It was the best of months, it was the worst of months...

...with apologies to Mr. Dickens...the title just seems to say it all.

I don't even know where to begin this first post of September. I suppose I should start where the month itself began...with a little vacation for N/M/E and me. We rented a PT Cruiser (see the photo, left/below; more on that in my next post) and headed to Gatlinburg via Missy M's house. We had a CD with Cyndi Lauper's 80's hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," which became our theme song for the week. Had a great time, visiting many of our ol' haunts including the Apple Barn, the Old Mill, Newfound Gap, and The Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge. We also found a couple of new favorites, like Smoky Mountain Spinnery (yarn!) and Alewine Pottery. N/M/E seemed to thoroughly enjoy our trip, which included stopovers (both ways!) in Berea, KY (fabulous food and Arts & Crafts). Our last night out was spent back at Missy M's. Ella Rae wasn't too sure about us on our first visit, but she seemed to remember us when we returned. She's grown for sure, but she's still a teeny-tiny little ball of energy!

Home again, home again, jiggiddy-jog. Just in time to help Mr. T celebrate his birthday. Woo-hoo! Instead of a cake, I made him some apple fritters from a mix from the Apple Barn...served up with the bestest apple butter in the universe. Yum!

We were also "just in time" for the hot water heater to flood the basement. Replaced that. $$$. Bummer. Then, the kitchen disposal developed a leak. Replaced that. $$$. Deux Bummer. Oh, yes...and that thingama-gig in the tank of the toilet...yep, it needed replacing, too. Trois Bummer! Thank goodness Mr. T. is so willing and able to handle all these household maintenance madnesses. So, what else could go "out," you might ask? How about my 11-year old car (electrical short/blown fuse that made us think for one dreadful night that the transmission was a goner)? And (finally, I hope), the piece de resistance...the ice maker developed a "silent" leak into the baseboard...under the kitchen tiles...into the sub-flooring...and, gravity being what it is, down into the basement ceiling. No place to go but up from here, right?

Visits from both my brothers this month have helped keep us from being weighed down with woes. Brother T and I tried to set a record for gabbing, talking until nearly 2:00 a.m. one night...what fun! I'll bet he was glad to return home to be able to rest his vocal chords. Brother J was here, close enough to his birthday to rate a special dinner (Black Pepper Shrimp) and cake & ice cream...oh, and PRESENTS!

We were extremely fortunate to have survived the flooding from Hurricane Ike with little more than a full-to-the-brim rain gauge (5" at the top). Many friends and neighbors are still dealing with the aftermath of flooded basements. The worst we saw was in the photo (left) of the ducks on the water...which isn't a lake at all, but the third hole on the Par 3 Golf Course on Highway K, here in town. Duckworth Creek (appropriately named, eh?) couldn't empty into the Missouri River, which was above flood stage, so it went where it could. Good news...the water has since receded, and golf carts have replaced the ducks, as of Friday.

Still, all of the mishaps that have occurred are just little inconveniences in Life. As you know, the broken appliances...the water damage...the ailing car... can all be repaired or replaced. But, today, we learned of a sorrow that only time will help heal. The oldest of my first cousins on my Daddy's side passed away last night. Just writing these words brings a fresh round of tears to my eyes. She was loved by all that knew her...but, for me, the next-to-the-youngest of the Firsts...all the way down the line from her...she was truly a special person, one who gave me a marvelous gift. You see, she is the one who taught me how to knit when I was 9 years old. House slippers. Made with acrylic yarn on size US 10.5 needles. Taught me how to knit and how to purl (but I had to go home before she could teach me how to bind off...:). And, even if she hadn't been such a kind, loving, funny and fun-loving sweetheart, I'd still forever be grateful for that gift. Betty Jean, you will be sadly missed.


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