Ho-ho-Hold up that present for a better view!

regional partay

Holiday exchanges – all in vogue

or à la rogue?

Flashy presents for narcissists?

Naughty Santas cannot resist.

What to all wondering eyes should appear?

More calories spread tabletop than we’ve eaten all year!


This was our lunch-time office party from last week. Hopefully, you’ll get some laughter from identifying some of the presents – maybe more laughter from the fact that you won’t be able to identify others. That’s a homemade mirror made from recycled coke & beer cans & bottle tops I’m holding in the center for your viewing pleasure!


Offered up in response to this week’s Trifextra writing prompt:

Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol, wrote “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” We are giving you exactly 33 words to make us laugh out loud and spread some festive cheer.

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.fN0o2dUa.dpuf


Happy Thanksgiving (especially to those who “dress” rather than “stuff” your turkey)!

How to Dress Your Thanksgiving Turkey – and give it an alias…

While still in elementary school, my son brought home a cardboard turkey one November with the assignment of providing some suitable dressing to go with it.

Being of that magical age in which one celebrates that Wilbur the Pig will live in slop heaven for the rest of his mud-laden days because of winning a Web writing award at the county fair (something to which many of us bloggers aspire so we might earn some extra bacon), my son wanted his turkey to have the appropriate attire to assure his feathered friend’s absence from the chopping block.

For a fowl character like this to survive when he’s on November’s most wanted list, his accompanying dressing better be bad – to the bone. He’d better be better than a homegrown pig. He needed to be a Wild Hog. And he’d better be one hasty hellion to avoid the Thanksgiving dinner table. I ask you – would you want this tough, gristly, grimy guy served up on your platter?

Oh yeah. I said grimy. Check out the t-shirt to see how long he’s been dusting down the road. Don’t miss that this guy ain’t just any ol’ run-of-the-mill gobbler either. Heck no. “Turkey don’t ride café style.” This is one bad outlaw on the run.


Feel free to help us come up with a suitable alias for our Outlaw Turkey, so he can survive this year’s Thanksgiving season without being seasoned again!

The Hospitality of a Hallowed Eve

Hi, my name is Jody. I’m a Christian. And, here’s my hellacious holiday confession. Well, hey, I happen to like Halloween.

I don’t see it as a holiday to be demonized. And I really don’t think all those little kids are dressing up so they can come onto my front porch to practice their evil incantations. Basically, they’re in it for the candy. And I’m in it for the hospitality.

How many other days of the year can I expect that, if I sit on my front porch, a large percentage of my neighbors and even complete strangers will come by and visit? I walk my neighborhood each day – and though I stop and chat a time or two with someone each week for a couple of moments – how many other days of the year are our sidewalks filled with people joyfully greeting one another and socializing along the way? How many other days do I have the opportunity to chase down people I don’t know and ask to take their pictures? (Okay, well, maybe I’ve done that a few other times too…but you get the point.)

I wish I could tell you the excitement I felt at rushing to get home last night, after traveling on the road all day, then bringing my dinner out with me onto the porch, so I wouldn’t miss the busy group of excited children and teens gathering as it all began.

I wish I could tell you the joy I felt in my heart when I extended a handful of candy to a young visitor and was met with large eyes attached to a small, amazed voice that gasped, “I can have ALL of these?” “Only if you want them all,” I answered with a giggle.

I wish I could express the satisfaction I received from offering extra candy along with a bandaid to the overzealous trick-or-treater who tripped on my sidewalk because he was so excited to get there, as we both picked up his spilled trail of candy together.

I wish I could explain my frustration that I hadn’t thought to take pictures of all my visitors until after many of them had already gone on their way – and then my delight at rushing inside to grab my camera so I could share a tiny bit of my joy with you.

With that being said, I hope you, too, get some enjoyment from the precious few photos I did gather. More than anything, I hope that you were able to personally get great enjoyment from the hospitality opportunity that this Hallowed Eve offered once again to us all. I would hate to think that any of us might miss an opportunity to extend or receive the warmth of hospitality to one another.

A Resolute New Year

New years resolution

Need a worthwhile resolution for the New Year?

Resolve to save a life for just $10. 

No More Malaria Gift Link

No More Malaria Gift Link

Eventually, the life could become your own.


One of this week’s WordPress Daily Prompts was this:

Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?

The last recent thing I’ve read that’s bit and stung me is that nearly 1 million people are dying annually from being bitten by malaria-infested mosquitoes, a large majority of them being children. And, truthfully, that really does bite! 

We’re not talking fictional horror here. We’re talking about precious little faces that are very real to me – little ones who have survived a war-torn world only to face continued daily threats that could realistically be wiped out if enough people cared to make a difference. The cost is even ridiculously low. And, yet, few people are willing to respond. In further honesty, that reality stings.


Here’s the BUZZ:

Malaria is not a disease that only occurs in third world countries.

It’s not a disease that’s been eradicated.

As a matter of fact, my own grandmother suffered from the malaria parasite here in the United States. Once a person acquires malaria, it can be treated, but there is no cure. Outbreaks may occur throughout that person’s life, with malaria being responsible for many deaths, particularly in children under the age of 5.

3.3 billion people live in areas where this disease is a constant threat. 

The “elimination” of malaria within developed countries, such as the U.S. and European ones, does not mean that it no longer exists. In the U.S., this “elimination” definition went into place circa 1950, through the impact from spraying and improved drainage. Yet, malaria still has the capability of affecting residents even of developed countries. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates approximately 1,500 cases in the U.S. annually.

Outbreaks generally come from either mosquito-borne transmission, “airport” malaria (whereby mosquitoes survive from one country to another on a plane), congenital transmission (mother to child, during pregnancy or birth), and blood transfusions. Don’t fool yourself into feeling too safe. The CDC also explains that there are still ample numbers of the same types of mosquitoes around who created malaria problems for us within our past century.

In under-developed tropical/sub-tropical countries, malaria can run rampant. The largest worldwide malaria burden is in Africa, where 90% of malaria-related deaths occur. The CDC explains the reasons it is difficult to contain the disease there as:

  • an efficient mosquito that transmits the infection,

  • a high prevalence of the most deadly species of the parasite,

  • favorable climate,

  • weak infrastructure to address the disease, and

  • high intervention costs that are difficult to bear in poor countries.

Prevention efforts include spraying, mosquito nets and education. Treatment efforts include getting medicines to the medical clinics and communication efforts to get people to them. Our nation, along with others, have assisted in funding many of the spraying efforts, and I’ve read articles recently explaining that if such efforts get reduced, we will go back many years in our worldwide efforts towards eradication.

The Imagine No Malaria campaign was put together by some strong and dedicated partners – partners that have no need to skim your money off the top before it goes to meet greater needs – including the United Nations Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The World Health Organization, the people of the UMC, and others. No one is a stronger partner than those individuals willing to give to this effort, though.

I can’t imagine that $10 is too much to ask to save someone – particularly a young child – to either save a life, in general, or to greatly improve a person’s quality of life.

Will you resolve to make that difference?


Daily Prompt: Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

The Perfect Present – Merry Christmas!


takes the historical,

the theological,

the magical

and the whimsical

and wraps them all together 

in a most delightful present.


Year after year,

the beauty of this same familiar package

never wears down,

it never fades.

The surprise never lessens,

the Christmas spirit never dies –

not as long as we determine we’re going to prepare our hearts to continue to open

-and cherish-

this eternal, priceless gift.

Merry Christmas 2012! – jody


Punctuating that Christmas Has Gone – Wrong

Mistletoe and holly wreath hanging
out with my family I am avoiding
singing fa-la-las today so loudly
Santa himself could hear me swearing
my heart has taken a good beating
all year long-


I’m participating in Trifecta’s Trifextra Challenge for this weekend:

“This weekend we want you to give us a pithy summary of your feelings about the holidays.  Your response does not need to be cynical or sarcastic.  We welcome all thoughts and feelings about this time of year–so long as you express those thoughts and feelings in 33 words.”

You can check out others’ entries or submit your own at:

Trifextra: Week Forty-Seven

I decided I’d make my response interactive & allow YOU, dear reader, to decide exactly where YOU would like to insert YOUR own expressions of meaning into my holiday mix. Dig in with your personal plate of pithiness…


Do you have any “Christmas Gone Wrong” stories to share? 

If so, please feel free to comment or leave a ping-back so others may hear them!

Top 10 Ways to Avoid being Perceived as the Holiday Jerk: Wrap it Up!

Steve Martin as "The Jerk"

Since it’s unlikely that any of us can be as proficient (or make as much money) as Steve Martin being “The Jerk”…

As you wrap up 2012, making your lists & checking them twice

probably best to check your “jerkiness potential” during this holiday season.

Let’s do this “David Letterman” style – with a Top 10 Count-down to Number 1:


10. You might frustrate recipients of your postcard that you’ve sent from your swanky tropical paradise island with the words, “Happy Holidays! Wish you were here!” when you know good and well if you’d wanted them to be there, you would’ve invited them. Better yet, you might’ve paid their way as a gift for the holidays — if you’d REALLY meant it!

dogs-in-a-manger219. Putting your cat in the manger of the neighborhood nativity scene and telling everybody who comes by that you have the cutest baby Jesus ever this year might put some people on edge – or just make all the townspeople call you the crazy cat lady. (Don’t you dare tell them you really named that cat Jesus, either, just for this special occasion!)

temper tantrum8. You really need to rethink that idea about spoofing your temper-tantrum-throwing kids with your stupid pranky present ideas (that really aren’t that funny – no, really, they’re not funny at all), just so late-night drunken viewers can spew their beer out their noses while laughing over Jimmy Kimmel’s ratings, when those viewers won’t even remember what they saw the next morning anyway.

reindeer7. Throwing your dog’s feces from your yard onto the neighbor’s roof that sits at a level below your house to prove to your kids that reindeer came through on Christmas Eve could start a Christmas day neighborhood brawl.

*temp*6. Listen, Cutie. You might want to carefully review how to go about asking to borrow the sweater of the mom of that guy you hope to call your fiancé by next year – (you know, the sweater she wore to last night’s holiday outing) – just because you and your besties think it would be absolutely perfect for your Tacky Holiday Fashion Fun get-together.

5. goofyMen, it’s probably best not to laugh obnoxiously too many times at the holiday dinner table while proclaiming, over and over again ad nauseam, that money’s always the best gift because picking your present should be like picking your nose – it should be something only your wife does for you.

nonono4. Guys, it’s probably not a good idea to insist on holding the family’s holiday feast at one of the booming ‘breastaurants’ because they have “ample portions” and the servers’ outfits say “Ho Ho Ho” on them.hohoho

3. Repeatedly going up to your own lady and shouting, “Merry Christmas, Ho, Ho, Ho!” – then adding, “Get it? I just called you a Ho, Ho, Ho,” stands a good chance of getting yourself on the “Not so Nice & you can go somewhere that will never have a snowball’s chance of being as cold as the North Pole” list.

Apparently, this gal was saying “Keep your mitts off, Jerk!”

Apparently, this gal was saying “Keep your mitts off, Jerk!”

christmas-debt-young-woman2.  Avoid making purchases for yourself with the gift-giver’s credit card so that person can be lucky enough to get you exactly what you wanted for Christmas (particularly if that person didn’t even know you had possession of his/her credit card).

dirtySanta1.  Finally, please reconsider the idea of wrapping yourself (or especially individual body parts) up and saying things to your significant other such as, “I was thinking of you when I got this.”

So, wanna’ get off the “Jerk” list for this holiday season?

Think outside of the box (and yourself) & give inside this box:

Click the “NO MORE MALARIA” Wreath above to give a $10 gift that will SAVE A LIFE !

Yes, that’s what I said.

10 bucks.

It really can SAVE A LIFE!

You’d be a Real Jerk not to consider doing it.


For other “Top Lists” of the year, visit WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Wrap It Up

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

I live in the Southeastern foothills of the Appalachian mountain range. We’ve come to expect that holiday temps are a crap-shoot. Christmas may even bring us some balmy 70-degree weather on occasion (though, last year, we all woke up to the thrill of a rare Christmas snowfall that had stuck to the ground!).

Contrary to popular mythical belief, Southerners can & do drive on snow. (We just usually don't get an opportunity. Our hilly, curvy, mountainous roads are more commonly covered with sheets of frozen rain during winter conditions.)

Contrary to popular mythical belief, Southerners can & do drive on snow. (We just usually don’t get an opportunity. Our hilly, curvy, mountainous roads are more commonly covered with sheets of frozen rain during winter conditions.)

Here’s a photo of the more common conditions in our area at this time of year (photo below was taken exactly 2 weeks ago & I was hiking in very similar conditions yesterday). By the calendar, fall technically goes until around December 20, and our area holds onto it for at least that long. As you can see, we have very seasonal end-of-fall-like conditions, with most of the leaves serving as ground cover…

The leaves make a beautiful fall carpet in our area; but when temps have remained around a temperate 70 degrees, hikers in our area need to remember that copperheads come out & blend in well with this ground cover.

The leaves make a beautiful fall carpet in our area; but when the weather has remained around a temperate 70 degrees, hikers in our area need to remember that copperheads come out & blend in well with this ground cover.

…except for the rhododendron and mountain laurel, which will grow quite large in our forested areas and will remain green throughout the year.

Fall 2012

This mountain laurel and/or rhododendron framed this lovely creek setting well on my recent hike. I’m blessed that creeks like this are abundant in our area.

If you’d like to try to figure out which is the laurel & which is the wild rhododendron, here’s a little article to help you along  (but good luck in our area at this time of year, when they’re not blooming).

One last little capture. Here’s one of my summertime lilies (I chose it because it said it bloomed from Spring to early Fall – and I like to get lots of “bang for my buck”). Please don’t ask me to name this lily – because the best I’d be able to do is say “Doris” (she just looks like a Doris to me) – but feel free to tell the rest of us if you know what it is. Anyway, “Doris” bloomed bright fuchsia pink for me all summer long, then her blooms faded away. I walked out the other day to discover she’s apparently gotten into the Christmas spirit, sneaking in some dark red blooms to match her seasonal green foliage. Tis the season for Doris too, I suppose.

Doris getting into the Christmas season.

Doris getting into the Christmas season spirit.

So what kind of weather are you expecting for Christmas this year?

To check out others getting into the Christmas seasonal change, follow this link.