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! 

“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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“R” is for the Royal Red Divas of the International Red Hat Society

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Red Hat's misbehaving

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The Royal Red Divas of Youngsville and Wake Forest, North Carolina, became an organized chapter of the International Red Hat Society in 2004. Eleven years and going strong! We have done crafts, been in parades,  and eaten our way through Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC! We’ve toured, partied on the local, state, and national levels, and have loved every minute! There’s just something about wearing red hats and purple outfits to make you laugh at yourself–so of course, everything seems funnier and more lighthearted. Sadly, we had one of our members die, but she even elected to be buried in her red hat regalia with us dressed to the nines as her escorts!  Now that is impact.

We are an especially lucky chapter, because although we have had a lot of turnover with moving and all, we have always kept a diverse group age wise, and racially. Having pink hatters, those under 50, and red hatters, those over 50, keeps us young I believe, keeps us vibrant! Some of our oldest members do that well also, as they are our friendliest flirts…we are never alone! Laugh, Love, Live those words  are our motto! 

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“Q” is for Queen of my Red Hat Group!

Red Hatters (2)

Hands Down! The most fun thing I have ever done has been to serve as the Queen of my Red Hat Group, The Royal Red Divas, for ten years! Queen! Queen! Queen! I never thought of myself as the Queenly type or even a Princess, in my childhood I was the cowboy!  But I learned quickly that being the Queen was fun!  We learned to PLAY–to play dress up, to play games, to play with the rules! The poem of our Society says it all–“Warning by Jenny Joseph—

                                  Warning

Red Hatters kicking up some fun!When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
 I retired last year, and the Divas honored me with  an awesome party!  I’m still a part of the group, just not the Queen, now I’m the “Dowager Queen”!  My pins say “Founding Queen ” and “Retired Queen”, take  your pick!  We have the most wonderful new Queen, Angie Rowe! 
You might know of, or even belong to the International Society of Red Hatters.  If not,  you may not know how much fun they are! You can start your own chapter and be the Queen, or look around and join one near you! It doesn’t matter how old you are either. If you are 50 and above, you wear a red hat and a purple outfit, reversing colors on your birthday!  If you are under 50, awaiting “reduation”, no matter how young, you are called a pink hatter, and you wear pink and lavender!  You can go to the website, redhatsociety.com and find a chapter near you. if you are in a group, please let me know in the comments. It’s always great to meet other red hatters!


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“P” is for Purple Elvis Clock!

When I turned 50 years old, some of my friends gave me this purple Elvis clock, and his legs swing! It has delighted me for years now.  I have loved Elvis since I was a young child, so this was a wonderful addition to my Elvis Collection.  I can’t show all of the collection to you in this one post, but sit back, listen to the king, and enjoy sharing the fun! There is something very special about this Purple Elvis Clock, and maybe, maybe I’ll tell you the secret by the end of this post, maybe– it’s very personal…we’ll see. 
Did I tell you I found out  that I am kin to Elvis?!  According to familysearch.org, he is my 14th cousin! It looks like this: 

Elvis relationship to Helen , 14th cousin

 I don’t think I could settle on just one favorite Elvis song, but I’ve always loved “Jailhouse Rock”! Over the years, family and friends have added to my cherished collection my ability to see Elvis perform this song  always– on my own drive-in theater, and among others, from the mouth of the cutest Elvis Bear you could ever ask for!

Elvis Drive in Theater blue screen

SAM_0404

No thoughts of Elvis would be complete without thinking of some of his ballads, his gospel, and his love songs! Oh my, that man could sing! Still gives me chills!

The secret, and you are not allowed to steal this idea now, the phrase “Purple Elvis Clock” is my password for after my death, when I am trying to communicate with my family. Others see butterflies, birds, find dimes–there are all kinds of signs that our loved ones are trying to get in touch with us from the other side. My family knows that if they hear the term “Purple Elvis Clock” or if that picture arises in their minds, then Mom/GiGi is giving them a kiss, letting them know I am fine, that I am thinking of them, and that I am doing my best to help from afar! LOL  Now what do you think of that?  Did you see that one coming? Do you even believe in an afterlife? Communication between?  Think on these things, and let me know. Until we meet again, know that I am always wishing you well.