Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last January my grandmother died. Sucks. No way around it. Since that time we have been trying to sort through and give away, keep, get rid of her belongings so that my parents can sell her house. Gramma was my Mom's mom. I have been going over to Gramma's with my Mom to help her with this task. Fortunately, she was not a packrat like the rest of our family, but there has still been a lot to go through. Part of the problem is that it is hard for my Mom to spend much time doing this. It wears on her. She questions if she did enough to help my Gramma when she got sick. And she misses her mom and dad. Add to all of this that my mom is not a morning person, and the only free time I have is before 2:30pm. (also added, I am in no way a morning person, but my children have forced me into a temporary state of morning person-ness because they rise at 6:30am every stinking day, I dream of the day they want to sleep late) Today John, Mom and I were diligently sorting pots, pans, corningware, and a ridiculous number of souvenirs. I was trying to make sense of the mass of stuff we had separated and I saw some videos on the shelf. I looked at them and they were movies my Grandad had recorded off of TV. There was his sweet handwriting that I haven't seen in years, and in that moment he whooshed back into my mind, his smile, his laugh, his hug and I had to sit down. Usually mom is the one who has to take a break because it's all too much, but today it was me. My grandfather's memory almost knocked me over. I pulled myself together, and helped go through a few more things. Mom worries sometimes about what they would think if they could see us going through everything. Giving some things to charity, keeping some things, selling some things, and flat out throwing some things away. I think that they would be ok with it, because I think, I hope, I pray that if I am ever given the chance to look at what's going on after I am gone...I hope that I am looking at the people I love, instead of my commemorative Tweetsie Railroad plate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

D23 Sip and Stroll 10/18/2009

The first question to be answered is what the heck is D23? D23 is the official community for Disney fans. Go here to find out more! The D is obviously for Disney and 23 is for 1923 when the magic of Disney began. D23 started in 2009 and I signed up right away thinking I would give it a year to see if it was worth it. They put out an amazing magazine several times a year, the cost of membership is almost worth it just for this! Occasionally they even send a free gift with the magazine and who doesn't love gifts? D23 also had a huge expo in California in September and has organized other smaller members only events.

The D23 Sip and Stroll on October 18,2009 was advertised in September and looked very interesting, but I sort of put it out of my head because #1-it wasn't cheap, #2-we already had a trip planned with the kids for my husband's birthday only 10 days later. I fully expected the event to sell out because while it wasn't cheap, it did seem like a good value for the money. A couple of weeks later, it still wasn't sold out. Color me confused. We tossed the idea around, made a few calls, and the next thing I knew, we were heading for the Wilderness Lodge. I will give other details about our trip in another post, but I want to stay focused on the Sip and Stroll event for this one.

My confirmation email said that we needed to check in at the Odyssey building in Epcot after the park opened but before 945. We were on the bus to Epcot at 830 so we had plenty of time to spare. There was an older couple across from us on the bus and we had a laugh together because the bus spiel about Epcot had a skip and would keep jumping back and repeating itself. When we got in the park we walked up to the Fountain of Nations where they keep a rope up until 9am. After the characters greeted people and welcomed us, the crowds parted nicely, some to the left to go to Test Track and some to the right to Soarin. We walked straight ahead. We noticed the couple from the bus heading in the same direction and guessed correctly that they were also attending the Sip and Stroll.

The Odyssey is a great space. The first thing that I noticed was that they were set up for a small crowd. Tables were set up for maybe 30 people. I admit to having mixed feelings. Yay for us- smaller crowd, smaller crowd-sad for D23. We joined the couple we had encountered first on the bus, and introduced ourselves. They had coffee and sodas out for everyone. Right at 10 the program started with Barry Jacobson who is the Director of Event Management and served as the general manager for the D23 Expo. Barry was full of energy for Disney and D23. I think their team will be working hard to bring unique experiences to the D23 crowd. Barry was followed by Dan Cockerell, vice president of Epcot. Dan, what do I say about Dan? I'll be honest, he was pretty good lookin' so I was a little distracted. I know he talked about Epcot. KIDDING-he is hot but I paid attention. He told us a lot about his relationship with Disney and his excitement about and appreciation for Epcot. He was asked some D23 questions that he referred back to Barry, then he talked about the possibility of new countries being added, and talked a little bit about the process of bringing in so many foreign nationals to work in Epcot.

Next we heard from Marianne Hunnel, (she has a long title) Event Content Development Area Manager, Park Event Operations. In a nutshell, she has a whole heck of a lot to do with the Food and Wine Festival. She is an executive chef and has worked in many of Disney's restaurants before working in content development. Someone asked her which was her favorite restaurant and she didn't answer.(It seemed more like she couldn't answer because she couldn't choose a favorite, not that she couldn't because of her position) She was very fun and easy to relate to. Marianne clearly has such an appreciation for the culinary arts and gave us great information about the Food and Wine Festival.

Pam Brandon was our last speaker. Pam is a journalist and an author. In particular she has written and edited several cookbooks. She talked about the pros and cons of cookbooks Disney has published in the past, and how they are improving them. She talked about the cookbook that will be coming out that will feature both old and new recipes along with classic photographs of Walt and others. As an added treat, she gave us each a copy of her cookbook, Culinary Confessions of the PTA Divas. After getting our cookbook signed we left to check out the festival booths.

Included in our packets was a handy gift card on a stretchy cord so you could wear it on your wrist. VERY convenient for the festival. We sampled some really great food. Crawfish etouffee and chicken and sausage gumbo from the New Orleans booth, hoofed around to the UK to get the lobster and scallop fisherman's pie, and chocolate lava cake with Bailey's cream sauce, lamb slider and a seared scallop from New Zealand. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we were completely enjoying just walking around Epcot. I had a need to ride at least one ride, and we had been given fast passes for popular rides at the beginning of the day. We headed over to Soarin and got right on for our ride over California.

Next on our busy agenda was a wine tasting at the festival center. Kate MacMurray from MacMurray Farms Vinyard was the speaker and she had three excellent wines for us to taste. We are not conoisseurs by any means. We had a laugh with other D23 members about trying to look like we knew something since we were sitting in the front row! Kate MacMurray was delightful and I improved my knowledge about wine. She also talked a little bit about her father Fred's relationship with Walt Disney and the Disney family.

When the wine tasting was over, they slipped us out the front of the tasting so we could make the culinary demonstration. Chef Andy Trousdale from Le Bistro Restaurant in Lighthouse Point, Florida walked us through making a "roasted beef tenderloin 'diane'". He was funny and relatable. He told us how to use the sauce even if we weren't going to use tenderloin. Good thing since not many people are running out and buying tenderloin to cook for dinner. He talked about basic cooking skills that were in everyone's reach. The tenderloin and the sauce were amazing.

At this point, we were scheduled to go to the Jon Secada concert, part of the Eat to the Beat concert series. We decided to take off and give the concert a miss. We were exhausted and knew we had to drive back to NC the next day so we went back to the hotel for a quick nap. Afterwards we freshened up and met the group for our Party for the Senses. We learned that they were able to meet Jon Secada and have a picture made with him. That might have been cool, but rest won out for me! Our Party for the Senses was a mini version because of our low numbers. We fit into a space about one-eighth the size of the actual party! We were greeted with a Mickey-tini drink, and shown around. All of the food was brilliant but my favorite by far was a scallop on top of a lobster risotto. Heaven. We had a little of everything but I saved room for another scallop. We had our choice of beverages, from sodas to wines to cocktails. Andy Trousdale, the chef from our culinary demonstration, joined the group and we were able to talk to him for a few minutes. We spent some more time talking with Barry Jacobson. He was jazzed because they were meeting soon to discuss next year's expo. We were completely stuffed when we walked out to go to watch the Illuminations show. As we left, we were each given an Epcot wine glass, and a special D23 champagne glass from Arribas Brothers. The bag also had glasses that look like 3d glasses but when you look at light, Mickey heads form. When the fireworks went off, the sky was filled with Mickeys! We were watching from the plaza in front of Italy. I love Illuminations so I was in heaven. When the show was over we took our time walking out of Epcot. The beautiful day had turned into a beautiful night. When we got to the bus, our new D23 friends that had started the day with us were there and came back in the line to wait with us. They had been such fun to talk to and enjoy this crazy day with.

The sip and stroll was incredible. I am so glad that we went and it was worth every penny. D23 has gotten some flack from people. "D23, the community for wealthy Disney fans" is one that I have heard. Other members were angry when an event sold out. My response to both of those is that all of the people we met that are working with D23 get it. They understand why we love Disney. They know we aren't all wealthy. We personally are by no means wealthy, but when you added up everything that came with the purchase of our tickets, the event was beyond worth it. My guess is that there are around 20,000 members of D23. When there are that many members, some things are going to sell out. That really stinks but it is what it is. I hope that they keep thinking up new ideas for events, and the ideas are so good that events sell out. If the interest is there, they will keep doing more. I can't wait to see what's next.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do I know you?

Decluttering is still happening, but interrupting that for another post.

Two of the most delightful people had a baby on Friday. We are not related by blood or marriage. We don't even see each other all that often. Through the wonders of social networking we do keep tabs on each other more frequently. I am not sure when we last talked face to face. It might have been in June of 2008. That is terrible.

BUT, these people are in my heart. They are a part of my story and related to me in a way some of my "blood relatives" never will be. They were a gift from God. Our families met when I was only ten years old and Tyler(the new dad) was just an idea. There are some people that you will encounter in life and you just feel an instant kinship with. A connection that you cannot identify, but you feel it in your bones. Sometimes it happens because of shared interests, sometimes it happens for no reason that makes sense. I happen to think it's a God thing but you might disagree.

However it happens, I am grateful. I am grateful to have known Tyler forevah, grateful that he married the incredible Adrien (she is his match), and grateful that now we all get to love this new little life. Congratulations again Adrien Tyler and Elliott.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How much is too much?

Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? At this very moment, my stuff owns me. It's everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. I don't qualify for the tv show "The Hoarders", but I imagine this is how some of the hoarders started out. It starts innocently enough. I'm going to keep those clothes because I might fit back into them one day. HA HA HA! I'm going to keep that game because we might want to play it again someday. I have to keep the kids artwork because it is so cute and a reminder of those preschool days. They might want to see it one day. The problem is that all of my one days and somedays are taking over my house. I want to look around and not see extraneous stuff everywhere. (that is possible, right?)
We have a garage full of stuff. I have no idea what most of it is. Some people advocate that if you haven't even opened a box in two years, you should just throw it all out. That makes me sweat just a little bit simply typing the words. I have promised myself that before 2009 is over, I am going to go through that stuff. What isn't important is going away. I will keep some of the kids preschool work, but not ALL of it. I will keep a select few of my old clothes, (just in case of 80's days at school-my kids are prepared with my calvin kleins and duran duran t's) The bulk of the stuff is going away.
Hopefully, after I tackle the garage I will be able to move to the stuff in the house. I would love to reclaim our guest room from the boxes that live there now. I would love to organize our craft/office/school supplies so I don't keep buying the same stuff because I don't know where to find it. Wow, that is profoundly sad. and wasteful. I guess that is part of my inspiration. I want to practice good stewardship. That's a word we usually only hear in church, but it makes sense in my situation. I am not taking care of the stuff I am in charge of. I am letting my stuff have a life of its own. It is time for me to be responsible for my stuff. It is time to stop letting my stuff own me. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So last night we went swimming after a disastrous open house at middle school. (Isn't middle school just a disaster anyway?) We had a good time in the pool, thankful again that my parents are so generous with their pool. We all left at different times on our ripsticks and bikes, so it was getting dark, just past what you could call dusk, when I hopped on my bike. All along the road lightning bugs lit up as I pedalled past. What a great end to the day...

Friday, January 23, 2009

through a mirror dimly

I know that we aren't going to know. I know that we aren't. But that doesn't keep me from wanting to know, wanting to understand. And we don't get to understand now. Dang it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One more reason that laundry sucks

It is no secret that my least favorite chore is doing the laundry. It's never done. As soon as all of the clothes are washed, dried and put away, there are more loads to do. Or if you dislike it as much as I do, there are A LOT more loads to do. I have been putting it off for a week. I told myself I was too busy. Too much going on. Which is just a bad excuse, when isn't there too much going on. More important things to do. Again, there are ALWAYS more important things to do than the laundry. So I finally tackled it yesterday. Got most of it done, and some of it put away. Later last night I got around to the loads of only my clothes. The ones that need to be washed in cold water, some of them hung to dry. And as I put the clothes in the washer I realized with a sudden cold clarity why I had been putting it off. At the bottom of this particular pile was one of my favorite sweaters.
My grandmother, Mazel English died last week. Well, over a week ago now. She broke both of her arms before Thanksgiving, had surgery on both, was in the rehab/nursing home place and we all hoped she was going to get strong enough to go home. She didn't. There were other complications, but she developed an infection that took a great toll on her body. The last week in the hospital was hard. She could communicate a little until the last day. She nodded and shook her head and occasionally smiled. And then she stopped. My sister was here (she lives about 3 hours away). She thought Gramma's head looked uncomfortable so she asked me to hand her the small pink pillow on the shelf. I handed it to her and we used it to prop Gramma's head up a little. Her face rested against the soft material for her last day in this world. The small pink pillow that wasn't a pillow after all, but my sweater. And there it was. In my laundry basket.
One more reason that I don't like laundry.