Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Many years ago, back when I did rummage sales to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, one of our team members brought over this huge copper kettle to sell. I thought it was terribly cool, so I threw five dollars into my own cash box and put the kettle on my front stoop. Where it sat for many years, not being so cool anymore.

This spring, I hauled the kettle to the back yard and parked it next to my deck. My wonderful husband drilled some holes in the bottom for drainage and filled it with dirt.  

The rest is a story told in pictures.
May, just got the dirt in the kettle.

May, just got the flowers in, pansies and Gerbera daisies.


July. I don't know how I missed August.


October. I guess we are done til spring
I am taking a diversion in my usual blogging schedule this month. Instead of sharing the many fascinating (not!) stories of my life, I am going to blog only short snippets of where I am at in my writing. I have a lot of accomplish in the month of November. I hope you will be a part of it, but I understand if it becomes boring. I just pray you come back to me when things get exciting again. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What do I love?

A fellow blogger posed this question in her blog and asked that others write their own posts on this. What do I love? Where would I even start?
I love my family, my pets, my friends. I love chocolate and milkshakes and mashed potatoes. I love Lake Superior and Kenya and Peru and Germany – even though I have never been to Germany.  

I love my house, my yard, and sleeping in my own bed at night. I especially appreciate that last one on nights like this where I have been up since 3:30 am because I couldn’t sleep. (One thing I do not love is when blogger does what it wants to with my font size.)
I love walking on the beach, hiking in the woods, taking pictures of random things and laying out in the sun on my deck. I love a quick hot shower in the morning. I can’t say I love cleaning my house, but I love it when the house is clean.

I love to travel and discover new places. I really love learning new things and reading about obscure news and odd facts. I love hearing about history.

Oh, and I love to sing. It should go without saying that I love to read and to write.

What a joy-filled life I have! To love so many things and to get to experience them!
I am blessed!

Thank you Lord for giving me this beautiful world to live in and this wonderful life to lead. You have blessed me beyond measure. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Which way do I go?

I saw this sign when I was in southern Wisconsin last spring. I just thought it was interesting. Let's see. You can't go left. You can't turn around. I guess that means you can only go straight or go left. A while back I even saw a sign with the arrow going straight ahead with the red slash through it. Sometimes we can't even go straight, I guess.

Thanks to all these signs, and vision issues, I don’t like driving as much as I used. I used to love to jump in the car and take a road trip all by myself, listening to books on CD or just singing to the radio. I kind of like to drive where I want to though.

GPS? No way. It is much more fun to drive around until some instinct points the car in the right direction. Or the clerk at the convenience store on the corner would be more than happy to tell you where to go. I’ve met some very nice people that way.

If I have a conference at the Best Western in a medium-sized city, I usually don’t look up the directions at all. I figure, this town can’t be that big, the Best Western is surely going to be easy to find. Needless to say, I often arrive at my destination late. 

And what’s my point? Life should be an adventure, one without a road map, or Mapquest, or Garmin. It’s about the journey not the destination (and I apologize for stealing that from some advertisement).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Patricia Ann and Nicholas Ryan

I almost forgot it was Tuesday and didn't post a blog. When I have my act together, and my head isn't in the clouds, I try to write each blog a day or two ahead of time. That way I avoid that nine pm crunch. Speaking of crunch, I had a compulsion to bake cookies tonight so that is how I squandered part of my evening.

Now that the dust has settled and reality has set in  - in a few short months I may have my own book in my hands - I find myself wandering back to where this all really started. Sure, I always wanted to write, ever since I could write, but who was it that gave me the dream, believed in me? There was Mrs. Nocco in the six grade and Mrs. Hanson in Freshman English. 

But late at night, when I couldn't sleep, I knew I could call my sister Pat. She maybe didn't appreciate it but she did appreciate that, along with everything else we had in common, we felt the need to write. Some day, when I have a few more books under my belt, when I have a few more literary connections, my dream is to publish the book she started writing when she was in high school. She worked on it up until a couple years before she died. It still needs a little work, but I think that some day it will make it in to print. If I can do it, surely Pat can.
It took me awhile to figure out why I picked these two pictures. My sister Pat and my son Nick. They have an awful lot in common. Perfectionist tops the list. Just like Pat, though, I can pretty much reach Nick at the dumbest times. I can count on him to be on-line at midnight as well as six am. 

I feel bad that I couldn't find any pictures of Aunt Pat with Val, but just you wait Val, your turn will come.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Willing Spirit

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” 
Psalm 51:12 NIV

OK, so here is the story of my story.

A few weeks ago I submitted my story to my publisher (if I haven’t shared the story of how I found this publisher that will have to wait for another time). He e-mailed me back quite happy with it and willing to publish it as it was (with of course lots of editorial changes). But he did mention that he would like me share more of the Gospel.

I was kind of stumped by what he meant. But instead of sounding dumb, I e-mailed him back that I would work on it and submit another version. I spent the next week going over the entire manuscript again, adding a Bible verse or two and expounding on my beliefs. I e-mailed it back to him a few days later, not quite sure if I had really added the elements he was looking for.

The very next morning, as I was driving to work, God joined me in the passenger seat of my car. I hate it when He does that. Have you ever read the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz? The ghost of Elvis does that to Odd Thomas. I’d rather have God in my car anytime.

So God told me exactly what I was supposed to have added to my story. I thanked Him very much, but did ask that next time He let me know these things before I send out my book.

As soon as I got to work, I e-mailed my publisher that little tid-bit about God sitting in my car – and now my publisher thinks I’m crazy. But what is more crazy is that he still wants to publish my book!

I made the re-vision which God had asked me to do, and I think that it was a really helpful addition to the manuscript. God is after all the ultimate editor.

When the book comes out and you have bought and read your very own copy of it, let me know if you can pick out the section I added. If you get it right and you remind me, I will give you a free copy of my NEXT book.  

And the chosen Bible passage for today? I use Biblegateway to find the passages I use. I am kind of tired from the roller-coaster last two weeks, so I just copied and pasted the passage that the website had for their verse of the day. It kind of fits, doesn’t it?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our strange pastime

 On many people’s calendars, there are four seasons noted, spring, summer, fall and winter. There are also people out there who skew those seasons into things like football season, baseball season and chores around the house season, or winter and road construction season, etc. Well, we also have two seasons at our house. They are: “it’s warm enough for the cats to stay outside season” and “don’t you feel sorry for the cats, let’s just bring them inside for a few hours in the evening season”.
Apparently we have reached the second season of the year. The hubby is always willing to let this season slip, but I pretty much think that seasons should be split evenly, so that if we have only two of them, they should each be six months long. In hopes of warm weather arriving early next year, I am willing to begin the “let the cats in the house season”.

You have hopefully seen the movie “The Christmas Story”. Being as it is on TV every year from mid to late December, I hope that you have caught it. If not, go find it somewhere right now and watch it, coz it is great. In one of the scenes the dogs from next door break into the house and steal the Christmas turkey off of the kitchen table.

Picture if you will the Bumpus dogs careening through the front door and tromping through the house. That is exactly what it looks like in my house every cold-weather evening when we let Betty, Fred and Ches in the back door. The three cats are beside themselves with glee. They don’t know if they should first run down the basement stairs to see what food awaits them there or if they should stake their claim to a living room chair or the pillow on my bed. They scurry everywhere. The whole time Dino the dog and Alice the inside cat are wondering what the panic is all about. Then because Alice is so stupid, she goes outside by herself.

Eventually though they all settle in to several hours of peace and warmth. Then before they know it, it is time for round two.

I truly don’t know what my hubby and I do for entertainment during the warm months. TV? Read a book? Write a book? Don’t know, coz the most entertainment we have is rounding up the cats when it is bedtime and we deem it necessary for them to be eradicated to the great outdoors, or if they were smart, the snug garage.

Ches is the easiest to find, either because he truly likes to be out in the cold or because he hasn’t figured out what is happening when hubby and I start moving cautiously around the house, talking in whispers and using sign language. We used to be able to count on Betty to curl up on someone’s bed, but lately she has taken to the basement when it is time to go out.

Fred, dear Fred. Do any of you readers know Fred? If you do, please share your impressions. He is – something. Fred used to be an inside cat until he decided it was fun to do that thing which boy cats do which leaves a disgusting odor on your shoes and upholstery. So he got banished to the outdoors, where he still manages to leave that odor on my basement windows. Anyway, he has issues. So the nightly eradication of cats is where he truly shines, hiding in some of the darnedest places. We almost always find him though.

When people ask what hobbies the hubby and I have, we tell them cat eradication is our favorite. Very few people get it. But now at least you do

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Too much effort

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Romans 9:16 (NIV)
note the lack of bars
My cell phone has never gotten good reception and then it started losing its charge, so I blamed these problems on its age. The cellular people suggested I get a new phone. The reception is only slightly better and the battery still seems to go dead by the end of the week.

Here is the real problem. Even though I live only three miles from town, I get horrible cell phone reception at my house because it is surrounded by pine trees. Since I leave the phone on all of the time, the battery is wearing down, not because I am using the phone but because the phone is constantly trying to get a signal. The effort the phone is putting in trying to connect with the closest tower is tiring it out. Without knowing better, it is using up all of its energy on a sometimes futile task.

Aren’t we like that sometimes? We work so hard on something that only wears us out without ever accomplishing our goal. Or by the time we reach our goal, we are useless and our battery is run dry.

When that happens, when we feel we are spinning our wheels, it is time to turn things over to God. Pray to Him. His tower is always nearby.

Lord, sometimes the things I am trying to accomplish seem like an awful lot of effort. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? If it is Lord, please strengthen me, strengthen my signal, so that I can do what is right in Your eyes. Amen 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Blank Page

“I can fix bad writing…I can’t fix a blank page.” Nora Roberts

One of our speakers at Green Lake Writer’s Conference shared this quote. It kind of reminds me of a saying by another famous person, Henry Ford. “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”

Whether you are a writer or not, you still have to do SOMETHING. It doesn't have to be creative, it doesn't have to be seen by a lot of people, but no matter who you are, you have to do SOMETHING. Maybe you sew or exercise or clean the house or cook complicated breakfasts for your three-year-old twins every morning. But don’t just sit there doing nothing. Just start, start doing whatever you want to do or need to do. You may not start out doing it well, but the more you work at it the better you will get. And no matter what mundane thing it is, you might begin to like it or even discover new ways to do an old boring thing.

But whatever you leave behind, don’t leave a blank page. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I know, a little late for the 4-H Fair

Some pets which have come through my life have actually been more like livestock, so I almost forgot that they had existed. Rabbits are kind of that way.

When I was a kid, some friends of my parents who lived just around the corner raised rabbits for eating. I never could picture that. How you could slaughter, skin, gut, cook and eat a rabbit, but I was only maybe ten at the time. Coz obviously I had no problems eating guinea pig many years later.

I don’t know whose idea it was, but before you knew it, there were two wooden cages with attached hutches in the backyard.  The girl bunny we received from the neighbors was all white with those eerie red-pink eyes. I named her Snowball, not my most original work. The other bunny, the boy, was also white, but he had deep blue eyes. My sister Pat chose Bright Eyes for him, due to those beautiful eyes. She actually stole the name from the book ”Brighty: Of the Grand Canyon” by Marguerite Henry. I can’t remember the book, but I know it was about a burro and I’m sure he didn’t have blue eyes. But somewhere in my Misty (another Ms. Henry book by the way) memories, there was a correlation.

Anyway, enough about the names. At some point, they did what bunnies do, they had babies, which it seems to me we gave back to the neighbors. I don’t want to think why. And in fact it wasn’t long before we gave back Brighty and Snowball.  

Good thing they were the only pets close to livestock which we raised. But I think that I still should have been in 4-H. 

Ok, so I took lots of pictures of the animals at the fair this past summer. I thought it was about time I did something with them, hence the whole pet rabbit thing. We really did own rabbits for a while. Really. But they didn't look anything like these prize specimens.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Winter is on its way.

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. Matthew 27:45

It’s hard to believe that only a week ago, the view out my back door was stunning.  The reds and yellows bathed my yard in color, practically glowing.
 All it took were a few dreary windy days for the leaves to fall to the ground.

Before I know it there will be snow on that ground. I used to love winter, but those days seem to be gone. I hole up in my house when it is cold out and I just don’t play in the snow like I used to. But I have spring to look forward to.

In just five or six short months, the snow will be melted and my trees will be budding out again. Life will return to my backyard.

It reminds me of Good Friday. The cold, the darkness. But Easter Sunday arrived and the sun (the Son) broke out and covered the land, bringing life to all who believed.

Lord, thank you for the many seasons of our lives. Help me to remember that no season will last forever and that warm days will return. And that someday I will be living in the endless season of life in heaven. Amen  

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I have that word on my white board in my office because I can never remember how to spell it. How sad, huh? What does it even mean? A lot of different things to different people I suppose. To me, it pretty much means the Minnesota Renaissance Festival where I was this past Sunday.

Instead of giving you a play-by-play, or any kind of play at all, here are just a few of the pictures.

 Waiting to be let into the grounds. You have to get there half an hour before it opens if you want to park anywhere within a comfortable walking distance. Seriously. The parking lot (aka field) has to be 40 acres.
 Inside the Enchanted Forest. To get there you have to go through the Hobbit hole. The misguided 13-year-old girl who we took along didn't know what a hobbit was. Scary what our kids aren't learning in school.
 The Secret Garden just past the Enchanted Forest.
 Some of the buildings on the grounds with lots of people on the grounds.
 It is really a challenge to get a good action picture of the Joust.
This would have to be the best action shot.
Me and the misguided 13-year-old, after we were sprinkled with fairy dust. Another way you can tell she is not my child is that she truly believes that fairy is spelled "faery". Seriously, what is wrong with our youth.