Celebrating Young Artists. Or how I got talked into making four gallons of hot chocolate.


I’m a creative type. I love to write, take photographs, draw and paint. Not that I’m equally adept at all mediums.

I had a painting of mine hanging up in a room of a shared house in graduate school. One of my friends saw it and asked, “That’s cool. How old were you when you painted that?”

Like 23.

But there are lots of folks out here in the rolling hills and vales who are fabtabulous artists.

Melindia Burnett is one of those peeps.



Completely staged pic — but I think it turned out well.


Lindy is an amazing illustrator.

Before moving to Madison, she did killer things in Atlanta at the Portfolio Center and beyond. Out here, she lives in a Never Neverland space holding amazing art camps and after school art programs for elementary school and up.

This fall, famed animator Ed Murrieta visited her studio with some of her students for an afternoon. I asked if I could come. I wrote a little squib for the paper about him and had meant to blog about it — but darn life got in the way. Murrieta started with Disney and has worked the Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon  . . . yawn.



No sillies. He was amazing. An artist who studied with one of the last classes at the Disney animation school was instructing us on the importance of life drawing and study of form moving through space.

All in an art studio in a cow pasture in Morgan County.




When I asked him why he drove out here from Atlanta on a weekday afternoon to talk to a handful of young artists, Murrieta said with a smile,”It’s hard to say no to Lindy.”

Tell me about it.

Her students were having an art show December 14 at the Madison Artist Guild to sell art they created at her after school program.

That’s when I got an email from Lindy asking if I would mind making four gallons of hot chocolate for the show.

No problem. I must have her completely snowed if she thinks I’m the kind of together person who whips out four gallons of hot chocolate and transports it to an art gallery opening like Martha Somebody.

But like Ed said — it’s hard to say no to Lindy. :)


Alls I can say is thank God for Google.



To my amazement, it was really, really good.




That could have been because the last time I dared have a cup of hot chocolate is was 1982.

I got to the space early, because I had the star of the show the hot chocolate. At least that’s what Lindy said to me. And I chose to believe her.



The awesome thing about getting there early was that I got to preview the art.

And I fell in love saying to Lindy, “I want her!”



When I came back later with the family, the joint was jumping.






The really awesome part for me is that I got to meet Kire’ana, a local 7th grader and tell her how her painting stole my heart.

The colors and the personality of the girl on the lounge. She’s in my office right now (the painting not Kire’ana, silly) and she makes me so happy.




So we’ve got the art happening out here in Morgan County.

What ya think?


I asked many times, how much more Lord?


This Thanksgiving I shared the story of Beverly Morris, who spent $2000 preparing a Thanksgiving meal to feed and entertain 65 people. A great many of whom she never met.

What I didn’t tell you was the day of that post, a surgeon biopsied a lump in Beverly’s breast.

And now my tough stuff friend finds herself navigating a breast cancer diagnosis.

Those who love Beverly know she will knock out this foe as easily as she takes those dang 25 lb dumbbells from my puny arms.


When she approached me about helping her to chronicle her journey to wellness on my blog, I was honored and readily agreed. I want to help share her story or stories. This is a lady who only weeks after being knocked unconscious by 220 volts of electricity received the news no parent ever dares to imagine — her youngest son had committed suicide. And how in the midst of unthinkable tragedy, she planted a seed of hope for those suffering from mental illness and depression.

I know from sharing my life through columns in a small town paper, magazines and blog —  human experience is universal. We all have dreams, things that terrify us. We fiercely love our children. Hold passionate opinions on football teams and the political process.

Sometimes we find ourselves so low that walking out the back door seems just. too. much.

Then there are euphoric moments when the earth and all that is in it is nothing but blue sky.

Beverly wants this to be a positive, honest look at her life the next few months. We plan on her sharing weekly posts. It is our hope that this will touch people, right where they might need a hand.

If you think you’ve have a year of struggle, let me tell you about Beverly’s 2014. No. I’ll let her do that . . .


Here we go. Raised on a dairy farm in Virginia, I learned what hard work really was.

Up at 4 every morning, maybe that’s why I still get up early and ready to see what God has for me.

I was always taught to work hard and you will get good results. At age 57, I am a full time personal trainer. In life, I have done many things. I worked in the bank trying to get through college. Worked in the restaurant business. Opened up my own real estate office.



I sit here thankful for all the things God has brought me through:

The emotional trauma of the death of my mom who was one of the toughest ladies ever. She is the one who taught me to fight.

My dad’s death three years later.

Last year, there was surgery on my leg in which I developed a blood clot. And spent many months living with that threat.

 Oh  . . . then on Good Friday this year, I was cooking and 220 volts went through me knocking me unconscious.

A few weeks later,  I received the news that my young son had committed suicide.

I asked many times, how much more Lord?

I remind myself over and over, my God said that he would not put anything on me that I could not handle. That he has good plans for my life and my boys’ lives. I have always believed that my God is in control.

I went through all the anger.

The why me? The yelling at God saying I don’t want it anymore.

And now just told that I have breast cancer. I have asked myself,  I’m doing something wrong or maybe something right? 

All I can say is that he must think a lot of me. Because I’m still here.

So how about a vacation Lord…?


Each week, we’ll update her journey and tell you more about all that is good in the midst of trial. And all that is tough.




And so many other great things she is doing in hopes of reaching out to others who are suffering with or have family members suffering with mental illness and depression to honor the life of her son, Jonathan.

For now, we’ll leave you with Beverly’s song for the start of this journey.

Leave her a shout out in the comments.

As Beverly loves to say at the beginning of a workout. “Here we go!”








Running into Christmas. What songs are on your playlist?


Holiday music. I love it.

I load it on my shuffle the night before Thanksgiving and the next morning I run the Atlanta Half marathon to Christmas music. One of my odd little traditions that make life wonderful.

Tomorrow is the 33th annual Madison Christmas Rush, Fun Run, 5K and 8K. I try to run it every year – and so I’m charging up the old shuffle.




Here’s my top five holiday running songs. The songs I can’t help but repeat a few times before moving on to the next tune. Do me a favor and leave your favorite in the comments. I’m ready to add some new kick to my stride back up Dixie Highway toward the finish line.


    1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  Andrea Bocelli

Honorable mention:  Jackson Five, Justin Bieber


4. Little Drummer Boy.  Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes.

I love this. Call me the eternal teenybopper. Guilty as charged.

“Playin’ for the king. Playin’ for the title. I’m surprised you didn’t hear this in the bible.”


Honorable mention:  Josh Groban. Well, anything Josh Groban



3.  Step Into Christmas. Elton John

How cute is he in this?



2.   Holly Jolly Christmas — Burl Ives.

Maybe it jettisons my subconscious back to sitting in pjs watching Rudolph and all the old Christmas shows. I love everything about this song. His voice. The jingling bells. The 60s Holiday Special back up singers. The lyrics . . .



“Have a holly jolly Christmas

And when you walk down the street,

Say hello to friends you know,

And everyone you meet.”


1.  Merry Christmas Baby — Bruce Springsteen

Bruce and saxophone. Miss Clarence :( but he’s rockin in this video.



I didn’t know till googling this video that Otis Redding sang a cover of this in 1967.


Appendix — Joy to the World, Mariah Carey

These two women can belt out a song.

Honorable Mention:  Natalie Grant.



Other tunes I love to run to around Christmas  . . . .

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa ClausJohn Mellencamp.

It’s Christmas All Over Again — Tom Petty

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Barenaked Ladies


So many more.

I’d love to hear your favorites.

Happy Holidays and happy running.


A Christmas Concert and Symphony Etiquette Primer.


There is so much I’ve wanted to tell you people but darn that life has gotten in the way of blogging.

The symphony is one thing.

Every year at the beginning of the holiday mad dash, a part of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra comes our way for a concert.

Last Wednesday night was the night. Has it been almost a week already?

Before the concert, people chatting and such.

Only in a small town could the socializing before the symphony be a close cousin to the socializing in the pews before church.




It was my mother, daughter and I.

My daughter is the musician in the family. She plays the trumpet.

She got quite miffed at me when I tapped her arms when the trumpets were playing.

Alls I can say is good thing we were on the back row. I could bop my head and tap my toe with wild abandon.

See. I know there is certain etiquette involved.

The Boston Symphony web site:  “We request that you don’t talk, whisper, sing, hum, or move personal belongings.”

Well, no mention of not tapping your teen on the arm when the trumpets blew.

And I didn’t sing. Maybe hummed slightly.

I did talk and I did move personal belongings but that was because my daughter kicked over her Sprite. I frantically grabbed the ladies clutch under the seat in front of us.

Seems like when to clap or not to clap is another conundrum.  But I sit on my hand anyway to keep from rapping my fingers in time with the music on the armrests.

I don’t see how anybody can sit there and not move — something — when music is playing.

Like restrained sexual energy if you want to get darn Freudian about it.

Well, this post certainly took an unexpected turn from classical music into psychoanalysis.

Who am I to argue with centuries of glorious music and the proper etiquette for such?




I know my place in this realm.

In the back row so I can tap away.

I also learned you are not supposed to take photos. So I guess even this el stinko pic could get me hauled off to the foyer and a stern talking to by the Symphony Etiquette Policia.


Loved the selection of music this year. AWESOME.

Did you know Mozart wrote Sleigh Ride?  Not the one on your favorite Mitch Miller Christmas LPs.

This one.

Notice the sleigh bells. Notice the children. Notice the children who are NOT MOVING. Well, one boy did chew on a finger. But it wasn’t in time with the music.



What is your favorite piece of holiday music?

One selection that might make you tap along in time. Though only with one finger tucked under your wrap.

Jesus carried jumper cables in the trunk of his Camry. This I know.


I cannot write of the pain of those who loved Eric Garner.

I cannot write of the anger and injustice those of African American heritage feel.

I can write of my appreciation for the civil servants dressed in blue who put their lives at risk every. single. day.

I can write that there is no doubt certain people should not be in law enforcement.

I cannot write of life or work in a high crime, impoverished environment.

I am a 51-year-old white woman. One who has received the earthly benefits of a loving home of origin and higher education.

I am what I am. I cannot change my upbringing and genetic make up more than I can change my 38 inch hips. And believe me, I’ve noodled the latter a bunch.

One blessing of age is that I know I can change the inside. My thoughts. My will.

If my thoughts change, my will changes. My heart changes.

My actions change.

I’ve never been overtly racist. I can’t imagine cruelty. I freaked out when a praying mantis somehow got stuck to a fly stick in my house. I agonized how to gingerly extract his limbs from the silver glue without dismembering his buggy frame.

Can’t be done.

We all have to fight the tidal wave of what we’ve been taught and caught over a lifetime.

Our flesh demands MINE. Our spirit knows there is a higher way.

Our spirit whispers —  the noble road feeds me. Nourishes me.

Feeding self alone only cannibalizes self.

The non-indictments of the last two weeks have once again opened the American populace and shown a malignancy deep in our tissue.

Division. Anger. Powerlessness.

Examining all sides of the issues — poverty, wealth, hopelessness, education, lack of education and so on and on.

It’s as if a huge whale beached. As much as it tore at my heart, there would be nothing in my strength, might and will that could fix things for that whale.

The only thing that would make life right is for its lumbering-on-land self to be back graceful and beautiful in the water.

That’s when it came to me.

Jumper cables.

It’s easy for me to write a check from my little account to help organizations and people. It’s an another thing to stop what I’m doing, greet someone face-to-face and meet a need.

A few weeks ago on a Monday, my son and I stopped to get gas. It was about 7 p.m., dark, cold and I still needed to figure out something for dinner. I started the pump and was getting back in the car — it was cold people — when I noticed a few lanes over a SUV with the hood up, and a guy asking the woman at the adjoining pump a question.

I bet he needs a jump crossed my mind then I sat in my car, played on my phone and got back out when the pump clicked.

Quickly I screwed the cap on the tank. Quickly because I was cold, but also because I knew that guy probably needed jump and if I saw him again — I would really feel bad if I didn’t help.

It’s not like I’m a bad person. I help lots. But it was cold. Dark. And dinner was rapidly becoming take out.

Sure enough our eyes met.

“You need a jump?” slipped from my mouth.

Relief flooded his face.

Of course he needed a jump you idiot. I quickly hopped in my car, drove it around. We talked. Got the car jumped. Said sincere good-byes. And I was only delayed about three minutes. Five minutes tops.

I say I follow Jesus. If you have read anything about him — even if you don’t believe in his deity, even if you don’t believe he was a great man or teacher — one thing you have to acknowledge about the guy is he stopped for hurting, needing people.

Lepers, mentally ill, the legalistic moralists and the hedonists. White collar criminals. Thieves. Governmental oppressors of his people. The sick. The oppressed, worn out and worn down by The Haves.

He stopped and talked to everyone.

Okay, he didn’t have email to check or a Facebook status to update but I bet there was a backlog of kitchen cabinet orders at the shop.

Surely, he would have taken the time to give a ride, pay a bill and give a jump.

*  *  *

A few days after helping the guy get the car started, I’m running around Ingles (our local grocery). Heading from the pasta over to the chicken broth, I looked up. There was a mountain of an African American man with a little gray shopping basket on his arm.

We looked.

It’s you. We smiled.

And we embraced.

Without thinking, before words.

I asked if he’d gotten a new battery. He explained the root of troubles with the battery. Someone sold the car’s owner a battery too small for that engine so sometimes it just refuses to crank.

Working together, we can get that darned whale back in the salt water for pity’s sake.

Buy a pair of jumper cables and keep them in your car.

You’ll see.






NaBloPoMo in the books for another year.


Here it is Day 30.

NaBloPoMo is ending for me, much like it started,

I found my Day 30 post for last year. Pretty much like this.

Not much to say but that today’s been busy like the month.

It’s been a wonderful journey these 30 days.

Not so much the challenge of posting every day, but meeting a wonderful group of women who have kept me accountable.

Thanks so much Cathy, Ruth, Lois, Angela, Vanessa, Elin, Mary, Elaine, Linda, Mary, Angela, Donna, Jackie, Carol and so sorry to anyone I’ll remember after I press publish.

Look forward to reading you always and meeting you one of these days.

That will be a fun post to write.


See you all next month.



Our Pilgrims’ Heads Are Falling Off.


NaBloPoMo 29.

My husband said the tree was too big.

But we got it anyway.

Tonight as he went to bed he said, “You did really good. The lights are halfway on and the tree only fell twice.”

What I love about having to do a blog post is that it’s okay to worry more about taking a photo than caring if your husband is rushed by a mammoth Frazier Fir.




This was the first time the tree fell and it landed on top of the piano.

Casualties were a decorative plate that I never liked and  . . .




Yes. Our pilgrim has no head.

Rest assured since this photo, I’ve managed to secure her head back on top of her neck so she will be ready to go next year.

I’m sure she was a little upset by the whole ordeal, but she does have the next 12 months to recoup wrapped in newspaper nestled in a box in the attic.

Sounds lovely.

Peaceful even.


I’ve got to get back to the tree.

Turning off the games and turning on a little Spotify Holiday magic.

NaBloPoMo 29, or did I say that already?


Pie-palooza. Teacher says everytime a bell rings a doggie gets a pie.


I’m not a strong salesperson. But it’s better to have dumb luck than no luck at all.

See, the TeamRMHC has a Facebook page. All of us raising money for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia can keep abreast of one another’s running and fundraising exploits.

I was stumped. How to I get a bump in my total?


It came to me just like that. Written in Comic Sans nestled in a puffy little thought cloud above my head.

I could make pecan pies for Thanksgiving and ask donations for them like we did with the Arnold Palmer’s in hot early September.

Once I came out with this great idea, I sent out a FB status announcing such. People signed up.


* * *


I baked for two night into the wee hours of the morning.

My recycling bucket after pie-palooza or the aftermath of a diabetic coma.



And then the fun started.

I got to deliver the pies.


*  *  *

I did a very, very bad thing.

Impromptu on the way to delivering first pie, I thought how cool to take a pic of everyone with their pies.

Bloggers are selfish like this. We think only of 163-views-a-month-important-selves and not about the people hanging out, relaxing on a day-before-holiday-holiday.


WARNING: The next few photos might restore your faith in humankind.




Angelina and husband, Mark:  Two wonderfully, creative souls. Giving people and goat lovers. Who had come to town and looked perfect. Not surprised by crazed pie, photo lady.

Kaye and Stan:  Stan looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ. Always. Hate that for him. But Kaye — one of the most beautiful women in town — had just stepped out of shower. I said throw my $5 Aeropostle sunglasses on and you’ll look fab. Okay. She doesn’t look fab as much as sexy.  Meow.

Kathryn:  At her chiropractor’s office. But really look at the her placement of the pie in photo. Carol Merrill is green right now, my friend.






Trevor: Just want to let Trevor know that L.L.Bean called. You and Tebow made the cover of the next catalog. Can you see Tebow eying that pie?

Kim: Most fun, gracious friend. She also has a FABULOUS new magazine Design & Build. Everyone in the building industry needs to get to know this creative visionary. Don’t make me say “I told you so.”






Elise:  Chiropractic yogi. I would add she is all that is healing, generous and light. But that would be redundant. Well, what the heck? Elise is giving, loving and makes my neck much, much better.

Karisa: Giving, giving, giving with our musical youth. She is the band director for middle school. The studentz and parents adore her. Nuff said.

Lucy:  As a teacher and her personal life, she looks at your child and sees the most unique, masterpiece created. Nuff said.




Terri and Roy: Two of the biggest Georgia Bulldogs you’ll ever meet. But that’s okay because they have two of the biggest hearts. Terri survived five days a week with my daughter as her 3-year-old Preschool Teacher. And she still bought two pies. Nuff said.





Dana:  When she heard I was saving pop tops for the Ronald McDonald House, hundreds if not thousands appeared at my door. She and Aubie parent a blended family of four girls. Effortlessly. Or at least it looks that way. Thanks for always thinking of RMH.

Sarge:  When I put the call out about the pecan pies, Sarge suggested a swap. One of my pies for a pumpkin roll. And so we did. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m glad we did.

Katie:  No. I don’t have a picture of Katie with her pie because Tebow ate her pie. Well, half of her pie. Even I knew enough not to give Katie a half-eaten pie with doggie spit on it. She donated anyway. She’ll get two pies for Christmas.

Debbie:  She bought two pies and I delivered them Tuesday. Before I thought of taking pics. Thanks so much xoxo


How much did this Pie-palooza raise?

Are you sitting down?

If you are standing in some Black Friday checkout line, lock your thigh muscles to steady yourself.

Grand total RMHC Pie-paloosa . . .

$ 588.00


So all you pie-eating-people raised 37 nights (over a month of nights) for families who can’t afford the $15 per night RMH fee.

Giving those pies out felt like I was in the middle of a Frank Capra movie.

For those of you who don’t know who Frank Capra is think Quentin Tarantino light.

That’s a joke. Just google him. (Frank Capra not Quentin Tarantino)

It is A Wonderful Life.

Pies for everyone.




I caught him in the act this time.


Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Got to bed last night around 12 a.m. and the alarm woke me up and at four to head into Atlanta for the half marathon with my son.

Then I hosted family, and ate lots.

Cleaned up lots.

Don’t have many pics to show because my phone is lost. And as of this moment, I don’t really care I have no earthly idea where my phone is.

I’m that tired.

Pie-palooza pooped.

I’ve got to tell you all about the wonderful result of my Ronald McDonald House pecan pie event. But that will have to be another day. Because my head just hit the keyboard.

Will tell you one short Thanksgiving Day story.

Everyone left our house and migrated to my in-laws for more family fun and feasting.

I carried some food over as well, then came back to my house to walk the dog.

I walked through the door to this.




Katie’s pie. The last one I was to deliver.

That darn dog had pulled it off the counter. He did this to me two years ago.

That Thanksgiving, I was left wondering what happened to the pie? Today, Nancy Drew caught the perp in the middle of the deed.

Oh well. Guess I’ll be making  another pie tomorrow.

Was your pie pulled today?



When Thanksgiving dinner cost $2000 — I knew it was time to stop.


Once upon a Thanksgiving, a great-looking redhead with an amazing bod — one amazing bod wrapped in a bathrobe — sat on her front lawn.

Her right hand held a glass of Chardonnay and her left waved at a stream of incoming guests.

She had cooked non-stop for three days.

“At that moment sitting on my lawn, I decided this was the last time.”


Great stories come at you unexpected. Like when you are in the canned vegetable aisle at the grocery. It stinks because you don’t have a recorder, phone or even a slip of paper to take notes.

This Tuesday, while working out with my trainer, Beverly Morris, we started talking about spending Thanksgiving alone. Friends invite you to their feast, it’s good but bittersweet because it’s not your family. You don’t get all the jokes about the year the turkey took 5.2 million years to cook because Aunt Maude forgot to defrost the bird.


Exhibit A: Beverly

A photo from another post a few years ago.

“I wish I could connect with a group of friends who don’t have family around,” Beverly said. “I used to do that you know. The last year I did it, I entertained 65 people in my house — most of whom I’d never met.”

This grand grateful shindig of Beverly’s started innocently enough. Most people don’t wake one day and say I’m going to cook seven turkeys and four hams. Mash a hundred pounds of potatoes. And have a seated Thanksgiving dinner for 65.

Beverly had a friend, Mr. Pete.  Mr. Pete was an older gentlemen whom she had helped with a real estate problem. At the time, Beverly worked in real estate and lived with her two school age sons. Mr. Pete felt indebted to Beverly but didn’t have anyway to repay her.  He was forever coming over and doing little odd jobs around the house. Picking up pine cones. Cleaning out the garage.

Around Thanksgiving, it became clear  Mr. Pete didn’t have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with much less money to buy a turkey and dressing.

“Come over and eat with us, Mr. Pete,” Beverly suggested. And Mr. Pete did just that bringing a few of his friends. Friends who were Thanksgiving Lone Rangers as well.

Seems the word got out on the street and every year, the Lone Rangers all gathered at Beverly’s. Each year, more older singletons mostly forgotten by family ended up with their feet under her table. Or should I say under her tables.

Beverly whipped all the sweet potatoes. Roasted all the birds. Crushed and sprinkled all the fried onions for the green bean casseroles.

Yes. She prepared the entire feast. “They didn’t have any money most of them.”

All Beverly asked in return was that they bring something Christmas to decorate her house. So as the story goes, guests would arrive and get to decorating. Betty would string colored lights around a tree in the front yard. Bob might hang an ornament in the front window.

“It was crazy,” she laughed. “Wherever they put something that’s where it stayed.”

The Thanksgiving she was standing at the checkout holding a receipt totaling $2000 that’s when she decided this would probably be her last year.

That was also the year she cooked non-stop for three days. The year she ended up in the lawn chair on her front yard greeting guests.

“Since it was the last year, I made sure we all sat down together.” Tables and chairs lined the halls and the rooms.

Under each plate rested a slip of paper. On it were two questions.

Ugh. Here’s where I wish I had a slip of paper because I don’t remember what those questions were . . .

She laughed telling me how they got to talking about their best memory of the year. Or whatever had been the question on the paper.

Everyone — all 65 — spoke in turn. Everyone — all 65 — listened. There was so much talking, laughing and crying “it was two hours before we started eating.”

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m grateful to anyone who stops by this blog to read.

I’d like to wish Mr. Pete one — but Beverly said he’s been gone about 15 years now.

I wish Beverly the best Thanksgiving. xoxox

And maybe next year we (you and me – Beverly) can start a new feasting tradition?

Small. It’s best to start small. Right?

NaBloPoMo 26






TeamRMHC — Please consider a donation to my page. No amount is too small.


Enter your email to subscribe to future updates
NaBloPoMo November 2014