Friday, December 28, 2007

Standing Around in a Stupor

Both of us seem plagued with terminal boredom. Today as I was sitting down with my lunch, R walked over to the cupboard, opened the door, and stood there for a while staring at the contents. I looked over at him and said, “I am going to start eating my lunch.” And his response was, “Well, so am I, as soon as I can figure out why I’m standing here staring at this cupboard.” He never did figure it out and eventually joined me at the table, where I sat giggling periodically; the more I continued to think about it, the funnier it seemed.

Matters deteriorated further a couple of hours later when I went into the kitchen to get some coffee. He came in and opened the refrigerator door and stood there staring at the shelves of food but making no attempt to get anything out. I said, "What are you looking for?", and he said, “I don’t know, I’m just standing around in a stupor.” This struck me as hysterically funny, all out of proportion to the event. He said he has a particularly powerful urge to go get McDonalds to relieve whatever he is feeling inside. We had to have a serious talk with ourselves about not going to McDonalds, and succeeded in talking ourselves out of French fries and hamburgers.

Perhaps this unsettled feeling we have is a reaction to the stress of Christmas earlier in the week, including the big church meal on Sunday and the complicated arrangements to feed our son and the family he has created for himself at the church two days later because our house is just too small to easily seat them all at the able. I did not post anything about Christmas, it was rather stressful and something of an emotional let down.

At any rate, if opening cupboards and refrigerators for no reason is as bad as it gets, I guess we will be OK.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Grandma Schuck

Her grandparents came from Austria and Western Czechoslovakia during that great migration from Europe to America in the mid-1800s. She was born Theresa Rebecca Heim on October 1, 1893, in Florence, Colorado, and she died of a stroke on December 18, 1958, in Gardena, California. She was 65 years old, and I was 9. She left behind a husband, four children, and 9 grandchildren; later, 2 more grandchildren were born.

This picture was taken circa 1911, when she was perhaps 18 years old. I was stunned when I saw it for the first time only a few years ago. It is hard for me to believe that this beautiful girl became my grandmother. My memories of her now—49 years after her death—are very fuzzy. I am not alone, I have been tapping the memory banks of 2 of the older cousins, and they don’t remember much either. Oh, we all remember snippets about her: We all remember going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas and the like, but not really anything very specific, probably because by the time we all developed mentally enough to remember, she was becoming increasingly disabled by a series of strokes and could not interact with us as much.

The only picture I have of her me and her together was taken when I was an infant and she was 56 years old. Her glossy dark hair, which must have been nearly black, is mostly gray, and she is wearing “old lady” shoes that were common in the 1950s —black lace-up shoes with thick 2-inch heels.

My grandfather, Alpha Schuck, owned a soda fountain in Globe, Arizona, and she worked as a chocolate dipper in a candy factory. She was sent into my grandfather’s soda fountain on a sales call, and the rest is history. She divorced her husband, my grandfather’s first wife had left him; they came to Los Angeles, got married, and raised 4 children during the Depression. My mother talked a lot with Grandpa about Theresa in the years after she died. She was “out there,” says my mother, far beyond her time as far as feminism was concerned. She rode a motorcycle. She was very creative. She could look at a dress and design a pattern and make it, and for a while she worked as a seamstress in the costume department of Paramount Studio. She was very intelligent.

She suffered a series of strokes that began shortly after she sent her son, my father, off to WW II in 1942. My mother thinks it was high blood pressure caused by worry over my father’s safety that brought on the initial stroke. She recovered well from that stroke (the treatment prescribed by one doctor was soaking in a bathtub full of ice-cold water), but then more strokes came and took their toll, and she became more and more disabled, and by the time she died, she was mostly confined to bed. My cousin remembers spending the night at their house. Grandpa did the cooking, and she sat by grandma’s bed and ate dinner on a tray. Grandma was mad at President Eisenhower, for some reason.

And a last bit of intrigue: My brother did some research on the Internet and learned that many Jews with the name of Heim were in concentration camps during WW II. Were her grandparents Jews who fled Europe to escape anti-Semitism? Well, it is an interesting think about, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Her genes are now spread among 11 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and a handful of great great grandchildren.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Wheelbarrow

It was a dark and stormy night, and by the time the sky had lightened to a dull gray in the morning, our driveway had become a river. Our land is part of the watershed for the Eleven-Point River System, and the lay of the land and way the highway had been constructed conspired to direct a huge flow of water across our property whenever the rain was heavy. And if it was too heavy, the water would overflow the channel that had been constructed for it and take a short cut down the driveway, where it would meet up with the wet weather spring at the bend, which by that time had usually overflowed its banks as well. Then the water would flow out through the thicket and under the highway and on its way through town, and eventually, into the river a couple of miles south of here. Not quite as dramatic as the dripping snow in the mountains turning into the Mississippi, but dramatic enough when it is your driveway that becomes the river. This drainage pattern was altered when the highway was widened about 10 years ago, which was one good thing to come of the construction, so now there is no more flooding down the entire driveway, although the wet weather spring frequently leaps its banks and makes a large pool at the bend.

At any rate, on this particular morning in mid-December, our friend had dropped off his stepdaughter, who was our son’s age and rode the afternoon bus with him to kindergarten. He and his wife and R were going to a car auction to get us a second car. They didn’t think to leave the keys to his car with me. So, there I was with two children in kindergarten and no way to get them up to the highway to ride the bus. Or so I thought. But then the little Technicolor movie in my mind started playing the scene from my childhood where my dad loaded us kids in the wheelbarrow and careened around the yard with us. What fun that was! I got on the rubber knee boots, loaded the kids in the wheelbarrow, and away we went through the flood and up to the highway. They thought it was a great adventure (especially when I almost tipped them into the water), and lots of fun; and it was!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Long Sojourn of "Travels With Charley"

When John Steinbeck was 58 years old – the age I am right now – he took delivery of a pick-up truck with a custom-designed camper resting on the back, invited his poodle Charlie (a "big poodle", he hurries to point out -- not one of those little ones), to sit in the passenger seat, and the two of them set of on a road trip to see America. I know this because of my Aunt Vera. She is on my mind at the moment: a big birthday party was held on December 2 in Yuba City to celebrate her 80th.

In the summer of 1962, the Yuba City relatives, my Aunts Vera and Theresa and their respective husbands, Bud and Bob, decided to travel together with the kids to Seattle to see the World Fair. And my Aunt Vera was gracious enough to invite me to go with them. Her oldest daughter is just a bit older than I am, and Vera knew we would have a good time. I
was 13 years old. I had never gone away from my family like that (except to church camp for a week), and I got to fly on an airplane for the first time. The trip was wonderful. Among the things I remember: Uncle Bud was a bit annoyed with me because I fell asleep with gum in my mouth and gum ended up on the seat of the car. The campground outside of Seattle where we stayed was in the rain forest and it was mysterious and I blundered into stinging nettles. We took a ferry ride to Vancouver, and the tree-covered islands off the coast were like emerald jewels, porpoise appeared off the side of the ferry, and I got a little seasick.

As I was getting ready to leave to go back to Los Angeles, Aunt Vera pulled Travels With Charley from the shelf and gave it to me to read. And read it I did. And I kept the book for 50 years. Many books came and went, but not that one -- after all, it did belong to my Aunt Vera and it wasn’t mine to give away or sell at the used bookstore. It moved with me to Orange when I got married, and it moved with me to Oregon, and it moved with me when we took our own road trip East to set up housekeeping in Missouri.

In 2002, Aunt Vera and Uncle Bud stopped here during a visit further East. I finally remembered to give the book back to her, I think she was a little surprised to see it again, and it made the return trip to California. But just the other day, I was at the used bookstore and there was a copy of Travels With Charlie, for a quarter. I don’t know where this book has been, but the trip appears to have been a hard one. It has found a home now. Anyway, happy birthday, Aunt Vera.

Friday, November 23, 2007

We’re Gathered Together...

Thanksgiving is a bit of a struggle for me because I do miss my extended family and it is not practical for us to try to plan a vacation at the end of November to go back to California. Unfortunately, somehow along the line, we failed to create our own “family tradition” for the holiday after we moved here. For many years we spent Thanksgiving with a lovely family we know, and their extended family, and that became the “tradition.” But then their situation changed, and they began to trade off having their family Thanksgiving amongst themselves, and that left us out. And there we were struggling to figure out what to do to make the day special for us, and we could never quite do it. At that point, the “pitch-in” Thanksgiving meal with our church family became more and more important. And also the source of much laughter between R and myself, and I admit sometimes a bit of irritation, because they won’t eat anything I make. Well, there have been a few exceptions: once I made a chocolate-pumpkin swirl cheesecake that looked so nasty I figured I’d be bringing most of it home, which wouldn’t have bothered me any because it tasted very good indeed. Much to my surprise, someone at the meal did actually take a slice and raved about it and then everybody had to try it there wasn’t a crumb left to bring home. Another time, and I have probably written about this already, we had a “ soups and stews” meal after Christmas caroling. I made Szchewan carrot soup, which someone mistook for nacho cheese sauce and poured it all over his tortilla chips. And they ate the lasagna I made several months ago. Cleaned the pan right down to the last drop of meat sauce. At the meal we had for Thanksgiving this year, there was nothing left of the spiral ham I brought, but they did not eat the lime gelatin tropical fruit salad with marshmallows, cream cheese, and non-dairy topping, or the baby carrots that I marinated in sweetened vinegar and ginger, or the unusual pasta dish (pecans, dried cranberries, onions, celery, and basil), or the cranberry dessert. R says I try too hard – they’re just “meat and potatoes” sort of people. Oh well, I just packed it all back up and brought it home and we enjoyed it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Unintended consequences...

One thing that is so upsetting about our son and his companion is their inability to evaluate the decisions they make in terms of consequences down the road. They have gotten themselves into a couple of financial messes by doing some really dumb things. Maybe we’re just offended that they don’t ask our advice first so we can point out the pitfalls that seem so obvious. Naturally, we are not prophets and can’t be expected to discern the future, but in many cases it isn’t too hard to figure out what is likely to happen. Which is why the mess I created for myself was all the more exasperating: I realized I had plowed ahead to do something without thinking it through. We eat a lot of flax seed because it has a lot of health benefits. Flax seed needs to be ground up, otherwise all the health benefits in those smooth, shiny brown seeds pass through without being used. It didn’t take us too long to find out that ground flax turns mucilaginous—a fancy word for “thick gluey slime”—when it is mixed with liquid. So, one needs to eat it really fast if it is stirred into something runny, otherwise the texture is just plain nasty. The last time I stirred flax into my oatmeal was the last time I will ever stir flax into my oatmeal. Because we eat a lot of flax seed, we buy it in bulk from the natural food store. I grind it myself in a coffee grinder and then put in the freezer. Most of the bulk food we buy eventually grows pantry moths or weevils, or both, if it isn’t kept frozen until we use it. I deal with these insects by washing them out of the grains (I keep flour frozen). Well, pantry moths began developing in the large glass container filled with about 2 pounds worth of seed, and I just charged ahead and dumped it all into a large bowl and began washing out the clumped flax seed and worms. I wasn’t thinking about the consequences of putting water to flax seed, but it didn’t take long for the consequences to become obvious. Almost instantly the flax seed became slimy. Seriously slimy. I immediately stopped and spread it out to dry on a cookie sheet, but the glue didn’t go away. It was just an awful mess. I tried to salvage it – I broke up the chunks of stuck-together seeds and froze them and then tried grinding them, but that didn’t work. It took me awhile to finally throw it all away. Ah well, another life lesson.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Here Today... Gone Tomorrow (aka Fall Happens)

The sugar maple outside R’s office window – and I can also see it from the kitchen window is gorgeous when it gets all dressed up for Fall. It seems to gleam in the bright sunshine. The kitchen and office are both at the equivalent height of the second story, so we get to look at the middle of tree. It was just.... well, beautiful, for several days and then.... and then... there was a hard freeze and a brisk wind, and overnight every leaf was on the ground. And now it is a bare naked. Oh well, we’ll enjoy it again when the cycle comes ‘round again in about a year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Would you work for

Because I work from home, I have not met any of the issue managers from publishers on the East Coast who send me manuscripts to work on. We exchange lively e-mails, but we never see each other face to face and we don't even talk on the phone. This is one of my “bosses,” and he is a lot of fun to work for. He and his wife dressed up to take their little girl out for trick-or-treating, and I think the fact that he sent this picture shows what a good sense of humor he has about himself and his capacity for fun. You go... guy... girl. Whatever, just don’t change your day job. I don’t think you’ll make it as a drag queen.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where’s Waldo?

I think my niece deserves a “first prize” for creativity for coming up with this idea for a costume for a “Halloween night” at Disneyland. Word has it that the people there who saw her loved it and had a great time screaming “I found Waldo!” when they saw her. Having spent literally hours msyelf looking for Waldo in the pages of The Great Waldo Search, which her mother gave me once upon a time, I think I probably would have been screaming right along with them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hide in Plain Sight

When they made our driveway, they basically cut through a swell in the ground, so there “mountain” on one side, and “valley” on the other. The “valley” side is lined with lots of brush, but just as one reaches the frontage road, there is a break in the brush that offers a clear view into the thicket. At this one spot lie the remains of an old tree, and one of its branches sort of arcs up into the air. A chipmunk frequently sits on this branch, and so when we pass that spot as we stroll down the driveway on our daily walk, we always look down there to see if the chipmunk is sitting on the rotting branch. Only in recent weeks in addition to occasionally seeing the chipmunk, this rabbit has been hunkered down amongst the dead leaves and bark. We have seen it quite a few times, always in the same spot. The first time R saw it he said it looked like it was sitting on a nest. Which of course prompted a comment about “the Easter bunny” sitting on eggs. Finally I made him take the camera one day to get a picture of it. From this picture, the rabbit doesn’t look too well hidden – I mean it’s clear as a bell that it’s sitting there (and yes, the green plant to the left that is starting to turn color for fall is our old friend poison ivy). Actually though, the rabbit blends in very well with the surroundings, and if you aren’t paying attention, your eye tends to slide right by it without seeing it. In fact, R had some trouble finding the rabbit in the viewfinder, and of the 5 shots he took of it before it finally had enough and bolted, only one of the pictures actually has the entire rabbit in it. I think ability of this rabbit to “hide in plain sight” has some interesting implications for those of us who profess to be Christians. How well do we blend into our surroundings? How visible are we, anyway? The rabbit is well camouflaged as a defense against predators. Are we hiding? If so, who from.... and, more important, why?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Where ‘ya Headed... or, Why’d the Worm Cross the Road?

Beats the heck out us! The tomato hornworm, one of the most hated of the garden pests, comes from one of the most interesting moths – the sphinx moth or hummingbird moth. This fairly large moth is out during the daytime and hovers in front of flowers just like a hummingbird (hence its name); and, just like the hummingbird, it has a long tongue that it sticks down the flower to suck the nectar. So a week ago while we were on our noon walk, we came across a tomato hornworm crawling down the middle of the road, “miles” away from the nearest tomato plant. True, they do eat other plants, such as nightshade and jimson weed, which do grow in the area, but again, not anywhere even remotely close to the road (the state keeps the right-of-way fairly well mowed down). So where did it come from? I took off my hat and scooped it up and put in on the grass by the church yard. And the next day on our noon walk on the way out, there was another tomato hornworm crawling down the middle of the road. Was this the same one that I had rescued the day before? R says “Leave it alone.” So I did, and when we were on the homeward leg of the journey, there it was, still crawling on the road – it must have been going in circles or something. So I gathered it up and put it on the side of the road. It was not there the next day, but over the next week we saw a virtual army of other various types of caterpillars and wormy things crawling on the road. And then yesterday, at least a week after the first incident, there was yet again another tomato hornworm crawling down the middle of the road. I asked Richard if could I bring it back to the house, put it in a jar and feed it some tomato leaves to see what would happen. He did not equivocate: “Absolutely not. We are NOT breeding tomato hornworms!” Ok, ok. But still, the minor mystery remains. Walking on a treadmill instead of on the road accomplishes the same thing, but it sure is a lot less interesting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Grandpa Dittemore

This is Walter Dittemore, the grandpa I never got to meet. Aside from his wedding picture, this is the only picture I have of him. I love it. I think maybe he had just taken a bath and had gotten dressed, but forgot to put his shoes on, and sat down with his little girl (my mother). But on this day, October 9 in 1936, just before she was 10 years old, their lives changed forever. It happened to be a Friday, and I suspect the day started out much like any other day on their small ranch near Elbert, Colorado. At some point during the day, Walter got his gun, saddled the horse, and headed off across the fields. Maybe he was going to shoot a rabbit for dinner, or maybe a coyote that was eating the chicken. Eventually, the horse came back, but Walter didn’t. They found him later on the ground, dead. They think the horse probably stumbled, the gun went off, and the bullet hit Walter. That day changed my mother’s life forever. Knowing how much I love my own father, I can’t even image the devastating loss that must have been for her, not to mention her mother and her brother. If I had the chance to go back in time and tweak things just a bit so that he had not died, would I do it? There’s a question. I guess I wouldn’t. Because his death was the beginning of a chain of events that led the little family to California, where my mother eventually met my dad. So, going back to fix things for her would “undo” me, and my brothers and sister and heaven only knows where else those ripples would have gone. As terrible as the past sometimes is, I guess it is a good thing that we can’t “fix” it. I hope we will recognize our loved ones in Heaven. I want to thank this man with the kind face for loving my mother and being a good father to her, so that she was able to choose a good man for her own husband, who eventually became my father.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Location, location, location

Although Fall is officially here, it is still very much summer in the Ozarks. The last flowers of summer are putting on a dazzling display, mostly yellow but also some purple asters and white flowers as well. It’s still very noisy: The crickets, grasshoppers, and the other singing insects are still serenading us throughout the day and night; I even heard a cicada yesterday, this late in the year. And the attraction to moths of the light streaming from the bedroom window at night has also attracted a large, pale brown spider to build its web right in front of the bedroom window just about every night. It is a perfect spot, and the spider has been quite successful. As the phrase goes, “location is everything.” R went out on the deck last night to look at it while I was in the shower and pretty soon he was in the bathroom with me washing his hands. His response when I stuck my head around the shower curtain: “I put my hand on the door when I went out and touched a slug” (been there, done that; slug slime is very hard to wash off, take my word for it). The other night we were outside at 10 p.m. looking at two of the same type of spider. They were building webs in front of house. At night, I have to bring in the lard mixture I feed the birds because the raccoons get it and I noticed them when I went out. One was right in front of the maple tree where I hang the lard mixture and the other was right across the driveway near the walnut tree. R remarked that I would have an obstacle course in the morning, but I reminded him that it wasn’t likely to happen – these spiders only build at night, and then they take the web down while it is still dark out, so that by morning there is nothing to show that a spider was ever there. Soon this amusement will be gone: the first frost isn’t far off. The moths will quit flying to the light, and whatever happens to the spiders in the winter will happen, and the crickets will quit singing, and the silence of winter will settle over the land.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One for the road...

This phrase has taken on a whole new meaning for us as we note the trash littering the quarter-mile of frontage road between the “T” with the county road and the state secondary road. The quarter-mile between our house and the “T” is, of course, litter-free because other than us, no one else uses it except the church, and we are not pigs (well, at least when it comes to public land). But even sadder is the collection of empty half-pint plastic whiskey bottles along that section of the road, all of them are the same cheap Canadian brand. I know of one confirmed alcoholic living in the area, but he is retired, and the bottles he threw out were cherry-flavored vodka. This is someone else, a whiskey drinker, who can’t be bothered to carry the empty bottle the short distance to his house and throw it away there. We suspect someone stops off at the package store after work, buys a small bottle, chugs it down on the way home, and tosses it out the window as he turns onto the frontage road. About 15 of them were littering the road at last count. There were many more than that, but they deteriorate in the sun and then when the tractor that pulls the mower comes by it crushes them. New beer cans appear every day, along with sacks from the McDonald’s that is quarter-mile further down the road. We pick up the beer cans for recycling, but it is just very depressing to see the litter. The crews that go along the highway to pick up litter, courtesy of the county jail, don’t provide that service for the frontage roads

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yes... and Yes...

are the answers to the two pertinent questions, now that the time has come....

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Happy 64th birthday sweetie. I love you.

Your hunny

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stop and smell the....

I’ll pass, thanks. This blossom opened yesterday (it's about 12 inches across), and within an hour or so, it was covered in flies who were drawn to its odor. A rose it ain’t. Sometimes I wonder if my life isn’t just a bit dull that I would get so excited about a stinky flower, but it has been many years since this plant has bloomed. I guess the almost unbearable hot weather we have been having is just what it likes, which isn’t surprising seeing that these starfish carrion plants are native to South Africa. I posted another picture of this plant in bloom in February. That picture was taken some 17 years ago, and I had already had the plant for some years before that photo was taken. That the plant has managed to survive ME for more at least 20 years is quite remarkable, I think.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I’ve looked at clouds...

Searching the clouds for interesting shapes is one of my favorite things to do. R is not interested in what I see – he never looks when I point out a particular cloud with a shape that resembles a familiar object, animal, or a person’s profile. Today as we emerged from the driveway onto the frontage road to get the mail, I note many interesting cloud formations.

Me: “Oh, look! Look at the clouds! Oh, oh, oh! I see a baboon!”

I had been working on a manuscript about xenotransplantation involving baboons. It could just as easily have been a bear. He turns and looks at me.

R: “So do I.”

Monday, August 06, 2007

...And other animals

The wonderful English actress (Imelda Staunton) who did such an excellent job as the evil Dolores Umbridge in the film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was just as excellent as the delightful mother in “My Family and Other Animals” that was presented on Masterpiece Theater on PBS. I remember it well when Senator John McCain, during hearings on cutting funding proclaimed that we didn’t need PBS any more because comparable quality programming was available on A&E and Bravo. That may have been true then, but it isn’t now; that’s for sure (I say, that’s for sure). At this point, our family has invited only one animal to share the indoors with us, the Idiot Kitty. But there always seem to be some uninvited animals in the house. Yesterday morning when R was getting ready for church, he stuck his foot in the shoe he was going to wear and promptly pulled it out again. The shoe was full of sunflower seeds. In the week since last Sunday, some “thing” had been very busy at night while we are asleep blazing a trail from the bucket of sunflower seeds by the back door to the spot where the shoes are kept. Now, where is that Idiot Kitty when we need her?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


What is going on in our garage reminds me a lot of the situation that occurs when things are sunk the ocean, whether accidently or on purpose, such as off the coast of Florida: the object becomes new home for fish and other sea creatures and attracts them to the area. If you build it (or sink it), they will come. In our case, several guests have taken up housekeeping in the garage we built several years ago. Two varieties of bird have nested in the garage, the Phoebe and the Carolina wren. This year, in fact, the wrens built two nests. And there’s the bat. I guess it doesn’t actually live at the top of the stairwell leading from the garage to the second story, but he or she does spend several days a week hanging there – in fact, it is hanging there as I write this. I do wonder a lot about the bat. Why doesn’t it live with a colony with other bats in a cave somewhere? Where does the bat go when it isn’t hanging in our stairwell? And this summer, the organ pipe mud dauber wasps decided to set up housekeeping on the garage wall by the stairwell. Unlike some of the other varieties of wasp that live here, these are very calm and docile, not at all like the yellow jacket or the paper wasp, both of which are very aggressive -- get anywhere near a paper wasp nest and one is likely to get stung. The mud dauber wasps are not aggressive at all. This is fortunate, because we walk within a foot of their tubes very time we go up the stairs and that is why their tubes are still there and this picture was taken. They lay their egg in the tube and then stuff a paralyzed spider in their so the grub has something to eat (I do feel a little sorry for the spiders). When they get inside the tube the sound of their buzzing is amplified and very loud. A free concert.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

One More Thing Has Passed Away

After 26+ years living here, we got our first electric bill yesterday. And that’s because on this first day of the month, unlike on the first day of the month since June 1, 1981, I did not have to go to the power pole to read the electric meter. I did not write the figures down in the payment book, subtract the last month’s reading, look up the amount owed on the little chart, and send off the payment. It is an unsettling feeling. I guess I should be glad that is one less thing to worry about, but it has been such a habit for all these years. I guess progress is good. The electric co-op thinks the new fancy electronic electric meters they installed will improve the process. It seems to me it is going to cost them a lot more money having to mail all the bills, but what do I know?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The Bible advises lazy people to check out the ant as an example of industriousness for good reason, because they certainly are. As we were walking back to the house from getting the mail the other day, I thought I saw a bumpy caterpillar making its way across the hot asphalt road. I am fond of bumpy caterpillars because they often turn into beautiful butterflies, and it occurred to me that the caterpillar was going to burn up before it made it across the road because it was so hot. I decided to help it along. Only as I got closer, I saw that it wasn’t a caterpillar at all. It was a very large white grub being hauled along by 5 red ants that were very tiny in comparison. None of the ants could have moved the grub by itself, but together they could maneuver the prize across what for them was a huge distance to share it with the rest of the colony. I did not offer to help the ants with their grub. After struggling with some higher math, my brilliant husband helped me figure out that just moving across the road for them would be the equivalent of us carrying something slightly more than a half mile, and I have no idea how far away from the road they were when they found the grub or how far on the other side their nest was. And not too long after that thought-provoking scene, I stood on the porch getting ready to hang clothes on the line and stuck my hand into the burlap bag where I keep my clothespins. In the past I’ve encountered a wren’s nest in the clothespin bag, but I was not prepared for what I did find: a huge colony of ants had decided to make their home amongst the clothespins. So along with the handful of clothespins came hundreds of ants and ant eggs and in seconds they were swarming up my arm. It was horrible. I decided to use the clothes dryer because I didn’t have time then to deal with them. But I did later.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

From Bad to Worse (or What Was I Thinking?)

I consider myself fortunate that I do not suffer from the allergies that plague many people I know. I am not allergic to pollen, cats or dogs, food, perfume, certain laundry detergent, or fabrics (well, wool is sort itchy), and I am not even allergic to poison ivy. However, I do have one minor problem: except for my hands and face, my skin does develop an allergic reaction to the adhesives that are found in medical tape and bandaids. When I give blood they have to use “horse wrap” to keep the gauze in place, and I’ve had trouble with wound dressings after surgical procedures. Thus, I obviously was not thinking -- my mind must have been elsewhere -- as I stood there decorating myself with bits of duct tape and enlisting R’s help in covering the bites on my back that that I couldn’t reach. I have found out that hard way that there is one more thing to put on the list. Now, 24 hours later, I have large red welts to go along with the itchy bites. Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The “Tin Woman”

Well I am most miserable at the moment, having gotten into chiggers when I weeded the flower bed at the church Sunday night. I never actually saw the chiggers, but I am certainly suffering with them now. I have at least 30 bites scattered over my body, probably more. Most are on my back, some on my belly (even in my belly button) and around the waistband, arms, and shoulders. Last night I stuck bits of duct tape on all the most obvious ones to keep me from scratching at them. I look like I’m morphing into the Tin Woman. They are supposed to stop itching in a few days. I hope so.

Monday, June 04, 2007

How I spent my weekend....

Not sleeping much because the racoons were on the porch off the bedroom making noise, knocking plants over, breaking the foot off my angel statute, climbing up onto the roof and galloping around...

Once again replanting the pansies in the whiskey barrel because the racoons keep digging them up...

Rewashing all of the flatware and dishtowels in the kitchen drawers beause R found mouse turds in the bottom of the cofee carafe (which we keep in the bottom drawer of the cabinet).

Mopping the kitchen floor after one or the other of us spilled....
--a half-gallon of pickled cucumbers (the lid came off as I was picking up the container) (me)
--a can of beets (me)
--a container of barbeqcue sauce (him)
--a bag of frozen cranberries which rolled everywhere (me), and
--Salad dressing (this was the piece de resistance). R mixed up the dressing in which he combines a fat-free version with a low-cal version and a couple of other things to get a better-tasting low-calorie version and forgot to tighten the lid, and as he began shaking the bottle to mix it the lid flew off and Italian dressing went everywhere.

Vaccuming the floor twice to pick up shards of glass from a broken half-gallon jar and then later, a glass custard dish.

As this Monday morning dawns crsip and clear and beautiful, I suspect I have the cleanest floor in town, and I'm wondering how much fun I'm going to have TODAY...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Anger Management

I am not prone to anger, but when I do get angry, it tends to be an “outburst” – and even then it is usually low-key. I get it over it very quickly, and then I go on my merry way. Well, a few days ago I found myself in a situation where a very clever essay by Jamie Buckingham, “Things That Go Squish In the Night,” immediately came to mind. This piece is in his book The Last Word, a collection of columns he wrote for a newspaper and other publications.

He relates an incident where he shut off a valve that drained water from his heating system so he could divert it to a spigot and wash the car earlier in the day. Evening has come, it is getting late. He has told his daughter to hurry up and take her shower and has gone to bed. Just as he is falling asleep, he hears a sound and realizes he has failed to reopen the valve. Now water is now flooding the back yard instead of draining into the pond. It is pitch dark outside, he grabs his flashlight, sloshes through the water to the well house, shuts off the water, and then heads off through the backyard to the cement-lined hole where the diverter valve is located. He sticks his hand down there and touches something slimy, which he can’t see in the dark. He leaps up, forgetting that he is kneeling under a barbed wire fence.

“The result was disastrous. When I became a Christian, I lost most of my old vocabulary. This robs me of the necessary safety valve to handle such emergencies. So, instead of cursing, I threw my flashlight, which landed in the pond, leaving me in total darkness. Ripping myself away from the barbed wire, I staggered backwards away from the fence. I stepped in doggie-do. Hopping around in the tall grass, I ran a thorny briar between my big toe and the toe right next door... That which I lost I suddenly found–and a torrent of expletives issued forth...”

Jamie Buckingham is now late, having died in 1992, so I guess we will have to wait until eternity to enjoy any more of his witty writing. At any rate, what happened to me wasn’t quite as dramatic, but the effect was much the same.

Earlier in the spring, R fixed up a half whiskey barrel planter for me at the side of the porch so I could plant a clematis and have it climb the trellis on the porch. The local greenhouse where I would have found a clematis shut down, and not being able to find one at Wally World, I planted pansies, violas, and johnny jump-ups around the rim and left a spot for the clematis, should one turn up. The flowers survived the hard freeze we had in April and were thriving and just beautiful.

Two weeks ago, I found a beautiful burgundy passionflower fine at a street fair and planted that in the spot where the clematis would have gone. And I was happy. I have never been very successful at growing flowers.

Then a few days ago, I returned from aerobics and started up the back steps, and glanced down to look at my beautiful pansies and saw that they were no longer beautiful. Some “thing” had gotten in the barrel and tore it up. All the plants on one side had been pulled up, and the plants on the other had been covered in dirt.

I was enraged. To echo Buckingham, “that which I lost I suddenly found.” We too are out in the country so nobody was around to hear me, except R. Fortuntely, what ever got in their simply uprooted the plants and did not destroyed them, so I quickly replanted them all, uncovered the ones that were covered up, and gave them a good watering. And they seem to have bounced back.

Buckingham closes his essay with the thought “...God is more interested in what we become along the way than whether we arrive. I am not sure what I became. But one thing is certain, I have not yet arrived.”

Me either.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I feel the earth move under my feet...

Well no, not exactly (I mean, I no longer live in California where this sort of thing happens a lot), but this film of the rotating earth is very cool. I skimmed through a very bizarre book once written by a group who believe that the earth stands still (based on a few passages from the Bible) and the entire universe (not just the sun the solar system) revolves around us.

Actually, my world was shaken just a bit on Friday--in a good way--when our son and his fiance came to the house with a Mother's Day card and a cactus. I was shocked almost speechless: this is one of the first times I can remember that he has responded to Mother's Day since he left home. This is probably because of the influence of his fiance, who is a mother herself.

I regret that I couldn't be there for my own mother's celebration. She is worthy of every accolade, whether trite or profound, that people have penned over the years in honor of their mothers. All one would have to do is examine the response of her four children in honor of her to understand what she means to all of us -- and not just remembering her on this one partiuclar day, but day-by-day.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lookin’ out my back door...

Such a lovely sight to see her looking back at us framed by the brush, and then to see her moving gracefully through the clearing to grab a bite to eat before moving off into the overgrowth. Perhaps as summer drifts into fall there will be a spotted fawn by her side. They will come expecting to eat apples from the old apple tree but, alas, there probably won’t be any this year. The hard freeze we had this spring has likely destroyed most of the fruit crop in the area. Deer have a habit of helping themselves to the plants people have set out in their gardens and flower beds (I recall my aunt compaining about the deer eating her rosebushes). We don’t have too much growing here aside from native plants to interest the deer so they don’t bother us too much. I remember hearing about one local gardener who became so irate at the deer eating his strawberries that he went on a shooting rampage and got into trouble with conservation. As much as we enjoy eating vension, they are in no danger from us shooting them from our back porch, except perhaps with a camera.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gettin’ too old for this...

Last night during the intermission at the Wailin’ Jennys concert we were looking around at the audience and commenting on the demographics. “Lots of gray hair,” he says. I sort of looked at him and grinned and said “well honey, that sort of includes us, doncha think?” And he laughed, and said “Yes, but I don’t feel old inside.” And so we discussed the fact that despite what our appearance in the mirror tells us, we both feel very young at heart. But that was last night; this morning is a different story. It was approaching midnight by the time we arrived back home, and somewhat later than that by the time we got showers organized, teeth brushed, and the “after midnight” snack consumed, and teeth brushed AGAIN before we finally fell into bed. And we both felt purely awful stumbling out of bed after less than 5 hours of sleep. “I’m gettin’ too old for this” were the first words out of his mouth this morning.

At any rate, the Wailin’ Jennys mostly confirmed what was said about them in the program notes. There wasn't too much hyperbole, except perhaps, for “Spurred onward by a growing fan base that swoons at their intuitive harmonies...” Well, I mean I didn’t notice that anybody was actually swooning during the concert, but at one point I almost cried at the beauty of their voices. At the very end, when they joined hands and moved away from the microphones and stood at the edge of the stage and sang an exquisite acapella Irish farewell song, there was dead silence the hall. Not a rustle, a cough, or a stir was heard. It was amazing. There is a video of them at U-tube, if you'd care to check it out

Friday, April 20, 2007


I have a hankerin' for some grits. A big glop of them on the plate next to the eggs, and a golden pool of butter melting in a well on the top. . . and a light dusting of salt and pepper; or maybe, grits that have been packed into a meat loaf pan and chilled, and then sliced and fried until it is crispy golden, served with syrup on top. . .(So, you may be thinking to yourself, why don't you just shut up about it and go get yourself some grits? And my response: Are you kidding? In this town?) One would think that being this close to the South -- I mean Arkansas is about 45 miles away-- the markets would carry grits. Yes, one might think that, but one would be wrong. I know for sure that the downtown market doesn't have grits. I don't know about uptown market, but I'll be cruising down there soon to find out... if don't forget. That happening a lot too these days: the Senior Moments are coming fast and furious. A friend's mom, who is only 61, was recently diagnosed Alzheimer disease. That's only 4 years older than me that's very scary.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Close Encounter?

This puzzling sight met our eyes when we looked out the window overlooking the side yard this morning. Did aliens visit us in the night and attempt a crop circle before giving up? Was there some attempted “rolling in the hay” going on in the wee hours of the morning? Did deer do this? A dog? Enquiring minds want to know, but I doubt we will ever find out.

Monday, April 09, 2007

April, Come She Will....

All of us are just a little bit stunned at what nearly a week of very cold temperatures (down into the teens) have done to the newly budded trees and flowers and tomatoes.... and just about everything. Oh yeah, the sugar snap peas we planted did survive. I doubt there will be any local peaches or apples or pears this summer. My heart goes out to Frank, the apple man, who comes to Farmer’s Market loaded with the most wonderful varieties of fruit -- apples, pears, peaches, nectarines; and the folks down the road who own the peach orchard as well. And there probably won’t be deer grazing on windfalls from the old apple tree. Ho hum. It takes a brave person to be a farmer. Here’s a small poem from Ogden Nash. It took me a week to find my small paperback book of Ogden Nash’s poems. Of course, it was not REALLY lost, just about 5 inches away from where I thought it should be, and I simply couldn’t “see” it.. This is happening more and more lately and it is driving me NUTS, but that’s another story. I suppose this poem is really about a woman, but it could just as easily be about this month:


Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found an April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true--
I love April, I love you

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Remembrance of Things Past, Wherein Nature Runs Amok

Vacant lots appear here and there along the roads leading into town and among the town itself. Houses have caught fire and burned to the ground; the owners have died and the house stays abandoned for years and begins to fall apart, and pretty soon someone comes along and tears it down, or the volunteer fire department torches it as a training exercise and then the land is cleared. On the road to town is a large cleared area where a house and a church once stood. It was demolished last year, and scattered clumps of daffodils are the only evidence that someone’s home once stood there. Indeed, on our own land, an ancient stone-bordered flower bed very near the state highway right-of-way produced daffodils and iris for years and years after the house had been moved for the original highway bypass around the town. This continued until it was wiped out by the highway expansion in the late 1990s. Another victim of the highway expansion was a house across the road. But again, there is no evidence now that a house was ever there, except for the wisteria that someone originally planted to grow along the fence at the back of the property. The fence is still there, and so is the wisteria, but as this plant is prone to do (from personal experience, this is the plant from hell), it apparently grew tired of the fence and has spread... everywhere. It is a most amazing thing to see. And this photograph doesn’t do it justice. It has climbed way up into several large trees and has produced a mass of drooping clusters of purple flowers. It is truly gorgeous.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pink rain....

The large crabapple in our front yard bursts into bloom overnight, it seems. And within days, the petals of the begin to drift to the ground in the least little breeze. It becomes a rain of pink petals, which carpet the driveway. So many colors to see. The golden flowers of the forsythia, the pink flowers of the redbud and the peach, and the white of the choke cherries by the barn. And the lilacs are about to bloom as well. Underfoot, purple violets dot the lawn along with grape hyacinth and snow drops, which have escaped the flower bed. We took a walk last night after dinner. It was so nice to walk by our neighbors houses and see the tulips and phlox and other flowers just coming into bloom. Oh yeah, that tall teal blue structure in the background is one of the town water towers.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


All varieties of bird song fill the air, from the monotone whistle of the Field Sparrow, to the wolf call of the Cardinal (and that's exactly what it sounds like) to the tea-kettle tea-kettle song of the Carolina Wren. After the mostly dead silence of winter, the world suddenly seems very much alive and very noisy indeed. And as the birds calm down for the night and go to sleep--except for the owl, of course (I heard one this morning when my eyes flew open at 4 a.m.)-- the spring peepers* wake up at the pond and they serenade all night long until dawn breaks. Shakespeare said it all:

In the spring time, the only pretty ring time
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Of course, that is what its all about – love. I watched two squirrels chasing each other up and down tree trunks for a while this morning – I know what was on their minds!

*We had one of these little guys as a pet for the winter one year. It came in the house in the late summer (we had about an 1-inch gap at the bottom of the screen door) and I found it in the bathtub. I took it outside and let it go and about an hour later it was back on the porch heading for the house again. So I brought it in and put it shower enclosure, which is made out of redwood and there are some holes in it where knots came out. So the frog stayed there all winter, pretty much sleeping but occasionally waking up and getting on the shower curtain or moving around other the tub. In the spring I put it outside and it went on its merry way

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On this day in history...

Some important have happened on this day in history. In 1765 the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which drove a wedge in the relationship between the colonies and Britain that eventually led to independence. In 1457 the Gutenberg Bible became the first printed book. In 1733 Joseph Priestly invented carbonated water. And some famous people have been born on this day, among them Marcel Marceau, Louis L’Amour, Chico Marx, and William Shatner. But I think the very best thing to have happened on this day, and the most important person to have been born, was my baby sister. What a blessing she has been to all of us. I love you sweetie. Happy birthday.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Doo Wop a Wop

As much as R and I rail against the university gobbling up the historic homes in the downtown area of West Plains (why in the world didn’t they put the campus on the outskirts of town where there is PLENTY of open land?), if the university hadn’t come to town, there would be no Civic Center and no Community Programs Department, and we would not have gotten to see the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s delightful presentation of Much A Doo-Wop About Nothing, a 50-minute restaging of Much Ado About Nothing in a 1950s era soda fountain. What a treat. We suffered major culture shock when we moved here. Both of us grew up in the bustling suburbs of Los Angeles, where there were plenty of places to go and things to see and a million different restaurants to choose from. Then we lived for a couple of years near a college town in Oregon, which also had community cultural events of the university – in fact, that’s where I learned to play the guitar (semi-funny story that was embarrassing at the time: I had to bring N with me to one of the classes, and while we were walking down the hallway he saw the Fire Alarm button and pressed it). And then here. Seriously rural America, where the nearest decent sit-down restaurant is 12 miles away (I don’t count the truck stop), and the nearest Mall is a 90-mile drive. Well, at least the “culture famine” is easing some now. I’ve written about this before in at least one previous post, so I won’t belabor the point, except to say that we take none of this for granted!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Welcome to the Hotel....

Nope. Forget it. I’m not talking about the Hotel California here (as in the Eagles' song). I’m talking about the lethal accommodations available in the Hotel Roach. Yes, indeed. R tracked down the humble Roach Hotel on the Internet and rooms are now available. Come one, come all. Plenty of room. It may not be Spring on the calendar, but the weather is behaving very Spring-like indeed and Nature is responding. And, suddenly the roaches are everywhere -- coming in from outside. So far, the guests at the Roach Hotel include 2 crickets (I feel sort of bad about them) and 6 roaches. The Bathroom Ants are back – they are the first ants to invade, and we differentiate them from the Kitchen Ants, the Bedroom Ants, and the Office Ants. I have noted that the Bathroom Ants are quick to recycle the dead roaches that I fail to pick after they are squished. Except R sprayed the bathroom last night so the ants are gone, for awhile at least. Some of the insects that live in our house don't bother me that much, but roaches -- whew. This is one critter where "live and let live" does not apply.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A spoon full of sugar...

Since the end of July – after we got a really good look at ourselves in the full-length mirrors in the room we were staying at the Tuscany Suites (a truly wonderful place to stay) – R and I have been focused on loosing weight. We are not on a “diet” per se, but are simply counting calories. The upside is that we can eat anything we want as long as we account for it and don’t go over the limits we have set for ourselves for the day. The downside is that we spend a lot of time calculating how many calories are in the food we eat. At mealtimes we sit across from each other at the table with our solar-powered calculators (we're very energy conscious, doncha know) adding up figures and consulting calorie-counting books. So today I added a tablespoon of powdered sugar to the cocoa I had added to my coffee and thought I better look it up in the book and get it written down. So I did and I announced to R: “Powdered sugar has a tablespoon of calories.” He gave me “the look” and we both started to laugh.

What immediately leaped into my mind was the banquet in the CS Lewis novel That Hideous Strength that occurs at the end of book. Merlin crashes the party and “Babel” breaks out as various dignitaries are giving their speeches. It starts off as mixed-up sentences and then eventually deteriorates into gibberish. “Jules seemed to be saying that the future density of mankind depended on the implosion of the horses of Nature... Then he thought, Come! That is going too far. Even they must see that you can’t talk about accepting the challenge of the past by throwing down the gauntlet of the future... and then came the sentence: “The surrogates esemplanted in a continual of porous variations.” Well. I’m not quite that bad.... not yet anyway.

Oh yeah, I caused something of a disturbance yesterday in the aerobics class when I discovered, much to my delight and surprise, that I have now lost enough weight that can touch my elbow to my knee!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


A stuffed armadillo makes an appearance in John Irving’s book A Prayer for Owen Meany, but the armadillos that visit our place are very much alive. Many people who live in the country take as much pride in their lawns and flower beds as do their counterparts in the city. In recent years, armadillos have moved into the area, and despite the carnage on the highway, their numbers seem to be increasing. And one or two determined armadillo can tear up a lawn or a flower bed looking for worms and grubs in nothing flat. They are really high up there on the Most Hated list, right along with moles, Country folk who have guns shoot them on sight or, in the case of one irate friend who arrived home late at night to find them busy rooting up her freshly planted lawn boarders.... careening across the lawn in the car attempting to run over them. As it happens, we do not take pride in our yard. We do good if we mow the grass once or twice during the growing season, and I have one flower bed planted in perennials and spring bulbs that I have not actually done anything with for about 10 years. Just in the past couple of weeks -- and yes, the grass really is this green despite snow, ice, and freezing temperatures--armadillos have made a pass through our “side yard” and left this pockmarked landscape behind. We didn’t care too much about it. Unlike the special effects wizards who did the movie Holes I can’t capture the scope of how many holes there actually are, but there are at least 40 or 50 in a fairly small area...

Monday, February 19, 2007


A novelist I enjoy reading very much is Elizabeth Berg, and one of my favorites is Range of Motion. This is the story of a young mother who, along with her children, must cope with the aftermath of her husband becoming comatose after being hit in the head by an icicle. I keep a little notebook where I jot down interesting phrases and lines that I have read, and one of my favorites comes from this novel:

Alice and Ed have a little dog named Maggie. She looks like an animal dress up like dog, like a hedgehog or a weasel wearing a Tina Turner wig

Icicles are commonplace here along the eves of the house after a snowstorm or freezing rain, but I’ve never seen one quite like this. It formed on a twig of the tree by our porch. It was quite long -- about 17 inches before it finally fell, and it looked very lethal..

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday.... and RIP

Our son’s birthday is today, and he has reached his 30th year. Three years ago today, our Little Dog died. It makes it impossible to “forget” loosing the dog, and what I find troubling is that it is easier to write about the dog than about our son. I feel rather awful about that, too. I miss the dog a lot, and I miss the young boy in this picture, which was taken in the Spring, just after his 13th birthday. Life was still relatively normal. The boy is now a man, the dog is dead, but I still have the plant, which is one of those “carrion” plants from Africa with a huge leathery flower that stinks like rotten flesh and attracts the flies.

The last 10 years in our son’s life have been tumultuous, to say the least. One hope after another.... raised, and then dashed to the ground. As unhappy as I am with the direction our son’s life has taken, he does seem to be happy, he has kept his job (as awful as it is) for 2 years and he is trying to live as best he can in the world he has created for himself.

Part of the reading from the Proverb for today:
Wisdom has built her house... she has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.. she calls from the highest point of the city "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment.... come eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.

My hope for him is that he will someday learn walk in the way of understanding...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Take a seat... any seat....

So we embarked last night (yes, Monday night) on a date. Dinner and the movies. After our meal at the Chinese buffet, we did some shopping for the business and then headed on over to the movie palace. Armed with popcorn and diet soda (according to my calorie book, the popcorn probably had as many calories as the entire dinner at the buffet, but never mind), we ventured into the auditorium. Now, the 150-seat auditorium is filled to overflowing with a grand total of 3 people waiting to watch the movie, and they are sitting in the very back row, against the back wall on the left side. The theater has three sets of seats – rows on the left, rows in the middle, and rows on the right. Because we have the pick of the house, we wander down about midway and choose seats in the middle of the middle row. I turned to R and said ... “If someone comes and sits down in front me, I’m going to get up and move.” And laughed. About 5 minutes later, a couple came down the aisle, and the girl sat down in the row in front of us, one seat to my left. The guy sat down next to her on her left. And then... wait for it... he gets up, crawls over her, and sits down right in front of me. R and I burst out laughing, which I guess was very rude, and they got up and moved so they were sitting behind us on the left. A few minutes later, after the previews of coming attractions started, another couple came in. They sat down.... in the row in front us, but this time on the aisle. We didn’t laugh out loud this time. We saw “Pursuit of Happyness.” It was very good.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Hairy Meatloaf is at Six.... and Counting

If it is true that cats have 9 lives, then I think ours has just lost another one. It is hard to say how many she has lost already, since things occur that we don’t know about, but I’m guessing 3 so far. She lost one the day she decided to go play with the fox... and survived. She lost the second one the day she brought in the live rat and let it go in front of the propane heater. The rat crawled so far up into the “innards” of the heater that we couldn’t get it out, so we had to dismantle the heater and take it outside so the rat would leave. In the meantime, we also dismantled the “doggy door” so she couldn’t come in with any more live “presents.” If one had been listening carefully, a few pithy words might have been heard, along with “why don’t you take the cat out and shoot her.” And finally, she is down to No. 6. She came rushing in the other morning from the cold outdoors, leaped up on the propane heater, which happened to be off at that particular moment, and then vomited. Fortunately, most of it did not fall down through the grill and onto the heating elements. Once again, I really wanted to kill her.

Friday, January 05, 2007

This little light of mine....

A couple of years ago we drove down to Hardy, Arkansas, a quaint, small town located alongside the Spring River in the foothills of the Ozarks. I found this ceramic oil lamp in a pottery shop, and it became my anniversary present for that year. I enjoy looking at its beauty even when it is not lit, but it is especially beautiful on a rainy winter day, when the sky is dark and gloomy, which it has been here for several days now. The Bible talks about letting our own personal light shine, and I wonder sometimes what sort of light I give off. I was told in a phone conversation recently that I have a “merry laugh.” I loved hearing that. I hope that the light I give off is, indeed, a cheerful one.