Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sweaters, robins, Shazam :Easter

Air is nippy on my arm (covered in a shirt and favorite wool sweater) as I write near my open window.  Birds are up trying to wake the sun. Plants still under their black plastic blanket. Another bird just joined the chorus. They probably want my sweater.  "Over here", "me first", "I saw it first". 

 I had a first, recently...Coffee with Duke Boy in our river garden and I witnessed it...
I've seen enough Disney and Animal Plant to know that this happens but it was a first for me....

  • A robin hopping around near by us, put his head down, and quickly pulled up a worm about an inch or so long, and gobbled it up. 
  •  You know you don't spend enough time in nature when your first thought is --wow--just like TV. 
  •   Shazam... I don't have to work for National Geographic to see this happen!

I have seen owls swoop out of the night sky from my patio and then I've heard their "snacks" last cry, but I'd never seen, with my own eyes, a robin pluck a worm out of the ground.  It was beyond cool. 
Don't judge.  Go see for yourself.  All you need is day light, a chair, coffee, quiet, a pair of eyes , trees, birds--preferably robins.

The women at the tomb told the guys, "Go see for yourself", if you don't believe us. 
Invite someone to come see for themselves what this Easter stuff is all about.

 More than egg hunts and bunnies even though you gotta love a little kid hunting eggs.  "Look down" you gotta tell the 2 and 3 year olds.  "Don't run" because all the eggs fall out of your basket.  "Your eggs are in this basket" those are you friend's.  Let's keep it that way--friends. 

Duke Boy has 4 sermons this week.  God bless him.  I mean that in the most literal way.
 Duke continues to play basketball at the oddest times for this preacher. 

Don't forget : Elizabeth Smart in Columbus on April 9th.
 Check out for the details.

Great buys at Bluffton Antiques and Collectibles in Lanett.
 All your Easter baskets goodies are available except the chocolate bunnies. 

Wonderful church services at Shawmut United Methodist in Valley, AL.
 Sunday : 7 and 11AM eastern time. 
Thursday, tonite 6PM and Friday  6PM.  Join us, you are very welcome.

Counseling services at the Pastoral Institute in Valley, AL and Columbus, GA.

Y'all have been great this month.  Almost 700 hits. Please become a follower by clicking on the appropriate spots.  Leave some "raisings" in the comment section. 
Peace, love, and Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time for a raising

This article will appear in the Valley Times-News this week.  If you read the paper then you'll get a double helpin'.  Thanks for sharing your Holy Week with me.  Hope this will inspire you to get "raising".
Women participating in a "raising".

“You raise me up to stand on highest mountains…you raise me up to more than I can be” by Josh Groban is a beautiful song.   We are called to love one another as we love ourselves.  Yesterday that happened to me and I was “raised up”.  Holy Week service at First UMC West Point with preaching, singing, and lunch was gracious plenty… and then I got another helping—no—I didn’t get back in line—it was tempting—but my plate was already overflowing from the first trip.  If you remember I invited y’all in my last article—sorry if you missed it.  OK, back to my “raising”.  Several people there made it a point to stop me or come by my table to tell me how much they enjoyed my articles.  Some even called it my “weekly column”.  I do aspire to have a weekly column in true Erma Bombeck style.  I also aspire to get to her workshop so I can give y’all better words to ponder, cherish, mull over, tell your friends about…I’ll stop.  Obviously, I need more training.  Send a check to the “please get this girl some Erma fund”.
Yesterday’s evidence; I need love and encouragement to keep writing.  I get that from birds singing, beautiful flowers, my river with the moon reflecting in it this morning, and pats on the back with kind words from all of you.  The song about “raising up “is about God’s power but that power to “raise” others up is in the hands of all of us.  I experienced that yesterday.  I did not “get the big head” over it either.  Do you remember those words from childhood? “ If you tell her that she did well then she’ll get the big head”.  My head did get bigger since I was kid but I think it’s because I have such a big brain.  Ok, that’s another article. 
Who needs a “raising” this week?  Most of us need several daily.  My job is about figuring out how to help folks who need a “raising” so they can do the same under their own roofs with those others who are longing for a “raising”.  I’m going to miss “raising” from some of y’all today because I’m doing a lunch time appointment with folks who are desperate to find “raising” under their roof.  I will miss the fellowship of the meal, the sermon, and the pats on my back from a Holy Week event.  I will be diligent in seeking out some “raisings” from other sources this week and trying to be more aware of where I can offer them.  Last week I wasn’t very patient with a customer service employee at a company. I attempted to make amends by returning with a box of Girls Scout cookies.  I hope my peace offering was accepted?
Our Valley Pastoral Institute Advisory Board  comprised of Bill Edwards, our chair; Christine Simpson, Marilyn Stokes, Lucy Royster, Donnie Erwin-Brown, Shelly Hunter, Brenda Andrews, Mary Susan Underwood, Micky Underwood, John Samanie, Lessie Beck, Sandra Thornton,  and Marshall Sapp. We met last week and they asked me to share with you that we had over 800 hours of service last year to the community.  Hopefully hundreds of those hours were about “raisings”. 
Karen Erwin-Brown is the director of the Valley office of the Pastoral Institute located in Shawmut United Methodist Church in Valley, AL.  She offers individual, marriage, and family counseling by appointment. Call 334-768-2341 for an appointment or more information.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Night out off the Hooch

I could write about the weather forever because it's such a story.  My yard has tarps and sheets over the
plants that were in the basement last week.  Shocking and some awe --had a pot of bulbs that I was supposed to plant--picked a beautiful narcissus that bloomed from that pile.  So cool.

Tried to take a pix of my first EVER bloom on my cherry tree.  Of course, you can't see it but the trees --the oaks, were awesome behind it. Probably too intimidated to bloom before.

Great night in Columbus with my children and Ms. M. Treated to a great evening of "Cotton Patch Gospels" and supper at Hulihans.  Both I highly recommend. The show was soooooo good.  I saw it many years ago in B'ham with Harry Chapin's brother--I think--?? in the show.  It was at Samford.  Jesus served biscuits at the last supper.  Amazing acting and musicians --great vocal--WOW. The Wednesday night show has tickets--go. 

Girls just wanna have fun!
Happy customers!. This is how you spell where we ate.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday.  I will "walk in the footsteps of Jesus" in the nursery. 

Peace to all.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Valley daily living

There is a reason those little guys who pooped on my patio travel in flocks.  "Tufted Titmouse" .  I think that's who they were?  Difficult name for the ones who fly with jets.  Very cute and excellent poopers.

Hail--looked like snow on our front lawn--size of big gumballs here--I haven't examined my Sorrento. I'm guessing Hedgie Girl's car was doing it's signature beeping to "please" be let in the house--Beeping for hail, thunder, and when Hedgie Boy's monster truck cranks up.

Proud to say all our living trees are still standing--haven't looked near the river.  My Mom lost a pine tree in her yard to the storm.  Glad she doesn't own a chain saw--she'd be crankin that bad boy up.

Be safe today as you travel to your destinations.
 Gorgeous day.
 Singing birds.
 Cool breeze. 
Treadmill time--OK--some things aren't golden.  How did it make the list?????

Monday, March 18, 2013

Patio avoidance

My house is so D- vined!! What a job.  Only 2 small lizards, 1 big red wasp--that was disoriented and now dead, lots of tiny black now homeless spiders and 2 Aleve so I could sleep last night. 

Watched an amazing scene yesterday morning. A flock of birds--which I've now failed to ID with the website---hundreds of them in my trees--over the patio--ick. They swooped down and lined the edge of the wheelbarrow--filled with water--and all dunked their tiny beaks in tandem to get a drink.  Reminded me of the drinking bird toy that I had as a kid.  It would drink from a glass--I know you had one or envied  a friend's.  This flock hung out along time while Duke Boy and I had coffee together near the house --far from the patio. 

Peace and safety to all as we have another rainy Monday--""Rainy days and Mondays always get me down"--don't let that be you--we know what that did to poor Karen Carpenter. If you don't then Google it.
Peace from the Hooch

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rites of spring

The outside is calling so this post will also appear in The Valley Times-News next week.
 Sorry.  I know that you love to read my stuff twice and I appreciate it. 
peace from the Hooch.

Rites of Spring--or the tangled adventures of Hooch living

Birds are singing in the dark even though it’s 7:30 AM here on the Hooch. I’m loving the light at the end of the work day, and I’m an early bird too so the dark is ok with me.   God did a great job with the weather last weekend and I hope He has another fabulous one up his sleeve this weekend.  Ventured into my flower bed in the back last Saturday; I only go there during this time of year.  It’s my jungle spot… filled with two kinds of vines, ferns, and hyacinths—go figure—none of those planted by me.  In 12.5 years of residency I have not managed to tame it.  There is one precious vine, so innocent looking, I think it’s a creeping fig for those of you who know your vines.  This sweet thing would choke us in our bed, left to its own devices.  Loves to creep it’s little figgy self into the siding and run up my gutter.  One beautiful, charming piece is very close to my 2nd story bathroom window—right outside our bedroom.  Could be curtains for it today and not the ones on my bathroom window.  It’s on the opposite side of the house from the Hooch jungle bed.  I still have an entire section of house to de-fig today.  Me and Aleve are best friends this time of year.  Wish me luck.
Elizabeth Smart held captive ten years ago is going to speak in Columbus on April 9th.  You know her, she is that beautiful little girl taken from her parents’ home during the night.  She is a now a beautiful young woman, and advocate for children, who has a wonderful story of courage and redemption.  Tickets are available in our Columbus Pastoral Institute office at 1-800-649-6446, just ask for Brandy.  The proceeds from this event will help fund counseling services in the homeless shelters in Columbus.  You will also get a fabulous meal.  You can also go to for tickets.
Noon luncheon Lenten services during Holy Week begin on March 25 at local United Methodist Churches.  We love having all of our brothers and sisters who are hungry for The Word and food join us.  All of the preachers know you’ve gotta prayer, sing, listen , eat, and get back to work or your other daily tasks so it’s just for 1 hour-- tops.  The schedule is Monday: West Point UMC, Tuesday: Hopewell UMC; Wednesday: Goodsell UMC, Thursday: Huguley UMC and Friday: Langdale UMC.  If you have just been waiting for an opportunity to visit Shawmut UMC we will have communion on Maundy Thursday, March 28 at 6PM.  Good Friday service at 6PM, Easter Sunday sunrise at 7 with breakfast and an 11 for all of you who will be hunting eggs and your snooze alarm until then.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate God’s presence and redemption than joining together with others in our community to sing, pray and eat!  Hope you will come.
Time to go outside and sing with the birds.  They’ve gotten the sun up so I’ll be able to see that creeping little vine.  Peace to all of you from my beautiful spot on my river.
Karen Erwin-Brown is the director of the Valley office of the Pastoral Institute.  She provides individual, marriage, and family counseling. Call 334-768-2341 for an appointment or more information. Visit her blog at for more river musings.

A Hooch view from my bank. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tarzan on the Hooch

Duke Boy invited us to the party yesterday during worship.  Complete with balloons.  Sermon was on the party for the Prodigal son.  We didn't have any fatted calf.  Who needs to be invited to the party?  Who needs to know about Jesus?  This morning my devotion that comes from the Internet was on the Good Samaritan.  Hmm...I'm sensing a theme here.  Good thing I work somewhere where I can talk about Jesus. 

Birds are feeling spring--y . Chirping up a rain cloud or two.  I'm sure they are singing compliments to Duke Boy on the ease they had finding worms since the leaves are raked off their dinner plates.  Only the early birds are singing though..he,he, he.

The air on my arm is much warmer than the last time I had this window up.  I just love Spring!  I can hear 3 different birds singing.

 Last evening Duke Boy and I walked down the steps and sat on the bank of the Hooch.  What a beautiful evening to watch the sunset.  Ducks honking down the river, a flock of blackbirds --about as many as from the movie "The Birds", something big--huge wings--an owl? hawk? our eagle? Love my life. 

A neighborhood cat is in my yard.  Hunkered down near a chipmunk hole. Time to do my Tarzan yell from the porch.

Not this green yet, but our seats were just beyond the tree at the bottom of the pix. 
Peace from the Valley.  Ignore the yell.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring forward and pull weeds!

I love a night of Aleve sleep when I've earned it in my garden.  Ventured into a flower bed that I only go into this time of year.  Ferns, 2 kinds of vines--one house eating, the other looks sweet and timid--not to be fooled.  It will eat the siding of your house and loves wood.  It's a rite of spring to stop the onslaught.  Still lots more on the other side of the back steps. 

It was all I could do to make myself leave the garden to go to a baby shower for an upcoming new family member.  Sweet baby Ryan.  Very entertaining to watch his big sister help open his presents.  Also got to hold Baby Jake--he was born on my birthday--he will be 1 and I will be 59 years older than 1 on that day.  What a cutie.  He and I both!

The birds are singing.  Time for coffee in the backyard with Duke Boy. 

Then another wonderful Lenten message at Shawmut UMC.  Join us.  Don't forget the time change.  Move it!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Redundancy and sleepless

I am awake in the night.  I long for freedom from worry about all of life woes.  I have discovered a new group on Pandora .  The Waillin' Jennys.  Love the name and love their music more.  I hope I will be in their section in heaven so I can be sung to sleep by them.  Even better if sleeping isn't an issue and chocolate chip cookies and Vanilla Almond milk are on the 4AM snack bar. Just Goggled them and asked for a local tour to benefit the Pastoral Institute.  Pray.  They are three lovely women who have appeared on Prairie Home Companion. Bucket List spot.  Also many awards.  They are currently touring but keep West Point and Valley open as a possible venue.  The Langdale Theatre in Valley, AL is a lovely facility for performances--hint, hint. 

OK time to read me back to sleep.  Jodi Piccoult, a favorite author, The Storyteller. 
She never ceases to amaze me with her characters.  I did not expect this story when I bought the book.  It's on my Kindle.  As are Free samples of books I'm reviewing in preparation for a group.  Wow--talk about an easy life...

The Valley Times News/West Point Times-News is kind enough to publish my writings --for the last ten years or so .  Today I'm posting an article I sent to them yesterday.  Excuse the redundancy for those who follow me there or who are fortunate??enough to be on my email list.

                                                      Bunnies and Stretchers

I’ve taken up more time to study during Lent. Lent, for those of you who don’t practice it, is the 40 days leading up to Easter. Most folks chose to deny themselves something during Lent. I’ve been reading more scripture, and studying a book from our church Bible study.  I’ve also taken up writing more notes and cards.  I’ve done this because “giving up” something has never been a strength for me. Someone in my women’s circle said that I was giving up the time to do the things I would be doing if I wasn’t studying and writing.  OK.  Maybe so?  Maybe I’m enjoying it too much...Not enough self denial.  There’s always next year …
I also flipped my home from winter to spring.  If you follow my blog, then you know I seriously dust my house about once a quarter when I change the decor according to the season. Winter and Valentine’s are done—winter doesn’t know that it’s done but inside the four walls of my home, I have banished it.  Well, the faux fireplace with the heater is still there and was going strong last night as was our furnace, but I am in denial about winter.  Easter bunnies grace my stairs, mantle, kitchen window, and small Easter tree which also has palm crosses from Palm Sundays of the past.  The bunnies have stories as do my Santas but most of them are connected to Lucy.  She has already taken the ones to her new home for decorating  but I got to keep most of the bunny family.  Many members of the Bunny family were made by a church member from a previous congregation.  Those bunnies became Erwin-Brown’s during Lent and attended many worship services.  I’m sure they could quote lots of scripture if brought to life.  Of course, that could get messy and I did dust already…
Lent is a time of remembrance of Jesus’ suffering.  Banishing winter is my way of shaking off the coldness and looking for life to come from the ground and from within.  Suffering …no snakes in the desert… no need to get to the Promised Land.  God allowed his Son to be defeated so we wouldn’t have to be—getting through feeling defeated is difficult.  The book I’m reading talks about being stretch bearers for those who need our help much like the man lowered through the roof in scripture.  Google it if you aren’t a Bible person.  I’m hoping that notes can count as stretching bearing because I can’t always be present for those who I know feel defeated, sick, or sleepless.
Who are your stretcher bearers?  Who do you know that needs one?  Maybe you are it??  One of the hymns that can send me to weeping  is “Here I am Lord.  Is it me, Lord?  I can hear you calling in the night.  If you need me, I will follow.  I will hold your people in my heart.”
The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus - 40 Days of Reflection
Abingdon Press / 2012 / Paperback
I’ve listed the name of book that’s been a good read for me this Lent. The song is “Here I am, Lord”

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nanny 2 is 90. Happy Birthday.

Shout out to Nanny 2 who is 90.  She is Mom to Ms. Sunny and Great Grandmother to future Miss Sunny.
Hope the party was a blast! 

This is me with purple hair.  Pre-pneumonia.  Fun.
Flipping the house to spring today was fun since outside was too cold to venture out into.  Did go to church where Duke Boy had a great Lenten sermon.  Got to wear my long black warmest coat in the world.
Back to the closet until next year.

No snow here.  Just a few flakes yesterday. 

Peaceful Sunday night.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

NO Name Tags necessary

Great meal with friends without name tags. Since 1999 meals with these folks..Always much laughter. Preachers, counselor, teacher, accountant, nurses, marketing expert, doctor,and engineer.  We can discuss it all . Alabama, Auburn and Troy.  Nothing off limits.  We even have an official recognized storyteller.  During our meal the waiter unknowingly contributed one liners to the storytelling.  One thing I did learn --do not drink a cappuccino at 7PM unless you plan things to do until 2AM.  Write that down. 

No snow here.  BW is under the blankie.  She sat on the floor staring at me until I arranged the couch so she could snuggle her way back to sleep.

 Grateful to have time to nest today.  Flip my house from Valentine's and winter
                                  to spring and Easter.
 Seasonal decor helps me remember to dust. 
                                      Almost quarterly.
Getting out Easter bunnies is almost as much fun as looking at my Santas.  I don't have 400+ bunnies. 

Salty day to all and peace,

Friday, March 1, 2013

We did it!

5029 hits on this blog.  Hurrah.  Thanks.

Beautiful cold March 1st here.  Little BW wanted to lay in the sunshine instead of sniffing ever single blade of grass in the yard.

Lots of new items in my booth at Bluffton.  Take them home with you.

Elizabeth Smart is the speaker for the Women Helping Women luncheon in Columbus in April.  Check out for the details.  It's always a wonderful event. 

Time to go see those old friends so we can have lots of good laughs about what it's like to get grayer or have to see the beautician more often to do something about those roots.

Peace and get out and enjoy this great day.