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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Changes Are Here

Summer was very hot and dry this year, and I wondered what fall would be like.  Here in Wyoming, it is normal for us to have our first snow by September or October.  Since summer was so hot, I had hoped we'd have a longer, warmer fall.  The growing season here is very short, and it would be nice to have extra time with my beloved gardens.   Alas, according to the weatherman, I am probably not going to get my wish.  The next several nights will have temperatures well below freezing, and we may even get some snow.  With all of this comes the end of my gardening season.

In anticipation of the drastic change (yesterday it was 81° F, today it is supposed to be falling to 35° F by 3 p.m.), I cleaned out all of the remaining veggies in my garden.  The squash and cucumbers were finished by last week, but I still had lots of tomatoes, bell peppers and sweet banana peppers producing.  Each plant was stripped of its fruits, then pulled up to clean out the garden.  I am always filled with joy and anticipation when I plant my vegetable garden, and heartbroken at the end of the season when it is time to say goodbye to it.  I always feel the need to apologize to the plants I have worked so hard to nurture now that their lives are coming to an end.  It makes me feel such a loss.  Is that silly?

The final harvest was very plentiful.  I ended up with two large bags of bell peppers, one of sweet banana peppers, and about half a bag of tomatoes.  I am going to freeze many of the peppers so I will have them for soups, stews, casseroles and chili all winter.  I may do the same with some of the tomatoes if we don't get them eaten up in the next few days.

The final harvest. The long red pepper in the sack on the right is a mystery guest. Supposed to be a bell pepper plant, instead produced these extremely hot peppers! No idea what the actual variety is, I just call them "nukes"!

Now that gardening time has passed, it will be time to get my indoor activities started again.  I have many beading and crochet projects that I'd like to make, and I am determined to teach myself to knit this year.  The changing of the seasons has come, and onward I go!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jack Update

A little over a month ago, we adopted Jack, an extremely obese lab/basset mix.  You can read the original blog about Jack right here.

Since we adopted him from out of town, and he was at a pet store, we didn't get his paperwork from the Humane Society right away.  We just got all of his info this past week, and we learned some new things about Jack.  He is 8 years old, was supposedly surrendered by his owners for "landlord problems", and his weight the day after he went into the shelter was 140 pounds.  As for the "landlord problems", I don't know if that's true or not, given the condition he was in when he was brought to the shelter. If a landlord had problems with Jack, it certainly wasn't for things like barking, digging in the yard, or messing inside the house. He has never done any of these things with us, and we've only heard him bark, very briefly, a handful of times since we got him. Anyway, whatever the reasons he was given up for adoption, I'm so glad he's with us now!

Jack gets weighed every other week, and so far he has lost 20 pounds!  He has A LOT of very loose and sagging skin, and still has some weight to lose, but he is looking and feeling so much better.  We are able to see some shape to him now, other than just round, and we can even feel that there are some ribs in there!  When he came home with us, he just sort of slowly lumbered around, only moving around as absolutely necessary, and had a hard time with his right shoulder, like he had arthritis or something.  As he's trimmed down, Jack has become a different dog!  The limp from his sore shoulder is gone.  His personality is coming out more and more, and he's becoming playful.  Rather than the slow lumbering walk, he trots much of the time now, and will do some running and jumping, usually in the yard when he gets to playing.  He loves to play tug-o-war, catch with a tennis ball, and there have been some pretty epic wrestling matches in our living room floor.  When he gets tired of wrestling, his strategy for stopping the game works very well...he simply sits or lays down on his opponent, effectively pinning them!

In the evenings, when it gets close to bedtime, or what Jack thinks should be bedtime, he likes to cuddle.  He will either crawl up onto the couch and onto anyone sitting there, or curl up on the floor with Megan, if she's there watching TV or something.  He really is just a giant teddy bear.

Chad and his 120 pound lap dog. Jack is perfectly comfy and doesn't care that Chad is having a little bit of difficulty breathing. After all, oxygen is way overrated!