Monday, December 31, 2007

The Joy of Christmas Cards

Today I got another round of Christmas cards in the mail, and it reminded me how much I've enjoyed getting Christmas cards this season. Some of them have been newsy, and some of them have included pictures of friends and family. Some have been typed form letters, while some have been personalized letters (handwritten or typed). It's been a real treat this year.

I'm hoping that in the coming year, George and I can have a picture taken together that can be a good Christmas card picture.

Click here for a history of Christmas cards.

Friday, December 28, 2007

NC Odyssey Project: Sampson County

Today I went to Sampson County to do some genealogy research. My mom's mother, a McLamb before marriage, grew up in the town of Newton Grove. I've been to Sampson County numerous times since I started working on my family tree, and it always feels like a historical "home" whenever I drive through the county! The picture on the left is a plowed cotton field along Hwy 421. There are lots of farms in Sampson County. The picture on the right is for Spivey's Corner, home of the National Hollerin' Contest.

The county's most famous resident was William Rufus King, who was a US Representative from North Carolina, a Senator from Alabama, and the 13th Vice President of the United States! He was born in Sampson County, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1803, and practiced law for a bit in Clinton. He had a long career in Congress, and was elected VP under Franklin Pierce. He was in failing health by that time, though, and was inaugurated in Cuba, where he's gone for health reasons. He eventually returned to his Alabama home, where he died, and was buried in Selma, Alabama, where I grew up.

I enjoyed working in the J.C.Holliday Library in Clinton this afternoon, in the North Carolina Local History Room.

Sampson County is the second largest in the state in terms of square mileage behing Robeson County. One of its most unique town names is Turkey. While driving through the county heading northwest toward home, I passed the Coharie Tribal Center on Hwy 421. I wished I stopped and taken a picture.

NC Odyssey Project: Johnston County

Today I was heading to Sampson County to do some genealogy research, so I decided to follow the brown NC Historic Site signs for the Bentonville Battlefield, and play tourist. Well, it turns out that this place is in Johnston County instead! Bonus county today! I'd planned to visit the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield for my Johnston County adventure, but historical things are great too.

I was glad to find the Bentonville Battlefield open today, unlike the Battle of Alamace site earlier this week.

There's a pretty good visitor center there, and this display, with lights AND sound, showed how the battle played out between Johnston's troops and Sheman's men in the Civil War.

This is a cemetery of some of the soldiers who died from battle wounds,

This house, owned by a Harper family, became a Union hospital.
Smithfield is the county seat of Johnston County. In addition to being the home of Ava Gardner, it has an outlet mall I stopped by last summer on the way home from a McLamb reunion.
One of my childhood memories of summer travel is of going through Johnston County on our way to Atlantic Beach, NC. Early on, I remember seeing the signs for Selma (the one in Johnston County), and wondering if we were close to home, as my family lived in Selma, Alabama! After traveling in the car for 630 miles from Selma to Selma, I'm sure I was wishing for my own bed! Of course, getting to the beach was always worth it!

As My Birthday Month Draws to a Close

Your Birth Month is December

You love life and exude an outgoing, cheerful vibe.
Blessed with a great sense of humor, you can laugh at adversity.

Your soul reflects: Celebration, success, and wealth

Your gemstone: Blue Topaz

Your flower: Narcissus

Your colors: Indigo, green, and blue-green

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Afternoon in the Library

This afternoon I spent several hours working on my family tree in the State Library on Jones Street in Raleigh. They have a whole room devoted to the Genealogy Collection, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This was the first time I've taken a laptop with me to do genealogical research, and it helped a lot. I used to make lots of copies or write things down until my fingers hurt, and enter things on my desktop when I got home. (They have a couple of tables reserved for laptop users, with power outlets in the floor.) It also helped to be able to look up people on my genealogy program immediately, rather than wonder if I had them in the system. They've expanded the room where the Genealogy Collection is located since the last time I was there, and it's laid out much better now.

I can't wait to return, and to check out the North Carolina State Archives again too. I've transcribed some old wills there--a very neat thing to see the handwritten wills of my ancestors!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NC Odyssey Project: Alamance County

Since I'm off work today, I joined George for lunch at his work today. He works at a company called Kidde, which is part of United Technologies, and his office is in Mebane, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and visit another county in my North Carolina Odyssey Project.

Mebane is in Alamance County, North Carolina, and is just west of the center of the state, between Durham and Greensboro. Burlington is the largest city in Alamance County, but Graham is the county seat.

Alamance County is the home of Elon University, a regional school that was called Elon College when I moved to the area. I'd intended to take a few shots of Elon to include here, but I got sidetracked! I took the exit before Elon to stroll down Memory Lane at on outlet mall I used to go to called BMOC (Burlington Manufacturers Outlet Center). Apparently, it's changed hands, though, and is now called Burlington Outlet Village. I was a little disappointed by the selection of stores--it made me wonder if I missed some of them! I certainly remembered being impressed by the area some years ago. I did stop in a FinishLine outlet store, but a customer who came in after me let me know one of the tires on the passenger side of my car was looking low. Yikes! I may have stayed longer and gotten into the shopping groove, but I decided to search out a place to get my tire looked at, since I was 30-40 minutes from home.

I found myself at Burlington Honda, and they said it would be about an hour before they could look at my tire. *sigh* I was glad to have made it there safely, though! One of the men there pointed out that my inspection was going to run out at the end of this month, so I decided to go ahead and have it taken care of there. They couldn't find a leak in my tire, so I'll just have to keep an eye on it. At least I got the inspection done, and they were friendly. I did pick up a pamphlet about the 2008 Honda Accords, as one of my 2008 New Year Resolutions is to start saving for a new car.

I decided to head toward home at the point, but I really wanted to do something touristy. I'd seen signs for the Alamance Battleground on my way down the interstate, so I decided to follow the signs and check it out. I enjoyed driving through rural Alamance County south of Burlington (about 6 miles out), but when I got there, it was closed! Rats! I did get to drive through the rural town of Alamance, though, and it was kinda neat.

Before I left the county, I stopped at a Sheetz station for some really cheap gas!!

One of the things I'd like to do when I return to Alamance County is visit some of the wineries on the Haw River Wine Trail. Having gas prices like this ($2.79 9/10) might help. ;-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007!

This has been a different Christmas, but a relaxing one, for sure. I stayed in town to stay on the Rice Diet Program, and since George had the day off too, we've been able to spend some time together! I worked out at the gym this morning (ran 3.61 miles in 40 minutes), was the only one there. Then George and I went to the Rice House for Christmas lunch. I opened some nice presents from my family in between! (A couple of favorites are a Garmin Forerunner 205 and a picture of Duke Gardens!) It was great to talk to them by phone this afternoon. (Mom and Dad are visiting my sister and her family in California.)

This evening George and I had dinner with his brother, parents, and grandparents, in Cary, and that was a treat. Eventhough they don't celebrate Christmas (they're Jewish), it was great to be with my surrogate family for the evening.
I didn't get a Christmas tree up this year, and I wish I had! I think I've missed having Christmas traditions this year. I have a year to think about what I'd like to do about that. Since George and I share an apartment now, I'll have to consult him before layering the apartment in red and green, but I'm sure I can come up with something!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

10 New Years Resolutions for 2008

Every so often I look for a meme to inspire me. A cute one I just came across is called "10 on Tuesday." Although it's not Tuesday, I decided that 10 on Thursday works too. So here's a list of 10 resolutions I'll work on in 2008:

1) Get to goal weight
2) Run a half marathon
3) Organize my cubicle at work
4) Take more pictures
5) Make progress on personal project of visiting all 100 NC counties
6) Read more
7) Spend more time with friends and family
8) Hang up pictures in the apartment
9) Organize my home office
10)Start saving for a new car

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


This morning I ran 4.54 miles on the treadmill, the longest I've run in 20+ years! I'm excited about my progress....and feeling a little sore and tired right now. It's a "good" sore and tired, though. I've signed up for a 4-mile race here in Durham in February. While I'd like to sign up for more races soon, I'm a wuss when it comes to cold weather! Still, I'm interested in seeing my progress on the road, since I normally run indoors on the treadmill (when not racing).

I'm on the verge of signing up for a fall half marathon, as a big goal for 2008. It's exciting to think about, but it gives me butterflies too. Can I be ready?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tracing My Roots

I've enjoyed getting back into my genealogy work this weekend. I'm on my second genealogy software program since getting a new computer back in August. The first, The Master Genealogist, is supposed to be for serious genealogists. I found it to be a bit tedious, to be honest. Granted, I had a busy semester with school in addition to work, exercise, the Rice Diet, Junior League, church, etc, so I didn't have the time I'd hoped to spend learning the program.

I finally bit the bullet and purchased a second genealogy program, RootsMagic, the succcessor to Family Origins, which I used to use. (It was discontinued and support ceased.) It was such a relief to install and pull it up on my computer! It was as if I'd come home! It reminds me a lot of the Family Origins software, but I can tell it's been updated. Needless to say, it's been much easier for me to use.

I've spent some of my free time this weekend entering data on my McLamb line, and it's been a treat. One of my projects for 2008 is to put out a McLamb family newsletter. It's nice returning to work on my family tree!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In My Car...

I'm listening to books on CD in my car again. I just finished listening to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, a book about his hiking journey on the Appalachian Trail. I'd read this book a few years back, because at the time I was fascinated by the thought of hiking the "AT." I enjoyed listening to the book this time. One of the things that bugged me, though, was that I thought the narrator on the CD was pronouncing "Appalachian" wrong, with a long A sound in the third syllable, rather than the short A sound that I use. I just learned, though, that the long A pronunciation is used in the northern part of the Appalachian mountain range that the Appalachian Trail is named for, while the short A pronunciation is used in the southern part of the range. It turns out that Bill Bryson is from New Hamsphire, and I'm in North Carolina, of course, hence the difference in pronunciation.

Now I'm listening to Two for the Dough, by Janet Evanovich. George's Aunt Gail recommended this mystery series to me, so I'm going through them while in the car, since I have a longer commute now. I've already listened to One for the Money.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Since I finished my online class (Intro to Computers) at Wake Tech Sunday night, and it's been so nice having more free time the past couple of nights. Of course, most of my after-work time so far has been spent running errands and doing things I've been putting off while I studied for the class. There are still so many things I need to do, and look forward to doing, in the weeks ahead. I feel like this extra time is a gift, and I want to make good use of it!

One of the things I'm looking forward to doing soon is Christmas cards!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Toy Car Spotting

Okay, so it's not a real toy car, but a real car with toys glued ON it, and it offically falls under the category of an art car! It's a blue Mazda 626 with all sorts of things attached to it, in an "underwater mah jongg" theme! I've seen the car several times in the past year and a half, mostly in western Durham. Check out a picture of the car and its owner here.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A New Year

I turned another year older a couple of days ago. It was a nice day, all in all! I worked, of course, and met George's family that night at Stonewood Grill in Cary for the beginning of Hanukkah. George kept it a surprise for me that he was also coordinating a little birthday party for me in conjuction with the family get-together. It was all very nice! George even got a muffin recipe from the Rice Diet and had his mom make a mini-birthday cake for me! The server at the restaurant brought it out with a single candle. :D

It's put me in a pensive mood this week. What do I want to accomplish this coming year?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Tonight I went to hear Karl Rove speak in Page Auditorium at Duke. Tickets were free, but they did end up "selling out." Now, my political views are a little more liberal than Karl Rove's, but still, it was fascinating to hear him talk and be in the audience, where there was clapping on both sides of the political fence, and even some demonstrators. Rove is a very intelligent man, but also gave me the impression of a spin doctor. (He knew a lot of facts and figures, which was impressive, but also...) I do think he answered many of the questions thoroughly, and handled the indoor protestors and hecklers very well, too.

The talk was moderated by Duke political science professor Peter Feaver, and he did a good job of moving things along, I thought. George's father joined me for the talk, and that was nice. I wish I'd had time to stay for more of the Q&A, but I had to rush off to a meeting in Durham. I did hear one person ask when his trial for treason would start, a reference to the Valerie Plame affair. Rove answered that if he were in the wrong, he wouldn't be sitting there on the stage.

All the way around, it was a very interesting evening, and I'm glad I went!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Jingle Bell Run 5K Race Report

I had a great time running the Jingle Bell Run in Raleigh yesterday! I knocked about two minutes off of my last 5K race time with the help of an unexpected running buddy! My race report, on my other blog, is here.

NC Odyssey Project: Wake County

Where: Wake County, NC
When: December 1, 2007

Yesterday, December 1, I ran in the Jingle Bell 5K Run in Raleigh, NC, (see race report here), which happens to be in Wake County. Here's to the second county in my North Carolina Odyssey Project!

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina, and it happens to be where I went to high school. It's home to a number of academic institutions, include NC State, Shaw, Meredith, Peace, and Wake Technical Community College. Culturally, there are many things to do in the area. There are some wonderful museums, including the North Carolina Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of History, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural History. There are also music opportunities, including the NC Symphony Orchestra. Raleigh is also home to the Carolina Hurricanes, the 2006 Stanley Cup Champions.
Raleigh is considered part of the Triangle, along with Durham and Chapel Hill (and surrounding areas). I believe part of the Research Triangle Park is in Wake County as well.

Pictures above are 1) Smedes Hall, one of the main buildings on the campus of St. Mary's School, where the Jingle Bell Run started and finished, 2) The Bishop's House, also on the SMS campus, the SMS Chapel, 3) the St. Mary's Chapel, 4) a painted wolf in front of the Kenan Library on the St. Mary's campus, made as part of the Raleigh Red Wolf Project, and 5) and picture of Wade Avenue in Raleigh, taken from my car early yesterday morning (yay for light traffic!).
I enjoyed running in the Jingle Bell Run in Raleigh, partly because I got to see some of the sights there along Hillsborough Street, including part of the Capitol complex, NC State and the Bell Tower, and St. Mary's, of course.

NC Odyssey Project: Durham County

Where: Durham County, NC
When: November 30, 2007

Taking pictures of the Duke University campus is always a treat, but especially on Friday, the start of my new pet, the North Carolina Odyssey Project. Duke is Durham County's largest employer, with over 27,000 employees (larger than the town where I grew up!). Durham is Durham County's largest city, and is home to North Carolina Central University and Durham Technical Community College, as well as Duke. It's nickname is the City of Medicine, due to the top notch medical facilities in the area. You'll also find cultural things to do here, including the Durham Bulls (of the movie "Bull Durham" fame) and the American Dance Festival, as well as many activities associated with the universities.

The picture above is of Duke Chapel on West Campus at Duke.

Here are a couple of pictures of West Campus.

Durham County is also home to the Research Triangle Park, known as RTP around here. According to the website, it's the largest research park in the nation, and is home to companies and agencies such as IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Nortel, and the EPA.
Gospel singer Shirley Caesar and author Clyde Edgerton were born in Durham.

North Carolina Odyssey Project

I've decided to give myself the challenge of visiting all 100 counties in North Carolina! Although I've traveled across North Carolina since I was a child, I decided not to count anything I've done before. I want to make it fresh for me, to include friends and family when possible, and record my findings, hopefully with pictures as well as writing. I started it officially this past Friday, November 30, with the county where I live and work. Simple enough, but it counts! If you have any suggestions of places I should visit in NC, let me know! I know many of the obvious spots, but would love to hear about neat places that might be under the radar.