Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Attorney's Night Before Christmas

"Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain
improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of
stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and
around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/
St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House, were
located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations,
i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited
to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in
said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as
"I"), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the parts of the
second part (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained
period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of
headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.) 

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the
unimproved real property adjacent and appurtent to said House, i.e. the lawn, a
certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of
the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the
cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of
wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter the "Vehicle") being
pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8)
reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the
previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the
approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal
co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder
and Blitzen (hereinafter the "Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is
further asserted that an additional co-conspirator named Rudolph may have been

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer
intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences
located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle
was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or
nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or
implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue
from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the
aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what
appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances
and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor
children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts.
(Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the
applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.) Upon completion of such task, Claus
touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of
the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as
"lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House,
the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: "Merry
Christmas to all and to all a good night!" Or words to that effect."

-Author Unknown  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sweet Squash Casserole

I went out on a limb and tried a new recipe as my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. It actually turned out pretty well. If you enjoy spiced apples, this is a great mix-up to add a little more flavor and texture to your dish.
First, I put about 2 cups of corn flakes through the food processor. The recipe only called for 1/4 a cup, but I added more for a "crunchier" topping to the casserole.
Then, I blended 4 cans of squash (you can boil 2 lbs of fresh squash if you prefer), 1/4 cup of butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and a pinch of salt and white pepper.

I then sliced up four Granny Smith apples into thin slivers, added 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkled 1/4 cup of white sugar into the mixture. I stirred until the apples had become tender, and then spread the apple mixture out into a 3-quart casserole dish.

I then poured the squash mixture evenly into the pan over the apples.
After that, I mixed an additional 2 tablespoons of melted butter (I never said this was exactly dietetic..) with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans and the cornflakes together.  

After sprinkling the topping evenly over the mixture, I placed the casserole in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Once it had cooked, I let it sit for about ten minutes before serving.

Although sweet and unfortunate for the waistline, this may be my new go-to dish for the holidays.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Greenway, Part Deux

I've set a new rule for myself.
If I spend the morning hiking the greenway (8 miles minimum) and return home to spend the rest of the day on the couch eating junk food and watching television, I can consider the day "productive".
Throw in some camera shots of my hike to encourage my somewhat evolving photography skills, and we've had a damn near action-packed multi-tasking day of production.
Six hours of Friends reruns nonwithstanding.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remaining Calm

Let's put this issue out there on the table before anything else-- I am not a naturally calm, serene person.

I'm hectic. I'm a worrier. I'm prone to overreacting.

I obsess about the little things.

At least, that's how I used to be.

That being said, I've managed to curb nearly ALL of those things in the past six months.

I can't be sure exactly what initially triggered me to change my behavior, but I'm so glad I did.

Life is far too short to spend your entire day worrying and obsessing over the little things that may or may not "go wrong". Of course we have to think ahead, but we also have to understand how to take one step at a time.

I think one of the strongest contributors to this behavior overhaul was when I began to recognize the same types of characteristics in other people around me.

Courtesy of Rising Moon Photos
And I realized how incredibly obnoxious it can be.

So, I decided to change.

I looked closely at my behavior, as well as the triggers for my behavior, and began asking myself why I was reacting in a certain way and/or if the situation could be altered had I reacted differently.

And in doing so, I began to realize something.

Certain events in life will take place whether or not you worry or obsess or get angry about them.

And, more often than not, you cannot change the outcome by throwing a temper tantrum.

The best thing-- rather, the only thing-- you can do is wait out the storm.

If you miss your flight, another will come along. You'll get where you're going eventually.

If you get laid off from your job, you'll find another one. Maybe even a better one.

If the person you love doesn't love you, let it go. There are other fish in the sea.

Of course there are times where anger is warranted. It's only human to get upset and wish that things could always fall in the place the way we want them to.

But it is in the aftermath of anger where we stop resisting life's circumstances and learn to trust that fate knows better.
The universe has a way of working things out on its own terms.

By getting angry and cursing "luck" or "karma" for what we believe, at the time, to be misfortune, we are missing out on the bigger picture.

We aren't reading the signs.
When we throw up our hands in defeat and allow fate to carry us along, we will end up where we belong in due time. There's no point in fighting a force that is much larger than we are.

Once we give in to the ways of the world, we become blessed with a serenity and peace that few people know how to access.

So when you feel yourself welling up with anger or obsessing about the little details or cursing your circumstances, take a deep breath and let it go.

As the saying goes, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ole Miss Reunion

I had an amazing time in Oxford this weekend for the Ole Miss v. Missouri game. Although my Rebels lost the game, we didn't lose the party.
We got things started at the bars on Friday night..
And the good times continued into the next day, when tailgating in the Grove began around noon.. 
And the band played Dixie.. literally..
We had to make a stop at our sorority tent..

Everyone gathered around two hours before the game to watch the team walk down the Walk of Champions.

 Unfortunately, by halftime, we decided it was too cold to stay in the stadium (it was about 23* that night). So my roommate and I decided to walk back to the house.

Obviously I had to stop for a photo here..

And we made it back to the house in plenty of time to watch my Rebels lose the game.

Regardless of our less-than stellar record this season, I'm proud of my Rebels. And I am so thankful that I was able to visit Oxford at least once this year and re-live some of the best memories of my life with even better company.

Now it's time to start planning our next Oxford reunion..

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back in the Public Eye

Oh, John Edwards.

Where do I start?

His marital indiscretions aren't really what bother me the most. All politicians have affairs. It's just a hazard of the trade.

But using campaign contributions to cover up his dalliances? That's taking politics to an entirely new level.

John Edwards is one of those individuals who has the ability to take the American Dream, and twist and distort it into something unrecognizable.

To make matters even worse, he lied about his indiscretions. Consistently.

Who wouldn't want this man in the White House?

And now comes the really exciting news.

He's riding back into Raleigh on his white steed, ready to pick up where he left off in the land of ambulance-chasing-bluecollar-preying-low-life personal injury law.

It seems the senator's reported $30 million nest egg just isn't enough to cover his $500 haircuts nor the mortgage payments on his $1.7 million beach house.

Just when we thought we'd gotten rid of him for good, he rears his ugly head and assures us that we haven't seen the last of him. No, far from it.

It takes some brass balls to return to a society that once helped you to work your way up the political ladder to a position that then spit you out and kicked you into the gutter.

Thanks for doing your part to uphold the stereotype of a hard-working Southern politician.

I'm sure that won't come back to bite us in the future.

So, on behalf of Raleigh citizens everywhere, I'd like to un-welcome you back to society, Mr. Edwards.

You certainly were not missed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

History of the Ole Miss Dress Code

Everyone constantly asks why Ole Miss students and alumni dress up on gameday.

Of course our look is much better than the grungy t-shirt wearing, body-painted, thrown-together appearance that some other schools may encourage for football games.

But there's also a great deal of history behind our dress code.
In 1861, just after the Civil War had begun, the entire male student body (with the exception of four) and much of the male faculty joined together to enlist in the war, causing the university to close its doors temporarily.

These men became affectionally known as the "University Greys".

They embarked on a journey to meet up with a larger with a larger band of Mississippi soliders in Corinth, Mississippi and formed the 11th Mississippi Infantry.

Supposedly, upon their departure, each one of the University Greys donned a formal suit, insisting that as gentleman, they wanted to ride into battle dressed in their finest.

It has been said that the University Greys led Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Unfortunately, our boys suffered 100% casualties in that battle.

The surviving few returned to their hometowns after the war as local heroes.

To this day, Ole Miss keeps up with the honor and the legacy of the University Greys on football day by wearing their Sunday best.

Because we, too, intend on riding into battle dressed in our finest.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Barry Hannah's Legacy

My life has been a blessed one. I've been presented with countless opportunities to learn, grow, and explore my possibilities.

One of my greatest opportunities was presented to me in the form of a senior literature course at Ole Miss.

The professor teaching the course was none other than the infamous Barry Hannah.

It was considered, among the many literature fanatics taking up residence in Mississippi, an honor to sit at the feet of the such a high-esteemed writer such as Dr. Hannah.

Our class met on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, in a small room near the center of campus, stifled with stale humidity.

It was a constant challenge to arrive at least twenty minutes early, as the class roster was at full capacity, students clamoring to stake out a front-row seat for Dr. Hannah's lecture.

The class was meant to be devoted to film noir, but as apparently was often the case with Dr. Hannah's classes, the topic more than often progressed towards the aspect of becoming a better writer.

My notebooks, many of which I still have, were filled of colloquialisms and literary tips provided by the professor, rarely a mention of the intended subject matter itself.

He was a calm and inviting gentleman, the years of alcohol use etched into his weathered expressions.

Traveling alongside him was a rolling canister of oxygen, a direct contradiction to the soft pack of Marlboros he kept tucked in the pocket of his well-pressed button-down shirt.

To that end, he took his time getting to class, and almost always arrived precisely ten minutes after class was intended to begin.

Perhaps the most important advice I gained from him was that writing should never be adapted to an audience.

"You must stop writing knowing that your mother will read your words," he often instructed. "In writing for others, we lose sight of the message."

As the semester hammered on, I remember looking forward to my bi-weekly meetings with the legendary professor, never once missing one of his classes (which, for someone with an average record of less than stellar attendance, was a miracle).

By the time our sessions had come to an end, no one was ready to say goodbye to Dr. Hannah.

The last day of class, I remember everyone staying half an hour later than usual as we all soaked in the last of the great professor's words of wisdom and asked our own individual questions surrounding our own writing styles.

Over Christmas break, when grades were due to appear online, I signed in to the university website to view my own.

Next to "Film Noir", an "F" appeared.

I panicked. There was no way that could be right. I had earned A's and B's on all of my assignments in Dr. Hannah's class.

Frantically, I dialed up the registrar and was able to obtain Dr. Hannah's home telephone number.

I called him at once, hurriedly explaining the situation at hand after he picked up on the third ring.

He calmed me down and asked me what name I had been signing on my assignments.

At once I knew what the problem was. He had submitted his final grades as they applied to the formal names listed on the class roster.

Dr. Hannah knew me by my nickname, not by my formal one. He simply hadn't made the connection between the two.

He apologized for not making the correction, and assured me that he would amend my grade accordingly.

Three days later, the "F" still appeared in the system. I called him again, and he apologized again, more profusely. He assured me that he would contact the academic office the next day.

Two more days passed, and I grew even more frantic.

My final grade remained incorrect.

I had just completed my last semester in college. With an "F" in this course, I wouldn't be able to graduate.

I waited another day and called Dr. Hannah's number again. This time, it went straight to his answering machine. I left a polite (but obviously agitated) message asking for him to return my call.

Several days later, his number popped up on my caller ID. I answered it, and was greeted with the voice of an older woman at the other end of the line.

"Is this Mary?" she asked. "I'm Dr. Hannah's wife. I'm sorry for taking so long to return your call. My husband had asked for me to let you know that he was able to correct your grade with the English department yesterday afternoon."

With a sigh of relief, I thanked her profusely and asked her to thank her husband as well.

Calmly, the woman explained that Dr. Hannah had passed away the evening before.

I felt my heart drop.

From his death bed, this sweet man had actually made it his mission to make sure I graduated on time.

Instead of spending his last days with his family, my professor had made it his personal mission to tie up loose ends for a student he had only known for a few months.

I immediately offered my condolences and assured Mrs. Hannah that her husband had meant a great deal to the students whose lives he had touched.

To this day, I still remember the lessons Dr. Hannah taught me.

In his life, as well as in his death, this man was as much a hero to me as one of the characters in his stories.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Greenway Weekend

So I recently discovered how close my new apartment is to the Raleigh Greenway. And the timing could not be more perfect, considering I'm in the middle of my weight-loss obsession before flying down to Oxford in a couple of weeks.

Last Sunday my roommate and I hiked 7 miles on the greenway. Yesterday I woke up at 7:30 and hiked another 8. And then this morning I clocked in another 8 miles. Needless to say I had ample photography opportunities. And boy, did I take advantage of them. 

Here are a few of my favorites.