Friday, June 26, 2015

The U-Haul and the Garage (a story from years ago)

Maybe you can tell what happened just by the title. As if Saturday and our summer sale didn't have enough excitement of its own!

We laughed a lot but it really wasn't funny.

Why are there signs on parking garages about the height limit being 7 feet or so?
Why is there a bar hanging down so that one can actually SEE how high 7 feet is?
Perhaps the man tried to drive around the side of the bar?!?

They felt it the kids' playroom. Earth tremor? They felt it twice. Once when the man drove in, and again when he tried to back out. A discussion in the playroom about whether it was just the kids running. "It's the kids jumping in the ball pit." "No", said the older smarter one, "something hit the building." It happened right under them. The fire alarm went off in the entire building.

I was in the staff caff with my feet up. After a few minutes of the annoying alarm, I plugged my ears and peeked into the kitchen to see if there was any smoke. No sign of emergency. The announcement came on: "we are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Do not evacuate the building."

The alarm went off for awhile and then came back on. On my way back downstairs I passed Miz C and found out what had happened. I'm sure I laughed. We should have a stupid customer contest.

When I got back to my post, the alarm went off and on a few more times, sending people out of the store either from fear, or to get away from that horrible shrill alarm. When the man drove into the garage, he ripped a lot of the sprinklers from the ceiling which set off the alarm.

I went downstairs to have a look. There was the U-haul stuck between the ceiling and the pavement. Puddles all around. A gash about 20 or 30 feet long in the ceiling with insulation and lights and sprinklers dangling. I tried to see who did it, but it was not clear. Why, after the initial collision, did he keep going? Did he think that the actual ceiling height was higher than the bar? Maybe he panicked. Was he angry? Maybe he lost his cool. Did he have any cool to lose? My mouth was no doubt hanging open. There was a policeman there giving a ticket. A few other coworkers, mostly managers, and a cart guy, all gawking, as I was. Somebody really did this! Unreal. The cart guy said the man had declined insurance when he rented the U-Haul. The fire truck was parked just behind the U-Haul and the firemen were deflating the tires to get the truck out. My, my, my. What does one say about this? I'm pretty sure you and I are not thinking right now about the stupid mistakes we have made in our lives...

When I went back up, I passed Miz P who was sitting on a step. She looked distressed, head in hands; on the phone. What a responsibility to have on your shoulders! Your store. Your baby? I went back up to my post. The alarm finally quit, but not before we lost thousands of customers on a Saturday during the summer sale, which is one of our biggest days for sales of the year.

So we gossiped about it all day. People were saying things like 50 grand, 100 grand, and that the man paid for the damage with his credit card. He is going to be paying for this for a long, long time. I said someone must really like our furniture a lot.... The final figure I heard was $35k. Was that just what he had to pay to fix the garage? Does the store have any coverage for all the lost sales during the time people poured out the doors and did not come back?

I went to get supplies and came back to find Miz P putting away a yellow bag. We talked for a minute. How could anyone do that? She said the poor wife of the U-haul man was in tears and terrified. I said I would be scared to go home with him! She laughed. Miz P spotted the wife coming up from the garage looking shell shocked. Miz P immediately took her under her wing and up to the restaurant for coffee. I felt sorry for the wife, too. When they went up the escalator, Miz P turned and winked at me.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Long Time

What a wonderful place.   A farm and park, with baby farm animals and ball fields of every kind and walking paths all over.  Boki, and I walk there often.  Each day there are differences according to the season, the time of day, and who is there.   When we first went there it was winter, everything taupe except the sky which was sometimes also gray.  Only a few people would be there, plus the odd bike and a dog or two.

By contrast, in spring and summer if you go on a Saturday, there are noisy ball games on in every field and many walkers, joggers and bikers and many dogs.  I haven't met anyone unfriendly yet.  Young moms bring their toddlers to see the baby goats and chicks and they sit and have picnics and talk to other young doubt having heart to heart talks about being a good mom and wife and all the rest of it.  I remember.

But I do love this place.

By now it has gone from closing at 5 pm to quite late, as at the time of publishing summer solstice has just passed.

In spring when the leaves are about half grown, they are moist and  supple.  When the breeze blows the sound is very very soft, unlike fall when it is raspy sounding.   Now the leaves are big and the branches are weighed down.

If I am feeling anxious about anything, I know that when I get to the end of a full hour's walk, I will feel better no matter what.   Good stuff.   Thank You, God.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


RESISTANCE.  I took home a book on CD from the library on writing, which also applied to any creative work, such as painting.
He talks of resistance and it rings very true and it helps me clarify what the bleep is wrong with my art career.  I worked very hard and wasted no time while I was listening to it and next day. He talks of the fear of success as well.
Hmmmm, what is the title?  It is by the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance, Stephen Pressfield, which I have not read, nor have I seen the film.  He is all about the muse the the gods, he disses fundamentalism & I do too, only he would consider me one.  
I love the resitance idea.  But I hate resistance. It is within me (us).  It is destructive and prevents creativity....and if creativity flows, it stops it before it reaches the others who might be blessed by it.  I call that Satan's work.  He makes me understand what I have heard before.  Just show up every day.  Work hard.  Don't look for inspiration.  It will find you.   Work.  Be in your studio with fresh paint and paper and use them over and over.  Whatever gift God has given you will be given to the world.  Only you can give the gift that only you have within you from God.
Yea and Amen.

Resistance is the nay-sayer Chip told me I have on my shoulder.  (so I keep Chip on my other shoulder to balance me and I listen to him ultimately.  Therefore I have a chip on my shoulder.)
Resistance is the whiner.
Resistance is the victim.
Resistance is the quenching of the Holy Spirit.
Resistance is Satan's Spirit, if you will.
Resistance is having an all day Quiet Time.
Resistance is happy when there is sore throat, because she thinks it is an excuse to sit and wait till she heals before she has to go back to decision making and acting on her decisions.  
Resistance blames the husband for her unhappiness.
Resistance spins wheels at 140 mph.
Paint Pollock!
Pollock's paintings remind me of my recurring dream.
Resistance prefers to just do this little task that will only take a minute, rather than START the work.

The above was written back in 09 or something; I was still in Virginia Beach
It is 2014 and I am still getting the same messages in different words from other creative types and still NEEDING encouragement from the Chip on my shoulder (Chip was a pastor turned vocational coach whom I met in Maryland when I was leaving ministry and walking into a big fat question mark.   He was the one who told me "of all the people I have met and I have met thousands, you have the biggest nay-sayer on your shoulder of anyone!"  Example:  I would like to live in a beach house, BUT I CAN"T DO THAT because I don't have enough money.   

I think I should blog about The Artist's Way.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

This is Boki, the new puppy,
now 6 months old.  A gift from a friend from my other life in the last century.
poodle, lab and golden retriever mix.
Sweetest boy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In about a month, Daddy will be 100.   About 18 of us will be here at once for the event/family reunion.  All my kids are coming and all my sisters' kids and some of our grand children.   I can't wait for the wonderful chaos.   I want to watch my kids and their cousins catch up with each other.  
Daddy's new bed is working beautifully.   He is eating and drinking and his latest wounds are healing.   We need to get him back to the dentist because the last dentist appointment, at which he lost two teeth, he was supposed to have all his teeth x-rayed and they did not do it.  

Also, I am searching for a tall person wheel chair or at least leg extensions.  He nearly slid out of his chair on his walk and that is how he got his most recent leg wounds.   The perils of being 99.
He does not know that his son died in December.   I have not made a permanent decision not to tell him.   I would want my children to tell me even if I had dementia.   His neighbor, who is also old, said don't tell him.  There is no urgency.   He won't remember anyway.  

His caregivers love him and try very hard.  My favorite time  with him is when I take my  turn at night duty and in the morning I poach him his eggs, too runny, just the way he used to make them for himself.   He goes "mmmmmmm" and digs right in.   I use a plate with a lip so that he can push his food up against it and get it onto the fork.   I avoid feeding him or helping him get the food onto the fork; the more he does for himself the better.  He is very coordinated with his fork, still, but if something falls off onto his chest, he cusses at it.

I am used to the cussing now from he who never uttered a single cuss word in all my days growing up.   Apparently he did cuss according to my mother.  But with the stroke in 2004 the part of his brain that restrains cussing in public got broken.  Thus he cusses often now and cannot control it.  It is so sad to see such a great mind, so chock full of encyclopedic information simply lose its ability to bring up any of it.  

People ask "Does he know you?"  He cannot say my name if I walk in.   I look different than I used to for one thing, short hair, glasses, extra weight.  But if I tell him I am your youngest daughter, he understands that I'm family and he responds in a certain way.   He likes me to mess with him  verbally and he recognizes HIS own humor.

One day the visiting nurse had a lot of poking and prodding to do, which he hates, so I stationed myself near his face and held his hand (not just to 'hold hands', but more to keep him from grabbing the nurse's hands and flailing around)  I talked to him like this:  "I need you to be strong and lie still, Daddy.  You taught me to be brave and  the nurse has to take a blood sample.   It won't take long if you lie still and be calm.   You are a man and I need you to show me how strong you are.....on and on I went saying these things, appealing to his manliness.   It worked to an extent, but at one point he yelled "BALONY!"   and we all laughed.  Even when he is suffering and fighting what the nurses have to do to him, he still cracks jokes.   This is my father. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

the Land of Spanish Moss & Scratchy Grass

aka, Florida.

the only recent pictures I have are on my phone, so I'm putting in one from December 2011, the last time we took Daddy on an outing to the Nature place.

I have moved in with my 99 year old Dad.

I am settling in. After one week, we slept in hospital for one week. Back home again and doing great for his age. Infection appears to be gone, skin wounds healing. He does not know me wholly, but he knows me some how. Dementia takes your memory a little at a time, which is sad to see, but it has not got all of him.

We play football with a nerf ball and he fakes to the nurse and throws to me. Vestiges of humor. He is aware that I am around.

I am slowly getting more comfortable with helping the private nurses to handle him, move him, roll him, try to calm him when he flails and cusses like a sailor.

It is good to have this time to get to know him even if he is different. I am glad to be here with him and for him.

He knows the nurses though he could not name any of them. He is familiar with them and likes them all; they love him. They cook him 3 meals a day and he eats like a horse. THAT is good!

God is gracious.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dumpster 2

Moral of the story first. BE CAREFUL when putting trash bag into dumpster, as sharp things can go through plastic. End of August 2010. It is Tuesday, trash day and the thing is full. We are supposed to toss our bags towards the back so that this does not happen, but alas, I cannot get my bag in, so I put my left hand on it and push. That was it. Sharp pain. Yank the hand back, blood dripping. Wow that hurts. I see the wound on my finger by the 2nd knuckle. It feels like there is another wound at the tip of the finger but I cannot see one. I get the door shut and leave a red trail to my house. There must be a piece of glass in there.

I try a few times to get said glass out. Only more bleeding and no success. So I clean and bandage it and try a couple more times later. After a few days I decide that a doctor may be able to do this. So I go to Urgent Care. He says go to a specialist and he calls and they can take me right now. So off we go.

Dr. says yes there may be glass in there, or not. It feels like it to him. He says the sensation in the tip of my finger indicates there might be nerve damage. He suggests surgery to remove glass and possibly wrap the nerve so that it grows back properly. It is expensive, I complain. He says everything is expensive. Don't remember if I whined about my catastrophic health insurance, but ultimately I decide if I don't have him try to take it out, it will bother me and I will always be thinking there is glass in there and why didn't I have it taken out (and what if it moves around and .....say CUTS the nerve or other creepy things? Surgery is scheduled for next week.

Oh by the way, you have to go under for this and you have to have a check up with your own doctor to see that it's ok to put you under. What? Now I'm really whining. Why can't you just numb my hand and let me watch?

He says the nerve is the size of a hair and the surgery is done with a microscope and you cannot move. So we are set.

While waiting, I keep thinking, hey, people jerk and move while they are asleep, I still am not sure I need to go under. Why can't they just clamp my arm and hand down and I won't watch. Surgery is early in the morning, so I ask to discuss this with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist one last time before they knock me out.

They come in and I tell them my concerns. It isn't that I'm afraid of going under, it's the expense. He assures me that there will be better results if you are out. The anesthesiologist says you are way more still that when you are just asleep. You are so far out that they have to put a breathing tube in to make you breathe. Oh great, they have to kind of almost kill me and then keep me alive artificially. Wonderful.

OK I understand and I agree.

I wake up. They tell me the doctor has come and spoken with me but I do not remember seeing him. They say this is normal, amnesia. My friend Howard has picked me up and taken me home. I take a nap. I have a long list of things to do and not do after surgery, such as keep your wound above your heart and don't get the bandage wet. They do not say do not use your hand. There is a thick white gauze wrapped around and around the palm of my hand. As my mind clears and I am looking at the bandage, it dawns on me, HEY there is no indication that he went into my finger where the wound is. He went in somewhere below the base of my finger or my palm. HUH? Something is wrong here. OK, give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe in this type of nerve surgery, they go in at the base of the finger and follow the nerve up to the wound under the skin.

See, I just can't believe the doctor has made a mistake so my mind is working on why the surgery was not done at the wound site (which had healed up on the surface during the week).

I call the secretary and ask to talk to the doctor. She says he's busy and cannot call you today. I say I do not see any indication that he went in where the glass was. I think out loud at her: maybe they go in at the base of the finger....etc. She says you are just confused and trying to figure out how the doctor did the surgery. The doctor knows what he is doing. He has 12 surgeries today and he cannot call you. She has thoroughly dissed me.

I say (politely) I will wait until all his surgeries are finished, but I need him to call me today, because I am going to Seattle this weekend and if this has to be done over again it needs to be right away so that I can be done with this before I leave.

He calls and I tell him what I see. He says can you come in tomorrow morning? Yes, so I show him at his office. I say here is the wound and I point to my finger and you went in down here in my hand. What happened?

He says I screwed up. He says I am going to make this right and I will do it tomorrow any time you want and will not charge you for either of my surgeries and only one hospital charge.

OK, I am relieved that he has owned his mistake and I agree.
But if I were he, I would pay for every single expense I had in relation to this surgery.

So in the end he redid the surgery. No glass but a badly damaged nerve was found, which he wrapped and then I went to Seattle. My son-in-law talked me into taking out my stitches.

Monday, October 18, 2010

An Acorn Year

Acorns, I am told, yield heavily every 2nd year. Apparently this is one of those years. My college buddy swept the deck and next day, behold, more acorns than before. Doink. Are the squirrels discarding the shells? Yes. And are most of them just ripe and falling? We find no recipes for acorn soup. I imagine they must be really bitter, or they'd be popular. It's pretty durn loud when it hits the glass table out there. The ones that go down the chimney are also loud and they echo. Sounds of fall.

The air has cleared and cooled after a long heavy rain. The beach is perfect. Summer crowd is gone. We got our walks in and rode rented bikes on the boardwalk. We ate at Pocahontas so that we could say "I've been there." It was good having her to talk to.

Watched too much TV, but loved the Ladies #1 Detective Agency. I was amazed how the actresses fit my mental image from the book. Stirred by watching the Book of Eli, fascinating and full of truth.

Open windows, cool temps in the night and morning. Perfect.
Lots of talk of renting and selling the place. Decision was made at one point but I am not following through, which means I didn't mean it.

Shall I decide based on money fears alone? How do I know things will not change? Could I not make another kitchen with pretty cabinets and an undermounted sink? Of course I could. I could also be happy with a different sink and old cabinets. I've loved every place I've ever lived and used my creativity to make it my own each time. So what's so permanent about this place? I want a dog and a fenced area for the dog and I will never have that here. I want to be hospitible and I only get 2 parking spots here.

So many ideas I have for this place such as beams across the bedroom ceiling, French doors onto the deck, widening the bathroom door and moving the closet to the opposite corner, adding windows on the east side and making a lofted twin bed in the master upstairs. Would love to hang the porch swing in the middle of the living room. Now tell me that's not out of the box. What box?

Yes, and if I sell it and move elsewhere, I'll think of many more such projects, dream and dream on forever which is my wont, DREAMING.

It is a lot of work to move & it makes me tired just thinking of it, really. God knows. And it is very good that He is God and I am not in charge.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


At the party the other night, the neighbor apologized for, he said, the guy who removed his wood floor said he’d "take care of the removal" but neighbor R did not know he meant in our own dumpster until he had done the deed. I dont care, I laughed, as long as I have room to throw my dog's poop bag in.

maybe it did not get emptied last week because of the snow...?

so the top was half up with the excess and the guy dumped it and it just kept coming as one layer fell into the truck and more was loosed which had been packed down into the container. so now the truck is overflowing and the container is poised above it with more stuff stuck and a toaster-oven hangs by it’s cord from the container and i am laughing out loud. zeus the foster dog wonders what is so interesting out there and can I go out and pee now please mommy?

the truck compacts what’s already been dumped and in goes the remainder, toaster oven and all. one bag misses and the good man picks it up and tosses it back into our dumpster before he leaves, back up beeper a-beeping . Good day sir and were we glad to see you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tree Removers

I've seen that gate, that self-assured stride that says I am strong and I can do my job, respect me. Besides that I am cool. The guys were arriving, arranging their 4 trucks in the parking lot, walking out back to size up the job. I moved my car. One had a very long blond ponytail, another was Asian with shoulder length hair. Not big guys but exuding total confidence.

It is sunny and 50-ish. I go out to my observation deck with the dog & coffee. Ropes in the trees, It's futile to try to figure out why they put them where they do; it only becomes clear after they cut the tree. I will not go back inside and work so I decide this is part of my work as an artist: observing. A+ for Rationalizing. Or should I say F-? I love this. I remember the joy of watching guys take a tree down in my other back yard. One had a dog who was crazed with excitement waiting for the command after the tree crashed down... then he tore into the branches looking for squirrels.

Today's tree fell against another during the Noreaster, it's roots half in the water, saturated.

So the top of the tree is secured and a rope is twisted around the supporting tree like a peppermint stick which they can let slack out of with control. The falling tree is now tied by its upper branches and they cut off the bottom of the trunk first. It thumps over, then they cut subsequent pieces of trunk until "she's a-hangin!"

Mr. Burly drives the little tractor hauling off lengths of trunk with claws that remind me of monsters in movies. Is this where they got the ideas for all those movies? I'm wondering how the lawn is going to look later.

He smacks a pile of smaller branches from the top to compact them, then backs up, scoops them up and totes them out to my parking space. They pretty much took over the parking lot. One guy feeds branches into the shredder.

So she's a hangin' and they let out the slack bit by bit. She eases down as they cut pieces from bottom to top.

They trim another tree of branches that hang over our roof. They all know what to do and one pulls this rope and another is up in the tree and a third is moving stuff around on the ground and the huge branch comes down without falling on anything. I think my son would love to be here watching this with me.

The Asian steps onto the shovel of the tractor and it lifts him so that he can grab the hanging branch and keep it from hitting the grill as it comes to rest on the grass. Just plain fascinating. They have done this over and over and they have become a machine.

Here comes the lady from next door cursing loudly. "Aren't you going to remove this branch on my property?"
"No, we are hired by the city to remove THIS tree. Do you want an estimate? You will have to call the city to ask them."
"Ok I'll call them. It was not there before and now it's down and I have before and after pictures". She has switched to her polite voice but in no uncertain terms she is trying to intimidate them into taking care of her downed tree while they are there. Can we say M A N I P U L A T E ?

After she walks back home they laugh and tell each other she was trying to claim they caused the branch to fall but they note how far it was from where they had been working and conclude she's nuts. They laugh at her. Nice try lady.

She waves at me from her deck. Don't try to get me involved in this.

The ponytail has asked for water and I bring out enough for all of them. I take pictures but not for the same reason the nice lady next door is....I take pictures just because you can in the age of digital cameras,. They clean up the parking lot and the caravan leaves in time for the residents to come home from work.

In my next life I think I'll come back as a macho testosterone type and cut down trees with my buddies.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


This is not my writing. I asked a missionary if I could put her story on my blog and she said yes:

Africa Adventure

Victoria Falls and Botswana, 21 – 27 December 2009

My holiday was anything but boring – falling trees, seeing hundreds of wild animals, many surprises, beautiful scenery, lost luggage, and many forms of transportation. I’m so glad I had this opportunity before I moved back to the UK. I was again struck by the immense variety in God’s creation. So many shapes, sizes, and colours – just in the bird population.

Day 1: Liz Liebenberg (a widow lady from my church) and I began our holiday in Johannesburg. It didn’t begin in the best way possible as I’d forgotten about the limit on liquids that one can carry on board a plane. Liz didn’t know anything about this from her travel agent and she knew it was Liz’ first flight! So Liz had to do a major reshuffle of her bags at the check-in counter.

Otherwise our flight to Livingston in Zambia went well. Yes, it’s named for David Livingston who ‘discovered’ Victoria Falls. Zambia is just north of South Africa and I’d never been to this country before. (A few words of warning if you would like to visit: $US50 is charged for US passport holders for entering the country and everything around the Victoria Falls is VERY expensive.)

Neither of us had seen the Falls and it rivals Niagara in volume of water, height, and width. Pictures can’t do it justice just as they don’t for the Grand Canyon. Because of its size, seeing it requires quite a bit of walking – the most I had done in months, but my new hip did very well The water falls down into a rather wide fault which has opened up and has a horseshoe shape at one end. We really couldn’t see this bit because the water formed a shroud of mist about it. (The travel agent had failed to mention that this afternoon was our only opportunity to go see the falls, so we rushed off as soon as this dawned on us.)

Afterwards we just happened to be hanging round the reception area of our lodge and were told that we were booked for a dinner/cruise. They were waiting for us! No one had told us about this booking. So off we went on the Zambezi River to see lots of hippos and crocodiles and eat a lovely meal while the sun went down. Fortunately, we weren’t part of the crocs dinner that evening!

I’ve never slept under mosquito netting before, but did so this first night and again the last 3 nights of the trip. This time of year is the peak time for malaria, so I’m taking anti-malaria tablets. However, I never saw or heard one such beast the whole time!! – for which I’m very thankful.

Day 2 & 3: The first morning we were driven to a river that helps form the border between Zambia and Botswana. Normally one would cross a river via a bridge, however there was none! Ferries were taking individuals and lorries (trucks) across. Even this was surprising as the lorry ferry was large enough to take only one at a time!! Our ferry was a small boat for which there was no dock. Our boat just eased up onto the sloping muddy bank. Even the lorries drove off their ferry the same way.

At the riverside we were joined by 5 Japanese folk and they, along with our guide, formed our party for the next 2 days. We were taken to Chobe National Park and began to see animals straight way. The Park is 10,500 sq km and has no fences.

Our camp site was in the Park. By ‘camp’, I mean tents, cooking over a fire, hole in the ground for a latrine, etc. I’d not been camping for decades so it was a bit of a shock that ‘home’ was to be so primitive. However, a man did cook our food for us, there was a shower with a roofless tent around it, and the latrine was similarly ‘tented’ and had a seat. Inside our tent we found foam mattresses and bedding. The feather-filled duvet on my bed could have adequately dealt with the Arctic! I lost a fair bit of sleep just because I was either very hot or too cold.
At night kerosene lanterns were placed on the ground between our 5 tents. Nothing else prevented animals, large or small, from entering our site!! Leopards tracks were seen the next morning, elephants were very nearby when we arrived back at camp the next day, and one night we heard a lion roaring. That’s up close and personal! But all the animals had plenty of food in this very natural setting, so they weren’t likely to be aggressive – for which I praised the Lord.

I went on two game drives both days in a 9-seater safari vehicle. I saw so many animals! Elephants, water buffalo, impala, a pack of wild dogs, black backed jackals, kudu, a sable antelope, water bok, giraffes, banded mongoose (geese, gooses?), kori bustards, vulchers (sp?), red billed hornbills, male lion, zebra, baboons, and monkeys. Several times young bull elephants approached our vehicle and tried to show how brave they were by shaking their heads, trumpeting at us, and one even blew out threw his trunk and sprayed us with mud! It was all bravado. If they’d been the matriarch of the herd or a large bull it would have been a very different and dangerous matter.
The ‘roads’ which we travelled in the Park were just sand tracks and were very bumpy. Our guide tried to go over them slowly as I wasn’t supposed to jerk my new hip. However, by the 4th or 5th game drive the area around my incision was complaining painfully. I decided it needed a couple days rest.

The Park was very hot and sandy, so I gave up on feeling clean or wearing clean clothes. Sand has been blowing to this area for millennia from the Kalahari Desert. Both of us looked forward to the next phase of our journey and to a proper shower.

Day 4: We had to get up at 5:15 so we could catch a 12-seater plane at Kasane. On the way our guide, Leonard, took us the long way so we could hopefully see more animals. I finally got to see female lions up close – right at the end of their impala hunt. The impala won and left the 3 lions panting for breath.

The next stage of our journey took us to the Okavango Delta – a huge area in Botswana that is very flat. It all floods around April and lots of it is a permanent swamp the rest of the year. I had no idea that such an area existed. The plane had 3 stops to make to deliver folks to safari camps similar to that which we were going. These flights were rather bumpy and our landing was well timed as I was getting airsick. Because the Delta is covered by so much water, most camps are accessible only via air. Our camp was called Xigera and is run by Wilderness Safari and is supposed to be their best.

It’s called a water-based camp as it’s surrounded by that material. It’s a government-decreed game reserve and has no fence around it. It is well monitored by the government for its effect on the environment, e.g. no permanent structures can be erected. Xigera could have a maximum of 20 guests.

Using the term loosely, we stayed in ‘tents’. What a contrast to the ones at Chobe. The sides and top were of tent material, but each tent was up on a wooden platform, as were the walkways in between. Inside our tent there was a large bedroom area, a dressing room area, shower and toilet and a balcony outside. The view included two small watering holes surrounded by grasslands. Usually in and around the water were many red lechwes (antelopes) and lots of birds. We even had maid and laundry service each day, so it was all rather posh camping!

The staff was very friendly and helpful. One of the guys is a Manchester United fan, so we had a couple long conversations about our team. The food was top notch. Everything was included in the package we bought, so we didn’t have to pay for a thing once we arrived.

Our schedule was similar to the camp in Chobe National Park: up at 5.30, breakfast at 6, leave at 6.30 on a boat trip or game drive, upon return have brunch, tea at 4.00, off again for another game drive or boat ride, dinner at 8.00, flopping into bed soon afterwards. The animals aren’t out and about during the heat of midday, so safari-ing had to be done in the early morning and late afternoon.
The first day at Xigera we went on a mokoro – a dugout canoe ride which was propelled by a man with a pole. (I felt like I’d been suddenly transported to Oxford, England.) This method of transport is very common in the Delta because of all the water and the shallowness of it. I learned what papyrus looks like and bulrushes, a la Moses. Midway we stopped for drinks and biscuits, which they provided for us each time we went out. This was my first day of rest for my hip from bumpy drives.
That night I heard the red lechwes bellowing and other nights heard lions roaring! The animals were free to visit the camp as there were no fences. An elephant had recently been in the central area of it and decided to push a tree down. That was ok except the tree landed on one of the main walkways and crushed it.
Not to be outdone by an elephant, I watched the wind that afternoon take down a very tall tree, which in turn took down a smaller tree - both landing very near to the newly repaired walkway! Needless to say a significant gap was opened in the walkway yet again and the maintenance men of the camp spent the next 2 days repairing it. One of the days was Christmas! Because of the sandy soil (again from the Kilahari) even healthy trees often cannot withstand strong wind. The gap in the walkway lay between our tent and the Lodge, so we had to go down stairs, walk along the ground (hoping to not encounter a wild animal), and go up a ladder. When it was dark we all had to be escorted to our tents anyway, so we never had to take this detour alone.
Day 5 - Christmas: It was hot!! 30C+ degrees (90F+) today. In the evening we went on another mokoro, but in the opposite direction. Saw a tiny white frog. It was probably only 1” or 2 1/2cm long and habituates reeds. Meanwhile the staff had been preparing a sumptuous Christmas meal for us, which included turkey, stuffing, and Christmas cake.
Day 6 – The camp activities included the option of a motor boat ride. Hoping that it wouldn’t be too bumpy, I went on this in the morning. It was fine. However, to get to water that was deep enough for a motor, we had to ride for an hour in a safari vehicle, which was bumpy! In the swamps we saw sitatungo, which are antelope-type beasties. I’d never heard of them before, never mind seen them. We got very close to a small croc and a large hippo.
This holiday was never dull. When we got back to our vehicle it wouldn’t start. It’d been giving us trouble on the way. It is a well-used starter motor because when we saw wildlife the driver usually stopped and turned the engine off. A mechanic from camp came in another vehicle to rescue us – along with a new starter motor. Two men who were with us had a flight to catch, so we flew over the ‘road’ on the way back to camp. Since my incision area didn’t appreciate that at all, I stayed in camp that evening.
Day 7: departure for Jo’burg day. A little 5-seater plane came to fetch us to take us to the airport at Maun, Botswana. The journey to Jo’burg was in a 2-prop airplane, which yet again to the many different modes of transport we used on our adventure.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What's a mother to do?

Every so often I get out Henry Cloud's book and open it to the chapter on controlling moms, where I was so shocked to find myself years back. (name of book: The Mom Factor) This time I was trying to explain to one of my kids how I came to realize I was a controlling mom and I could not remember the part of the definition that opened my eyes, so I went back to the chapter to find it. more in a minute.

So thankful there is a cure chapter following the diagnosis chapter.

You have adult children. ADULT I said. You watch their decisions. Your experience tells you that perhaps theirs is not the best decision. You get it that the time for you to verbalize this is past. Well, of course you can pray. And you do know that it is God Who works inside people to grow them. Every day, new opportunities to put this conviction into action, by NOT ACTING (not lecturing, not trying to manipulate, not even saying what you think about things). They already know what you think about it. Some would argue with me about this..." once a mom, always a mom", "you never stop being a mother", "you always love them"right? My challenge is to define love. Is not God's design to grow the kids up to become mature self sustaining adults?

I slip up many times. I apologize for words that come out of my mouth that are in the lecture category. My sweet kids forgive me, and my sweet God, Who is in the business of Redemption, redeems again. We go on.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Used car salesman. and saleswoman. What comes to your mind. Should I write this? Should I diss these guys that are 'just trying to earn a buck?' They have such ploys. And of course, some will try to tell you to buy a new car. Aresenio. i told him I am not in a hurry. But I AM, he said, thinking he was funny. Not going back there. Search all day on internet....get in and go to some dealerships during rush hour (so logical). Two were Christian. One may be able to get me one like mine at the auction next week. That'd be great. There is one with low mileage and low price but they did not answer their phone. Why does it have to be silver? D hugged me twice when i made jokes with him. I thought it was totally cultural for him and very unprofessional.....llike, you're so funny, I'm just going to fall on you and hug your neck. Go away please, I'm not your best friend. That's part of their training, act like best buds. Then whathisname and I talked about how great XM radio is and he raved about Howard Stern and I thought: I want to go home now. I don't want to buy a car from you. Good to have my son help me decide. I'm paying for my own car rental now. I think of how nice hondas and toyotas and some of the others are but I can't imagine them handling like my vw. I really want to replace that car, even if it has to be older. Then there was Earl with long fingernails and bloodshot eyes. Nice enough, the car I went to look at was already sold. But he did have a vw out there we looked at. And I even searched in DC and Indy in case I could go visit loved ones and drive a new car home cuz there are not many jetta wagons around and the passat is pricey. He gives and takes away. he gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Then we have the girl, who was interested in painting, but my! She told me to come out there and then she had no vw's on the lot. She made me sit down at her desk and talk about what i wanted, which I had already told her on the phone. She was very slow and I heard her discussing unimportant things with her coworkers while I waited to go look at the maybe one car they actually had there. just annoying. don't want to deal with her either. And they have to go and talk to the manager. And the manager calls me into his office and gives me his out the door price. You gotta be kidding. I think you came down a whole dollar. thanks. patience, child, and trust.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Maine 09

A long drive. Up the Eastern Shore was very pleasant, NJ Turnpike tolls have gone up a lot. Overnight overpriced in Connecticut. Topsham at my sister's. Our kids are married to each other and we don't have a word for it in English, so we have decided on sister. We argue over her desire to be a wonderful hostess, which she is, and my desire not to make trouble for her. Brandy the sheltie is ever beautiful and sweet. Stuffed haddock. Heaven.

I commute to Owl's Head which provides me with 2 extra hours each day seeing Maine from Rt. 1. Second week I am at Lake Crawford, which is mostly hid from me via rain and fog. Cozy cabin of knotty pine that smells like my Grandma's house. My room is very dark at night and makes for great sleeping. An erie owl echoes over the unseen lake.

I never quite seemed to get organized in my car and of course I brought too much, but the second week I settle in better and I like my paintings.

A thumbnail is going into the demo book of my teacher. I am honored and blessed.

He said such nice things about my work, beyond my understanding, as I am pretty uneducated in art history, but I take it as a gift and I want to share it, not hoard it.

There is too much to write & I must move on. What comes to my mind, all those grays and how to make them luminous. Fish every day. Nice people in the class. David gives and gives and gives the entire time, but I wish he would find me every day and comment and help me with my paintings. He said at the end I just get better and better every year and that I should try to enter something in the National Academy. I will.

Monday, June 08, 2009

See Good, Speak Good, Hear Good

What’s on your mind? asks Facebook. But there is not room there for it all, so I come to blog. Blog. blogger.

John said he wrote so that our joy/ his joy? may be complete, they had some joy and it could always grow until it is full up, pressed down, shaken together and running over. plenty! John emphasized that he heard, saw, touched Jesus, implying those gnostics, those gnasty gnostics, are wrong to teach spirit is good and physical is bad. If so then Jesus would have been bad. They somehow could not accept that Jesus came in the flesh, cuz they were men and they knew themselves and they therefore had first hand evidence that all men are dogs, (sorry guys, I love ya anyway, but it's true) they tried to get their mind around this and couldn’t so they concluded that therefore since Jesus is good, he must not be physical, cuz HE was sinless, as in not a dog, not like other men.

One thing they got, He was not like the rest of us. But John brought us back to reality and said, yes, he is, that’s just it, isn’t it amazing and you gotta get this in order for your joy to be complete and in order for us to have fellowship. if them gnasty gnostics wanna make up stuff like Jesus didn’t have an actual physical body then what was it I SAW and HEARD and TOUCHED with my own two grubby little hands? LOGIC. man! Use your brains. They were using their brains and came up with a fancy idea that was unfortunately plenty fancy and zero true.

Go, John, thank you for writing this down in a letter so that we can still benefit from is all these years later.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

To Finish a Painting

To finish a painting is the hardest part.

I am good at getting an idea.
I am good at sketching out the shapes and getting a great feel onto the paper.
Then I work on adjusting the colors & detail.

I am trying to finish "Boats Docked in Maine".

I am noticing a pattern.

It needs SOMETHING, but can't figure out what.
I like it and I don't want to ruin it.  Artists, you know this sentiment!

I am at what I call the pushmepullyou stage, (word borrowed from Rudyard Kipling).  I am adding color, taking away darks, emphasizing shadows, erasing mistakes.  OK, sometimes I'm fudging.

Here's what I am seeing:  The right side of the painting is compelling.  It works.  And I am trying to make the left side work in the same way, but there are no interesting shapes or colors in the photo to make that happen, so I am trying to invent them.  It is not working.  My strongest inclination is to crop the left side somewhere close to the mast.  I can see that if I keep fudging, it is not going to work, and if I keep trying I will work the left side to death.  Now why would I want to kill a nice work like this?

Time to crop, sign and start a new painting.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

By the Oaks of Mamre

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From Calm my Anxious Heart homework, chapter on FAITH. 

Each week we write:  What did I learn about God this week?

He sometimes uses spooky seeming things to make His point with us).  He sent 3 men to Abraham and he recognized them as messengers from God even though they are not called angels. He treated them as such.  Weird, it comes across to me.  Now that I have had my own weird experience, I should not see this as spooky, but I do.

It comes across as a oneironaut, a waking dream.  It was in the heat of the day--no breeze, all still save the cicadas in the trees around the oasis, resting in the door of his tent, shade and breeze best there.   Wavy images over the sand.  Is this a heat dream, as compared to heat lightening?

Looking at the context:  Abraham, and all his men, had they been circumcised.  It comes immediately after in the text, though that is not proof that it happened right then. That just means, this is the next story that is written down.  But I am curious.  

Are they reeling from pain?  Were they on Canaan aspirin to numb the pain?  drunk?  That could produce some weird dreams. 

They had obeyed God.  Every male was  circumcised.  Then God visited them with the specific promise about SARAH, not Hagar, that their son would become a multitudinous nation.  After some time they tried to fulfill that promise by surrogate mother Hagar.  Then God said circumcise and they obeyed and then God clarified His intent:  Sarah is to be the mom.  

God still used Sarah even though she laughed in disbelief when she first heard of His plan and then LIED: "I didn’t laugh"....not looking too Godly at that point.  But by the next year she gave birth in old age.  She had grown in faith.  I'm thinking Sarah is blown away by God’s faithfulness.

God has a sense of humor, yes, but he reprimanded Sarah for her lack of belief, her lack of taking God’s word from His messengers seriously.   Can you blame her? Yet God blamed her. But He did not punish her, nor did He change His plan. 

Companion question: What did you learn about yourself this week?

As with Sarah, God is with me, come as you are, imperfect, as is, scratch and dent.  I used to pray "I believe, help Thou mine unbelief."  I did not believe whole heartedly.  And He helped my unbelief.  He took my mustard seed faith and made it grow.  It is growing into a big ole tree that birds can build nests in.  Lord, may my little birdies nest in my tree, which is rooted in You.  And I thank You for this.   You made me, You redeemed me, You gave me my family, You graduated Rick to heaven and You  became my husband. You sent men to help me do things men do best.  You made my son Andrew to step up, You made him faithful like his dad.  You blessed me with grand babies.  You coached me;  you sent me Ron Marsh (Christian life coach: You gave me a life purpose.  Hallelluiah.  You gave me my ability to see beauty and the eye-hand coordination to but my interpretation of that beauty on paper.  You did this. 

And how does it make sense that I still worry about money?  (This is the inheritance that my physical father gave me: you need to have plenty of money--- though at age 97 it is about family.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Given all that has transpired

Question from study of Joseph:  Given all that has transpired in Joseph's life, what do you learn about the process of reconciling broken relationships?


1. If God is at work, "something beautiful, something good, all my confusion, He understood.  All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife, but HE made something beautiful of my life."  (Bill Gaither song, one of my theme songs.)  In Joseph's case, he didn't screw up his own life, his brothers did.   (Although the author of the study suggested Joseph might have been a spoiled tattle tale making him partly culpable for what happened?   I don't assume Joseph was perfect; neither am I convinced  he was a brat.)  In my case, I blamed myself for my broken relationship, although it does take two to tango, and two to reconcile.  No, wait, I went back and forth between blaming me and blaming the other party.  I could really write a saga here.

Back to Joseph study...

2.  If God's plan is reconciliation for my family, friend or mate,  it will happen and it will happen when HE wants it to.  Year by year, Joseph must have had a growing question in his mind as to whether his dad was still alive.    And how is Benjamin?  Is he married?  Does he have children?  Has he become Dad's favorite as I used to be?  Do the brothers hate him? Will they do him wrong, too?  Is he safe?

3.  It's not over till it's over.

4.  The bond of family is almost? perhaps? surely? unbreakable.

5.  If there is any rift in a family, one will always yearn for it to be made right.  One will always feel it no matter what, even if one is comforted with new family, one will always long for the original one.  I would love for my new friend, also named Joseph, to talk about this one.

6.  Part of the reconciling process is that the TRUTH HAS TO BE TOLD OUT LOUD with REAL WORDS THAT THE other party understands, such as, "I am Joseph."
6a.  Another part of reconciling is a plan of action to make things better.

7.  Both sides need to be ready to reconcile.  So far, it is all Joseph's open arms and offer to reconcile.  The brothers have realized the truth with a mixture of joy and fear, but they have yet to prove they have repented.

8.   God humbled Joseph's brothers and brought them to a place where they began to realize God was bigger than they were and they  regretted their sin....."this is what we get for selling Joseph into slavery.  Remember how he begged us not to?"  

9.  Wow.  What a cool story.  Thank You for writing it down, Lord.  I can't wait to study the end, even though I know what happens.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Un-Dog

I pined for my dog who is now in doggie heaven, if there were such a place, in which she would be either not biting people, or biting them and having it make them laugh with glee, since heaven is a place where God fixes things up, right?  No, I don't believe either of those things.

So I searched and tried out a new dog, and yet it is not time to commit, due to more important decisions that need to be made first.

Excuse me, Feelings, I have a surprise for you:  being dogless is on the same page as being productive.  Feelings said:  if I had a dog again, it would ease my discomfort and unhappiness and that that would motivate me to do more and better work.  When the yipping and whining subsides, the Truth quietly reveals that doing the work reduces the felt need for that warm, waggy-tailed loyal buddy. 
So the work (painting/marketing) comes first, and satisfaction is there.  A new dog will be icing on the cake.

I still look at Petfinder.  I peek into animal shelters if I'm not too rushed.  But it is not time.  
It is time to paint.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Weary of this phrase in advertising.  Effective way to get selfish humans to buy more STUFF.
Every time I hear it or read it, I have to ask, how do you know someone deserves something.  What did they do to merit a reward? And I looked up deserve and it is about both a reward and a PUNISHMENT.  Hey, you deserve to get an F on your homework.  You deserve to be in jail.  You deserve to get divorced.  You deserved to crash your car.  Would you hear those words with the same glee?  Where did this entitlement mentality come from and how can I make it go away?

To me it seems quite normal to want personal peace and comfort for self, family, and friends, countrymen, and then the world.  But to throw around YOU DESERVE this and that......

Life is a gift.  I am grateful.  I do not say it is wrong to have a treat or buy something you don't NEED.  But people who fall into this I DESERVE thought pattern are in a trap of greed, love of money (sin) and insatiable desire.

I think if someone in a third world country heard an advertisement saying You DESERVE this, they would look at you with befuddlement!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Assignment:  Write a paragraph outlining how you will Search your heart, or cut the ropes, or Submit to plastic surgery, or Share Your Wealth.  --page 228, #7. of Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow (Women's Bible study I am in at church)  I chose
I.  Submit to plastic surgery.
A.  I do not have credit card debt, but I am living above my means, using up my retirement savings and my kids' inheritance.  I have been a hippie-cricket, judging people who live with credit card debt, while I myself have refused to do the math and live within my means.  I am not totally wicked and out to lunch, in that I tried to buy a condo that was within my means, I sought counsel, looked far and wide, prayed.  But my assumption that I would reach a certain income within a few years without working hard enough to do so and the correlating assumption that I would not use up my savings too fast was inaccurate to say the least.  So I bought.  Then the economy went South and carried my investments with it.

So just as one who hits bottom, and realizes he or she needs to cut up her credit cards and pay off her debts, I have made a SMART goal on how I might reverse my life style from living outside my means to living inside my means.

My goal is to either 
1.  sell my condo and/or
2.   do these 4 things:
a.   get a roommate and
b.   refinance
c.    get a part time job
d.    ramp up painting and marketing;  i.e.  WORK HARDER
(I.)  This most important part of the goal needs to be made into a SMART goal of it's own!  I do have a couple of action steps from this already but it needs more work on Specific and Time sensitive.

Most of all self-coaching has helped me tremendously to sort this goal out.  However I am very aware of me need for PEOPLE and accountability to reach this goal.  That is one reason why I'm writing this assignment right out there in cyberspace.  Comments welcome.  

May the fog clear as I go forward, one baby step at a time.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

yet another silly poem

Once upon a time there was
a blog of minor note because
unfocused blog it often was;
so let's talk company of  Trust.

We want Trust company out, I said it.
That's the truth and you just read it
So the lawyer works upon it
and he maketh progress on it.

I read about the lawyer's call;
it made me happy, that is all.
I hear he's moving wisely forward
Better that than hearing no word

So I rest me in the thought
The Lord is trusted for He's got
all this trust stuff in His power,
And now it is the bedtime hour.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bird Dog

 Urgent!  one year old black lab needs home.
 People inquire and I shoot myself in the foot by being honest: she bit me & I don't trust her around babies. Plus she "leaks"and has signs of hip dysplasia.  I don't want to waste time with those who will change their mind after they learn these things.
 A couple people with dog experience can see beyond the problems ... labs are still a great pets.
So I took her to Florida and posted her down there on craigslist.
Dog Angel wanted to try her out so I drove 2 hours to drop her off.  

Here come three dogs down the lane to meet us.
There are 2 horses, 3 cats,  and a goose.

Zoie tucks tail while the 3 dogs follow her around sniffing her rear end.  Two of them are black labs and one looks just like her. 

There is a commotion behind the barn followed by too much quiet.  Dog Angel goes off to investigate and I see Zoie running away from her and, oh no, did I see something in her mouth?  Oh, please no, Zoie.  She will not come to Dog Angel, so I call out:  ZOIE!  come!  She comes to me and drops the shiny black chicken at my feet and looks up at me with a feather hanging off her lip.....Did I do good, Mommy?
That is one very dead chicken, I said.
I say Zoie, no, but I am not very insistent about it.  God made her to kill birds and she has not yet been trained.  It's too late anyway.
She takes off after the goose.  Dog Angel has walked up and she's going NO NOT THAT ONE!  I'm after Zoie yelling NO NO NO. She almost had the goose, but she did not get him and it hissed at her and she backed off.  Dog Angel says the goose will go after her.  Whew!  That was close.

Dog Angel picks up the chicken and it's dead neck is hanging from her hand while she says to me, "She's 'a bird dog."  
I apologize.  I feel awful and I think I've driven out here for nothing.
But Dog Angel says she'd still like to try her for a couple days and  that her dogs have done this, too.  I used to cry, she said, but they are just yard ornaments.  She really loves the dogs.

So I call in 2 days.  This is a very sweet dog, she says, and she slept at the foot of my bed. and I love her, but she killed the neighbor's cat.
OH NO!  I am so sorry......
I will come get her, unless you know someone who would like her? 
So she thought about it all day.  

When I call back, she carefully presents the shock collar idea.  I sense she is afraid that I will get angry...that I will consider it cruel.  
But she would like to try working with Zoie.   She calls the collar 'letting God talk to her'.   I am very ok with it.  Zoie is responsive and it will not take much.

So in spite of Zoie's best efforts to make a bad impression, she has a new forever family.  And what could be better for a dog? --life on a farm with a pack of dogs, horses, cats and geese.   And a human who will take care of her every need.  May they all live happily ever after.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Zoie, a Corny Poem

Zoie had a bath today.
I took her in the tub. 
It's warm.  She tolerates it well.
The water drains, glub glub.

She shakes and wiggles, soaks three towels,
and runs about the place.
She's clean and soft and smells so good
So I just kiss her face.

Wishing she were not a lemon
Wanting to adopt her, but
She bit me once and that's enough.
Adoption door is shut.

Here's a myth that needs dispelling:
Certain dogs will NEVER bite.
ANY dog, if scared enough,
By instinct prove that that's not right.

Each dog has a bite threshold
add up those things that frighten.
Push those buttons all at once,
I guarantee that dog's a-bitin'.

For Zoie it was fire works
new place, new people, all at night.
I plop down next to her to cuddle.
She fears sore hips I'll touch, so bite!

Suddenly with hole in forehead,
What just happened? we all said.
Sudden movement to shift over,
final straw to bite has led.

This dog has some pain in hips
Toddlers wouldn't respect this,
So we cannot mix the two.
Could Zo's new human be YOU?

We are down to one more day!
Traveling to see my Dad.
Must give this sweet dog away.
Makes me just a little sad.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving, the most blessed of holidays.

The family gathered. Mom prepared a huge meal successfully bringing all hot dishes to the at table in sync.

In the kitchen, she was in her element. We were dressed up in church clothes and the table in lace. There was an elaborate centerpiece with perhaps a deer, sparkly fake snow and candles hand made each year by my father’s secretary. We were all happily looking forward to Mom's lime jello "salad" with dream whip, pineapple, nuts and cream cheese, and marshmallows in it, which was really a dessert.

The hot home made rolls melted the butter. Add jelly from a pretty little bowl. Mound up the mashed potatoes with more butter and skip the gravy. It was the side dishes that made the turkey taste good.

Thanksgiving foods with sugar:

sweet potatoes
jello salad
ice cream
rolls with jelly
cranberry sauce
sweet drinks

High fat list:

butter in the mashed potatoes
French fried onions on the green bean casserole
butter on the rolls
ice cream & whipped cream
salad dressing
butter in the vegetables
corn souffle
butter on the sweet potatoes

Thanksgiving foods that are LOW in sugar or fat:

hmmmm, thinking, um, uhhhhhh, let’s see....Can’t think of any right off hand. Ok maybe the relish tray if you skip the dip.

We 3 girls set the table correctly as we had learned in Girl Scouts. My father, ever the gentleman, pulled the chair out for us.

He would carve turkey at the table with a monogramed sterling silver knife and fork which matched ours. Who wants the drumstick? Would you like dark or light meat? Dark please. Say when.

One of us would sing-song grace:

God is great, and He is good,
and we thank Him for this food.

So we made good memories. We put our napkins in our laps, tried not to talk with food in our mouth, and passed to the left and with pleases and thank you's.

Daddy and my brother would watch football. We girls took turns using the dish master, a hose with a brush that sprayed water and held soap in it. When you wanted soap you pushed the button. This was a modern invention during the days before dishwashers.

I cannot remember what happened after the feast and clean up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

first UN free write

title: Nov. 17, 2008, Sunday evening

I copied the hymn during the offering because of the verse about art not being only for decorating Christian brochures. I let myself be trapped by that idea for years.

God, All Nature Sings Thy Glory (verses 1 and 2)

God, all nature sings thy glory, and thy works proclaim thy might;
ordered vastness in the heavens, ordered course of day and night;
beauty in the changing seasons, beauty in the storming sea;
all the changing moods of nature praise the changeless Trinity,

Clearer still we see thy hand in man who thou hast made for thee;
ruler of creation's glory, image of thy majesty.
Music, art, the fruitful garden, all the labor of his days,
are the calling of his Maker, to the harvest feast of praise.

Written by David Clowney in 1960
sung to the tune of "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig Van Beethoven, 1824

It's not such great poetry, but I appreciated the affirmation that God made me an artist on purpose and I am now using this gift from Him.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Trial

To declutter is a good thing. Now then I have clutter in my Mac. Mac got a boo boo & went off to the Hospital. When he returned what was lost was only a couple months worth of pictures and freewrites. This time I had my external hard drive. Well, that's hugely better than losing a whole year's worth of photos like last time.

That's an interesting place, the Apple store. There are as many geniuses as customers. I ignored all the cool merchandise and went straight to the back. My genius wasn't one and I wouldn't have hung one of those tags around his neck just yet. But he tried and I appreciate their high customer service standards.

So, the "free write" clutter in my computer.

There is a vague notion that someday I will glean something worth publishing, maybe someone will be encouraged by it.

But if the writer is bogged down and isolated, it isn't going to happen.

All those files become heavy and worrisome in the mind. I don't want to go back there and read all that stuff. It's overwhelming.

Discouragement grows.

In the past writing has made you clarify things for yourself, and some of your writing people have enjoyed and been blessed by or at least your words were curious to a friend who enjoys poking around in another person's thoughts.

But freewrite stagnating in the laptop? Hmmm, not good.

So, try this instead: free write directly into your blog for one month. Yes, you will edit it, making it no longer FREE. If you want people to read your words, try it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Still There

So - the seas still roar.

The violent reds are still out there backed by wet greens.
Rain still blackens the tree trunks, turning up the color volume.
I am blessed with a bright maple right outside my back door.

So I told my other conservative friend: if our side loses, and it did, the fall colors will still make impact every year and the sand the the waves are not going away.

I went out walking by the waves in hiking boots with an umbrella which I did not use. There was a wind advisory on the bridge. The seas all the way up to the sea walls. I had to wait for the wave to ebb and hurry over to the narrowed beach. My boots got wet over the ankles once or twice.

It is powerful to be by the water when it is calm. How much more so when it is actually frightening. The wind came from behind me so the back left side got wet. Along with crushing waves was light but pelting rain on my hood. I saw one set of dog prints.

The seas were Davy's grey, darkening toward the horizon, and the sky almost the same hue and value with more blue. The breaking waves had some olive yellow in them.

I tried to use the umbrella after turning into the wind, but it was not worth the effort. How did the sailors in old ships hold the sails? I mean I only had an umbrella! Thus the mind of men who engineered ships and sails, created by the mind of God.

I studied the colors for a sketch from memory later in the studio. I should have studied more, I didn't remember what went into the middle foreground where the waves were all churned up.

We sang the Navy hymn in church last week "for those imperiled on the sea". But there were different words.

I would not want to be out there in a storm.

The ships out on the horizon, normally stretched out lengthwise, were facing land. Are they anchored, turned by the wind or are they controlled by people?

I am glad for the fact that we have elected a man with African roots for President.
I am not glad he is liberal.
We shall see how he leads.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Girl

On Sunday I had to kill my dog, no, you must not say it so harshly. Put her to sleep, euthanize, put her down. It was so very hard. The pain is deep in my chest. It erupts regularly in tears. Poor animal just does what God designed it to do, and because it bites to protect itself when it is afraid, it cannot abide with humans any longer.
Such a companion. Such a gift God made, dogs. There will be no one to wag her tail when I come home from The Great Northwest. I wish it did not have to be. Now then, if I let her live out her years, she might get sick and be in pain and not be able to tell me she is suffering. So she went out quickly and painlessly, I think. But God, it was so hard. It just feels so wrong, because I loved her like a family member and you don't kill family members, do you? Of course not. We all understand: she cannot be trusted around children (or anyone without monitoring her) and now there are 3 grandbabies. So the decision.
I see a squirrel outside and I think of her.
I hear the neighbor's dog bark and I remember.
I see a dark blanket out of the corner of my eye and I think it is she.
I drew a picture of her from memory because I could remember every curve of her body from stroking her so many times.
I wanted the vet to do me next.
I told her not to bite anyone in doggie heaven.
It makes me never want to get another dog.
Guilty of caring too much about a stupid animal.
I will get another dog but I will be very sure it is not reactive, but calm and sociable.
Right now I think I wouldn't mind if I just died.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Born 8.18.08, now 6 days old. seven pounds, 3.7 ounces. 20 inches.
Not much crying but lots of sleeping. The second night, when the mom was exhausted, the friends visited all day and kept her up, the night nurses didn't say much, and she cried because try as she might, the baby did not know how to latch on. I hugged her and tried not to give her too many words...let her cry. She is frustrated watching her baby struggle and I am frustrated watching my baby struggle. I and all the nurses and other mothers told her already it will get better. But it is dark and it is so frightening.

After that she began to be able to nurse. The lactation nurse came in like an angel just as she was getting it. Many positive words and hands on teaching of positions to try and so on.

At home more visitors. Rest. Photos. Letting her lie on my chest while we sleep.

It is Sunday and I did not make it to church. I read to her from the Bible and sang her some songs about God. She rolled her eyes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How To Ride a Train

This summer I took Amtrak to my class in Maine. From there I went to North Dakota to visit my father and sister. My father grew up in ND, so now that he is 96, has dementia and my mom is dead, we take him up to ND every summer where he is peaceful and feels at home.

Amtrak DO'S

Do buy all your tickets ahead of time
Do check the discounts, such as the 30 day rail pass.
Do check your itinerary and tickets so that no legs of your journey are omitted.
Do travel light.
Do check your large bags.
Do take layers or blankets or both to stay warm, especially at night. Consider bringing your own pillow and eye shades.
Do visit the lounge car, especially if there is a National Park Service person on board giving details about things you see rolling by.
Do converse with people you meet.
Do take your time in the bathroom and be takes practice and patience to stay clean on the train.
Do try their Green Mountain coffee unless you only like the dark roast kind.
Do have wheels on your luggage.
Do paint in the lounge car if you paint.
Do remember your camera.
Do bring your toothbrush on board.
Do help someone with luggage.
Do use your laptop if you are going up and down the East Coast. They have internet en route and plugs by each seat.
Do walk around and check out the whole train.
Do try to schedule overnights where you can see your friends or relatives.
Do get some work done while you are NOT DRIVING.
Do expect more room than on an airplane.
Do expect to be rocked constantly.
Do acquaint yourself with all the different stations. They are not as clearly marked as airports.
Do bring your paper tickets. An itinerary is not enough to ride.
Do read the details at
If you have the money, try a sleeper car.

Amtrak's DONT'S

Don't count on being on time.
Don't be afraid of the others on the train.
Don't plan on changing your tickets at just any old station: you can only change them if there is an agent there.
Don't take stuff to read if you won't read it.
Don't stress; The conductors, the attendants and other riders will answer your questions.
Don't worry; someone will help you with your luggage if you need it.
Don't travel in peak season if you have the choice unless you like full trains.
Don't count on internet on board unless you are going up and down the East Coast. Maybe later.
Don't count on a plug to fire up your laptop or cell phone.
Don't take night trains in coach cars if you want a good night's sleep.