Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

George and I are both off today, as usual, so we're celebrating Thanksgiving in two different places. First, we're going to a church we've been visiting for a potluck Thanksgiving lunch. Then we're joining George's family for more food in Cary! Looking forward to seeing everyone, and also look forward to talking with family vacationing in Florida.
I took yesterday off from work, and while it wasn't very restful, I got a lot of errands done. It's often nice to have a workday off for errands, especially with grad school in the mix this semester.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Staycation 2011: Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh, NC

Prairie Ridge Ecostation
Last week, George and I had a staycation, and we enjoyed seeing taking in several local sites, including the Prairie Ridge Ecostation on Reedy Creek Rd. in Raleigh, NC. It's an outpost of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and it's a delightful 40 acres of nature within the city limits of our state capital.

There's no admission fee, and it's a delightful step into nature. There's a small trail system (about a mile's worth if you walk it all), with lots of plants and birds around.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Prairie Ridge Ecostation sometime! You'll be glad you did!

Check out the rest of my photos from the Prairie Ridge Ecostation here.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Show Me the Money

One of the benefits of being a grad student is that it's prompted me to take care of some things in my personal life that needed attention. I'm discovering that crossing things off of the To Do List helps me concentrate more on school!

With all the talk about banking fees, including the disappearance of free checking accounts and some banks starting to a monthly fee for using debit cards, I decided to work on getting my financial ducks in a row. Turns out I had FIVE "free" checking accounts floating out there! Yikes! I did a little homework to catch up on bank fees of the financial institutions I was dealing with (in varying degrees of infrequency!), and learned that two of those checking accounts had recently started having monthly fees taken out, and another would have fees starting in November. One of those checking accounts with new monthly fees was actually at a credit union, so be careful even with credit unions! So, I closed all three of those checking accounts out, which netted me about $50 total. Small potatoes, so I'm not worrying about fees or keeping track of those miscellaneous accounts anymore.

I was intrigued by the varied reactions of the different banks/credit unions, especially since I did all of this late on a Friday afternoon. The banker at SunTrust asked nicely why I was closing my account, shook my hand after completing the transaction, and invited me to consider bring my banking business back in the future. (He even gave me a brochure about their Student Banking accounts, since I'm a grad student.) The banker at the credit union pulled out the fee schedule and went over it with me to make sure I understood it. Part of that, I think, was because I still have a savings account at that credit union, which is affiliated with my workplace. That credit union seems to be geared more to financial education opportunities than regular banks around here; they even offer seminars/workshop on a regular basis for various financial decisions/activities, like purchasing a first home or planning for retirement. My last stop, Bank of America, where my account was $1.66 in the red, had me in and out as fast as possible. That was the bank I was most relieved to free of, so I didn't mind. Their reputation for nickle-and-diming their customers is pretty bad in these parts.

What have I learned?

1) There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and free checking accounts are becoming a thing of the past (unless you have direct deposit or a minimum balance).

2) It pays to take care of the nagging little things. They take up vital brain space in the remembering or the tracking. And much like letting your car go too long without a simple oil change, little things can turn into big things.

3) Taking care of one little thing can give you momentum to take care of other little things, the snowball effect.

Clipart from

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heading Back to School

Now I can say that I'm going back to school NEXT WEEK! Yikes! My first class in the Master of Library Science program at North Carolina Central University is on August 23, a week from Tuesday. As expected, I'm both excited and nervous, but mostly excited!

For the past few weeks, I've been taking care of some things on my larger to-do list, things that I've been putting off for a while. Having the start of grad school looming large has been a nice deadline, really. Mostly, I've been getting doctor's visits in, ones I've been neglecting, like getting my teeth cleaned and a mammogram (but not at the same time, thank goodness!). It feels satisfying to be on the other end of appointments like that, peace of mind that will help me focus on my studies a little better, I hope!

Meanwhile, I'm staying busy at work at the library, which will continue as I take classes. Also, I've signed up for the City of Oaks Half Marathon on November 6. I just finished Week #4 of my current training schedule, and so far it's going well, which means I haven't gotten injured! :-)

George and I continue to shop around for a new church home, so we visited a new-to-us church in Raleigh this morning. The funny thing about it was that we heard the today's minister last weekend at a different church, where he was the guest preacher. Today he was back at his home church, and we heard the SAME SERMON today that we heard last Sunday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Last night, George and I hosted our last Covenant Group with this particular group, which we've been with for several years. It just happened that our last meeting with the group was at our apartment, so I enjoyed fixing dinner for the group. When someone hosts the group, it's usually light snacks, but I decided to throw some chili fixings into the crockpots (one beef, one veggie), and it all turned out well. In fact, we ended up staying around the dinner table for the whole two hours, rather than moving into the living room. The fellowship was really nice, and the discussion, as usual, was interesting and insightful.

I must admit that I'll miss the discussions and fellowship of this group, which meets twice a month to discuss spiritual topics. The membership has changed a bit over the years that George and I have been members, but a core has stayed the same. I've really enjoyed getting to know the group members, and sharing good food and fellowship for several years. It's a little hard bowing out of the group, but I decided that I needed to free that time for my graduate studies, which start next month.

Meanwhile, George and I continue to look for a new Unitarian-Universalist church home, and it's going to be an interesting journey. We've decided to give ourselves plenty of time to visit, and not jump on the bandwagon too soon. The Covenant Group was our last connection to our last church, so it feels a little sad to be done with that. (Well, we are joining the group a couple more times, one for cookie baking and lunch, and another to fix dinner together at the local homeless shelter.) But the future looks interesting, between my grad school and our looking for another church home. George and I have enjoyed the churches we've been to so far, and have already been discussing how we might get involved.

What do you look for in a church or place of worship?

Clipart from

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles at Maxwell's Tavern
A couple of weekends ago, George and I stopped in Waxhaw, NC, to visit with some of our Lathem cousins before returning home. We ate an early dinner at a place called Maxwell's Tavern, and had a fun time there! One of the surprises for me was trying fried pickles! Now, I generally shy away from fried food these days (and usually leave pickles behind on my plate at restaurants), but it was ordered as an appetizer for the table, and I was compelled to try some. I was glad I did--I liked them! It was definitely a splurge of the "state fair food" variety, but it was fun to try something new around some of my favorite people.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting Together With Family

Lesley, Jessica, Junelle, Margee, J.K.
This past weekend, George and I traveled to South Carolina to visit with the Lathems. It was such a treat to visit with family! Since we all live in different parts of the country and the world, it's a rare treat to get together in one place!

The picture on the left was actually taken in Waxhaw, North Carolina. I'd never been there before, and it's a cute town! It was my first time to Union County, North Carolina, too, so I'll be posting about the county visit soon on my NC Odyssey Project blog.

Thanks to George for taking this picture.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Church Hunting in the Triangle

George and I have had the fun of visiting two different churches the past couple of weeks, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsborough and Community Church of Chapel Hill. We had been members together at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF), but have decided to move on.

I must admit some reluctance and sadness over leaving ERUUF, much like leaving a school, home, or job, where there have been many fond memories and growing experiences. The time feels right for a new church home, though, and we wish ERUUF well.

Old Orange County Courthouse, Hillsborough
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsborough (UUCH) is a small congregation, but we were pleased to see several people we knew there! Several others introduced themselves to us and made us feel welcome. I got a lot out of the sermon, and we enjoyed staying for coffee afterward. After the service, George and I went into downtown Hillsborough for lunch at the Wooden Nickle Pub, where I enjoyed a black/white bean veggie burger. Hillsborough is a charming town, where I took a few pictures after lunch.

Community Church of Chapel Hill is a much bigger congregation than UUCH, and reminded us (in a good way) of ERUUF. They happened to have their "Rising Up" Ceremony (for rising 6th and 9th graders and graduation seniors) last Sunday, so we were able to catch a glimpse of the scope of the Religious Education Program (LOTS of kids) and the outpouring of support from the congregation. They also had the flower communion, a Unitarian Universalist ritual, last Sunday, which was nice. We also enjoyed the music, which featured a couple of children's choirs, singing "The Road to Nowhere," "Love Train," and another song. Familiar congregational hymns abounded. After the service, George and I had lunch at Streets Deli in Chapel Hill, then saw the movie, "The Lincoln Lawyer." We'd recommend both!

All in all, we had really good experiences visiting these congregations. We'll continue looking around, visiting new places and returning to these, over the next few months. I'm looking forward to the journey!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Duke Graduation

Lisa, Emily, Laura, & Craig after Graduation
Duke held its graduation festivities this past weekend, so we had a fun weekend celebrating niece Laura's graduation with extended family in town! George and I enjoyed several activities around West Campus, including a reception on the Main Quad, a breakfast in part of the athletic facilities, Commencement in Wallace Wade Stadium, and Laura's Economics Department recognition ceremony in Cameron Stadium. Laura, Emily, Lisa, and Craig were even busier, but it was all great! We also enjoyed a yummy celebration dinner at Four Square!

Congratulations, Laura!

More Graduation Weekend pix here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

25th College Reunion

This past weekend, George and I attended my college reunion at Duke. 25 years, impossible! It was good to see old friends and meet some new people. We attended the class party at the Nasher Museum Friday night, and the class lunch in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. I also did a behind-the-scenes tour of the Conservation Lab and the Digital Production Center of Duke Libraries on Friday afternoon. I wish I'd done more!

One of my favorite pictures from the weekend, shown above, is of George and me in the Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center. The Cameron Crazies are painted on one wall!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Basketball Fever

The ACC Basketball Tournament is going on this weekend, and I've been having a good time watching it on TV. George isn't a basketball fan, but he's been a good sport about it. :) I've pulling for the Duke Blue Devils, of course, but it's been fun watching parts of other games, too. The UNC Tarheels, number 1 seed in the tourney, have won both of their tournament games in overtime, exciting! Duke is playing Virginia Tech now, another close game.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Facebook Family

Since I've been home with the flu this past week, I've been missing my daily interactions with people at work, at the gym, in clubs, etc. With my daily life so quiet, I've been especially amazed by the activity among my Facebook family this past week, including the very sad news of three deaths with Facebook connections (a Facebook friend from Raleigh Galloway and St. Mary's too, a McLamb cousin's husband, and a old Selma friend's father). Just this morning, another Facebook friend (also a Dukie and former Selmian) became a new mother! It would've taken me much longer to get all of this news otherwise, so I'm thankful for Facebook. Okay, I must admit I'm also feeling a little overdosed on Facebook now and am ready to get well and back into my normal, more balanced world, but I am thankful (sad and happy too) for all the news (AND get-well messages, thanks for all of those!!) Facebook has brought me this week.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Home Sick with the Flu

Well, it happened! I didn't get a flu shot this year, and I'm home with the flu! Of course, getting a flu shot isn't a done deal for preventing the flu, but it has really helped me the past few years. I was out the day the flu shots were given at my office, and I never got around to getting one at another location. Ahhhh, lesson learned! Meanwhile, George was nice to take some time off from work and drive me to the doctor this morning, after my fever spiked to 102.2. This afternoon, I feel like I'm on the mend. I'll stay home tomorrow to rest and see if the fever totally goes away, and head back to work Friday or Monday.

Guess who will be getting her flu shot next flu season?!

Clipart from