Friday, December 16, 2005

Scroogin' It Up

Well... Christmas cards are out the window this year.

Last year, I sent out approximately 150 cards. Granted, I participated in a swap that accounted for roughly 50 or 60 of those cards. I received approximately 50 back of the 90-100 cards left after the swap.

That's a pretty good ratio.

My favorites were of course, the family photographs and I have to say, I will miss those this year. Because so far, I haven't sent out ONE SINGLE CHRISTMAS CARD, and I've received fewer than 10.

Now, there are certainly some possible reasons for this...

1. People haven't gotten around to it.

2. Other people are also feelin' Scroogey this year.

3. Nobody remembers our address.

4. People just don't feel like sending us cards this year.

Now, for reason number 1, I do have to accept that yes, people are not generally on my time frame. Last year, I had my cards written, stamped, addressed, and in the mail by St. Nicholas Day (12/6).

But this year, we had to put it off while our new mortgage payment went through. Today, 10 days after St. Nicholas Day, is the first day I truly have the cash to go to Target and buy the cards, or go to Michaels and buy the supplies required to make the cards and spend the next 2 weeks doing that.

And quite frankly, at the end of the day, I just don't feel like sending them out this year. I'll get a box or two and return any that we get, but other than that, I'm done.

I absolve ANYONE out there of Christmas card guilt. You don't have to send me one. I probably will not be sending you one. If you do, I will return the favor. If you don't, I won't be offended, as long as you promise not to be too.

The funny thing?

I don't even miss it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

An evening with Jan Karon

Last night, I was privileged to go and be at the National Cathedral as Jan spoke about writing from the heart. It was a beautifully moving experience.

I was able to coordinate with Sheri (Mitford Citizen at Heart) and her daughter, and we agreed to meet up at the Cathedral.Unfortunately, Michael fell sick with a stomach virus and had to miss the talk. After a lengthy discussion, my sister agreed to come. She said she was going only to hear an author speak--she has never read the books and had never heard of Jan!

We managed to make it to the Cathedral just after 7pm, after fighting the Metro, the traffic, and finding a parking spot. A gal from the Mitford boards, Sheri and her daughter were such dears to save us great seats in the front.We walked down and Sheri spotted me and my plaid coat instantly! (It's a can't miss!)

It was WONDERFUL to meet someone from the boards and we hit it off--her daughter and my sister got along wonderfully as well. We chatted until Jan came out, and I was amazed at her presence, her beauty and grace. She is absolutely glowing with inner light.

The minister of the Cathedral said some words and then another woman introduced Jan and Jan spoke. It was magical to hear her talk about writing and mention the characters and places I have come to know and love through her books. She talked about the process of writing, about being inspired to write, all of it. And she read a passage from "A Light From Heaven" which caused me to actually cry. Towards the end she invited everyone to pray The Prayer That Never Fails, which I did with my whole heart. It felt so good and right.

During the Q&A session, my sister, Sheri, and I were all chosen to ask questions. My question was about if books about Violet would ever be released, and Jan answered yes, next year Violet's first book would be coming out.

After it was all over, we stood in the receiving line, and when it was my It just felt like... Jan made me feel like I was the only person in the world. I thanked her for everything and we had a nice, quick chat. I was overcome with emotion for a good part of the way home.

I asked my sister, "Don't you just love her?"And she replied, "Yes, I do. Give me the books."

We said goodbye to Sheri and her daughter and came home.

Meeting Sheri affirmed to me what a marvelous, magical gathering this BB really is, and I have taken it for granted. Last night felt like being touched by an angel, and my life is so much the better for it.

Photos can be found at:

Sherri wrote this about it:

Since Susan described the evening to perfection, there is little to add. But, I'm sure as I enjoy looking back on the lovely memory of the evening, I will not be able to stop typing!

Let me start by saying that the highlight of the evening, for me, was meeting Susan. She and her sister were delightful, and I truly felt a connection with her immediately. I thanked God at that moment for once again working such wonders through the stories Jan has created.

My first glimpse of Ms. Karon was as she walked down the aisle past us, very quickly, with her lovely green coat on ~ at first I thought it was another guest, like us, looking for a seat, but I did a double-take because I recognized her glorious hair! She was accompanied by two or three people, who virtually surrounded her (but not noticeably so). I was surprised at how petite she is, and how exquisitely lovely. She truly radiates beauty from within and without. I was captivated from that instant.

Hmmmm... how to describe her.... Those of you who were at the Homecoming or have met her in other venues I'm certain have the same words to say ~ I found myself drawn to her, like I am to the words on the pages she so carefully crafted for us to enjoy. Her sense of humor is delightful ~ she had us in a rollicking laugh several times, with many giggles inbetween. I was struck by her eloquence, grace, and the wonderful manner she possesses of a southern gentlewoman. Humble and yet confident, I found her to be completely human and completely extraordinary.

As Susan had said, we were selected to ask questions during the q/a session (Susan is braver than I and asked her wonderful question long before I got up the courage!). Instead of inquiring about something, I explained to Ms. Karon, and to her captivated audience, that her work transcends the page ~ that it has created a unique and wonderful community on this bb and that, together, we help one another through daily struggles and deep hardships and everything inbetween. I mentioned that you all have helped me through this lonely, lonely time with Mark being gone and that, because of this community, my husband has prayer, support, uplifting e-mails, cards, and gifts. She responded with a "thank you, thank you for sharing that, thank you!" And again, in her receiving line, I looked into those lovely eyes and felt absolutely compelled to let her know how she has reached countless people in ways she probably can't even imagine. She asked about Mark and told my little girl, Aubrey, to tell her daddy that she has a wonderful Mommy (so sweet!), and that Jan Karon says "hi" and will be praying for him. Later, my daughter exclaimed, "Mommy! I've never been so close to a FAMOUS person before!" As Susan said, when I was speaking to her, I felt as though she had all the time in the world and that I was the only person in the room. I have no idea how she does this, as there were multitudes waiting to see her. She spent a good amount of time speaking with us and I couldn't stop thanking her and telling her how she has impacted my life as well as so many others, countless others. Gracious woman that she is, she continually thanked me and seemed truly touched that so many people were brought together just because of her wonderful tales of a simple country priest.

We were also blessed to have lovely conversations with two of the ladies who accompanied her (not sure if they were her editor and publicist ~ I didn't want to be rude and ask!), both of whom said that they are continually amazed at the way in which Jan's stories seem to reach people in so many ways and on so many levels. They asked lots of questions of us and seemed truly interested in our responses.

Jan asked me what my bb name was and, when I replied, she instantly lit up and said, "Yes! Yes! I know that name!" One of the ladies (mentioned above) said that both she and Jan visit the bb often, and mentioned several topics that we'd discussed on the bb. I absolutely think they have a feel for the board and for the regular posters, I'm sure.

If you ever have the chance to see Ms. Karon (those who haven't yet done so), I recommend it highly ~ I am still on the cloud on which I floated home last night, and I can TRULY attest to the presence of the Holy Spirit residing in this remarkable woman and all she does. She gave God the glory for all of it and so eloquently told of His working in her life. I don't think I've ever felt or heard anything like it.

I guess I wrote a little more than I expected to! So sorry!

And.... I made a new friend in the bargain! I can't wait to get together with Susan again. She is a truly lovely and gentle woman with a beautiful heart. What a blessed evening!

I just thought you'd like to get another perspective and more details.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ok, I Owe Mike an Apology

On our recent visit to Charlotte, we got to see our friends Mike & Lesley's new house, which they just bought!! They've got a great place with a big yard, and while Mike was showing me around outside, we talked about raking leaves, and Mike said he was buying a leaf blower, for which I chastised him.

Sorry, Mike!

Sunday, I gave in and bought a leaf blower that, with a few clicks, converts to a leaf vac-mulcher.

It was probably the best 45 dollars I've ever spent in my life.

It has a 10-1 bag ratio, meaning that every bag of mulch is roughly equivalent to 10 bags of leaves.

In just under 4 hours, I managed to bag up 6 bags of mulch.

I don't even want to think about how long that might have taken me without this little gem.

I finally gave up after that time just because my arms felt like they were going to completely vibrate off my body and my muscles were getting sore. So, of course, it rained on the pile I have left, and now I am kicking myself for not having finished.

Fortunately, the weather here is in the 60's, so everything should dry out and I should be able to make the final push this week and get everything cleaned up.

And the real beauty of it is, my mom told me I would hate having a magnolia tree because when the leaves fall off, they are super hard. No match for my mulcher! I did have to rake up the pods that fell off it, but other than that, those leaves were shredded.

I have such a feeling of utter satisfaction when I look at the yard, knowing I made it go from leaf covered lawn (all you could see was leaves, no grass), to green beauty.

I might just be getting the hang of this homeownership thing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Home Ownership

Before Michael and I bought this house, I had such nice notions about having my own home... No one to share walls with, no one above or below or next to us, no shared walls... I can vacuum at 3am, I can blast the stereo, I can do whatever I want to do...

I didn't count on yard work.

Granted, we hired a kid to cut the grass all summer because it was so darned hot. But now I look at my window and all I see are leaves. And they have to be raked. And I have to rake them.

And I really, really don't want to.

I went out this morning, thinking ok, I'll rake some before I go out.

It's FREEZING outside and there's a frost!!!

I'm going to Home Depot and buying a leaf blower. I understand there's a certain model where it'll suck the leaves in and shoot them out as mulch. That'll save me bagging and all. I'm totally up for that.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Well, ever since I quit blogging on the Feckless Thug domain and then switched hosting providers, which caused my last blog to die a painful, horrible death, a few folks have been asking if I'd ever plan to return to blogging...

So, here I am...

Which leads me to wonder what the point is of me being here.

I'm probably not that interesting a person to be blogging on a regular basis...

And as my father would probably say if he knew anything about it, I did crap out on that National Novel Writing Month thing. So we'll see if I have the sticktoitiveness to actually follow through on this thing for more than a few months.

So... Kate...

Kate, Kate, Kate.


Well, as most anyone who's going to read this thing knows, I grew up being called Kate, not Susan. When I went off to college and had to fill out all those fun applications, they ask for your first name, which is, in fact, Susan. And in one stroke of the pen, I became Susan.

I suppose I could have changed the sign on my door the first day I moved in and gone back to Kate, but I did feel like I was getting a whole new identity, something I hoped to find in college away from my small town and my family, so the name stuck.

Of course, off and on during the years, it has caused a few moments of hilarity... Most famously perhaps is the first time my husband called me at home when we first met, and spent a few minutes talking to my mom (also named Susan), before they both figured out they had the wrong people!

And of course, there's nothing like hearing either my dad or my sister stammer, "Kaaasusan, kate, susan, whatever your name is, get over here!"

I've never had a problem answering to either name, when I hear either one, I look to see who's asking for me.

But my mom was here recently, and she calls me Kate unapologetically, without hesitation, and as soon as she left, my sister started calling me that (in public no less! THE HORROR!), and it felt right, warm, familiar.

So I think I'll find small ways to ease back into it, but of course, only with the expectation that the people who call me Sue or Susan can continue to do so, and the people who call me Kate or Katie (but NEVER Kathy!) can do so too!