This is where I go out on a limb and ponder a while.

Friday, December 30, 2011


I had a conversation with a friend about New Year's Resolutions. The question was "Can anyone ever keep their New Year's Resolution?  More specifically, can we change anything at our age?  We get so set in our ways, why bother even trying anymore.  I see many people in my age group making that statement.  "I don't make resolutions because I know I won't keep them anyway".  Ok, we do have a hard time changing our ways as we get older.  But I believe it's possible.  But usually one needs a catalyst to bring about a life change.  Most people call it a 'wake-up call'.  And I think I can safely say that it's usually not a pleasant experience.  It can be losing a job, losing a loved one, a near-death experience, chronic illness, financial disaster, a relationship break-up.  I'm sure there are many more scenarios that can be devastating to an individual.  The point is, it causes you to suddenly, shockingly, see your life with a new perspective.  What you previously valued may not be important anymore.  You may now feel a sense of urgency to try new things, cultivate new relationships or nurture more carefully the ones you have.  You also see with a new clarity how much time you may have wasted, and therefore, the need to be a wise steward of your body, life, the world around you, and your commodities become a priority.

Strangely enough, then, a wake-up call, although no fun at the time, can be a blessing if you choose to turn the experience around and make something positive come out of it.

I've always been a fraidy-cat.  Yep, always played it safe.  But I went through a life-changing experience this past summer.  I was seriously ill.  Spent 5 days in the hospital, the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me.  We found out later from the blood tests that I had Powassan virus (a tick-borne virus).  There have only been 6 recorded cases of it in my state (7 now, if you include me), and fewer than 60 cases in the United States.  10-15 percent of people who contract the virus die, and many people who survive end up with long-term problems.  Lucky me.  I am fine, no residual effects.  But let me tell you, I see things so differently now!  I feel as though I have been given a second chance and I'm not going to waste it.  I am trying new things that I used to be afraid of.  For example, I have always been afraid of horses since I got thrown off when I was a teen.  This summer I went on a trail ride on steep mountain trails out in Wyoming.  Our guide was impressed - he said if I could do that ride, I could ride any horse.  Yeehaw!  We're considering plopping a couple of horses down on our ranch some day.  I am laughing more and relaxing more.  I've always been convinced that healthy eating is important, but now it's a passion - I need to live to be 100 to do everything I want to do!  My 50th birthday is coming up in 2 months.  I've always tried to let my birthday slip by un-noticed.  Not this year.  I haven't decided what I will do, but I am going to be celebrating in a BIG WAY!

Here's E.  She's a pretty happy kid right now!

And me at the end of a two-hour trail ride.  Tired, but I did it!

I guess I don't really have a specific New Year's Resolution.  Just to LIVE LIFE in a BIGGER WAY!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Parent's Love

All healthy parents love their children.  I know that I love mine so much it hurts, and I am fiercely protective of them.  My husband jokes that messing with my children is like getting between a mother bear and her cubs.  Even now that most of them are adults, I still ache for them when they have to suffer through hardships.  But when my first child was born, I was sure that I was going to protect him from everything harmful.  This morning I am thinking about Mary.  She must have felt the same way.  How did she feel the first moment she saw her tiny infant?  I imagine she was surprised at the softness of his skin, the perfection of each finger and toe, how tiny the fingernails!  And the first time he looked into her eyes, she must have felt that same ache in her chest that told her that from that point on, she would always be slightly holding her breath.  Because she was not one person anymore, she was two.  That's the way it is with motherhood.

This morning I had the song "Mary Did You Know?" inside my head.  Do you think she knew what her precious little baby was up against?   I asked my husband that question as he wandered out into the kitchen for his first cup of coffee.  "Not a clue", he said.  But I think she must have had a hint.  How could she not?  She knew this child was born of unusual circumstance.  Therefore, even though she may have wished for a normal life, which would be a natural human response, she knew in her deepest heart that God had a plan for her son.  Perhaps she didn't know exactly what it was.  I don't think she could even be a good mother, knowing what was in store for him.  So God, in His infinite wisdom, let that slide for a while.  And so, Mary nursed, snuggled, and more than likely sang to her baby those first few hours of his life.  And she was a good choice for the mother of our Savior.  Because when the time came for Him to step up, He was ready.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cards

Don't you just love Christmas Photo Cards?  I used to turn my nose up at them.  I have to admit I was a Christmas Card Snob.  I thought every year I had an obligation to personally address a Christmas card to every individual on my list.  And people who sent photo cards were just plain lazy.  But I humbly stand corrected.  I am becoming so sappy and sentimental in my old age.  I've saved the cards that I received over the years and I have to admit, the photo cards are my favorites!  It's so fun to see how people have changed over the years. So which do you prefer?  A personalized card or a photo card?

Finally giving you a peek into my home.  Like I said before, I don't do much decorating!  It's very simple, but it's home. Yeah, a lot of dead animals on the walls ;)  It's what we do. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011


It's time to take a big breath and exhale.  The whole holiday  hurrah gets to me, as I try to do everything:  find the perfect gifts, keep the house beautifully clean and decorated, bake everyone's favorite treats, all the while maintaining a festive attitude for an eleven-year-old who clings to the lovely idea of Santa Claus.  But the house of cards has fallen.  E. is sick today and my car has been in the shop all last week, so I've been housebound (think no more shopping), and the sudden drop in barometric pressure today has brought on another migraine.  So it's time to let things go.  I may not get my gifts custom-decorated like Martha does - perhaps they will just get plain-wrapped with a stick-on label.  I may not get 6 different kinds of cookies made - maybe just our favorite kind of fudge and sugar cookies will do.  And maybe the man of the house will have to pick up that last gift for me.  And seriously:  Once everyone arrives, (grandchildren especially), and starts ripping open gifts, nobody will notice whether I vacuumed or not :)

Take it easy on yourself this week!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slip and Fall

My daughter-in-law slipped and fell in the parking lot this morning.  It was an icy morning.  We had rain and temperatures hovering around the freezing mark.  She is not a clumsy person at all, but truth be told, she is 8 months pregnant.  So she ended up in the birthing center for observation.  She texted me to let me know that she was there and to inform me of what had happened.  Why did she tell me about it?  Because she knows I am a worrier and if I had found out after the fact that she had been in the hospital and didn't tell me about it, I would have been upset!  If I don't have the opportunity to worry about someone I love, then surely I have missed out!

All joking aside, I did some praying and then got back to the job at hand, which today happens to be writing out and addressing Christmas cards.  But my mind was on her and my newest grandson.  I am very anxious to meet him.  He already has a name.  He will be the sixth generation namesake.  At least, as far as we know, since it is virtually impossible to trace our family tree any further back than the potato famine in Ireland.  Record-keeping was pretty sketchy during that period in history, unless you're lucky enough to physically dig up church records or gravestones with your family name on them.

It's a strange kind of pressure, having a family name like that.  I wonder if she minds.  I didn't mind it when my first son was born.  But these days it seems as if nothing is forever anymore, especially marriages and families.  I pray that my families all stay together.

Two hours later my daughter-in-law texted me to let me know she was being discharged and everything is fine for now.  The little one is safely protected inside his mother, even during a hard fall on the ice.  She, however, has some bruises and a scratched knee.  I imagine she'll be pretty sore tomorrow.   How wonderfully we are made for creating, really, when you think about it...

Psalm 139:15  "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place"

Friday, December 9, 2011

That Moon

The full mooon.  Well, it's not officially full until tomorrow, but I like to get the party started early.  I'm talking insomnia.  It runs in my family.  My mom gave it to me, I gave it to 3 of my children, and we've all noticed that the full moon (along with a host of other things) keeps us awake.  And it isn't just the day of the full moon, it usually starts a day or so before.  Not sure if that's a psychological thing or a physiological phenomena, but it's there, and we can't deny it, so hey.

Anyway, what's on my mind this morning is bees.  Last night, we saw something on tv about bees and E. and I said we wish we could have beehives on the ranch and my husband said "Why not?".  She and I looked at each other and our jaws dropped.

I said, "But every time I mentioned having bees you told me you couldn't because you're allergic to them".

"I just meant that I can't handle them", he replied.  "Doesn't mean you can't."

E. and I looked at each other with big smiles and high-fived.

So now I have a new subject to research during these long winter months.  I love bees, and have no fear of them.  Does anyone have experience with beekeeping?  I would love to hear about it.  I took hundreds of photos of bees at the ranch this summer, because it's covered with wildflowers, but saw very few honeybees, sadly.  Just lots of bumblebees, and aren't they just the loveliest creatures, so fat, furry, and docile?

This butterfly bush was always full of bees and butterflies and bloomed for weeks.

I'm always happiest when I have a new subject to learn about!

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Little Girl

This is E.

Butterflies land on her all the time.  Babies reach out to her in the grocery store.

She's a snake charmer.

She's a bookworm.

And not just fluff.  Her reading scores are off the charts for her age.  And yet, her reading teacher tells me  that she is immature.  It's true, she forgets her worksheets sometimes, she brings the wrong book to class sometimes.  She also doesn't wear make-up, care about dating, getting her ears pierced, what the latest fashions are, or having a boyfriend, like some of the other 5th grade girls are doing.  Frankly, that's ok with me.

She cares about identifying bird feathers, finding deer sheds, photographing birds.  She knows everything there is to know about every animal that's indigenous to our area, and how they affect their habitat.  (She knows what the word indigenous means, too).  To tell the truth, I think she's more mature than her teacher realizes...

I think E's pretty interesting, just the way she is :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011


We have an egg!  E's hens have been molting for what seems like forever.  For those of you who are not familiar with chickens, molting is a period where they lose most of their feathers and grow in new feathers.  During this time, they do not lay eggs (and they look pretty pathetic).  So we have had to buy eggs from the store for the last couple of months.  I'm an organic fanatic, so I pay a premium for those eggs.  But today I finally found the first egg in the nesting box when we let the hens out this morning - yay!  We have 7 hens, so obviously we're not in full production yet, but it's a start!

This is my favorite, Honey.  She's a Buff Orpington, and she's the Boss-Lady, as she's the oldest hen.  Buffs are very mellow, and easy to tame.

We also have two Black Austrolorps, another favorite of mine - also very gentle hens.

And of course, one must always have the traditional red hens.  We have two Red Stars, probably the most popular of the large breeds.

And then there are the two Aracaunas, also known as the Easter egg chickens, because they lay pastel-colored eggs.  These are E's favorites, because she thinks they're the prettiest.  

Of course, all of her hens have names, and she insists they all have individual personalities ;)

We let our hens free roam, which is the best way to have organic eggs.  In all the years I've had chickens I have only lost one to a fox.  I guess that's probably because of the dogs (I hope).  We do shut them up tight every night.  I am surprised that they're still roaming this late in the year, though.  Usually by now the ground is snow-covered and they stay in their little barn and eat chicken feed all day.  I'm not complaining!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Gorgeous Morning

What a gorgeous morning at the bus stop today!  

We received a light dusting of snow overnight.  Temperature is around 20 degrees this morning, but there is no wind and the sun is promising to come up, so the snow should be gone by noon.

Oliver is begging for his breakfast.  Apparently he has forgotten that he gets fed after E. gets on the bus.

Don't worry, E., I'll feed him right away!  He doesn't look like he's missed too many meals to me ;)

I still walk E. to the bus every day.  I know, she's eleven now, and probably could go by herself, but I actually enjoy it.  For one thing, the morning sun provides the best photo ops.  And she wants me there and I like that the very last thing before she gets on the bus is a hug from me.   Before I know it, she won't want me by her side anymore, so I'm not in a rush to push her out the door on her own.

Enjoy this beautiful day, wherever you are!