Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Nanny Bug

Today would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday.

Annie Ruth was born December 30, 1908 in Atlanta , GA. She was the 15th of her father's 17 children, and the 10th of 12 that her mother had had with him. While it would seem easy to get lost in a crowd that size, my grandmother nevertheless managed to stand out.

Like when she modeled in the catalogues for the local ladies clothing store J.P. Allen's while still in her teens.
She married my grandfather Reid in 1929, and my Dad followed a year later. According to the back of this photo, this is my dad, but I think it looks more like my aunt Nancy. Although, I can still see a lot of Dad in that face as well. So who really knows.

While her first name was Annie, she went by her middle name Ruth. She was not fond of her first name, and when a state employee mistyped it as Anna on her driver's license one year, she did not correct them. I think Anna gave her the air of sophistication she desired. Of course, a few years after this photo, she became a grandmother and thanks to my brother, the first grandchild, she was dubbed Nanny Bug and it stuck. By the time I came along - the youngest of all of the grandchildren - I didn't even realize that she had a real name other than Nanny Bug. After we lost her in 1990, the grand kids all chipped in and had Nanny Bug added to her tombstone. (Forgive us - We are all kind of crazy that way.)

Nanny Bug and my other grandmother Cleo were as different as night and day - Nanny Bug was a city girl, while Cleo was from the country. Nanny Bug never left her room without full make-up, high heels and hair spray, and Cleo could not have cared less about that stuff. But in spite of their differences, they were each other's biggest fans. Here they are together at a family event.

I'm so thankful to have had both of my grandmothers as long as I did, but part of me wishes that they were still here today to celebrate this milestone. Nanny Bug would been perfectly coiffed, as usual, and would obviously have had on a pair of expensive high heels, even if she needed a walker to get around in them.

Love you Nanny Bug. Have a Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joni & Santa: A Retrospective

For nine years, my Mom dutifully dressed me in my finest Christmas wear and took me to see Santa at the Rich's at Greenbriar Mall.

1963 - So, this is where it all began. My first visit as a 3 month old in 1963. I'm clearly making noise and irritating Santa, while my brother Steve is a picture perfect boy scout. This picture pretty much sums up my family dynamic.

1964 - Still making noise and being irritating....

1965 - although, admit it - you'd cry too if Santa was letting everyone see your underpants.

1966 - I can haz a Christmas Tree Candy???

1967 - Dude! He gave me candy again, and I wasn't even good this year!

1968 - Hey, if my brother can dress up like a boy scout, I can be an angelic little choir girl. (The only departure from the Greenbriar tradition - this one was taken at the Downtown Rich's.)

1969 - I think that I'm slowly starting to notice that the beard is a fake.

1970 - Now this Santa sort of creeps me out. I think he's sort of sketchy looking, don't you? But, on a happier note, my aunt Charlsie made that top/dress for me. It was one of my favorites.

1971 - And this Santa just isn't even trying - I mean, his mustache is below his top lip and his belly is pushed up above his belt like man boobs. Come on dude, this isn't a tough gig - just sit in the chair and make sure your fake hair and stomach stays in place.

Just after this one, my stupid, mean classmate Ronnie Powell ruined Christmas forever when he told us all the truth about Santa. I hated that kid.

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane with Santa, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 12 of 12

As you can probably tell from my complete lack of blogging since last month's 12 of 12, I've been a little bit indisposed as of late. Between putting in several 12 hour days at work, trying to learn all the new aspects of my job that I inherited after the last round of retirements, praying that I don't get cut from my job in the merger fallout, being a bit out of whack due to having a bit of the flu over Thanksgiving, still dealing with the unexplained stroke-like symptoms (and yet more medical tests), and being introduced to the crack that is Facebook - well, not a lot of time for blogging.

I was prepared to at least get in my monthly 12 of 12, but then I forgot my camera as I left for work at 7:00 am and then I didn't get home until after midnight on the 13th. So therefore, no photographic evidence of my December 12th exists, unless some satellite got a shot of me as I got out of the car going into or out of work. But still, I hate to completely bail on the exercise, so I figured I could just try to recreate my 12th for your viewing pleasure with the assist of some old photos. Just pretend you are watching one of those shows on a basic cable channel that reenacts some lady snapping and killing her husband or somesuch.

7:30 a.m. ish - heading the two blocks to work. Just imagine this shot with fewer green leaves on the trees.

7:32 a.m. - The place where I spent most of the day.

7:37 a.m. - yeah - my desk still looks like it did last month - just that all these papers are now covered with 30 additional days worth of papers.

7:50 a.m. - My Outlook task manager telling me that I'm about 5 days overdue on everything except for the one project we have spent the last week completely devoted to non-stop.

8:00 a.m. - Checking the flights for the trip I'm taking with my niece on week after next. While I owe the poor kid a Christmas trip to London (her brother went two years back, her trip last year was postponed due to my knee surgery) it is just too unaffordable right now for me to take her this Christmas. So, instead, we are going to Vegas. Mom is joining us, as she gets comped rooms and food at the Flamingo (hey - I can afford free), and I'm taking Liana to see the Cirque du Soleil show Love at the Mirage. Beatles is as close to London as we are getting this year, but she is thrilled nonetheless.

9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. - spent the day with these two again, except that none of us were really smiling about it.

8:00 p.m. - Finally left work. Not completely finished, but will head back on Sunday to finalize the rest of it so we will be ready first thing Monday.

8:10 p.m. - Neighbor Katie's evil cat Gracie hanging out in the alleyway, probably wondering if she can sharpen her claws on my leg again.

8:15 p.m. - Out with Katie for a belated birthday drink and dessert. I didn't look half this put together, but then I rarely do.

12:00 a.m. - Pulling into the garage after a long evening.

12:01 a.m. - Thank goodness the timer on the light is still off track, because otherwise I would have been walking into a pitch dark house.
12:02 a.m. - Christmas presents I showed you last month, still sitting in the exact same location and still not wrapped. Need to get on that soon.

That is about as close I as can get for this month. Promise to be back in regular form in January.
And on a final note - Chad, the guy who came up with the 12 of 12 concept and always graciously hosts the links for all that participate, found out this past week that he has testicular cancer. He is an Atlanta guy living in LA, in his 30s and always seemed to be in the greatest physical condition - long distance biking, running, hell - he even posed nude (strategically placed leg covering his guy parts) in Advocate magazine a few months back for a story on body image. I ask you all to keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

12 of 12 - November 2008

Welcome to my November 12 of 12 entry. This is where you post 12 photos from your day on the 12th of each month. New to 12 of 12? Check out Chad's blog for the details.

Physically, this was a pretty rough 12th. After being heavily drugged to avoid another major MRI meltdown on Monday, I slept for about 15 hours straight. I guess after that, my body decided staying awake for the next two days would balance that out. So, while lying in bed last night, staring at the ceiling, praying for sleep to come - my computer in the den came on all by itself. The Window's music startled me, so I got up to see what was up and to turn it back off. I assume that it was a power surge or something - no biggy.

Until about an hour later when it happened again. And this time, after the Windows music, the computer opened my playlist and started playing a David Bowie/Queen song. So, I guess I have a ghost. On the bright side, at least we enjoy the same 80s music.

3:25 a.m. - Gargoyle keeping watch over possessed computer.

8:50 a.m. - Didn't sleep the rest of the night, although I sort of dozed for about 10 minutes in the middle of putting on my socks while getting dressed for work. Here I am arriving at work, trying to dodge the union shills wanting us to sign their "informational" cards so they can take over our non-union company. Let's see - come January 1st, us already higher paid non-union employees will get a 3% raise, while union employees get a 1% raise as determined by their contract (less, of course, the 2% of their yearly salary that goes for union dues.) Yeah, I think I'm good.
9:10 a.m. - I think my papers multiplied during the night.

9:45 a.m. - Them's the numbers I'm a crunchin'.

3:45 p.m. - Late afternoon pudding break.

4:05 p.m. - This time of year, when it is dark by the time I leave work, I try to at least get to a window to see some daylight. This is the view of Hapeville from the back of our building. (Really, it is technically the front of the building, but the front gate is permanently locked, so we all enter from the back, so now we consider that the front and this the back.)

4:40 p.m. - Coworkers H & C working on C's part of tomorrow's PowerPoint presentation. Can't believe I managed to sneak a shot with their faces, as of my coworkers are not usually receptive to being the subject of a blog post.....

4:42 p.m. - ...such as Christine, partially seen here.

6:20 p.m. - Finally calling it a day and headed home. But first, stopped and pondered where my niece and I might go for our special trip in December. I am contemplating a location on this part of the map. Any guesses?

6:35 p.m. - Clothing I haven't worn in at least a year. Still can't break down and get rid of it, but at least it is getting closer to the door. Maybe a few episodes of Clean House on the TiVo will be the inspiration (guilt trip) that I need.

6:40 p.m. - Christmas shopping almost done. Even bought a little present for myself.

7:10 p.m. - Look My Cousin Bonnie - I got some head shots for you to check out. I think my 'type' is brainy. :-)
Don't know why the MRI lab always gives me a personal copy of the DVD with my scans, but I can't stop myself from taking a look. Of course, I have no idea what any of it shows - although my eyeballs up at the top are a bit creepy. Last time, there was one slice that looked like a racoon's face and yet another that looked like the Mutant Enemy "Grrr Argh" monster at the end of Buffy. This time around, I'm feeling more of a Predator vibe with some of the slices.
So, that is it for this month. Hope you enjoyed, and hope you will check out the link to Chad's blog at the top and go see some of the great stuff from other 12 of 12ers worldwide.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pet Peeves of the Week

1. I have compiled a list of all of you political candidates who have left multiple recorded voice mail messages requesting my vote, and swear that I will vote against you all just out of spite. Especially you, Lawrence A. Cooper, who has called me so many times (and many so early that I was still asleep) that I have lost count. I only wish that I was a dead Democrat, because then I could vote against you multiple times.

2. After a certain age, getting drunk and acting like an ass at every single gathering you attend is not very becoming. Face it - college was over 20 years ago - so it is about time to grow the hell up.


4. If you must continue your cell phone conversation in the stall in a public restroom, please do not get irritated with those of us that disrupt your conversation when we flush.

5. When you get a large cash or unrestricted stock bonus from your company, quit your complaining about how "the company" was unfair to take out taxes. The company does not tax you - the government does. And if you are that unhappy with the 'only $5,000' you got - I will be happy to relieve you of the burden.

Man, do I sound grouchy, or what? I think I've just been pushed to the limit in the last week or two. Hopefully, this venting will help.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

12 of 12 - October 2008

Finally posting my 12 of 12. It has been a long exhausting couple of days. I went to Vegas (kudos to Laura/Zin for guessing correctly) with my parents and a couple of Dad's friends.

Unfortunately, after the first day, the trip ended up abruptly coming to an end, as my Dad got really sick. He was already coming off of knee replacement surgery 6 weeks ago and pushing himself to go on the trip to prove that he was recovered. But the first night there, he couldn't sleep and said he felt like he was drowning. Helping him with his shoes in the morning, I noticed that his feet and legs were swollen, and so the decision was made to come home immediately. He is now in the hospital and it looks like he was going into congestive heart failure. They have treated him with some diuretics and other meds and he is already looking better, but his cardiologist wants to hold him for a few more days to be safe. But thank God he is improving.

So anyway, here are my pics before the trip took a turn. Leaving the times off, since once I leave on vacation, I have no concept of what time it is anywhere.

Me and Dad at the airport awaiting our flight.

High above the Mississippi River.

Mom on a plane.
In Vegas, next to the tram that takes you from the D terminal to the main terminal. They have murals done by local kids of various destinations. This one is obviously Berlin.
And a little shout out to my Dallas friends.

I wanted to head down the strip and take photos at Paris and New York to play up the angle of multiple destinations, but when I walked out to take the photo of ancient Rome/Caesar's Palace, it was like 40 degrees and windy, so this ....

and this (The Mirage) is all I got.

I hate when they put up Christmas before we've even had Halloween. But, since it is a Flamingo tree, I will give them a small break.

We went down to get Mom (Maxine) signed in for her tournament, and we ran into the other Maxine - an event coordinator for the Flamingo. She is one of many friends that Mom and Dad have made at the hotel over the years.

I went back up to the room to slip in a little nap, and I spotted a wedding taking place down in the hotel gardens out back. You can see the bride coming up the pathway, about to make her walk down the aisle.

They really don't like for you to take random photos in the casino area, so I sort of snapped this one with the camera down by my side as I walked through on the way to meet Dad and his friends. I have turned this photo every which way, but I'm still not sure which way was up.

Here is Dad and his friends Fred and Buck. We really enjoyed having them along, and they were a huge help when we determined that Dad was starting to get sick and needed to get back home. Dad really does have some of the best friends, and they can really be counted on in times of need. I'm sure once word gets out that he is in the hospital, there will be a revolving door of his buddies coming in and out visiting and lightening his mood.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Farewell to a Favorite Uncle

My great uncle, J W "Chubby" Thomas, passed away today. He was 93 years old. He had battled and beat cancer a number of times over the years, but blessedly, he appears to have died peacefully at home, sitting in his favorite chair.

Chubby was my grandmother Cleo's younger brother and the fourth of nine children. Apparently, he was pretty fat as a baby, hence the nickname "Chubby". And in spite of the fact that he ended up a pretty skinny guy, the nickname stuck. His actual name was J.W. - that's it - just the initials. I have no idea why. Maybe if he had been the ninth kid, I could see where you might run out of names. When he joined the military during WWII, they wouldn't accept just the initials, so he became John Wesley - the name of his grandfather.

During WWII, he served in the infantry and spent almost 4 years fighting in foxholes across Europe. His unit was in Milan in April 1945 where he saw the body of Mussolini hanging following his assassination. It was something he rarely talked about, but he did talk to me about it once when I was working on a school paper about the war. It seemed hard for him to talk about, but he knew my love of history - both world history and our family history - and he wanted me to do well. It was a special feeling to know that he cared about me enough to share such an obviously troubling memory.

Chubby and his wife Lil really doted on my mom and her sister, and I know that they were among Mom's favorites. They were the only relatives other than my grandparents that accompanied my parents when they went to New York for their TV Wedding. Their daughter Susan, 3 at the time, was the flower girl. When my brother was born prematurely and was hospitalized for several months, and again after I was born with several birth defects and had to spend a lot of time in and out of the hospital during the first 3 years of my life, Chubby and Lil would come down from North Georgia and would sit with us at the hospital so that Mom could get out and have a short break once in a while. They also came down and helped my mom and aunt when my grandmother was dying.

(Uncle Chubby, my grandmother Cleo, my great-grandfather Papa, Uncle Tom Jack and me - 1966)

It was always a treat to drive up to North Georgia with Mom and stop for a visit. He loved putting together puzzles, and he always had one in process when we would stop by. I enjoyed helping him out and listening to his silly jokes as we worked.

(Great uncle Chubby and my aunt (and his niece) Charlsie during one of our visits in 1999.)

In spite of his advancing years and bouts with cancer, he was still one of the most vital and alive people I've ever known. He could still drive, and when his younger family members fell ill, he would drive them to the doctor, pick up their groceries, and cut their grass to help out. He was just an all around good guy. I will miss him, but I am thankful to have had him be part of my life.