A Dozen Years.

It’s been a dozen years since I’ve seen her face, heard her laugh or held her hand. Tomorrow will be twelve years exactly since that awful night.

It’s been so long that my memory has started to fade. I have a hard time telling the difference from real memories and the ones that come from pictures. I remember her smile, I remember her laugh, but I can’t hear her voice anymore. I can’t remember what happened the week before she died.

I do remember that morning; we rode together to school because my car was in the shop. We went to different high schools that year so it was very unusual for us to rider together and I remember telling her I loved her as she got out of the car. It was the last time I ever saw her.

I remember everything about that night – the painful details are branded into my memory. The waiting, not knowing if she was dead or alive; the police walking up to our door. Listening to the officers explain to my parents what happened in the accident, hearing the words that we were all praying not to hear - like a bullet through our hearts.

While we went downtown to identify her body I sat in the front seat of my pastor’s car staring out the window into the Atlanta night sky. I was thinking how peaceful it looked outside while my Mom wept into my father’s chest. Her heart was broken into a million pieces and it would never be put back together.

For years I couldn’t sleep; every time I closed my eyes I would imagine what those last minutes were like for her. She must have seen the drunk driver’s car as it crashed right into where she was sitting. What went through her mind? She must have been terrified. I am thankful I never actually saw the wreckage but I have pictured it so many times I feel like I was there. I replayed it over and over obsessing over what could have been different.

I always wonder what she would be like now. I know she would be beautiful, but would she be married? Where would she live? Maybe she would be a National Geographic Photographer or Missionary as she wanted to do both. She would probably still be an on-again, off-again vegetarian and a lover of all living creatures. I am sure she would still climb trees on the weekend and love the outdoors. She would have been the Maid Of Honor in my wedding; I would have let her use my id to get into bars underage.
We would be close. We would be sisters.

Unfortunately, those dreams will never come true. I can’t change what happened no matter how many prayers I say, shooting stars I wish on or pennies I throw into fountains. The only option I have now is to cherish the time I did have with her and learn to hold on to my loves ones a little tighter; to be more forgiving and to always say I Love You. I smile every time I hear her name or see her picture. I love when her friends tell me stories about her and share their memories of time they shared together. It’s important to me to keep her memory alive.

My life is forever changed. My heart is permanently broken, and, although I now sleep through the nights, my pain has never faded. But, somehow, we have all kept moving forward; kept living. We laugh and love and enjoy life. As much as I thought it would, the world never stopped turning. The sun has risen every day since and I see the moon every night. Life does go on, as it must.

The past twelve years have taught me a lot. I now know what I am made of, what I can endure and what I can overcome. I know the kind of person I want to be and how I want to be remembered. I know how precious every second is with the people that you love and I will never take even a moment for granted.

Life is a gift.


Love at First Flight

** First, let me preface this post by saying that I am totally, madly, completely, head-over-heels in love with my husband but I had to kiss a lot of "frogs" to find him. This was one of those frogs.**

Not many people from my high school ended up at Auburn, so my freshman year I joined a few organizations to try and meet friends. I joined a sorority, the crew team (only for 2 days, tell you about that one later) and also the Young Republicans Association (YRA). About 10 minutes into the first YRA meeting I had all but fallen asleep. This just wasn't the party crowd I was expecting. They kept talking about boring political crap that I didn’t care about at all. About half way through the meeting the president of the association took the mic to talk about an upcoming event. I looked up from my intense game of tic-tac-toe long enough to see a total DREAM BOAT walking up to the stage.

Ohmygosh. He (Pete) was a senior, pre-law, president of the YRA and totally hot. I perked up immediately and I realized that he was talking about an upcoming trip to DC for the National Young Republican’s Conference. He was PERSONALLY attending this trip and was encouraging the members to go because we could make a change or something. I don't know, wasn't really listening. After the meeting I made a beeline for Pete and made a point to introduce myself and my passionate love for politics. I just wouldn’t miss this conference For. The. World.

Later that week we had a meeting - at Pete’s house!! – to go over the itinerary and travel arrangements for the trip. I couldn’t have cared less about what lame politicians were going to be speaking, I was there solely to figure out a way for Pete to notice me and ask me out. He said that everyone was responsible for their own flights but he did share his arrangements in case we all wanted to go together. Of course I used this little bit of information in a very sane, and legal, way...

Not even ten milliseconds after I got to my dorm room I was on the phone with Delta booking a seat on his flight. I asked the representative if there was any way possible to be sat next to Pete. She said that, unfortunately, there was already someone sitting beside him.  I asked if that guy could be moved or bumped up? She said that was not possible without first speaking to the passenger.

At this point most people would.... scratch that. "Most people" are not crazy enough to even come up with this stuff in the first place and are usually above begging a complete stranger to put their job in danger by completely breaking protocol to assist an apparent stalker zone in on their prey. But, as you know, I'm not "most people".

So then I said: “Look, you just don’t understand, I joined this dumb group just to meet people and I think I have found the man that I might marry and even though we haven’t even had a real conversation yet I know that if we can just get sat beside each other he will totally fall in love with me and..."

“Ok, girl, I’m gonna help you get your Man!!!”

So, in violation of several Federal and State laws, and after promising she could be the maid-of-honor at our wedding, she moved the poor guy that was supposed to be sitting beside Pete and put me in his place. Good thing I use my powers for good and not evil!

The day of the trip I played it very cool and as our group was waiting in the lobby I didn’t say a word until people starting looking at their seat assignments. Undoubtedly someone asked Pete where he was sitting and I acted totally surprised, but cool, when I told him I had the seat beside him. What are the chances? Ha! To this day I don't think he had a clue what I had done. Actually, I am sure of it, because I don't recall any restraining orders being brought against my by him.

Oh, and by the way, I will just have you know that my plan worked like a charm. By the time that plane landed in DC Pete and I were inseparable. A match made in political heaven! And we continued to date for about 6 months my freshman year until I ended up falling through his back porch and landing in the hospital - but that’s a different story all together.


Snappy Apps

I love to have people over, and to cook, and to host any kind of party! People are always telling me that I am a great cook, but really I have everyone fooled. Most of the things I serve are so easy it should be a crime but the result seems like I really put a lot of effort into it. I thought I would share a few of my favorite hor d'eouvres that work great for a crowd. They are are inexpensive, easy and quick! If you have any of your own - please share!

Stuffed Mushroom Caps
2 boxes Baby Bella Mushrooms, washed and stems removed
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 sour cream
1 Tbl mayo
1 can of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
( you can also add crab meat to this and it's delicious!)

Grease a baking sheet and spread out caps so that they are not touching. Mix remaining ingredients together and stuff each cap with a heaping spoonful. I top with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.

Mini Brie en Croute
1 package frozen mini phyllo shells
1 small round of brie, room temperature
1/2 cup jam or jelly (I like raspberry preserves or orange marmalade)

Place mini phyllo shells on a greases baking tray. Put a small chunk of brie in each shell and a small spoonful of jam on top of that. Cook according to the phyllo directions, but usual 3-5 minutes at 350.

Bruschetta Cups
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 medium yellow tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 onion minced
1/2 Tbl minced garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl basil, cut into ribbons
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Melted Butter
1 package frozen phyllo sheets, thawed

In a large skillet heat about a tablespoon of EVOO over medium and add onions with a little salt & pepper. Saute until onions are soft and translucent (about 5-7 minutes), then add garlic and saute for another 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic. Then add all of your tomatoes and the vinegar and stir to incorporate. Let this mixture saute over medium low while you prepare the cups.

Lay 1 sheet of phyllo down on a work surface. Brush with melted butter and lay the next sheet down on top of the first. Repeat until you have 5 layers and do not butter the top of the last layer. Cut the sheets into 6 sections. Repeat with more phyllo sheets until you have enough squares for your entire muffin tin(s). Pick up each section and stuff into a greased mini-muffin tin. You may have to trim the sections down, you want the pastry to stick up out of the muffin tin but not be so big that it flops over to the other cups.

Drain the tomato mixture and spoon into each cup. Bake according to the phyllo instructions, usually about 10 minutes on 350. Once the phyllo is browned, remove cups and top with shaved parmesan & basil.

I hope that you enjoy these tasty little treats but,  if all else fails, put some Cheese whiz on a Ritz cracker and call it a day!


What the Pug?

So 2012 has already been quite eventful. It all started New Year's Eve...

For NYE we had a group of friends over for cocktails and hor d'ourves before going out for the night. Right after dark the doorbell rang and I went to welcome in the next guest but was met with a woman that I have never seen before.

She was middle-aged and looked kinda frantic. She was so worked up that she could hardly get out the words when she said "Excuse me, I hate to interrupt your evening, but we were driving by and saw a Pug puppy fall into the water drain and we know you are dog lovers and 911 is busy....."

I met this situation as I meet all emergency situations: with complete panic and fear. I starting to yell back into the house at Brad that a puppy had fallen in the storm sewer and then began fumbling with my phone to try and call animal control. Before I knew it Brad went sprinting past me in Super Hero Mode out the front door while throwing off articles of clothing and jumped right down the man hole to look for the dog. Then everyone else ran after him, in their NYE finery, to try and save lassie from the well.

I ran out after everyone, in my heels, to let them know help is on the way and I see my husband down in the man hole with a tiny key chain flashlight and he said that he couldn't see, or hear, a dog. We assume that the dog must have run down the drain towards the opening near the creek behind our house. We all followed the man holes to see where the drain let out. It was dark and we were in dress clothes so we didn't actually see where the opening was but assumed that since the dog could walk that it would eventually make his way out. Animal Control finally showed up and said that they would take a look.

Satisfied that the dog would be OK, Brad got dressed and we went back to our NYE festivities. We had quite the NYE night complete with good food, great company and lots of white people dance moves.

The next morning, and I use the term "morning" loosely here, Brad went out to walk our dogs and went over to the drain to check on the lost pug and thought he heard the puppy barking. So he jumped back down the man hole and, again, saw no sign of a dog. I was beginning to think that the lady had maybe seen a rabbit (or smoked a joint) and that Brad was hearing a neighbors dog and that there was no pug to be found.

Over the next few hours Brad and several neighbors had heard the dog barking and realized that the poor puppy was stuck. We called animal control again and starting trying to figure out where the tunnel emptied. After discovering that the exit was covered by rocks and dirt, Brad and another neighbor took to digging it out. After hours of digging the hole was finally uncovered so the puppy legitimately had a way to get out. Then we stationed 3 different people in the 3 manholes to try and coax/scare the puppy to the exit. We tried everything to get this dog out. We heated up food, yelled, called, whistled, begged and pleaded to get it to go out and we had no luck.

Finally after hours and hours we decided to go back inside. The tunnel had an exit, the dog was walking and we put food right outside the opening and had done all we could do. We went home and I sat on our back deck that was overlooking the creek to try and see if the puppy would crawl out. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes the puppy walked out. So I hollered at Brad we went chasing after it. That little sucker was fast! He was also no pug. He looked like a little German Shepard pup and I named him Moby. After running all over the neighborhood we finally corralled him into a corner and Brad was able to grab him. Turns out when a puppy spends the night in a storm drain, is hollered at, scared to death, chased by humans and caught by force; he gets a little angry and the dang dog bit Brad! It was a small bite, but still punctured the skin.

We tried to get the little guy back to our house and he was growling and barking and wiggling around and ended up biting through the little makeshift leash animal control had given us and then ran under a neighbors car. Brad and I were on our hands and knees, armed with a broom and a shovel, trying to get this puppy out from under the car. Half the neighborhood came out to help/watch and it took another half an hour but we were finally able to grab him out from under the car and get him home and into a crate.

The poor thing was TERRIFIED! He was balled up all the way in the back of the crate with his little nose in the corner and just cowered. We put some food and water and a blanket in their while we settled down. Then we decided to tend to Brad who was not only bitten but also all cut up from being in the brush. We cleaned up him and called our doctor to see if Brad should get any kind of vaccine and, upon their recommendation, we went to the ER to get a rabies vaccine. Even though this little guy is only a puppy he had been in a sewer and had no tags so you never know what germs he may have gotten into. I am sure that we are the only "puppy bite" victims to ever grace the halls of Emory Adventist Emergency Room, but it was after hours and had nowhere else to go.

We went to the ER and were waiting to get a vaccine and did the only natural thing to do in this situation; googled rabies in humans. OHMYGOSH. Did you know that rabies is 100% fatal in humans? We started watching this u-tube video of people being chained down and going crazy from rabies and at this point Brad and I are freaking out and frantically trying to reassure ourselves that Brad is not going to suddenly start frothing at the mouth and try to bite me. After 2 hours of waiting we were finally told that since we have the dog in our custody that they would not have to give the vaccine just yet. We would need to give the dog to animal control for observation for 10 days and if the dog develops rabies then he would have to get the shots. Oh, and by the way, you want to do everything you can to avoid the rabies vaccine because it is a series of 8 shots in your STOMACH! So instead he was given a bunch of antibiotics to stave off infection from the bite and a tetanus shot for good measure.

We went home and a VERY  nice animal control officer met us and took the puppy and said that they would do a full examination of the dog and watch him for 10 days and give us a call on if he develops signs of rabies. Case closed!

So this is how we started our 2012. Luckily we were able to save a poor, tiny, helpless puppy from certain death and had the pleasure of spending the greater part of the first day of the new year in an emergency room; but, all in all, it was a very exciting way to start the year. I hope that everyone else had a a great NYE and was able to avoid manholes and emergency rooms altogether.