December 26, 2010

Day 8 - Christmas in San Angelo

Our last full day in San Angelo began with some of us sleeping late (me) and a delicious Texas BBQ meal downtown. After discussing options for the day, Ayden convinced his dad that Frisbee golf at the Concho River city park would be a great plan. We came home for gear and headed to the river for the three guys to work on their throwing arms.

I walked around with Sarah catching pictures of trees I could not identify and the brown landscape that is so unlike riversides where I come from. It was great to be out in the fresh air and sweet to have more chatting time with Sarah.

Ayden had two boxes of "poppers" that he wanted to break into, so at dusk we all went out to the driveway. These are the little firecracker packets that a child can throw on the ground to see a spark and hear it pop. We found ourselves searching for the duds and stomping on them, all the while realizing it probably looked like a very strange dance to the neighbors across the street. Oh, well...

They vacillated but then they made up their minds to go see TRON in 3D. Ayden and I snuggled on the couch and watched Toy Story 3 with his tub of Christmas popcorn. I don't enjoy all the yelling in these movies, but in the end I found myself reminiscing about toys I had loved as a child. I would enjoy seeing a Betsy McCall doll like the one I had in 1963 and a Chatty Cathy with long red/brown hair, without my added haircut, of course. My brother's plastic train set would also be fun to play with again. (In my mind I'm seeing the 1962 Christmas picture of me in front of the tree assembling it - pretending to be doing it for him!)

The day came to its end with Aaron challenging his dad to a video game: TRON, of course, featuring the throwing of "light disks." So, I guess we would have to call this Disk Day!

December 25, 2010

Day 6 & 7 - Christmas in San Angelo

Christmas blessings!

We piled into the SUV yesterday for an early lunch and some shopping. Ayden trailed Grandpa in Walmart while his folks picked up some groceries for the very special Christmas dinner that Sarah was planning. I grabbed my favorite hot chocolate mix and added it to the cart, then left them to go wandering. It wasn't that I needed to purchase anything, I just wanted to take my brain on a little vacation!

When we got home I started on our tamale pie. We were lacking in cornmeal a bit, so I found some cheese crackers and crushed them into the cornmeal crust mixture to extend it. It worked out fine, though there were no leftovers (and no complaints, as well). This was one of the top recipes Aaron enjoyed as a kid. While it was baking the little family put together their gingerbread house.

This morning we enjoyed Grandpa's pancakes for our Christmas breakfast. Patiently Ayden waited while Grandpa read the story of Jesus' birth. After we enjoyed our exchanging of gifts the "boys" (Ayden, his dad and grandpa) played with a truck that jumped over pop cans in the hall. Sarah spent the rest of the day putting together a wonderful meal. When everyone had their food I served myself and walked into the family room with an impulsive creative "grace" to offer. I raised my plate high over my head and thanked God for the food and for Sarah. Everyone agreed! Sometimes traditions need to be changed, but I'm sure God always appreciates a thankful heart.

December 23, 2010

Day 5 - Christmas in San Angelo

I just haven't been able to adjust to central Texas time, especially when the others are also staying up late. It's long been my practice to have my unwind-be-quiet-with-Jesus-time after everyone is asleep, but lately that's been difficult. It seems my blog posts are dull dry news instead of vibrant expressive writing because of my sleepiness, but I will plow ahead.

Being with Ayden brings out some playfulness in me. I have a feeling I'm giving him an unusual perspective on grandmotherly behavior, but there's no harm in that! When he wants to use his big muscles and push me a little too far, I invoke a gentle warning with the one-finger poke in the ribs or with the touch of a ticklish spot. He'll run far and wide on the outskirts of the backyard, and because he always returns I can move easily to his side and give him my intimidating super-grandma face (which sends him flying away again). At least that's how the game went this afternoon! Yesterday's game of hopscotch was hard on my knees, so when I petered out Ayden got Grandpa to give it a go. I'd never seen that before.

Jerry and I have been somewhat "under the weather" this week, so we lounged on the couch tonight watching two young parents wrap their Christmas gifts in front of the tree. It's so interesting to contemplate how our roles have matured. Now it's my turn to be the older woman, and I hope Ayden is seeing that I meant it when I told him today that I didn't want it any other way. I had my young years, now I want to walk with Jesus wherever he leads me in my older years!

December 22, 2010

Day 4 - Christmas in San Angelo

We played with the marble shooters on the hallway floor today while my son and husband made the guest bathroom a construction zone. When I was here in August we stacked up things we'd found on our walks to make targets, like feathers and sticks. Today Ayden's step-mom suggested his hot wheels track might make shooting a little more interesting. It did! We got the marbles squared up to launch at stacked pop cans, creating the necessary racket that's appropriate with such endeavors.

Earlier in the day the tree got itself decorated. I say it that way because I contributed very little to its beautifying. It took me quite awhile to stretch out the tight places after my run this morning, so I watched shiny lovely colorful things join themselves to the tree from my various contorted angles on the floor. When we were both done, the tree and I, we shared the satisfaction of "well done." It's makeover made it shinier and brighter. My makeover made me stand taller and walk stronger. Win/win!

Sarah whipped up another wonderful meal and invited her friend over with her little boy to share it with us this evening. Aaron seemed surprised with the amount of noise two boys can make. I just grinned and reminded him he was one of three little boys! His little sister wasn't shy about diving right in, so we usually had a hefty level of noise going on ourselves. Better than watching someone else have all the fun, I say!

December 21, 2010

Day 3 - Christmas in San Angelo

Reconnaisance mission in Walmart: To shop undetected by two Air Force sergeants with my grandson while he chooses and purchases their gifts. Outcome: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

The store was packed tonight with an abundance of joyless and/or tired faces, but I was in the mood to create another memorable adventure for Ayden. Grandpa Jerry headed to the hunting/camping section and our sergeants moved out of sight, so Ayden and I proceeded with our plan. We crouched and dipped behind the racks as we watched for our targeted gift-receivers, then we discussed different things that might appeal to them. I hung his choices on a rack, and as he decided on his favorites I kept an eye out.

For security purposes I will make no disclosures what those gifts are just now.

We all managed to get our secret purchases into the house and hidden away and we thought it would be a great time to launch the original TRON movie, but we were so bushed (and Jerry and I had watched it just a few nights before with other family members) we abandoned that idea. Now they are all nestled into their beds and I'm wrapping up my business of the day.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!" Luke 2:13-14 NIV(c)2010

December 20, 2010

Day 2 - Christmas in San Angelo

I was 19 in 1975 when I took my first trip in an airplane. We were served what I thought was a special treat and even offered to eat my grandmother's serving of the shrimp cocktail. But now, more than 30 years later, I have uncovered the suppressed memory of the rest of the story! Food poisoning (or an allergic reaction) to shrimp! May that never happen again!

With my son's family we drove down to San Angelo from Dallas yesterday, stopping in Dublin, Texas at the Dr. Pepper factory/cafe. How fun to see the museum pieces and read the history of the making of Dr. Pepper. Apparently, the drink bottled there is the only plant that has always used pure cane sugar as its sweetener. Others switched to less expensive ones. And have you noticed on the original bottles of Dr. Pepper the 10, 2 and 4? Those are the times of day it was suggested you have one to keep your blood sugar balanced. Interesting prescription!

Jerry and I stood in the street extra long to soak in the Texas sunshine. We felt a little odd surrounded by the flat landscape but enjoyed cracking pecans with our grandson on the sidewalk by the convenience store; adventures that we don't have in Oregon!


December 19, 2010

Day One - Christmas in San Angelo

Even though it was only hours ago that I felt deathly sick and its memory is close to the center of my mind, I don't want to go any deeper into it than that. Well, I will share some observations that I made in the midst of it with a few (just a few) explanatory background notes.

1. I never lost faith that my sense of humor would return, even though I felt total wretchedness in mind and body. Shakiness, fever, chills and the other stuff you don't want to hear about.
2. My feelings about being packed into a hotel room in this state with everyone deep in their sleep around me is hard to describe. Add to that the noisy neighbors in the hall and the bathroom fan not working to muffle the "keeping me awake" sounds, and then the tears that fell when I couldn't just patiently bear it and literally asked God for mercy.
3. As my husband began to wake in the morning he discerned I was snoring and totally unaware that I had survived the most horrible night of my life, he woke me up to inform me of it. My humorless response, "well, maybe it was my turn." (I apologized later).
4. The thought did occur to me that perhaps I would never feel this bad again and the rest of our trip would be wonderful, but I know life is just sometimes not easy. And I have not heard God promise me that. But oh, I am so glad it is over for now!

October 31, 2010

Gotta Go Outside

I'm done with my work and determined to get away from my computer. Nothing can compare to head-sized maple leaves golden yellow against the darkest evergreen, and then down the road the neon red sugar maple colors of un-named hues that boggle the mind.

Gotta go...

October 26, 2010

Upload and Update

My parents were delighted with the tributes that different friends and family members sent his way for his birthday. Thank you! I have one more to upload, then I think that's the end of it. I'm looking forward to spending some quiet evenings reading over them with him here in a week or two. Or maybe we'll do it before the Duck game on Saturday. (Not exactly a quiet evening!)

Jerry and I have accepted an offer on our home and should close the sale by the end of this week. Our plan is to spend the winter in my parents' home while they stay warm in southern California. Jerry will continue his studies and I will continue my transcription work while we keep our eyes open for our next home. These are our plans, but we know God's plans are sometimes quite different from ours, so we will just pray and follow him. How can you go wrong with a plan like that?

So, yes, my dear sister who is already living in a "55 and over" community, it's my turn! Now there's an adventure I don't believe I ever thought I'd ask for.


October 9, 2010

Birthday Tributes to Paul Sheldon

Our birthday tributes to our Dad, Uncle, Brother-in-law, friend, etc. are stationed at the bottom of this Web page. I had intended them to be planted here where my blog posts show up but was unable to make that happen. Oh, well!

To protect your privacy I will publish your work with only your initial(s). With your permission I will change that to your name as it appears in your email and in the prints. Just let me know.

I've been stuck home sick these past few days, so there is still time to contribute (or change what you've already submitted). All you need to do is email me your words. I will arrange them with a photo and/or border (as below) to make a nice a 4 x 6 print to slide into his album, which he keeps handy by his recliner to look through periodically. (You may notice some of my more "wordy" contributors have covered two prints.)

Thank you so much for your contributions! They make such good reading!

October 8, 2010

Tributes to My Dad

My Dad's birthday is tomorrow and I have been working on a project to have tributes printed on 4x6 photo stock and inserted in an album for him. He has enjoyed perusing through these in the past, so for the next few days I will upload them as I complete them. My blog template has changed and it appears I cannot upload them the same as before, but I'll figure something out. Happy Birthday, Dad! (Birth date: Oct. 9, 1933)
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The first few tributes are uploaded below. I'm unsure how to format the others because some contributors got quite "wordy." Perhaps I'll just add more pages to Dad's album! If you have a photo of yourself, a mountain or flower picture to contribute, that would be great. This is going to turn out quite nice!

Thank You!

September 29, 2010

Old Man on Campus

That's what he calls himself, instead of BMOC, "big man on campus." Now he's the old guy!

Some dear friends from our post high school days, Merle and Mary, are students as well, so I guess they'll have their own silvery-haired peer group! In the 1970s this was practically unheard of. Now it's not quite so strange. Perhaps one day we will even be the majority. Of course, that probably won't be till we're over the next hill! Will the administration have to confiscate our canes as dangerous weapons before we enter a classroom? Will the school have to provide wider doorways for our scooters, and hearing aid jacks at each seat?

Mary gave a good warning, that we older students have to be careful to not appear overly "parental" at first (not her exact words), but to stay in the background quietly. I took that to heart a few terms ago, but I found that once some of the 20-something students got to know me a little bit they often appreciated a mom with a listening ear. But perhaps being in class with a dad figure might be more uncomfortable to some. Of course, he could just present himself as the wise scholarly grandpa instead!

September 22, 2010

Hearing Heart Blog: Austic Girl Finds Her Voice

Hearing Heart Blog: Austic Girl Finds Her Voice

Austic Girl Finds Her Voice

I have a niece who has a young son with autism. For a short time he was in my care, and though I am an experienced foster parent I had no tools for dealing with the little guy's special needs. I could look into his bright eyes and see the shining lovely child that he was slowly change as dark clouds seemed to pass through his head. His face showed his torment in just a matter of seconds. In his rage toys and other objects would be flung across the room. It was heartbreaking to not be able to understand his distress, much less know how to help him.

That's how the teenager in this video affected me. Her mental capacity was questioned until she turned 11 years old, when she started "speaking" through a computer! I used to tell my foster children that they needed to write down their experiences so that people would understand how it feels to be in foster care. Listen to what this girl has to say about living in her autism.

Click on the title of this post to see it. If the link I posted does not work, go to Kim Komando's Web site at and search for the title Mute Autistic Girl Finds Her Voice.


September 15, 2010

Nap Boys

Mama Carlie laid her sleeping 2-year-old on the floor piled with comforters on a sleeping bag for a nap at Grandma's house. So angelic-looking in his faded denim overalls and curly head. Then she left.

Big brother isn't so angelic just now. He doesn't realize that I am far more suspicious than mama and I know he's not following her protocol. I peeked under the door for the second time to discover that he had rolled little brother all the way under the bunk bed frame (still sleeping) and was trying to wake him.

I quietly opened the door and gave him a scowl face. I don't know how bad I appeared, but I didn't have my glasses on. At my direction he scooted back over to his pillow and gave me his best "angelic" smile.

Children are an inconvenience, an annoyance, and robbers of my fun. They don't fit in an adult's mold, an adult's world, an adult's plans. They are who they are, and I need them terribly. The reality is that I am the one who doesn't fit. I'm the one who needs reminding that I live because of love. Thank you, God, for interrupting my meaningless pursuits to bring me back to love. Thank you so much!


September 8, 2010

A Glutton for Words

Since Labor Day this Monday I have heard or spoken approximately 848,255,309 words. I am normally a woman of few words and I like to keep things simple, but for now that has changed.

We spent Labor Day "fellowshipin'" with longtime church friends playing silly games with marshmallows, rowboats, plastic chairs, plastic spoons, Frisbees and blindfolds. We circled our chairs to sing and worship with guitars and a box drum, so Monday my head was full.

Tuesday I packed in more. Too many years had passed since I chatted with cousins Chuck, Jean and Pat from Anchorage and Seattle - and here they were in my parents' living room! "Visitin'" went on till late into the night. My father in his 70s couldn't stifle a yawn and the overload of words and daytime hours took their toll.

Wednesday I met my cousins for breakfast with my brother who is also a person of few words. He displayed his willingness to contribute with flair, however. We stood outside discussing and discussing while people attempted to enter the restaurant with a multitude "excuse me's," so we broke up into two cars and headed to Costco. I don't know if the guys in the other car were talking, but I don't remember any lack thereof in mine!

Wednesday evening was our "gatherin'" time. My house filled with people attached to plates, bowls, pie pans, and increasing chatter. We are so polite; we took turns talking while the others were chewing so that the silence would not intrude. Then out came the guitar for the "singin'" and the drum to add umph!

Sometimes you've just got to indulge yourself in the riches around you, and store up the good things for times when there is less. I know in just a matter of hours I will wonder at my lonely solitude (and thank God for memories of the noise).


August 31, 2010

No Lunchbox for School

My dear husband gathered up his notebook and pen, cell phone and glasses this morning, and off he went to his orientation at Lane Community College. Remembering my motherly musings about being an older student on campus and enjoying it, I watched him get in his truck and drive off.

I had my turn three years ago when I stepped out to learn something new. I chose my top two favorite classes in the entire course catalog, and decided that if I only had ONE term of school, these would be the most valuable to me: Microsoft Word and Computer Fundamentals. Both of these fed my hunger and love for words and seemed an easy beginning for me. My self-confidence was lagging a little bit, so "easy" was important to me. From that point I grew to where I am now working in my dream job at home from on my computer.

Now it's his turn. His daughter-in-law joked with him last night that he needed a lunch pail, and we reminisced about the tin lunch pails of the 60s when we were in elementary school. Mine had a conservative plaid design, his had "Fireball XL5" printed on it (a children's TV show). Those were important things to us 50 years ago.

New beginnings, new things to learn, overwhelming adventures. Here we go again!


August 27, 2010

Internet Woes

Tears of frustration—is that what happens when the internet is down? My goodness, how did I become so attached that I would feel this way when it’s not available to me? Part of the problem was that I was functioning in the personal fear that I was to blame, that I’m not smart enough to figure out how to fix it. Too many steps and things to try, it was all terribly overwhelming for me.

I spent most of the morning yesterday troubleshooting, going through the steps I’d learned in my courses at LCC. Finally, I had unhooked and rehooked the modem and router so many times that I was afraid I’d tear the cord apart in my distress. When I identified the fact I was getting angry I shut everything down. I knew my work was not going to get done that day.

I’m rather embarrassed by it now, but I went through a progression of worries like “what if” terrorists controlled internet service and shut the whole country down? “What if” I couldn’t work any longer? “What if ” my house slid down the hill into the Long Tom? “What if” all my hair falls out when I get old?

Rational or irrational, I unplugged my worries from my hub (my head) and turned my eyes back to reality; to Jesus, my Prince of Peace. The Bible says we are all like sheep. I think that’s very kind, because yesterday I behaved more like a distressed chicken.

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August 25, 2010

Down by the Riverside

Just thought I'd share a multi-generational family moment. Here's a picture with my parents, husband, son, daughter-in-law, daughter, friend, and grandchildren all cooling off by the river at Harrisburg, OR. It was a rare occasion when we all could come together with just 2 hours' notice. A sweet, relaxing time.

I've been 100% guilty of neglecting family time. I am mending my ways now, and putting other things aside to be with them more. You're welcome to join us; just give me a call next time the temperatures go above 90 degrees. Let's go get our feet wet!


August 21, 2010

Elder Disruptions in Church

Thwack! The old lady's cane came down hard on the top of the pew 2 rows ahead of her. She was aiming for an older gentleman's head, believe it or not! I didn't see it, but I was told her first shot had hit home. Evangelist Tim was well into his sermon and was struggling to stay on track while Mr. Wayne, the older gentleman, repeatedly turned to converse with the boy next to him on the front row. Apparently Mr. Wayne was distracting more than just the speaker, and this lady took it upon herself to reprimand him! Thwack!

I had found Mr. Wayne a delight to converse with before the service started. So many interesting stories you can hear from a 94-year-old; driving a model T when he was 9 years old, outliving three wives. I guess he just had more to say.

As I leaned discreetly to view the goings on, my mouth dropped open. Pastor Fred was sliding into the pew next to Mr. Wayne with his finger on his lips "shushing" the older saint. It just never occurred to me that this would be necessary for someone other than a child, but here it was in a church that boasts a sizable majority of elderly worshipers (I didn't realize till then just how young my home church is).

The speaker continued without missing a beat while Pastor Fred continued to encourage Mr. Wayne, but I had to turn my face to the wall so no one could see my amusement. My grandmother, a pastor's wife, called this "getting tickled." I was tickled, all right!

I learned later that Mr. Wayne lives in an Alzheimer's unit and has no one to talk to reasonably except when Pastor Fred brings him to church. He calls his home "the crazy place." You can be sure I thanked God for his old friends, but I did suggest to Pastor Fred that he may need to have the elders check their canes at the door before services.


August 16, 2010

A Boy and His Tool

He was on to me. He knew this grandma would try to get him interested in an adventure that he might not like, not at first anyway. But we went out the door into the west Texas heat and played on our chalk drawings in the driveway. He needed to work on his hop-scotch proficiency and I was recruited to improve the tracing of his silhouette with a cape and power-charged boots so it would look more like Iron Man. Then we looked around for something else to do.

I decided to lead him across the street to satisfy my curiosity about an empty house that had been cleaned up the day before. (That old nesting instinct hasn't died off in me yet!) We didn't intrude, but I noticed further down the dead-end street some trees that appeared to be a park. I coaxed him along "just a little farther" until we came to a ditch that he recognized as a place where he and his dad had looked for a geocache* treasure. We agreed that the area appeared a bit spooky so we turned back.
"Look at that, Ayden. There's your treasure!" He picked up the slightly rusty vise grip tool and I figured out how to open it. After a good scrub I showed him how to snip a stick in two. Later his dad gave him some real man work to accomplish - snipping off the remaining pins from a broken honor guard medallion he could no longer wear on his uniform. Then he gave it to me!

This mama never tires of little gifts from her "boys."

*geocaching, I've been told, is looking for items that someone has buried and entered the GPS coordinates to on a Web site in order for others to find them.


August 11, 2010

Bowling Pins and a Quiet Heart

In the raucous of bowling balls pounding the floor and pins tumbling and crashing I enjoyed some quiet moments in my head tonight. Aaron and Sarah were enjoying their games and their friends, and Ayden was occupied with the business of getting his ball down the lane and watching the score. That allowed me to crawl into my mind for some thinking time.

1. Tomorrow is my last full day in San Angelo and I don't know when I'll see my son and his family again.
2. Aaron & Sarah are feeling a sense of loss with the eminent departure of several of their friends who are heading out to new assignments (military). We're all rather somber tonight.
3. I'm looking forward to getting back into my strength training, my work and worship ministry.
4. There are lifestyle changes awaiting me at home that could be overwhelming, almost as much as when I was preparing for my wedding 35 years ago - the most serious lifestyle change!

It seems remarkable, but with all of this there is quietness in my heart. It doesn't matter where I am or what is happening around me, bowling ball raucous and all, I have been given a place I can go where the God who does not change holds me always. I cannot imagine anything more valuable than that!


August 9, 2010

Caverns of Sonora, Texas

Yesterday we scooted along in the Honda for about 2 hours to Sonora, Texas. As a child I had visited Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico and thought it might be a fun trip for my Texas family, but Aaron found information on the Caverns of Sonora which was much closer!

After the tour we spent good money for three bags of dirt to strain in the sluice box like we were panning for gold. Sure enough, we found numerous bits of gemstones and pretty rocks. In the gift shop my son and I resisted the impulse to buy a rock for for his grandfather. What kind of rock do you buy for a guy who has just about one of everything already?


August 7, 2010

A Walking/Dancing Tour of San Angelo

My son, his wife, and my grandson took me on a walking tour of downtown San Angelo to show me some storefronts and historical buildings today. I'm such a wimp in the heat, but since it's just part of life in west Texas I embraced the challenge. Sarah found some nice things at a couple boutiques, Aaron enjoyed watching her, and Ayden and I looked into some kaleidoscopes and chiming clocks.

Most of the places where we stopped were filled with fine glass, ceramics and other breakables, so more reserved behavior was called for. But one of our last stops was at a re-sale shop with a more relaxed environment. At one point the proprietor even egged me on with some teasing. After a quick look-around I was pretty well convinced I wouldn't find anything I needed to buy, so Ayden and I played a low-key game of hide and seek around the racks.

Then the music from the radio started affecting my feet. Was it dancing? YUP! I took a few steps here and there, and then pretty soon Ayden started in. We did a little two-step together, then he stole the show! He bowed and kissed the back of my hand, then returned to his footwork. A couple nearby shoppers smiled and remarked about the fun. The proprietor said she'd thought of moving racks out of the way.

Moments later we stepped out into the blazing sunshine with a tired boy and packages in tow.

Thank you, God for moments of pure joy expressing itself in a boy and his grandma!


August 6, 2010

Chalk Giants and Iron Man

Ayden and I hung around home today, so before the heat set in we made our own world with sidewalk chalk in the driveway. It's fascinating to enter into boys' play.

1. The first thing we created was a road. What guy would be happy without a way to go places?
2. The second thing of importance was a WalMart store, probably for buying more Iron Man toys, I'd guess.
3. Then we decided Iron Man needed a home, so Ayden made the city of Dallas at the end of the driveway and I drew a garage for his motorcycle to park in.
4. I suggested a gas station, but it was most likely a "girl thing" to think that a motorcycle could run out of gas. Don't bother him with such details!
5. At that point he was losing interest in my drawing. Drawing is my thing, not his, so in order to re-engage him I asked him to lay down on the ground so I could trace him and make a giant for Iron Man to fight. Then I lay down and we made a scary grandma giant. I haven't quite figured out how a grandma can be scary, but I'll consider that later.

Now if I had been playing with chalk by myself I would have drawn flowers or trees, and probably a cabin in the woods with a chimney and horses grazing nearby. I appreciate words, so there probably would have been an inspirational quote or scripture somewhere in my drawing. I'm a girl, and an older one at that, so I had to disregard my idyllic scenario and stay plugged in to a 7-year-old boy's world of battles and victories and challenges and bravery.

When I'm back in Oregon I can work on my cabin.


August 5, 2010

"Daddy Doesn't Go the Wrong Way"

Being a little sleep deprived did not help with my anxiety about navigating San Angelo for the first time this morning. The sun was threatening to pass 100 degrees by mid afternoon, so there was anxiety about the heat. Add to that my anxiety about driving someone else's car for the first time with someone else's child in tow. A little praying and a little singing--then I felt better. We gotta go now or I'll chicken out as it gets hotter, I thought.

Though the GPS unit had been demonstrated and well explained, I needed the comfort of finding a map and seeing the layout in my head myself. I can't handle too many new things at once. Don't tell me to head east, tell me the name of the road to watch for. Don't give me a list, draw me a picture. That's just how it works best for my brain.

I found a Google map and charted my course. Once on the road I thought at one point I might be leaving town and heading for Christoval. Deep concentration brought me through and we eventually arrived at Wal-Mart. Only twice did Ayden say, "you should turn there, that's the way!" after passing a street.

It was looking good for my nerves when I finished off my shopping list and let Ayden peruse the toy aisle. He enjoyed educating me about the things he wants and doesn't have. (We're all the same when we're shopping with grandma, aren't we!) After being thoroughly informed we headed back to the car.

As he buckled himself a look of Ayden-horror came over his face. "Where's Iron Man?" So we locked up the car again and retraced our steps through the store to where our last DON'T GOTTA lesson was. There he was on the bottom shelf. I informed Iron Man that he had completed his mission and he needed to stay with commander Ayden from now on.

I tried to breathe easier on our way home by noting the flat landscape and other differences from what I see in Oregon, but Ayden wasn't too interested. That is, until he recognized the street I should have turned on. Google hadn't informed me that the name of the street wasn't on the exit sign homeward-bound! He wanted to be distressed, but I assured him it was normal to be clueless in a new city. Daddy doesn't go the wrong way, but sometimes grandma does.

So now grandma is home, Ayden is home, Dad & Sarah have had lunch and returned to work. My grandson is resting sweetly in his bed, and I will be in that state soon - releasing my anxiety. God can help us get to that place of rest, even when we've gone the wrong way. Yawn!


August 4, 2010

50 Years of Sprinkling

I ran through the sprinkler with my grandson today, and I haven’t done that in Texas in 50 years! I don’t know what this neighborhood thinks of me, but I hope they see how much fun people can have if they take a little time to play with a child!

Ayden’s San Angelo parents and I enjoyed another sweet bonding time till rather late last night, so I got up too late this morning for Plan A: get a jog before they leave for work. Consequently, I kicked into Plan B: work out/play with Ayden. He played in the sprinkler alone for awhile as I jogged up and down the street in front of his house. Then I joined him! I slipped my swimsuit and my skirt covering on and had a blast teaching him how to gargle, not get it up his nose, not spit it out on grandma, and manipulate the spray with the airplane pose. We observed how only one side of the tree was getting wet, while at the same time we were totally soaked!

I sloshed indoors to get some towels and my camera and we played for another half hour getting some wonderful shots of a grandma and a kid enjoying the water.

Oh yeah, I had also served my country by washing the car for a couple of Air Force sergeants (my kids) before the water sports began. Water work before water play! That all happened before breakfast and before his Grandpa was out of bed back in Oregon. Not bad for an old girl, eh?


August 3, 2010

The Pleasure of Washing a Plate

I dug my apron out of my luggage this morning and went to work pushing counter-top appliances around to wipe and scrub. I guess I feel enough a part of this new family that I can start helping tidy up.

I don't know how to describe the simple pleasure of washing the dishes. Being here with my son's family has made me reminisce about my "younger mother" days. I wore the badge of HOMEMAKER proudly, because to me it meant that my husband and I were in agreement that this was the best investment we could make together. We supported each other, and it was all for love.

"You shall love the Lord your your neighbor as yourself."

So I washed the plates, swept the floor, managed the garbage, did some laundry and played Mario Brothers and Wii games with Ayden. Some of these things are not my most favorite activities, but love causes me to live outside of self. That is my joy.


August 2, 2010

Trudging Along in San Angelo

My grandson borrowed his Dad’s “O” (U of O) hat and he was ready to go. But his Oregon grandma required a little more time than that in order to fill the backpack with water bottles, sunscreen, a trail mix bar, cell phone, handkerchief, camera, lip balm and coin purse. My wide-brimmed hat was planted on my head, chin strap cinched down, sandals buckled. Ayden wasn’t sure he appreciated the idea of having to walk to the park today, and I was a little concerned myself. He preferred riding in the car, but today there was no car available. And it is out of my comfort zone to explore a neighborhood I’m not familiar with when the temperature is due to reach 100°. Definitely out of my comfort zone! But this day was a “new beginning” day, my first day in San Angelo with 7-year-old Ayden.

When we headed down the road it didn’t take long for me to become swarmed with memories of my childhood in El Paso. I’d forgotten about the heat and the days spent in our tiny plastic pool, and everyone moving at a slower pace. Not long after we crossed the street we found a marble and a plastic golf ball, and Ayden pushed them down deep into his pocket. Those would be treasures we would play with later when I got out the marble shooters I’d brought.

We explored an empty lot that bordered a small lake, walked on the curb, took water bottle breaks, arrived at the park to find a committee of vultures picking apart the carcass of a cat, made silly noises in the play structure’s megaphone, shared the trail mix bar, rested in the shade of trees I don’t know the names of and sat on grass that is coarser than ours at home.

Heading home we counted the streets to mark our progress. We stopped often to sit on a curb and wipe the sweat off our red faces. I remarked that there seemed to be far more red trucks in Texas than in Oregon, and far fewer blue or brown ones. And I thought possibly fewer people take walks in Texas. But then, these observations came only after one day in San Angelo.

After we cooled off in the air conditioning we made the treasures we found into a game to occupy even more of our together time. I stacked up the pop cans, placed the feather on top with the plastic golf ball, and he shot the marble and sent them flying.

One thing great about being a grandma - more freedom to play!


July 4, 2010

Monkey Face at Smith Rock

Tuesday was the second day of our vacation to Central Oregon, and we were prepared for the heat and rocky trails. Jerry wasn't sure at first that he would enjoy more than a few hours at Smith Rock near the town of Terrebonne, but we found ourselves taking in the rock climbing culture and the very different landscape than we are used to in the Willamette Valley where we live.

After our descent into the canyon of the Crooked River we rested in the shade of a large ponderosa pine where we met the dad of one of the rock climbers. We could barely make out the figure of his daughter on the rocks above us. While we chatted he pulled out his cell phone to contact her group to let them know lunch had arrived. Very interesting "wilderness" experience! Being in the sunlight and heat is a struggle for me, so Jerry and I rested and admired the rock cliffs across the gorge from us at one point. We named one formation "Baboon Rock" because of its appearance and the one paw palm in the air. Not long after taking a picture I took a hard fall in the path and injured my right elbow, which is still healing nicely five days later. The bruises and soreness made the day more difficult, but we sure enjoyed the rocky playground God made. Jerry said he was getting a "crick in the neck" because of craning it to continually gawk at the cliffs above us. We pressed on and made it to within view of Monkey Face, then turned back to find a shady spot to cool our hot feet in the river. I was so glad that Jerry was able to set up the tent trailer for us that night - without much help from me. I was spent!

July 3, 2010

Smith Rock in Central Oregon

Rock climbers paradise! Jerry and I sat on a pillar of rocks overlooking the canyon and Crooked River and watched a group of high school girls and their coaches navigate the rock wall below us. After searching for an easier path into the canyon (and almost giving up) we found a majestic ponderosa pine to enjoy. But mostly the whole day was about ROCKS!

May 7, 2010

Brain Food

I am a big girl now, so I have to feed my own brain and nourish my own soul. Part of maintaining my "hearing heart" is to open my ears and my mind to the good stuff and avoid the useless and depressing. Housecleaning never seems to end. Neither does mind cleaning!

One of my favorite resources for encouragement, instruction, commentary and motivation is Dave Ramsey's radio program archives. I listen to his broadcasts free at this link: He's so entertaining that I want to stay on my treadmill LONGER just to hear what he has to say.

It's just good, common sense financial- and life-related advice, and I've been a listener for 3 years now. His products have (rats, that sounds like an info-mercial) changed our lives. But I'm not kidding, it's good stuff.

If you know something has to change in the way you think about your finances and such, give Dave Ramsey a listen.

May 1, 2010

Her First Love Note

My dear daughter gave me this tiny piece of paper, about 1 1/2 inches square, and I have cherished it for many years. Sometimes the small and tiny and simple things have tremendous value!

I will be filling my trunk up for several trips to Goodwill this week. Who needs all that stuff, when I am so wealthy with LOADS of love?

April 15, 2010

43 Days

Last night I grabbed two hand-fulls of dried beans to throw into the pot for soaking, and even then I thought it might be too much. I'm having a hard time adjusting to just cooking for two! The chili turned out great and I still got a pile of typing done today. Gathered the eggs, fed the dog (twice), folded some laundry, checked on the goats, helped Amy move boxes to her new place, kissed my grandsons and daughter-in-law, picked up a packet at the post office, pumped weights, rode my bike, and typed typed typed typed. Also, spoke spoke spoke edited spoke edited spoke (voice recognition software).

43 more days now. We talked about the timing of Amy's leaving with this season of job change for us. It really is a process of change. It will be quite abrupt when it gets down to him walking out the door of his office for the last time. And his alarm clock doesn't go off the next morning. And he takes a deep breath and begins to


April 14, 2010

Day 44 - Emptying Nest

I helped my youngest child load boxes into our two cars tonight. She is moving out tomorrow, and she's been buzzingly busy. For some reason she cannot stop grinning. We sit and chat late into the night - me at my computer, and she sharing her dreams while draped over my old chair. In just days our lives will change forever. How incredible!

In 44 days Jerry will have his turn. In fact, it feels like we are stepping out already. Every day now we talk about it and reinforce our desire and commitment to follow through. Since I began saving my paychecks we have felt far more free to dream about good work for him, as well. There are good things coming; we can feel it!

My "book of the week" is a biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder, and all through it I see parallels with our lives right now. We are not the only ones who have turned the box of our lives over and dumped out the contents. Time to reexamine our stuff. Clean out the unnecessary. Break up the unusable and obsolete. Build something new. Like the Lego blocks my sons played with, they are more fun when they are available for making a new creation.

We are available, Lord!


April 13, 2010

Sharing the News - Day 45

The hardest thing today was telling my parents about our plans for Jerry's unemployment. They survived World War 2 and the Great Depression. How do you just walk away from a good job?

We sat in our living room tonight with a bowl of (Oregon Hazelnut, Dad's favorite flavor) ice cream. I put some homemade cookies in a take-home baggy (that always pleases him) on his lap, and Jerry and I took turns attempting to explain our thoughts and plans for the future.

1. We just know it is the right step and the right time.
2. We don't know exactly what follows that.
3. We know that Jerry will have work that he will enjoy.
4. God is faithful, and we will do our best to follow him.
5. Like the poor tailor promised in Fiddler On the Roof, to his future father-in-law, in effect, "your daughter will not starve."
6. It may be a leap into the unknown, but here we go!


April 12, 2010

The Countdown Begins at 46

Jerry gave notice at work last week. 46 days from now he will walk away, unless something happens to release him sooner. It's funny, but we keep looking over our shoulder expecting to hear disparaging remarks about our choice to leave his job, but we haven't. We actually have only heard encouragement! How sweet is that!

After the Easter service we heard that different ones had noticed a lightness to his step, a lifting of a burden from his shoulders. We hadn't expected it to be noticeable. We look at each other now with that wide-eyed wonder at the path we are on together, very near the same wonder that we saw in each others' eyes when we decided to marry. And when we were expecting our first child. And the first time I called him a grandpa.



March 29, 2010

Scotch Tape and Other Very Important Things

Magical stuff, scotch tape and rubber boots. Well, with scotch tape you could attach just about anything to anything, was my thinking. And rubber boots enabled you to walk home any route you'd choose after school - right through the puddles!

Before I took my mother's scotch tape to school and hid it in my desk, I was just like everybody else. But with the tape, friends came to ME to ask for a piece. We thought tape could hold the world together, if we could just have enough of it!

And before my first pair of boots? Well, let's just say my knee high socks had trouble even hugging my ankles when I decided to have a little fun in the rain. They dragged on the ground after taking on puddle water and with all my tugging on them to repeatedly pull them up! No amount of elastic could handle that much abuse!

The pink pearl eraser. Now that was magic! Now I could change my mind and make my drawings disappear, like the one of my teacher. Call it redemptive, I had "do overs!" Trouble was, my second and third and fourth tries to get my math problems right - well, the eraser wasn't much help with that. Many a math paper had see-through areas where Kathy had labored over it.

I must make mention of my bottle of glue. Such a wonderful tool! I taught myself, through serious research, how to use just a dot to get two pieces of paper to stick together without any sign they'd been glued. Quite revolutionary, actually.

With these few simple things, and what I could find along the way (like a stick, a scrap of paper, a rock) my adventures never ended.

Throw in a stray kitty and it was a perfectly wonderful day!

March 19, 2010

Church Nursery Windows

When our little family of six moved to our little rural town about 18 years ago, we tried to keep our ties with our home church in Eugene. However, it didn't take long before we began to drift.

The drive to get there was long. We didn't see our friends during the week any more. We were adjusting to a new school and lifestyle.

Then my husband began not going. That was hard. Hard not to give way to the fear that I might become one of those Sunday widows who sat in church alone, taught the children alone; her absent husband watching a football game, or something…

A gentle, refreshing breeze blew into our home the day we visited our new home church. We kept going back. The kindness and friendliness of the people, and the love for God demonstrated, was just too hard to resist! To familiarize myself with my new "family," I offered my domestic services to the pastor's wife. I told her I would clean, scrub, arrange chairs. My intent was to observe the goings-on in the church office and schoolrooms during the day, and make myself known.

The building was the city’s original schoolhouse, so the large rooms are heavily windowed, including the doors to the hall. The pastor's wife had requested I clean the windows weekly, so I did. It wasn’t till months later that I realized she had meant only the hall door windows—the ones where babies wiped their melted cracker slime on the glass and older brothers pressed their noses. But here I was, faithfully climbing up the shaky ladder every week to reach the highest corners of the windows to the courtyard that certainly didn’t need it!

February 15, 2010

My Prayer for You Today

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV

I just can't think of a better prayer today, than to ask God to fill you with all joy and peace, and overflowing hope! The action required is "as you trust in him."

I'm schlogging through my work today (yes, I made up that word) because of a low-grade fever that is weighing me down. But I can manage a small smile with this reminder of God's hope.

February 12, 2010

Someone's Gotta Play the Bad Guy

My Daddy, the Tempter. I squirmed down in my seat on the slippery wooden pew and tried not to look at my own father tempting the Lord in front of the whole church! Now, squirreling down on those pews was not easy to do with the bare skin exposed on the back of my legs! At least not quietly. Anyway...

My father had a deep, rich baritone voice, and apparently the devil does too, because year after year he was given the part of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Com-mand that. these. stones. be. made. bread!"

Then our lead tenor, Maurice Macy, would answer him with the sweet voice of Jesus. "Man shall not live by bread alone. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Fast forward about 40 years and I am seeing my firstborn son hanging on a cross in front of the whole church. You guessed it, he's not playing Jesus.

My family members have often played the part of every type of vile character imaginable. I had begun to be resigned to the type-casting until the message hit this mama's heart full force at the end of last years' program.

There was my son on the big screen, in front of everyone, walking with Jesus into paradise. He and Jesus turned around to face us and waved their arms to invite us all to join them.

Bad guys can change. My family can be redeemed. God's grace is enough. You can bet I'm running to join them!


February 8, 2010

My Tax Lady

I survived my date with the tax lady today. Why does anything to do with numbers rattle me so? And why, especially, are numbers associated with the IRS especially disconcerting? I worked so hard to keep my bits of potentially important information stacked in the correct columns, but I still am not sure I succeeded. Numbers always misbehave in my columns. The devious things.

My tax lady is a gift from God, however. She pins those little buggers down and makes them stay. She understands them, and they respect her. I am so thankful for my tax lady!

In 2009 I closed one business and started a new one. Closer Look Proofreading is gone. My .com Web site has disappeared. My associates notified. My resource books sold. Why should the numbers be wiggling around if I have declared the business dead? Okay, I have one friend who wants me to proof her Web site, but that's all!

I have enjoyed transcribing medical documents for 2 years now, and in November I gained my first "long-term transcription relationship" with steady work locally. I love this stuff! I can do this! I can put the medical information in the right locations and it behaves. I thoroughly enjoy my new work, probably much like my tax lady enjoys hers. She should like my columns even better now - she'll have MORE numbers to command!


February 3, 2010

In My Wildest Dreams

I got sleepy last night with imaginations of wild, crazy changes in my life. Amy is planning to move away from home and Jerry and I are contemplating the “just you and me, babe” time of our life.

We have dreams of him being able to find work he enjoys, just as I have this past year. And we love the idea of being out of debt and working on other investments.

Last night I was reading about Abraham and how God called him out of his community into an unknown place – far from the people and places he knew. Wasn’t that wild?

And our thoughts about selling our home, unloading some of the baggage we carry, and releasing our grip on the some of the “same old things” is quite compelling. What’s wrong with changing?

Maybe it isn’t so wild after all, to let God into my dreams and respond with trust and faith. He made the mountains, he can move them.

Quote of the Day:

My son admired a fancy motorcycle that a family friend had purchased in his retirement years. Seth likes to say exactly what pops into his head, so out came: “Wow, when I have my midlife crisis, I’m going to buy one of those!”

January 20, 2010

I Wasn’t Made for This!

-My Thoughts on Dying

This coming weekend Jerry and I will be taking part in two memorial services. One is hard enough, but two?

We weren’t made to die. Dying is not in our program. That’s why death is so difficult to deal with. It’s not the way we were made. This is not an experience that God had planned for us in the beginning.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but it just makes sense. No matter how ready we think we are, no matter how well we prepare, no matter how strong our faith—dying is difficult. It’s just not “in us.”

Look at the beginning, in the book of Genesis. Run your finger down the list of things God created and see the phrases associated with the word “living,” and being fruitful, and growing, and multiplying. It’s all about life! Then he made man in his own image. Does God die? Was man in his image made for dying? Of course not!

So when we are anxious about our coming death or grieving the separation from those who have already passed on, we can take comfort in our discomfort, knowing that God will give us the grace to walk through it with him. When that point comes that I remove my hand from the hands of the ones I love, and put it completely in the hand of my Savior, I know the difficulty will only be a hiccup. I wasn’t made to die, but I was made to walk with him.

That’s all I’ve ever really wanted, anyway.

January 18, 2010

He Has Shown Me

He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
I am experimenting with the idea of uploading actual pages from my journal. Handwriting has always been an enjoyable pastime for me, and I feel that the words actually communicate more when hand written.

This scripture has been cycled through my journal and life consistently since high school when I sought to walk simply with God and not be overburdened with rules and religious traditions. This is still a desire of my heart. I just hear him better when I keep things simple!

January 2, 2010

At Least I Didn't Howl

I sat in my rocker with a pile of handwritten notes in my lap, lingering over each word as I read. The tears started delicately at first, and I could wipe each one from the corner of my eye in a ladylike fashion. When I had to take my glasses off, however, I knew I was a goner.

My favorite gift for my family every Christmas is filling their homemade stockings. Amy carefully pieced together 5 more this year to include my grandchildren and foster daughter. Along with setting up the nativity set and the tree, this is a tradition we could never let go of (I’ve been told).

This year they filled my stocking. Boy, did they fill it! They gave me the best gift of all – their words of love:

“From doctor (caring for scraped knees and bruised egos), to chef (tamale pie, pork chops and sauerkraut), to cheerleader/videographer/photographer (you’ve captured so many cherished memories), to spiritual guide. You’ve done an amazing job showing us the right path in life without forcing us down it.”

“Thank you for a simple life of peace on a hill in the country. You were content to do without some things to stay at home and raise our children, and you did a great job of it.”

“Dad wants me to be eloquent and flowery, but what I have to say is simple: I love you. You are an amazing woman and you are setting a wonderful example of walking by faith for me. Thank you.”

“You are so gracious and kind. I don’t remember ever hearing you say an unkind word. Even when I thought you had a good reason.”

“Your willingness and desire to always get down on our level (and later, on our kids’ level) and really interact is a good example of the way I think God would spend time with us.”

I was pretty much a snotty mess by the time I got through them all. I looked at each one and thanked them through my tears. Thanks be to God for these moments!

I have periodically asked God to make my family forget my mistakes, but maybe that’s not his plan. Perhaps instead, he allows them to see my frailty so they can recognize his work in me. That’s ok with me! It was also ok that they didn’t mention too many of them in their Christmas notes.