Category Archives: Love

November Means Veterans Day and Remembrance Day

Jillian here. Sorry this will be a long post! It’s November and since this is the month we remember our veterans—on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, I thought I’d share some tidbits about the veterans in my own family.

My Revolutionary War ancestor was Thomas Gresham (yes, my U.K. friends, I am related to Sir John and Sir Thomas Gresham—perhaps you’ve heard of them 😁 but that’s a story for another day). One of the later generation younger sons came to the colonies in 1690. By the time of the Revolution, we’d been here long enough to become attached to this place and my five- times great grandfather enlisted in Washington’s Army at the tender age of 15. He survived that long, freezing, brutal winter at Valley Forge (got sick and lost some wages as was too ill to fight for a bit) and also survived the war- thank goodness he did or you wouldn’t be reading this post!  🙂 When I think of what I was doing at age 15, my admiration grows for this young man and all the others who stood with him.

My great uncle, William Eugene Fowler died at the Battle of the Bulge and is buried in one of the American cemeteries in Belgium. He was an army sergeant and died while in battle, but not before saving five of his men and pulling them to safety. My dad, who was a tot at the time, as he was born in 1940, loved his Uncle Eugene. My great grandmother had a portrait of him in a massive oval frame with one of those bubble glass fronts. My dad would carry that thing around even though it was as tall as him. Thinking about the sacrifice Uncle Eugene made—saving others— without regard to his own safety, makes me proud to be related to such a brave man.

My dad enlisted in the Navy when he was still in high school and left for boot camp a few days after he graduated. He was already engaged to my mom. His mom and dad moved from their farm into town while he was gone and he didn’t know where they lived when he got back. And my grandmother had gotten rid of all his civilian clothes as she thought he’d always be in uniform and wouldn’t need them. 😁 —he served during the Vietnam era and volunteered to go over, but he wasn’t allowed as he was a weapons instructor and was needed stateside to train the young me who would go. He’s always felt a little like he cheated by staying in the USA. This is him below:

His younger brother, Robert, always wanted to be in the Air Force. He was a fun person and a real ladies man. I remember him well even though he died when I was almost six. He injured himself in boot camp and was told he was going to be shipped home as his back injury was so bad, he wouldn’t be able to serve. Despondent that he’d never have the life he’d always dreamed of, and with no loved ones near to help him, he took his own life. It was terrible and so sad. My dad was the one who had to tell his father as the Navy commander was contacted by the Air Force as they had the records that Dad was his brother. The commander called my dad into his office and told him.  My poor dad had to make that terrible phone call to his father. My grandmother was never the same. Her bible, at her death, had so many notes in it where she was praying on paper for understanding of the death of her fourth son. I share this to say I don’t consider my uncle a coward. I consider the pressure he was under and the loss of his lifelong dream as the impetus for his actions. If only there had been the kinds of services we have now for counseling back then, I think he’d still be here.

And lastly, my nephew, Kyle ____ (his middle name is Eugene), who is very much like my Uncle Robert, charming, fun and a ladies man (they even look similar), is currently serving in the Air Force. It’s like we’ve come full circle with him and my uncle. Kyle is following Robert’s dream. Maybe not exactly the same exact dream, and we hope the ending isn’t the same, but I do find it comforting that Kyle found his own path, that included military service, and has been following it for more than 12 years now.

What about you? Any stories to share about loved ones who served in your branches of the armed forces?

Late Again- But I WAS Thinking of the Blog

Yesterday was my day. On Tuesday, I made myself a note to do my post. On Wednesday, the 9th, I told my paralegal I didn’t know what to talk about. She had no clue either. I went to court, still thinking…. nada.

Around 4:30, I got a text from my niece and I mentioned something to my paralegal about her. Paralegal Extraordinaire said I could use that as my blog post. BUT I had already turned off my computer. I said I’d do it when I got home….well… I couldn’t  log on at home as I forgot my password (It’s saved on the computer I left at work)- So, here I am today, a day late and a brain cell short, putting out my post.  🙂

My husband has a number of nieces, but I’ve always been particularly close to one of them- she was 15 and I was 21 when I married her uncle and we’ve sort of had a sister relationship. She has two daughters. One is married and has five children. The other one got engaged at Christmas.

I am super excited that my great-niece has invited me to go with her, her mom and sister (and her two daughters) to shop for her wedding gown. I didn’t get to do that with my daughter-in-law so this is my chance to have that fun excursion. There’s a show here in the US (for UK readers who don’t know) called “Say Yes to the Dress” – the main show is in NYC, but they have an Atlanta, Georgia set show as well. My niece has her appointment at that salon on her birthday in February. I am super excited to be part of her journey and so happy for them both. He’s a lovely man and so good to her. He’s going to fit right in with our clan.

kes and Anthony

 

A Mini Rant for the Holidays! :)

Jillian here! Happy December!  I am proud to announce my first grandchild, Benjamin Rowan, was born on November 26, 2019. Just in time to have his first Thanksgiving. It’s really cool as it’s always been my daughter-in-law’s favorite holiday. He’s a super sweet, gentle soul (so far) and a very happy little dude.

I was there in the hospital when he was born- not in the delivery room- I didn’t even want to be in the delivery room when my own kids were born, I certainly didn’t want to be there for someone else’s.  🙂  The labor itself wasn’t bad for her- she did really well according to her and my son. So happy she had an easy time.

People have been asking me what my grandmother name is going to be. I’ve been keeping it a secret and have bought a book for the baby for Christmas that will reveal it. It was one of my son’s favorite books as a child. (I’ll tell you at the end of this post if you stick around long enough) 🙂

One of the reasons I’ve been keeping it a secret is because I wanted the other grandmother to announce her name before I did. She has done crazy- if not downright mean- things to me over the time I’ve known her. I haven’t written about this before, but I have to get it off my chest.

When my son was growing up, we baked and cooked a lot together. I have one of the really nice KitchenAid mixers and I always told him I’d get him one for his wedding present.  When he got engaged, he was at her parents’ house and mentioned I was getting them a mixer. Within days, he emailed me to tell me that her mother got them one as she found a great deal on QVC. It really hurt me as that was something special I wanted to do for him and his bride.

Next, I asked her numerous times about coordinating for the wedding. What she was going to wear so I could decide what to do. She never would tell me- she’s about a size 6 and I am not. It’s harder for me to find nice clothes. Since she refused to tell me, I finally got what I liked. When I told the bride what color I got, I almost immediately got a text from her mother saying, “That was the color I was going to wear.” When I told my husband, he said I should just wear what I want. The lady ended up in an ecru all lace gown that was long and similar to the bride’s. Everyone else – including me and the bridesmaids were in short dresses. She looked foolish. Everyone was talking about it.

Fast forward to the baby shower:  When the other grandmother wanted me to go in on a ridiculously expensive shower (over $1,000.00 at a restaurant- before tax and tip), I said we’d rather spend money on something for the nursery. She came back with they were getting the stroller. I said (you think I’d have learned my lesson by now) that I’d get the rocker then.

Imagine my surprise when I went the next day to order the chair and someone else had ordered it. When I asked my son who bought it (as I was pretty sure I knew)- he said his wife’s grandfather. I had to laugh as I asked, “How does a dead man buy a chair?” Clearly, her mother did it- son says it was from money inherited.

And, the last thing as I rant on, the day they were leaving the hospital after Benjamin was born, her mother said she’d gone to the gift shop to get something for them – balloons and a stuffed toy- but it was closed. I said (again, stupid me) I had tried to go get flowers but they were closed and I didn’t know where a florist was nearby. By the time I got to my son’s house, his mother-in-law had stopped and got flowers.

So, it was vital I keep my grandmother name secret until this lady announced hers to all her friends.   🙂 I’ve chosen Nonna. It’s Italian for Grandmother and the book my son loved was Strega Nona. And now I have rattled on way too long.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza or Happy Hanukah, whichever you celebrate.  stregna nona

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Busy November

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Jillian here. Happy November. This month is chock full of happenings. The first weekend, I spent with writer friends at a lake house about 2.5 hours from me. My friend’s uncle owns it and he allows her to use it … Continue reading

Beach House Memories

12917577We recently purchased a condo in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  I’d never been there before we flew down to look at the unit and I love the area. This book is set on the Isles of Palms which is 95 miles from North Myrtle Beach so perfect timing for me to read it.

It opens with Lovie (Olivia Rutledge) again at her beloved beach cottage. She is an old lady and in the last stages of cancer. The story is designed like a sandwich with the first and last chapter in the present and the rest of the book mainly about the summer of 74 at the beach. A plus is the sub plot where they study loggerhead turtles and the newly hatched babies. We saw some nesting spots when we were in Florida. These creatures are amazing.

Lovie finds love this summer and she truly finds herself. We all face crossroads in life. Some us face more than others, but  I think we all wonder what our life would have been if we had taken the other road.

As I read this story I thought that everyone over maybe 60 should read this book. Choices were made that changed the course of life and in the end, if you believe in soul mates you can believe that these two will meet again.

Maybe it’s where I live, but I seem to be more aware of the life journey than I once was.  Here it’s 55 and older, and there have been a lot of changes on our street.  One couple downsizing to an apartment, another moving to a local assisted living, another choosing to move across the state to be closer to their daughter and they also chose assisted living.  One lady described it to me as turning to a new chapter.  This book made me look back and see more clearly the chapters of my own life story.

A recommended read for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy August

Jillian here. I’m looking around and wondering exactly where this year has gone. Can’t believe it’s August already. Zipping along through 2019 for sure.

My August started nicely with a fun wedding. As y’all know, I have two sons. I’ve been blessed with having one best friend of each of them work for me for a time while they were in college. One went on to be a lawyer (the older one) and the other one works in the governor’s office (the younger one). I like to think I had a little something to do with their successes, but that just may be my ego talking. Lol.

Anyway, the older one has been married a while and is the father of two adorable children. The younger one got married this past weekend. There was a a lot of laughter and love in the room. He’s Hispanic and his mother sang for him and his bride and also had some lovely Spanish dancers perform and there was a red ribbon they danced with and then wrapped around the couple. It was an interesting insight into their culture.

The mother of the bride was a different story. The bride herself is charming and shy and doesn’t say much. The mother offended a number of people by her rude behavior. Even my son, who thinks I overreact and see rudeness where there isn’t any, thought this lady was rude.

A number of people were walking down the entry hall toward the chairs set up for the service—we’d literally just walked in the door—and this woman starting yelling at us all to “Turn around, turn around. Stop right there and face the wall.” (Like we were bad schoolchildren).

Stunned, we did as ordered and in about a minute, she said, “Turn back around. The bride was in the area. You can do what you want now.”

I thought she was the wedding planner who was full of herself, but my son pointed out she was the mother of the bride. People talked about it all night. It was that weird.

Other than that, we had a nice time, some people overindulged in the wine which was kind of surprising. I’m always amazed that some folks take the risk in over doing it with no designated driver. Not that I’m preachy or anything, but that can lead to tragedy. It’s irresponsible.

The venue was the Mission San Luis. An interesting museum in Tallahassee that encompasses a lot of history of the state. They even have a virtual tour on line. Check it out if you have the time.

Here are a few photos. Oh, and the cake picture reminds me that I saved the groom from his first marital faux pas. The ladies cutting the cake asked him if they were saving the top and he said no and they could cut it. I told him he better check as they are supposed to save it for the first anniversary. He told me they didn’t have room in the freezer and turned to the ladies and told them just to save two pieces. I reiterated that he better go check and that he was no longer autonomous and had to confer with his wife. He returned a few moments later and told them to save the top. He hugged me for saving him.  😁

Late is Becoming the New Normal For Me

I’m late again. It seems the 9th has a way of arriving when I’m in the midst of chaos or travel. This time, I was in Orlando for work from Wednesday to Friday and then spent the weekend with my son and daughter-in-law. I got home last night a little after six but it’s an almost 7 hour drive and even though I knew it was my day, I was too lazy to type. Alas.

So, here I am today. I usually take the grand dog, Primm, a toy when I visit. This time I got her a weird yellow creature (picture below). She wasn’t thrilled with it when I got there Wednesday night, but by Friday, she’d warmed up to it. Saturday, she was pulling the stuffing out of it. My son said, “And this is why we don’t buy her soft toys.”

I told him it cost less than lunch at Wendy’s and if she destroyed it, it lasted longer than digesting a meal. I also picked up the fuzz that came out of it. 😁

It seems I’m already a bad influence on the grand dog. And since my daughter-in-law is 17 weeks pregnant, I’m sure I’ll be in trouble some more as the future unfolds. 😁

We’re super excited to have our first grand baby. I was happy to be able to go with my son and his wife to shop for some baby items and some maternity clothes for her. She has just a little bump right now, but she tried on the fake one at the store to see how the dresses would fit later. She was precious as she giggled every time she looked at herself in it.  Lots of fun ahead for them— and us.

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LEJOG The Last Leg

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Peter’s 70th Birthday Challenge seems a long time ago and unreal in a weird sense.  It is hard to remember all the details as highlights surface and become treasured memories but he did it! I left you with the awful … Continue reading

LEJOG – Peter’s 70th Birthday Challenge

Well he did it! 12 days averaging 80 miles most days in awful weather much of the time, Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Approx 910 the route he took.  I feel in awe and so proud.  I was of course logistics back up in my little Skoda but what I had planned to be a leisurely role was anything but relaxed or stress free.  I was constantly aware of the huge effort Peter was making day after day, drawing into the depths of himself but had not considered what it would be like to wave him off each morning and wonder if I would see him again.  I am not exaggerating, he looked small and vulnerable alongside some of the huge vehicles thundering past him.

I hope you won’t mind but so much has happened I will write about the trip in instalments.  No worry then of missing any crucial bits out.  We set off on Saturday 8th September for what seemed then like a long drive to Cornwall, paled into insignificance when I set off for Scotland in 30 mile stints.  We stayed in a hotel at Lands End but it was such a rip off, I was embarrassed as so many tourists make a bee line for the place.  Despite the surroundings the views of the headland are breathtaking and the hotel staff so friendly and kind.  We had a photo taken at the temporary sign as the main sign which is up in the day is “owned” by a photographer who charges a lot of money to take photo.  Business is business I know but this is taking advantage. Enough moaning as it did not detract from our efforts.

At 9am Sunday 9th September after a hearty breakfast Peter set off on his marathon ride.  I felt very emotional waving him off, apprehensive and proud all at the same time.  I admit to a few tears so walked part of the headland before setting off myself.  We met up after 40 miles or so at Truro for a lunch break and for Peter to stretch his muscles.  I found supermarkets helpful to get supplies and hot drinks.  Another lone rider left just after Peter, I passed both of them at different stages, and we met him again lunch time.  He was cycling a much shorter distance but appreciated having someone to chat to during a break.  We coincidently met up the next day too at Okehampton. En route to Taunton. Sunday we stayed at our first Premier Inn at Liskeard, the routine was repeated 7 other times during the long journey and Premier Inns were an ideal break.  Even had bike sleeping with us!!

Monday 10th September we rode (not together!) over parts of Dartmoor to Taunton.  The scenery was stunning but once in Devon the hills were testing for Peter.  Tuesday 11th we stopped in Bristol at our eldest son’s house for a family reunion as our younger son left yesterday for a new life in Turin with his Italian wife so more emotions again.  Adam, the eldest, then cycled with Peter to Monmouth over the Seven Bridge which was great for Peter.  3 counties in 3 days and ending up in my homeland Wales.  Next day Wednesday 12th September onwards to Shrewsbury via Ludlow which was when I started to compile a list of places to revisit.  Each day my schedule was tight but a routine soon developed.  No time for sightseeing!  We stayed north of Shrewsbury in our third Premier Inn where there was an interesting welcoming committee. Yes alpacas in the middle of Shropshire!

I’ll finish here for now but more next time. Thank you for your support and encouragement in this venture.  It has been a life enhancing experience in many ways.

I’m Super Late

Jillian here. I feel like the white Rabbit. I’m late, I’m late. I knew yesterday was my day to post but somehow, the day escaped me and then today did, too. I got sick from movie theater popcorn and have been kind of worthless since then. So, forgive me for my lapse.

I had a busy August. Traveled to see my son and his wife in the Orlando area and met the grand dog for the first time. Such a sweet hound. She never makes a sound and is so gentle and sweet. Precious.  We went on a lovely boat ride as well and had some nice meals. We just kind of hung out as my son had a deadline and my daughter in law had an open house for her real estate work. She and I did go boutique shopping one day and taste tested a ton of olive oils at one place. My son is very stable and settled with his wife and his architecture work. He’s found his bliss.

My younger son moved to the Chicago area and we had to get him set and all packed. His dad drove him up towing a U-haul trailer. It’s crazy expensive to have a car up there so we’re keeping it here. While it’s hard to let go, I want him to be happy and this is what he wanted to do. The good thing is he’s living with his best friend from school- they’ve been buds since the 4th grade and his friend has been living in Chicago a year with his girlfriend – they got a bigger apartment so my son could come up and see what kind of work he could find as he finishes his German studies. His goal is to be a translator and already has French and Spanish. He’s going to take some kind of proficiency exam while up there in order to qualify for the German part.

Seeing both my kids happy is something I’ve prayed for all their lives and having one already settled is great. Just have to keep praying that the other one finds his bliss as well.

Have a great September. 8C2F49D0-A7D4-4EC1-AA29-24584F012111AB713081-CFE9-4748-9E52-8FE3A230BCB4285F741F-04F4-4A18-B3F0-EE40AD8ACE0A09006E05-BA19-425B-8213-66A6A1017533