Monday, November 30, 2009

"Eating my Words--take 2"

This restaurant review is of The Dixie, a cheeseburger joint that has been a Greenwood landmark for 50 years. The Dixie used to be a true drive-in diner, with carhops zooming to your window on roller skates. It was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights says one patron who grew up here. Now patrons eat at the counter and order from the menu on the wall. Today's meal would be another Cheeseburger special with half onion rings, half fries and drink. Total $7.24, including tax.

Cheeseburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, floats, malts, fries and homemade cherry Cokes oh my. The Dixie remains a throwback to the 1950's. And I will mention a beverage known as "the Pickle Coke" that can be made for you upon request. A pickle Coke contains regular coca-cola, cherry juice and a healthy serving of dill pickles. I had been warned about this drink and was eager to give it a try. When I told the waitress what I wanted, she mumbled something like, "Come again? I haven't had a request for one of those in a long time!!" But sure enough she went back to the soda station and returned with my Pickle Coke, a salty sweet elixir blended with pickles, Cherry Coke and served over ice. This is one new drink that I will order again and again

And The Dixie is still an institution is this town drawing in Lander University students, CPW and Embarq workers and quite a few married couples who remember the diner from the good old days.

Eating my cheeseburger special was an adventure for several reasons. One, the waitress recalls nearly every patron's name and order who walks into the place on any given day. Two, it's kind of like family because customers tend to talk over each other, share juicy gossip, and find their way into your business. More than one person saw me taking notes and pictures and asked, "Are you a writer for the Index-Journal(Greenwood's hometown paper)?" "No, I laughed. Just an ordinary customer doing a review for personal reasons."

Page tagged along with me and took notes for this post. She wrote: "Crinkle cut fries are good!~they also need extra salt, but I like salt. The cherry Coke is good, but no pickles in mine. It's sweet, not syrupy sweet, without any pickles." Page did taste my Pickle Coke, but decided it was a weird taste for her. "Burger is really good; a very large burger and I couldn't finish it all. The burger is messy, but not too greasy like some places. Food came fast and service was great. the onion rings are breaded differently, not salty enough but not overly greasy!"

I like that The Dixie has celebrated it's 50th anniversary in G-wood. My Pickle Coke was outstanding. The hamburger patty was large, but on the thin side and probably frozen, not fresh. I noticed many couples eating lunch together which I thought was romantic or something. My onion rings were too crunchy, but not bad. My drink was refilled three times or more and our friendly waitress was great about checking back with us. Page's insurance salesman sat on the stool next to us and snapped our picture. The woman to my left regaled me with stories about the diner's heyday and she told me which specials were her favorites.

So there you have it, a positive review and yes, after sitting at the counter for over an hour, it did feel a lot like a family gathering.

Card Games and such...

Confession is good for the soul, so here's my confession for the day. I have craftily avoided learning how to play a card game called, Progressive Rummy for about 26 years.
You see, Allen's side of the family plays Progressive Rummy so often, and at every family gathering, that I run and hide. I hate most card games with a passion other than Uno, regular Rummy, Solitaire, Hearts, Spit, well you get my point. I prefer board games that rely on adjectives, charade-like games, loud and noisy games in which you shout out the answers to questions like, "In what year did Ferris Bueller became a household name?" Bueller? Bueller? The year was 1986 people.

On my 101 List is item #4: Learn to play Progressive Rummy even if it kills me. I'm proud to say that this past Friday night I endured and learned the rules and regulations for this card game. I did not win, but I did not have the highest score at the end either. My husband won, and that's all well and good because he is a competitive guy.
Me, I'm great when it comes to Taboo and word games. So, item #4 is gone forever. And that's perfectly fine with me. Here's to another 26 years of wordsy and action packed games.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dashboard Jesus

I need constant reminders of Jesus in my daily life: a worship song, a scripture, an encouraging word from a friend. This weekend I placed a Dashboard Jesus just beside my steering wheel. After all, I figured what could be better than having his presence in my car, you know while I'm driving down the road singing praise songs. Or, better yet, to remind me not to cuss out the person who just cut me off on the 72 bypass. My dashboard Jesus rides along me with his hands in the air, waving em like He just doesn't care! WWJD... Yep, this may be what I need on a daily basis: a small, but lifelike cheesy reminder that my savior is always with me.

My 101 in 1001 Days

My daughter Bethany and her friends have decided to set 101 goals to be accomplished within 1001 days. Lofty yes, but it got me thinking too because I have not set many realistic goals for my life in the past years. I jokingly wrote a bucket list but that was short and somewhat "fluffy." So, thanks to my baby girl, I will write out My 101 in 1001 Days. Wish me luck or say a prayer as I endeavor to meet these goals. I hope to know myself better after this and to be the person God intends me to become. This is big, really big.

  1. Get some of my work published again in devotional or other format
  2. Bake healthy loaves of bread in my bread machine on a regular basis
  3. Get 30 minutes of exercise 3+ days a week
  4. Learn to play progressive rummy even if it kills me
  5. Get over my fear of failure and try new things no matter how much it embarrasses me
  6. Jump out of an airplane without breaking any bones upon landing
  7. Tell my husband I love him every day
  8. Learn some conversational Italian and/or Spanish
  9. Go to Italy to visit my relatives before it is too late
  10. Truly love those who have wronged me or my family...and then pray blessings for them
  11. Read the stacks of books beside my bed and then pass them on
  12. Accept my body for what is it; accept my looks and grow old gracefully & avoid plastic surgery
  13. Cultivate a deep sense of peace and contentment, knowing that GOD is in control
  14. Refuse to let my physical ailments define who I am and what I can do
  15. Sing again in church or other group
  16. Learn to use all of the features on my iPod, computer and cell phone
  17. Be able to take naps at any time, any place, like my husband
  18. Learn to grow indoor plants and develop a "green thumb," rather than a "black one"
  19. Wear only the clothes in my closet that fit; give away the rest. Same with shoes I never wear
  20. Blog, blog, blog...
  21. Collect sea glass every time I go to the beach and make something beautiful out of these pieces
  22. Love unconditionally because God first loved me
  23. Work on my critical spirit~ask the Holy Spirit to help me with this one
  24. Try scuba diving at least once simply because Allen enjoys it
  25. Go on a short-term mission trip outside the USA
  26. Support missionaries and sponsor a child through CMF
  27. Decide what I want to be when I grow up!!!!!!!!! A medical assistant or something better?
  28. Keep in touch with out of town friends in PA, Maryland, etc. Send cards to those girlfriends!
  29. Switch to fair-trade coffee (got that one from Bethany)
  30. Eat more whole grains, fruits and veggies
  31. Wear sunscreen on my face and hands every day, not just sometimes
  32. Learn to make an incredible Tiramisu!
  33. Go grey (gray) just to see what my hair really looks like without all the harmful color and highlights. This will be a major challenge as you can imagine--I am working on this now. Please do not be shocked!
  34. Give to the poor in my community/serve them as often as I can
  35. See no race or color. See people only as God sees them
  36. Read my Bible more often and memorize scripture
  37. Be more politically aware and write my senators and leaders when it is important to speak up
  38. Tell my son & daughter that I love them every day
  39. Build bridges in any broken relationships I have in my life. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff
  40. Join the YMCA again
  41. Invite people into our new home and practice hospitality
  42. Organize my office and papers that clutter my life~
  43. Give away any books I do not need
  44. Switch to organic or natural cosmetics & hair care products that are not tested on animals
  45. Get an old, scruffy dog. Yeah, what Beth said.
  46. Learn to drive, park and tie up the boat all by myself! Did this 3 times last weekend. Yahoo!
  47. Visit Chicago and maybe get tickets for the Oprah show-going to Chicago end of Oct. No Oprah tickets!
  48. Visit Brian in northern VA
  49. Watch the sunrise over Lake Greenwood
  50. Update my calendar yearly with the birthdays of friends and family
  51. Take more pictures and put them into photo albums
  52. Help out in a soup kitchen more than just once in a blue moon
  53. Babysit for a couple or single mom who cannot afford a sitter
  54. Clean a friend's house just because--I like cleaning so this one was easy. Thanks Jenny!
  55. Lose 10+ pounds. Oh, that's just depressing!
  56. Spend time getting to know the teens in my church and the seniors too
  57. Visualize World Peace
  58. Help Aunt Lori move to South Carolina in 2009--May happen in 2010.
  59. Help my inlaws move to South Carolina in 2009--May happen in 2010. Neither have house on market.
  60. Attend and celebrate Bethany's college graduation in 2009!
  61. Learn to bite my tongue a little more often
  62. Never go to bed angry if I can help it...or don't let the sun go down on my anger...
  63. Really keep a journal; it doesn't matter how often I write just so I write
  64. Make batches of homemade meatballs and Italian soup more often
  65. Get back on my bicycle so I can enjoy rides with my hubby
  66. Work at listening and not interrupting others when they have something to say
  67. Dream big dreams for Jordan and Bethany and believe God for the outcome!
  68. Be a good parent and a better friend to my children
  69. Kiss my husband good night whenever possible!
  70. Watch all of our Rob Bell nooma DVD's
  71. Give flowers to a friend who is sad or lonely
  72. Camp out under the stars for a night
  73. Stop biting my nails when I am stressed out or nervous
  74. Floss at least once a day
  75. Use the good china for everyday meals, not just special occasions like X-mas or Easter
  76. Shop for a month using only cloth or reuseable bags
  77. Tip a waiter or waitress who really tried to get my order right but didn't for whatever reason
  78. Go for a glider ride
  79. Take a cooking class with Allen
  80. Stop all ordering stuff via the internet for one month--done this summer it was tough.
  81. Replace old lightbulbs in the house with newer energy efficient ones
  82. Visit Asheville, NC and Athens, GA soon!
  83. Practice gentle yoga and meditation
  84. Get up and sing a karaoke song
  85. Catch fish in Lake Greenwood and throw em back. I've caught one fish so far all summer!
  86. Make stuffed grape leaves, lebanese style
  87. Attend a Clemson, USC or Georgia football game--USC game Oct 10th, 2009 going with Kevin &Julie!!
  88. Make a snow angel while living in SC
  89. Read Pride and Prejudice again and other Jane Austen classics
  90. Start working crossword puzzles again to stimulate my brain
  91. Get to know Ashley better and pray for the best in her life
  92. Take my own sunset picture over Lake Greenwood and frame it
  93. Take a meal to a neighbor
  94. Find a used elliptical machine I love
  95. Recycle as much as I can
  96. Learn to laugh at Myself!
  97. Shop at my local produce stands and farmer's markets
  98. Tell my niece how much Jesus loves her! I am praising God that Baleigh asked Jesus into her heart in 09.
  99. Participate in a Walk for Life or Relay for Breast Cancer awareness
  100. Write a love letter to Mom--
  101. Post this on my blog~P.S. I roasted my own salty & delicious pumpkin seeds too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Eating my Words"...a tale of Cheeseburgers

You know it's bad when you've got cheeseburgers on the brain. In Greenwood, a small city with a population that hovers around 20,000, we have several small joints that serve Cheeseburger specials every day for $5 and some change, including drink, fries and/or onion rings. Even though I have lived in Greenwood for over two years, I have only eaten at one of these establishments.
So with this in mind, I am surrounding myself with a few burger aficionados and we will conquer the small joints in town, thereby reviewing each places' "Cheeseburger Plate Special."

Last Friday Kathy, Karen and I visited the Garden Grille at 12:05 pm. The parking lot was full and the smell of grease hung in the air.

We each ordered the lunch plate, with drink and fries or half-and-half (that would be half fries and half onion rings for you Yankees that need assistance with local lingo). Comments were jotted down on a PRO/CON notepad between bites. Karen used many adjectives in her review. Kathy loved the burger, commenting that it needed pickles and had a little too much mayo. We all agreed it was a freshly made whole beef burger (not a frozen patty) and made for a messy lunch. The burger literally slid off the bun.

The staff scored huge points for hospitality, refilling drink glasses and serving hot, hot food. I am very particular about my meal arriving hot. At the Garden Grille your fries and onion rings are brought to the table piping hot!!

So, Karen's notes are as follows:
PROS: Real Beef, not prefab, but a hand-patted burger !!-- She ordered a cheeseburger all the way with 1/2 and 1/2. Her meal cost $7.24.
Crispy Fries
Friendly Environment
Only that it was a messy burger, but, oh yes... a roll of paper towels was provided for our table.

Kathy agreed with all of the above but added the following comments:
Burger was messy due to a little excess mayo. She forgot to order pickles on her cheeseburger and this was very important. She had the cheeseburger special with fries, no onion rings. Her tab came in under $6 bucks.

Denine: Cheeseburger plate with 1/2 and 1/2, no onions on my burger.
PROS: Real beef! Super good fries and onion rings. Friendliest restaurant staff I've met in a long time.
CONS: Mayo caused burger to slide off of bun. Forgot the pickles too and prefer, ketchup, mustard and mayo combo. The beef had a slightly salty taste, not bad just different.

We must compare to other joints, but this was a great first experiment. And none of us southern gals could finish the food on our plates. So, Garden Grille gets high marks for fast service, hot food, hospitality and a tab of $7.24 for the Cheeseburger Special 1/2 and 1/2.

Next up: The Dixie where they serve a pickle Coke!!
Garden Grille on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Skydivng Adventure

Saturday morning the thermometer read 32 degrees- yes, freezing my friends. I was scheduled to arrive at Sky Dive Carolina, located in Chester, SC at 9am sharp. After registering and signing not 1 extensive waiver but 4, releasing the school from any liability in the event of my injury or possible death, I ran to the bathroom for my first nervous tinkle of the morning.

In the lobby were other first time tandem jumpers, most of whom were barely 21 years old and college students at USC. Yes, it's true I was the oldest person jumping that morning. Okay, not including the already trained professionals. Actually, I wasn't sure why I was the oldest person there, but I can tell you that it was not at all comforting for my 45 year-old ego.

So, first you sign your life away, agreeing that even your future heirs may never sue the skydiving company for anything. Then your group is taken into a room for actual jumping instructions. Part 2 was a hilarious instruction video featuring a lawyer (in suit and tie) reminding you that you just signed your rights away. Should you chicken out at this point, your $50 deposit is gone forever. Seriously, the video in all fairness gave you the basics: Keep your chin up, cross your arms and arch your back when exiting the plane. Landing correctly was also briefly demonstrated because each tandem instructor has his own method hitting the ground safely. Again, such comforting advice.

Next, an cool instructor entered the room and said, "Uh so did you watch the video?" "Any questions, ha ha?" He was wearing a jumpsuit unzipped to the waist, and spoke in this like totally surfer dude language. I thought he just woke up and hadn't had his first cup of coffee yet this morning. Nice... Nobody asked too many questions. I think we were all too afraid of being the stupid one in the class, raising our hand only to be humiliated. I dunno. Maybe I'm wrong. So, I leaned over to my husband and said, "Okay this is what you do for exit, this is what you do for landing right?" He nodded. Time for nervous tinkle #2 which would be my last before my jump.

At this point we were suited up in a lovely gray jumpsuit, a rubberized helmet and goggles that reminded me of Madonna's bra, all pointy and uncomfortable. We walked outside and into the hangar with our instructors and were put into harnesses suitable for beasts of burden. Two straps between the legs, straps at the shoulders and another belt around the waist. My instructor kind of lifted me up and into my harnesses and then began the fun process of tightening each individual belt to the point of killing any circulation in my lower half.

I chose to have my adventure photographed and videotaped so my camera man Quincy began to pepper me with questions. He was in my face every second on the ground and in the plane. And then of course, he jumped out of the plane a second before my jump so he could record my exit and take lovely still photos of me, mid-air screaming JESUS! or AWESOME! He encouraged the thumbs up sign too, alot. I think he was also there to remind us jumpers to breathe because it is a known fact that first timers tend to hold their breath and panic :)))

I can honestly say this was the biggest thrill ride of my life and it was over all too soon. Free falling is an amazing experience and my instructor also let me steer the parachute right or left. After the initial fear of jumping out of the plane, everything else allows you to see God's beauty and creation first hand. It was amazing and I look forward to Jump #2 next spring... So for now, I proudly cross this item off my 101. Another fear conquered, another amazing story for this middle-aged mama. P.S. My instructor's name was Alan. Coincidence? I think not.

Until next time breathe.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Fallin'

Here is my theme song for the day: Free Fallin'

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More 101

#6--Jump out of an airplane without breaking any bones. Scheduled to jump this Saturday 11-at 9 a.m. May purchase Depends undergarments as backup plan.

#47--Visited Chicago and loved it. Never saw Oprah or any celebs but I did see my childhoodriend Michele Cinna from home. Heard great blues & rock while there. Ate at Hot Doug's. Life is complete.

#87--Visited Athens, GA in October.

#100--Love Letter to my Mom (see post prior to this one).

A Love Letter to Mom

Mother, Mommy, and then my Mom



Gram’s love

Sunday School at Hope Lutheran

Summer camp where I learned to love Jesus

Swimming at Aunt Julie’s, Drive-in movies and Kennywood Park

Best cook in the world—homemade sauce & meatballs, grape leaves & stuffed olives

Anise bread for the holidays

Mancini’s Bread every day, provolone cheese and Beto’s pizza

Rough years in Jr. High, temper tantrums too

Carnegie Assembly of God got me straightened out

Apology letters to each other. Do you remember those notes we’d write?

Confidante in High School. Bruce, being at Gram’s house, love & graduation. Median School. My first car!

A new beau, this Allen from Virginia

How will you support my daughter you asked?? A ring and a promise to care for me

No worries Mom cos I’m sure he’s the One and I’m going to be Ok

Allen, my lover, my soul has been all that and more

Leaving behind Pittsburgh and my family…job in DC is calling--despair

Baby on the way, JD the blonde haired blue eyed peanut. You all came to take care of me. Colicky child #1

Toddler and Bethany kicking in the womb. Again you came. A boy and a girl, both within 2 years; colic again!

Maryland, the good years. Inner Harbor…you keeping the kids for weeks in the summer!

Bethany’s dance recital, a memory for sure. Fleetwood, Oley, Vacation in St. Pete. Riding out the hurricane and Universal Studios—we all jumped!

More trips back & forth with Megz in tow. Wave pool, Hershey Park. Yay!

Kids are growing up too fast. High schoolers now and graduation looms.

2004—JD graduates; 2005—B graduates. Colleges far away. Heartache over Jordan. Missing Bethany.

Our relationship is changing; Can you feel it? What can I say? I’m a grown woman too. Not always on the same page, but the love is always there Mom, it’s always been there. Respect and love. Remember that you pointed me to Jesus. Remember that you loved me no matter what I did or said. And I love you all the more…


Monday, November 2, 2009

Windy City

Chicago is by far one of the most beautiful cities in the US, hands down... I could stay here for a month to eat, eat and eat some more. But truly it offers so much to do with its array of museums, blues music, shopping districts and of course hot dogs. Pictures to follow but I want to go on record by saying that Anthony Bourdain knows what he's talking about when it comes to finding the best hole in the wall eateries. Hot Doug's was well worth the trip!