Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chad's Idea of Fun

The 'ol Buick has been needing a bit of work done, so Chad decided today was the day!  The car needed new bearings and struts, so he got busy taking things apart.  He's like a kid in a candy store when he gets to do things like this, and considers it a very successful project if he knocks the skin off of at least one knuckle.  So, I was not surprised when he happily showed me a very dirty and bleeding knuckle about an hour into the project!

There were a lot more parts spread around earlier, but he got them put back on before I got the picture taken.  He's actually finishing up here.

I am glad he's mechanically inclined.  It's all like a giant tinker toy to him.  There isn't much he can't fix on our vehicles, and I'm sure it saves us a ton of money, as well as gives him an afternoon of what he considers fun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Drive Safe 'n Sanitary

My family has a tradition that goes back to my great-grandfather Mackey; when leaving on a trip, we say "Drive (or sometimes travel) safe and sanitary!"  This often leads to very interesting and funny discussions about all the ways one could try to be unsanitary while traveling!
This sign is around either
Basin or Greybull, Wyoming

Yesterday was Christmas, and we went upstairs to my mom's (she has a very nice apartment attached to our house), to open gifts and have brunch after.  One of the gifts my mom gave to my husband, Chad, was a book titled The Jumbo Duct Tape Book.  On the cover, it says, "The Gigantic, Exhaustive, Really Thick, Ultra Informative, Mother-of-em-all Book by Jim and Tim, The Duct Tape Guys". It also says, "wacky and tacky".  And it is a very thick book!

Chad was kind of randomly flipping through it and reading the interesting tidbits about duct tape (who knew there were so many!), and he quickly came across this little gem:

Travel Toilet Hygiene

Are you going to trust your hygiene to those flimsy tissue toilet-seat covers? Heck no! Do what we do: before you travel anywhere, cover your entire backside with duct tape! You'll be safe and sanitary for the whole trip.

Hmmm, perfectly logical, of course!  So, there you go.  One more way to travel safe and sanitary!

This sign was for sale in an antique store in Cody, Wyoming


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to one and all!  I pray that you will all be richly blessed today, and in the coming year.

Luke 2 (KJV)

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Thank you, Lord, for sending us your Son, our Savior; a gift none of us deserves, thank you for your love, mercy and grace.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth, born a sweet babe that would grow into the man who gave his life on the cross for MY sins, so that I may live with you in eternity!  A debt I can never repay, a gift I humbly accept.  I love you!  As we celebrate your holy birth, I thank you for your many, many blessings, and for forgiving my sins. 

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for dwelling within me; for being my guide, counselor and comforter.

Come, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

I don't know who to credit for this beautiful picture, but I love it. I found it in Google Images.

Christmas Eve is here, and I am continuing to heal after my surgery.  The recovery has taken longer than I'd anticipated, and I had more pain than I was ready for, but I am feeling so much better without my gallbladder. 

Due to having three incisions right on my waistline, including a fairly large one, I have yet to wear anything other than sweats. I haven't been able to leave the house much. Sitting in the car is still uncomfortable, but I was determined to ride around last night with my husband and daughter to see the Christmas lights.  I was more than ready to get out of the car when we'd finished, but the quick tour was well worth the discomfort I felt. We saw so many beautiful displays!

Today, I am looking forward to doing some preparing for our Christmas Eve plans this evening, and getting things ready for Christmas Morning! Lots of gifts to wrap, and a couple of quick recipes to throw together. We will be having a fairly simple meal tonight, as I am not up to a ton of cooking yet.  My mom will be handling most of it, but I think I will put together a "Watergate Salad" from my Grandma Rose's recipe. 

I don't know if I will feel well enough to attend the Christmas Eve service at church, but I am looking forward to one of my very favorite family traditions; listening to my mother read the story of Jesus' birth from Luke chapter 2, in the King James version.  Normally I read NIV or NLT, but for the Christmas story, I love the poetic KJV, and no other version sounds right.  It wouldn't be Christmas Eve without hearing mom read the story!

I hope you have some wonderful family traditions that you will be enjoying tonight.

May your Christmas Eve be blessed!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So Long! Buh Bye!

Yesterday was surgery day, and now I am minus one gallbladder!  Hopefully after recovery, I will be feeling much better without my stony friend.

Let the adventure begin!

Before I went in, I was told my surgery would take about an hour, and I'd probably spend about another hour in recovery, then I would be able to go home.  I was wheeled into the operating room right at 8 a.m., so imagine my surprise when I woke up in the recovery room at 10:15 a.m.!

Chad was in the room with me, he'd just gotten there after speaking to the doctor, and I asked him why was I so long in surgery.  He said we'd talk about it later. Talk about making my heart jump! I said,  "No, we'll talk about it now!"

I'd had a minor complication.  As the doctor was doing the internal sutures, way down inside, the suture needle broke.  The doctor said he knew there was a problem when only half the needle came back out when he went to complete that stitch.  He had to open up a much larger incision in order to find it and get it out, so instead of four small punctures, I have three small puncturs and one 3" to 4" inch incision; this is what I was told, it's under a dressing I've been ordered not to remove, so I haven't been able to see it for myself (the little ones all look good).  Hunting for the "needle in a haystack"-AKA-my innards, took some time and then the extra large hole had to be closed up, so that's why I was so long in the operating room.

Whew! That's all it was!  I was really worried there for a minute!  Turns out Chad wasn't really trying to soften the blow, he just didn't think I was awake enough to remember anything yet, and he didn't want to have to tell me over and over again.  Turns out, I was plenty awake!

Poor Chad!  During my extended surgery, he was out in the waiting room, really wondering what was going on and why it was taking so long.  After awhile, he started hearing the receptionist calling the other surgical patients on the schedule to tell them to come about 45 minutes later than they were originally told.  Finally, the doctor came out and got Chad, and explained the delay. 

My doctor is a wonderful Christian man, and I know he felt terrible about what happened.  He told Chad he wasn't sure why the needle broke, must have twisted it just right or something, and he was very apologetic about the whole thing.  We could tell he felt badly about it, but I'm not upset in the least.  Of all the possible complications he told me about before my surgery, this was by far preferable to any of those!  Yes, I will have a longer recovery time, and my belly will be more swollen and sore for awhile (I definitely will NOT be doing any sit-ups in the near future, and getting out of bed is not very fun), but all's well that ends well!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Need More Time!

Long time, no blog!  I have not dropped off the face of the earth, I've just been crazy busy!  Christmas is fast approaching, and I am not ready!  I sort of have an early deadline this year to get gifts I'm making finished, especially the ones that need to go in the mail.  They need to go out tomorrow, or they won't make it to their destinations until after Christmas. I found out a little over a week ago that I'd be having surgery this coming Monday, and I don't exactly know how quickly I will recover from that.  I hope it will be fast, but I will just have to wait and see.  I'm not counting on feeling much like working on Christmas gifts while I recover, so trying my best to get everything done by this weekend.

So far, I've gotten quite a lot accomplished, but I have two more things to finish making before the Post Office closes tomorrow.  A couple of other gifts that will be staying in town I can finish over the weekend.  One thing that I am glad to have all done on time is a project Chad and I worked on together this year.  There is an angel tree in town for veterans living at the VA home in Buffalo, and also at the VA hospital in Sheridan.  This is the first time I have heard of this particular angel tree, but I guess they've been doing it for several years.  Chad being an Air Force veteran, and getting most of his medical work done through the VA, makes this something we both jumped at when we heard about it.  It's kind of funny, I think maybe the Spirit was moving, because we both heard about the tree on the same day.  Chad heard about it on the radio, and I saw a small blurb in the newspaper.  So that evening, almost at the same time, we were telling each other about this tree! 

We happily went and plucked two cards off that tree.  I always pray that God will put the card in my hand belonging to the person needing me most in situations like this.  I chose a veteran with quite an extensive list.  Nothing too expensive, mostly things like some clothing, personal items, puzzle books and Christmas treats.  The other one Chad chose had quite a small list, mostly personal items, clothing and towels.  It was so humbling for both of us to see that of all the things they could have asked for, these men chose such simple things that everyone needs on a daily basis, and to think that they don't have these things, breaks my heart a little bit.  We had a wonderful time shopping for both of these men, and then packaging up their gifts and wrapped rather large boxes for them both.  Before the boxes were sealed, I enclosed a Christmas card for each with just our first names.  I hope they feel the love that we enclosed in the packages with their gifts.  I don't know the names of these two men, but God does, and what their needs are.  They are in our prayers.

So, now back to work with me!  I have a lot to get done today!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Breakfast, Please

Our dogs have a morning routine.  When Chad gets up in the morning, he takes them out to do their business.  By the time they come back in, I'm making Chad's lunch, and I get some doggie help.  You know, in case some of those nasty crumbs fall to the floor or something, I have a furry cleanup crew.

After Chad and Megan get out the door for work and school, the dogs all put themselves back to bed.  It's really pretty funny to watch them wander to their favorite napping spots around the house as soon as the door closes.  They go snooze for another couple of hours, then they will start getting up and asking for breakfast.  Jack is usually the first one, then the rest follow.  His method of asking is to come find me wherever I am, sit in front of me, and grunt.  Not whine, not bark, not growl.  Grunt.  He sounds like a disgruntled old man, and it cracks me up every time!

Yesterday, I was at the computer blogging away, when Jack decided it was time for breakfast.  Jack grunted.  I continued to type.  Jack grunted more loudly.  I said, "Just a minute, buddy, I'm almost done."  Jack didn't feel like waiting, so he grunted, then reached up with a paw and tapped my elbow.  By now, Pip has joined in the breakfast request club, and is sitting beside me doing her squeaky version of begging.  Now I'm giggling as I continue to type.  Finally, Jack decided he needed to take drastic action.  With much bumping and thumping, he shoved his way under the computer desk, which was not easy; he's a big guy.  He then managed to wiggle his head in between my knees, looked up at me, and grunted.  Loudly! 

"Helloooooooo! Starving dog here!"

So glad the camera was right next to me on the desk!  After my fit of giggles, I put poor Jack out of his misery and fed the dogs their breakfast.  Funny, after he gets his food, I never hear a thank you...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Hymn With My Father

I always have music running through my mind.  It can be anything from bad 80's music (yes, just because it's bad, that doesn't stop my brain from playing it over and over and over...), to something more recent and harder rock, to hymns.  It's pure torture if it happens to be a country song.  Not a fan of country music, unless it's George Strait, but that's another story.  Sometimes it's just a snippet of a song if that's all I know of it, sometimes it's only a verse or maybe just the chorus, but there is always something running through the soundtrack of my mind.  This morning, it was the hymn "I Surrender All".

Written in 1896, this is a hymn that I have heard and sung many times through the years.  I only know the first verse and chorus by heart, for the rest, I would need a hymnal, or in this case, Google.  Anyway, this was running through my head this morning.  I wasn't singing or even humming out loud, but as I listened to it in my mind for who knows how long, it hit me that my dad was singing harmony!

So, I listened more closely.  Yep, definitely Dad.  Countless times I had been next to him in church as we sang this hymn, and he would always sing the harmony part.  There have been other times since my dad died that I have "heard" him singing something, but for some reason, it really hit me today. Usually it happens in church with a familiar hymn or praise song, and I will stop singing myself and just listen to Dad.  He was a much better singer anyway, and I'd rather hear him than me any day.  Today, I decided to experiment a little.  If I quietly hummed, could I still hear him singing his part?  Yes!  If I upped the volume on my humming could I still hear him?  Yes!  If I sang out loud, could I still hear him?  Yes!  It is no small thing for me to hear him singing harmony, when this is something I cannot do myself.  I've always wanted to be able to harmonize, but it is not a talent I was given.

None of this is really earth-shattering, but when I stop to think about it, it blows my mind!  How awesome is our God as creator, that this soft, squishy stuff, so fragile that it is encased in our skulls for protection, can be so powerful as to allow me to share a hymn with my father over seven years after his death, and I can really hear his voice?

Amazing!  And I am so very thankful for this gift.

I Surrender All

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:  I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my bless├Ęd Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Was That REALLY Thanksgiving? -or- We Are a Bunch of Rebels!

Here is it, Black Friday, and I still can't wrap my head around the fact that yesterday was Thanksgiving.  According to my internal "seasonal clock", it should still be summer.  Alas, it seems my internal clock needs reset!  So, even though we had lots of food, company, and wished each other "Happy Thanksgiving", I guess my brain was still in denial.  Like we were just pretending it was Thanksgiving!  Silly, I know.

I actually had an extremely fun day, even if my brain didn't believe it could actually be time for this holiday.  It was the first time in years, probably since I was a kid, that I was experiencing genuine glee over Thanksgiving!  I was feeling rebellious, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!  You see, after having the traditional Thanksgiving feast each year for my entire life, I experienced what I think is a stroke of genius last week while I was in the grocery store.  Some people think I'm just totally crazy, but I'm going to stick with genius!

Chad was with me as I was shopping in the gluten free section of the store, and had picked up several items, when I happened to spot the gluten free lasagna noodles.  Instantly, I had this thought:  If I were smart, I'd skip all the turkey and paraphernalia that goes with the traditional turkey dinner, and just make lasagna.  I admit, for a split second there, I felt resentment that I couldn't actually do this.  Then, in the next split second, the idea tumbled right out of my mouth before I could stop it.  Instead of the look of horror I'd expected to see on Chad's face (he loves turkey, and especially turkey sandwiches with the leftovers), he had a look of excitement, and said we should do it!  I said, nah, I've already got the turkey, and he reminded me that it was in the freezer, so we could have it another time.  Obviously, Chad is a genius, too!

And so, I had hope that maybe my crazy idea (NO! Stroke of genius!!), could actually happen.  I bought the gluten free lasagna noodles, just in case I'd actually be needing them. 

I asked my mom, my daughter, and our friend that was coming to our house for Thanksgiving what they thought of the idea.  What do you know, they were excited about having Thanksgiving lasagna, too!  So, the rebellion was born!  We would have lasagna, fresh bread (bread machines are the BEST), and pie for dessert.  It was my pleasure to keep at least one part of the tradition alive.  Plus, who doesn't like pie? 

A few days before Thanksgiving, Chad talked to his parents about their plans for the holiday.  He told his dad what we were doing, and he thought that sounded like a good idea.  Since they were not planning to celebrate Thanksgiving until Friday with Chad's sister and her family, we invited them to come on over.  So they made the hour-long drive, and joined our merry band of rebels!

We had lots of food, good conversation, and at the end of the day, I think it was the most relaxed Thanksgiving we've ever had.  There sure was a lot less cooking and stewing, and therefore much less cleanup.  I loved not having a huge cooking mess, and that I didn't have to be a prisoner in the kitchen for hours.  Lasagna requires a pot for the sauce (and when you get it started, it takes care of itself while it simmers), A pot to boil the noodles, and the pan to put it all together.  That's it, easy peasy lemon squeezy!  We let Marie Calendar make 2 of our pies (aren't frozen pies just the best?), Mom and Megan made a couple of pumpkin pies with ready made crust, and I made a small gluten free cherry crisp.  The entire dinner was simple, easy and very yummy!

I think I will have to be a rebel for every holiday meal!  Christmas and New Year's are coming...

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

As my family gathers together to celebrate Thanksgiving today, a hymn keeps running through my thoughts, so I decided to share the words.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart
Words and Music by Henry Smith

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks unto the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich”
Because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free Kindle Book Review: Cicada Song

I love my Kindle!  Even more, I love that there are so many books that I can read for free on it.  Amazon has a great selection of free books for Kindle, and my local library now has books that you can check out for computers and electronic devices, Kindle included.  No trip to the library necessary, and never an overdue fine!  I am in book heaven, people!

Since I get so many of the free books, I thought maybe I'd share the ones I liked from time to time.  Today I'm going to tell you about Cicada Song by Bradford Combs.  You can find it on Amazon.  This story is full of mystery and suspense, with secrets and romance tossed in.  This story has many twists and turns in it, and will keep you guessing about what really happened to the central characters seven years prior.

Set in the small town of Anderson in 2004, the story takes place during Cicada Song, a local week-long festival to celebrate the emergence of the cicadas every 17 years.  Ellis is an author invited to attend the festival, and he gets deeply involved in the mystery that surrounds what happened to four very close friends in 1997, and how it has changed their lives.  They are:  Sara, Jacob, Stan, and Phil.

Sara and Jacob, engaged to be married.  Shortly thereafter, tragedy struck.

Stan, Jacob's best friend, also very close to Sara.

Phil, troubled as a kid, redeemed as a teen, is now the town drunk.

And, Ellis has a few issues of his own.

Going between the current 2004 and what happened in 1997, the story unfolds in such a way that you're never quite sure how it's all going to come together.  I really enjoyed this book, and hope you will too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Veteran's Day Concert

Last night we attended the 2012 Veteran's Day Concert at the high school.  Veterans from the local VFW presented the colors, which is always touching. Several of the local youth choirs and chorales sang, and the high school band played, my daughter, Megan, included.  It was all patriotic music, and nicely done. 

I didn't take any pictures this year, but I did take a short video with my cell phone while the band was playing the US Air Force song, "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder".  I chose that particular song because my husband, Chad, is an Air Force veteran, but the band played the songs of all the branches of service. It's tradition to have the veterans present stand to be recognized as their service branch's song is played, and there were many scattered throughout the audience. 

Turns out the sound from cell phone videos is pretty horrid.  In reality, the band sounded wonderful.  Don't feel bad about not listening if you don't want to; the video will serve as a memory for me, which is what I intended.

After the concert, the colors were retired.  We ended the evening by visiting with a family we know that has three sons currently on active duty in the military.  Two are in the Navy, one is in the Army, and he's about to deploy to the Middle East.  Their youngest son, a high school senior, is interested in the Air Force. So, he and Chad talked for quite awhile about that. If he does enter the Air Force, that will be four out of five sons in this family to be serving our country, all at the same time, representing three branches of service. That is both touching and amazing. 

God bless all of our troops, both past and present.  I am so thankful for their service, and their sacrifices!

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Confessions

My cousins are doing confessions on their blogs today. So, I might as well join them with some of my own.  Maria started it on her blog, Little Things are Big.  Sue, Maria's mom, continued with her own confessions on her blog, Only the Manager.  Click the links and check them out!

Ok, my confessions:

  • Unlike my dear cousins, I am not all that pedi-dexterous, but I produced a child that is very talented in this area.  She has very long toes and can use them almost as well as her fingers; her big toes are as long as thumbs. My confession here is that my daughter's toes gross me out!  She knows this and tortures me on a regular basis with her monkey feet!
  • Like Sue, I rather like red hair. Well, certain shades of red hair. I would try red hair on myself, but Chad insists that I don't.  I do want to stay married, so no experimental red for me!
  • I could happily stay in my jammies until noon every day if I could get away with it.  Beyond noon doesn't work for me, though, because then I just feel like I should be sick or something.
  • I absolutely despise cleaning the bathroom.  I don't know why that is worse than any other household chore, but for me, it is.  Alas, I do a ton of bathroom cleaning, as we have an evening cleaning job three nights per week at a business.  We have divided up the job between us, and my part is to clean the three bathrooms! ACK!
  • I have tried, and tried, and tried over the years to like sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.  But, gag! I can't even stand the smell of these "goodies".  My husband and daughter love pumpkin pie, so for years I still made it for them.  Now, I'm so glad that my mom bakes the pies for all of the holiday meals, so I don't have to get near the stuff!

  • I discovered a couple of years ago that every so often I like a really good, super cheesy...Christian romance novel!  I prefer action/adventure/suspense/mysteries usually.  I discovered that our local library has a TON of the Christian romances for when I'm needing to read something gooey.
  • I love, love, LOVE smarties candy! And red tootsie pops! Yep, red only, please!
  • I would laugh hysterically, tears streaming down my face, hardly able to breathe, nearly to the point of wetting my pants, by watching our dog chase a laser light around the house!  Making her crash into the sofa cushions, beak first, so viciously that we could hear her teeth snapping, was the BEST (cushions were nice and soft, we didn't want her to get hurt)!  And shining the light into the kitchen, so she'd lose traction and scramble like Scooby-Doo on the slick floor!!!  Her mission was to destroy that little red light, and she would tear after it for hours!  Sadly, she's over 17-years-old now, and no longer chases the light, probably because she can't really see it.
  • I like to eavesdrop on my daughter while she sings in the shower.  Our bathroom is directly above hers, and the sound comes through the heat vent perfectly.  What???  Don't glare at my blog like that!  It's the only way I'll EVER hear her sing!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Downtown Disney

My husband, Chad, has been in Santa Ana, California this week for some work training.  Yesterday, after class wrapped up, he went with a group of his fellow trainees to Downtown Disney.  He sent some fun photos via text (aren't cell phones with cameras handy?), and I could tell the Lego store was his favorite.



More Legos!

Wow, I can't imagine how long it took to make those huge displays out of Legos!

I have no idea what's in this building, but it looks fun on the outside!

Hahaha, I love this!

I'm glad he's having some fun along with the training!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank You, Dad

Feeling lost and afraid after an evening of watching election results, I found myself needing my dad.  He was the wisest man I personally have ever known. I needed to do what I have done all of my life when I was upset or worried, or just wanting to vent.  I needed to be able to talk to him, share my fears with him, and seek guidance.  But, my dad left this earth over seven years ago. 

Instinct, I think, led me to his Bible.  It is worn out, falling to pieces, and is full of sticky notes and stuff written in the margins.  I use his Bible often, but tonight I didn't necessarily want to read scripture, as much as I wanted to hear from my dad.  So I went straight for the sticky notes.  I intended to pretty much go through the whole Bible and read all of his notes, and there are A LOT of them, but I didn't get beyond the front cover.  He has a bunch of notes there, all stuck together and piled on top of each other.  But I found exactly what I needed on the bright orange sticky note, right on top of all the others.

I love my dad, and I love my Father God!  They both left this message for me; the exact one I needed to receive at the very moment I received it.

James 4:7-8a

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.

1 John 4:1 & 4

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

I have read these verses before, but they didn't have quite the same meaning for me as they did this time.  Perhaps nobody else will understand just how differently the message hit me, and that's OK, because I totally get what God was telling me through a note my father left in the front cover of his Bible years ago. 

Thank you, Dad; I'm sure you had no idea what all of your personal notes to yourself would mean to me after you were gone, or how much of a help they would be for me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Terrified Hope

Election Day 2012 has finally arrived.  After two years of listening to the campaigning, I think the nation is weary.  I know I am.  So, it is with both hope and fear that I go and place my vote today.  I hope that America as we have known it will not be systematically destroyed, and at the same time I'm terrified that the tide will not turn for our country.  I am not just afraid for this nation as a whole, I am afraid for what the consequences of choices made today could mean for my family.  So I am praying for every voter, praying that God would be with the United States of America, and for protection for the nation, my family, and my friends, no matter how the election turns out.  I have voted many times since I became eligible at the age of 18, but no election has ever been this scary for me before.  I believe everything is on the line this time.  Please, Lord, show Barack Hussein Obama II the door.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Flying Off Into the Sunrise

Hahaha, like the title?  Instead of the cowboy riding off into the sunset, Chad flew off to California this morning, actually long before sunrise.  His flight left at 5:20 a.m., so the first leg of his trip was in the dark.  But while he was awaiting takeoff for the second (of three) leg of the journey, he caught a gorgeous sunrise in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

As I write this, Chad is in the air, on the way to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.  He's going to Santa Ana for some work training, and has been instructed to "travel safe and sanitary".

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Silly Jack!

This is what I found when I got home from church today.  As I cracked up, I somehow managed to get my cell phone out and take a picture without disturbing him.

He was very courteous and let me go get my good camera to snap the next picture. He even posed. Sort of.

Silly Jack!  He usually snoozes on the sofa or love seat.  I guess today he felt like having a new napping experience and squeezed onto the smallest piece of furniture available to him.  Yes, there were sort of loud sucking and popping sounds that accompanied his efforts to get out of the chair...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Squirrels at Dawn

At 7:25 this morning, dawn had broken, but the sun had not yet risen.  The moon and a few stars were still shining brightly in the western sky, and there were three young squirrels playing in the cottonwood tree.  Not yet adults, but not babies either, they were very frisky as they used the bare branches for their jungle gym.  I was lucky to get a picture of one of them; they are quick!

Are you like these young squirrels and eagerly greet the new day full of energy?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1st Sunrise

We had a beautiful and intense sunrise this morning that was quite the welcome for a new month.  I can hardly believe it is November 1st already!  Even with the window blinds closed, there was an orange glow inside the house.  So, I did what any normal person would do...grabbed my camera and went out on the deck in my jammies to snap some pictures!  If any of the neighbors were looking out, surely they were enraptured with the sky and not looking at me anyway, right? Of course the colors are always more impressive than what the camera can capture, but they do still serve as a reminder of how intense the sky was on the beginning of this lovely day.

These first two photos are facing east.

These last two are facing west.  The clouds were almost cotton candy pink.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is here, and Megan, the master pumpkin carver of the family, has been hard at work!
A couple of our stores were selling these "pink" pumpkins to help raise money for breast cancer research. Since it's rather a sickly color for a pumpkin, Megan decided to make it into a sickly jack-o-lantern. Ewww!
Kind of gross, but pretty funny, too!
When Megan went to carve this guy, he was totally rotten inside and full of mold. Rather than try and deal with all of that nasty, he got his "Frankenpunkin" face drawn on.
Har, me hearties! Argh! Where's me sword???
Megan, pumpkin artiste!

Monday, October 29, 2012


Aren't weekends just the best?  I love Saturdays when we don't have to rush to be anywhere.  It's nice to just be able to relax and know that you can do what you want, when you want.  Even though the weekends are usually less hectic, they are still pretty busy.

Saturday, my mom, daughter and I got together at my aunt's house with a bunch of cousins.  First, second, third, I know there are removals in there...anyway, several generations of cousins, ranging in age from three months to, well, one is a grandmother (though it hardly seems possible)!  I think there were ten of us in all, with Steven, a teenager, being the only male.  Poor boy, he was so outnumbered.  It was such a fun gathering! You can read more about the kids' adventures and see pictures on my mom's blog here, and my cousin Sue's blog here.

Later that afternoon, it was unfortunately time to "scuttle the garden".  Not totally destroyed, it only looks that way when we're done.  Most of the plants are perennials, and finished blooming for the season, they need cut back for winter.  They are safely asleep now, and we'll see them again in the spring, but it sure is hard on my heart having to do this necessary maintenance each year.  We left a few things that are still blooming, and when they are done, we'll take care of them also.  It's a large flower garden, so it takes quite a lot of work and time to get it all cleaned up, but we had mild temperatures and sunshine, so that made being outside for a few hours very pleasant.

The late spring summer garden

Getting ready for winter's long sleep

Sunday was truly more of a day of rest.  After church, I made a very simple lunch of soup and biscuits, Megan finished her homework, and the rest of the day was pretty lazy.  Naps happened, which are always a treat.  It's always nice to just have a mellow afternoon and evening before the work-week has to start up again.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Magic of Belle Isle

Are you looking for a great movie to watch at home this weekend?  I can recommend just such a movie!  It is on both Netflix and Amazon Prime, and it's also available to rent from Redbox.

The Magic of Belle Isle is the best movie I've seen in awhile.  Even Chad loved it!  Convinced I was forcing a "chick flick" or "something sappy" on him, he was all prepared to NOT be impressed.  But, hahaha, he was!

Morgan Freeman stars as Monte Wildhorn, a wheelchair-bound, alcoholic, very cranky and cantankerous western novelist with a major years-long case of writer's block.  His only passions are the rather large pity party he's throwing for himself, and his drinking.

I know, I know, you're asking yourself, "What's so great about that???"

I don't want to spoil the movie and give away too many details, but Monte is sort of forced to move into a house that's empty for the summer, except for the owner's dog that Monte is supposed to care for.  The next-door neighbors are a woman and her three young daughters, and one girl in particular sort of attaches herself to Monte, whether he likes it or not.

And that's all I'm going to tell you about the plot.  Trust me, this is a wonderful movie, great for the whole family, and you won't be sorry you watched it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Rarity, Indeed!

How often do you hear your doctor say, "No charge" after an appointment?  I don't think I've ever heard that before!  Yesterday, those were the very words of the orthopedic surgeon that Megan and Chad have been seeing for their running injuries.  Megan has been dealing with a stress fracture, and Chad tore his meniscus, and had surgery to fix it.  Granted, it was Megan's final follow-up (hooray, she's finally healed!!), and we've paid for several other visits, but I never expected the doctor to see her, even briefly, at no charge.  A small thing, but since my family is really piling up the medical bills lately, it was a wonderful surprise that I appreciate greatly!

But wait, there's more!!

Before we left the office, the doctor asked how Chad's doing following his surgery nearly two weeks ago.  I said he was doing well, but that the sutures were bothering him more than anything.  They get caught on stuff, are itchy, and just uncomfortable.  The doctor asked when Chad would be seeing him to get the sutures out, so I told him not until Friday.

Wouldn't you know it, the doctor's office called Chad this morning and asked if he'd like to come in today instead of Friday!  It's not often anymore that you find a doctor that not only listens to what a patient (or patient's wife) says, much less goes out of his way to try and make things better.  I'm sure the doctor's schedule was full today, but I'm also sure Chad will greatly appreciate having those sutures out three days early!

My day has been made.  Thanks, Doc!

Chad and Megan's doctor. The patient is neither Chad, nor Megan. In fact, I have no idea who she is. I admit it, I shamelessly stole this picture from the orthopedic clinic's website! :o)

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Grief is a funny thing.  Not "haha" funny, but hard to understand funny.  Grief is a slithery, slippery thing that is hard to get a hold of, and very hard to control.  Grief is a stalker, waiting for an opportunity to snatch its victim when least expected. 

Grief struck me out of the blue today.  There is a heaviness in my chest and gut.  There is a feeling of anxiety and not being able to catch my breath.  Melancholy is waiting to swallow me up, like some dark shadow swirling toward me like a fog.  I am fighting to keep that fog at bay, to let the light pierce it and chase it back into some dark, dusty, forgotten corner where I don't have to look at it.  But it isn't easy.  It would be far easier to dwell on it, feed it, and let it take this beautiful, warm, sunny day away from me.  I want to beat the grief and its crippling emotions away, and make them leave me alone forever.  I know forever won't happen, but maybe I can shake it off for today, and tomorrow it will have retreated.

I am missing my Grandma Rose something awful.  I can't even tell you why it hit me so hard.  I guess it's that stalker part of grief.  Grandma has been a citizen of Heaven for 22 months now.  Thoughts of her overwhelmed me this morning.  In my mind, I could see her.  Hear her.  Smell her.  Feel her.  I wanted to hug her and tell her how much I love and miss her.  Oh, to be able to pick up the phone and call her.  For years, our conversations always began the same way: "Hello?"  "Hi Grandma!"  "Hello, Annerie!"  I can still hear that just as plain as day.  I hope I never forget.

I have a few of her things that I keep sealed in a rubbermaid container, and some of the items are also in ziploc bags, just so they will not lose the sent of her, and of her home.  Odds and ends like an old pair of her jeans that I rescued out of the trash pile.  A bible that is so old and worn that it is literally falling to pieces.  Some panels of a table runner and place mats, and an old shawl; items she had crocheted that nobody else wanted.  These are my Grandma Rose treasures, and that rubbermaid container is the treasure chest where I will keep them, probably forever, as long as her essence lingers in them.

So, on a day like today, when I miss her so much that it physically hurts, I go to that treasure chest, open it up a crack, and inhale deeply.  It is oddly comforting somehow.  Not as good as being able to hug her and hear her voice, but it is still a connection to her.  Proof that she was really here, on this earth, and that she loved me, too.  In some way, it does help to push that dark fog of grief back a bit, so I can focus more on the happy times with my beloved Grandma Rose, instead of dwelling on her absence. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn Wind

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
                                                                                                                   ~John Ruskin

We have had all of the above in the past 24 hours.  The chilly wind is strong today, causing what seems to be a golden blizzard with all of the leaves letting go of the trees, then a golden river flowing down the street, caught in the wind's relentless current.

Our antique windmill is getting a good workout today.

This is typical of a Wyoming fall.  It's as if mother nature is unsettled and undecided about what to do with the transition of the seasons, so she angrily tosses all of it in at the same time, also giving us wildly swinging temperatures from day to day.

Today, I am happy to stay inside as much as possible and work on projects around the house. There will be some sewing, or crocheting, or maybe both this afternoon.  I think some cocoa is also called for.

I hope you are enjoying your fall day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I have blogged before about my family's weakness when it comes to critters, we just can't say no!  Therefore, we have quite a zoo at our house.  You can click here and here for stories of trips to buy pet food or some other supply, and we ended up bringing a new somebody home!

Flash is the newest somebody.  Yep, we went to buy dog food, and saw a tank full of turtle hatchlings.  There were map turtles and painted turtles, but the painted turtles were the smaller of the two types.  Of course, us being us, we couldn't leave the store without one.  I wanted to get the tiniest baby they had, and Flash was it.  Barely bigger than a quarter, he was soooooo cute!  How anyone could say no to one of the most adorable things on the planet is beyond me!

Hard to believe, but Flash was even smaller than this when we brought him home.

It's kind of difficult to get pictures of Flash.  He doesn't hold still for long!

We brought our baby turtle home, got his new house all set up (an aquarium with heat lamp, UV lamp, floating dock for him to bask on, and a heater for the water), and proceeded to oooh and ahhhh over him.  It's been about three weeks since we got him, but we are still ooh-ing and ahh-ing.  Can't help it; he's still one of the most adorable things on the planet.

He didn't get his name right away, but we finally settled on Flash for a couple of reasons.  He has what looks like a lightning bolt on one side of his face and neck (can you spot it in the picture?), and he swims like a flash!  He's really fast, and if he doesn't want to be caught, he doesn't make it easy.

Flash is growing like crazy, and he's pretty smart.  He knows where the food comes from, and will come to the front of the aquarium and beg when he's hungry.  He eats baby aquatic turtle food that comes in the form of small sticks. Even though they are much smaller than the adult turtle sticks, they are still too big for Flash, so I break them into smaller pieces for him.  Since he is growing so fast and he doesn't have turtle fat pooching out around his little legs, I usually feed him whenever he asks. That's pretty much breakfast, morning snack, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, mid-afternoon snack, supper, dessert, and bedtime snack.  Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration...

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Burning Bush

One of the burning bushes in my back yard. While it certainly is not the burning bush, every fall I think of the story in Exodus, and wonder what I would actually do if God ever started talking to me through a bush in the yard!



Exodus 3 (NIV)

Moses and the Burning Bush

3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Marching Season Concludes

This is the second year my daughter, Megan, has been in her high school marching band.  Marching season begins with camp and practice in August, before school starts, runs through the school's football season, and concludes with the annual State Marching Band Festival.  Bands from all over the state come to perform in competition, and it's so much fun to watch!  These kids work hard each season to learn all new music and marching patterns.  It is a lot of work, and they pour their hearts and souls into the show.  Last night was the Festival for 2012.

Our high school is grades 10-12, with the 9th grade still in jr. high.  I think our town is the only one in Wyoming that has not moved the 9th grade into high school.  Anyway, due to shrinking band participation, last year it was decided that the 9th grade would join the high school band, so there were actually two classes, 9th and 10th, that were new to marching band.  That was a lot of students that needed to be taught from scratch, so the 2011 season was a rocky one with so many inexperienced kids.  They ended up having to drop two out of the three movements in their show and focus on the one they knew best.  This was a blow to them, as other schools were performing multiple movements and had longer shows.  The scoring system consists of I-Superior (above average), II-Excellent (average), and III-Good (needs work), with several other awards called Caption awards for the six different sections of a marching band.  The goal for every band is to receive a I-Superior, and all six Captions.  For several seasons prior to 2011, our band had received the I-Superior rating with several Captions, but due to the problems of the 2011 season, they were given the II-Excellent rating, with no Captions, which boils down to being just okay.  The judges said what the band did perform was good, there just wasn't enough.  In truth, the judges were very kind.

This year, the band really stepped it up.  With three grades of experienced marchers instead just two, it was easier to get the 9th graders trained.  They started practicing earlier in August, with an intensive three day camp, and they have had practice every day after school for a couple of hours.  They have even had practice on days when school was out.  Because of all the hard work, the band has improved so much from last year!  They had complicated music (which is all memorized, they do not march with their music), complicated patterns, they performed three movements, and the show was about twelve minutes long.

Ready to go, Megan is at the xylophone.

The kids were so excited to take their show to Festival this year, and had their eyes on that I-Superior rating.  At the end of their show, they received enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation from the crowd and the other schools competing, which didn't happen for all of the bands.  Sure that they had gotten their Superior, they were on cloud nine and began celebrating.

Megan is back, left. Celebrating a successful show!

But, it was not to be.  This year, they again scored a II-Excellent with no Captions, despite being told they were much better than last year.  Many of the kids were crushed, and tears were shed.  Stunned, a lot of them could only ask why they didn't get the Superior rating.  Chad and I were not able to travel to the competition this year to see it for ourselves, but I've been told by others in attendance that the performance was amazing, but that the judges this year were very tough. 

After all is said and done, I think these kids should be very proud of what they accomplished this year, no matter what score the judges gave them.  I hope they will hold their heads up high and know they did their best; they gave it their all and left everything they had on that field, and they were awesome!  As for Megan, the passion for marching band burns brighter than ever, she is already talking about what's in store for next year, and her focus is on that Superior rating.  Go get 'em, Megan!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Snowy Day

We woke up to a light covering of snow this morning.  As the day goes on, most of it has melted, and what continues to fall from the sky isn't lasting, but it is kind of pretty.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Memorial Garden: Season 1

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?  Here is the Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden through its first growing season.  I have so enjoyed watching the plants fill up this beautiful little garden!  Built with love for Grandma Rose, I hope she was able to see it from Heaven.

July 4th, 2012

July 25, 2012

October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 First Snow