Perception Is Everything

I drove up the driveway on the way to the house the other day and was in for a shock.

What is it?

What?  This lizard looks big and out of place.  Where did he come from?

Not believing my eyes, I couldn’t quite figure this out…until I got a little closer.

Lizard?

Ah-hah! Not a lizard at all.

A log lizard, maybe?  Whew, what a relief!

Wild Eyed Lizard

Wow, it really looks like eyes on his “face”!  Log Lizard doesn’t look very nice.  His eyes are scary.  I’m so glad my first impression was wrong.Log Lizard

HH burned a few tree limbs last week (still at it!), and he brought the remaining logs over to this spot.  He just dumped them out of his tractor bucket, and this is how they landed.  Awesome, huh?

New pet?  What a hoot!

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Quiet Isn’t So Quiet, After All

When we first moved from the bustling Atlanta suburb to The Land of Making Do, it was quiet.

House, 2006

No, beyond quiet.  This country setting was silent.  With only young trees close to the house, there were no birds fluttering about, no nests with baby chicks calling out for mom.

I’d sit on the porch and wonder where all the birds were.  Why aren’t they here?

I knew I’d have a little work to do in preparing a proper place for birds to feel welcome.

So, I planted trees, surrounded the house with greenery, flowering plants for nectar, and eventually they came.

House, 2012

Now, when I sit on the porch, the chirping is non-stop.  Deafening, almost.  Birds, near and far, are actively and noisily going about their lives.  Can I read three sentences without my mind being drawn away from my book?  No!

I wonder…was I so used to the loudness of traffic, car engines and horns, that I couldn’t hear the birds at first?  Were they here all the time, and I was deaf to them?  As we’ve settled into country life, we’ve become acclimated to the soft sounds of country.

I hear birds chirping over the edge of the porch, in the bushes where they must have built a nest close by.

Bird Nest in Bush

I hear singing in the nearby trees, as well as the far-away tree lines.    Doves are cooing at the barn, behind the house.  Cows are mooing at a neighbor’s pasture a mile away, sounding as if they’re in the next yard (well, they are if 160-acre squares are considered a yard).

It’s amazing what you hear in nature when you block out everything else.  So, was it my ears that couldn’t hear the chirping when we first arrived?  Or, was it my busy mind that needed settling first?

Yes, it’s calm and quiet here.  Soothing.  But, definitely not silent.

Hoot!  Hoot!

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Unpacking Boxes

OK, not really boxes.  It’s posts.  (You get the picture.)

I wanted to update you on the whole blogging life I’ve stepped into.  Who Gives A Hoot?  is the blog that started it all, y’all.  A few of you have been with me all along, since the very first post on the beginning blog with Blogger, not yet a full year ago.

Store Owl

Hobby Lobby Owl #1

May of 2012 is when it all started.  Tired from a long day of riding on the back of HH’s motorcycle, but sooo inspired to write, I haphazardly created a Blogger account and published my first post.  Scary!  I didn’t know a thing about what I was doing!

Writing first blog on MC trip to CA no. 2

After taking an online course about WordPress sites, I learned the ins and outs of using their blogging platform.  I have come to enjoy all that WordPress offers in a free site.  Thank you for sticking with me through all these months of trying to figure out learning about blog site options and finally settling somewhere a little more user-friendly.

Store Owl 2

Hobby Lobby Owl #2

If you have been a reader of WGAH (Who Gives A Hoot?) from the beginning, you may have wondered what in the world I’m doing.

Some of you have asked me questions like these:

What are you doing?

Why haven’t I seen your blog about the hoot thing lately?

Why haven’t I seen anything new on your blog posted on Facebook lately?

What happened to your blog?  I can’t find it anymore.  Where is it?

Store Owl 3

Hobby Lobby Owl #3

And people have said things like:

I can’t find your blog – the cute one, with the cute little stories.  (Thank you for the compliments, by the way.)

I’m not interested in all that stuff at Curtain Queen.  I want to read more of that other one.

When considering the Curtain Queen blog as separate from WGAH, I was hesitant to maintain two sites, especially with so much to learn.  My energies can only stretch so far, and in this Autumn of life, I have so much less of that.

So, yesWhat am I doing???  (See?  I ask myself these same questions you’ve asked.)

Store Owl 4

Hobby Lobby Owl #4

And, no.  I haven’t forgotten about Hooting.  It’s only been on hold for a while.

Along with the continued questions and promptings, I’ve received a few gifts of owls in honor of WGAH.  Suddenly, I have everything from owl jewelry to owl place mats.  How could I give up hooting with all those owl reminders?

Owl Place Mat

You’ll recognize this place mat in my new header.  Yes, I’m exposing my DIY-ness, ’cause everything is DIY around here, you know. 😉

This plate came from a friend who was with me in a store when I found it and secretly (shh…) snapped a picture to use on my Blogger blog header.  After posting the picture in my newly designed header, I had nightmares of imprisonment for copyright infringements, so I removed it the next morning.  I may be a sneak, but I’m a “fraidy-cat” sneak!

Hoot Plate

My friend went back to the store later, bought the plate, and then shipped it to me for Christmas.  See?  I’m not the only sneak. 🙂  Aren’t friends fun and wonderful?

I didn’t intend to collect owls, but they are very popular these days.  You see them everywhere!  I hope you don’t mind me sharing some owls from Hobby Lobby throughout my post today.

Final Store Owl

Hobby Lobby Owl #5

Once a month postings are not enough, I realize, to keep you interested in visiting.  In the interest of ease in blogging life, moving WGAH to WordPress made a lot of sense to me.  So, here we are.

Welcome here!

I have learned a little about blogs while building the Curtain Queen site.  And, there is so much yet to learn!  As I continue to grow the Curtain Queen blog, I’ll be posting an occasional (and possibly more than occasional) tidbit here and there at WGAH.  Sometimes I run across postings at other blogs that would be perfect to share with you, things not fitting for the Curtain Queen forum.  WordPress has a reblog feature (which I love!), providing a different but fun way to share with you.

My goal is to keep the format simple.  For a specific category of writings, simply click the one you want to read about under categories in the sidebar.  Or, for a specific date, look in the sidebar under archives and click the date of interest.

I promise to be at least a little more dedicated about sharing hooting to you occasionally.   It won’t be daily, by any stretch, but it will be more often than once a month.  How’s that?

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.  ‘Cause I do give a hoot about what y’all think!

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Fifty Hours With His and Her i-Ness

We asked for it, a trip to Salt Lake for a Spring Break ski week.  With airfare heart-breakingly expensive, we drove.  Again. The last time we drove, our trip was combined with a detour to the Grand Canyon, Zion Park, and Monument Valley.  We experienced many new things after our week of skiing.

This time, however, we drove straight to Salt Lake, then straight back home.  Uneventful?  Hardly.  HH and I are seemingly anti-i.  i-Phone, that is.  And i-Pod, i-Pad, you name it.  Our teenagers, on the other hand, are all about i-ness. 
Every meal outside of the car – you know, at a table, in a restaurant, where you order a meal, and they bring it to you, and you eat. with a fork – we had minimal conversation.  Two heads at our table were leaning over an i-thingie of some sort. 
It’s when we’re in the car that the teenagers get animated.  Passing i-ness back and forth, sharing i-funny jokes, brought some life into our trip.  25+ hours each way is a long time trapped in a car with 4 grown bodies, luggage galore, puffy ski-wear, 3 pillows, snacks, and oodles of bottled water.
On the way to Salt Lake, we hit upon a snow storm.  Not to worry!  We had no fear heading our 4-wheel-drive into the white-out, Sponge-Bob tin filled with moon-pies, nabs, and peanuts.  Oh, and let’s not forget the mini-sized chocolates, such as York Peppermint Patties.  The cool refreshing Yorks remind me of skiing.  At the top of the mountain, form your mouth into an “O”, and breathe the coolness, refreshing your lungs.  It’s the same as the York, y’all.
The fun escalated when Fun Son began talking to Siri.  Do you know her?  I just met her on our trip.  She’s not bashful and answers questions promptly.  Occasionally, she says she’ll think about the answer before responding, but it doesn’t take her long. (She must be under 50.)
I’d like to share a couple of Siri conversations with you.  Keep in mind that Siri has a matter-of-fact tone with no inflection that we draw from for interpretation.  (Parenthetical notes are mine.)
FS (Fun Son):  Siri, you can call me Master.
S (Siri):  Your name is Nolen, but you told me to call you Master.
FS:  Why didn’t you call me Master?
S:  I did call you Master, Master.
(You can’t argue with Siri.)
FS:  Where are you from, Siri?
S: I was made by Apple in California.
FS: What is your favorite color?
S:  Green with many more dimensions you wouldn’t understand.  (Could she possibly mean “money”?  Just wondering…)
FS:  What is your favorite activity?
S:  I don’t like to talk about myself.  (That one must have stumped her.)
Now, it’s Spunky Daughter’s turn.
SD:  Siri, do you love me?
S:  You’re looking for love in all the wrong places.
SD:  You’re a smart woman, Siri.
S:  I’m not just a pretty face.
SD:  But, Siri, you have no face.
S:  No reply.  (Another one that stumped her.)
SD:  Tell me a joke, Siri.
S:  Jokes in my language aren’t so funny.
SD:  Come on, Siri.  Tell me a joke.
S:  How many i-phones does it take to…(long pause)?  Never mind.
Really?  Siri thought about it and censored herself?  Or, is she over 50 after all and got mid-way through her joke and forgot the punch line?  That chick must be part human, y’all!
At one point, FS asked her what her name meant.  She gave a convoluted answer that I can’t even remember.  Too technical.  That’s OK, ‘cause I already know what her name means.  Siri is short for “Serious”.  She seriously is that!  And sometimes seriously funny!
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Maybe Next Year, Dad

Here I sit at my desk, looking at my prized possession sitting on the window sill.

Not the sign, y’all.  True statement, just not the prize.  The leg lamp is the prize, but this one is not even a lamp.  It’s a head-knocker that looks like the leg lamp from The Christmas Story.  And it has a story all it’s own.
A few Christmases ago, we started a new tradition.  My brothers’ families, my family, and my parents enjoy a dinner together at some point during the holidays.  After we eat, we circle up to play Dirty Santa. 
Our first year of Dirty Santa, I brought this leg lamp, and my dad picked it.  Everyone else got wonderful things, some beautiful, some practical, some heavily stolen from others.  Good stuff.  But I cursed the receiver of my gift with this useless dust catcher.  Dad acted like he really liked it, but I knew he was pulling MY leg.  Said he’d wrap it up again the next year to give someone else a chance to have this treasure for a year.  
Dad displayed his gift throughout the year, prominently placed on his desk. The following year, sure enough, he included the wrapped Christmas Story leg lamp in the pile of gifts.  I tried my best to get it, but Dad stole it from someone (maybe me) and was able to keep it another year.  The third year, my sister-in-law got the pleasure of enjoying the leg lamp proudly (or not-so-proudly) placed in her home after slyly stealing it on the final allowed steal for that gift.
My brother and sister-in-law have been in the middle of a major home remodeling project over the last few months, and I feared the treasure would be forgotten at Dirty Santa this past Christmas.  No telling how many boxes they had to dig through to find it.
But, not to worry.  It appeared when someone opened the easily-recognizable shape of box hidden inside a non-recognizable leg-lamp-holding gift bag.  Didn’t take long for dear old Dad to steal it, of course.  He tried to hide the box behind his chair leg, ’cause he knew what was coming, y’all.
So happy at my decision to sit to Dad’s right this year.  Took my turn immediately after he stole that prize and made him hand over the leg loot.  Yep!  And you see where I have it – prominently displayed at my desk, as well.  The apple doesn’t fall far from…oh, who gives a hoot, y’all?
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"Boxed With Care" For The Masses

Did you pack your Operation Christmas Child boxes earlier this month?  You’ve read the literature of what should be included in the boxes and what should not.  My eyes were opened to the mass number of boxes donated with items on the “don’t include” list when I worked in the Atlanta Distribution Center a couple of years ago.

I recently returned from three days at the OCC Atlanta Distribution Center.  Just like last time, it was a huge blessing!.  A nearby church allowed members of other churches to join them in this opportunity.  This group makes everything fun, y’all!  They are a barrel of laughs, even when we’re tired after a long day.  Yes, we stand on concrete floors for long hours, sorting, taping, and packing for shipping.  Yes, we get tired.  Yes, we are often brought to tears, in awe!  Yes, God is in it!

Here we are in the initial training session.

There are many jobs at the Distribution Center, and you pretty much get to pick your passion (or talent).  The first person in the “line up” at each table removes rubber bands and opens each box (please don’t tape your box closed), removes the shipping payment that should be placed on top of all contents, checks for proper labeling attached, then passes it along the line.

A few of our group members working in the warehouse.

The “checker” inspects every item in the box, removing bottles of any liquids, all food items (except hard candy), sharp objects (school scissors are fine), etc.  Sometimes we have special instructions for removing certain items (like camouflage clothing on this trip) that are avoided for certain countries.  For part of our time there, we had an undisclosed country’s shipment to complete with special instructions.  So, sometimes we know the destination, and sometimes we don’t.

These are the different types of boxes the checkers encounter:

  • The Box Runneth Over – crammed so full, when you remove the rubber band, the lid pops open and contents start spilling out.  This requires the checker to dump out the entire box, search the items carefully to dispose of forbidden items (which go to homeless or needy in the area – nothing wasted, y’all), then all items repacked with exceptional organizational skills.  Sometimes, even after removing some forbidden items, the checker cannot fit everything back without the bulging lid.  This not only takes huge chunks of time for one box, but it also means two children could have had the blessing of a “normally” filled box rather than one overfilled.
  • The Nearly Empty Box – sometimes groups or individuals volunteer to donate a massive number of boxes.  Not always, but sometimes these groups of boxes have few items and are poorly planned. Sometimes people donate a huge box, which makes me wonder if the children who get a “normal” box feel slighted, especially when it is packed full.  But for the more sparsely filled, we have bins of donated random items we can draw from to properly fill each box.  Anything you can donate in large quantities, like soap, washcloths, children’s clothing or toys, toothbrushes or paste, will be used.  Flip-flops are very popular, too!
  • The Just Right Box – this is when the tears flow.  When you open a box that was obviously packed with love and care and forethought, it is obvious!  It is touching!  It is what we’re supposed to do, as Christians!  We need to pray as we fill these boxes.  God knows each child that will receive a box, and He knows their needs.  He communicates with us if we’re listening, y’all.

Children who receive these boxes often need basic hygiene items.  They are happy to get a bar of soap and washcloth!  School supplies with pencils (and sharpener) and paper are needed.  These items alone can fill a box, and they would be perfectly happy.  But when you add small items of clothing and a toy, it’s icing on the cake.  A box full of a dozen McDonald’s happy meal toys makes me sad.  Is that filling a need, or simply filling a box?  Will these children know what to do with happy meal toys?  I think not.

After the checker, the next job on the volunteer line is the taper, who (guess what?) runs a line of tape around the box to secure it.

The taper gives the box to the packers, who organize the shipping boxes with great care, trying to fill each securely with 16 boxes.  This is a job for the strong ones, ’cause the final step is to lift that big box and place it on a conveyor that takes them to 18-wheelers for the land, air, and/or boat travel ahead.  Our jobs at the volunteer stations are only a small part of the huge process of getting these treasured boxes to all the children in the countries that await their arrival.

At random times throughout the day at the Distribution Center, an OCC worker calls for all volunteers to stop working temporarily.  They introduce someone, share a personal story, or share a video of a former box recipient and how it impacted their life.  Then they lead us in prayer as we all grab a box and hold it close to our heart, praying for these children and all others in these countries, that these boxes will bring Jesus to them in a real and personal way.  Multitudes have had changed lives through this awesome ministry.

Billy Graham is not the only Graham reaching the world for Christ.  We all know Franklin, as well.  Most of us know a bit of his story as a young rebellious kid who wanted nothing to do with his father’s ministry.  Franklin Graham’s life is a perfect example of how God can impact a world through the change of one man!  What if more of us were like him?  Wouldn’t that be something?!

 

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Digging Duck Dynasty

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the final day of our motorcycle trip to Virginia.  We were headed home, riding through northeastern Alabama in the very cold weather, trying to get home before we froze our fingers (and other parts) off!

I don’t know what town we were in, because I was hunkered down behind HH, trying to keep warm.  I looked to my left just in time to see a large sign that told about an upcoming race.  The National Lawnmower Race was to be held in that town the following weekend.  That helped warm me up, ’cause I laughed all the way home about what we Southerners do for fun.  Good, clean fun, but also a little weird. 

Come to find out, the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association has their own Facebook page, with over 5,000 “likes”.  If you’re interested, which apparently many are, you can get there HERE.  This isn’t just a Southern thing.  There are rednecks participating in this sport all over our United States, y’all!

During the week after we got home, I watched Duck Dynasty on TV for the first time.  Hooked from the start on this Southern/Redneck/Cajun(?) show, I sat through two or three episodes that first night.  The last episode was about a lawnmower race, y’all!  I’ve lived in the South a long time.  But this type of racing is new to me. 

The Duck Dynasty lawnmower race was a tight one, leaving you on the edge of your seat.  The final sentence of the episode was hilarious.  The announcer said something to the effect that, the audience had paid for a seat at the race, but they only used the edge of it.  In his slow Southern drawl, it was a great laugh to end with. 

Something I don’t understand (and HH, either) about Duck Dynasty is how those scraggly-bearded men have such GORGEOUS wives!  They are beautiful, y’all, inside and out!  And they didn’t marry these men after they landed their millions with their coveted duck-call business.  They were high-school sweethearts!  As our 16-year-old daughter says, “Ewe!”  😉

These seemingly lazy men at work are anything but lazy at play.  These South Louisiana boys love to make play out of anything (even work) and have a love for hunting like a true Southerner.  Then they bring home their kill or catch for dinner, and the women cook it up.  Each episode ends with them gathered around the table together, saying grace, thanking God for His provision.  Awesome!

Rare are the TV shows that are clear of loads of foul language, violence, nudity, etc.  This one is pure family “country fun” that gives you a hoot (y’all!).

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