Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.


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“Z” is for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah with Grandchildren

As a child, and as an adult I’ve always loved this song! When you’re happy, nothing else expresses the mood quite so well in my book! You can whistle it, and you can sing it as if no one is watching or listening! LOL That’s what I do..or perhaps, I should say, that is what my grandchildren and I do, and have done over the years!  

Helen with Liam and Katy, Zip a Dee Doo Dah

Helen with grandchildren Liam and Katy

My oldest grandchild, Liam is  7 now, but when he was three, as his sister Katy is now, he would sit on the arm of my power wheelchair (can’t walk far due to severe heart disease) and we would ride all over the neighborhood! He loved it, and wanted to ride and ride! So, we’d talk, we’d notice things, and we’d sing! My favorite song to sing with him was Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, I bet you couldn’t have guessed that huh?  Can you imagine the sight we made, riding around on my wheelchair, grandma and grandchild, singing at the top of our lungs! I know that some of our good friends/neighbors used to tease and also let us know they loved it! I often wondered if others who didn’t know us wondered about that old lady wandering the neighborhood in her wheelchair, singing with abandon with that little boy! LOL However, the men in white coats, nor the police ever showed! My sidekick and I had a ball, and I’ll never forget it for sure! 

“X” = Extraordinarily Excellent Xylophone Player, My Daughter Ali

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Ali Holshouser Orcutt, High School

I’ll never forget the high school orchestra concert when I first heard my daughter Ali play the xylophone in concert. We were used to seeing her play the marching bells in the Marching Band, and used to hearing her playing piano at home, while she played timpani and other percussion instruments in the orchestra. But this night was special, as they spotlighted her solo on the xylophone! She played the Flight of the Bumble Bees! If you have never heard this song, give a listen to the recording below. It is so fast, oh my gracious, you could hardly see the mallets moving they were flying so fast as she struck the keys!  As a mother, I’m pretty sure, my mouth fell open, LOL, and I sat up a bit straighter–why are we so often the least prepared to know how talented our children are? Perhaps because to us they are children, our children forever. When they excel, its like…”My child, when, how, what?” I have been extremely blessed in that I have two daughters, Ali and Annie, who play multiple instruments and both sing! Music has always been a large part of our lives and a joy for our family. (I’m sure you noticed, but just in case, this is not a video tape of our daughter playing the xylophone, but somone else from youtube. We do have a vhs recording, but we have yet to get it changed to a more usuable format, so sad! Hope you enjoy the above.)

What brings you and your family joy?  

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“W” is for Walt Disney World

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Goggle Earth view of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World, 2015

Goggle Earth view of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, 2015

Walt Disney World in Florida, USA–is there a more magical place on earth?!  We don’t think so, and our family has had some very special adventures there over the last 45 years!  Yes! I said 45 years, Max and I got to go to Disney World for a preview in December, 1970, a full ten months before they officially opened in October, 1971! We had gone down to visit his cousin Ronnie Kennerly who was a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. Disney had invited the law enforcement  officers to come visit, and Max and I got to go also! We had no idea the magnitude of what we were seeing, nor of how privileged we were to see it before it opened to the public! All we knew was that our 21 year-old selves loved it and thought it was magical for sure! 

1970 pictures of trip to Disney World

By 1989, Max and I realized our first child, Ali was 15 and our second child Annie was 7, and we had not taken them to Disney World yet! How had we let this happen! Off we went for our great adventure! Then in 2005, our daughter Annie did an internship at Disney World for her Hospitality and Tourism Degree at Appalachian State University. While she lived at Disney for eight months, we went down to visit her during the Christmas holidays that year. The family now included Greg Orcutt as Ali had gotten married in 2001. Max and I have not been to Disney World since that 2005 trip, but in nine days, our daughter Ali and her family, Greg and three kids 7, 3, and 15 months are taking the plunge and touring the wonderful world of Disney, I can hardly wait to see pictures! 

Look at the difference in tickets alone between when we went in 1989, and for Ali and her family to go now in 2015! While we used paper tickets, treasures in our family scrap books, Ali and her family will wear electronic bracelets, called Magic Bands, which they will scan to get in, proving they have previously bought their admission tickets.  The bands not only replace the tickets to the parks, but also room keys, charges to the room, and fast passes for rides. How cool is that! 

 In 1989, Max and I stayed off campus in a condominium. It was lovely, but we decided it would be easier to stay in a Disney Resort  if you had kids.  When our children and grandchildren go next week, they will be staying on Disney. To this day, I remember how lovely it was to visit Disney World.  From the moment we parked and entered Disney, we were met and catered to by Disney cast members who saw to our every whim–with a smile! If that alone didn’t put a smile on your face, surely the parades, the Castle, the riverboat where we had breakfast with Mickey, Minnie and all the characters–to the Broadway play we saw in the Contemporary Resort, every moment was awesome, for us adults and the kids!  We rode rides, and visited backstage at Disney MGM Studios to see how movies were made.  Back at Magic Kingdom, we actually had lunch with Cinderella in the Castle, an event we had signed up for six months ahead of time! To this day, Annie remembers seeing her favorite Princess and that when lunch was over, Cinderella said, “I have to go now, because I have to go feed the Prince!” That amazed 7-year-old Annie! The days and nights were filled with parades, fireworks, oh my, and we shopped ’til we dropped! We left Disney thinking what a fabulous trip we had.

1989 trip to Disney World in pictures: 

In May 2005 through January 2006, our daughter Annie completed the Disney College Program (an internship) at Walt Disney World! During that time she took classes at Disney College, became a cast member and worked at Pop Century Resort in retail and in the food court. She also had the opportunity to work special events like the Food and Wine Festival and Star Wars Weekends. She even joined the cast choir which allowed us to hear her sing along with celebrities on Christmas Eve in Epcot Center! We had never been to Disney at Christmas time, and the sight took my breath away! Luxurious greenery and decorations covered every door, arch, and window! By then, I was sick and using a wheelchair. Getting on and off the monorail, getting in and out of plays, restaurants, stores–always, ALWAYS there was someone to lend a hand and see that my needs were met! My life might have been stressful for me and my family at home, but at Disney World, being handicapped brought support beyond belief, so that only joy remained! Annie learned the ins and outs of Disney, including the underground, cast only, tunnels to get them from one place to another. With all the normal trials of working at a place that large and busy, Annie finished still loving Disney, and having made a lifelong friend.  A sick Mom, and the eminent birth of her nephew, persuaded Annie to come home, but she has always considered returning for a career at Disney. She is a family person, true, but she is a Disney girl as well. One of our cousins calls her “Disney Girl” in fact–a nickname she loves!

2005 Disney College Program with Annie and Family Christmas at Disney

I want to share with you some pictures and a video from the Candlelight Processional which they have at Epcot Center every Christmas season. If you are ever at Disney during the Christmas season, you might find this as awe-inspiring as I did. I will never forget the trumpets, the candlelight procession, and the beautiful voices raised in praise that night in 2005, including our daughter Annie’s voice. 

Being the amateur genealogist that I am , I cannot close this post without sharing with you that I discovered that my husband and children are actually related to Walt Disney himself!  The relationship chart, showing that they are 9th cousins, 3x removed  looks like this: 

Disney relationship to max, 9th cousin, 3x removed

Forty-five years of trips to Walt Disney World includes my daughter Ali and her family’s trip this coming week. I can hardly wait to hear about my grandchildren’s first trip to Disney and to add some of their pictures to our collection. 

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“V” — Virginia is for Lovers–Lovers of Mountains, Beaches, History, Gardens, and Family!

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I was born and reared in Richmond, Virginia. My Mom’s family lived in Virginia since the beginning of our country, literally, in Jamestown! I think I’ve identified at least twenty ancestors who were present in Jamestown. Through my genealogical work, I even discovered that one of my great-great grandfathers designed and helped build the Capital building of Colonial Williamsburg, and the Governors’s Palace! Fast forward to the 1950’s and ’60’s in Richmond, with my Mom working in downtown Richmond, I was often left at the capital building of Virginia to tour and wait for her to finish work. Sometimes I was left at the State library, or one of the many museums! Mom was sneaky that way…absorb a little history and education while you cool your heels! LOL One thing I absorbed, was the beauty of downtown Richmond–the old churches and all the public buildings, it is just lovely. When we went up this week to see some of the Historic Garden Week homes and gardens, seeing the city through the eyes of my friend, brought the pride back of growing up in Richmond, with its Monument Avenue, fan district, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Everywhere I looked there were stories, family stories, historic stories, and personal stories. Parades, celebrations, the department stores with their grand windows, all that came flooding back!

My Dad’s family was from Petersburg, where we toured the gardens, some of which I showed you in my T for Tour of Two Gardens post. There’s more I want to share, but today, I think I’ll concentrate on Richmond. I just want to share some of my favorite pictures, and show off some of my favorite sites in my home town.

We drove in from Midlothian and over the Huguenot Bridge into the city, just as my family did many, many days from our home on the South side of the bridge, to visit my Mom at her office on Cary Street when we were young, later downtown at 10th Street and Main Street, in the financial district.  Crossing the James River on the Huguenot Bridge brings you right up the hill past the lovely Country Club of Virginia where my sister had her wedding reception, and across from the stately old homes .

On the way to the lovely Virginia Museum of Art in downtown Richmond, we toured our friend from North Carolina around town. First step a drive down Monument Avenue with the accompanying stories of the statues facing north and south and their meaning. We had to drive her through Capital Square to show off our beautiful State Capital building designed by Thomas Jefferson. Then of course, the Jefferson Hotel itself with its grand staircase! We passed through the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Medical College of Virginia, admired the architecture of small and large city houses, and admired the numerous old churches of all faiths.

Historical information from richmondthenand now.com

Regarding the Virginia State Capital building: ”

Thomas Jefferson sent from France a plaster model he had prepared in collaboration with the French architect, Charles Louis Clarisseau, as a modified design of the Maison Carre, late Roman temple at Nimes. The capitol antedated by more than 20 years the Madeleine in Paris, first example in Europe of similar quasi-literal temple architecture.

The cornerstone was laid in 1785 but the capitol was not completed in time to house the ratification convention in June, 1788, although the general assembly met in the unfinished building in October. The original portion was finished in 1792 under the supervision of Samuel Dobie and the brick was covered with stucco in 1798.

The wings and the long flight of steps were built in 1904-05.Virginia State Capitol. “

” Washington Monument, Capitol Square, St. Pauls Episcopal Church in the background – Photo 1865. “

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“U” — Uniqua and the Backyardigans visit Katy, Liam, and Evie

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Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, Tasha and Austin are five colorful animal pals with big imaginations. They team up to journey to imaginary places in their backyard. The TV show, and Uniqua especially,  is one of my 3 year-old granddaughter Katy’s favorite things to watch on TV! Today,  Uniqua and her friends have come to visit Katy, her brother Liam, and her sister Evie to play in their backyard with them!

Uniqua and griends with the Orcutt kids, Apr. 2015

Uniqual and friends images from backyardigans.wikia.com

Let’s pretend we are sailing on Falls Lake down there where your Dad is a State Park Ranger, here in North Carolina!  We’ll build a boat out of these cardboard boxes. Liam will be the Captain, and Uniqua will be his first mate! Katy, Evie, Pablo, and Tyrone will be sailors!

“Aye Captain Liam, tell us how to begin.”  Liam had everyone dragging boxes and tape over into the middle of the yard. Cool, they go together like this, now all aboard! We’re going treasure hunting!

They donned their sailor caps, climbed into the boxes, and set sail for an island out in the middle of Falls Lake! Once there, after noticing the fish in the lake who swam with them, they climbed ashore treasure hunting island! “Look” shouted Captain Liam, over there near Katy and Uniqua, see the shine near your foot? Let’s dig there and see what that is! ”

“Yea” they all cheered!” Their colorful pails soon began to fill with the shovels of sand from the island sandbox!  Within seconds, they had found gold coins! Gold coins, right here in our sandbox, as Evie dug up another one buried over in her corner, than Pablo had one, Liam, Katy and Uniqua, even Tyrone! We came to the right place all right!

“It’s time to sail home and show Mom our treasure, and maybe get some milk and cookies”, said Captain Liam. Again, his sailors cheered! They climbed back into their boat, picked up their oars, and away they sailed–across the lake to the deck/dock! Tieing up the boat so that it wouldn’t float away, they climbed the stairs, hot and thirsty from their trip, so relieved to be met by Mom with a plate full of cookies and a pitcher of cold milk!  The sailors  could hardly wait to show Mom and Ranger Greg Dad their treasure! What an adventure!

According to Wikipedia, “The Backyardigans is a Canadian CGI-animated musical TV series that premiered in 2004 and was created by Janice Burgess. It features five animal children, who imagine that their backyard becomes an adventure place. It is a co-production of Treehouse TV, and the Canadian animation studio Nelvana. Debuting on October 11, 2004, it was originally directed by Robert Scull. Dave Palmer began directing the show in the middle of season one, and directed all subsequent episodes. It aired on CBSfrom October 2004 until September 2006. The songs for the show are music by Evan Lurie, of The Lounge Lizards, and Douglas Wieselman and lyrics by McPaul Smith. The characters were designed by children’s author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino. The series finale aired on May 31, 2010, and reruns continued to air on the Nickelodeon base network until mid-2013, when the series was pulled from the lineup. It has not aired in English regularly in the US since then (though was aired in reruns four times in December 2014), yet continues to air weekly (as the Spanish dub) on Univision. In March 2015, the series returned to Nick Jr. after more than 2 years.  The show airs on Treehouse TV Canada under Nickelodeon.”

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“T” = Tale of Two Garden Tours

President's Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015.Photo by Helen y. Holshouser

President’s Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015. Photo by Helen y. Holshouser

Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I had the opportunity and supreme pleasure of touring in Petersburg, Virginia during their Historic Garden Week in Virginia.  Can you imagine–all over the whole state of Virginia–my home state–during April, there is an open house allowing us to see inside  over 250 of the most beautiful gardens, homes,and historic landmarks in the whole state!  You can read about it in detail here:  http://www.vagardenweek.org/   You can download a pdf of the  Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week ‘s guidebook with information, pictures, and directions to all of the sites at http://www.vagardenweek.org/assets/documents/hgw15-guidebook-complete.pdf  It is full of amazing information and would be helpful in your planning for the tour the next two days, and next year! The fact that this is a volunteer effort is incredibly awesome to me! Hours and hours of hundreds of volunteers have gone in to this effort! We actually toured five sites plus a historic church yesterday, and everywhere we were warmly greeted by Master Gardeners, homeowners, historians and other volunteers!  Today I am only writing this post about two of the gardens. I will blog about all the sites in time! My friend Sharon, a neighbor and cousin, took me and my wheelchair and we met my sister Anne and two of her friends, Gail and Sandra, from Richmond. The day was 77 degrees and sunny, glorious! We had a wonderful tour, and were all majorly inspired! 

One of the beautiful gardens we toured, surrounded a pond in front of the President’s home on the campus of Richard Bland College in Petersburg.  While the home site is gorgeous, look at some of the pictures I took around the small pond just in front of this house! It is called an “Asian Water Feature” in the guidebook, I call it a secret garden, secret from the rest of the world!  It looks like it’s modeled upon Monet’s painting of the Japanese Bridge and garden, just that beautiful!  I felt a peace settle over me and an inspiration that was just wonderful! 

There were Master Gardeners everywhere, and they identified every single plant I asked about, but I could only do my best in trying to remember all the names! 

The second exquisite garden we toured was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Henry Tomlin–by God’s good fortune, we had the opportunity to be escorted and guided through the garden by Dr.Tomlin himself!  You could never ask for a more gracious, knowledgeable guide! Afterall, he was the owner and landscaper himself!  I suspect we had such good fortune because he wanted to save the rest of his garden from the accident prone, handicapped but enthusiastic garden tourist that was me! We entered on the path through a beautiful gateway and followed the path to the garden. Quickly we came to a grassy park area, surrounded by objets d’art in the lovely gardens which included dogwood trees in the distance and made you go “aaaaahhhh!” It looked like we could walk around the little grassy island, but soon after I ventured out in my power wheelchair, I realized it was wet–very wet!  I sunk through the grass and couldn’t move backwards or forwards! My spinning wheels were making tracks, ruts and digging holes in his pristine grassy park!  Ooooooh! I felt terrible!  We had not met him yet, but my friend helped me out of the chair, and started trying to push the 500 lb. power chair out of the mud/grass! A very kind man came along to help, and it turned out to be Dr.Tomlin,MD,  a retired obstetrician, owner, and landscape designer of these beautiful gardens! I offered to pay to have the area I had messed up fixed, and he put me at ease, not even sounding like he’d like to conk me over the head when I’d made such a mess on such an important day! He did say as well, to be gracious, and I imagine to protect his gardens, to let him guide us through the gardens because he knew where it was dry! As it turns out, they own five acres, and have landscaped three of them! We had an amazing tour. I wish I would have had a tape recorder, because perhaps my pictures can, but my memory won’t do him or his garden justice. He told us that when Hurricane Isabelle came through that area in 2003, they lost 120 trees! Getting them all removed was the beginning of this fabulous garden! Just look at this beauty, and I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did! 

“S” is for Scavenger Hunt!”

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Easter was a big holiday for our grandchildren this year. It didn’t look like that was going to happen the week before however.  One of their grandparents became very ill and had to be hospitalized. Thank heavens he recovered  Even the kids were sick the week before, viruses sent their fevers to 103 degrees, you can tell in little Evie’s eyes above that she wasn’t feeling well even though she was enjoying her big pink ears and furry bunny!  The bigger kids were sick also, but an Easter delivery made them suddenly much better! Thank heavens they were well by the weekend and could enjoy the awesome scavenger hunt prepared by their loving Aunt Annie, as well as the Easter egg hunt and games in the neighborhood.
I think the scavenger hunt designed by their Aunt Annie, my daughter, was incredible, and I had nothing to do with its creation! I am writing a children’s book about it however.  The hunt was fairly short and simple, befitting of the players who were ages 7, 3, and 15 months.  Part of what I thought was so amazing was that Annie  not only planned a hunt to involve all three children, each at their own skill level, but made it so that they had to take turns, help each other, and all be involved–a herculean feat for that age in my opinion! The goal of the scavenger hunt was to find Easter baskets made for the grandchildren by their Aunt and Grandparents.

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Liam 7, Katy 3, and Evie 15 months were so excited!  Aunt Annie told them they would find a big surprise if they followed the clues of this scavenger hunt!  They had to follow exactly, to find the treasure! Aunt Annie gave everyone else in the room a colored plastic egg to hold, all different colors. She put pieces of colored paper down on the floor, each matching an egg. Then …
“Happy Easter everybody! We’re having a scavenger hunt so that Liam, Katy, and Evie (the only children present) can find a treasure!
First we need Evie to pick up a piece of paper and bring it to Aunt Annie. Can you do that Evie? Go ahead, pick up one of those pieces of paper and give it to me? That’s right, good job!” Evie picked up a purple piece of paper and toddled right over to Aunt Annie!
Aunt Annie then announced:  “OK Evie!  Now Katy and Liam, you have to get the matching colored egg from one of the other family members in the room! What color egg matches this paper? Their silly Granddaddy yelled out “Blue”! But the kids didn’t fall for it! “Purple” yelled Katy, and she and Liam both ran to their Grandmother whom they called GiGi, to get the purple egg! Liam got there first and opened the purple egg, inside was a clue for Katy! (all the eggs held identical clues so it didn’t matter what color Evie chose, that was just her task.)
Annie had planned for the next clue to involve Katy, youngest to oldest! Liam read the clue to Katy, and was so excited, he could hardly keep from giving her the answer!  The clue read:  “Next to a popsicle, which is really quite silly, Is your next clue, in a place dark and chilly.”
You could see Katy thinking, then she took off running to the kitchen, where the freezer is on the bottom half of the refrigerator, and she had helped get popsicles from before! She was thrilled to find another egg, with another clue!  This time she opened it, but her brother Liam read the clue–which was for him!
Oh my gracious, this clue was tricky, and had two different problems to solve to find the next clue! On the piece of paper Liam held in his hand, was a picture of some bunnies hiding in the grass, and you could only see their ears! The clue read: “Look at the bunnies trying to hide! Count their ears to see how many bunnies there are. (There were six bunny ears, so there were only three bunnies! Liam figured it out!)  Now count back to the car of the train that matches the number of bunnies, and you will find a clue!”  Liam rushed over to the train, “Oh, I know, I know…one, two , three…YES!” There was another brightly colored plastic egg with another clue!

Easter 2015, Scavenger Hunt

This clue was for Katy! Inside the egg were four pieces of paper, each had a letter and part of a picture. The clue read, “Spell your name with these letters to see what to find with your next clue.” Aunt Annie asked Katy, “What’s that letter Katy? and that one? Yes! Can you spell your name with them?” Katy knew just what to do, and put KATY together very quickly!  The pieces of paper came together as Katy spelled her name, to reveal the picture of a toy school bus. Liam got so excited when he recognized the toy, and he and Katy both rushed back to the toy shelf at the end of the hall! Sitting on top of the “Little People” school bus was another egg with another exciting clue!
Easter 2015, scavenger hunt clue
“For Liam” this clue said. “Something white like you sit on all day. Sometimes you may even lay,  I’m where you watch TV, your next clue is behind me!” Liam thought and thought, and looked around the room, very unsure. He slowly pointed towards the white sofa with a questioning look on his face. Aunt Annie said, “If you think that might be it, go take a look behind it.” Liam rushed right over and looked between the couch and the wall–surely enough, he pulled up a plastic bag of Easter eggs with a clue taped to the bag.
The clue read: “You’re almost there!  Now you BOTH have to help! Katy find four yellow eggs and open them up.”  Katy dumped all the eggs out onto the floor, selecting the four yellow eggs right away!  The kids opened the eggs and found pieces of paper inside with a single word on each piece.   “Now Liam…arrange the words to make a sentence you can read.”  Liam worked to put the words in a sentence that made sense to him.  He soon had the sentence “GiGi” “hangs” “clothes”  “here” spelled out in front of him.

SAM_0440

In  response to their perplexed looks, their Mom said, “Think about it, where does GiGi hang up her clothes?” Liam said, “Oh I know!” and took off running with Katy right behind! They went into their grandparents’ bedroom and looked around.  First, Liam went to his Granddaddy’s closet, there were none of GiGi’s clothes there!  Then Katy looked into the matching storage closet right beside it, but they could see no treasure there, or any of GiGi’s clothes.  Hmm…again, they looked around the room, finally noticing the door to the walk-in closet! They seemed to rush towards it at the same time! When they opened the door, there were three baskets of gifts for the kids!  “Ah cool!” you could hear Liam say, as he discovered a flying dragon made by Granddaddy in his basket! Katy ran from the room, carrying her basket to show Mom and Dad–pink dinosaur in tow! By now little Evie had joined the excitement, tossing Easter grass everywhere! and immediately putting the dinosaur made just for her by Granddaddy, into her mouth!
What a wonderful day, the whole family seemed to bask in the children’s excitement!

© April 22, 2015

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