This one is for James . . .

james-08My friend James, who lives in Texas, is a faithful reader of my blog, so when she tagged me with these meme’s, I decided that I owed it to her to play along. After all, I’ve pretty much talked about all of this stuff in my entries any way. And besides, she was with me during the madness of my Dillard’s days, which, if you’ve ever worked retail during the holiday season, you know forms a lifelong bond. So this is for you James (and I miss the Home Store at Christmas, too!). I suppose that makes us both weird, but at least we understand each other!  Merry Christmas!


  1. was just getting used to being a single parent with three children
  2. was thinner and stronger
  3. my house was a lot cleaner
  4. my daughter had a bad case of mono that kept her home for two months
  5. was recovering from teaching six grade at a public school


  1. do James’s blog
  2. do a regular blog 
  3. try to get some Twizzlers 
  4. make an appointment with the doctor (which one?)
  5. watch all of my MSNBC shows


  1. immediately put one third of it in the bank for the kids before it got frittered away
  2. share the wealth with all of my extended family
  3. travel
  4. get a new house, new furniture, and a cleaning person
  5. get a working car that Eamonn would be forbidden to drive


  1. Norfolk, VA
  2. Alexandria, VA
  3. Blacksburg, VA
  4. London, England
  5. Quezon City, Phillipines


  1. English Instructor at ODU
  2. Publications Manager at Chryslter Museum of Art 
  3. Senior Education Specialist at George Washington University
  4. Marketing Director at realty firm
  5. Sales Manager at Dillard’s

Big 8’s

8 TV Shows I Love To Watch:

  1. Law & Order (original), CI and SVU 
  2. 24
  3. Without a Trace
  4. Countdown with Keith Olbermann
  5. The Rachel Maddow Show 
  6. Hardball with Chris Matthews
  7. Project Runway
  8. The Daily Show/The Colbert Report

8 Favorite Restaurants: (we don’t eat out much, and we tend to go to the same places) 

  1. P. F. Chang’s
  2. Sakura 
  3. Chili’s
  4. El Azteca

8 Things That Happened Today:

  1. Washed my face
  2. Started writing
  3. Told my son to put away clean dishes in dishwasher
  4. Talked to my mom on phone
  5. Talked to my mom on phone again
  6. Tried to connive Corey into making coffee because his is better than mine
  7. Talked to someone on the phone while I was asleep and made a doctor’s appointment that I don’t remember
  8. It’s still early for me, give me some time.

8 Things I am looking Forward To:

  1. being able to take a vacation next year
  2. my oldest son making it through his senior year and growing up enough to realize that the world actually does not revolve around him
  3. Corey and Alexis finding jobs
  4. decorating the house for the holidays 
  5. Obama’s inauguration
  6. W. finally leaving the White House
  7. finishing the renovation on the house one day 
  8. getting a new used car one day that my oldest son will not be allowed to drive

8 Things On My Wish List: 

  1. A back and body that doesn’t hurt
  2. My youngest son finding his way through the forest
  3. For this house to be finished, or better yet finish this house and find a new one. I’ve grown to hate it.
  4. A laptop for Corey and a computer for Brett
  5. A laptop for me for those days when I cannot get out of bed
  6. To be able to get my nails done again
  7. To be able to go back to yoga classes so that I could tone up my sausage body
  8. A new, utterly useless piece of jewelry, just because, but obviously, I can live without it 

Finally, a seasonal update christmas-tree

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I try to be creative, which ends up killing my back

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. Corey hates it, but two of us are allergic. (He doesn’t believe that people can be allergic to real trees)

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually around second week of December

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually weekend after New Years

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, especially with some Southern Comfort added

6. Favorite gift received as a child? a jewelry box shaped like a piano

7. Hardest person to buy for? my mother, she never really likes what I get

8. Easiest person to buy for? Corey

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. I’ve had it for years, and it means a lot to me.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, usually late, but try to do it every year.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? No present is bad if it comes from someone who loves you. But office presents in pollyana’s can really suck.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Scrooge with Albert Finney, hands down.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When the Christmas Fairy brings the money

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not recycled, but donated a few from work

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? ham, deviled eggs, cranberry relish, and pecan pie

16. Lights on the tree? colored, but clear outside

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh Holy Night

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I prefer to stay at home if at all possible

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? But of course, can’t everyone?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star with angel right below

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Believe it or not, it used to be the exhaustion of long hours working retail, but I do kind of miss the hustle and bustle of long hours working retail. i know. it makes no sense. So it makes perfect sense to me, James.

23. Favorite ornament? all of the ones that the kids made, and the ones that Corey and I picked out from special places we’ve been . . . too many to pick one

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham, sweet potatoes

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? a quiet, non-stressful Christmas


Everything Old is New Again


Kitty Hawk Sunset (L. Liwag)

The Water of Life

“Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides” (anonymous)

I’ve lived near the ocean for most of my life, so of course, I tend to take it for granted. I remember when I was in graduate school at Virginia Tech, I brought my office mate home with me. She was from Wisconsin and had never seen the ocean, so we made a point of driving her to Virginia Beach to see the coastline. I remember how amazed she was to see the vast expanse of water, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the shoreline, even the seagulls and the sandpipers darting in and out of the water. It was nice for me to see something that I took for granted through the newness of her eyes.

Another time, a friend of mine came into town and wanted to see the Navy ships in person. She had been working on Navy contracts for years, but had never actually seen a real ship. We went on the Naval base and drove by the ships. She was amazed by their size, and fortunately, one of the carriers was in port. Again, living near Naval bases, I have always taken these behemoths for granted. They are quite amazing when seen up close, and she was very impressed to see something that she had only seen in pictures on the contracts for which she had been working for several years.

By the Sea (L. Liwag)

Nothing ever makes you look at your surroundings better than when you have the chance to introduce them to someone new. I remember the first time that I took Corey to the Outer Banks with the boys when they were much younger. We climbed the big dune and watched people hang gliding. Even though I had been there before, it was a new experience because I was there with Corey and the boys, and it was really wonderful. It was one of the first trips that we took together, the four of us, and we had such a terrific time. The Outer Banks are only about an hour and a half from Norfolk (depending upon traffic), so it makes for an easy day trip.

On the way to Kitty Hawk and Hatteras, there are several farmer’s markets, which makes the trip even better, especially if it’s the season for ripe peaches. Once in Kitty Hawk, visitors can go to the Wright Brothers Memorial, which is what we did on that first trip together. We also visited the Hatteras Lighthouse. It’s nice to be a tourist once in a while, because I had never visited these places before, so it was brand new for me too. Corey, the boys and I made several more day trips to the Outer Banks on the spur of the moment, and we always enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I remember another trip that I took to the Outer Banks in October, a long time ago, and it was an Indian summer weekend, absolutely beautiful—high 70’s during the day, mid 50’s at night, beautiful sunsets. I was having one of those bad falls, and the trip really rejuvenated me. There were no tourists around, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. Nothing is more calming than the beach in the fall and winter. It’s my favorite time to walk on the beach because hardly anyone is around. If you get up around dawn, the sunrises are spectacular, and the only sounds you hear are the birds.

I have always said that if I had the money and the opportunity, I would have two houses: one in the mountains and one at the beach. I would not necessarily spend time at the beach house in the summer. More than likely, I would spend more time at the beach house in the spring and fall when fewer people are around, when the beach is still home to locals, walking their dogs, and strolling in the surf at sunrise and sundown.

Adirondack Chairs (L. Liwag)

The beach in the winter has always struck me as the perfect place in which to write, but never having had a house on the beach, I wouldn’t know. I think that looking out on the water would provide a glorious backdrop for creative thinking. I have a few CD’s that have sounds of the ocean that I have used for meditation before, and they are very relaxing. In those two hankie movies, it seems that the setting is always a beach house with empty Adirondack chairs. I wonder why . . .

I still have dreams of moving to the islands one day and keeping a home in the mountains. I know that with the economy the way that it is, the probability of this ever happening is growing more remote with every passing day. Besides, what would I do in the islands anyway?

I had originally thought that I might like to open a book shop. After all, there really aren’t very many book stores in the islands. I think that Grand Cayman got a book store, but a small shop near where the cruise ships dock would probably do fairly well, but the more I thought about it, the more that it seemed like work. I still like the idea of opening a small bar right on the beach. Since I don’t drink, this would probably work out for me.

I could sell cold cervezas from a bucket to tourists. It wouldn’t be hard work, and I could sit under an umbrella. More than likely, though, if I ever do make it to the islands, I would just sit under an umbrella with a laptop and write, which sounds like a much better idea. I have no grand designs. Corey can work out of just about any port. The boys will be in college. I don’t think that the dogs will mind where we go. Tillie will like the beach and the water. The polar bear might not be agreeable to it, though.

Who knows? Landscapes change. The ways in which we view them change as well. We see them with different eyes each time we look at them anew, depending upon the circumstances. I just know that I am no longer anxious to spend my life in a place in which people drive Hummers through the suburbs, trample people to death in Wal Marts, shoot each other in Toys R Us, market Botox for women in their 30’s, think nothing of talking about trillions of dollars as if it were Monopoly money, promote DVDs of young college aged females getting drunk and taking off their clothes while obviously too impaired to know what they are doing, and on and on and on and on.

Sorry, don’t let me rain on your parade, but my Obama Hope high has worn off, and I’m deep into my What’s Wrong With These People phase, precipitated by the madness of a Utah state senator wanting to mandate that stores say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” because “this is a Christian nation,” let’s not even begin to discuss just the Jewish population that he is ignoring not to mention every other religion, the horror of Black Friday, and the inflatable lawn ornaments that have sprung up all over my neighborhood.

I think that I need to go lie down with a good book. More later. Peace.