My energetic, fun friend Deborah Williams knows almost everything that’s going on in Jacksonville. Well, almost everything that would be of interest to her group of friends (a bunch of seasoned gals to like to kick back, but also want a few laughs now and then).
So, she told me about the pre-holiday fireworks display at Evangel Temple [5755 Ramona Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32205]. I said, “Yippee doodle, let’s go.” And we did.
It turned out to be the quintessential Fourth of July celebration. Little kids ran around playing with sparkling toys their parents purchased at various booths on the church grounds. Some of the girls turned cartwheels. Deborah and I got steak hamburgers and fries from one of the food trucks in the parking area.
A pastor gave a sermon about freedom in Christ changing one’s life which was appropriate, I thought. There were worship songs and patriotic marches. The young lady who sang the Star Spangle Banner did a wonderful job. Whenever that song is sung, I always wonder if the singer will be able to hit the high notes. She did.
Then they shot fireworks from the roof of the church. A totally professional extravaganza that seemed to go on and on thrilling everyone, especially the children
Evangel Church bills itself as a vibrant evangelical church in the heart of Jacksonville. They certainly lived up to that.
As the story opened, I thought, what fun! Court room antics. A judge and a defense lawyer without a clue they’re in love with each other…when their legal colleagues have known for some time.
A line tickled my funny bone where Delilah defined herself: “Hope has a lot more faith in my goodness than I do. If something good happens, and I’m involved, you can be sure you’re at the scene of an accident.” Yes, it was funny, and I’ve read another novel in this series and know Delilah can be self-serving. However, I suspected there was much more to this sassy female defense attorney than she’s admitting to…and author Fay Lamb shows us that “more” as the story unfolded.
Then the story seamlessly transitions from lighthearted romance to a runaway teenage girl and the plight of the homeless in downtown Orlando, Florida. When Libby, perhaps the sweetest, kindest character in the Ties That Bind series, gets set up and is arrested when coming to the assistance of a near homeless woman…Delilah goes into action. Who is this homeless woman and what is her story?
There are plot twists and turns, a bit of suspense, and no end of underhanded court maneuvers to keep the reader turning pages. The author was able to get me so entwined in the character’s lives, dreams, and struggles that I was compelled to keep turning pages. I highly recommend this novel.
I’m moving into a new condo and my mind is running to all things home/homey. Honestly, I’m NOT asking anyone to bring me a gift, but I am thinking of all of the holiday celebrations and house parties I can have in this larger home. As a teenager (in an era gone by) my friends and I spent a lot of time learning about etiquette and entertaining. At that time it was something girls/women learned (and I think it’s something boys/men need to learn). I’m often saddened by how little people think about customs and amenities. I think it’s important to preserve heritage and legacy. I still enjoy pouring over my cookbooks, especially the holiday ones, looking at table-scapes.
1 Peter 4: 8-9 [New International Version] ~ 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
On that note…it’s a good rule-of-thumb that unless you’ve been asked by the hostess/host to bring a food-item, such as the salad, always bring a small gift to dinner or to a house party. These have been called Hostess Gifts and/or Bread and Butter Gifts. This gift should be something the hostess/host can easily handle while performing all the duties required of him/her in making guests comfortable. My gal-pals and I have a ten-dollar limit on all gifts (birthday, Christmas, etc.). If you don’t know the host/hostess that well, shoot for $10 – $15. If you’re on a very strict budget, don’t turn down an invite because you can’t afford a gift. Go to Dollar General or an off-price store and purchase a gift that looks as if it cost ten dollars.
Coasters make a wonderful gift and are extremely useful to the person who loves to entertain. They can never have too many coasters.
Kitchen utensils are something everyone can use. They could be wooden, or plastic in bright colors, or in black/white. There are even whimsical ones. I’ve seen a salad spoon set with a bride painted on one spoon in non-toxic paint and the groom painted on the other. Super cute.
Hand soaps are practical and beautiful. I like both practical and beautiful. There are wonderful scented soaps and they come both in bars and in liquid form in pumps. These are readily available in super markets, drug stores, off-price stores. You could even throw in a scrub. A twist on this would be shower gels or environmentally friendly kitchen soaps.
Herbed cooking oil is terrific for the hostess/host know as a gourmet cook. You could add a container of Himalayan pink sea salt, or any other small gourmet item…and bon appetite!
A box of chocolates, the old stand by, is always fun. The hostess/host can open it and put it our for guests. More than a few people at the party will love chocolate.
Things not to bring, or to be cautious with.
Uncut flowers you get at the supermarket or other markets is not a good idea. The hostess/host will be in a better outfit. She/he will have to go find a vase that fits, or will have to cut the flowers to a vase he/she has and mix in the powder that comes with the flowers. This is messy and will take her/him about ten minutes. Bringing flowers in a vase is also not a good idea because someone may be allergic. Scented candles have the same problems with allergies. Be sure you know your host/hostess will use them.
Wine and liquor should only be brought if you know your host/hostess will drink it, and if you know what they like to drink. Don’t bring a $12 bottle of wine to a wine connoisseur. It will sit in the back of their wine cabinet for years.
Never bring dessert. Never. The host/hostess will feel obligated to put yours out and they won’t know what to do with the one they’ve made.
Are your friends the ones who commiserate with you? The ones who say, “After all you’ve been through, go ahead and do that?” Whatever “that” is.
You don’t yet have a spouse to give you clear insight, balance. It’s very likely you’re not under parental direction. At this point, more than ever, you need emotionally anchored friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re never married, divorced, or a widow/widower. You need stable friends, steady friends….friends who give wise counsel.
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24 [New Living Translation]
Things a true friend might say that are not easy to hear:
He/she’s no go for you. In fact, he/she’s plain no good.
Don’t be alone in a room with that woman/man. Not ever!
I love you, but you have to look at how much you’re drinking.
You’re weekends are sneaking into Monday. Better get to work on time.
Don’t you think you’ve carried that grudge long enough? Your obsessed with it and it’s negatively coloring your life. It seems you’re never happy anymore.
I know I’m a frugal fiend, but honestly, you tend to overspend. You need to pay your bills, not buy a $500 watch. Think of the credit card interest.
Don’t promise your child, parent, boss something when you know you can’t deliver.
Please don’t repeat that about Jane/Joe again. I’m sure it’s not true.
I respect your beliefs/politics, but they’re not mine. Let’s keep that out of the friendship. We have so many other things in common that we both enjoy.
If two or more friends have said something like this, it’s probably something worth taking a good look at…even if it’s uncomfortable.
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? ~ (Proverbs 20:6 [New Living Translation]
RELATIONSHIP, perhaps one of the most important and powerful words ever.
I’m a firm believer that my relationship with God is the most important relationship I have. It’s the one that upholds everything else in my life.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18 [New American Standard Bible]
We were created to have relationships. In our society today we seem to be so isolated, lonely, even desperate. Depression seems to be epidemic. I know that in my life, building relationships with other people has been the key to happier days.
Yet, relationships are so easily damaged. Here is a list of five things (done to me, done to others, or I’ve done) that I’ve learned, from painful experience are huge NO-Nos. We could each make up our own list, and in fact, that’s a great idea. Make your personal list. Here’s mine.
1. Don’t take loved ones for granted and stop putting in effort. Don’t think they’ll always be there. For one reason or another, one day they won’t. Don’t stop treating them like they’re special. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries, school events and other occasions, family celebrations.
2. Don’t demean your loved one/friend in public. Don’t show greater respect to someone of higher status, of greater wealth, or who is just plain flashy…when that person will mean nothing to you in the long term and will have little impact on your life. Don’t constantly correct your loved one in public (or in private, for that matter).
3. Don’t constantly show you can do things better than your loved one. When your spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend washes the dishes, don’t pick up the water glasses, inspecting for spots and then begin to wash them over. This is an example. Anything in this vein is an insult.
4. Don’t engage in negative joking and banter, as a practice, with the ones you love. Have you noticed on reality TV these days the couples and/or family members are constantly belittling each other in the form of a joke? This is not good. This is hurtful. Because we are bombarded by this type of behavior on TV, doesn’t make is a healthy thing to do in our relationships. Habitual put-down jokes are very destructive.
When I came across this turkey in the oven photo, it reminded me so much of the way my grandmother roasted her turkey. Boy did that bring back fond memories.
Thanksgiving Day, here in America, is a time to gather with family and friends to hang out and enjoy each other’s company, to give thanks, watch a game, go to a parade or watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. Everyone has their own favorite float or balloon. I personally, always wait for Santa at the end of the parade.
Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend of the year. It’s a time when loved ones make the effort to be together. This is a grand American tradition, complete with long lines at ticket counters.
Yet, everyone I know who is celebrating this holiday has personal issues, sadness, or tragedy. Sons and daughters are in the military and are stationed in dangerous locales, or simply stationed far from home and can’t get leave. A beloved family member or friend is battling an illness. Some are in dire financial straits. Others are going through a divorce. Yet others have lost a loved one.
I am grateful for all the people in my life who lift their chins and walk-the-walk, making it one-day-at-a-time. I’m so very grateful for them and they are an inspiration to me. I’m grateful to God for the role He plays in my loved ones lives, blessing them, even when they don’t realize He’s blessing them.
I’m also grateful for the Americans who came before me, who built this great nation. I’m grateful to the founding fathers, but I’m also grateful to the men who built the railroads, the bridges and tunnels. I’m grateful to women factory workers, farm workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, police, and many more. And don’t forget the IT guy. I know without a doubt that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may you be blessed beyond measure in all ways.
2 Corinthians 9:11-12 Living Bible (TLB)
11 Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.
12 So two good things happen as a result of your gifts—those in need are helped, and they overflow with thanks to God.
Nancy W. came to my mind today. I knew her many years ago, when I was a single working girl living in Miami. (Trust me, a looong time ago.) She was a loyal member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). She’s passed now, and I suppose I could use her last name, but I won’t.
Nancy W. was a blue blood, truly. Her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Her family is in the social register. I went to several open AA meetings (open to non-alcoholics) with Nancy. That was in the 1970s and members came to evening meetings from work dressed in polyester pantsuits, or well worn-in dungarees, depending upon the type of job. This was south Florida, so some came in shorts, some in short-shorts. Nancy wore a pleated skirt, white or pastel blouse, and pearls.
Nancy told me about the highlight of one of her trips to Manhattan (NYC). She accompanied her chic socialite friend to an AA meeting in the East Village. Both women always sat in the front row when they’d been in boarding school, and they did so at this meeting. They didn’t want to miss anything. Her friend was decked out in a fur coat (animals lovers, please don’t judge). It was a small meeting place, and the meeting had already begun when an obviously inebriated man walked, or careened in. The only seat left was in the front row, right next to the lady in the fur coat. The speaker kept on with his story about getting sober. All of a sudden the drunk threw up on the floor smack-dab front of the podium and in close proximity to Nancy and her friend. The speaker didn’t miss a beat, kept on talking. Nancy and her friend sat there unfazed while someone rushed forward with a mop. Another member guided the drunken man to the back to feed him some strong coffee. When retelling this story, Nancy remarked, “That man is a drunk, just like me.”
Nancy was one to write down recipes. While watching a TV morning or afternoon show, if a celebrity demonstrated how to make something scrumptious, she would write the recipe down on the back of a stray envelope or a piece of scrap paper. One evening, Nancy attended an AA meeting where the now long-sober speaker had once done time in prison. He gave the recipe for jailhouse hooch and, naturally, Nancy grabbed a piece of paper out of her handbag and wrote it down. While joking one day, she showed the “recipe” to me and I wrote it down. Here it is…
Jail House Hooch a/k/a Pruno
1. Take one empty paint can, wash well. [Note: Nancy copied this recipe in the 1970s. I have on good authority that inmates use huge Ziploc baggies now.]
2. Combine in the can 10 peeled oranges and one 8 oz can of fruit cocktail (stockpiled from lunches or filched from the kitchen). Mash well. Add 16 oz of tap water, mix, and reseal can (or baggie). Wrap can in a towel and store in a warm place hidden from the guards. Let sit 48 hours.
3. Open the can (baggie). The mixture should have ballooned and there should be a smell of fermentation. That would be true in wineries, in this case it’s more like rotten fruit. Add 50 cubes of white sugar, 5 tsp (or 5 packets) of Heinz Ketchup, must be Heinz. Mix to stir ketchup through and to dissolve sugar. Put the cover back on the can and seal. Wrap it up in the towel again and store in a warm place (if you used a baggie, run it under hot water for 30 min.) and be sure to keep it away from the guards, but a place that is accessible so you can let gases out. Don’t want to be cleaning this stuff off the walls.
4. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape.
5. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape, place it near a heat source (oven or radiator) for half an hour (or run the baggie under hot water) to keep the fermentation going.
6. Twenty-four hours later, let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.
7. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.
8. The next day open the can, fish out the rotten fruit and the yukky mold. Strain the liquid carefully through a wire, mesh strainer. And it’s ready to drink.
Does it taste like Scotch, bourbon, Irish Whiskey, or brandy? In a word, NO! It tastes like a mixture of rot-gut and gasoline, and only gives a measly, minor buzz. It’s more sickening than inebriating, but it does, in fact, inebriate somewhat.
Here’s a spiritual thought. You might consider asking for Last Rites before drinking Jailhouse Hooch