets told all the time that he looks like George W. Bush!

While we were there, we all drove to Pontotoc, Mississippi, to visit the cemetery where my parents, grandparents and other ancestors are born.  The old white church has been taken down but, other than that, it looks the same.  I took photos of a lot of the tombstones to use with my family history research.  After the Guinn Cemetery, we drove over to the Springville Cemetery where my maternal grandparents and other maternal ancestors are born.  Again, I took photos for the family history book I intend to finish when I’m snowbound this Iowa winter!

 Below:  my beautiful sister Eunice at Guinn Cemetery.  She is 11 years older than I am.  We are the remaining two of the four McGregor daughters.  I promised her I would be back in the Spring.  We cannot wait so long to see each other again!

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We left Pontotoc and headed for New Albany, Mississippi, where we visited their very neat town square…complete with several quaint antique shops and my favorite bakery:  Sugaree’s!  I can’t begin to describe how delicious everything they bake is!  We bought one slice of their amazing white cake with homemade caramel frosting and two chocolate cupcakes to share four ways!  I would love to have bought the whole caramel cake!  They ship frozen by the way, so check it out.  It’s unbelievable!

On Thursday afternoon, we said a sad goodbye to Eunice and Eddie and headed north to visit my niece Cindy.  We ate dinner out together that night at McAlister’s (although I skipped my favorite sweet tea since it was so late!) and enjoyed our visit and laughter.  Cindy teaches music history at the local college and could easily have been a concert pianist.  She entertained us later with a few numbers which I loved.  I videotaped it but I’m under strict instructions not to share it!  But I will say she’s amazing!

Below:  Cindy, Sharon and I attempted a “selfie” with my iPad (an iPad photo isn’t too flattering) but I think it turned out cute!  

 

On Friday, we drove over to Greenwood, Mississippi, to eat lunch at the Crystal Grill.  I had a Southern vegetable plate with cornbread muffins and a slice of their famous chocolate pie with mile-high-meringue!  It was so good!  After lunch, we trekked around downtown in the rain, enjoying the well-known Mississippi shops.  I purchased a small pottery candle holder and a ceramic cross.  Sharon bought me a beautiful robin egg blue/green ceramic soap dish which I love.  (Thankfully, I made it home safely with everything!).  That night, Cindy prepared a delicious tortilla chicken casserole, fresh green beans and salad.  She had also made a wonderful apple spice cake!

Below:  In the Delta of Mississippi, Greenwood is “the cotton capital of the world”.  We saw field after field of beautiful snow-white cotton.

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On Saturday, we said another sad goodbye and headed back to Memphis…to Penny and Mike’s home.  We enjoyed hanging out together, having a delicious Southern dinner and watching a few favorite shows on television.  Penny and I did some shopping the day before I flew back.  I did manage to get it all in my suitcase and it wasn’t over the limit!  On Wednesday morning, Mike and Penny drove me to the airport – in the midst of Memphis rush hour traffic – but we made it with time to spare.

It was a wonderful two weeks filled with lots of memories and I’m looking forward to returning in the early Spring!

Hello, Montana!

Hello, Montana!

I left Des Moines yesterday morning in a FIERCE Midwest storm – the likes of which I haven’t seen for a while.  I couldn’t find my umbrella, so by the time I had the luggage loaded into the back of my friend Susan’s car (who had kindly offered to drive me to the airport), I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower.  Not to worry though, I dried. Once the plane got up above the clouds and past a few major bumps, it was sunny and smoother flying.  Once we arrived closer to Bozeman, I looked out the window to see a mountaintop so close, I could almost touch it!  The scenery here is magnificent.  Definitely different from Oregon but amazing.  I can see why they call this “Big Sky Country”!  The sky stretched as far as the eye could see over the mountains. I was so happy to see my oldest and his precious family!  The girls have grown so much and are, of course, beautiful!  They love it here and it suits their outdoor, hiking, camping, mountain biking lifestyle beautifully.  Later in the week, we will head to Yellowstone and I will take some pics there.  In the meantime, enjoy a few of their Montana living pics below!

 

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Texting and driving…

Texting and driving…

I was out this morning running a few last minute errands in preparation for my flight to Montana in the morning.  I am so excited to see my oldest and his precious family…especially three beautiful granddaughters!  They are all growing up so fast and I love every minute I have to spend with them.  Their entire family loves the outdoors and loves Montana – especially hiking, mountain biking and camping.  I was reminded to bring “good shoes” which I will be wearing but I’m not taking my dirty hiking boots!  Surely, they know this Grandmom couldn’t keep up with them on the trails.  Right?!

My tall stack of library books was going to come due while I’m away with  no more renewals allowed.  So I stopped by the library and dropped them in the book drop.  Then off to Walmart where I stocked up on a few surprises for the girls and a few toiletries.  Not sure what my allergies will do in Montana, so I picked up some Sudafed just in case.

It was a good thing I was alert – and definitely oriented – since a young woman dressed in a high-powered business suit and heels came plowing quickly around the corner – literally missing me by an inch.  Not exactly sure what happens when you are hit head-on with a full cart of groceries traveling at an indoor-high-speed, but I don’t think it would be a pretty picture.

 

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She apologized profusely, and said “this is what happens every time I TEXT and DRIVE!”  There in her hand was the evidence.  An iPhone mid-message.  She really was texting and attempting to fly down the aisle with a heavy cart without a clue about her surroundings.

I wondered if she really did text messages while beyond the wheel of an automobile!?  I wondered if she had read the statistics and had seen the photos of the tragic consequences of texting while driving?  Maybe this near accident – albeit a shopping cart – was a wake-up call for her to put the phone down and pay attention to the road/grocery store aisle?!

Since her fast-moving-cart was aimed for me personally, I was just glad she didn’t hit me!  I wouldn’t want to miss my trip in the morning for any reason!

 

Packing for Dallas…

Packing for Dallas…

It has been almost five months since I have seen my two sons and their families…not since Thanksgiving.  I miss them!  On Saturday morning, I am flying to Dallas for a week-long-visit with my youngest and his sweet family.  My now nineteen-month-old granddaughter has changed so much since November!  I see photos of her.  I have brief visits with her on Facetime…but nothing compares to a visit in person.  She is absolutly adorable with her big blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair – just like her dad’s.  I can’t wait to see her!  And spend lots of time coloring together (she loves to color) and going for walks and playing.  The first couple of times that I went to visit, we “toured” Dallas, but to be honest, I just want grandbaby time!  I’m sure Dallas is lovely, but Dallas cannot compete with a nineteen-month-old granddaughter!

Chicago Bulls’ fans at a Bulls game in Dallas! She’s clapping!

So, my carry-on suitcase is packed with all the blankets & the quilt that I have made for her.  There’s a sweet vintage book by my favorite illustrator, the late Eloise Wilkin.  I look forward to reading it to her.  I’m taking a tape measure and several patterns to show her sweet mom.  I want to make some little dresses but I don’t have a clue what pattern size to make at this time.  So, I will take measurements and hurry home to make them before she grows a whole lot more.

There’s also a soft, sweet baby doll complete with her blankie and bottle.  (I took her out of her box.  She’s a “My First Nursery” Middleton doll.  I will pack her in soft tissue paper and place her in the middle between blankets.)  I also want to look for a couple of toddler coloring books when I am, hopefully, out & about tomorrow.  (Today it has stormed all day long…complete with pouring rain, loud thunder and bolts of lightning.)  Then I should be all packed!

What’s that?  Where are my clothes?!  Uh…good question.  Guess I should pack those next!

Both graduates of IU, they’re definitely Hoosier fans!

 

And I get to meet my new granddog, Bernie!

See you soon…

Surprise….

I was standing at the luggage carousel at the DFW airport waiting for my luggage to roll around…easy to recognize with the Scottish plaid ribbon and the large cupcake ID tag.  My son would be picking me up any minute now.  I had prepared myself that my baby granddaughter would be asleep when I arrived and that I would have to wait until early morning to see her.  I had not been here for the past four months and I could not wait to see her!  Facetime and photos are fun…but definitely not the real thing.

Just about that time, I heard happy laughter.  I turned around to see my beautiful baby granddaughter toddling toward me, arms up and outstretched!  (She had just started walking the week before!)

My son and his precious wife stood back, laughing at my surprised and happy expression as I ran toward my granddaughter to scoop her up into my arms. I love surprises like this!

Friday is her FIRST birthday and it’s going to such a fun week!

 

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