"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Sunday, December 23, 2018


I softly ran my fingers over the colorful stitches. They were embroidered with precision and perfection. And I couldn't help but know there was time and love in each pattern. Each block was absolutely beautiful.

While going through my folks' things after their passing, I came across a quilt that had been started by my mother a long time ago. I only vaguely remembered it as I pulled it out of the bag in which she had so carefully wrapped and folded it.

Oh wow! I thought to myself. Mama had started a quilt. A quick look told me a square was embroidered for each state of the union. Each one was the state flower -  the Blue Bonnet of Texas; the Magnolia of Louisiana; the Syringa of Idaho; the Lady Slipper of Minnesota...

Minnesota was the one I had spotted and was caressing in loving memory of mama now. I wondered how she picked the colors of each pattern. I wondered what she had been thinking as she had worked.  Minnesota would have been the state where her dad was born. This one had to have special meaning.

She had sewn the squares together, but I wondered if all 50 states were there. It obviously wasn't finished. There was no backing, nor had the blocks been tied or quilted. I was so excited, even before knowing for sure if it was complete, I texted my neighbor who loves to quilt.

"Are you still quilting this winter?" I asked. "Do you need a project?" "Would you like to finish a quilt my mom started?" Or it was something to that effect anyway, I know the text sounded confusing and awkward, because I didn't know for sure what was needed. I had visions of my neighbor, L, having to add squares or states. I wasn't yet sure how big it was, because I had not yet completely pulled it out of the bag.

My neighbor responded immediately with the obvious question; but said yes, she would love a project.

I needed to know if it was finished. I pulled it out of the bag and saw that all the squares were already sewn together in their entirety. I cannot even begin to tell you of my joy when I counted and all 50 states were there. I quickly texted her back.

"YES! It is finished. It just needs backing, batting and quilted together!" I excitedly texted back.

"Bring it over," she responded, "we will make a plan."

When we met, and she laid the unfinished quilt out on her quilting table, she seemed as excited as I was. "Oh my goodness, it is beautiful. I can see why you are so excited. This is an heirloom," she gushed with praise. "Look at her stitching, it is as good on the back as it is on the front."

And with that, I wanted to cry. Those were words my mom would love to hear. She always said ones work should be as good where it can't be seen as where it could. She meant it for her, sewing, knitting, and especially her embroidery; but there is an obvious lesson there for life. And an important one at that.

What are you going to do with it?" my neighbor asked.

"Well I don't know. It really isn't mine. I just found it among her things, as I was going through things to divide for my family. I really don't remember at what time in her life she made it. And I don't know why she picked the green as the alternating squares, but that color goes PERFECTLY in my house!! And with that we both laughed.

"Well you are the one that found it," she stated matter-of-factly. And I quickly remembered our family joke - "Possession is 9/10 of the law." My youngest sis would especially be fond of reminding us of that common rule.

Anyway, we made our plan and at the time I was still uncertain as to what to do with it. I knew when it was finished, I would be worried about it being used on my bed. Really no one in the family had room for it as a wall hanging. It was too big.

"I could give it as a Christmas present," I told my neighbor, L. Then I quickly added, "But not this Christmas," so she wouldn't feel like she had to rush to finish it. "There is no hurry," I told her. "It has probably been in this bag for at least 20 years." And I found myself really wishing I remembered. Someone in the family would most likely know but I didn't want to ask anyone just yet and expose that I had it, before I decided what I would do with it.

"We could all take turns, I guess," I told L. It would be fun to draw names out of a hat for who would be the one to keep it for the year." I continued to contemplate what should be done with it and left L's not knowing for sure.

L has a friend in our little town that has a quilt shop. I have been there before with L, when I had the quilt of Matt's T-shirts made. It is an absolutely beautiful home and she has as many materials as any shop in the larger city, south. But one gets more attention and help. So L had made an appointment with her and now we were going to choose the backing, get the batting, and pick out the right thread. Once there, I took my time deciding, I wanted it to be perfect. L also had some questions for the more experienced quilter. I knew L was a beginning quilter - her husband had given her quilting lessons a couple years ago, but she had jumped into it whole-heartedly and had made a number of quilts already. But even that aside, I trusted L implicitly. I knew everything she did was done with perfection and that she would be as careful with it, as anyone. I had not one worry. And I told her that as we left the quilt shop.

"If something happens, I don't want you to worry about it. It doesn't have to be perfect. For me, this is only about preservation. Because even if something goes wrong, it will still be better off finished than tucked away in a bag - forgotten." I just didn't want her to worry about the fragility of it, because I absolutely was not concerned at all. I just wanted my mama's work completed.

I really didn't expect her to have the project done before Christmas, but there was a part of me that really wished it would be. Driving home from work yesterday, as I pulled up to the mailbox, I found myself thinking about L and the quilt. I guess it won't be done now before Christmas, I found myself thinking. That's ok, I encouraged myself. Christmas is a busy time of year, it would be ridiculous to expect that. I was really ok with that outcome. There was absolutely no urgency.

When I got into the house, I scolded my husband for not having the Christmas lights on. "Christmas isn't over yet, just because we had it early with the kids," I lectured. I was having a hard time keeping the Christmas spirit, myself, but really wanted the importance of the season celebrated.

But I am not sure he even heard me. He pulled out a big package from behind the table. "Look what came while we were gone." He said. "Santa must have been early."

"Whose it from? I asked excitedly." It was on the porch?" I queried disbelievingly.

"Yeah, there is nothing on the tag." He answered.

I had no clue what it could be, there were two large packages in an even larger Christmas bag to hold them both. I was stumped.

"Why didn't you open it? I continued in my lecture mode. He had gotten home from town a bit earlier than I had from work and I was genuinely surprised he had waited for me. lol

He rolled his eyes at that. "Just open it."

"Do you think we should wait 'til Christmas?" 

"Open it."

So I got busy unwrapping. "It's the quilt!!" And the other package must be the pillow, I had L finish.

With that, he told me the story. L had called him to say the project was ready and he had arranged with her to pay for it and pick it up, in order for it to be a surprise Christmas present for me! He had wrapped it nicely before I got home from work. It was indeed a surprise. L had thoughts of him having me open it on Christmas day, in front of family for all to see; but my husband didn't want to wait, especially since we had already done our Christmas gift opening.

The moment I saw it, I knew where it would be going. On the bed! The little pillow, L had made with Mama's embroidery told the story and cinched my decision. "Now I lay me down to sleep..." The pillow and quilt were perfect together and L had coordinated colors so they matched. They also matched perfectly the comforter already on our bed...oh, and the curtains and carpet. lol

I immediately put it on the bed. I couldn't be more pleased. Family will have to fight me for this one....you know...that "Possession is 9/10ths of the law." thing. I pondered how I would tell them. I guess this might be how. ;-)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Snappin' Beans; Shelling Peas

I sat quietly, reminiscing as I snapped beans. The sun was warm and comfortable. Back then, I would have been under the shade of the big, old locust tree. But I wanted to be in the warmth of the sun on this day. There weren't a lot of beans, just the first round. Nothing like there would have been when I was a kid. I can't snap a bean to this day without thinking of snapping beans back then.

Next would come my peas. There weren't a lot of those either. But enough for some new potatoes and peas tonight. It was a tradition at my house, the first round of peas would always be for new potatoes and peas. Today, however, I wasn't sure I would dig for new potatoes...I almost didn't want to take the chance of disrupting the plant, or it's growth. And we would have more benefit from full growth potatoes, a bit later. Awe, Age! Must you ruin everything? I should surely dig.

But as I shelled the peas and was almost done with my task, I paused for a moment to think about the summer. I am not sure I ever have given it much thought before. But the ripening, readiness, and harvesting is a very interesting thing. It seems it goes like this. First the rhubarb is ready, and I harvest as much as I can mostly making pies, but freezing some if there is enough. There wasn't this year. I don't think it got enough water, and there is a bush in front of it that is blocking sunlight, that I need to trim back.  I always give a rhubarb pie away as a "first fruits". Silly thing...but it brings me joy. This one went to my kids.

Then it is either the cherries or the hay that is ready. This year it was the hay. We spent probably a week cutting, raking, baling and storing hay. My husband had bought a swather last fall, so he picked up a few of the neighbors fields to hay. The tonnage was low, as some of the fields were not properly cared for and our own pastures are still coming back from work that was required to rid them of a bad grass. But the hay took all of our focus for a week or so.
Next my cherries were ready. Now I suppose my Bing cherries were ready before the hay, but for what ever reason it was a poor year for that Bing tree. Again as a first fruits thing, my neighbor took the cherries off of that tree. She only got about 9 cups, I think she said. I probably took 2 cups from it, and added another 2 cups from my pie cherry tree to make a pie for my husband who had patiently missed out on any pie during the rhubarb phase. How can anyone not like rhubarb???!!!

My Pie Cherries!
Then my pie cherry tree was ready. My neighbor got about 16 cups from that tree. And that was only because the cherries weren't all ripe before they were to leave on vacation. I think I got about 72 cups from that little tree. It just kept giving and giving and giving...maybe it was that first fruits thing...I don't know. I made pies for my husband, my kids, my great niece and her in-laws. Oh and one for the ladies I work with...and then I froze enough for about 5 more pies and gave a frozen 4 cup bag away to my kids to put in their freezer.

After the cherries, the raspberries were ready and I made freezer jam and some raspberry shortcake. It was delicious. I ate it mostly by myself. I don't think my husband likes raspberries.

The thing is, I find it so fascinating that everything is ready at different times. I mean just think if everything got ready all at the same time. One would never be able to keep up! I sure wouldn't anyway. So now it is the beans and peas. Next will be more beans, carrots, and most importantly cucumbers. I will spend August making pickles, as I do believe I will have a good crop this year.

I have already given away dill, basil and cilantro. I will have lots of dill when the cucumbers are ready. I have been busy freezing leaves of basil in ice cube trays. I like to preserve them that way, then as I cook I simply take out an ice cube or two and put it in my spaghetti sauce or whatever it is that I am making. These are simple tasks that will continue throughout the rest of summer.

I am disappointed with my self for letting my cilantro flower. I should have cut it back and I believe it would have produced longer. I have way more than I expected and I have not cared for it properly. Still we are enjoying it, sharing it, and there will still be some if I get tomatoes.

Salsa is usually on my agenda, but I don't think I am going to get many tomatoes this year. I LOVE my salsa and I used to always give some to my nephew before he got married. I just hope I am able to make some this year. I have jalapeƱos, cilantro, bell peppers and onions. I am rooting (in the sense of cheering) for those tomatoes!

The corn and potatoes will come last and there is no work in harvesting those. I like to leave my potatoes in the ground well into fall, like my mama did. It is pretty cool to just go out and dig some when you need them.

We have never gotten a whole lot of corn, as we have a short growing season up here. But we always get enough to have for a meal or two and to put some in the freezer.

When my carrots are ready, of course I will use them fresh and I will freeze some, but my very favorite thing to do is pull a few and feed them to my horses right then and there. They love them! And they quickly learn to come to the fence when they see me headed that way. It warms my heart.

Well there! I think that is mostly it. In between caring for horses, and mowing lawn, weeding flower gardens and vegetable garden, it all keeps me pretty busy. I just finally realized this year, it is all spaced out very nicely! I am pretty sure that is all for a reason. If things weren't spaced so perfectly, snapping beans and shelling peas might not be nearly so much fun.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lowly Care-Giver

I had just finished feeding the horses, feeling content in the ability I have to take care of them properly. Before I went back to the house, I decided I would freshen Juliee's water trough and then do Misty's. Juliee mostly drinks out of Misty's trough, as it is larger, and probably stays cooler; but I like to keep the smaller one of Juliee's fresh, anyway, even if she never drinks from it. Just in case, you know.

I finished filling Juliee's trough and pulled the hose over to Misty's. I did not like what I saw. There on top of the water lay two dead starlings. The water did not look good at all and I wondered how long these two birds had been dead. Juliee would have been ok, cause she had her own trough to drink from. But Misty can't get to that trough like Juliee can get to Misty's. Yikes. Not good! Poor Misty!

It couldn't have been that long since the water was checked and freshened, but I marked in my mind to do a better job of checking it daily. The starlings had been thick today so maybe it was just from today, but I had a feeling it was at least two days these birds had been there.

My first concern was if this water could make the horses sick. To tell you the truth, I don't really know. But I did not want to take any chances. And my next concern was when had Misty last drank some water. She was eating well and seemed ok, so there was probably no need to worry.

I keep a 5 gallon bucket readily available for when I need to scoop water from the trough to give it a thorough cleaning. I went to grab it, but realized Sam had grabbed it just the other day for a fishing bucket when Matthew had forgotten his on their first fishing day of the season.

Ugh! What would I use? I was pretty certain it would be fruitless, but I tried to tip the bucket without first emptying any water. Nope, too heavy; that was not going to work. I couldn't budge it. And I had to get those two birds out of there before I did anything anyway.

I spotted the snow shovel in the corner of the house in my yard and garden tool box. Worth a try, I thought.

It worked perfectly to remove the two dead birds. I picked them up in one scoop and drained the excess water from the shovel. I found a spot where I could bury the two birds, placing them out of the way to come back to. I wanted to get this water fresh before I did anything else.

I started scooping the water with the snow shovel and found it worked perfectly. Even better than my 5 gallon bucket, because it didn't get as heavy and was easier on my back. It actually didn't take that long to get the trough empty. I left the trough only about a quarter full (yes that was my first choice of words - "full", not "empty". Of course, in this scenario "full" is probably the negative view.) Anyway, I digress. It was now empty enough that I could begin to rock the trough back and forth enough to garner motion so that I could dump the rest of the water from the trough.

WHOOOOOOSH....success! Now if only that soil would soak up the water better. The ground was not absorbing it very quickly, leaving a big puddle on top. I was now standing in it with only my flip-flops on. I hoped the water wasn't harmfully tainted. Germ-phobia that I am.

I grabbed the hose and started cleaning out the trough as best as I could. I rinsed and I rinsed and I rinsed. I even sprayed the puddles around the trough that had gathered. If it was too tainted I didn't want the horses to drink from that, either, as I know they sometimes will. I figured I could at least add more water to the puddle to freshen it to some degree. I had noticed the little killdeer wanting to come to the puddle to drink and I didn't want them to get sick either. I just didn't know. Dead bodies of birds surely tainted the water. I didn't want to take a chance for my horses or the little birds.

Finally, I was ready to fill the now clean trough. I wanted to show Misty the tank had clean water, so I grabbed some fresh grass so she would come over to the trough and see the water would soon be clean and fresh. The hose was quietly running now with the nozzle at the bottom of the trough, but all the little birds seemed to know. Misty seemed uninterested in the water, but was certainly loving the fresh grass I was picking. As I stood there offering her the grass, I noticed a bird high in Matthew's 25 year old "Birthday Tree". I couldn't quite see what the bird was, but I was curious. As I watched, the killdeer kept coming and next a robin. I started to get worried about them too. I didn't want them to drink the water yet, until it had all been freshened - even the puddle on the ground. I decided I would just go stand by the trough and hold the hose, thinking that my presence would scare the birds away enough until the trough was full.

It didn't really work. As I stood there holding the hose, the sound of the running water seemed to draw more birds. A tiny humming bird came to the tank, apparently wanting a drink. She hovered and hovered, then flitted about before hovering some more. Now how in the world does that little buddy ever get a drink out of such a large tank, I wondered. She didn't try, apparently the running hose was enough to give her some apprehension, but she certainly wasn't afraid of me.

At some point the bird I had wondered about in the tree had flown to the ground and was standing in the mud. Oh my goodness you are beautiful, Mr. Cedar Waxwing, but please don't drink yet! I just want it to be a bit fresher first. He put his beak to the ground and sipped a bit. I lightly flipped the hose his way. I didn't want to frighten him, but neither did I want him to drink just yet. He simply looked up at me through his black mask as if to say, "Why not?" He stood there momentarily, not drinking, but seemingly unafraid of me. I held a life-giving source. It was in my hands and I was in control of it for all these little creatures around me - the killdeer, the robin, hummingbird and now the cedar waxwing. To tell you the truth (don't laugh and don't think me disrespectful)...I felt a bit like God in that moment..."I know what's best for you", I thought. And I will withhold this life giving source from you until the just right time. Hahaha...oh the places my mind wanders! ;-)

Yes, we all know that very simple truth. God knows best. It is a simple facet of our faith. But today, for me, it was a good reminder anyway. Sometimes one can feel pretty alone in our earthy challenges and the "why" questions always seem to come far more easily than the answers - even if they are simple.

I didn't really like momentarily playing God though. I worried the birds wouldn't come back. I worried I was chasing them from my yard forever, not giving a proper respite. I just wanted to see them all be able to drink right now! As I stood there holding the hose and letting the tank fill, they really seemed to have no fear. It was almost magical. They watched and waited patiently. Sometimes they stopped to look at me, not daring to come closer, but not flying away either. This was a very special moment for me - I was in a haven with my birds - still and watchful, with only the sound of a running hose...Oh and I guess some normal target practice shooting in the background. lol I LOVE where I live.

Finally another bird started to come. This one not so desired - it was that nasty mosquito. And he seemed to come with a vengeance. I swatted at him, and swatted at him some more. He would be what would finally drive me away. (Nope. I am not God)  I left the hose in the tank to fill and went to bury the two dead starlings. Funny that I didn't care about these two, but yet I was so worried about the rest. (Nope. See above parenthesis. lol)

I did wonder what had happened to these two. There seemed to be a wound on the chest of one. I didn't look that closely at the other. When I told my husband later, he commented that maybe they had hit the wire....that didn't seem too likely to me, but who knows...

One thing is for certain. I am not the Giver of Life and probably not even a sustainer of life. I am just a lowly care-giver. But I do care and I want to be the best care-giver I can be. Sometimes I simply need a good reminder of who I am and what I am supposed to do.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Brain Swirls

I think I will just post some random thoughts. It has been a long time since I have blogged. Too busy; not the right frame of mind...nothing to write about. I don't know. Maybe all of the above.

Anyway, if I am to get any blogging done at all, I suppose it will have to be random thoughts for now. Too many brain swirls in my head to put out anything too thought provoking.
Here goes:

I made it through another birthday...too many to count. But this one was significant in that it was the first birthday I have ever had without my mom. I haven't always spent the day with her, but she was at least always in the background with a phone call, or a card. I missed her terribly on this birthday. My heart was warmed when finding a moment to myself, I walked around the yard and discovered her Bleeding Heart is in bloom. Bleeding Hearts will always remind me of my mom because she always had one in her front yard, and she is the one that taught me about them. I am certainly glad I took a start from her bush at my folks' home, before they moved.

The kids came and fixed us dinner. It was wonderful. And Kaytee made me a delicious strawberry pie for desert, instead of cake. She knows how much I love it! It was a very thoughtful thing for her to do. She and I had tried to get some recently at Shari's Restaurant when we were on an outing. We were unsuccessful. I probably whined. But hey! I got some for my birthday! Yay! And it was absolutely delicious!!

Matt and Kaytee were not supposed to get me a gift, but they did anyway. They bought me the cutest little truck, with plants. They built a little truck bed out of pop cycle sticks and small wood blocks to hold two plants - Pansies and Hyacinth. So cute! I love it! Hyacinth is one of my favorite flowers. The fragrant aroma is filling my kitchen ever since.
I got a day to spend at home. It couldn't have been better. I cleaned stalls, worked in the barn, and groomed the horses.  I worked in the yard and got rid of some weeds. I did some arranging of furniture on our deck. I put out the humming bird feeders, when I found nectar, that I didn't know I had. I sat in the sun and thought about only the warmth of it, and remembered the days when I would sit for hours in the sun at the beach. It used to be one of my very favorite things to do. I remembered why.

And my biggest project of the day was making a "She Shed" in my barn. I had told Kaytee I wanted to do this. She is the only one who knows. I am sure my husband will think I am nuts and have me remove it as soon as he finds out. But for now...I am going to enjoy and pretend and keep it for as long as I can. Probably only 'til July - when it is time to fill the barns with hay. I told my husband I want to just have one hay barn this year and keep the big barn for horsey stuff and other barn needs. But we have picked up some extra pastures to tend, so I suspect we will need both barns if we get a good crop - for which we are certainly hoping.
Until, then my "She Shed"!
It was a beautiful sunny day, today. And we are having a bit of a storm tonight. Lots of wind, so far just one clap of thunder and only a small amount of rain. But the sky is definitely storm cloud gray and the sense of something imminent about to happen fills the air. My husband just reported lightening. I like it. The horses are safe in their stalls. Bubby is at my feet. It brings a good end to a good day. It is 7:51pm and I will be in bed within the hour. I like that too.
Oh! And I got to blog a few random brain swirls.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Home Video Marathon - Part 1

It was a rare day to relax, so I decided to take full advantage of it. I did get dressed because I had an early appointment. But when I returned home, not feeling that well, I decided to put on my jammies and vegetate for the rest of the day.

Sick of the TV, and unable to concentrate on a book, but longing to do something constructive while I was down, I decided I would pull out some old home movies.

I have several movies, on VHS that I had taken of our son with my sister's video camera - the popular and probably only means back then. Honestly, I don't think I have ever watched these videos. I am sure I have never shown them to Matt. I was ready for a marathon. I pulled up and old favorite chair, directly in front of the television, got my blankie, the remote and got ready to put my feet up while I whiled away the hours - at least 8 of them. Life never felt so good.

I started with the videos of Matthew when he had made the local news. They were the shortest ones so it helped me feel like I had a good start on the stack. I remembered two times he was newsworthy, but I found out there were 3 - at least so far. ;-) After viewing those, I watched each birthday party that was recorded. I found that the videos stopped at age 13. I watched age 2, 3, and 4 and then the one I made of him at age 13. This last one also included quite a lot of information about our new acreage - we moved when he was 11- and my husband spraying the fields, complete with my dissertation.

I had been feeling like such a lousy parent of late and truthfully, I feel like this may have been the Lord's prompting to show me I wasn't so bad after all. Don't worry young parents, you will feel like this once in a while too. It is just part of parenting I believe. Especially once it is all over and one has plenty of time to look back.

I found instead of the wicked villain I had perceived myself. I was polite, encouraging and supportive. Truthfully, I was shocked. Now I know there were many times, I was not a fair parent. I yelled too much, I was too strict, I didn't pay attention at times I should have. These were the things that were running through my mind over and over. I knew I had spent too much time on the computer, trying to learn to make web pages with hopes of creating a job from home that would help us financially without me having to work outside the home. I spent too much time talking with friends on the phone, trying to help and minister to them believing that is what a good Christian would do. I regret much of that, now. I regret associations I joined, knowing they ended up in chaos, and mostly all for naught. With all of that, I needed this video. I saw someone I didn't know. And I don't mean to make this about me. It isn't. It is about our loving God, Who is always there to encourage us when we are feeling at our absolute worst. I needed some normalcy to life, to help me remember I didn't do everything wrong, and my day in video land gave it to me.

So with that, I thought it would be fun to write about some of the highlights. You know a mama always LOVES best to be able talk about her child! I laughed and I cried as I watched. I will try to keep this as upbeat as possible.

After viewing a couple hours of Matthew's 3rd birthday...and we are talking 3 days of celebration...I asked Matt what his favorite part of everything. Without any  prompting, he didn't miss a beat when he answered "Jesus." After 3 parties in 3 days, 3 cakes and mounds of presents for a 3 year old, and lots of kids in attendance, that is exactly what a mama wants to hear. It warmed my heart then, and it warms my heart even more now.

Another thing that especially made me laugh was when we were making a birthday cake. It was for his 3rd birthday, I think. He kept asking if he could lick the frosting, and me admonishing him not to put his fingers in it. I promised him a taste when we were done. I finally relented (and I am thankful I did) and gave him a small spoonful, with frosting just at the tip of the spoon. I then continued frosting the cake while telling him to wait until we were done for more. Just then, he fell off the little step-stool he was standing on and while trying to catch himself, his hand went directly into the cake getting frosting all over his fingers. He looked delighted at this turn of events and I laughed so hard! He got to lick his fingers after all.

I guess his 3rd birthday must have been quite a milestone and especially eventful. He had quite a large party with several guests. There were so many gifts, that I didn't want to hold people up or have them get bored by taking so much time opening them. So we carefully opened packages removing the gift wrap, but I didn't allow him to play with the gift or remove the packaging it came in. He was so good about letting me set each gift aside and moving on to the next thing; but it was obvious there were times he just wanted to play with the item he had received. Finally it came time to open one from daddy and mommy. We knew he had wanted this gift and felt confident he would be excited. It was a brand new helmet to go with his new roller skates. He almost had desperation in his eyes, as he tried to get it out of the package after the gift wrap had been removed. I had been side-tracked with conversation but the video kept rolling on him trying to get the helmet out of the box. Now, as I watched this video all these years later and seeing him so desperately wanting to put his new little helmet on, I was scared to death when the camera came back to me I would be telling him to set it aside. Watching gift after gift of me telling him to wait, I was certain that is what I probably had done. But now seeing this, I knew that would have absolutely been the wrong thing to do. I cringed desperate myself to see what happened next. Thank God to my relief, I let him open the packaging on this present and helped him put on his new helmet. THANK GOD!! I reiterate!!! I think God knew I would need that some day. I would have hated myself forever, if I had said no to him on this one. It was time to let him splurge and for guests to understand. I'm sure they did.

When Matthew was a baby, I would hold him in my arms and we would dance in front of the mirror in our living room. He loved seeing himself in the mirror and me swaying to the music. As he got older, we would still do this only now, he would hold onto my hand and steer me the direction he wanted to go by putting pressure on my thumb. For as long as I can remember while growing up, I danced with my son. This was one of the reasons, it was so important for me to have a mother/son dance at his wedding. I felt it would be the last time. And even if it wasn't, I wanted this moment symbolic of something we did in his childhood. I was so pleased to see we had captured some of these moments on tape. I was still lifting him up in my arms  at 4 and 5 years of age and we danced until I could no longer hold him because he had gotten so heavy. Back then, I think I thought he actually enjoyed the dance. Now watching decades later, I realized it was probably most likely that he simply enjoyed making me so dizzy!

Well anyway, you get the idea - our life in video. There are many more videos left and I will use the rest of winter to finish watching them. I can justify it with that New Year's Resolution thing...the one about cleaning out and organizing the chaos in my life. This is a good place to start. And after I have watched for awhile, I am sure there will be more to write. Stay tuned for part two of the Home Video Marathon!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

All The Better

I am just saving some of my favorite country music songs to my blog for my own future enjoyment. If you enjoy them too, all the better.

I love this one! It is Alan Jackson's newest release and it is one of my favorites.

There is a cool story that goes along with this one. It is well known fact that artists can struggle to stay popular as they age. People tend to forget about them and move on to the new stuff. Maybe some of them lose their voice or musical ability. Sometimes, it is just the market. Sometimes, as in Ronnie Dunn's case, the industry fights against them.

Ronnie Dunn was quite vocal about it on his Facebook page. (Yes, it was really him.) He was frustrated with the country music industry and the games played that often left the older artists out in the cold.  I follow Ronnie on Facebook and noticed him lamenting about it quite frequently and very boldly for some time. I believe it was Reba that was instrumental in pulling him out of his doldrums and helped reunite Brooks and Dunn for some shows in Las Vegas. This, after Brooks and Dunn had had a bitter break-up. But then the three of them began entertaining in Vegas - Brooks and Dunn and Reba. I think Ronnie's newest interest in photography also helped him. He has become quite a successful artist in a whole other realm - photography.

Anyway, I mention all of that, because Ronnie made a comment about Alan's song when it first came out. I absolutely loved knowing the back story behind it and then hearing Ronnie say this. The lyrics and sentiment that Alan expresses in this song are the direct opposite of what Ronnie was feeling, before Reba and photography came to his rescue.

When Ronnie heard Alan's song he posted this comment to Facebook along with a video of Alan's song:

"Sometimes I think I’m an “ok”songwriter then here comes Alan Jackson with “The Older I Get” - RD"

I love that! I love Ronnie Dunn (a singer/song writer who is second to no one) for being humble enough to point to another artists work. And I love the lyrics in this song!! All of us who struggle with aging could take it a little more to heart. One more thing, I love Reba's concern for her friends.

Anyway, all of that which I just wrote explains why I absolutely LOVE country music.

Most of the artists are really real in an often times whacked out world.

Here's to country and getting older - all for the better.

I Lived It

So pretty. I lived it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Forever and Always - Country

I love my country music. I am a bit disappointed in some of the direction it is taking. But that is for another post. I thought I would share this video...mainly just so I can keep it myself and view it from time to time. It was done for the 50th Anniversary of the CMA's and I first saw it back then. It is making the rounds again...maybe in light of a recent controversy involving Mike Huckabee...whom I love...That will be for that other post.

I love that they included Ronnie Milsap - one of the best from the 70's and 80's - as well as a clip of Randy Travis who was disabled from a stroke and no longer able to sing. Ending it with my favorite AJ and the final shot from Dolly is perfect. Kacey Musgrave has got to go and for the most part she has...but that is for that other post, too. :-(

But for now, enjoy this beautiful video.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Last Call

Billy Graham Tribute - I can only Imagine from Mike Blakemore on Vimeo.

I love this video. It was made in remembrance of Billy Graham, who just passed from us this week. I was heartbroken when I heard. Not really surprised, (he was 99 after all) just heartbroken.

But there is a tremendous message in this video. And it isn't simply about Billy. Billy, I am sure would like that. Rather it is about God and about a nation created by God who has always called on Him in signs of trouble.

Oh right, how do you get that from this video?" one may doubtfully ask.

Well, it is pretty clear. And honestly, while not trying to take anything away from this man whom I love, admire and respect so greatly, a message of America's love for God had an even greater impression on me from this short, moving tribute.

When Karl Rove (advisor to President G. W. Bush - 43) explains in the video what happened on 9/11 and what it took to get America's pastor to the memorial ceremony, it explains it all. Watch if you haven't already, you will be deeply moved. Because the truth behind it is America calls on God. America wants God in her life. America understands the need for a minister of God to be at our most important events and moments. America believes in the Christian God of the Bible and we want our pastor when we need him. As always, the Reverend Billy Graham answered the call. President GW made sure he was there. We are Americans. We are Christians. We are a Christian nation who knows we need the God of the Holy Bible in our lives...more importantly we want Him in our lives. There is a whole lot of symbolism in that lone jet flying through the sky to a destination in need.

For almost the full entirety of my Christian life, I had a secret thought. I rarely shared it - only with those I thought would understand. I think I will share it now. I always believed, in my naivety, that my mom, my dad and Billy Graham would be of the generation that never had to die a physical death - from Matthew 24:34. I thought we would all be raptured out of here before that happened. I thought I had Scripture to back that up. "This generation will not pass away".... The Spirit of Elijah being translated.... Whatever. Sometimes we misinterpret Scripture - to our demise. Maybe in truth, my crazy thought was really only about me, and my desire to not experience the pain of losing any of those I love. I don't know; losing my mom last year and Billy this week, obviously I was wrong.

Anyway, I have never known life without Billy Graham. My Grandma and Grandpa watched him and read his books. They loved him and encouraged me to watch him. My folks watched and loved him. They helped my siblings and I listen to his message. I attended one of his Crusades in the 1980's in the Tacoma Dome. My son was led to the Lord when he was 2 watching a Billy Graham Crusade on television. Really don't care what you say about that. I know it was real and so does he. I am not disputing that he had to come to a greater realization of sin and repentance as he grew up. In that moment, his salvation was real.

Anyway, Rev. Graham has always been in my life. I knew he wouldn't last forever, but I was heartbroken at his death. It went beyond him simply dying, because I knew his age, and where he was going....it's all good.
But where this went for me in my heartbreak was, I couldn't help but feel this is truly an end of an era. I don't think there will ever be another Billy Graham. Not in character, nor in faith, not in purpose. We are truly at the end of an era. Sadly, the public altar call has almost become a thing of the past.

The time Billy was here on earth could not have been more God orchestrated. There is no other time in history that he would have been able to reach the amount of people he reached. He came when the beginnings of his ministry could be captured on both television and radio. But stations were more limited at the beginning, keeping people more centrally focused. The age of printing and the number of books able to be merchandised world wide was never better. We are bombarded today - much of it with stuff that isn't good. He was trusted. There is too much uncertainty today. Air travel took him places around the world easily. Well you get the idea.

He was able to get his message out like no other time in history. If he had come any later, it would have been hindered by modern technology. And yes, I mean that. All the hundreds of television stations would have limited his audience, not increased it, because the public would be so divided in their watching. The social media, phones et al would have limited his message, because it would have to be a shorter message. And it would come without the personal touch required as well as the pause one needs to reach a heart. His message would be more easily distorted, maligned and made fun of. His influence diminished.

Truly the "time [was] now"! Just like Rev Graham always told us.

Honestly, I cannot get beyond feeling like this is the last call. Through his death, we are once again seeing the clips of his stadium sermons. Once again, the age old Gospel message is brought to our attention - which we have not heard in awhile. That is, at least in as great a format as we used to hear it. But we are hearing it again as we honor him in death. It is being repeated through the air waves. But I can't help but feel it is the last call. I am afraid it will be short-lived. The time is now.

I don't mean to sound negative. I'm sure there will be others that come after him. His son, Franklin, is doing a tremendous job. But it is different. We will never see the Gospel message brought to us with the impact and simplicity, nor the degree with which we received it from Billy Graham. It truly is the end of an era.

Last call. The time is now. Just in case....you come.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

The other day a friend on Facebook posted a "vent" about the way people respond to her beloved fairly new pup - a Pit-Bull. It wasn't really venting, more of just a lament. She was discouraged by the way people respond when she and her husband are out with their dog. People seem nervous, give dirty looks, pull their children in closer, or they move to the other side of the street - that type of thing. People tend to distrust Pits, I guess.

I found it interesting, because just a day or two before I saw that post, I had a similar situation happen to me. Well actually it was the opposite of her situation. I am not criticizing her for feeling the way she feels, just offering another perspective.

I had taken my dad, who is 92, into his barber for a haircut. As we entered the shop, a good sized dog, though obviously still an untrained "pup", greeted us. The dog ran out the door as I opened it, then back in and around our legs, like happy dogs will do. As I got him back inside, it was obvious the owner, a woman barber there, had no control over this animal. As we moved to a chair, I worried my dad would be tripped or knocked down. Sure enough, just as he was about to get to his chair, the dog jumped up on my dad, destabilizing him just a bit. Fortunately I was hanging on to Daddy by this point. I got my dad safely in his seat, and the owner of the dog (the lady barber) apologized for what had happened. So did my dad's barber. I appreciated them both for that.

Conversation continued, and while the Pit kept making his presence known and interrupting conversation, the owner finally had her daughter take the dog to another room. I knew the owner felt bad. So I tried to say something to make her feel better.

Well, being the social idiot that I am, I usually mess up on things like that. "Is he an English Bull Dog, or a Pit Bull?" I innocently asked. Someone I love had an English Bull Dog of the same coloring - white. He had just lost this dog whom he loved dearly and he was on my mind. Further, I had always known full-bred Pits to be brindle, so I really didn't think this dog was a Pit. I don't know everything. I don't think a lot of Pit Bulls even look like Pit Bulls anymore and a lot of people probably wouldn't know one if they ever saw one anyway.

"He's a Pitbull and he is still a pup," was the owner's quick response. "They aren't like everyone thinks," she said defensively. And then a customer in the other barber chair chimed in. "It depends on how they are raised and on their owner," again it was said in a slightly defensive manner.

"Dad actually likes dogs, it's ok."  I told her and everyone else in the shop, trying to make light of what had happened and to let them know we weren't anti-pit. Now, it was probably me that sounded a bit defensive. Good grief. But I also felt the need to explain...as I usually do. I don't like to be misunderstood. NO, it's more than that. I try to avoid it at all costs, probably many times to my detriment. OK, let me say it this way: I HATE to be misunderstood and painted in a different light than who I am, or how I really feel.

I continued my defense, "I'm sure he is fine. It's just that my mom broke her hip by tripping over my Beagle, so I am a little extra cautious when elderly are around any animal. They are fragile and not always real stable on their feet." Anyway, I politely said something to that effect, just to explain reality, as well as let them know the truth about our feelings.

BUT, I do not intend to discuss the yays and nays of Pit Bulls. I really don't know that much about them and I really don't care to know more than I do. I will never have one. They aren't my breed of choice and that is OK. I do have what I think is an interesting side-note. One of my best friend's husband, (then boyfriend) was the first one to ever bring a Pit Bull into our area. He had two, they were brindle. I think that used to be the norm. I know they have been bred for fighting...so fighting is in them, by the very nature of breeding...just like hunting was bred into my Beagle. He comes from a long line of Rabbit Trackers. He has a nose that just won't quit. That is a part of his genes. That part of him works first. I think that is probably the case for SOME Pits in regard to fighting. (And as a side note, if I ever knew someone was using a dog for fighting, I would turn them in, in a heart beat. Don't let me be misunderstood.)

Regardless, I am sure it is possible coloring has been changed and bred out of some lines of Pit Bulls. I guess they aren't all brindle anymore; maybe they never were. Like I said, I don't know the breed that well. And I'm sure there are lines where the fighting has been bred out of this dog, as well. I am quite sure there are gentle Pit Bulls...especially if they are not pure bred dogs, like so many are these days...and if they come from a line not bred as fighters. So there. That is only what I think. That should be OK.

But that isn't my point. My point is, because of past experiences, or "word on the street", common thought, or whatever, our views can be distorted just like anyone else's. The people in the barber shop that day thought I was afraid of Pit Bulls. They made an assumption about me based entirely on the notoriety the breed has received. They were wrong. But most everyone present let me know it was so - that I am afraid of Pit Bulls and that I thought the dog shouldn't have been there. Well they were right on one point. I don't think he should have been there. But it wasn't due to his breed, it was due to the fact that his owner couldn't handle him. I didn't even know whether the dog was a Pitbull or an English Bull Dog. He had the coloring of the Bull dog, so that was my first guess. My fear was that regardless of the breed, that in the dog's exuberance it would knock over my dad and hurt him. I would have had the same concern, if it was a Chihuahua running in and out of his feet. What is right is, until she learned better control of her dog, he probably should not have been there. At least one person acknowledged that fact after she left. "That dog is entirely too much for her," one gentleman observed. Bingo.

So I will leave the subject of dogs, but let me give one more example to get to the point that I would like to make. One example triggered the other memory, and I think it's important. Several years ago, I was teaching Sunday School at a church different than the one I attend now. As is the case with most churches, it was this church's policy to make sure the same person pick up the child that was the one to drop off the child - this, for the child's safety. It was a small church, so they probably weren't as strict as some churches; nor did they have the fancy numbers, or wrist bracelets for identification. Nonetheless, we tried to be careful at this little church.                             

I remember one time, a grandma dropped off her child to me at the beginning of the service. I don't remember if the child was male or female, and I don't remember if the grandma was black or white, or anything about her. What I do remember is the grandma didn't come back to pick up the grandchild; the mama did. The mama was one color, the child was another. (Is it OK to say it that way?) I don't remember which was which. When she came in to say she was there for her child, I looked a bit confused. You know that socially awkwardness I often exhibit, that I wrote about earlier. Well, she immediately thought my confusion was due to the difference in the color of their skin, and she was obviously irritated with me about it. She let me know of her dissatisfaction with my reaction, and she let me know without much understanding. I wasn't as tired and cynical back then as I am now, or I probably would have set her straight right then and there; explaining exactly what I was thinking and letting her know how wrong her thinking was. But I didn't. I just politely told her, that I just wanted to be sure of the child's safety and that I was following the policy of the church that the person that drops off the child must be the one to pick up the child.

In a larger church, I probably would have been fired, because I let this woman take the child without questioning her further. It didn't matter the child knew her. Parental kidnapping happens all the time, which is the reason for most churches' strict policies. So there. I don't do nurseries or Sunday School anymore...much too cynical for that or too old, or socially awkward or whatever...however you want to look at it. But anyway, the point here, is not the color of anyone's skin, or difference in skin. The point is once again, this woman assumed something about me that was simply not true. She assumed my reaction was due to her real or perceived experiences that may have been similar to what she now thought. Maybe it was only due to all the usual talk of racism, discrimination, political correctness, or a real or imagined offense. Who knows? I sure don't. I just didn't like someone thinking the wrong thing about me and then lecturing me for it.

So now to the point I actually do want to make. I simply wish we could get to the place where we are all not so easily offended. I wish we more often would give others the benefit of the doubt, before assuming the worst. I wish we could more easily see the best in someone rather than the worst. And I wish it was always OK to speak the truth.

As well, on the other hand, I also wish it was OK to make judgment calls for ones own life. If someone doesn't want to be around Pit Bulls, that should be ok. This could be a case of walking circumspectly for someone; or erring on the side of caution. What's wrong with that? Pit Bulls DO have a reputation. We don't have to LOVE Pit Bulls. That isn't required of us. We won't get away so easily, however, with not loving angry mamas. We need to love them. But is it ever OK to correct them? Is it ever OK to stand up for oneself when someone believes the wrong thing about you? Political Correctness in today's age would have us believe it is not. Christianity is headed that same route. Don't offend. Ssshhhhh...don't try to explain. Silence is becoming the norm. Just accept everyone and everything. Those who try to speak up are frowned upon these days and often badgered into silence.

Many people would simply rather be offended. Just let them, I guess. That shouldn't be OK, I don't think. We should want better. I do understand there are times for silence....for biting the tongue. There is Scripture to back that. I just notice the older I get, the harder it is. Shouldn't it be the opposite? There is also Scripture that says we should speak the truth.

SO! The truth is I really love mamas and babies and Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas. To love mamas and babies is commanded, but I will never have either of those breeds. That should be OK. Just don't be mad at me for thinking you know what I am thinking. And please just don't let me be misunderstood.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Years Resolutions

I typically don't do New Year's Resolutions. In the past, for as long as I can remember, I asked God to give me a word for the New Year. It would be something that I should focus on throughout the year.

This year, I decided I would continue with that, but that it also might be time to give the whole New Year Resolution thing a try. But I can't seem to choose just one thing on which to focus. Once I  started thinking about it, I found there were several things that I wanted to work on and accomplish. That was always true in years past, as well.

I realized in other areas of my life, I  have always made lists. Well, I have made lists in these later years, at least. They help me remember what needs to be done, yes. But they also help me feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I like that "checked off" feeling, so it inspires me to do everything on the list. In fact, I cannot rest until everything on the list is done. Some of that perfection stuff, or Monk stuff...or maybe just plain crazy stuff that resides within me. Anyway, I have to get it done. Soooo, I decided I would make a list and call it "New Year's Resolutions" and see if I can accomplish any of it this year...this month...this week? How far will I go?   

It all seems forever away, but we know how fast a year can go. Maybe I will add some things to this list, if I think of anything else. But this is it for now. And actually, I doubt I can even fit it all in, this year, when I think of all this entails.

  • Lose Weight - get back to the weight I was at the kids' wedding.
  • Spoil my animals, while I still have them.
  • Clean and organize computers
  • Organize all photos
  • Organize books
  • Clean out back room of house
  • Clean out Folks' storage
  • Organize Items that are not mine, but that I am in possession of.
  • Pray more
  • Study more
  • Ride More
  • Pause more
  • Read more
  • Write more
  • Scrapbook
  • Photography -  maybe a new camera
  • Work more in yard, garden and barn
  • Make a She-shed in barn. Spend more time there.
  • Organize the memory items I have kept of Matt's. In short, organize everything!
  • Throw out...minimize...make room for life.
  • Be kinder, gentler, slower.
I found myself already beginning the organizing stuff. New Years Eve day, I was already going through a few items that have been carelessly stored for months now. Organizing is really on my heart, in fact I woke up to that word this morning. I hope I can do it. I have a hard time throwing things out.

Diet starts today, because I cheated on New Years Eve and the day before, knowing the end was near.
(Side Note: I wrote this January 2nd, but didn't get it posted until today. So far, in the weight category, I have gone up and down, up and down with 3 - 4 pounds.)

So there it is. Let's see how far I get with any of it. - ORGANIZE!



Friday, January 5, 2018

You Ole Crook!

Mama -  I was so thankful for a day at home and a chance while working at menial jobs to think about my mom. Well if you can call shoveling out two automobiles from several feet of snow, menial. But a multitude of memories came to mind throughout the day.

When my work was done and I finally had a moment to sit before the fire with a cup of coffee, I reached for the recent Decision magazine that had just come. But instead the little matchbox holder on my fireplace caught my eye. I  looked at the worn red holder and couldn't help but reflect once again. I had decided to keep this little container for my own when I moved my folks out of their home. It was old fashioned and now rare; one that my dad had in the basement, work room of our home with the wood stove. I knew where he had gotten it; it was my Grandpa P's and I am pretty sure it was hanging in Grandpa's wood shed for as long as I remember...all the years of my childhood.

That led to more thoughts of my mom. Yep, I knew why this was happening throughout the day. She had been on my mind when things were finally a bit slow for me....well not so much slow, (shoveling snow, you know) but free to do my own work at home rather than something for someone else. Oh wait! They aren't my automobiles. ;-) But you know what I mean. Being outside and working on my own, (and truthfully, releasing some anger) finally gave my mind time to unwind and to think, to process and to remember. And those thoughts were to continue at rest as well.

But now, I want to write about some of these memories - not really for anyone, but myself. Some day, if I were ever to forget, I can look back and remember. The memory will be written down. I think that's ok. For those reading, I suppose I use my blog, too much as a journal. Anyway, I digress.

Something I have thought about writing about in a blog post for some time is the hanger on my dishwasher. My mom made it for me, several years ago so that I could know whether my dishes were clean or dirty in my dishwasher. It says "Clean" on one side and "Dirty" on the other. It is so cute!! But my mom felt bad when I got a new dishwasher and there was no longer a place to hang it. Later, she bought me a little magnetic hook. It sounds silly, but at the time, I didn't know what the hook was for. It was a busy time, I suppose, and I never made the connection. Mama was so pleased when she gave it to me, just assuming I would know the purpose. I thanked her for it, but I really never understood. It wasn't until shortly after she passed away that I looked at that little hook that I had placed on my refrigerator and it hit me like a ton of bricks. That hook was for my "Clean/Dirty" sign!!! How could I not know that!! Oh Mama, I am so sorry! I probably didn't thank you properly either! In that moment, I moved the hook to my dishwasher and quickly placed the little "Clean/Dirty" sign on it!

As you can see in the photo, it works perfectly! I hung the "Clean" side for this photo. Mama would like that better. ;-) And truthfully, as bad as I feel about not understanding, I think my mama would be getting a good laugh at me finally realizing what it was for. And that makes me smile.

Another treasured memory is my knitted green slippers that covered my feet as I sat in front of the fire. For years Mom would make me slippers, whenever I let her know I needed a new pair. They were a treasure for me then!! I loved her slippers best. But when we moved to our new home, (well over a decade ago, now) the carpet was much worse for wear and tear on my slippers than at our other home. So I wore through them faster, but she was always ready to make me a new pair. This pair of slippers she kept for me at her home so there would be something for me to put on while I worked there or had to spend the night there. She kept them just for me...

"Don't let anyone else wear them, ok, Mom?" I had asked when I told her I wanted to leave them there at her house. Whenever I would arrive, she would say, "Do you want your slippers?" And she would go fetch them from her closet where they were placed away just for me. She wanted me to know, no one else had worn them. That was my mama. Wanting to please her kids and do for us whenever she could and however we liked. I don't wear my slippers all the time anymore. I want them to last as long as possible. This is the last pair I have that she made that remain without holes.

So there...there are a few of the types of memories working through my thoughts as I worked today, but also as I sat down to rest.

So like I said, as I got comfortable in my chair to read, my mama popped back into my mind - the matchbox holder, the catalyst this time. As my heart grew heavy again, I realized at moments like these, I need to start thinking of her in Heaven instead of reliving all these memories that make me so sad. Now I think those memories are good for me too, at times. But sometimes it is time to think of something to alleviate the grief.

Picture her in Heaven. It was like God spoke this to my heart. And so I did...and my first thought was of how happy she must have been seeing her folks again. I immediately pictured her with them. How she loved her dad! I was reminded of the special relationship they had. They would be playfully bantering with each other, now together again, I thought. And I pictured my grandpa sitting in his big easy chair, gently tapping the leather arm with his fingers, rolling them from his little finger to his index finger. He sat with a content smile on his face. Then all of a sudden in ran my mama, pretty and vibrant and young.

"Well, you ole crook!" She verbally jostled with him while laughing from deep within.

And right then, I knew this was a moment sent by God to comfort me. I hadn't thought of that phrase in years. In fact, I am sure I had forgotten all about it. It was what my grandpa would say to people as a greeting. And people who knew him, said it back to him as well. Well, especially my mama. It was their way of affection in greeting each other.

Now if anyone has read this far, don't misunderstand. I am not advocating being able to see into Heaven, or any communication from the dead, or anything weird like that. I simply think this was a gentle reminder from God, that everything is ok. And yes, God does that. My mama is good. She is in Heaven, with Jesus and with people she loves. The phrase simply made it real for me. It let me know this was a caring word from God.

I started to cry. Grateful for the memory, grateful for a time to reflect; grateful for healing tears, and most of all grateful for the assurance that my mama is doing far better than what I focus on here - that she is gone from my presence. She is that - gone. But she is far better. She is with Jesus and also with that man she lovingly called an "ole crook". And that makes me smile...through tears, but I smile.