Thursday, October 31, 2013

our new excitement

When my sister-in-law was in high school, a boy once commented that the most exciting thing happening at Susan's house was when the family went to the porch to watch turtles cross the road. While my in-laws have never watched turtles cross the road, it's true there's not a lot of city excitement happening in or around the farm.

Our latest entertainment at our house has been: squirrels. Buster has finally discovered them, and at least once a day we see him freeze, creep forward like a cat, and then breaks into one of his "you're going to die because I'm throwing all 57 pounds of me in your direction at 150 mph" runs. The squirrels have learned to look before leaping, and flatten themselves against the ground even if they don't see anything around. But if they see him, it's an all out race.  Today Buster tried a new move and cut one off as it reached the pine trees by the pond. Except pine straw and screeching stops don't work too well, so he went sliding as the squirrel went around the opposite side of the tree and up. And then he does what any good dog does: he marks every single tree the squirrel visited. I'm thinking I may need to wash all the pecans before I start shelling this year.

I don't have time to download/upload pictures this morning, but maybe tomorrow I can actually saw you his "prize" that he shared with us from the one race he did win. :/ 

Happy Free Candy Day! :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

difference of opinion

A few weeks ago the News and Observer ran an article by a designer about the proper way to decorate your bookcases.  Included were two pictures, a before and after, (I think on the web you have to click on a thumbnail to get the before shot), and I like the BEFORE picture better.  Maybe that says I don't have good taste, but I just think that picture looks overdone and cluttered. That big vase on the right side? It's too big to be up there. It's almost touching the ceiling. And that picture from straddling the two cases? That's a collapse waiting to happen the first time a person starts to exercise or a wheelchair drives by at 45mph trying to get to the phone. And that bust sticking out in front? That belongs between the bookcase and the wall, and those pictures on the floor need to be hung somewhere or stashed inside a shelf. I put things on the floor because I don't have time to get to them. Trust me. That's not an artistic statement.

Granted, I don't think the before picture looks great. It does look bare. And I'm not opposed to have momentos or gadgets on a bookshelf. I have stuffed animals and ceramics and super cool bookends on ours (and for the record, our bookshelves in one room looked very cluttered because of too many books and need of cleaning time, but that's a different matter all together). I totally agree with the concept that it's okay to put other things besides books on a bookshelf, and decorative things give a focal point. But this designer went over the top the other way. She has more decorative stuff with books added to them, and there's no symmetry or unity (other than popping whiteness) in anything she's done.

And yes, a month later, this article still rankles. So maybe I'm boring. Maybe I'm too simplistic. But I'd choose that first before photo any day (except I would slide my books to the ends of the shelves and not leave them smack dab in the center). But I suppose at the end of the day, that's what makes a person's home theirs: they can organize the bookshelves however they desire.

Monday, October 28, 2013

unexpected blessing

I expect kids to act like kids. There will be times when they get upset, have hurt feelings, don't want to participate, argue over who is going to sit where. They are people, just with pint-sized problems, though to them those problems are bigger than the world.

But there are times when something happens, and it almost takes my breath away.

Last night as the kids were practicing Christmas music before church, we were in a different seating arrangment (again). One of my little precious ones was most concerned that we weren't going to have enough chairs. There's at least one natural administrator in every group; they worry about the schedule, what we're doing next, and then after that, and will next Sunday be the same format, and with a suggestion or two about how they would organize things. :) (Yes, children after my own heart!) So as I'm trying to assure my precious worry-wort that we still have three empty chairs and there are more stacked in the corner that we can pull out if we need them, we resume practice. And in the midst of a key change and reminding them of the words and missing a few notes on the piano, four more walk in the room. Without missing a beat, two boys from the 1st-3rd class jump up and start working together to unstack chairs. Then one of my smiley, wiggly 4th-6th grade boys gets up, and helps them out. Yes, my heart swelled, in a good way.

There's nothing that thrills me more than for any of our youngsters to rise to the occasion and show compassion, servanthood leadership, and wisdom. I saw it many years ago in the class we just promoted to the teen group, and I was excited to see a new group of little leaders stepping into place. Wes Mincy, Josh McLean and Jessica Reese will always have a very special place in my heart, but Gabe Ansley, Brandon Wells, and Jacob McLean just made them scoot over a little bit. In one swoop and silent action, three little boys reminded me that people and their feelings are more important than any job I could ever do. Teaching and playing with the kids always blesses and teaches me in ways I never dream, but when something springs forth naturally, I get a whiff of that sweet smell God smells when his children please him. And it's pleasing indeed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

luxuries

Last Thanksgiving my 9 year old niece introduced me to a catapault game on her Mom's ipad. It was quite intriguing, and a bit fun, though I had to ask for help quite a bit. When we went home later in January, they (my niece and nephew) were flabbergasted that I didn't get an ipad for Christmas "because I needed one so I could play that rock game".  This weekend while driving the 2 hours from my parents' house to the Huntsville area for the wedding, my niece again had the ipad, and taught me how to play Angry Birds, as well as showing me a few of her many other games. She still doesn't understand why I don't have an ipad.

The reality is, I don't see a need for one at this point.  Other than the two cool games she has on her computer, I can't sense that my life would be all that more advanced by yet another gadget to keep charged or keep up with. And the reality is, I don't have time to get hooked on any more games. I tend to keep myself busier than I need to be.

And the same goes for an iphone. I seldom text, and we tend to use our cell phones just for emergencies or when traveling. I can't see all the advantages on paying so much more for a smart phone when my "dumb phone" (as my nephew calls it) does everything I need it to do. There may come a day when I get one and wonder how on earth I ever lived without it. But I'm trying to simplify my life, not add more gadgets to it (which seems to be difficult in this day and age).

Maybe I've officially crossed the threshold into "old age".  Last summer when I responded to my nephew's question of "Why don't you have a flat screen TV?" with "Because this one still works fine." he didn't even bat an eye. It was almost like he expected that answer.

I really don't have an aversion to these luxury items. Sometimes we do talk about getting one or two items, but the reality is, at this point we neither need nor desire them. I'd much rather spend that money on a two or three day vacation or keep my $15 a month cell phone bill and spend the remainder of that excess on something fun or needed.

A kindle on the other hand...considering all the books we have on hand (and I'm frantically trying to read and sort into keep/toss piles), that might actually become a necessity. You know, they save space. ;)  That might not remain a luxury item.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

strange tastes

Yesterday at the fair they were advertising the Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers in several different places. Evidently the new thing this year is bacon added. My mind still refuses to even attempt to wrap itself around the concept of two distinct flavors merging into one. I know longer feel my stomach tighten when I see it or hear it, but it still has no appeal to me. So imagine my surprise when I scrolled through my blog reader, only to see that one of the recipe blogs has this listed as their recipe of the day. These twins normally post things like soups, healthy stuff, cakes, gourmet breads, etc. So it was quite a bit out of their normal category.  But I still have no desire to try it, whether I make it myself or pay an astronomical amount at the fair.

But I did eat something tonight that twenty years ago I thought was disgusting. One of my healthy-eating friends did something unthinkable that evening...she smeared peanut butter on top of her apple slice. She offered me a bite, which I refused (politely, I hope!).  Several years later I tried it, and it wasn't much to my liking. But for some reason this year I tried it again. Maybe it was listening to Dad talk about his doctor telling him two graham crackers with peanut butter was the perfect mid-day snack for a diabetic; maybe it was the hunger I always feel when I start trying to eat healthy again and a plain apple not appearing too appealing. Whatever it was, I tried it again and actually liked it.

Tonight I did the unthinkable. For once, my husband actually said YES when I suggested we stop and get ice cream on the way home from church, and I sighed and said "Or we can be healthy and go home and eat an apple with peanut butter."  (Yes, I definitely need my head examined!)  He thought that was the craziest thing he'd ever heard, so we came home and he had his first taste it. I don't think he was all that impressed, but he did ask for a second bite a few minutes later. So it must not have been too bad.

I don't think I'll every try a donut cheeseburger. I prefer to keep those two tastes separate. But if you ever need something to dress up an apple and you don't want a sugary caramel sauce, peanut butter makes a great substitute.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

and the fair starts today!



This is it! The front of my first ever NC State Fair Quilt!
I was SO excited the week before I started sewing through the sky panels to find Bernina World of Sewing sold material that transitioned from dark to light. (They also have it green and yellow and oranges..sound like a cool way to make a quilt that looks like crayons!)
So if you go to the fair, which starts today, now you know what to look for! :)
 
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

medical overload

This past week my Dad has several strange "episodes" that prompted in a visit to the doctor. There's a large possibility that the arthritis in his shoulder has spread to the chest (which other than pain would actually be a good thing). He's waiting to be scheduled for a stress test and is still experiencing rapid heart rates in the meantime.

His only living sister, my Aunt Pat, will be seeing a pulmonary dr tomorrow around noon to discuss a mass in her lung and other issues.

The wedding we're going to this weekend? The bride's grandmother (my aunt and my Mom's only sister) had a heart procedure today. After being at the hospital for 12 hours, they are now leaving, knowing that she has 6 blockages, two of them at 90%, and will have a bypass Monday morning. At this point it's anyone's guess whether or not she'll feel up to attending the wedding. Meanwhile her daughter is having health issues, as is her son-in-law and other granddaughter.

My cousin Rachel got AWESOME news today when her surgeon told her he never wanted to see her again and her oncologist said no more visits for four months. She now officially has her UAB "Breast Cancer Survivor" certificate (yes, the nurses actually gave her one), though she still has a some surgeries ahead of her.

And I spent the day at the hospital with my friend Mary. Her procedure went well, she received some news she didn't want to hear, but also some good news and some okay news. I'm praying she won't be as sore tomorrow as the doctor feared.

My husband spend the morning at the eye doctor with my mother-in-law, who is being treated with shots to the eyeball for macular degeneration.

I think we've hit our quota on medical stuff. And I didn't even list many of my church friends and family who are hurting/suffering.  I'm resting tonight in the fact that we know the Great Physician. His healing may not come in the form we want or the time frame we want, but I can rest assured in His competence. And that is comforting indeed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

on this Monday...

My cousin gets married this weekend! It still seems like yesterday I was waiting to hear the news that she was safely born and her Mom (who is my first cousin and 2 months older than me) was doing well. I'm happy and excited for her, though it does seem strange to watch this generation transition into adulthood.

Sometimes I think one of the downsides to being childless is that time slips away faster. Our lives are marked by the seasons and gardening/animal responsibilities, which simply rotate, and not by the changes of sports categories and divisions and homework levels. I think as you live the growth of the child, the passage of time seems a little more real (or surreal) than just merely observing from the sidelines. Though I'm certain if I called her parents today, they would be wondering where time has gone as well.

This isn't turning out to be the trip I had hoped. I had thought with Bobby retired we would be able to take some extra time and do some sight-seeing in Northern Alabama and maybe visit his sister, but it's not working out that way. And that's actually okay. I'll enjoy the time I do have with family (even if my 10 year old niece is bemoaning my arrival a few days early...she'll have to clean her room!) and we're hoping we might even get to see my nephew play in a basketball game.

So on today's agenda is finishing a cowgirl costume for my niece, wrapping Mom's birthday present (which I'll miss yet again next month) and a wedding present, tackling laundry, and repairing netting on the chicken pen. It's going to be a very full and busy week, but one that I'm looking forward to very, very much.

Friday, October 11, 2013

gross alert

I know most of you prefer a heads up whenever I post something gross, so consider this your warning. Buster's bite marks are healing. They've quit sagging and have healed enough that we've let him back out in the yard.
 




Obviously there's negatives whenever something(s) come in your yard and destroy half your flock and attack your dog, but there's been a few positives, too. Buster is still skittish about things, but he has become very much an alert guard dog. The smallest change in our neighborhood brings about excessive barking and growling, and we've seen his hair go up on end more times than we care to see. Last night he barked for an hour, and we could never find or see anything. This morning he barked at a van parked outside the neighbor's gate, and barked for another five minutes as it went up to the house (a repairman). He's quit barking, but he's still watching. And when a friend brought their tiny dog to the house, Buster was most unhappy, even when they finally put their dog back in their truck. I hate that he's scared and suspicious of everything, but I'm also thankful he's alerting us now anytime there's something out of the ordinary taking place.

Now to just put the pen back in some semblance of order!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

happy, happy, happy!

I told Bobby I felt like the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and it was time to start dancing.
He reminded me that it was overcast, the only birds we'd seen were crows in the pecan trees, and he'd never felt like breaking out dancing, even before his wheelchair days.
But that's okay, honey. I've got enough excitement for the two of us. :)

This afternoon, I made a delivery to the Education Building at the NC State Fair.


The idea started three years ago when I saw this newly released fabric and made fun of it on Facebook.


A friend (Carroll Burt) dared me to buy some and make a quilt with it. She said I could display it at the fair. I laughingly declined. But then Bernina World of Sewing sponsored a bus trip to a huge quilt fair in Virginia, and I went. THREE different vendors had almost all of the animals in the Backyard Bandits series. Did I mention we rode a bus there, and had at least five hours to browse/shop?

And I started this quilt, and gave up. Too many mistakes, too many quilting things I simply didn't know. It sat halfway finished in a rocking chair.


And then in January, my sewing machine died (during a quilting class of all things). And thanks to Wish Upon A Quilt loaning me a machine to finish the class, I was hooked. Imagine my surprise when a month later they had a sale and my dearest husband said YES!  I finished the above quilt on my Janome machine, and seeing all the crazy animals and thinking about Carol's dare got my creative juices flowing again. After I finished the senior quilts in May, I scheemed and thought and planned, and had my husband help me with my math and double check everything, and we created our own pattern. :) (As opposed to "Seiko's Garden", the pattern above, which I still love.)

So in June of this year, I started "Front Porch View".  It's actually the animals I see out our BACK porch windows, but Front Porch just sounded better.


 
When I dropped off the quilt to be tagged this morning, the women were more excited about the back than they were the front. I think they were having the same reaction to the front fabric as I did the first time I saw it.

But I'm not going to post the front of the quilt until the fair actually starts on the 17th. But I will post it then, just so you'll know what to look for when you go. :)  It's not fancy. It's not the prettiest quilting in the world (it's wild animal tracks!). But it's mine and I've been working on it for four and a half months now and it's FINISHED!

And to think it all started because of an advertisement for 'possum fabric.

 
 


Saturday, October 5, 2013

something is wrong with this picture

Today was Buster's follow-up appointment at the vet.
He's feeling a lot better, meaning he's sitting and laying down without too much protest, and last night he even pawed/grabbed at my feet when I tried to come inside. A BIG change from 6 nights ago when he refused to lay down and whimpered all night.
I'm thankful he's feeling better.
But in the process of taking him to get his open wounds checked, I was scratched in three places, while at the vet trying to hold him he threw his head back into my nose (which is still throbbing an hour later), and then he peed on me before we left. Nice doggy.
It wasn't the same doctor we saw Monday, and he had a different take on the quarantine/rabies possibility issue. All said and done, we may be taking down his prison gates this evening.
Now if we can just survive ten more days of trying to get his meds in him, I can relax.
This whole ordeal has been absolutely crazy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

steady rains

...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. ~ Matthew 5:45

The last two weeks I have been very bothered/baffled/flabbergasted/disgusted by the amount of postings and comments I've seen on social media from other Christians. Enough so that I've seriously considering taking a fast from Facebook and Twitter just to keep my head in place.  I don't want to be a friend of Job and start telling them how wrong their theology is when they're down and out. But I also don't like having such insane thoughts running around in my head all day. 

Example A: My sister is very sick from the chemo and is already losing her hair after the second treatment, but we know she is going to overcome this because she is a dedicated Christian. 
Say WHAT? Where do people get the idea that just because we are saved we are protected from dying? Yes, there are stories in the Bible where God grants people more time (or even brought Lazarus back from the dead), but there are many more stories where God in His sovereignty chose to deliver from earth's chains by death.

Example B: Psychiatry is fake medicine. People need to recognize that Jesus is the only answer.

This one is not a direct quote, but I saw it from several people, expressed in many ways, after the Navy Yard shooting. And I always wonder if that person goes to the doctor for an infection and accepts the meds offered without having bloodwork done. If so, they're treating actual symptoms and not a "real" disease, just what they doctor assumes they have. And contrary to what people think they know, psychiatrists actually have medical degrees, actually do bloodwork on their patients, require brain scans, as well as clinical evaluations and counseling sessions.

Until one has personally witnessed how mental illness destroys families, even Christian families, a person will never understand how devastating this is. I can't tell you how many suicides have happened because:
a) they didn't believe they had a mental illness because that can't happen to Christians,
b) a pastor tried Biblical counseling before finally recognizing he was dealing with something medical and not spiritual and that in the process had endangered that entire family,
c)shunning/lack of support from the church family.

I personally know of three very solid Christians who suffered with mental illness to the point they took their lives. And a nearby town, Clayton, had a man, a Christian who attended a conservative, Bible-believing church, who quit taking his meds because he was dealing with his illness via prayer and Bible study. His family in CA had not heard from him in several years. He married here, had a child, and when that child was several years old, he brutally murdered her. A Christian SBI agent said it was one of the most horrific and disturbing crime scenes he had ever investigated. The father told the agents "the voices in my head told me to". 

My husband, after his car wreck that left him paralyzed, had a few people who actually told him they knew God would heal him because he was a "true Christian".  When God chose to not physically heal Bobby, they cut him off. Obviously, he didn't have enough faith. I clump those families in the same category as people who do not believe Christians cannot have mental illnesses. They mean well, but their theology is out-of-whack and off-base.

And when I read these posts, I have a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I get angry. Other times, I fight the memories and tears all day long. A few days it prompts me to pray for friends and family members. But it also takes me back to the Word. I think of the Hebrew boys and their words to the king, that God would deliver them, but if He chose not to, he was still the greatest God. And of Job in midst of his trials, "Even if He slays me..."  Even if no one understands and makes mocking and hurtful comments, even if I have to take that midnight phone call to pray with a relative as they bear the anguish that never ends of yet another relative valiantly fighting mental illness, of their child not knowing when they walk in the door from school whether or not Mom will have a gun to their head that day or will be singing praise songs, or that the cancer has spread, EVEN IF...it doesn't mean God's love for me is any less, His plan for me subpar, or my faith has floundered. It simply means I have an unseen hand guiding me through it all.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

If I only had garage doors....

Sunday there was the tiniest of blurbs in the paper about a German company that makes garage door covers. I had seen a few of these online a few years ago and found them hysterical. Not only does this company sell garage door covers, but they also sell door coverings and fake window decals/wall art as well. One day when I have money to spend and have garage doors, I am so going to do this.

If you have 15-20 minutes to spare one day and want some laughs, check this site out! :)