Monday, January 31, 2011

Memory Lane Mondays

Today is the first installment for Memory Lane Mondays.  I've been going through my books recently, so this memory is one that came to mind.  I hope you enjoy it...

My parents divorced when I was 4 years old, so it was just my momma, my little sis and me.  Momma did the best she  could, working as a waitress, and making ends meet.  She developed an eye for a bargain.  She clothed us and furnished our home with second hand deals.  She was a fixture at the Salvation Army Store each week when the trucks brought in the "new" donations.  The Caldwell Auction became a regular part of her routine.  There was also the Youth Ranch, St. Vincents, yard sales, and more.  There wasn't a lot of money to go around, but my sis and I never knew it.

I began reading at an early age, and from the moment my mind began to understand the concept of words and stories, I loved books.  At the end of my first grade year, I decided to take my Dick, Jane, and Sally book home with me.  Somehow, I knew it was wrong so I hid the book in my room.  It wasn't long before Momma found it.  I could tell she was disappointed in me.  She rarely got cross with me, but this day she did.  She explained that bringing the book home was stealing, and that I would have to return it at the beginning of the next school year.  Momma took the book and placed it in her cedar chest.  "Can't I have it until we take it back" I pleaded.  "No, it's not yours to read.  It stays in the chest until you return it to school." she answered.  That's where it stayed, and I learned a valuable lesson.  Momma stuck by her principles, but she also saw how much I loved reading.  After that, whenever my birthday or Christmas came around, there was always a book with my name in it.

© 31JAN11 ajj

NOTE:  To Participate, or if you just want to read other peoples stories, click on the Memory Lane Mondays photo link.  It's on my sidebar. 

Sunday Scribblings #252 - Safe

Go to Sunday Scribblings to see what other people wrote on this weeks prompt, Safe.

The house is too quiet.  She walks from room to room, turning on lights, checking the door and window locks.  Outside is silence.  Eerie silence.  No cars, no sounds at all.  She looks through the peephole, but nothing is there.  The fear is thick, like fog.  She turns on the radio, thinking the sound will help drive away these feelings.  It doesn't, so she shuts it off preferring the silence.

The evening passes so slowly.  Then, in the distance, she hears the familiar drone of the truck.  It makes it's way up the dirt road until it reaches the barn.  Voices laughing, filter to her ears through the darkness.  The key turns in the lock.  "Hey baby, we're home!  How was it on your own tonight?"  She runs into her parents waiting arms, "Just fine momma, just fine."  And in her heart, she feels safe once again.

© 31JAN11 ajj

Friday, January 28, 2011

Roba Dolce... and Reminders

You may remember my post, a while back, about Free Samples from Roba Dolce... Go HERE to read about how and where I signed up for this!

Anyway, just look at what I got!  I expected one or two small sample containers.  What I received was three individual size cups of  Lemon Sorbetto, Mango Sorbetto, and Coconut Gelato. In addition, there are five full size containers of Lemon and Mango Sorbetto, plus Coconut, Pistachio, and Chocolate Chunk Gelato!
I Can't Wait To Try Each One!

Can You Believe... All This For Free!
I will be updating this post, after I have sampled each of them, to let you know which are my favorites. 
Now, just a reminder on a couple other things coming up.
  • The Brenda Photo Challenge is this Saturday!  It's not too late to participate.  The photo category is "Frozen" and with the winter everyone's had, this should be a fun one!  My first two entries to this challenge in 2008 are HERE and HERE.  After that, I started putting my entries on my photo blog, Nita Jo's Photos.
  • Go to Sunday Scribblings to get writing prompts and inspiration, or to just read and enjoy what other writers have submitted.  There is a new category each week.  "Eternity" was the last one.  If you want to read my earlier submissions, they are at My Sunday Scribblings.
  • Memory Lane Mondays is a new writing venue.  It is hosted by Donna Liljegren of Brynwood Needleworks.  The last Monday of each month, you share a family story or memory.  Donna will have a Mr. Linky set up, so you can add your name if you want to participate.  You can read each of the other writer's memories, even if you aren't submitting a story of your own.
Well, that's all for now.  Hoping you have a wonderful weekend! 

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Sunday Scribblings - Eternity

    It's time for Sunday Scribblings.  Go to My Sunday Scribblings to see earlier pieces.  Or click "Home" at the end of the post, and take a look at my full blog. 

    The prompt is Eternity... For some reason, this was a difficult prompt for me.  I decided to take a look at how I see the "foreverness" of my life today.  When I was married, in my early 20's, life seemed to be endlessly stretching out in front of me.  Funny how time changes things.  I chose to try poetry again.  I hope you enjoy the attempt.  Thanks for stopping by...

    Eternity is different at 55
    We're still alive

    Life's expanse seemed to stretch forever
    We vowed to never

    The dot at the end of the line
    A flashing sign

    Almost see the finish ahead
    But we're not dead

    Love expands and grows ever strong
    No sounding gong
    Ends this song

    Copyright 23JAN11 ajj

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    The Kurt Locker - Glee

    Long, long ago I joined an online group dedicated to The Lord of the Rings.  My sister talked me into it, so I jumped into my first "social network" kind of thing.  I made friends there that I still keep in contact with today.  One of those friends has started a blog of her own.  If you are a fan of Glee, or if you're just curious about it, this is a blog you'll enjoy.  It's called The Kurt Locker (click on name to be transported there). It's geared toward slightly older Glee fans and, starts with a 32 day retrospective.  She watches one episode a day during the hiatus and blogs about it.

    I love her take on the show.  I recently became a fan of Glee, and have been watching back episodes to catch up.  She gives a fresh point of view through her writing.  So take a minute and visit...

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Cold, Grey Tuesday...

    We finally got a bit of sunshine yesterday, and again for a little while this morning, but it's been a long, grey day.  Overcast and gloomy, with a bit of rain.  And cold!

    Even on this chilly day, my heart is in a sunny place.  I've been visiting some very colorful blogs.  I also found some lovely, free images over at The Graphics Fairy, The Vintage Moth, and The Feathered Nest.  I've been mentally preparing some craft projects.  I think I'm in a springtime frame of mind... crafting, yard sales, flowers.  And, in the spirit of "thinking spring" today, here is some free art for you to use.  These images are all from Dover Publications and are royalty free, so right-click away and take one or all!  (Hint:  Click on the picture, it enlarges to full size, then save it to your files.)

    A Favorite of Mine... Little Peter Rabbit!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Wishing You Peace...

    "We must live together as brothers 
    or perish together as fools."
    Martin Luther King, Jr. 
    From a speech in St Louis
    March 22, 1964

    The Brenda Photo Challenge - Frozen

    I borrowed this from the photo challenge, to give you some ideas...

    It's time for The Brenda Photo Challenge!  The prompt is Frozen.  Entries must be up by Saturday, January 29th.  Click on the photo, or name, to go sign up.  When my entries are done, they'll be found at Nita Jo's Photos.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Sunday Scribblings - Invisible

    Time for another Sunday Scribblings!  Below is my submission for this week's prompt, Invisible.  Again, it's a short piece of fiction.  Hope you enjoy reading it.  To see my previous submissions, go to My Sunday Scribblings...

    She sat in the bedroom, writing her heart out onto the paper.   We live in the same house, but you don't see me.  Even when I speak, your eyes never really connect with mine anymore.  Am I invisible?  When did I disappear from your radar?  I remember the early days of love.  We couldn't look deep enough, or long enough into each others eyes.  We were in perfect sync, even when we were physically apart.  How does time change that?  Is it something I did, or did I just change so much, over time, that you don't know me anymore?  Do you even want to know me?

    As the words poured out tears began to fall, smearing the ink until the words were unreadable.  She quickly wiped her face.  He popped his head into the doorway.  "Whatcha doin?"  "Oh just making some notes." she replied.  "Ok.  Well, I'm heading out for a while."  "Have fun." and she meant it, even though he never really heard it, because he could no longer hear what he could not see.

    copyright 01/16/11 ajj

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    A Chance For a Gelato Sample...

    Check out the new badge on my sidebar... Roba Dolce Gelato!  I found out about this product over at This Old House 2.  If you visit Karen there, check out her January 13th post.  You can get the chance for a free sample by leaving a comment and putting the button on your blog for a month.  Roba Dolce is also looking for new flavor suggestions.  If you have flavor ideas, leave them in your comment.

    If you click on the badge, it takes you to the site.  You can find out what stores stock the gelato, or you can order online!  Sounds delicious!  Who doesn't love a great Italian gelato or sorbetto?

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Sunday Scribblings - A Walk In The Park...

    Here is my January 9th Sunday Scribblings submission.  The prompt was A Walk in the Park.  To read my previous submissions click on My Sunday Scribblings

    Summer Evening

    The sun was getting close to setting.  It gave the park those funny shadows, very skinny trees and people with long heads and legs.  At the rivers edge swans and geese were still gathered, expectantly waiting for bread crumbs.  Children were tearing chunks of white bread and holding them in outstretched hands.  Once or twice, an eager goose nipped a finger and a shrill cry rang out.  Couples were walking hand in hand near the fountain.  It glowed with multicolored, rotating lights.  When you walked close, the spray would cover you in a fine mist.  Off in the distance, Gold Dust Woman was playing on somebody's radio.  The warm evening air seemed full of hopes and dreams.

    copyright 01/14/11 ajj

    Sunday Scribblings... Progress

    This is my January 2nd Sunday Scribblings submission.  The prompt was Progress... it's progress for me to have actually written again.  To read my older submissions go to My Sunday Scribblings

    Progress.  Stepping forward, no steps back.  Or is it just arriving a bit further ahead from where you originally began.  If it's the second, I am making progress.  In my home, in my health, in my soul. I evolve a bit more each day in my heart and my spirit.  The one regret... my writing has been neglected... very little progress there.  Nothing for publication, not much for sharing, but it began long ago in pain...

    Rivers are so cold
    Rushing swiftly, leaving me
    They are like people

    That is one version of my ninth grade English assignment.  It came from my heart, my hurt.  My teacher loved it.  She liked all my writing.  She told me I should go to college and focus on it.  I didn't go.  I didn't really believe her, even though I wanted to.  Life just kept drifting by.  Now, it's 38 years later.  I still feel that 16 year old girl sometimes, late in the night.  Her hopes and her dreams, her pain and her fears.  I feel her, but there has been progress.  I no longer hold to pain tightly.  People still hurt me, and life isn't always pretty, but I've learned how to face it.  I grasp it in my hands, lift it to the sky, and release. 

    copyright January 14, 2011 ajj

    Thursday, January 13, 2011


    Today I'm thinking of cousins... and aunts, uncles, grandparents...  Most of my social life growing up was either at school or one of the three-times-a-week church services we attended (plus a Wednesday morning Bible Study and in the 70's, a Saturday night youth service).  The exceptions were the occasional family gatherings.

    I loved those family times.  When it was at our home, where sis and I lived with Grandma and Grandpa, it brought additional love and laughter into the house.  Occasionally, it also brought a bit of bickering (a favorite Grandma word... can you kids stop bickering).  I remember one "incident" with cousin Paul (I'm sure it was my turn... lol!), and about a billion with cousin Kent (he loved to tease... right Laur?), and I was always so nice...  Okay, I exaggerate.  Anyone will tell you that!  Then there was Kevin... he was the quieter, fun one who loved making Paul laugh.  David was the baby.  At times, some of the other cousins were there; Diana, Debra, Lisa, Kristen, Karol, Jack, Sally.  Sometimes my brother Tommy or my brother Ronnie or Timmy, Marcus, and little Tammy.  Sweet times.

    The thing is, we grew together.  We shared life experiences that are unique to our family.  Like the time my dad showed up drunk, made me cry (he was sharing all his lost dreams and wishes), and got run off the property... not for the first time either.  Or the night Grandma went after the bat!  My memory is her with the broom, Grandpa with a brown paper bag.  She knocked it down in my room, and Grandpa scooped it into the bag and removed it from the house.

    Pie... there was always pie.  A fruit pie cooked by Grandma; Rhubarb, Gooseberry, or Apple.  Cream pies made by Aunt Pat; Chocolate, Butterscotch, Yummmm!  The grownups got soda... once in while, the kids got some too!  R. C. Cola or Pepsi!  There was always ice cream or sherbet, or the best of both... Double Delight!  A lovely swirl of vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet!  My favorite, next to Butter Brickle.

    I remember sitting by the closed door to the living room, listening to the grown-ups talk about life, God, whatever... and feeling so safe.  Listening to 45's on my little record player.  I remember climbing the Crab Apple tree in the front yard.  Softball, Truth or Dare, Statue, Hide and Seek.  Running, laughing, sharing.  Playing outside long after dark.  Poignant, precious memories of life... of cousins.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011


    I love when numbers line up in certain ways.  Like today's date, 01-11-11.  It's my  cousin-in-law's birthday... she's married to my cousin... I don't know if that's an official category for in-law's, but whatever!  Anyway, Happy Birthday to Robin!  Like I told her on FB, today she really is #1!

    Actually, she's a #1 in my book every day of the year.  Robin is one of those people who just makes you smile.  She's always got a hug and a laugh for you.  If you're in her home, she's the most considerate hostess... making you cups of coffee, making sure you're comfortable.  It's like a vacation within a vacation!  I haven't had the fun of a visit since my 25th Anniversary trip in  2006.  Here is Robin...  (Hint: click on photos to enlarge)

    Robin, showing her flower display (yes, I made her pose for this)
    Always making the best of everything, Robin took an old broken down dresser and transformed it into a showcase for flowers.  She said she was channeling Leah, my mom, who had a knack for making "something" out of nothing!  Robin, I hope you are having an amazing birthday!  Sending love and hugs your way!

    Kent, Robin, Grandma, Grandpa, Jenn, Andy at Camp long ago...

    Also must send "up" a birthday greeting.  Today would have been my Grandpa's birthday.  Yes, I still miss him... the twinkle in his eye, the love he had for people, his commitment to God.  He loved the fact that he shared a birthday with Robin, his oldest grandson's wife.  Happy Birthday Grandpa!  Thanks for the love and the laughter...

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Here's Another Giveaway for You!

    Go to Junkin' Julie's for a sweet Giveaway.  See the link on my sidebar, click it, and just like magic... it will take you there!  Besides the button bracelet, she has some other treasures to share with some lucky winner.

    I spent a very restless night.  Tearful, prayful... I'm not sure why.  I was ready to blame it on menopause or hunger (from the fast I'm on), but I had my "menopause" years ago after my hysterectomy and I'm not really that hungry, as I just made some healthy changes to my diet.  I can eat all the fruit and veg that I want!

    Finally, I decided God was just speaking to my heart.  We all have those things that we can't even put into words... heart wounds, that only God sees and knows.  I am dealing with some of those.  The only thing that gets me through these times is my faith.  I honestly don't know how people who have lost faith, or never experienced it, survive some of the things life dishes out.  We all have times of hurt, loss, suffering.  We all need to feel peace and hope.  I am so thankful for my faith, my family, my friends.  That includes all you wonderful blog friends I have made.  What a blessing you have been to me! 

    So, bear with me as I travel through some troubling times in my life.  I'll try not to complain too much, but this is my "escape" place where I can bare my soul a bit.  Please be patient while I walk through this valley.  I know the mountaintop is just a short journey away... because God is always faithful!

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    New Start to the New Year...

    Well, I'm continuing to clean and purge.  I started going through all my boxes of Christmas decorations (and there are a lot) before, during, and now after the holidays.  I never realized just how much stuff I owned!  Shocking!  I hauled three huge boxes to the Idaho Youth Ranch, and have the ARC coming next week for more!  I've also set aside some things for St. Vincents.  I decided to spread around the donations since I have so much to pass on.

    I have had an amazing start to this New Year.  I decided to participate in my church's annual "Daniel Fast".  I am on a modified version, but have given up Pepsi, pastries, most sugars other than fruit, butter (that's a hard one for me), chips, snack crackers... on and on!  I'm doing lean proteins, lots of vegetables, fruit, tea, and limited whole grains.  Also, I'm spending time each day reading along with the scriptures the Pastor selected for us.  It started with the fast, but we intend to continue reading our study Bibles, completing them by the end of the year.

    The most important part of this experience was to set aside time to nurture my spirit.  I spend more prayer time, as well as the reading.  This isn't said as a "pat me on the back" because I'm being so devout.  It's just where I am right now.  I had been neglecting some areas of my spiritual life, so it was time for me to step up and make some changes.

    It's like when I neglect areas of my home.  When the maintenance isn't done, things may just fall apart.   Life is hard enough when I remember to do my spiritual maintenance.  Why leave myself even more vulnerable?

    For those of you following my MS... I am still not on any MS therapies, which makes my neurologist unhappy.  I am not at peace with the options they have given me.  I do believe in praying for healing, which I do.  I also have people who are constantly holding me in prayer.  I believe in praying for wisdom for my doctors and that's where I am right now.  Praying for their wisdom.  Praying for me to know what the next step is.  Praying that I could still have a miracle of healing.  It is all in God's hands, and that is the one thing I trust in completely! 

    Nita Jo

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Sunday Scribblings... December... and Manifesto

    I have neglected my writing over the past few months.  I can't remember the last time I did a Sunday Scribblings piece.  I am posting today's together with the last one...


    This is a challenge for me.  I couldn't quite wrap my mind around it.  If I were to create a manifesto for myself, it would be very much like a list of resolutions; yet, I resolved not to make any resolutions this year.  A manifesto of my life.  What would that look like?  It is important to me to touch lives in a positive way.  I don't have the resources to make a massive impact on lives, but I do have the power to touch people in smaller, more intimate ways.  A smile in place of a complaint.  Giving a little more of myself.  Spreading bits of peace and joy to others.  Somehow, I think the world can be changed with one kind word, or deed, at a time.  Not really a manifesto I guess, but a dream, and a good one I think.


    This was the first December, in a long while, where I really wanted to throw myself into the holiday preparations and celebrations.  The Decembers of my childhood were lovely, festive times.  Christmas programs, caroling, parties, family... joy!  As an adult, you realize that much of what made December special is impacted by lack of money, loss of loved ones, too little time and/or energy... you lose the magic along the way, or at least I did.

    Even though I wasn't able to participate in every event I wanted to, I made time to do some of the things that make December unique and special.  I wrote and mailed Christmas cards, bought gifts, spent time with family and friends.  I focused on my spiritual needs.  I listened to Christmas music, and made treats! I looked through old family photos and laughed as I remembered the good times.  I gave what I could to church and charity.  December joy is not automatic.  It takes effort to set aside the cynicism that creeps into our lives... to look for the things that brought us happiness... to cultivate joy.  It was worth every bit of effort I put into it.  I'm glad I found my "December" again.

    I hope you enjoyed my two Sunday Scribblings offerings.  If you want to see some of my older SS writing, go Here.  If you'd like to read what other writers shared on these prompts, visit Sunday Scribblings.  To see my everyday writing go to my Home Page.

    Copyright January 2, 2011 ajj

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Happy New Year!

    It's one hour into the new year at my house.  Two of our dear friends, Alan and DeAnn, just left for home.  We had such a fun evening.  It started with Chinese food at the Great Wall... a brand new one, just a short drive from my house.  Then we came back here for Dominoes, coffee, chocolate truffles, and lots of laughter. 

    Life is made so much sweeter when you have good friends to share it with.  Friendship doesn't require a fancy home, riches, or a certain social status... it just requires sharing your time, a sense of humor, an open heart...

    I am starting this new year with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.  I'm not making any particular resolutions.  I want to always look for the good in life, to appreciate each day I am given, to share my heart with those I love, and never forget how blessed I am. 

    May you go into the New Year with anticipation, joy, and faith in the future.