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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the little gift

Buster was our outside dog.  He wandered over here probably 9 or 10 years ago, just a white and black pup needing a home, and he found it : ) For years he was really good at helping keep the squirrels at bay, but, truthfully, they had pretty much worn him down. He was getting old and just got too frustrated trying to keep up with them...oh, he would still make a show of it occasionally, just to let us know he was trying, but usually, he just looked at them and took a nap instead. He was still really great at sounding out when anyone came around, or if intruding critters, other than squirrels, were around. I know you've picked up on the fact that I'm speaking of him in past tense, and, sadly, we did lose him about 6 weeks ago. I was hoping when his time came, he would just go to sleep. Instead, his leaving was terribly dramatic...he came upon an animal he didn't recognize, and probably just in his friendly way was checking it out...we never heard a sound. We found him lying in the back yard,  not very far from our bedroom window. No one could understand the quietness of his leaving in such a violent way, that is, until the cub print was found, and then the mama bear print, just at the corner of our property. Buster certainly would not have recognized such an animal here, and was probably just curious and never had time to be frightened. That gave us comfort.
Now, about the gift...My husband and I always spend time camping at Lake Ouachita near a little town called Mount Ida. My mama was raised there and I still have people just down the road from where we stay. We get lots of fishing and visiting in and get to enjoy the beautiful Fall colors. We had a great time as usual.
On our way back home, however, I couldn't help but feel a little blue. I knew this time Buster wouldn't be running up the road to meet us, and turning back to lead us to the driveway, with little yelps of joy and his tail wagging like a helicopter. He was such a cute boy-dog. It made me sad not having him. When we arrived home I got out of the truck to unlock while my husband worked at getting the camper backed in. After a quick walk through the house, I went out to get the mail, still just missing my dog and wishing he was there. Walking back across the yard, something on the ground caught my eye...something white. I bent down and picked it up...a tiny hummingbird nest had fallen from a tree...a perfect little nest made almost completely of Buster's hair! My eyes filled with tears, and I could only look up and say, "Thank You for caring for the little things as well as the big ones."


Friday, October 7, 2011

Life's Treasures

When I was a little girl, one of our favorite neighborhood games was "Pirates." We even had a ship! In reality, it was a pear tree that grew alongside of what was sometimes used as a chicken roost with laying boxes built on one side. Of course, other than the egg laying boxes, the chicken house wasn't really needed during the day, and if foxes or possums had made a recent raid, might not be needed during the night!

The tree had some low hanging branches, making it easy for us "country kids" to climb up our "ladder" onto the ship's landing (ie, roof of chicken house). Several in the group had read Treasure Island and we were also well-acquainted with Peter Pan, giving us true insight into the ways of pirates. In our game we were the "good sailers," travelling the Seven Seas and attempting to regain treasures that had been stolen by pirates! Someone would be in the Crow's Nest on watch and would call out "Ship ahoy!" after spying the dread "Skull and Crossbones" and we would all spring into action! Now, this is possibly the reason I occasionally have ankle or knee problems today:
With our knives in our mouths and our swords at our sides, we would jump into the sea (about a 5 foot jump anyway!), swim to the pirate ship and climb up and over the side (scale the only lasting side of an old storage building across the way!) and fight our way to victory! We would invaribly find treasure beyond imagining (for anyone but children, that is) and would make all the pirates walk the plank, then leave with our newly acquired ship and "booty." Yes, we knew that meant treasure. No one ever referred to people's behinds as "booties" during our childhood! Sometimes our treasure was absolutely in our minds eyes, and sometimes we would sneak some of our mother's costume jewelry out to play with. . . a real no-no! In either case, treasure was our goal.

Fast forward about a zillion years: In my adult life, our children became my treasure. They were more precious to me than anything in the world. And as life is, they were grown before I could blink! When our youngest left for college, I was bereft. My world had been built around the kids for so long, and then "poof," gone. The "treasure chest" was empty, and I thought, "What am I going to do?" But just in time, God's time, life changed again. Our "in town" daughter-in-law came over with an unexpected gift; I opened it, and there was a pacifier! GRANDCHILDREN began arriving! Those two "littles" whose picture I've included are the "babies" among the eight who fill our lives with all the treasure anyone could ever imagine. "Ahoy, Maties!" Life is good!
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Chocolate Chip Cookie Smile"

Our family loves chocolate...It's genetic. We come from a long line of chocoholics, and my sister and I (and I guess my brother too) will gladly take credit for passing this love on to all the generations following us that we live long enough to influence:)

Look at little Jack's happy face. He was enjoying his FIRST real, homemade with LOVE, chocolate chip cookie! He's been indelibly marked now, and as he grows, he won't really understand the WHY of it, but he will always crave those tender-crisp, buttery, chocolate-gooey, melt-in-your-mouth creations. He probably won't like them as much if they have nuts in them, because it just "takes away" from the REAL basic simplicity of our best-loved cookie.
Two of my nieces were present and watching as Jack weighed in on this newly-discovered treat, and they took great pleasure in being a part of an important family event. They both had their own chocolate stories involving Aunt Diana (me). When they were little and I had them, I gave them chocolate milk in their bottles or sippy cups. Actually, Leanna had quit taking a bottle till I filled one with chocolate milk, and when she went home to her mama, insisted on her choco-milk bottles for months thereafter! (;0 I don't think my sis was so pleased, but, hey, she got over it. Melanie, the "big sister," claims to still remember the Halloween when I gave Leanna her first c.c.cookie. I had baked them for a special treat, and couldn't wait another minute for her to try one. Melanie already had her mouth full as a little chipmonk, and after all, Leanna WANTED one, so what's an auntie to do? It made her so-o-o happy. It's always the same: that first little quizzical look, and then, absolute DELIGHT! It's the expression you can see on our youngest grandchild's face...the pure, unadulterated JOY of tasting his FIRST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE. I shall make them often and share them generously, so maybe our next generations will keep the tradition going. ________________________________________________________________________________________________Easy Simple and Wonderful Chocolate Chip Cookies: (one reason I LOVE my big blue Kitchen Aid mixer!)
2 sticks unsalted butter (yes, you can use a good fake butter, if you really believe there is one)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light may be better, but can't tell that much difference)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking SODA
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 pkg. (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
___________
Beat butter and sugars with electric mixer (or wooden spoon) until smooth. Beat in egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Add flour until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by heaping tablespoons (or can make smaller) 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in pre-heated 375' oven about 10 minutes, or until edges are golden. Cool on baking racks, and then enjoy with a big glass of cold milk...YUM!
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Friday, June 10, 2011

"Sayings" and what I know about them

 Today I've been doing a lot of thinking about life and the years I've lived it and some stuff I've learned. Things like "if you play with matches, you're going to get burned.!" That can apply to a range of stuff, from the hole my sister and I burned in the bathroom floor when we were little to the "famous people" scandals we continue to see ad nauseum on the evening news. I can't begin to imagine how that Wiener guy's wife must feel...first thing I would do is change MY name!
"Don't count your chickens before they are hatched," is one my mama used to say...I remember thinking and thinking about it till it finally made sense, but it didn't have much effect on me with some of the foolish decisions I've made in my life."When one door closes, another opens" has new meaning to us as our only children who live in our town are relocating because of job changes. They are "stepping out in faith" (another one) for the good of their family, but it's going to be a huge adjustment for the parents/grandparents as they aren't planning to leave the grandson behind! I have a feeling we'll be keeping the road hot!
The main thing today is (and there's even a book with this title) "Bad things happen to good people."  Look at what's going on in our own country, much less the rest of the world! People have had to flee their homes because of floods and fires, or have lost their homes, all their belongings, and even loved ones due to the horrible tornadoes! These are tragedies that make the news, but, honestly, personal tragedies are going on every day in our lives and in the lives of people around us. I have a good friend right now who entered a hospital in February for hip-replacement surgery, and the unthinkable happened...she contracted bacteria which led to infection. She's now in a different hospital facing what, her 5th surgery, I think? She entered a hospital suffering pain, but optimistic about her future. However, now, months later, she's a sick woman, facing who knows what else? She's a person of faith, and she keeps saying to me, "It's going to be alright. I don't know what's going to happen, but it's going to be alright. God has been with me all the time, and He won't leave me." She may be alright, but I was in total despair, until I talked with a "bff" who has experienced some really bad things, including death of a child (God help us!) as well as serious personal illness. She reminded me that "God gives an extra measure of peace and grace to those who really NEED it," and "It's not something you can understand unless you have experienced it, but it's like being wrapped in a cocoon of God's PEACE." She also said it's probably a lot harder on the ones on the "outside" who want to help and "fix it." I believe she's right. I want Vonda WELL! I believe in the power of prayer, and I am praying desperately that she will be well and whole soon. I'm also praying that Vonda will continue to have faith that no matter what happens, she will know God is with her through it ALL and it will be ALRIGHT! I hope you will take a minute to pray for her too:)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Eyes Have It!

EYE tried to put another picture up, but have so many passwords, EYE couldn't remember which one to use! The computer remembers me when EYE want to blog, but, unfortunately, Picasso doesn't. Oh, well. That can be remedied later; EYE just needed to get something down on paper NOW!! (not sure this counts as paper, come to think of it, but not complaining. Love our technology!)    Surely you noticed the word EYE instead of I. It's because (and I'll quit doing it now:) my EYES are on my mind today. I've recently undergone surgery to remove cataracts from both eyes. I'm still using drops, and the drops go on and on and on. It's only been a week  since I had my right eye done and two weeks before that, I had surgery on the left one. The surgeon doesn't just remove the cataracts, no. She implants lenses that are like contact lenses and, if you are fortunate (like I seem to be at this point), your vision can be almost totally repaired! It's amazing! A mere 3 weeks ago the first thing I did upon waking was put on my glasses and now I'm sitting here clicking away without them! It's a wonderful, new freedom that I never thought could happen. I was never a good glasses wearer...they were on and off a zillion times a day and misplaced about that many times too. Hopefully, my family will never again (or at least for MANY years) have to hear the familiar, tiring question, "Has ANYONE seen my GLASSES?!?"

Thank YOU, Lord, for allowing this medical miracle to occur in my life. I pray that I will never take my sight for granted and that I will always let your LIGHT shine forth from these EYES.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A WOW of a WEEKEND!!!



It was a weekend our family had looked forward to for months! Son Nathan, who moved all the way from Little Rock, AR to Seattle, WA, came for a visit. And he didn't come alone! He brought the love of his life, Jensina, with him. Family members from Ft. Worth, Tyler, and Houston, TX along with Arkansas family from Magnolia (us) and Little Rock met in Little Rock where my daughter's home became the hub of activities! Bless Julie's heart, and thank goodness she has a place where many people can mix and mingle comfortably and children have several nooks and crannies for play! Anyway, we welcomed Jen into our hearts and lives in a big way. Most of the family had never met her, including me. And although we had skyped and facebooked, texted, and talked by phone, actually seeing her and being able to give her a big hug was a really big, emotional time for me, and for her too. There were tears as well as laughter. It was wonderful, and there was no doubt at all that we have each other in our hearts.

During the early afternoon, everybody kind of dispersed for awhile so "littles" as well as the rest of us could have some nap time and space. Nathan and Jen took a trip to Conway so she could go by the house her parents built there many years ago, and they could go by Hendrix College where the two first met about 21 years ago. He was a staffer and she was attending Governor's School, a special summer program for gifted students. (She is a concert pianist and teacher in a college now.) Of course, they were breaking every rule by even spending time together then, but what are rules when attraction is there? And who hasn't fallen "in love" at a summer camp?

When we all converged on Julie's house later for dinner and more visiting, Jensina had an addition to her "wardrobe." A very sparkly, beautiful diamond ring! While at Hendrix that afternoon, the place where they first "began," Nathan proposed marriage and Jen said yes. So, our "welcome to Arkansas party" became, even better, an ENGAGEMENT party! From seeing the cake that just "magically" appeared, it seems that daughter Julie had a little hint of what was going to take place. Hoorah, and hoorah! Congratulations, Nathan and Jensina and ALL of us! And welcome to the family, beautiful Jen!
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A Special Weekend