Friday, November 30, 2007

And Aubrey Was Her Name . . .

And Aubrey was her name,
A not so very ordinary girl or name . . .

Three weeks to the day after I said goodbye to my little buddy, Taylor, I had to send his lifelong companion and my sweet girl, Aubrey, back to her Creator.

Aubrey came to live with me on October 27, 1990. Everyone who knew her would agree that I could not have found a sweeter angel to share my life. She, too, will be greatly missed.

How 'bout that baby girl?

I have been a dachshund-lover all my life, but Aubrey was my first longhair. Her mother, Suki's Pretty Girl, was a show dog and the most stunningly beautiful doxie I had ever seen. My little pick of the litter was a red sable like her mother, so I named her Blount's Auburn Girl and called her Aubrey for short.

Aubrey had a strong mothering instinct, and although he was always afraid of them, Taylor fathered 9 of Aubrey's 14 puppies from three litters.

August 27, 1990 - November 30, 2007

Goodbye, Aub'ey!

I love you, sweet angel . . .

How I miss the girl
And I'd go a million times around the world just to say
She had been mine for a day . . .

Lyrics excerpted from Aubrey by David Gates and recorded by Bread
© Kipahulu Music, ASCAP

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Lovely Mess

This is what happens when you let a candle burn too long, but I thought it created an amazing paradox, a lovely mess. I watched as the wax poured like a waterfall and then cooled like lava into an exquisite tabletop design. Hey Rhoda, how's that for a decorating tip?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

I didn't go to the mountains for Thanksgiving this year. For some reason, I just didn't feel up to the drive. Last year, although I had invitations, I spent Thanksgiving alone at the cabin. I bought a rotisserie chicken and a pumpkin pie, whipped up some Stovetop Stuffing, slid The Waltons Thanksgiving in the DVD player, and had a great time all by myself.

Yesterday, my Thanksgiving morning started out with a phone call from Carla and Nathan. They were headed out the door to spend the day with missionary friends in Christiana, Jamaica. We're all looking forward to the Hoods coming home for Christmas.

This year, Mama, Daddy, and I spent Thanksgiving with the Hills. Heather and Tim, JerriLynn, Joslyn, and Javin Rodriguez were there, too. When we arrived, Uncle Olan, Doyle, and Tim were watching the game on the widescreen plasma. For those of you who know me well . . . I still don't get it.

Thanks to Mama, Uncle Olan, and Aunt Mary Lou, Thanksgiving dinner was a feast as usual, complete with a baked turkey, a fried turkey, dressing, chicken & dumplings, broccoli casserole, squash casserole, eggplant casserole, mustard greens, rutabagas, ambrosia, pecan pie, and pumpkin cake. I would have enjoyed Todd's baked ham and Holli's or Lisa's potato salad, but since I didn't cook a thing, I can't complain.

It was great to see Doyle and catch up again. After dinner, Heather was wading through the sale papers planning her Black Friday itinerary with Uncle Olan and Aunt Mary Lou. Uncle Olan likes to shop as much as any woman I know. I glanced through some of the sale papers, too, but I found nothing that would make me subject myself to that madness.

I hope all my readers had a special Thanksgiving wherever you are, and that you are as thankful for the blessings in your life as I am for mine.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mr. Blount's Classroom Goes Online

Just a note for my readers to check out my newest blog, Mr. Blount's Classroom. It's something I've been trying to work out since school started, and I finally got it up and running. It probably won't interest most of you, but I'm sure inquiring minds like April will want to have regular updates on what's happening at school. This site will be kept positive and informative. Sorry, no politics here! You can find that at Eyes Wide Open.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Part 2 - Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica

My very first blog post on Nathan's Uncle was June 18. In that post I told how Nathan was my favorite subject, but that I hoped to write about many of my favorite things. I included a brainstormed list of many of those things. The first two topics in my list of favorites were mountains and waterfalls. Later, on June 29, I wrote about my trip out West and how Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was the most beautiful place on Earth.

Well, on Friday, November 1, those two posts collided in Ocho Rios (or "Ochy" as the locals call it), Jamaica. Todd, Carla, Nathan, and I visited what may well be the second most beautiful spot on Earth. Dunn's River Falls is the number one tourist destination in Jamaica, as well it should be. Cruise ships haul in visitors by the thousands to climb the falls from bottom to top. Fortunately, we hit it on a day when no cruise ships were in port.

The following photo-sequence tells the story of the amazing day we spent together:

They made me ride in the back seat with Nathan all the way from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios. Not only that . . . they forced me to ride with him in the back seat all the way back, including Todd's navigation through the interminable traffic and gridlocks in MoBay. I know . . . sometimes people treat you that way, and you just have to put up with it.

The lush tropical foliage speaks for itself.

Parking is at the top of the falls, and we couldn't resist stopping for some pictures before hiking to the bottom.

My sweet sister, Carla . . . the best brother-in-law ever, Todd . . . and of course the center of my world, Nathan . . . meet the Hoods, missionary associates to Jamaica!

"Am I going to climb this waterfall or not?"

Snapped on our way down. I thought this sign had a vintage Hollywood look.

A bit of history.

Where the falls meet the beach.

Dunn's River flows into the Caribbean Sea.

We begin the ascent alone.

At this point we decide to let an escorted tour group go ahead so we could follow in their steps. This illustrates how large groups navigate the falls by holding hands in single file.

We've only just begun.

I think this image through the jungle foliage has great 3-D composition. Cool shot, Carla!

Another interesting shot. I love the jungle vines in this one. The escorts for the tour group lagged behind to assist us, even though we had not hired them. We tipped them when we reached the top.

He-Man and the Olympic Gold Medalist.


Near the top. Almost Heaven.

Carla, thanks for being our official trek photographer. You got some amazing shots, Sister!

Footnote: I still remember the night several years ago when Todd told me they were going to be missionaries to Jamaica. I didn't receive the news well. They would be taking my one and only nephew away from me. Over time, I came to accept the inevitable, and being a missionary's kid myself I knew that Nathan would get to experience many things that the average American kid would never be able to do, and I could never deny him those benefits. Watching Nathan climb Dunn's River Falls and swim near the coral reef at Doctor's Cave confirmed that knowledge for me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Goodnight, Little Buddy . . .

Today I had to tell my little buddy Taylor good-bye.

He came to live with Aubrey and me on September 12, 1992. He has been our companion and brought so much joy to our lives for the past 15 years. He will be greatly missed.

Is he a cute baby boy, or what?

After I had Aubrey for a year and a half, I told the breeder I wanted a black & tan long-haired male dachshund puppy. She didn't have any at the time, but she took my order, and eventually Taylor was born. Hence his registered name, Blount's Taylor Made.

July 16, 1992 - November 9, 2007

Goodnight, Tatie-Boo!

I love you, little man . . .

Monday, November 5, 2007

Part 1 - The Jamaica Surprise!

I figured when I came home early from my annual autumn trip to the mountains that I was saving my personal days for something. Although I had some ideas, I wasn't sure exactly what it was for. But by Friday of that same week I found out.

If you read my earlier post then you know that my parents' celebrated their golden anniversary in Jamaica on Saturday. Based on Rhoda's comment to that post about them being with the Hoods, I don't think she knew that I was with them too.

It had been in my mind for several weeks, and Carla and I had discussed the possibility of me flying down to Montego Bay for the golden anniversary weekend. For several reasons, I just didn't see it coming together. Then, last Friday night I thought I would see if there were any tickets still available. I found a flight on Air Jamaica from Orlando to MoBay for a decent price, then called Carla. We made a plan, and I booked it. This past long weekend we pulled off our plan perfectly, and here's how it all came together . . . .

Last Thursday, April drove me to Orlando International (God bless her!). The actual air flight time was only an hour and a half. I didn't check any luggage, so when I arrived I breezed straight through immigration and customs. Todd and Carla had gone by Nathan's school to pick him up from football (soccer) practice. When he asked why they were going to the airport, Todd told him they were going to pick up a "package." He had no idea that Uncle Howie was about to walk out the door. I think I surprised him so much he was speechless, and for a "talkie-mouth" like Nathan, that was a rare event.

When we left Sangster Airport I got my first taste of Jamaican driving, but more about that later. Upon arrival at the Hoods' residence, Nathan went inside and told DeeDee and Granddaddy that they had a surprise. He instructed DeeDee to close her eyes, then I walked into the room. When she opened her eyes, there I was. They had no clue that I was coming and were completely surprised to see me there.

We ate dinner at the Yacht Club that night, and of course the Spiderman 3 DVD I brought Nathan could not wait. I ended the evening with a cup of Mama's café con leche and my nephew sitting on my lap reading to me. What could be better? I'm not jealous of Granddaddy anymore.

NOTE: All pictures in this post are courtesy of Todd & Carla.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Golden Couple Celebrate 50 Years Together!

Fifty years ago today . . .

. . . a sharecropper's daughter

and a farmer's blind son . . .

. . . became man and wife.
Rev. and Mrs. Roland Blount
Pleasant Grove Assembly of God
Durant, Florida
November 3, 1957

The Blounts became missionaries and traveled to many foreign lands. They celebrated their silver anniversary in Latin America . . .

Rev. and Mrs. Roland Blount
Asuncion, Paraguay
November 3, 1982

. . . and today they celebrate their golden anniversary in the Caribbean.

Rev. and Mrs. Roland Blount
Montego Bay, Jamaica

November 3, 2007

Happy Golden Anniversary, Mama & Daddy!

I love you, Howie

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Autumn Leaves . . . and a Fireplace Too!

Last Saturday I headed up to the mountains for my annual fall trip. The traffic jams caused by lane closings and a bad wreck on I-75 made it one of the longest trips ever, but it was worth it. You know, I-75 in south Georgia has been under perpetual construction since I was a kid in the 1970s. I wonder when they plan to finish . . . .

This December will mark four years since God gave me my log cabin in Blairsville, Georgia. I can't believe how time flies. I always enjoy the cabin in the winter, spring, and summer, but fall is my favorite time to go. The crisp air and fall foliage in a mountain setting can't be beat. The autumn leaves this year, though not the spectacular display of 2006, were amazing as usual. The first morning when I awoke the temperature had plummeted to 38 degrees. After the much-needed rain moved in, the lows hovered in the 60s.

On Sunday I mowed the chest-high (in places) grass on the back slope. It was a chore, but it looked so nice when I was done.

On Monday I drove down to Ellijay to enjoy a day of FAVORITES. My first stop was at the library in Blue Ridge to check my email. (When I get my second generation iPhone I won't have to do that anymore.) Upon arrival in Ellijay I ate lunch at Las Palmas, my FAVORITE Mexican buffet. Only $5.99, and it includes an unlimited supply of my FAVORITE white nacho cheese. I bought some shirts at Goodys, where there's always a sale, and then enjoyed taking my time roaming the aisles at my FAVORITE Wal-Mart Supercenter. I stopped by Starbucks on the way home for a hot Caramel Apple Spice, my new FAVORITE drink, and sipped it as I listened to A Light From Heaven, the final book in the Mitford series (another FAVORITE), on my drive back to the cabin. I stopped at the Mercier Orchards store in Blue Ridge and picked up some Rome apples for my friend Mary, so she can make her famous apple cake (yet another (FAVORITE). Yum! I learned at Mercier that only the early apple crops were damaged by the late spring freeze and that the late apples were fine. I also stopped at Ingles and picked up several pounds of Nantahala sausage (my FAVORITE) for Mary and Mama & Daddy. I'm hoping Mary will make her Velveeta, sausage, and salsa dip, one of my all-time FAVORITES.

Although it was raining when I got home, I went out to the wood stacks at the edge of the trees in the back yard to dig around for some dry firewood. This was the wood from the double-trunk pine tree that fell across my yard, narrowly missing the cabin when the hurricanes went through in 2004. My brother-in-law Todd chainsawed and split the wood while Carla, Sherry, Nathan, and I stacked the wood and gathered and burned the pine boughs. The following series of photos were taken by Sherry's husband, Josh Cole, during our 2004 fall vacation . . . well, not so sure Todd thought it was a vacation.

Thanks, Toddy!

At least Todd and I were working!

My redheaded 3-year old toolman.

As many of you know, I have never been able to use my fireplace at the cabin because the chimney was actually roofed over. The contractor who built the cabin never finished the job, and when I looked up the flue I could see the bottom of the metal roof. Last year I contacted the seller to see if he would have it repaired. He said he would, but after a year nothing had been done. I didn't want to go another fall and winter without a fireplace, so I decided to take care of it myself. A few weeks ago my handyman, Larry Bauer, took his helper and their wives up to the cabin to complete the job and construct the chimney. When the job was completed I sent the seller Larry's bill, not really expecting to hear back. But to my surprise his wife called and said she was putting a check in the mail. She added that they had both been ill and had never been able to find the right person to do the job, and they were glad that I had taken care of it. Later that week I received a check for the full amount. Praise God!

It was nice to build my first fire in the fireplace. It was a small fire and really only burned for a few minutes before I let it die out. It wasn't even cold outside, but I had waited long enough to use that fireplace. Even though my first fire was short-lived, the smoky fragrance lingered for days, making my cabin smell like a real log cabin should.

On Tuesday I drove down to eat lunch at the Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge. There was no meatloaf (my FAVORITE menu item) this time, and the view was thick with fog or clouds, whatever you want to call it. Oh well, it was still fun. I drove on down to the outlet mall in Dawsonville, then took the scenic route of 19/129 back to Blairsville. The winding mountain roads take you through beautiful country, but they can make you dizzy and give you a headache if you don't take your time.

A pumpkin farm near Amicalola Falls State Park.

Meeks Park in Blairsville.

Along Hwy 515 between Blairsville and my cabin. Doesn't this remind you of the opening credits of The Color Purple?

Love this blurry shot of Taylor!

Country roads take me home . . . .

I decided to end my trip early in order to save my personal days for another trip. Although this year's fall vacation was shorter than usual, it was still very sweet. I drove back to Plant City on Wednesday. It was rainy the whole day, but my only traffic delay was the morning rush hour north of Atlanta. I arrived safely, grateful for my mountain home away from home and for traveling mercies once again.