Thursday, August 28, 2014

family history

I've been looking through family history off and on for the last six months. It started with a gift subscription to for someone whom I thought would love it but hasn't used it at all. I've learned a lot. Had a lot of questions raised that I'm still hoping to get some answers for (but am reconciling myself to the fact that they may never be answered), and am learning some very interesting facts. So far I've found documented proof that 2 people fought in the Civil War for the CSA, and their father refused to support them in any way, housed Union troops and won a small settlement (though only 1/5 of what he asked for) from the Federal Government for all the crops the troops supposedly confiscated. I'm still sorting through the papers and trying to read the blurry print. I've not had time to verify other stories of ancestors who fought, and am finding it is necessary to verify things others have researched.  For example, there were 20 Nathaniel Guytons alive during the Civil War, and 5 of those were Nathaniel F. Guyton (3 in the South and 2 up North). It would be very easy to say "Oh! Nathaniel F. Guyton is here, fighting, and there's a record of us his property in Alabama" and go on about my reading, forgetting that the AL boy is only 25 and my ancestor NFG was in his 40's at the time, PLUS was born and living in GA the first 30+ years of his life (according to census records). That changes things. I'm finding that sometimes people click on things as matches and save them to their family files as "proof" of family lineage, when in further reading, they made a hasty and inaccurate decision.

But when all is said and done, it doesn't change who I am one iota. I enjoy learning about people of the past, but it really and truly has no bearing on how I live my life, whether or not the chicken pen has to be cleaned, that the grass needs to be cut, or that I have a long list of projects clamoring for my attention. And at the end of my life, I will give an account to God for how I lived my life and how I responded to others, not for anyone else's actions or reactions. And that's nice to know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

gearing up

Monday was an epic off-and-on battle with the "ME-Monster" as our pastor calls it, today has been good, but I've also been trying to focus as and prioritize as the craziness of our week approaches.

I think I shocked some people tonight by not attending the visitation for the high school senior at WCA, but I'm thankful I have a very understanding and supportive husband. I do plan to attend the funeral tomorrow, but I knew tonight would be absolutely packed, and as I knew neither the girl or the parents (Bobby taught both her parents) I felt like my time would be better spend playing catch up on the endless stream of things I'm behind on around the house.  And when our new neighbor from Michigan stopped Bobby at the mail box this afternoon to let him know his wife died yesterday (diagnosed with cancer last fall), I was glad I had already made that decision. We knew there had been a lot more cars than normal the last few days, and he said they had called hospice in, as well as had some friends and family come from Michigan.

And I still do not feel ready/prepared for the interview on Friday. I have enough of my presentation completed that I can wing it, but it's not the calibar that I'd like for it to be.  I was very close to picking up the phone today and telling them to drop my name from the interview list.

I did finally get the tomatoes finished (the ones on the counter anyway...I'm told there's more in the garden screaming desperately for my attention), as well as half of my errand list completed.

And as we hit the bed knowing tomorrow is another early morning, I am resting in the truths that God is sovereign, that His love is eternal, that He is merciful, He is excessively patient and, His mercies are new...every single morning.  That is calming, even more than chocolate (though chocolate certainly helps!).

Monday, August 25, 2014

one more set

Finally recharged the battery in my small camera, and there was a set of pictures from our last trip that I had forgotten about. I don't remember what town this is, but I do know it's in Pennsylvania. We were taking a slight detour for a quilt shop, and as we passed the local Department of Transportation, this is what we saw:
 Not that I've traveled the US a lot, but I think this ranks as one of the most creative fences I've ever seen!

 Excuse the reflection of my directions on the dashboard. Don't you just love those balloons?

 And this flower watering required!

Friday, August 22, 2014

hoop jumping

I am very blessed and fortunate to live in America where we have adequate healthcare, medical supplies, insurance, working telephones and efficient electricity service.  Sometimes I take that for granted.

Today was one of those days that happen for those who live with medical needs. A medical supply company we've worked with for many years informs us as we go to order supplies that they no longer have a contract with our insurance company. So we spend almost two hours on the phone and on the internet talking to administrators and sales associates and researching options and information, trying to find a place we can order supplies necessary for living with a disability that insurance will also cover a vast portion of the cost.

And I'm grateful. We've talked with four very nice and helpful ladies and within two hours had a semi-new to us company to work with, an order placed and we never even left home to do it. I remember students overseas spending half-a-day waiting to see a doctor for a sinus infection, then having to walk 20 minutes one way just to see if the pharmacist had what they needed (and if he didn't, it would be a 20 minute walk the other direction from school to the next pharmacist), plus a trip to the market for natural medicines (crushed ants and grapes anyone?), all the while accompanied with a minimum of 2 classmates, one of whom would hold the arm sporting an IV needle, the 2nd who actually held the IV bag up in the air (which would be in place for at least one day, sometimes two) and then you'd return a day or two later to have the IV removed. A two-three day process for a simple sinus infection.  That scenario I just mentioned doesn't talk about the triplicate forms of paperwork to be filled out to the doctor, the party leader for your student unit, and the issue of whether or not you pay, and if so, how much, or whether or not your doctor is one who needs a bribe (my students called it "special attention payments").

Did I plan to spend two hours of my morning on the phone and researching companies? No.  But it could have been so much worse. I'll take two hours of ease on the phone and the computer with success to spending 2-3 days pounding the streets only to hear "come back tomorrow" any day. We are so blessed, not just in the supplies our nation offers, but in its services as well.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

my inner liberal child

I'm very conservative in many things.  I have a lot of ultra-conservative friends. But the older I get, I find my eyebrows wrinkling and my inner child saying "Huh?" when I hear/read comments on current events.

For instance: "the President is on vacation when..."
My uber conservative friends who show nothing but disdain and disrespect for our current President were complaining on social media yesterday how the President, even though he gave a press conference and met with his aides, was on vacation after the beheading of an American journalist. I'm really not sure what they expected him to do. He's already made a decision on what our country's position will be (airstrikes and weapons deals only), has talked with the family, is getting briefed daily (at least), and received multiple phone calls from allies all over the world about the situation. We're already bombing and will continue to do so. I'm not sure what more canceling the family's vacation right before school starts would accomplish.
On the other hand, liberals are actually complaining about him playing golf instead of heading to Ferguson, MO.  They want him to handle the unrest there. Personally, if I were the secret service, I'd be dead set against taking him there. What could be worse than trying to protect the President (or your own skin) in the midst of an angry, belligerent mob who throws urine and bombs on people after spray painting "the only good cop is a dead cop" on walls?  Um, no. That's not exactly the crowd you want to usher the President into, especially not one who has received more death threats than any other sitting President.

Or fundraising.  The whole ice bucket challenge thing has bombarded my Facebook feeds all summer long. The first time I saw it was raising money for a fire station, then for a drug rehab facility, then a group of people stating their charity, then ALS, then it seemed people started doing it just because everyone else was without realizing there was a REASON behind the insanity, and then the media started showing it and talking about the fundraising aspects of it, then people who did it without knowing how it worked realized "Oops! We're supposed to be giving money to this group if we do this" and then the backlash of "ooohh you can't give to that group because they support this or that" started, with the follow-up knee-jerk reaction "I didn't know. I don't support this group or this viewpoint or sand turtles or ..."  (Okay, no one has mentioned sand turtles, but you get the picture.)  Besides the hilarity of all the knee jerk reactions to an hilariously insane way to raise money, is the bizarre reality that people will attempt to alienate groups (almost always medical research groups) that are actually doing some very good things?  Do I support stem cell research? Not in most forms.  But the reality is, I do use information and either I, a family member, or close friends, have been benefited from groups that do (the Miami project, Christopher Reeves Foundation, Susan G. Koman, etc). Almost any medical foundation that is working to eradicate life-altering situations support stem cell research. While I don't agree with their positions on everything, they do offer real life advice and support on things that impact my day-to-day life, and that is something all these Christian groups who are pointing their fingers and shrilly screaming "They kill babies" are NOT doing. They say they are pro-life, but they are doing very little, if anything, to make the life people ARE living more bearable. I've yet to hear of any pro-life groups offering grants for adapted vans or providing wheelchairs or ramps or on-going medical services for people whose lives are impacted for the better by many of these organizations.  And if it were their child, parent, or spouse, who had the potential to have a better or healed life because a frozen stem cell was not thrown away but was instead used in a science experiment that could change their life forever, would they accept it?  The sacrifice is/was already made. It was made when a couple decided to try scientific methods and froze embryos at a chance to have a child. Those extra embryos (they always created them in batches as it often takes multiple attempts) only last so many years, and then are thrown away. It's a sad, sordid mess where there aren't a lot of black or white positions, but mainly grey.  And people who point figures and "take the high road" aren't having to travel the roads full of potholes and heartache that impact the very ones trying to get off those roads in the first place.

and my last rant (for today) is the arming of local police. I have many good friends from high school, from churches, and from my extended family who are police officers. I've witnessed the bruises, cuts and black eyes they get from interrupting a fight, a domestic dispute, or a gang fight. I do read the newspaper and watch the local news. While we only see/hear of a minor meth lab exploding during a raid and think of drugs and its dealers, the reality is, there was a father, a son, a brother, a church member, a youth worker, who was in that uniform knocking on the door that night.  Had that lab exploded a little more to the left or the right, they would be in a burn unit or dead instead of helping their child with homework, taking care of their widowed, arthritic-bound Mom, or teaching a teen Sunday school class this weekend. And that "routine" traffic stop where he pulled someone over to tell them their brake lights had a short in them? (never knowing the woman had a mental illness and was reaching for her gun to shoot the cop as the voices were telling her but stopped short because she thought he looked familiar and upon seeing his badge realized he was related to a pastor...true story) Maybe I'm selfish, but if having riot gear gives my family and friends an extra layer of protection when facing a mob of anarchists, I want them to have it. If having a military rifle, a helicopter, and an army tank will provide them a little more insight, protection, and safety during that drug raid, I want them to have it. After all, the drug dealers have them and are not afraid of using them. And while I don't have family or friends who are school resource officers, I do have a lot of friends and family members who teach in the public schools. And on the high school level, student violence is BAD, and sometimes is drug related. I have no problem with teachers or school resource officers being armed. Are there officers who overstep their bounds and need training in conflict resolution?  Of course. But denying safety to every policeman or officer because of a few crazies is like saying because a few mentally ill people are a threat to society then all of them should be locked up.  It simply doesn't make sense.

And if that makes me a "blazing liberal", so be it. It's what I think and how I feel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

kicking and screaming

As the back to school sales wind down around here and folks back home start school this week and the homeschoolers from church are either now in a routine are prepping to start back (even if the kids didn't tell me when their schools started, I think I could figure it out by the disappearance of Moms on Facebook), I find myself wanting to dig my heels in and kick and scream for this year to slow down. I wasn't ready for July to end, and now we're almost to September. I'm not ready for fall activities yet! I'm also not ready for the reality that all these projects I was going to complete this year must now be done in three months if they're going to be finished.

I had a temporary job offer come my way recently. I filled out the application, and after I hit send, pondered whether or not I made the correct decision. I received an e-mail this weekend that I've made it through the first round with instructions on what I need to do for the next step.  So sometime this weekend I need to do some preparations for that.  Since I was not looking for this opportunity, I'm a little flattered and excited, but I will also be okay if I'm not one of the few selected to put in the extra hours for a month.

And speaking of extra hours, all that sewing time I thought I'd get in this fall? It's disappeared.  As in yard work, garden stuff, trips, and housework. I'm hoping to get the basics done now instead of the extra stuff.

August, must you end next week?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Niagara Falls, NY

Several years ago Bobby made out a "bucket list" of places he wanted to visit. I dutifully wrote them down, and within a year I had lost the list.  Yeah, I'm such a good wife. He does remember most of the places on his list, and since most of them are local (as in the state of NC or within a day's drive of NC), we've been trying to visit at least one year.

North Carolina is participating in "Row by Row" this year, which is a HUGE but different type of quilt shop hop. Basically, you go along to see what stores are participating in the state, and if you're visiting that area during the summer, you can go to the store and get a free pattern. The first person from each state to complete 8 rows and use them in a finished quilt wins a grand prize, and the first person to return to a shop with a completed quilt that uses that store's pattern wins a small store prize. While browsing through the states and their Facebook pages, I realized there were TWO shops participating in Niagara of the places on MY bucket list. :)  I think you know where this is headed.  We actually had 6 free days in a row on our calendar (well, we did both have to cancel one activity each, but those happen every month and can easily be missed), so we went.
Driving up we went through West Virginia and PA, coming back it was PA and VA, and even though we had planned to visit a historical site in VA on the way home, my absolutely amazing husband surprised me by changing that stop and telling me to find quilt shops on that route. So while I've only completed 2.9 rows, I now have 13 patterns. :)

I've never been that far north before, and had no idea what to expect. I've had several friends tell me that it's hard to find places to eat while traveling north, and to some degree that is correct. Fast food places, other than Subway and the occasional McDonalds, are hard to find. It became a joke in the van as we saw many signs "McDonalds in 3 miles" that we must have a different definition of a mile (we never saw the restaurants...and I was looking for a bathroom!) but we did get to try some different chains and non-chain restaurants that were good.

And I loved the scenery. Somewhere through PA it was like a switch flipped, and suddenly the trees and foliage were different. I kept wishing my Granny was alive so I could photograph the plants to send her and see what she'd say (she knew the names of almost all trees and flowers), but then I started wondering if she'd know them as well.  I've always thought blue spruces were beautiful, and we saw a great number of them.  The houses were also quite different, and I'd like to know the architectural origins behind the tall, skinny two-story structures. And I know it wasn't a city thing, as we passed a large number of farms that had the same style of house. I couldn't help but be reminded of the President's comment the first time he ran for office and actually got to tour the US...I never knew how beautiful America truly was. (That's not a direct quote, but that was his meaning.)  And I get what he was saying. Our country is very diverse and different, but it truly is a beautiful place.

Rainbow Bridge, that passes into Canada. My only disappointment was that since we weren't staying for the night, our passports didn't get stamped, but were only scanned.

Part of the Horseshoe Bend falls. We rode the boat, like the one pictured, up close to the falls, and that was incredibly awesome.

And a view of the Falls from the bridge.

Due to circumstances and our time frame, we didn't go out at night and view the falls (they light the falls up with colored lights at night), nor did we have time in Canada to take the tour behind the Horseshoe falls. But I thoroughly enjoyed what we did get to see and do. Next time I'd like to stay on the Canadian side and walk the streets and check out shops.

The weather took a dip right before we got there, so the temps were in the 60s (the highs) while we were there, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if my cold-blooded counterpart didn't and had the heat on at the hotel.  We both managed to survive (me the heat and him the coldness outside). Had the weather been nicer, I think I could have sat at one of the observation decks for hours and just watched and listened. It was truly incredible.

I was also reminded of just how blessed Americans are. It was nice and amazing to walk down the streets and hear a multitude of languages flowing around me, from Cantonese and Mandarin to Persian languages to Russian and French. We see a lot of Muslim scarves here in Raleigh, but it was the first time I've ever seen burqas in real life, and we saw quite a few of those, as well as Mennonites, Orthodox Jews, and Hindus. I felt like I was in the middle of the melting pot, and it was nice.

It was a trip worth taking, and one a part of me wouldn't mind doing again. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Tuesday morning we began a journey to Niagara Falls, of the places I've always wanted to visit.
We've not quite been home two hours, and I still have a lot to do, so I will just say this: it was worth it, both the drive and views. :)

Pics and thoughts to come later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

electronic files

Today at Bobby's dr's appt we got to go through the process again of verifying/updating his electronic chart. We were starting to get a little concerned they had confused him with one of the other 4 Robert Bryan's charts, even though they had his birthdate and part of his medicine list, as they had him listed as allergic to a medicine he's never taken, and they also listed him as being admitted to the hospital with "back pain".  We laughed and told the dr that was the year of his major surgery for bladder cancer. The doctor insisted it was back pain and I just laughed and asked "How can we go to the hospital for back pain when he has no feeling in that part of his body?" At that point I think the doctor realized why were so flabbergasted and omitted the entry.

And I was reminded again of how telling a doctor/nurse that Bobby is a quadriplegic doesn't always register in their brain. I sometimes wonder if they see him semi-motioning with his arms, and therefore incorrectly assume we don't know what we're talking about. I can't count the number of times during a hospital stay a nurse or therapist has asked him to roll over and seemed exasperated when he said "I can't." or asked him more than once to stand up for something. (We just have his wheelchair in the corner for decoration.) Today as he got to briefly update the doctor on his condition because of the accident (I don't think they keep records that far back), I think the light finally started going on. At least he didn't tell Bobby the importance of exercise today. :)

So we had our laugh for today.  Now if we get asked the same stuff again in six months or they still want to now about his hospital visit for back pain, I will be very concerned. But for now, it's kind of funny. Kind of.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Today as friends from all over are posting Facebook messages about back to school shopping, starting teacher-in-service, and homeschooling preparations/startings, for the first time ever I'm in a bit of my own whirlwind. Usually this time of year is a little hard, as my life is still slowly puttering at it's normal pace, only my friends' lives suddenly take on this somewhat temporary insanity, meaning my people contacts decrease considerably. Not complaining; just stating a fact.

But this year is different. We left for our trip last week with several chores/jobs I needed to do still undone. So I'm playing catch-up in addition to the many things I have coming up in the next few weeks. Add to that the normal unexpected things of life (a funeral, a dead chicken and a dog in time out, a chicken that hung itself by its toe in the pen's overhead hawk prevention netting - which is recovering quite well, I think) and life gets even crazier.

And I'm reminded a little of our visit to Monticello, the homeplace of Thomas Jefferson. His house was a continuous work in progress, and was even partially torn down and rebuilt at one point. So I'm thinking back to that today as things start to seem impossible and a bit overwhelming.  It doesn't all have to be done today. The world will not stop revolving if it doesn't get done or even if I miss a deadline.

Until then, I have tomatoes to can, a quilt square to finish, a kitchen and bathroom to clean, plus a floor full of mud/dirt/grass clippings that needs sweeping up...again. Countin' it all joy. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

conjoined at the eye

I was quite surprised while shelling to find two peas didn't separate.  Turns out their eyes were connected! I don't think I've ever seen this before!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Woodrow Wilson Library and Frontier Farm Museum

Prior to last week's vacation, I had never visited a presidential library. I was expecting a museum, but also, well, a library. I knew you wouldn't be able to check books out or anything like that, but I did expect to be able to read or view copies of the President's writings. Turns out, it's just a museum. Perhaps his writings are stored there, but we only saw one example of them.

One very cool story we did learn, though, was that Wilson was homeschooled by his father, who was an Episcopalian pastor. Many people advised him to give up on Woodrow, then called Tommy (his first name is Thomas), as he didn't master his alphabet until the age of 9.  He wasn't really reading until the age of 11 or 12. And yet, he later learned to read in other languages as well. Scholars today tend to think he might have been dyslexic. Whatever his learning disability was, writing was difficult for him. He taught himself how to write in shorthand, and found it much easier. All of his presidential writings (as well as most adult writings) are in shorthand.

And for the record, Wilson was born in Straunton, VA, but they moved away to Georgia when he was less than two years old. His opposition to World War I was a result of his growing up in a South decimated from the Civil War (his father was a chaplain to troops and their house/manse and church was used as a field hospital for both sides).

Also in Staunton is the Frontier Farm Museum. We could have easily spent half a day or more there, though we barely had two hours. Basically, there are miniscule farms detailing how early settlers in Virginia lived both in their native country and in their early years in Virginia. Old world settings from Germany, Ireland, England, and West Africa were amazing. I was give out before we made it to the early America circle, and stopped at the gift shop while Bobby raced on to the American side. He said there were actually more workers and animals there and we could have spent a good two hours there alone. There was a young girl, about ten, there with her parent (who was a worker), and he enjoyed asking her questions. This place was definitely worth the entry fee.

I had seen German buildings in Old Salem, which are somewhat similar to old English farmhouses, but the Irish house was a delight.
Who doesn't love a stone wall? (Besides Robert Frost)

Check out those gate posts (and matching barn)

And that lovely stone actually a pig enclosure...ugh...the smell on a hot day!

The one lone sheep and cows were across the field and the chickens were in the barn, but the CAT was in the house.  We also saw geese (like ours) at the English farm house, as well as cows, and the goats weren't enclosed into the African settlement yet, the Germans had a cow and lots of chickens, and Bobby said the American farm also had cows and pigs and chickens. I don't think we saw a dog, though.

I didn't take pictures of the super quaint restaurant where we ate breakfast that morning, but the ladies sitting next to us (think old men who meet regularly at coffee shops) were absolutely hysterical to listen to. Their conversation constantly hopped from one current event to the next (and every other one was a celebrity situation), and the table had at least one conservative and one liberal who were not afraid of disagreeing with the other. When one tartly said to the other, "WELL! That's YOUR opinion" we were trying very hard not to burst out laughing. They were quite entertaining. And of course, as we get ready to leave, the owner is beginning to set up for lunch, and she brings out these chocolate pies that rival Meadow's Restaurant - the meringue was HUGE. For a minute I thought Bobby was going to stay.

Antique shops, quilt shops, used book stores, home cooking restaurants (we ate supper at a place that had the most awesome homemade rolls!), a presidential library and cool museums...Staunton, VA was definitely a place worth visiting.

Monday, August 4, 2014

last week

For our anniversary last week, we headed towards the Shanandoah Valley in Virginia. It was awesome. In many ways it reminded me of Tennessee (the steep hills and pastures), and the huge houses in the valley areas reminded me of the houses in Washington DC and Richmond, VA. There were quite a few mansions and plantation style houses, but in the smaller outlying areas, there were also small farmhouses on vast pastures and farmland.

As far as small towns go, Staunton and Culpeper are two places I would gladly spend two days in checking out. As Bobby said, our half a day at each place barely scratched the surfaces. Well, we actually spent almost a whole day in Staunton, but still, we could have spent much more time there.

But my favorite pictures from the trip come from our one hour on Skyline Drive (the same road as the Blueridge Parkway, only you have to pay to get on it).

and this is the second deer

from the ride out...his antlers look so fuzzy!
Sadly, there's no picture of the bunny rabbit from that drive...

Saturday, August 2, 2014