Thursday, January 12, 2017

Visiting my folks: Photos of Longview Texas, the Gulf Coast Florida and somewhere in Mississippi

Synergy Park near my home in Longview, Texas

I am having technical difficulties.  Apparently the Daily Mail, a UK blog, doesn't like Macs because it has yet to post a single comment I have contributed.  I am suspicious of being snubbed because my husband posted one from his PC and he got published even though his comment wasn't nearly as thoughtful or as eloquently expressed as mine.

Blurry, but I love the accent of yellow against the subdued background.

Then this blog of mine won't let me make a comment above the list of the books I read in 2016, so I have given up until Josh gets home and let him fix it.  Of course the price is I have to listen to the well-worn sermon on how horrible Mac computers are but what choice do I have?
Derek and my parents at Synergy Park

So I will instead post some photos that I took last week while I was staying with my parents on the Gulf Coast.  My parents flew up to spend Christmas with us here in Texas.  Then my son in his car and I in mine drove, each carrying a parent/grandparent, back to Florida.

It's a ten-hour drive, the worst part being the three-hour straight shoot across the width of Louisiana.  Once we get to Mississippi the ride is broken by Vicksburg, Jackson, Hattiesburg, then on to Mobile, Pensacola, and finally to Niceville, my home town.

Mom and me in a gas station in Mobile, Alabama after nine hours of driving.  I think you can see the weariness on my face.

My mother, who has stage four lung cancer, suffered the most.  No more cross country drives for her.  She spent most of our Florida visit immobile on a recliner, completely lacking in energy.  Usually we visit all my favorite beaches but this time our visit was limited to conversation and reading books. I read out loud to her since she only has peripheral vision due to Macular Degeneration.  

Lest you pity her, know that her limited eyesight hasn't deterred her.  She recently read War and Peace (for the fourth time!) looking sideways at the pages.  I told her she needs to start listening to the novels but she says she's not that far gone yet.

But she enjoys being read to.  Usually my dad does it, but while I was there (and also in Texas) I was afforded that privilege (Dorothy Sayers and Rex Stout plus a biography of Socrates, stay tuned for reviews) .

While she slept one afternoon my son Derek and I drove a couple of miles down the road to Fred Gannon National Park.  Knowing he was leaving for Virginia Beach and back to school made me appreciate our long walk and talk all the more.  Cherish those moments parents!! 

Here are a few photos from our walk along the nature trail.

We discussed everything from career choices to girlfriend wisdom.  Saturday, Derek left for Virginia while I still had a couple of days before I was to return to Texas. Sunday, while my mom was resting, I drove to a deserted beach a couple of miles from my parent's house.  It was bitterly cold and I really hadn't dressed for it but the beauty of the water and the beaches was worth it.  I took a lot of pictures of barren trees.  Standing alone, their branches reaching for the sky seemed to fit my mood of isolation.

The sun began to wane and the sunset is always more colorful and lingering in the winter but I had surpassed my limits of toleration for the biting wind and plummeting temperature so I had to leave.

 On my last day, I took my mother to one of our favorite parks where we watched the sun slowly sink over the Bayou.

Hopefully I'll figure out where my Paris photos are on this computer and I'll be able to print my travelogue on the year I spent in the City of Love one week last December.

On the  road back to Texas.

Driving through Mississippi past Hattiesburg

Back in Texas before leaving for Florida:  mom, dad and son.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Gangster Women and the Criminals they Loved by Susan McNicoll

I had a good, hard workout at the gym and was not in the mood to return home so I stopped at Books A Million to just sit and relax.  I didn't go to Starbucks, even though I had a gift card, because I wanted to be good and not drink back the calories I just burned off.

So I went to Books A Million and immediately learned that being good when PEPPERMINT MOCHA LATTE! is on the menu doesn't work.  Being Good and PEPPERMINT MOCHA LATTE! do NOT hold hands and skip down the road of Self-Control in solidarity.  They are enemies and PEPPERMINT MOCHA LATTE WON!  I mean, won.

Ever read, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"?  No?  You must not have kids.  Anyway, if you give a reader in BAM! a PEPPERMINT MOCHA LATTE! (Has that gotten old?  I'll quit) she's going to want to read a book with it.

So I browsed and grabbed the first thing that caught my eye.  After reading about half of Gangster Women and the Criminals They Loved by Susan McNicoll, my conscience smote me.  Here I was reading a book I hadn't paid for.  So sipping the last dregs of my PEPPERMIN... sorry...drink, I bought the book and took it home.

 Gangster Women is an interesting read for a number of reasons.

One, it offers a brief psyschology of the sort of female that would not only fall in love with but also aid and abet a criminal in committing crimes.

McNicoll, while respectful of the women, doesn't romanticize them or their motives, although she does leave some facts out. Case in point is Bonnie and Clyde.  While showing that Bonnie had about as much conscience as Clyde, she fails to mention that Bonnie largely coped with his loutish ways by staying drunk most of the time.  McNicoll also omits that fact that Clyde was not always so gentle with Bonnie, at one time throwing her across a room (which may explain Bonnie's drinking habits). looks romantic but Bonnie could not walk the last year of her life because her legs were badly burned by car battery acid and lack of treatment because of constantly being on the run.

The other women I did not know about.  A lot of them were mere teenagers running starry eyed after a man they had romanticized in their head.  Helen Gillis would seem to be one of those.  Helen Gillis, wife of Baby Face Nelson

She was the wife of Baby Face Nelson and mother of their several children.  While she was pregnant, she was arrested and starved by the detectives to get information as to the whereabouts of her husband and other gangsters.  She never caved.
Delores Delaney, 16 year old girlfriend of 26 year old Alvin Karpis of the Barker Gang. Alvin was one of the few gangsters to live to an old age.  On the other hand he spent most of it in Alcatraz and holds the record for the being the longest running inmate there.

Looking at the photos of these ladies, it's disturbing how incongruous their looks are to their character.   From their pictures you'd think they were sweet, pretty girls giggling about the next high school dance.  Instead they were in the get away car loading sawed-off shot guns for their husbands/lovers.

Truly a partner in crime.

Gangster Women also provides a glimpse of life in the 1930's.  It was hard.  A lot of people lived in dire poverty.  However, most people toughened up and slogged their way through it.  My grandparents, for instance.  

They worked liked dogs and got through the worst of it.  As poor as they were, they never felt sorry for themselves or felt entitled to other people's incomes, no matter how poor they were or rich and sometimes corrupt others were.  They possessed a quality of character that they valued more than receiving charity.  They instinctively understood that when someone gives you something you haven't earned you're giving them something back:  your dignity.  And they survived. There's a reason why we call them the "Greatest Generation".  They earned that title.

Not everyone back then stood on such dignity.  A criminal element existed that, for whatever reasons, did not possess the same conscience as others.  They became bank robbers.

McNicoll tries to explain away their actions.  Times were hard, yada, yada, yada... but see previous paragraph.  Most people were hard up but most did not rob banks.  

Probably because most people back then had common sense.  Rarely did any of these gangsters or molls survive their twenties.  Many of them died in horrible shootouts with the police.

Most of us are familiar with Bonnie and Clyde's demise but there are others whose end were no less dramatic, although they run largely to the same formula.  Gangster commits crimes, runs from the law, finally apprehended and, as often as not, killed in a shoot out. 

 In addition to the molls, McNicholl gives us short biographies of the bank robbers themselves.

One story in particular  was interesting for what it revealed about the gangster community and how laws were changed.

Verne Miller started on the right side of the law as sheriff, enforcing prohibition.  He soon discovered he could make a lot of money boot legging.  After embezzling money from the Police Department he took off and began a life of crime in Chicago by using connections with Al Capone.

Things went sour for Miller when an incident occurred that thrust him out of the Gangster world.  

A friend and fellow gangster, Frank "Jelly" Nash got caught by federal agents.  Verne and some other gangsters staged a rescue while Nash was in a car with the agents.  What ensued was a horrible shooting match that left police officers and federal agents dead. This was known as the "Kansas City Massacre".

Naturally this received a lot of publicity and also caused Federal Laws to be changed.  After this Federal Agents could be armed, something that was previously not allowed.  

Secondly, and most importantly in effectively reducing crime, law enforcement were allowed to cross state lines in pursuing criminals.  This allowed for greater cooperation between states and the apprehension of more law breakers.

This did not make Verne Miller popular in the underworld.  Because of his crime sprees, he needed to be able to hide out but fellow gangsters were no longer willing to help him.

Still, FBI agents found him elusive.  Finally, agents approached Lewis Buchalter, a local Chicago businessman and also Crime Boss who was angry to find his business under close scrutiny thanks to Miller.  

One of the agents asked Buchalter point blank if Verne might be murdered in the next thirty days.  

"Let me look into that," was Buchalter's response.

I won't tell you in what state Verne's body was discovered on the outskirts of Detroit.  Needless to say, he was dead. He was thirty-seven.  Crime really doesn't pay.

Vi Matthis was Miller's girlfriend.  She was fun loving and addicted to excitement.  After Miller stood up for her when another man hit her, she was his devoted lover for the rest of his life.

If excitement was what she wanted, she got it.  As with most gangsters and their molls, they spent most of their life running from the law.  She herself ended up imprisoned and was not treated too nicely as detectives tried to extract information from her.

She learned of Miller's death while in prison and she gave up her raison d'etre.  Later she married a man who was a violent, hard drinker.  She died three years later in a hospital.  At the funeral home, her physician brother noticed that her body was covered in bruises.  She was thirty-eight years old.

After the depression, gangsters were eventually replaced by Organized Crime and the Mafia.  Gangster Women includes a couple of Mafia Molls as well.  

Janice Drake was a young Beauty Queen that acquired some celebrity status with T.V. stars and also enjoyed hanging out with Crime Bosses at night clubs.

She went home with the wrong Boss one night when he was gunned down in his car in New York City at a stop light.  There was no motive to kill her; apparently she was in the line of fire.

One who fared a little better at least for most of her life was Virginia Hill, also known as the "Mob Queen". She enjoyed celebrity status as a money carrier in organized Crime and kept a meticulous diary about everything she knew.

She was the lover of Bugsy Siegel, a man quickly moving up the mob ladder.  After Siegel's death (he was gunned down in his house), she was subpoenaed and made to give testimony about her dealings with the Mob.  While enjoying the cameras and attention she succeeded in betraying no one.  Later, in an effort to avoid arrest for tax evasion, she moved to Switzerland where she died at the age of forty-nine of an apparent suicide by poison.

Before her death she mailed her diary to a mobster that she had worked for several years ago, presumably to destroy. 

There is, however, suspicion to her death.  The Mafia learned of her diary and there is speculation that someone was sent to Switzerland to apprehend the diary and do away with her.  

Gangster Women is probably not the most exhaustive book on the subject, but it's a quick, interesting read.  I read it in two sittings; half in the book store and the other half after I got home.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Henry James on Italy; Odyssey by Homer; Images and Imagination by C.S. Lewis; Political Woman: The Big Little LIfe of Jeane Kirkpatrick by Peter Collier

  I wrote this post before I left for Paris on December 10th.

I'm listening to my favorite Christmas Carols on Spotify. Feel free to listen to your favorite while reading today's post.

In two days I'll be in Paris.  Four books are piled one on top of the other on my table and I am going to write a brief paragraph on each so I can start the year with a clean slate, so to speak.

Henry James on Italy

I love James' writing, however, his need to describe every nook and cranny of Italy can only be inspired by the fact that photography was not accessible to everyone and most people had not seen what he was describing.  Hence his attention to minutia.

He does a thorough and adequate job painting the scenery with his words and he includes more than a few jibes at John Ruskin at no extra charge.  Apparently, Ruskin also wrote of Italy and in a manner James did not approve.

What makes the book worth the money (and by that I mean the two dollars I paid for it at an Independent Book Store) are the prints of oil paintings of different scenes throughout the "Lo Stivale". (That's Italian for "the boot", a nickname because Italy is shaped like, well, you know.)

Images and Imagination by C.S. Lewis

This is a compilation by Walter Hooper of C.S. Lewis' essays and lectures on different authors and genres of literature.  The chapters I enjoyed the most were on subjects I had previously read about or authors whom I had read.

Therefore, his articles on the different Inklings such as Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and, of course J.R.R. Tolkien were interesting to read.  I also enjoyed his analysis of Robert Fitzgerald's translation of the Odyssey.  I had not read his translation but because I had just read the Odyssey, I could appreciate his comments.

My favorite was his analysis and critique of Malory's translation of the Arthurian legends.  He brings other experts in and either agrees or disagrees with their opinions and explains his point of view in a way I could understand and enjoy. 

This was not true of many of the essays because I was either unfamiliar with the writer or the work.  

 In one of his essays Lewis points out is that he thinks his was the age of the biography rather than literature which I found funny since I have been reading a lot of biographies lately.

Odyssey by Homer, translated by Samuel Butler

And speaking of the Odyssey, I found I enjoyed the story much better than the Iliad.  The Iliad was much too stagnate.  It went nowhere but stayed at the battle field with lots of poetic speeches by warriors, gods and goddesses about what sort of revenge they were going to take on each other and even more poetic descriptions of battle scenes.  I understand that I am exposing my own limitations and taste in literature and not in any way making an intelligent judgement on a timeless work.

The Odyssey, on the other hand, went places.  Odysseus just had a time and a half trying to get home.  And of course the whole sale audacity of the young men back home just eating up all of Odysseus' larder and trying to pressure his wife into marrying one of them for the purpose of taking over Odysseus' possessions primes the reader for the final showdown where our hero slaughters them all and not too soon either.

Odysseus has many adventures, mostly at the expense of his crew, none of which survive.  Life was cheap back then and the gods were not you could turn to.  They were capricious and destroyed men at their whim.  There was no reason, either.  I cannot do justice in this brief review to describe all my thoughts on the subject of Greek Gods.  I would love to know their history and origins, not to mention the psychology behind such inventions.

I wonder if the reason I read through the Odyssey more easily than the Iliad was that the translator, Samuel Butler, chose to put it in prose rather than poem form.  My Iliad, translated by Andrew Lang was written as a poem, which the epics were.

And finally....

Political Woman:  The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick

I am really not going to be able to do justice to this book and it is worth much more than the brief paragraph I am going to give it.  But briefly...

Jeane Kirkpatrick was a political scientist and diplomat.  Starting as a Democrat, she converted to Republicanism as the Democratic party moved farther and farther left.  In a time when women played no significant role in politics, she was appointed by Ronald Reagan to be the American U.N. Ambassador.  She also served as his political advisor.

The best part of this book is the insight it provides as to how our political parties, especially the Democratic party evolved from being a party concerned about American citizens as individuals and protecting their rights insofar as their rights were limited to opportunities in employment and education, to propagating ideology at the expense of the individual.  

She tried to understand the intellectual "perversion" of utopianism.  In her words utopianism was:

"theories ungrounded in experience (that can therefore) never be tested."

This led to what she called "rationalism" whose politica effect was:

"the determined effort to understand and shape people and societies on the basis of inadequate, oversimplified theories of human behavior...(which) encourages utopianism..Both are concerned more with the abstract than the concrete, with the possible than the probable.  Both are less concerned with people as they are than as they might be..."

Kirkpatrick moved to the Republican party after Carter made it clear to her and other moderate Democrats that they were not going to take the "kick me" sign off of America's back for the rest of the world.  Or change their or Europe's or the Middle East's anti-Israel stance.

Carter succeeded in costing America so much respect globally that he practically ensured Reagan's election.  Parallels between that election and our current one are hard to ignore. 

When Kirkpatrick later became U.N. Ambassador under Reagan she tore the "kick me" sign off America's back.  She personally contacted countries that were denouncing the U.S. during U.N. meetings and asking if they were still interested in receiving U.S. aid.

I may add that reading the nasty and even sophomoric tirades that certain third world countries gave at the U.N., not the least of which by the likes of Idi Amin, Fidel Castro and other tyrants one sees the flaws in an organization that gives equal floor to countries that point fingers at the U.S. (to standing ovations!) while their own houses are filthy.

Which leads me to one of the next books I plan on reading:  The Tyranny of Guilt by Pascal Bruckner.

Bruckner is a French philosopher and his book  argues that it is time for the West to stop self-flagellating.  But more about that in the future.

I have not done justice to any of these books but at least I got them off my chest and back on the bookshelves.

In the mean time, have a joyful, blessed season of Peace and God bless you!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Finishing up the year with eleven books on my Kindle

Hello to all!  Miss me?  I have just returned from ten days traveling in Paris.  The journey was arduous, not on the scale of trekking to a mountain and fighting a dragon for jewels, but still very tiring.  

My journey started with my husband and I arising on December 11 at four a.m. We drove three hours to Dallas, deposited our car at a hotel and took the shuttle to the airport.  We flew three hours to JFK in New York,  and endured a four hour layover made worthwhile with good conversation over dinner with a very nice young man from San Fransisco on his way to scuba dive in the Canary Islands.  Eric and Josh and I disagreed on everything we talked about from religion to politics but developed a firm, if temporary friendship.  We hugged goodbye and I told him I was going to pray for him and he said, "Good!  I want you to!"

And I am.  Josh said that Eric fulfilled his man hug quota for the year, but I think he enjoyed the conversation as well.

The flight to Paris was eight hours.  I read several books on my Kindle.  I will be writing more on my adventures in Paris (the most magical week of my life-that's your teaser!) but suffice to say, that after walking over eight hours a day sight seeing, I fell asleep every evening around seven p.m., woke up wide awake at midnight, read for two or three hours before finally falling asleep around three a.m. then waking up again around six a.m. starving.  Unfortunately Paris does not wake up before nine.  More reading since I can't sleep with my stomach growling.

At the end of our trip we flew back, with all the hours of flying and driving in reverse.

In conclusion, I read eleven books in ten days on my Kindle.  None of them were very long, and my reviews here will be quite short as well.
Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith

This is a collection of essays by Smith about his personal observations about his life, society in London, religion, and socio-political thought from the eyes of a Victorian/early Twentieth century man.

I thought his essays, were lucid, thought-provoking and charming.  I recommend this short book to anyone who likes to read the inner thoughts of a man who combines humor with realism.

The Mouse and the Moonbeam by Eugene Field

This very short book is a Christmas story told by a mouse and then a moonbeam.  A good children's book that has a moral about the consequences of the lack of faith as well as the actual purpose of Christmas.

My one complaint:  I know that at one time (perhaps still is), it was popular to take some license with Bible stories. In this story the moonbeam shares something he saw many years ago.  Jesus as a child is friends with
another boy who winds up being the thief on the cross who finally remembers Jesus and surrenders his heart and soul to spend eternity with Him. 

This never happened, the author just thought it would make a nice story.

To me, reducing  profound Biblical history to a children's story trivializes it into some sort of sentimental tale and robs it of its true power.
The Story of My Heart:  an Autobiography by Richard Jefferies

I don't know much about Jefferies, I'm not sure how this book ended up on my Kindle.  Probably an impulse buy since it was public domain and free.

Apparently Jefferies is one of the transcendentalist writers.  His reflections basically consider our aesthetic reaction to nature as the ultimate experience.  The supernatural is only the ecstasy our senses receive as they drink in the wonder the sky, the stars, earth, trees, etc blah, blah blah...breath into us.

There is no God, no metaphysical.  Anything created by, books, architecture, whatever... amount to nothing and living as a jungle beast alone in the forest is vastly to be preferred.

Whatever.  I read this in one setting, which is a good thing for the author because I wouldn't have bothered to pick the book up again.

Three stars for the quality of writing, not the substance.

Perpetual Light:  a Memorial by William Rose Benet

Benet wrote the poems throughout his lifetime for his beloved wife whose life was cut tragically short.

Hence the evolution of these poems are wonderful to read, beginning with the ones he wrote in his youth, expressing the first giddy excitement of being in love, mellowing with a rich enjoyment of being married to the love of his life and ending finally with the stark and barren wilderness that he finds himself thrust into as he endures his loss and loneliness.

Even in his darkest moments, there are undercurrents of strength and hope.  I enjoyed these poems and yes, I also read these in one sitting, which allowed me to better appreciate the transition of his life journey.

Poems and Ballads of Heinrich Heine

Our first morning in Paris, which was very early because the sun hadn't risen and our hostel room wasn't available yet, we walked to Montmartre Cemetery.  It was peaceful, though cold, as the sun rose, slowly illuminating the gravestones and chapels.  
While we walked among the tombs looking for famous graves a French woman walked up to us and pointed to a grave we were standing near.

"That is Anrish Ann. He is a German poet."

We looked at the grave which had a bust of the poet on top. The poet's name was Heinrich Heine, which I would pronounce differently than the French woman, but who am I to correct others?

When I woke up the next morning around two a.m due to Jet Lag, I opened up my Kindle and discovered that I had a collection of Heine's poems.

This is a beautiful set of poems by a preeminent 19th century German poet. He writes of love, of longing, of spiritual fulfillment in excellent verse. Another book I refused to put down and read in one sitting.

The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories by Algernon Blackwood
I started this collection earlier in the year but finished it one early Parisian morning.
This is a fine collection of scary, suspenseful short stories, reminding me of Lovecraft, Steam Punk and other mystery/supernatural stories of the turn of the last century.,204,203,200_.jpg

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

Another book I'd been reading for several months but finished in Paris.  

The King in Yellow is a series of short stories written in H.P. Lovecraft style.  The common thread is horror and a mysterious set of letters, documents, or other metaphysical phenomena that leads to the death or tragic conclusion involving the narrator.

The stories are in turn suspenseful, scary and sometimes funny as a few of them turn out to be merely dreams.

The writing is style can be a little archaic and after the fashion of a lot of Steam Punk or lesser known authors of the time period, which can be seen now as somewhat melodramatic and sentimental.

Women are described after the fashion of many late Victorian writers in poetical turns.  There are often depicted as goddesses, often unattainable or if attainable, not sustainable because of a tragic ending.  Oh, those Victorian writers. 

Fables for Children, Stories for Children, Natural Science Stories, Popular Education, Decembrists, Moral Tales by Leo Tolstoy 

I don't know if Tolstoy wrote these stories or compiled them.  They are small moral tales like Aesop's Fables, each only a paragraph long.  Still they are interesting and worth reading.

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
This book started out very interesting and written in a lively style.  It quickly turned into a story of imagination with a tremendous amount of detail.  I suppose for a child of the Victorian age who has not suffered the modern child's affliction of information overload, it would be a magical journey.

In a nutshell, a little chimney sweep who experiences nothing but abuse and neglect finally, in a panic, runs away but finally collapses at the edge of a spring.  There the Queen of the Fairies turns him into a Water Baby. 

When he wakes up, he finds himself only a few inches high with gills on the sides of his neck.  The rest of the story is filled with his new discoveries of his environment and the various animals and sea life.

There is also a moral tale of the wrongness of child abuse and also redemption for even the most hardened heart.
Fast and Loose by Edith Wharton
This is the first story in the Complete Edith Wharton I have on my Kindle.
It is very short and I read it in a few sittings shortly before I left Paris.  (I had quite a few early morning readings. 
It was written when Wharton was fourteen years old and though has much that is tragic about it, there is none of the cynical "modern realism" that readers expect from Wharton.  I was surprised to see how positive and even moralistic the story ended.
A young girl, Georgie, breaks off her engagement to her cousin Guy, because, even though she loves him, she would rather be the wife of a Baron.  
She marries the Baron and has a brilliant career among the rich and elite who find her brazen sauciness both shocking and irresistibly attractive.
As the story progresses we see how the jilted Guy lives under heartbreak and also how Georgie eventually comes to repent of her selfishness.
Overall, I thought the story transpired rather nicely even if it ended on a rather melodramatic, if not typically Victorian moralistic tone.
A worthy read for Wharton fans.
The Christmas Child by Hesba Stretton

Miss Priscilla Parry adopts a young girl Rhoda and later an even younger girl, Joan.  She has plans for the girls, none of which includes getting married.  She firmly believes that women should stay single, be strong and independent.  When Rhoda runs off and gets married, Priscilla can't forgive her.
Filled with rage and hatred, she shuts herself up and neglects  poor little Joan.
Every Christmas Eve Joan and Rhoda would go into the barn to look for the Christmas child.  After Rhoda is gone, Joan continues to look by herself.
One Christmas Eve, much to Joan's surprise and delight, there is a child in the manger!

This is a sweet Christmas story, very old fashioned and Victorian but also a timeless message of how hard-heartedness can impact the ones we should love the most, the need for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

On the flight home I was sitting next to a young woman from Tunisia.  She was staying in New Jersey for a couple of months with relatives.  She asked where we were going.

I told her how many hours we had before us.  I added that the day after we arrived, my in laws were coming in from North Carolina.  When they left, the day after Christmas, my parents would be arriving.

After New Year's my son and I will drive them back to Florida and stay with them a week.

So it is lively at the Wilfong home. 

 Which is how I like it!

I pray you all have a similarly blessed time.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!