Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Howard Eugene Mounts

I have often wondered how you properly remember a person to someone who didn't know them or even to someone who knew them in a different way than you.  I have pondered how you can accurately share what a person was like, what they stood for, how the felt, what they were.  The conclusion I have reached is that you just can't.  What you can do is talk about what someone was to you, what they meant to you, and what they represented for you.  You can't speak for someone else, and I wonder if you can completely know someone else.  We all have sides of ourselves that we expose only to a certain audience.  To know someone completely is difficult at best, so to safely tell their story is an unfair task.  Today I have thought endlessly about my Grandpa, or Grandpa Howard as I sometimes called him.  

My first memories come long after this picture, but I wonder so deeply about this man.  This confident brown man with the thick black hair.  What did he want?  What were his dreams?  Was this picture taken before or after he served his county in the Navy?  What was this dashing young man thinking?

I know that he married my grandmother who was quite his junior.  They had my mom, his only biological child, but not the only child he would claim as his own.  I know that this smile is exactly the same smile he carried throughout his life.  It never went away, and it always brought you along with it, even when you sometimes didn't want to go.  The man was a jokester to everyone.  He could laugh at his own joke, and you would be just fine with it.  He never met a stranger, and if you met him you would know what I mean.

My grandpa wasn't a perfect father.  Who is?  He did something that to this day I find incredibly odd and admirable.  When my grandmother left him, he moved in to his ex-mother-in-law's basement because she was raising his daughter, my mom.  He continued to live there when he wasn't off working in another part of the country, and he didn't remarry until my mom was grown.  Men didn't raise their children then.  It wouldn't have been an option, but he stayed as close to my mom as possible.  Can you imagine?

This is my mom, her dad, and his mother.  It strikes me just how stylish he was.  He was a tiny little guy. I was much taller than him.  What he lacked in height he made up for with heart.  He loved his two step-sons like they were his own.  In fact, it was my step-uncle who took care of him, with the heart of a saint, right up until his farewell.

This picture is more of that man I remember.  These are his sisters, Kathleen, the smallest, and Margaret.

These two are with my step-grandmother.  They were together my whole life.   I took the one on the right with my first camera, the Polaroid.  His dog Mitzi is looking up at him.  He loved that dog.  She was a Boston Terrier and she was awesome.  I remember she got a weird spot on her lip and they had to have her put to sleep.  My grandpa was devastated.  

This is Grandpa and my mom in his backyard.  Grandpa made this bbq grill with bricks he reclaimed.  I can't remember the story, but he was very proud of that grill.  It think the bricks my have come from the old school house.  It was pretty darn awesome.  He was ahead of his time.  "Reclaimed" is all the rage these days!

This one is in his kitchen.  I love this kitchen.  The house he lived in used to be a restaurant and if I am remembering correctly, you were served through those kitchen windows, but I might be getting it all wrong.  I do remember eating a bunch of meals in this kitchen.  There were always olives, which I loved.  I loved to watch my grandpa eat.  He ate with gusto, and he made the weirdest concoction after dinner.  He would take a glass, put a piece of cornbread in it, break the cornbread apart, pour buttermilk on top of it, then put in salt and pepper and eat it with a spoon.  It was the most fascinating thing to me. He also was as blind as a bat.  I remember watching him and my step-grandmother put in his contacts, and then put his thick glasses on with them.  He called it putting his eyes in.  See again, super ahead of the times with the contacts.

I love this one.  Grandpa loved the outside.  I remember that he was always planting something, starting something, weeding somewhere, showing me the bloom on something.  He loved birds too.  He always had his binoculars out showing you some type of bird.  

This was taken in our front yard.  My Uncle Jack Worthington is on the ground beside of him.  Jack is my dad's namesake.  That man was a pistol.  He could stand on his head like it was nothing.  I wish I had that on video.  You would be amazed.

My mom and my Grandpa long ago at the grave of Bobbie Lee (my Aunt Pats mom).  She died very young when my Aunt Pat was just a baby.  She was raised with my mom too.

This is Skylar with my grandpa at his home in Weber City, Va.  This was after he had moved in with my step-uncle.  His mind was not playing nice at this point.  He used to really love wind chimes.  He had a million at his house, so I had brought him the one he is standing next to.
This is an oldie!  Look at me!  Rodney, the uncle grandpa lived with, is in the middle with my cousin Courtney.  We were at my gradnpa's sister's house.  I loved to go visit them!

This is my dad and grandpa on Pilot Mountain a day or two ago!!

My grandpa, step-grandma, mom, dad, and sister on Pilot Mountain.
This is the last picture I took of my grandpa.  I will treasure it.
You probably can't make it out, but there is a hummingbird in this picture.  Grandpa would stand there and they would come right up and eat from the feeder.  He loved the birds!
This is grandpa showing Skylar the train going by.  In Davy, WV, the train went right behind his house.  In Weber City, Va, it went right beside of the house.  He also like watching the train.

I will always remember going to my Grandpa's house on Thursday nights.  We went there to watch Dallas and Falcon Crest.  I didn't like Dallas, so while it was on I would read all of the papers.  Grandpa was always good for a Globe, National Enquirer, and at least one other odd ball tabloid.  I would look at every single page, and read as much as I could get in.   We would eat dinner first, including olives!  Then we would eat Jello Pudding Pops.  I preferred the chocolate, or the vanilla chocolate swirl, but I was bummed if I got stuck with Vanilla.  I would sneak in the freezer and take an inventory before dinner to be sure there were enough to go around.  If there weren't, I would volunteer to get them out of the freezer after dinner so I could get my hands on anything but a vanilla!

My grandpa would talk to me about school, my week, the birds... He loved to watch birds and he would tell me about any new ones, or ones that would be coming/going soon because of their migratory habits.  He also loved to collect insulators from power lines.  He would tell me about walking along the lines and what he found.  He loved to find the blue glass ones in perfect condition.  It was a quest for him.  He also loved cracking walnuts.  We were forever gathering them up for him, or going with him to gather them.  He was always perfecting the perfect walnut cracking method.  How best to get the kernels out as wholes.  He knew the different flavors based on where they were grown, how much rain we hadn't gotten, how old the tree was.  The man was an expert on walnuts.  It might be why he lived so long with Alzheimer's.  Walnuts might have special powers!

I remember him helping me study for the spelling bee, letting me help him fill up the humming bird feeders, showing me some plants he had started from roots, taking me down to the river to show me fish, or his boat, or something he found in the river.  He never talked about himself or his childhood.  He never complained.  Not once did I hear him complain.  

I remember when my momaw died.  She was the one who raised my mom and my grandpa had lived in her basement to be near my mom.  We had moved to WV and she was living in MI.  I missed her so much I thought I might actually die.  She was my best pal.  When she passed away they sent my grandpa to tell us.  I remember being in my Grandma Juanita's living room and thinking there must be some mistake.  It couldn't be possible that I would never see my momaw again.  I hated my mom and dad for moving me away from her, and now they were telling me she was gone.  I remember looking at my grandpa and he wasn't making a sound, but giant crocodile tears were rolling down his face.  He put his hand on my head and he had the most pitiful look on his face.  It is only as an adult that I can appreciate that this woman wasn't his ex-mother-in-law, she was the person who did this incredibly important job of raising his daughter and she was gone.

As I sat at Granpa's funeral, the day before my 40th birthday, at the end of a crazy week, I felt so small, and tiny, and helpless and all I wanted was the enquirer, a jar of olives, and a chocolate and vanilla swirled Jello pudding pop, and for everyone who was there when those things meant so much to just be back with me to watch one more episode of Falcon Crest.  I closed my eyes, and for just two minutes, they were all there with me, surrounding me.  My heart so full I thought it would pop.  My Aunt Reat, Aunt Brenda, Uncle Kenny, Uncle Don, Grandma Juanita, Momaw, Grandma Sis, Uncle John, and Grandma Grace, and then the song was over, my eyes opened and they were all gone again.  I will miss them all so much, for so many different reasons, in so many different ways, but I will carry them with me and keep them as alive as I can in my heart. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Free AWESOME Calendar Downloads

Hey!!  Looking for an awesome calendar download?  If you are like me, and most of you aren't, you still LOVE a paper calendar.  This is my favorite:

Owl Lover 2013 Calendar
but you can find a nice list of options here (the owl is included here too). Thanks Allison!!This is a really cool blog!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Did That Really Just Happen?

So today at 4:45 I got off of a call and thought to myself, "self, run to the post office quickly and mail your Christmas cards."  Yep, I said Christmas, not holiday.  So, I head down to the post office.  The line is pretty intense, but I wait it out.  I ask how much it costs to mail a square card.  Twenty cents extra.  Not to self, never order square cards again.  Ok.  Note taken.

Billy D. Williams' twin (really, the dude looked just like Lando Calrissian) was checking me out.

Courtesy of my awesome friend, David Hill!!

He seemed nice enough, but not quite thrilled to be there.  I told him I needed 26, 20 cent stamps and  51, 45 cent stamps.  My total was $68.41.  That seemed excessive, but I didn't want to hold up the line and I already felt plenty unwelcome there.  Plus my math skills were all off with this 20 cent per card variance.  Square cards are clearly of the devil.

So, I pay with my debit card, rush out to apply all of those stamps, miss the darn mail pickup, but I keep placing stamps.  I saw the lady driving the truck go back to get the mail.  She had knocked on the door as I was hastily sticking stamps.  My thought was that I would grab the lady on her way to the mail truck and ask her very, very nicely if she would put my cards on the truck.  As I was standing there I glanced at my receipt.  I had been charged for 226, 20 cent stamps instead of 26.  Really?  Well, at this point, the gate is down and I can hear the now very chipper staff cracking up and bantering behind the curtain.  So I knocked on the door where I had just seen the lady picking up the mail knock.  Then I hear the staff laughing about somebody knocking on the door and how they just need to come back tomorrow.  Hahaha, hehehehe, cackle, cackle, cackle.  So I knock again.  More laughter, more smart remarks.  Now I knock on the glass and say, "yes, I just checked out and I was GROSSLY overcharged".  Bear in mind, I am having to YELL since they are on the other side of glass and a metal roll down door.  The man who checked me out, you remember, Billy D. Williams (even though he is a sexy beast I am not impressed at this point), yells, just calm down.  To which I reply, "I am calm, but I am having to yell through this window because you won't open the door!".  He opens the door.

Our conversation follows:
BDW: ok, how were you "grossly" overcharged?
ME:  well, I bought 26, 20 cent stamps but you charged me for 226.
BDW:  let me see your receipt.
ME:  sure
BDW: hmmm, i sure did.
ME: yep, and I didn't want to wait until tomorrow and have to prove my case.  i figured it best if we fix this tonight.
BDW:  give me your debit card
ME:  sure

About 2 minutes later BDW comes out.
BDW:  ummm, since you had paid with your debit card I am gonna have to give you a money order.
me:  say what now?  what do i do with a money order.  I am sorry, I am not super familiar with money orders.
BDW: (in his most sarcastic voice) I will cash it for you.
me:  well why didn't you say so?
BDW: come back here and have a seat, this is gonna take a while.
me: ok
BDW:  i need you to complete this paper work
me: (only in my head) are you effing kidding me?
BDW: use that pen over there.
me:  (i have no more words at this point)
BDW: I'll be right back
me:  (still speechless)

I start the paperwork.  He told me to put my name and address.  I go ahead and sign too.  Seems important right?  I did not date it.  This did not please BDW.  He scolds me but writes the date himself with a proper amount of indignant disgust.

About 5 minutes later BDW brings out a money order for me to sign.  I sign it.  The mail lady has been pacing around so I recommend she makes herself useful and gets my 51 cards out of the bin and puts them on the truck.  I really doubt any of you will actually get Christmas cards this year.  I was pretty frustrated at this point.  That is really no excuse for my grumpiness.  This poor woman had wronged me in no way.

BDW now comes out with the $45 and decides to make fun of me for "yelling that I had been grossly overcharged".  Really BDW?  Really?? You who rings up stamps all darn day long thinks giving me crap is funny.  Why didn't you think it was too much?  I explain again, that I had no interest in coming back, standing in that line, and making my case, which I am pretty sure no one would believe. He pretty much ignores me.

Have I mentioned that BDW, while a sexy beast, moved like a snail.  This guy made Greg Linkous look like flash.

I have shortened this story and left out a ton of cuss words.  I don't think I actually said any out loud, but I thought a ton of them.  Was I a grump?  Probably.  Was I within my rights?  Darn right!  Am I sorry for standing up for myself?  NO!  Will I go back to that post office anytime soon?  No!  Am I surprised that the post office is in so much trouble?  NO!!!

In case you ever wondered what it looks like back there, it was pretty interesting and incredibly retro.  There was a big wooden box with drawers for boxes that were closed.  Everything was hand written.  It was like walking back in time.

Why does this crap only happen to me?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Personalized Greeting Card from Treat for FREE

Hey!  Have you heard to Treat??  Treat is Shutterfly's greeting card brand.  You can make totally personalized cards quickly, easily, and uniquely and you don't have to stand in a line or even put on pants if you don't want to.  Sounds lovely right?

Last year I sent out Thanksgiving cards and it was so much fun!  My friend Jen said that no one sends out Thanksgiving cards.  Wrong-o Jen!  Everyone should send out a Thanksgiving card.

Treat is giving away cards for two days.  Giving them away!  Free!  No cost to you.  Go make a card, make it your own, and give it away, for free.  Make someone's day.  Prove Jen wrong.  She's right so much, she won't mind a bit.

So, it couldn't be easier, on Monday the 19th or Tuesday the 20th, go to the TREAT website and make a card.  Use the code:  TREATBLOGR and make someone's day.

This one makes me think of my friend Jaclyn.  She loves this old pyrex.  She would love this card.

My friend Sarah is stuck in the bed after knee surgery!  I bet she makes one!!  Let me know if you make one, and remember to spread the word.  What a great price:  FREE

New York, New York

So, as most of you know, I went to NY!  I went to NY to learn Google Analytics, which for the record, was HARD.  If those people over at Google ever team up with that dude over at Facebook, that creepy movie with Bruce Willis just might become our reality.  I am just sayin' they are stinkin' smart.  They are measuring stuff that never even occurred to me.  Amazing!

In typical Ouida fashion, a weather event delayed my trip by a day, but not in the neat tidy, your flight has been cancelled hang out in the city another day and watch the beautiful snow kind of way.  Nope, more like race to the airport in a cab with a grumpy cabbie who wants you to kneel down and thank him driving you to the airport, which be definition, is exactly what you are paying him to do (for realz?) only to get your hopes up, move your gate, then your terminal, only to tell you that your flight has been cancelled, but you are rebooked for the first flight out, just kidding we cancelled that one too, and all of the hotel rooms have now been booked kind of way. You  know that way right???

Other than the whole airport fiasco, the trip was great.  The class was great, the city was great, the food was great, the company was great, the sites were GREAT!

I got to see my cousin Ryan who I have not seen in years.  Probably 10 to be exact.  He's a male model.   Really.  How many people get to say that?  I am super proud of him.  He really is living the dream.  He lives in a tiny little apartment in Astoria, just a really quick cab ride from LaGuardia and he makes a living smiling, pouting, looking pensive, playful, whatever the shoot calls for.  He hangs out with celebrities and skateboards through NYC.  Quite the gig if you can get it.  He went with me to check in to the hotel and I am pretty sure the lady checking me in thought I was living a reverse Pretty Woman scenario.  I mentioned this to Ryan and he didn't get it.  Twenty two year old men aren't familiar with Pretty Woman.  Who knew?  Anyhow, we hung out in the city for a while, then he ditched me to go smile for the camera.  It was fun while it lasted.  Then I was lost.  Hopelessly, but I stumbled upon the Apple store, and from my research realized that I had also found FAO Schwarz.  All was right with the world.  Well, mostly.  I was still lost, but I found a really cool toy store, so it didn't seem as hopeless.

  The city is like an assault on your senses, especially if everything you see is a postcard in your head.  I left my nice camera behind.  I had to have my laptop count as my other carry on, and there is no way I would check it, so I had to count of my phone and my little Canon point and shoot.  Less that ideal, but what I had.  There were a million scenes I wanted to snap, but I also forgot my battery charger, so I was always afraid I would miss the next best thing.  I especially loved this bike.  Pretty right??

And this gate.  This was at the Met.  I didn't get to go in, but I could have stared for days.  There was so much detail, and it was just amazing.  I could have stayed for weeks.  As cheesy as it sounds the city really does make you feel alive.  It is so darn exciting!

The whole story of the trip, the airport, the snow, the hurricane.........it is a doozie.  For now, I will leave you with this teaser!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Shutterfly Wants You to Thank the Troops

Today is Veteran's Day.  My grandfather is a veteran.  He very proudly fought for our country many, many moons ago. Greg's grandfather was a real American hero.  There is a story of him saving his entire flight crew.  Today we have lots of men and women doing the same things, and it is much easier to tell them THANKS!  I can't imagine what it would have mean to our grandfather's to have been thanked on a day like today.

Shutterfly has made it really easy this year.  Just go Thank the Troops and create your own card.  Shutterly will print and ship the cards.  Their goal?  No biggie.  They just want to send a card to every American hero.  The cost to you?  A couple of minutes of your time.

My friend Summer has a husband in the Army.  He is gone for up to a year at a time.  My friend Jennifer photographs soldiers returning home, or more sadly, leaving their family for a deployment with a program called Op Love.

This is a very small, very easy, very awesome thing you can do with just a few clicks.  Come on, you can do it.  Send me your card so I can see what it looks like!!  Here is the inside of mine!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Love Halloween

So, we went for it today.  We kept Avery inside, warm, and rested, and at 1 o'clock we headed down to The Children's Museum for Truck-or-Treat.  Avery had a hoot.  Glad we went.  I loved the Ghost Busters car complete with the whole set of Ghost Busters (2 of them were on a break).  How cool is this car?  Superb!!

From there it was over to Mellow Mushroom for a late lunch.  Mmm, Mellow delivers.  Y-U-M-M-Y

Next we headed to Old Salem for a little old school trick-or-treating.  Good gracious, Old Salem, you brought it.  We will have to do this every year.  I think the pumpkin party a week earlier will be a recurring event.  We really enjoyed this day.  My favorite pumpkins were:

I loved this guy's stem!!  

Way to think outside the box.  Love the stem nose!

Someone is super talented.  This one was a fan favorite.  I had to wait my turn to take this pic!

Upside down.  Clever!!

When we got in the car Avery said, shew, I had a long day, then he promptly passed out.  Yep, well done.