Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas in Louisiana

Josh and Randi have gone back home....and it is quiet here. Sophie has been sleeping nearly all day. She seems rather depressed, too. Rainy, sad day. The long awaited Christmas has come and gone and soon the decorations will be gone and it will all seem like a dream.
We had a lot of fun about this time last was almost too warm to build a fire. Josh and Randi were tired of holiday food and felt like having cheese burgers so we grilled out and ate on the deck. Then he got a hold of his high school/college buddy, Pat and his wife, Lindsi and they came over and we roasted marshmellows and made s'mores. Yum. It was fun talking about ol' times. They have a cute little doggie, Holly, but she was not with them. Maybe next time. Sophie would have liked that. I am looking forward to many happy times such as this on the deck.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dog gone was a great Christmas!

Josh, Randi and Gatsby got Sophie a pink parka for was totally her.

Winslow and Merlot got to hang out quite a bit. They love each other....and are both so sweet.

Randi's brother, Ross and his pup, Merlot. She is a beauty with her two different colored eyes!

Little Gatsby is starting to relax and enjoyed Christmas morn as much as we did.

Here I am out on the deck as usual. That is what I considered my BIG Christmas gift!!!

Randi's parents, aunt and uncle and cousin.

Jim just gave Sophie a bath....she smells wonderful and is sound wore them both slap out! Jim is starting a puzzle with 1,000 pieces. Jelly Beans!!! Randi found this one for him. She and Jim are puzzle folks. Josh and Randi are heading over later for hamburgers. Randi had a craving for a cheeseburger....and we still have plenty of deserts and cookies. We might even do the little deck fire pit deal and have smores.

Above are some holiday pics....... notice all the dogs.....but we are missing Gail and Dan's kids, Ace and Missy. Come on over and we will take shots of your dogs, too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Celebration

I have an affinity for holly and Randi brought me this...a little something to hang over the door right when you enter the house. It is sooooo cute. I just love it!!!!

It has become some what of a tradition to have Randi's parents and grandparents for Christmas eve. It is always a fun evening. This year Randi's Uncle Tommy, Aunt Melody and cousin, Travis will be joining us, too. It will be a wonderful evening for sure. There have been many such Christmas eves. We especially remember the year when my parents were here and we celebrated Josh and Randi getting engaged. It was such a fun night. Everyone was so thrilled about the event the following summer.

Tonight there will be another milestone to celebrate....Randi and Josh are expecting!!!! Jim and I learned this news yesterday and the news has spread throughout the family and onto facebook and hence around the globe. We were surprised, but not shocked as so many of their former classmates and friends have either entered the realm of parenthood or are just heading in that direction. We are just tickled and anxious to have a grandchild we can actually live near. We have several other grands, but this will be the first one we will be able to see on a regular basis. Josh and Randi are just a couple hours away as opposed to twenty or more!

Although this will be a fun night it hurts my heart that Josh's brother, Jer, and his family, his sis. Elizabeth, in Florida and her family, my parents, sisters, and brother and their families are not closer so they can be here to celebrate. They too are thrilled with the news and we would love them to be here as well.....although we might have to rent a hall of sorts if they were to come.

Better get back in the kitchen. We are having baked potato soup and craw fish soup with roast beef sandwiches for dinner. I made a pecan (pronounce it however you like) pie and a lemon meringue pie. Ross (Randi's little bro) and Randi are making a bread pudding. They both have a talent for that so their combined effort ought to yield an exciting finished product!

I will post pics of the gala tomorrow. Merry Christmas to all.... I am praying the reality of the Christ child's entrance onto the stage of human history is as much a reality to you as it is to me.

P.S. Today is Jim and my 29th wedding anniversary! I am wondering if he has remembered. Neither of us have said anything...he is probably waiting to see if I remembered. hahaha.... stay tuned.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa loves pups, too!

I have been looking around the web and it seems that dogs have taken the place of kids in a lot of people's lives. Dog gifts have never been so popular and people are getting their dog's pic taken with Santa. Dogs have spas and some have wardrobes bigger than mine. Have we.....the human race.... gone nuts?

Now as much as I love my Sophie girl I just don't think I am going to drag her out to have her pic taken with Santa. I know Jim is not going to do it. I must admit she has become a big part of our life, but we don't want to be the "crazy dog folks". Yes, I do talk to Sophie, but I don't think that she understands me all that much. She is watching me and waiting for the "c" words to pop out. (CHEESE or COOKIE!) She certainly has not teased to go see Santa!

I am also wondering if Rome, just before the fall, didn't try to humanize their pets. Is this a sign our culture has gone nuts? Just another cultural indicator. There has always been pet stores and pet products, but from what I can tell with the pet specialty stores, we gone totally bonkers.

Well, I need to get going....Sophie needs me to help her type her email to Santa..... bless her heart she keeps adding to her list...and I can't wait until Christmas morning to see her face when she sees her gifts!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We are at War!

We have a lot of squirrels in our yard and they have been ignoring our new deck and furniture until NOW!
These are just a few of the squirrels we spotted out on our deck.
I saw something white on one of the chairs and from a distance it looked like bird do do. I went out with a wet paper towel to clean it off and found that it was bare metal.....the aluminum was shiny! Then I thought maybe the big tree limb that fell on the deck did it, but Jim said it didn't fall near this particular chair. Finally, we decided the squirrels were to blame. I can't believe they could do this!
I have heard squirrels are destructive, but I have always thought we had enough acorns around here to keep them busy and from doing damage. This is evidence of them trying to sharpen their teeth. I googled aluminum +squirrels and sure enough a lady had written a letter about squirrels chewing on her aluminum patio furniture. The "expert" she wrote to said he didn't think they would do such a thing, but if it was from squirrels they must be trying to sharpen their teeth and also wear them down. Their teeth, like hamsters and other rodents, will keep growing and if not attended to will grow through their skull...ouch! Surely there are better places to whittle down your teeth than on my new deck furniture. Jim, a true Reaganite is a proactive defender...the best defense is a strong offense so he ran to get Josh's BB Gun.

We also looked up home remedies so he mixed red pepper, Tabasco and soap together and sprayed that around. He won't spray it directly on the furniture cuz he is afraid it will eat off the paint. That Tabasco is strong stuff. Fox urine is suppose to keep them away. If you have a supply of that handy let me know and I will take some of it off your hands. Maybe we just need a pet fox and keep him on the deck all the time. There is a pretty red one around here, but we rarely see him and he is obviously falling down on his job cuz the squirrel population is growing (literally) by leaps and bounds.

We will keep you posted on this new war of ours. If you have any recommendations we are all ears! We are not willing to do what one guy wrote about ....getting a large plastic garbage can half filled with water with a skinny board across and sun flower seeds floating in the water. I am not crazy about the varmits, but drowning them seems a bit extreme. Experts say that catching them and relocating them is just as fatal. They usually don't live long if you move them. I guess they are little home bodies. We probably have had this family or families in our yard for generations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Decorating the Tree....FINALLY!

This is our 25th anniversary crystal ball.....and an angel made by Betty in Illinois.

This church looks almost identical to the Episcopal church I belonged to when I was young. And the tiny quilt was sewn by my daughter-in-law in PA. It is so cute!! I just love it.

Josh made this ornament in kindergarten. I was in the classrooom that day helping those in the class glue....trying to glue with the glue gun without burning my was tough!

This was also made by our granddaughters .....with help from our daughter-in-law, Jeannie.

I love this little book...just so sweet and clever.

Every year while carefully placing the ornaments on the tree I remember where we got each one. Some were made for us, some were gifts and some Josh chose at the Hallmark store. Quite a few of them Jim and I bought our first Christmas in Illinois. Many of them are glass commemorative balls. One is Ruston High but my Mom and Dad gave us several of buildings from our home town. One of which is the building where we met, The Canoe Place Inn. There is our old hospital, the library, our grade school, which was torn down and also the old city building which is also gone. I love making their acquaintance again.

Why am I so sentimental about these ornaments? I am not sure, but they are very precious to me. There is a little red sled with a penguin on top. I have a thing about sleds and I just love penguins, so that little Avon ornament is on my top ten list. My parents gave us a beautiful, engraved crystal ornament for our 25th wedding anniversary. It is so pretty.....then there are the ornaments Josh made in grade school.....and Randi has made several beautiful creations. The little felt book my librarian friend, Marsha, sewed and the book worm sitting on a stack of books from another librarian are on my top ten list for sure.
Sometimes I dread decorating the tree.....just looks like a huge task. I try to find the perfect spot for each one of my special ornaments and it takes time and energy, but each time I realize it really is a journey through the years and a chronicle of sorts.
On a darker note...It makes me to sad to think of these ornaments someday being pitched....or sold in a garage sale, but then what in the world do I want people to do with them when I am gone? hahaha.... Hopefully, someone will give them a new home when they have served their time with us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater

Concerning The Shack......

In an attempt not to "throw the baby out with the bath water...."

I don't think I would want to give this book to someone who was not grounded in their view of the Bible's perspective of the Trinity as I believe the book's explanation of it is flawed, but there's much to gain from this book. There are truths....truths about man's state and man's rationalizations concerning the lust for control rather than trusting God with our lives. Mack, the main character of the book is separated from God, but it is not God who has done the separating. I like the fact it shows us (believers) that in the midst of any pain we should not run away from God, but we should run TO Him. I like that it teaches God is really on our side because of the reconciliation we find in Jesus we are no longer enemies with God. I like this story because it shows how we are unable to actually forgive or do much of anything we are suppose to do without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, I see flaws....several...mostly in the relationship of the three persons of the trinity with each other.....I just don't think a lot of the statements about how they relate are right ....but that is a mystery none of us really understand. The story of Mack, his journey through his pain and the Lord's ability to facilitate his emotional and spiritual healing is quite compelling. I felt there was some animosity against the church, but some of the indictments do have grounds. Regardless, I didn't like what Jesus and God (Characters in this book.) had to say about the church. The author's bias is evident here. There is more I didn't care for, but like I said I tended to focus more the transformation of Mack who is set free from "the great sadness" that has been present in his life for a very long time. I believe the Lord is the antidote for pain and He really does want to set us free so He is able to use us to show His love to others. Mack went to the shack fragmented....stuck in neutral and unable to be effective and came home whole giving love to others. His transformation had to do with him having a revelation of God's love, forgiveness, and the ability this has to empower Mack to do His will. I think there is merit in that message as it is the central message of the New Testament. Also, it is allegorical. Because of this book I don't see God as an African woman any more than I see God as the Lion found in C.S. Lewis's Narnia series.

I wish there was a way to write out all those aspects I don't believe are plumb with the scripture. Be careful when you read this that you don't take it all to heart as we do the scripture. I don't believe the author has figured in the idea there is not only a heaven, but also a hell. In fact check it out with your Bible handy. I believe much of the action in the story could remain the same.....the restorative power for all sinners found as a result ofa relationship with Jesus Christ....and ultimately God the Father.... is central and that is the part I will remember about this book.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008

Just wanting to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am aware of a lot of pain and suffering due to illnesses, deaths and other tragedies this year and I am just going to be praying that all those who are suffering will be able to muster up a feeling of thankfulness to the Lord.

I love that we have a corporate day of Thanksgiving in this country and I pray the thanks is directed to the source of all blessing. There is no other name above the name of Jesus....the ultimate reason to be thankful!

God Bless you and yours!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reading The Shack

Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” -Charles Spurgeon

I am in the midst of reading The Shack and I like it very a work of fiction, but I am sure it is not a good means for revealing docterines of the Holy scripture or giving us a picture of Father God. I am making notes of those parts which are giving me pause and will communicate them at a future may take a while to get my thoughts all together so they are coherant and easy to I am not done with it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anyone besides me....

I took my very first steps trying to get next to the TV when my favorite commercial was on the screen. Speedy Alka Seltzer was one the of the cutest commercials ever my humble opinion.

Sick to death of Sally Fields talking about her once a month pill for she is just too busy to take a pill each day. Come on, Sally, you have at least 20 seconds a day to take a pill.

I am also sick and tired of that stupid commercial where the mop sings, "Baby Come Back". I used to like that dumb song from the 70's and now it has been defiled.

Jim is sick of caveman commercials. I actually like some of those. My mom didn't like the Abe Lincoln talking to the beaver commercial....a sleep know, "your dreams miss you" commercial. I thought it was sorta funny, but did get tired of seeing it.

And what about Billy Mays? According to my observations he drives most folks into seizures.(Remember on Seinfeld when Krammer's seizures were caused by Mary Hart's voice)....they switch off the TV before they even know what product he is pushing. I am always too curious to see what miracle product he is selling. Yes, I do have the "handy switch" and just love it. I don't have to use a pull chain anymore. I want to get those lids that seal any size dish......and we got some mighty putty. That works well in certain situations....not all as Billy has led us to believe...but as usual....I digress. (sorry)

And then there are those commercials about the problem of E. D. That is waaaaayyyyyy tooooo much information and I avoid those at all costs. I think these might need to be banned. Enzite (sp?) might have the most offensive of the commercials in this genre......the guy in the elevator with a variety of "young ladies" is the ultimate in disgusting!

Yes, I am sure Speedy Alka Seltzer drove some folks nuts back in the 50's, but I still miss him....I guess Speedy was a lot like our little Geico Gecko.....just a cute little spokesman who doesn't shout at us, expect us to listen to a singng mop, or talk to us like we are morons without enough time to take a pill each day!

So What is all the Hub Bub About?!

Okay, promise not to laugh.....I went to see Twilight the movie based on the book of the same title. Stephanie Meyer wrote it and the book is amazingly close to the book as compared with other movies based on books. I was one of the oldest people in the theater. I did see one little lady who looked to be about 75 or over. Mostly there were rows of tweens and teens and were enjoying it a lot more than I was.

I quickly tired of the many glances cast longingly between Bella and Edward....the love sick young couple of Forks, a small rainy town in Oregon. Granted this genre is older than Edward, the one hundred plus year old vampire/ Romeo, but the dialog just didn't have the kick William Shakespeare's did....but then whose does?

I didn't hate the movie. It just lasted too long. At first I was thinking it was Saved by the Bell meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the two lead characters portrayed the characters accurately even if the Edward and Bella of my imagination looked differently than I imagined. Stephanie Meyer must be thrilled they were true to her vision. I thought they did a great job with a fairly weak script.

Now the thought of a vampire boy with a human girlfriend is an interesting idea, but it creeps me out just the same and I just could never get passed that. I wanted Bella to choose life, real life and not forget "living" forever even if it meant being with her true love. I wanted her to run for her life from Edward and to live a normal life like the other teens of fight off her emotions and enjoy being in the world of the living. Wanting to become one of the immortal dead just made me sad. I kept wondering about her immortal soul and figured if she were to become a vampire eventually she would be damned to hell.....even if for now Edward was every young girl's beautiful, loving, and mature dream. (but you expect a guy over one hundred to be some what mature.) He loved Bella so much he wanted her to choose life. Like me he didn't want her to become a monster...what he thought of himself. But Bella like most teenage girls was not thinking too far ahead and was acting on her emotions. The movie ended with Edward and a very human Bella dancing at their senior prom ....she remained human due only to Edward's ability to restrain himself. Will his restraint last? Will Bella become one of the undead dead? Stay tuned. There will be more to come I am sure.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Congratulations, Julie!

I am very proud to announce my little sister, Julie, kindergarten teacher extraordinaire, has gotten her National Board Teacher Certification!!!! For those of you who don't know about the NBTC it is a long and grueling process. It is a lot of preparation and work getting all the writing of the portfolio, and videos of classes and examples of work together and it has to be sent off in an exact configuration.... if you pack your box in the wrong fashion you could be disqualified. Then there is the test. You have to have everything exactly right.....and every year teachers all over the country log onto the NBTC website only to find they didn't make it. I have known awesome teachers who have gone through the whole process and didn't make it. I know how much work Julie put into this and I know how stressful it was for her to complete especially dealing with three teenagers at home. That fact alone should have earned some extra credit!!

Now I know if I ever get the courage to go through this process I will have an expert to go to for help.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Friday Morning Musings

Chatty Cathy was an expensive gift at $25 in 1960. A nice house was $8,000....a new car about $2,500.....our rent wasn't quite $50 a month! So that puts it in perspective!

Bail outs, shmail outs! What is going on in this country? I have been wondering for sometime where all the excess we experience in this country was headed and I had a feeling things were gonna get scary when the bubble finally burst. Folks, we (collectively as a country) have abandoned the principal of delayed gratification and we are all gonna pay for that now. I am gulity as well. I just remember a time when you didn't have everything you wanted...right when you wanted it. I learned it early when I had to wait several Christmases to get my Chatty Cathy.

My family lived in an upstairs apartment until I was eight years old as my mom and dad saved for a down payment for a house. We had one car and we never used charge cards. My father, a bricklayer, worked away for weeks at a time taking our car so my mom, my sister and I walked to the grocery store, the laundry matt, and even the doctor's office when needed to go. My grandparents were ten miles away in the county seat and would help out if we really need to be driven some place. We were well fed and had lovely clothes from the best children's shops for school........we just didn't have a car much of the time. Thankfully we lived in a small town and everything was within walking distance! (I mean EVERYTHING!) Once a month we would all head to NY State for whatever we lacked in our little town and stocked up. We always visited King Solomon in Portville who had the best meat market in the area and picked out wonderful cuts of steak and roast. I always knew I had it good. I saw fellow students at school who were not so fortunate. My mother always made sure all my old clothes were given to someone who really needed them. I remember boxing them up for students less fortunate and feeling really good about that. It never crossed my mind I was not on equal footing as those students living in large, spacious homes.

I loved our apartment with the huge front porch and cried when we finally moved into the center of town on a tree lined street with older two story homes. I had my favorite climbing trees on the grounds and missed them like you miss a best buddy. (The house had been a huge single family home with grounds surrounding.) I was also the oldest kid up on that hill and all the other kids pretty much followed my lead. Being the boss was something I enjoyed back then. I was the one who decided if we were going to play kick the can or hide and seek. Moving to a neighborhood full of kids....some who were older was quite a trauma. Hahaaa.... I remember thinking how bossy that Debby McLauglin across the street was. My mom cracked up and thought it was time I got some of my own medicine.

You know I think of happy times in my life and I go back to the apartment house on the hill. I wonder if my parents enjoyed it there like I did. There were great neighbors to laugh and talk with on the porch in the evenings. We had a huge garden and there were lillies of the valley growing under the huge lilac bush. It was evident there had been someone who planned the grounds there and I had a sense those flowers were there on purpose. I remember wondering if some mom and her little girl had planted them many years ago........I spent a lot of time outside by myself early in the mornings and I loved the smells and the sounds of the birds. I had a fantastic sand box and could see my mom upstairs in the kitchen window. I would get busy on "baking" beautiful mud pies with flowers adorning them. There were also red berries (we thought they were poison) and purple elderberries to put on top of my pies, too .......I also remember the beautiful white birch trees. Those were good times and sometimes when I feel stressed I close my eyes and go back to those spots where I felt peaceful and surrounded by beauty. The feeling is much like the one I had when I met the Lord so now I know He was there with me all along and I had no idea. It is humbling and comforting to realize. While we were waiting for a home of our own the Lord was there and while waiting REAL life was taking place.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Introducing Doctor Jo!

This is a picture of friend, Jeananne when she was my neighbor at school.....although she is still my neighbor down the street. She is a great teacher, mother/step mother, grandmother and wife. She is able to keep more balls in the air than any juggler I've seen. It is just great she is able to add this accomplishment to her long list. It must be a great relief not to have to make time to write and edit her thesis any longer!!

Pure determination and single mindedness is what is needed when entering a doctoral program. If you are brave enough to tackle all the research, presentations, and class work you are also going to need to be patient and also be persistent. I knew there is a lot of course work to go through, but all the other hoops doctoral candidates have to jump through are numerous. This is not to mention the DISSERTATION! That takes so many hours. Sometimes it is tough getting all the ducks in a row. But it all pays off in the end.

Jeananne (aka Jo) has worked very hard and emerged victorious and will soon have her much sought after diploma in hand. I know she must feel a huge sense of satisfaction and pride. It is well deserved. I know all she has gone if you see her tell her:

Doctor Jo!!!!!!

Let me stand...I mean sit.... next to your fire...

Ok...this song might be a bit over the top....but it sorta fits....hahaha...sorry.

While I was in school on Friday, Jim was busy getting ready for a cookout we had for our small group on Friday night. We were sorry several of our group were missing and we especially felt the void left by Dr. Dale's absence. He was just down the street with daughter in law Rachel who took marvelous care of him in Helen's absence. We were so glad she was able to make it. Thanks Rachel for your kind gesture!!

Jim really out did himself cooking. My favorite of the taste treats were the spinach/artichoke cups and also Carmel turtle bars....YUM! I never knew my Jim was so talented. He cooked all the food we ate on the deck he designed and built and then later he played a couple of requests on the piano. I think I always knew he was very talented, but he has surpassed any of my expectations. He gets his gift of hospitality from his Mom. She loved to have people over to eat, too. Thanks Jim for a memorable evening.

What is it about humans that love to sit around a fire? Yes, we put a small fire pit on the deck....on top of some ceramic tiles. Jim was a bit nervous about this idea of mine, but I want to feel at home out there and as Frank Loyd Wright stated without a hearth there is no home. We were going to make somores, but we were too well fed and just couldn't do it. The makings will keep for another time.

We always enjoy getting together .....there is always a lot of laughing. Last night Bobbie taught us all how to speak like a reeaaall southerner.....suthonah, I mean. We learned to go on and on about mundane topics and add syllables to all our words. It was great! Helen quoted much of Gone with the Wind verbatim.....amazing. I think she has seen that movie nearly as many times as Jim. (It is his favorite movie....and I think it is right up there on Helen's list.)

Sophie the Bichon and Sadie the King Charles Spaniel got along just great.
Notice Jim in the background doing the cooking........This is him on his new charcoal grill. Our old grill finally rusted through so we really didn't have a choice. We picked out one that is a bit can raise and lower the charcoal, rather than the actual grill grate. We thought that was cool. It also has another level to put my burgers on, as I like mine a bit more rare than most folks. He seemed to enjoy cooking on his new grill....sorry I didn't get a better shot. Next time, okay?

I have always liked poking at a fire.....Bobby was the official fire poker....sorry I didn't get a shot of that as he kept the fire just perfect.

Here is a shot looking up to the house. I think this deck is my favorite room "in" the house.

After everyone left I sat by the fire reflecting on those people the Lord places in our lives and I felt very thankful that He has chosen to bless me so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Cedar Town Weekend

These are my purchases! I love the red polka dot trim on the Christmas cake painting.

Randi and her sweet grandmother manning "The Art of Happiness" booth on Saturday.

Josh and Randi getting ready for a big day at Cedar Town.

This weekend our multi talented daughter-in-law, Randi, had a booth at the annual Cedar Town Christmas Market held at the local Civic Center. With the help of Randi's grandparents she and Josh set up on Thursday afternoon. Everything in the booth was made by Randi.... there were ornaments, and paintings, magnets, baby clothes, picture frames, and some jewlery. Her "ginger bread" houses are so cute. It truly was the cheeriest little corner at Cedar Town. I just can not imagine the amount of work she has done....the hours she has put into all this work. Thankfully it was a successful sale and a lot of folks were giving Randi's happiness art included.

Check out Randi's web site at !!!