Sunday, January 31, 2010

In just a fortnight......

There will be an auction on ebay for a FABULOUS decorative tree filled with handmade ornaments made in my honor by my PFATT sisters!

No, no, PFATT doesn't mean FAT. It stands for Primitive Folk Art Tea & Talk, an ebay group of PFABULOUS artists. I'm very proud to say that I am part of that group!

They have come together, members donating their time and talent, to create the beautiful ornaments that adorn the tree. It would make a PERFECT Valentine's decoration in your home, though it is not limited to a "heart" theme. It includes a monkey, lots of ladybugs, and other kinds of delicious things with lots of red and white and black and white polka dots.

Very Penny.

All the proceeds from the auction are being donated to the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.

I believe the auction starts on February 14 but will keep you updated. In the meanwhile, please visit the Pfatt Blog to see a slide show of the tree and some of the 30 ornaments that will adorn it. It is mind boggling!


I thought I would try to answer a little more in depth about why I've been gone from the blog for so long.

As I said in my last post, my mind has really been in a mental pinball machine....bouncing around, landing in one slot or the other, then slowly rolling to the bottom, the operator not caring how many points she was losing.

Every once in a while she'd attempt to get back into the game, but it was just too hard. Too much mental effort, sometimes too much physical effort. She was not playing a "mean pinball."

Low blood will do that to you.....and that is what I've been struggling with. Even today, I realized I REALLY wanted to stay in the bed, after doing all that walking and sitting up yesterday.

Sure enough, my blood was as low as the day I was admitted, so will be getting two units today. Will be feeling perky enough to take another walk this afternoon. It is AMAZING how quickly a blood transfusion will turn your energy level around!

Part of me has also been like Greta Garbo...."I vant to be alone." Again, so I can sort through the mental but also deal with some of the OTHER physical things that have been happening to me as a result of the chemo. My first really "negative" effects. It is hard to want to be around folks when you feel like you have to suddenly jump up and run off to the bathroom, hoping you'll make it in time.

I also used this time to really fall in LOVE with my Kindle. (And yes, I know the iPad just came out but I'm not lusting after that, YET). I was able to get a giant David Baldacci "fix" by downloading three of his books I had not read: True Blue, First Family, and Last Man Standing and then devour them. was like a giant brain enema. Sorry, I know that sounds gross, but getting involved in the seedy underbelly of Washington, DC and surrounding areas, with some strong kick ass women characters was just what I needed. Plus, part of First Family is set in Alabama, so that was kind of fun, too.

As for all the unanswered emails, I can only apologize for that. I had days when I never picked up my computer. I just didn't want to be overwhelmed. Sometimes I would open the computer, only to close it up. I think I had one day, out of all the days I was home, that I even felt like reading emails and responding to some of them. So it isn't/wasn't YOU, email writers, facebook messagers. It was ME. Trying to cope the best way I could.

I'm having to deal with the fact that I really have a LONG road ahead. I know because I put my whole chemo schedule into my iPhone calendar yesterday. I got it up to December 2010 and stopped because I didn't think I could bear to continue on for the 24 months AFTER 2010 that I will be taking a treatment at least once a month, barring any unforseen happenings.

Speaking of treatments, another large part of this last month has been getting used to going to the Cancer Center. Some days it is a piece of cake. Other days, it can be long and drawn out, depending on whether I need blood or not. Then, there's the getting ready to go, going, waiting, getting treatment, coming home, or, like my last trip, being admitted to the hospital from there. It is always a surprise. It can be wearing on the soul and the body for the patient and the person who takes me, which has been Jonathan, for the most part.

And lastly, whether in a fit of just feeling "pissy" or jealous or something, I got mad yesterday at the fact that I cannot take off this "leukemia" like it was a coat or something and go do something fun, if only for 24 hours. Or, two.

It is with me, 24/7.

It controls me.

I am not in control.

And it sucks.

So, if one day you ask "Is there anything you need? Anything I can do?" and I reply, "Yeah, you can switch places with me this week", just know it isn't directed at you.

I'm just jealousssssss.

If you don't get the sentence above, maybe this clip will help. I love me some Napoleon Dynamite!

'Ears to ya!.....or how I thought I was at Disneyworld for a minute...

One thing that has now been fully revealed to the world, since I'm now bald, is that my ears stick out somewhat. Ok, maybe more than "somewhat" but not like my mom's ears. That's not being mean, it is just the truth. Plus, I had to get my ears from somebody, didn't I?

They stick out enough that when I was little and she would give me a bath and pull my hair up in the shampoo suds that I was a dead ringer for Dopey. Yes, that Dopey, of the seven dwarves, Dopey.

She even had (still has) this old plastic bath toy of Dopey that used to sit on the tub on a rubber suction cup. I loved it.

So, I'm getting in the shower at the hospital, the warming light is on in the bathroom and when I move a little bit in one direction, there appears this shadow. Of Dopey.

"What the hell?" I'm thinking.....and then realize that the shadow is of MY head. NOT Dopey!

I think it might be time for me to start on a serious search for a wig!

I'm sorry I've been absent from blogland for so long. It has been a mental and physical thing for me.

Part of me has been bouncing around in a mental pinball machine. What do I do now? How do I act? How am I supposed to "be"?

I'm certainly not the same person who many of you saw in the hospital Mark McGuire, I was hepped up on steroids. Manic. Driven. In denial. Feeling like there wasn't anything I couldn't do or accomplish. "Leukemia" seemed to be just a word, not a disease. I didn't feel bad, I didn't feel "sick". I actually felt better than I had in YEARS. Thanks, steroids.

Coming off those, as you've read, was HORRIBLE.

So I guess I'm now in phase "two" of the "new normal".

Learning to cope.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Had A Good Morning

Penny had a good morning today. Doctor Dubay came by. Penny talked a mile a minute while he was there. He wants her to get up, sit in a chair, put on a mask and walk up and down the 2nd floor hall. So that's what we did.

Once home, the doc wants Penny to do what she would normally do when she's at home. If she gets tired, just quit what she's doing and rest. That's not quite the same as "rest when you feel bad, and rest when you feel good". I didn't think to mention that to the doc when he was there. Then again, Penny was utilizing every second he was there to tell him how she felt and ask him questions, so even had I thought to ask, I'm not sure I would have been able to get in on the conversation.

She requested Chinese from Swen again. Ate about a third of it.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Let Me Rephrase That!

I spent the morning with Penny, and Meme arrived around lunch time.


I spent the morning with Penny, then her mama. I think Mary-Keeley popped in on her way back to work. Not sure about the afternoon and evening...I had to work.

Penny was so-so this morning. Not terrible, not good. Somewhere in that middle ground. She passed on ordering lunch while I was there. Maybe she changed her mind and ordered something later. Don't know about dinner.

I just got in from working and I don't have a whole lot more I can give you tonight.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


Meme spent most of the day with Penny today. Plus, the girls came out and had lunch with her. They were having a grand 'ol time when I arrived as they were all three snarfing down some pretty delicious food from The Patio...the eatin' place downstairs at DCH. I was just back from Mississippi, so I joined Meme downstairs for lunch while the Katie, Mary-Keeley, and Penny ate and laughed.

All in all a very good day for Penny. Under her direction, Meme and the girls spruced the place up a bit. Putting this and that where it goes. Penny should be a hospital room designer. One thing is for sure, she wants her stuff where she wants her stuff. Now that's my Penny.

I wasn't with Penny for a long time today, but Meme says the new room, sunlight, bathing, dressing, reading her Kindle, good food, laughter, children, very handsome husband, visits from Jim Woodson and Catherine Collier from Christ Episcopal Church, made for a good day in room 221... featuring Penny Lamont McAllister.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Penny' Day

Penny's mom, Joyce (Meme), spent almost the entire day with Penny, as the girls and I all had to work. She should be posting, but since she doesn't know how, I'll do it for her. Meme is gettin' pretty good with her new iPhone. Although she said she had been texting me all day with updates, only to find out she had programmed into her phone an incorrect phone number for my cell. I wonder who received all those texts?

Penny had a slight fever from the moment we checked into the hospital yesterday until late this afternoon, and has been cold, no matter how many blankets are pilled on top of her. She moved from a north facing room to a south facing room this afternoon and likes it a lot better. Sun, sun, sun...and a better view. Not that she's jumping up to look out the window. Anyway, she was feeling much better by the time I arrived around 5:00. Not great, mind you, but better.

She was to get blood this evening, and of course they have been continuing with the scheduled chemo treatments. One more tomorrow, and that's it for the week.

We march on.


Our special boy

"momma, I will stay here and keep the couch warm for you until you get to come home and play wiff me". Love, Henry

"mommma, I will be sure to keep up with my tricks and I'll show you when you get home." love, Ollie

Peace. MK.

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Some pictures!

From her first day home January 2. For your viewing pleasure. Looking goooood!!

Peace. MK.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All Settled In

Penny is all settled in at DCH. She has all her favorite blankets, pillows, and the three sets of plastic 'shelf looking things' containing tons of girl stuff.

She wasn't feeling all that great when I left her, but she knows she is in good hands on 2nd floor DCH.

I've got to work the next couple of days, so maybe one of my beautiful daughters will keep you guys informed for a while.


Back To Hospital

At cancer center now. Just found out we're going back to DCH hospital for probably 10 days or so. Dr. feels there's no point in sending Penny home at this point. Better to keep an eye on her 24/7 for now.

More later.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Visit With Doctor Hinton

We spent from 9:00 'til 4:45 at the cancer center today. We met with Dr. Hinton, got chemo, and a pint of blood. Doesn't seem like that would take so long, does it? But it does.

There was a nice gentleman, with his wife, next to us today. It was obvious it was his first day at the cancer center. The DCH cancer center staff were so nice to them, taking all the time necessary to explain what's taking place, etc., just as they continue to be with Penny. They are wonderful.

Dr. Hinton said we are entering a phase in Penny's treatment where she will be particularly susceptible to infection and fever. We are to even more tightly restrict visitors at home to protect her from whatever might walk though the door, and we are to monitor her temp very closely. We are back on antibiotics, just to be safe. He also warned us to not be surprised if he orders us back to DCH hospital for a few days at some point this week. Better to have Penny under twenty four hour care at DCH if she catches something and her temp begins escalating. I agree with the doctor. And Penny understands fully and is quite prepared to return if need be.

I asked Dr. Hinton if things were going according to plan with Penny. His response was everything is just fine. She's responding exactly as he expected. So, we're right on track with this damn disease and the treatment. So far, so good.

Penny rarely checks her MacBook these days, but every once in a while she asks for it. So keep sending your love, even if you aren't getting a reply. In fact, I caught her checking her email just yesterday morning.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

See Doctor Tomorrow

Over eight hours of sleep last night. Chemically induced.

Weak this morning. Ate a little left over Chinese with the girls. More rest. Then Penny's mama came over with roast pork, squash, peas, and rice. Penny ate at the kitchen table with us and loved it. Then immediately back on the sofa, and quickly back to her bed.

My question for Dr. Hinton tomorrow will be, "How's she doing, Doc? Is this plan doing what you want it to do?"

Yours truly,
The Husband

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sorry. It's Me Again. The Husband

Penny had a good day today. Spent the morning on the sofa reading her Kindle. Wanted Chinese for lunch, but didn't eat much.

She actually got about 4 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night! That's a good sign. Tonight we're going for more!

Watched a movie this afternoon (500 Days of Summer...or something like that). Had a nice bath, got her legs shaved (ooo--la-la), and completely lotioned up. It was like we were on a date!

Sorry you guys have been stuck with my posts these last few days. She had the computer in her lap today, but...


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Phone Call

Penny got the last for four shots today...for this week. A giant thanks to her mama for taking her.

Penny is still very tired almost all day. And she's not her usual scrappy self. (The girls and I can get away with almost anything we want.)

Then, a cancer survivor friend of hers calls to pick up her spirits. I couldn't hear the conversation, but Penny seemed much better afterwards. A huge, huge thanks for that call.

The doctors have a plan, and we're following it. But geeeezzzz...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Penny's Day

Penny spent the morning at home with her mom watching over her. Ate a bit, but mostly trying to sleep in her bed after a not so restful night. Not sure why, but she just couldn't sleep much last night.

I took over around lunch, and we had a rather uneventful afternoon. Then the cancer center called about 4:00 PM and asked why we had not shown up for her SHOT. Turns out the 'check out' counter did not have Penny's shots for Wednesday and Thursday on their calendar, so when we checked out yesterday we were told not to return until the 25th. Both Penny and I mentioned that we thought she was to have four shots this week, Mon - Thurs. "Can you double check please"?

Anyway, instead of a bath, we piled in the car and headed to the cancer center for her shot. The nurses apologized, we got her shot, and headed back home. Now she's had a hot bath and is curled up on the sofa with two Bichons.

There are too many people to thank for the wonderful food that constantly streams to our home, so please know that we love and appreciate every bit of it. And for those of you outside the deep south, when someone is sick down here, people bring FOOD. Last night we had fresh gumbo from the gulf coast. And this afternoon a wonderful neighbor brought over a cheesecake. That just might be dinner tonight. Cheesecake!!

I'm sure Penny will be posting again real soon. I'm nudging her in that direction. Ever so gently.
Be patient.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'd say a good day!

Penny was up before me today, sitting in the den, with a cup of coffee in her hand! Wow! But by the time we left for treatment she was giving out of steam.

Got more blood today, more chemo, and then a spinal. EEeeewwwww...

Much stronger tonight, thank goodness. We've been told to 'rest when you feel bad, and rest when you feel good'.

We go back on the 25th. Until then, home meds, and rest.

What wonderful friends we have. Love to all of you.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Quite a day...

Practically all day at the cancer center. Penny was exhausted, so they gave her a room away from the other's receiving chemo. Complete with bed! Thank God.

Platelets were up, so she could receive chemo, but she needed blood, had a fever, and has some kind of infection that a blood test will identify in TWO days. Hell, I can fly to Europe and back in two days.

Anyway, we're back on antibiotics. It's getting difficult to keep the pill bottles in one bowl.

Now we're home, fever is down, and she's sleeping like a baby.


Sunday, January 17, 2010


Hi all.

Mom has had a relaxing day. She is looking and feeling better everyday, drastically different than this time last week. She's having Saltines and watching Golden Globes red carpet on E!

Mom has a regular checkup at the Cancer Center tomorrow morning and a spinal tap in the afternoon. Ouchhhhhhie!

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers, keep it up and remember to give thanks, everyday!! Lots of lurrvvvvvv-

Peace. MK.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Hangover

I came home for lunch today to find Mom still in the bed, curtains closed and lights off. She has been feeling really crappy lately from what we are calling "Prednisone Withdrawls"-not fun my friends. Imagine how you would feel after a month long Spring Break on Bourbon Street? Yeah-that pretty much sums it up. Think the WORST hangover you have ever had times a million. We have all been there. Yuck.

After she smelled the delicious aroma of Chicken and Rice Casserole (thanks Paula Q.!), Mom decided that she might want to get up and eat something. Not having enough energy to make it to the kitchen to eat with us, we made her up a "Princess Tray" filled with yummy food-all topped off with a piece of Red Velvet Cake. This made her happy. After a delicious lunch, time for meds. Then back to sleep.

I have been reading a lot about this so called "Predinsone Withdrawl" and have learned that it may take a while for her to be feeling like her old self. We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers and DELICIOUS goodies-but, for now-need to keep the visiting hours to a minimum (pretty much only family).

MK, Dad and I will be trying to keep you all updated as much as possible. Mom has an appointment at the Cancer Center on Monday. Hopefully they can help us get her back to her old self!

Love, Katie

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not Quite Heath Ledger

Penny's words exactly,

"I feel like a wilted collard leaf."

She's really been feeling tired, sore, exhausted, outta breath, etc. the past few days and wanted me to let you all know that she's sorry for the few and far between posts.

Mama is back to bed for now, resting her eyes. She tried the couch for a while this morning, but now she's retired to her bedroom. No lunch yet, but we'll keep you all updated for the next few days!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Learning best laid plans of Doctors and patients...

Can change with a blo0d draw.

All the fun has been put off until next week!

Today is Dr. Day.....

Yet another first.

Will they take blood and determine that I need some? (I feel like I do)

Will my yucky lethargy just be part of the prednisone withdrawl?

What will I find out?

Stay tuned and I'll let you know.

But I sure hope I can get to the furniture store to look at some new chairs.

Shopping, always a woman's priority!


Monday, January 11, 2010

One month ago, today......

I woke up in the hospital, having been admitted the night before.

The male nurse that checked us in on the 10th thought I was in for a chemo treatment.

"Ummmm, no, I was just diagnosed with ALL about 45 minutes ago."

And then, that wonderful nurse, Jeremy, proceeded to educate us about the three kinds of leukemia
(Chronic, ALL, AML--all with odd little variations of their own).

And when I say WONDERFUL, Jeremy, like EVERY OTHER NURSE on 2 South, is WONDERFUL.

When it was time to leave his shift, he said, in the kindest voice, "I hope that when I come back at the end of the week, you won't be here." Meaning, I would have the Chronic kind, treatable at home with pills.

Later in the week, when his 11-7 shift started, he walked into the room.

"Umm, Hi, Jeremy....."

But that was ok, because he is such a caring nurse.

And he is from Texas.

And we beat them!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Like Elvis, the Prednisone has left the building.......

No aches. Just general lethargy, tiredness.

No wonder the athletes are addicted to this stuff.

Off for a nap.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Triskaidekaphobia.....NOT in My vocabulary! Don't have it, never will!

Slept in. Like REALLY slept. NICE

13 13 13 13 13 13

Still basking in the glow of our 13th National Championship. Can't help it.
Grew up here, went to U of A, have never been far from the shadow of Denny Chimes.
Watched Tuscaloosa High School football games played in Denny Stadium, on off weeks for Bama.
Taught at a school that stood in the shadows of that same stadium, until it was torn down to widen the road that takes you straight to our very on Glory Land.

Loved that last night, when the team arrived, the temp was 20 but with wind chill factors, it felt like 13 degrees. People, is that perfect or what? And all those fans that were out there didn't care. They just wanted to show their love, and they did.

I would have linked to the Wikipedia article on


but for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I have hidden something on my tool bar and have not figured out how to restore it so I can link easily back to the URL. Perhaps this will make you happy, since I like to send you on "rabbit hunts"

Suffice it to say, that in 1881, some prominent businessman decided to put an end to the superstitions surrounding the number 13 for formed a club called the "Thirteen Club". They sprang up all over the place at the time but then died out.

Ben, don't you think it is time for a revival of this sort?


Friday, January 8, 2010

OOOOH, I'm liking this red background......

It may stay this way for a while.

Power. Life. Red.

I hope Miss Terry is singing this to Nick this morning!

Because I sure feel this way, as I imagine the rest of the Bama Nation does!

And ladies of a certain age.....did we really think we were THAT cute when we wore these clothes?

Yes, probably.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Or Perhaps We Won.....

Because of my snazzy game day outfit!!!!!

13, baby, 13

Love, Penny

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Ready to ROLL over Texas!

Ready for the game!!! So are my lucky elephants!

Give 'em hell, Alabama!!!

Love, Penny

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Color change for today.....

Roll, TIDE, Roll!

Hook those Horns and pitch em into the Pacific.

Gonna be an Eeyore sort of day.....or weekend...

That's the REAL ORIGINAL Eeyore on the left.

He, Pooh, Piglet, Roo, Kanga, and Tigger all now live in the New York Public Library

It will ge an Eeyore kind of weekend for me. I hope you understand.

I am going to try to sleep, except during the game, of course.

Then, I will move like molasses.

Lastly, I will have to learn to say "No, not a good time right now".

This last week has really caught up with me and now I'm paying for it.

Hope you understand.

Emails or Facebook messages welcome as I can get to them when I'm feeling better.

Please save your minutes on calls.

Love to all,
Penny aka Eeyore.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

People have been so kind.....

And I know I have been been late in mentioning names, gifts, flowers, cards and more that I've been blessed to receive. I've been keeping a list.

Jonathan's checking it twice.

I have to stop for a minute to talk about a most timely gift that arrived yesterday from Janet Crowder and Phyllis Ward.

Though I never taught with Janet or Phyllis, per se, I've known them for years. I did have Rachel and Zach Ward at Verner when I was in the library. Janet has been and excellent teacher in the system for years and they both made the American Studies program at the Tuscaloosa City School system an outstanding one.

A knock on the door and in walks Janet, with JUST the perfect thing at the PERFECT time!
An extra large African made straw basket, huge red/straw stripes. My eyes bugged out at the pattern.

Then, I realized it was the perfect gift for me to carry my things I want/need to do, but might need to move to another room to do computer, phone, new magazines/catalogs, notebook, and other things. PERFECT in every way!

Thank you Janet and Phyllis....and for the sweet notes in the card.


P.S. Will get a picture up ASAP. This basket SCREAMS Penny!

OK, I TOLD you I needed to chat this morning!

Yes, you've seen this picture before.....

I have GREAT NEWS from the import company I design Christmas items for!

If you made it through this post about my association with Midwest of Cannon Falls, then you may have noticed that I had wanted to join with them in donating a portion of the profits earned from the sales of the 2010 Christmas items to the Lymphoma/Leukemia society for research in the field.

They called yesterday and we have come to an agreement to let this happen!

I am SO excited!

They will announce this to their sales team today, at America's Mart in Atlanta, as the gift show before they open the doors to their appointments. (They are also very excited about the fact that they have an increased number of appointments over last year at this time, so maybe things are ready for a real turn around! Let's keep our fingers crossed!)

Later we will work out packaging, info on sales tags, etc., that will let shoppers like you know that if you are purchasing a product designed by me you are helping provide money for research in the field of adult lymphoma/leukemia!

I am proud to be part of this company. They have treated me like family for years.

I hope that everyone will look back at the former post and think JUST HOW STINKIN' CUTE your kitchen will be decked out in gingerbread folks next year!

AND please, haunt your local gift shops and department stores and ask them to order this line for their stores!

Please feel free to forward this blog to ANYONE you know who owns a store, is a buyer, or who might be interested in helping with this cause!

Thank you, so much!

Saddened to learn......

That a brilliant young man, Walter Braswell, had passed away suddenly. I remember when Walter worked for Claude Harris, a former assistant DA while my first husband worked in the DA's office.

Claude was a fine, funny, and wonderful guy. Walter would have had to have been to have worked so closely with Claude.

Walter was 55. I am 56. I've known so many great folks who've gone before they're 60. We all must take better care of ourselves and not ignore things that we think are wrong. I know we can't prevent the inevitable, but I've really learned about "paying attention" to things.

Also, very saddened to learn that the great-grandfather, grandfather, father and father-in-law to my good friends Rick and Liz Pearce, children Davis, Libbo, Maggie, and great grandchildren had passed away on Monday.

Liz had just visited me the Sunday before after checking on her father in law who was having stints put in. Jonathan saw Rick as we were leaving the hospital as Rick was going in to check on his dad. I wonder if Rick learned to dance by watching his Dad dance with his mother? If he did, he had a MIGHTY lucky mother!

My heart and love go out to both of these families who are suffering though such a sad time right now.

Please know I love you, am praying for both families and will try to do what I can while being sort of stuck here at the house.


From a post on Four-O-Clocks, to 4:00 a.m. Wednesday to Poppies?????

Wow. Woke up this morning on the old hospital routine. Brain a' racing, needing some coffee. Needing to talk but Jonathan is still asleep so I'll have to let my fingers do the talking, to play off the old Yellow Pages ad.

Plus, I think the coffee maker just beeped, so if you'll excuse me for just a minute while I grab a cup of java, maybe I can put together some coherent sentences.

Ah, in my red dotted mug AND the surprise of remembering that Sue Blanton Giamo had brought over some Krispy Kreme doughnuts yesterday. You better be prepared. It may be a prednisone, sugar rush, caffeine rich post!

Ok, so I got off on gardening again. I still have big plans and like I said last yesterday, the crazy stuff I did....trying to get out before the Thursday trash trucks picked up the organic gold I could get for free...have begun to pay off.

At the moment I am eyeing a pile of crepe myrtle stems that have been taken off a tree around the corner, because they make great plant stakes. It is too cold at 17 degrees to even think about it right now.....but who knows about later today!

My haybale experiment wasn't the same as the one in the link, because I used mine for making raised beds, in which to contain all the stuff I was collecting, as well as wanting to try the Ruth Stout method.

I had been impressed with lasagna style gardening which actually is a variation of the Ruth Stout method. As I read about Ruth Stout, I realized she had really made gardening EASY. AND she was doing it when she WAS OLD!!!!

Mulch with hay/straw. Keep weeds down. Keep plants moist. They grow. EASY PEASY. And it is!

I also want to point you to a blog by my old friend, William Kruidenier. He is an intensely interesting and fascinating person whom I had the good fortune of meeting nearly 40 years ago.

His interest in organic food growing, vegetarianism, and other political interests that have to do with these issues is deep and powerful. In an older part of his blog, William Kruidenier, he has great pictures of his and or his son's haybale garden, where they got an early start last spring to have some incredibly beautiful vegetables.

William told me that his interest in healthy food grew in part from watching his parents suffer from chronic diseases which may possibly have been prevented by better diets. I have seen this same phenomena with myself, when I was following a GOOD eating plan, as well as watching others around me suffer with stuff could be prevented by just eating better.

OMG. I just realized I was a hypocrite because I admitted to eating a KK doughnut before typing this post.

But, I don't live off of them. Please forgive.

From food to plants again. This time poppy seeds.

Many of my readers may make and enjoy the famous "Poppy Seed Chicken" recipe from our great Winning Season's cookbook. Vegetarians and vegans won't find much in it but it is filled with some DAMN good recipes.

Anywhoo...back to poppy seeds. I also make a pretty good poppy seed pound cake. Actually if it more like one of those Sandra Lee things...not from scratch but Simply Homemade, or whatever the name of her show is. Cakes from scratch have always frustrated me.

But this isn't really about poppy seeds to eat, but delighting in looking at that TEENY TINY seed and realizing the power and might that lays within that tiny black thing.

The color, the magnificent varieties of poppies that spring from a seed so tiny that you just barely have to scratch the dirt in the spring (fall for us), throw the poppy seeds on the ground, lightly press
and keep moist a bit.

In the spring you are rewarded with such beauty that you can't believe it. HUGE flowers, incredible colors. I'm partial to the red/orange ones with black centers, though I love them all.

The petals fall, the seed heads are left. It is tempting to rip them up before they seed heads dry because they aren't that pretty. Better to throw in some zinnia seeds to let them sort of cover up the old poppy seed heads.

But when they are dried, those pods, each of which sprang from ONE TINY SEED are now filled with HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS of seeds, which you just have to shake into a bag and start over again the next year.

You will NOT be sorry.

I will leave you with another Secret Life of Plants video that is very meaningful to me. Please don't think it morbid.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Terrific Tuesday!

Lasr week, at this time, I thought I'd be in the hospital for two more weeks, if not more.

Toward the end of the week, I thought I might be going home today.

Then, suddenly, I was home, on Saturday!

My, how time as flown!

Getting adjusted back to home life has, as I've already indicated, been wonderful.

The days are passing quickly and I'm trying to do a little more each day.

A load of laundry. Fix a recipe. Enjoy visits from friends old and new.

Chatter on email. Sit and rest when I need to. Enjoy being told to sit and rest.

Try to pick out a new sofa, because I think i've gotten all the use I can out of a 30 year old treasure.

Seeing my family at lunch, when the girls, Jonathan, and Mama are here.

Each day is like a beautiful present to unwrap!

Oh, and the seed catalogs have started to arrive and I'm having tons of fun circling all the things i want to get.

Note: That i WANT to get. Doesn't mean I will, but there are some darn pretty four-o-clocks in a watermelon color
that I've never seen before. I think I WILL get those!

I love old fashioned smell good flowers that bloom late in the afternoon in the summer.

Last year after my big plans of 'the garden of the century" went to hell in a handbag, I did AT LEAST manage to do one thing right.

I would go out in February and get everyone's first grass clippings/last of the leaves that were shredded and bag them up.
My neighbors thought I was nuts. Jonathan thought i was nuts.

I filled haybale lined "raised beds" to the top with over 80 bags of this treasure.

I now have the happiest earthworms EVER and will not have to use a shovel this year.

If I see ANYONE in my neighborhood grabbing this organic gold I will SHOOT you, unless, that is, you want to drop it off at my house.

Then I will kiss you.


Monday, January 4, 2010

First day at the new Cancer Treatment Center....

Wow! WOW! WOW!

A great experience in a beautiful setting. Just a quick visit with Dr. Hinton, a quick chemo shot and then home to some great Chinese food!

jane Smith, librarian par excellence, dropped in with some yummy cream and good book talk.

Now MK and I are slugging around looking at a new catalog I hadn't seen, Grandinroad.

Has a WAY cute hat rack that looks like a giant twig. Might have to add that to the decor as I collect some hats to wear on my newly bald head.

Katie said it was snowing here at 7:30 a.m. I missed it be we keep hearing about snow on the 7th.


If y'all haven't gotten the message yet, IT IS GOOD TO BE HOME and feeling as well as I am, considering the circumstances.


Sunday, January 3, 2010


To be home, all day long.

To have a husband that plays the perfect, relaxing music for such a day.

To cook a yummy pot roast for some "faux" Italian style beef sandwiches. Send me 5.00 and I'll send you the recipe!

To have my family come see me without having to come to the hospital.

To have Liz and Kathie drop in for a visit....and bring food!

To surprise my mom when I pulled off my "doo rag" and she realized I looked like my dad, when his hair fell out after his chemo.

To have my daughters come and hang out and then work to help me clean up my messy closet. Because i am a mess.
(Actually, I piled up on the bed while they went through stuff and I said "Keep", "No", or "Oooh, what was I thinking?")

To have Katie come across an old Dooney and Burke purse, in which we found some GIANT gold loop earrings that make me look like Yul Brenner in "The King and I". I really don't think I can pull them off. And I think they're circa 1992.

To have Mary-Keeley help organize the the jetsam and flotsam left after getting the closet straightened out.

Oh, and there was an almost full pack of Benson and Hedges Light 100 cigarettes in that purse. 1992 was a stressful year for me. YUCK.

To have the best Santa in the world, my mom, come in with things that came in after Christmas or she had forgotten to bring over on Christmas, so it was like Christmas again! I can't wait to take my new Kindle to the outpatient clinic when I have long days there! Thank you, Mama! Oh, and it has a nice red cover. Because I DO LOVE RED!!!!

To have friends out there like you, who have cared, prayed, read this blog, and I hope will continue to do so.


Never underestimate the power of uninterruped sleep.....


More AHHHHHHHH......

Coffee in bed, served in my favorite red polka dotted mug by my dear husband...........see one here.


No beeps, no tethers to the "Christmas Tree of Life"........

And though I'm wearing some REALLY FUNKY shiny gold FUGGS, I'm still clicking my feet together and saying....


Today's agenda at home is to be a quiet one...things to put away, doctor's papers to go through, organizing medicines in my el giganto pill dispenser, just generally trying to ease back in. Visits with family.

Emails, FB messages would be most welcome! Phone calls (at the moment, and which I love) are leaving me a little breathless.

Got to build up those little red polka dots of hemoglobin so I can get some more oxygen. dots are EVERYWHERE!!!!!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hellllllll yes. Home at last!!!! Fresh air!!!!!

Love, Penny

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sleeping in MY OWN BED tonight!

Yesterday there was a hint that I might come home today.

Today the nurses came in said "Are you excited about going home today?"

HELLS to the YEAH!!!!

By 10:30 I had blown SPA DCH and sent hugs and kisses down the hall to the nurses. What a great staff!

When the door opened and I felt the fresh air on my face for the first time in 23 days, I almost melted into a puddle of happiness.

Got home, Katie and Mary-Keeley and I sat in the sun and they took the rest of my stringy hair off my head....ahhhhhhhh.

Rested and then we were treated to homemade pizza from Nita and Holden.

My bed is going to feel SO good tonight.

Being next to Jonathan is going to be even better!

Thank you all so very much for caring, praying, gifts, cards and all the other good things I felt while in the hospital.

And don't worry.....the blog will go on. Still have LOTS to say!


When I woke up this morning.....

Yes, all of you were on my mind!
The wonderful visits, gifts, phone calls, emails, texts, prayers.
ALL of it! I'm so VERY, VERY, grateful!

I loved this particular video because it shows what we, errrr, of a certain, errr, age looked like, thought was cool, etc.
Did you catch those white "go go" boots?

I'm actually intrigued with finding a wig that resembles the
female singer's look

Had a nice quiet morning and early afternoon. People were
resting at home, I was quietly finishing My Life in France,
which deserves a second read, IMHO.

Old friends dropped in. Thanks Harry and Jenny...always SO fun to see you both. So glad
y'all and Jean and Sandy had such a fun NYE!

Night ended with one my best visits EVER, because Pam and Anna Gordon walked in the door. Anna Gordon, Summa CumLaude student at U of A, grad student at Georgia,
discovered she had Leukemia within the past year. BUT YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW IT.

Anna has a true "kick ass" attitude about this whole thing. Thewisdom this old lady learned from a 23 year old was AMAZING. What Pam had to share was AMAZING and VERY helpful.

We have promised each other that we WILL be sitting side by side on Oprah's yellow couch one of these days and that Oprah will be trying to butt in to remind us that it is HER show.

But it won't be. We won't give her time to talk!

Before I forget, I should mention that Anna (and her sister Torrey) were former students from back in my library days,
when I had the INCREDIBLE fortune to teach at Tuscaloosa's first magnet school, at Central Elementary School.  

Program UP: Unfolding Potential.

We were different, we were strange (to some who couldn't really break out of the traditional
"school" mode--like worrying if their kids would still be invited to the "nice birthday parties")

AND we were an OASIS, a HEAVEN, a GODSEND to those families knew their children marched to the beat of a "different drummer." It is just too damn bad that we didn't have charter schools at the time.

There's a book in that story, too, to be told by the many who went through it. And if I have anything to do with it, there will bea bunch of us sitting on Oprah's couch again!

And as a P.S. to my Central story....when "Room Service" door knocked yesterday for lunch, in walked a tall thin boy whoseface was very familiar. I stopped him, turned him around so I could see his name tag. Cardae Thomas, one of the sweetestkids that went through Central Elementary while I was there. I jumped up and hugged him and held onto him for dear life.

He had recognized my last name on the order form, seen ME through my lack of hair, and quietly whispered, "I wondered if you would remember me, Ms. Mc".  

Oh yes, Cardae...I remembered and will NEVER forget you!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Survivor....not the TV schlock kind.....

I was going through my inbox and came across an email from Walter Grant, a local guy.  His family, sadly, has suffered the tragedy of losing a child before they should have.

I have many friends to whom this has happened.  I cannot even begin to fathom the depth of grief they still must bear every day.  To all my friends who have had to go through this, I am deeply, deeply sorry.

But this isn't about that.  It is about Walter's opening sentence to me in that email.

"My name is Walter Grant and I am a Leukemia survivor."

It was sort of late last night, since I'd had that nice Phenergan nap, and I was still a little groggy.

I didn't "get" that sentence at first.  I sent a quick reply to let him know how much I appreciated the letter, talked about meeting Beth, his wife at the Church Bazaar.  (Are you noticing how much is happening around this Church Bazaar thing????)

I told him I remembered Adam, as he was in Katie's class and was the boyfriend of one of Mary-Keeley's best friends  when he died.

We exchanged a couple of other quick emails re: dealing with Leukemia, things we could do to help around here, etc, then it was time for shut eye.

I woke up this morning and was re-reading the email and this time his opening sentence took on a new meaning.

It is my PLAN (not a dream) to be able to share those same words with anyone who is willing to read or listen to them:

"My name is Penny McAllister and I am a Leukemia survivor."

Don't knew this one was coming....

"We pause this programming for a commercial break....LONG commercial break"

OK, don't hit me but this is a preview of Christmas 2010, yes Christmas 2010 which will be available at America's Mart in Atlanta, January 6-13th, as well as all the other regional markets that are held around the country during January. Since the catalog has been mailed, I decided to post the styled shot for the catalog....there are MORE cute pieces in this collection.

Yes, I am engaging in a bit of shameless self promotion.  Skip this post if you skip commercials on TIVO.  Won't bother me ONE BIT.  NOT ONE BIT.   And this is a LONG post.

I have another story to tell.  One of the most interesting, adventurous, eye opening stories of my life.  A story of courage.   A story of taking a chance.   Enough of that.....but in the spirit of another great story, I'll entitle mine......


Many of you know that I am a licensed designer with a company called Midwest of Cannon Falls, recently merged with another company CBK, henceforth known as MWCBK.  This is a company that makes things overseas and then imports for sales in stores like Dillards, Anna Kate and Co., Bow Regards.  I make the original prototype, it is sent overseas for reproduction, and end up in stores like the above.

Some of might not have known that, but now you do.  For those of you that may  have been wondering how I make all those things in the stores, there ya go.  I know some think I'm making all of those at my house.  Jonathan surely does, because our house is more studio/storage/etc. than a house sometimes.  But, I digress.

As an only child, I spent lots of time imagining things, making things, learning to sew very simple doll clothes with my grandmothers, that sort of thing.  My mother and father provided me the things I needed with which to occupy myself.

I am also sort of obsessive-compulsive and have always said "Hmmmmm, I can make that myself".  Not all have been successful, but what the was fun.  And, most often, I was teaching myself how to do it, either by just "studying" on it or reading directions from a book.

One of the first stages was the huge crepe paper flower stage.  All over my room.

Next, the wooden bead necklace phase, where my mom just shook her head at how much acrylic paint cost in 1960 something.  But still, we headed to this store and that to find the "perfect" string or the "perfect" paint color.

Lest we forget, the painted lunchbox purse phase, where I perfected the art of swirly monograms on the side.  A neighborhood idol, the late Carolyn Flanagan Whitfield, beauty and style queen at Tuscaloosa High school bought one from me.  WHAT AN AFFIRMATION!!!

There are more...needlepoint phase, (learned how to do it while sitting under one of those sunbeam hairdryers so I could pass the time quickly) later, the cross stitch phase, where I still marvel at the fact I could make a tiny stitch like that.  Oh wait, I had 20 year old eyeballs then.  More phases, too numerous to mention.

I continued to play with this creative gift while doing things like creating very simple backdrops for events.  One year it was a "Peter Max" styled backdrop for one of our THS proms.  It was not so great but I was proud. One day Jonathan and I were looking at old prom pictures, each with other dates.  He said, "I hated that background."  I said, "I painted that background."  He said, "I still hated that background."  We laughed and moved on.

Later years,  there were more backdrops, table decorations, thinking of impossible things to do in a short amount of time.  (Hmmm, making paper mache life rafts about three days before a themed party?  Jean Gordon and I were frantically trying to dry them in her oven and not let them burn up)

Oh, there are so many, many more.  If you want to hear about them, you'll just have to buy my Oprah's Book Club selection book when it comes out!

SO, big jump forward.  (I have a good Okra Santa story to tell, but again, you'll just have to buy the book.)

After 25 years employeed in one school system, I change to another one.  Whole different atmosphere.  My creative brain, which had not been totally dormant, especially the prior six years to "the jump" began to flourish.

NOTE:  At this point, I'm sure Jonathan is channelling his music mantra..."Don't bore us, get to the chorus."  J, my love, that's for you to do with the songs in your heart.  I have to be what I am.

My friend, Beth Roberts, who has always gotten my quirky sense of humor and art (along with many other folks) had shown me a copy of a 1999 Halloween issue of Mary Englebreit's Home Companion. (May it rest in piece....greatest mag out there, IMHO).

I had seen the issue but had been more focused on the fact they had featured a home full of southern folk art, as well as the private backyard retreat of another southern woman whom I had known back from an earlier first marriage life.  I had NOT noticed what Beth was showing that day......

There were these adorable figures.  Quaint, quirky, vintage, cute, huggable.

She said, "I bet you could make these."

"I can't do anything like that!  I've never sculpted a thing in my life!  Besides, I don't want to make them, I JUST WANT THEM!"

Off to the internet to search the artist out.  Debbee Thibault.

Off to the phone to call local stores.  They never heard of her.

Off to the internet again, to find who sold them.  Then found out I couldn't afford them.   Sigh.

But I would drool on my keyboard over them.  DROOL, people, DROOL.

Fast forward again.  Christmas comes.  We are ready to put up the old lights that have burned on my tree for nearly 80 years. *Note: they burn for 15 seconds, but we count it anyway.  The cord has broken.  I am sick.

Again, off to the internet, where I locate a guy who collects this stuff.  I explain my dilemma and the nice man sends me TWO new "old cords".  Christmas can continue.

How to thank this man?  Aha!  I'll make a papier mache Santy Claus, holding a string of lights!  I do, send it off, and he is thrilled.

Next, I want to do something for my aide at school.  She loves snowmen.  Ta Dah! A snowman.

Then, two more Santas, one for my mom, one for Jean Gordon, my best friend who has accepted and loved everything I've ever made for her.  (Of course, so has my mom!)

I find myself overwhelmed with ideas, so much so that I am popping out of bed at 3:30 a.m.,  working until 6:00 a.m. and then getting ready for school.  Crashing on the couch at 7:00.  Wasn't I a fun wife???

I reach a stage where I have so many things I've made, I can't do anything with them, so I try selling them on eBay.  Slowly I build a following, enjoy some success, make a little money because what I really want to do is buy a Debbee Thibault piece.

Another flash forward...I'm sitting in my PJs (spent one whole spring break never moving from the work table) and have one of my "flashes".    "Hmmmm," I'm thinking to myself..."wonder how much it costs to get one of those little "Editor's Picks" pictures often found in the front of magazines?   "Hmmmmm"

Thinking it cost 10K or something, I decide to forge ahead and call the first number I find in the front of Country Living.  No pain, no gain.   Find out it IS actually editor's pick.  No cost.   My head is reeling.

"Why do you ask?" responds Matt Holm, associate art director or assistant or something.
"Well, I make these little things and thought you might be interested in seeing them, ummm, ya know?"
"What kind of things?"
"Well".....and I am still trying to struggle to describe them when I realized I had a new digital camera and had taken pictures of some sold things.
"What issue are you working on now?" some voice whispers in my ear to say to him.  I realize I can send him Halloween pieces.

So off go the pictures.  Forty five minutes later, I get a response.  They like them, and want them up there.  OMG.  These were sold pieces!  I had to get busy to make more!  It felt like the scene in Julie/Julia when Julia Child is on the porch and opens her advance check.  Jonathan and I were jumping up and down in the ironing/computer/art room!

August 30, 2001.  The magazine comes out.  There are the figures.  It is real.

Are you tapping your feet, or fingers wondering about when in the hell I'm going to get to MIDWEST and ME?

Ok, here ya go....

Spring break, 2002.  Complete repeat of the above. Pajamas all day, working on things.  Another "flash".  "Hmmmmmmm, wonder what it would be like to have these reproduced more easily?  Wonder if one of these import companies would be interested?  But how would they find me?

Yes, the "internets", folks.

I pick two companies, only because I liked their products.  Dept. 56 and Midwest of Cannon Falls.  They have contact info for folks like me who might bring new, fresh products to their line.

Dept. 56 responded right away...."Interested, but give us a week to really look at them."
Nudged them with a couple of other emails and then said..."Oh well, at least I tried."

A couple of weeks go by and I've almost forgotten about the Midwest email when I receive an email from someone named Cassandra Hatten, MW licensing co-ordinator.  They liked what they saw and wanted to see more.  More pictures are exchanged.  Ideas start to flow.

An agreement is reached.  AGAIN, Jonathan get to do the Paul and Julia child jumping up and down scene.  It is surreal.

That was in 2002, and since that time I have designed things for Midwest, now MWCBK.  They have been, and continue to be, some of the most kind, wonderful, enthusiastic, supportive  people I've ever met. They "got" me.  They "got" my art.  They stretched my abilities to do things I didn't think I could do,  like sculpting small things.  They have been as important to my life as my family and the blood that flows through my body.   I am better, because of them.   Many of my "first contacts" are now gone from MW...Cassi, Shantelle, Margo, Angela, Ingrid.  I miss them a lot, because they were good to me.  Very, very good.

Susan, the designer I work with, is still there.  Kari, my new contact with the company is there...and probably wondering "Who IS the crazy woman that doesn't recognize pale colors?"

But I have one more dream.....and am stating it publicly.  My dream is that somehow the "powers that be" at MWCBK and I can work out a deal where, together, we share in making a donation to the Lymphoma/Leukemia Society of America, from the sales made at the markets that are coming up.  So that people who buy my products in their local gift shops know that they are not just buying a gift for someone, a happy for themselves, or something to decorate their homes for the holidays.

I want them to know they are helping fight a disease that knocked me off my feet, literally, on December 10, 2009.


P.S.  I am having SERIOUS stove envy in the picture at the top.  SERIOUS.

"Ought Ten?" What will we call this year? BETTER, that's for DAMN SURE!

Happy New Year!!!!

Hope everyone had a safe, sound, happy celebration last night!

OUT with the OLD!  IN with the NEW!

Get a new broom, get a new mop.  Don't sweep or swish all the old dirty gray water around on your floor or in your mind!  Fill an imaginary helium balloon with all the crap that is inside of you and LET IT GO!

Want to do something new? Don't say, "Welllllllllllll, I just don't have time."  We all MAKE time for the things we want to do, whether it s something fun OR engaging in activities to that make us very UNproductive.

And hey, you better know that I'm the queen of the last one!

I picked the picture above because I've always loved the art of Jessie Wilcox Smith.  Her story is wonderful and I hope all my teacher and "bookie" fans will take a minute to visit the link.  You will be amazed.  Of course, readers who are just following along might be interested, too, but you book people will LOVE her story!  Oh, and guys who are reading...her illustrating improved after studying with Howard Pyle.  Need I say more?

When I was growing up  my dad's mom lived on 15th Avenue here in town.  She had a Jessie Wilcox Smith reproduction of a small child with red curly hair, dressed in footed pajama, looking like she was coming down the steps backwards.

That was the way I had to come down the steps at that house, as there was no carpet on the stairs.  Just slick wood.  Of course, the most fun way to come down those stairs was to sit at the top and propel yourself, bottom down, until you reached the landing.  Bumpity, bumpity bump!  She let me do it because it kept me out of her hair so she could get back to sewing new dresses for me!

Ok, sorry that was such a long story.  But the picture reminded me of it so much, I had to tell it.

So here's a  New Year's suggestion for you that doesn't involve any money, exertion of your physical body or giving up chocolate cake.  You just a little notebook and pencil or pen.

Start writing your stories.  Start writing your thoughts.  Start a journal.

Even if you only DATE the page with today's date and say, "Hello, 2010!  What are we going to do this year?"  It is a start.

Oh, and don't start whining, "There's no store open for me to get some nice journal", or "But I can't write" (DUHHHHH, if you're reading this you can write!)  Nobody's saying, "Be Hemingway".

Grab a piece of paper, date it, write a little something and then save it in your fancy new journal if you want to get one.

As I've lain in this bed looking back over the past six weeks or so, I've wished SO badly that I had been a journal keeper.  A journal of what went on that day, with family, friends, thoughts.  I probably would have even noted that I felt a little breathless, had a weird cough, wondered why I was so tired and uninterested in things I normally love to do, might have made a little note of it.

Not that pinpointing a specific date, earlier than December 10th would have made any difference.

Oh, WAIT!  Yes it would have!  I would have been home, struggling to deal with the Christmas hoopla instead of SPA DCH!

Ok,  as you can tell I'm feeling pretty good into the first three hours of 2010.  We can chalk that up to a couple of shots for nausea, one of which put me out for five hours yesterday after having some delicious quiet time with Katie and Mary-Keeley.  MK sat in the chair and did some crochet.  Katie stretched out on the bed with her head at my feet and we just talked some more words from a Mother's heart.

My mom visited, as did Dana Taylor, toting pictures of a beautiful white Christmas in Virginia, where she had been visiting her daughter, Margaret.

Then, Jonathan popped in for a quick NYE celebration bringing a bottle of wine called "Irony".  It was just about that time I realized I needed some Zofran, which didn't work.  The phenergan did.

He left, quiet as mouse, so we didn't get to share a little NYE toast to better things for this year.

HOWEVER, there might be a little mimosa on the menu this morning, courtesy of some friends.

Because alcohol IS sterile, you know!

Oh, and before I forget, the first person I saw in 2010 was my PCA, Debbie, a HUGE sweetheart that is so kind, talks so sweetly to us.  It was very nice!

Wow....from Jessie Wilcox Smith to this.....