Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Cherished Heirloom

 If you follow my other blog, writing what I can when I can, you have already seen some of these pictures, but here’s the rest of the story.

When I first moved into this house in 1990, there were only two bedrooms. My son and daughter shared the northeast bedroom until we remodeled nine years later. The tiny southeast bedroom was mine. Hard to believe that for those first three years, there was a queen-size waterbed in there. Even harder to believe that we painted it orange when we first moved in. Too bad there’s no pictures of that.

 After the remodel, it was Nick’s room til he graduated from high school and left for college. Shortly after that, I started transforming it in any number of ways. Poor kid, no wonder he never came home after that. 
 When he earned his Eagle Scout, though, I did give him his own wall. That’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed in this room in all that time. 

 One other feature that the room had at one time was bunkbeds. Can you imagine how much space that took up in the middle of the small room! I don’t know how I survived before digital cameras. 

 I’m hoping this is the last remodel I do here. The greatest joy in this last update is the quilt on the full-size bed.  
 It’s called a signature quilt. Each of the pink squares has the embroidered signature of each of the ladies in my mom’s homemakers group from the 1950s. My mom never got her quilt put together, I believe many years ago, she gave her squares to my oldest sister. This particular quilt was given to Mom in 2010 when one of the ladies passed away. Her son gave it to Mom as he hadn’t known any of the women and only had sons of his own to pass it down to.  I believe that there may be only one or two of these sweet ladies still alive. A few of them, I don’t remember at all. But I still cherish all of their signatures.  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Overflowing with Thankfulness

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

Where has the month of November gone? The first Sunday of the month I said that I would spend the next four Sundays sharing all of the things I am thankful for. I have not even scratched the surface.

If you have been following my escapades the last week, you know that I have a lot to be thankful for. As tenuous as my health may seem when I am writing about it, I am so thankful that I am actually in very good health. In general, nothing more than some aches and pains with some insomnia thrown in.

I live in my dream house on my dream piece of property in my dream neighborhood – okay, maybe that is all a stretch, but I couldn’t be much happier with my living conditions. And even though my internet is slow and we don’t have very good cell phone coverage – really? Those are things to complain about?

I’m thankful to have a great job in a great office. Again, for those of you who know me personally, I may seem to grumble about it a lot. But having been there for nearly thirty years should say something.

I’m thankful for my dog and my cats, my car, cookies and chocolate, and having the money to afford all the things I need and a great deal of the things I want. I’m thankful I have thick hair, a reasonable sense of humor and a decent IQ. I’m thankful that I wear a common shoe size and pretty much any shoe I put on in that size fits – not that I’d ever actually wear most of those shoes.

All the things I am thankful for is a pretty endless list. I am so blessed! And when you think about it, I’m sure you’ll realize you are just as blessed.

May God bless you all with all that you need. Amen.   
Not only do I have a wonderful house and backyard, I have this amazing deck as well.
Goofy little Alice always sleeps with her neck stretched out. It doesn't look comfortable to me. 

The only picture I have of any shoes, but I am thankful that when these broke, I could go buy new ones. 

Don't know how I managed to pick this work picture, but I don't work with any of these people anymore. Luckily I work with a whole new group of great people. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Another Shooting

 I don’t usually blog on Saturday, but since I only posted once during the week, and since I have something to say today, here we are. 
I don’t know if I’ve written about my trails in the woods before. At least two or three times a week, more in the summer, I take Dino the Wonder Dog for a walk around my little four-acre patch of heaven. I have a trail behind the house which goes up a hill, along a ridge and then back down to the yard near the end of the driveway. Another trail between my driveway and our swamp and a third very short one just west of the house. I’ve thought about measuring the distance of all three trails, including where I have to cut through my yard to get to each one. I’ve tried timing myself and when I feel up to an actual workout, will run the route twice, once in each direction, which, with the hill to be scaled is probably a decent workout.

And of course, Dino the Wonder Dog loves the run.

The other favorite activity in my yard is watching my deer. You well know about this as I post probably too many pictures of the deer who wander through my yard year-round, many times passing by my office window as I’m trying to write. A well-worth-it distraction.
It’s been hunting season here this week. A very big deal in this part of the country. People take the entire week off to sit in deer stands, dressed head to toe in blaze orange, rifle at the ready, waiting for that prize buck.

When I was a kid, growing up on our patch of ten acres, Mom wouldn’t let us out of the yard, barely out of the house, during hunting season, on the off chance a stray bullet would shatter a window and hit one of us. (Who knew that she was almost right, if you read a previous post.)

Even though I only have four acres, with houses on two sides and roads on the other two, Mom’s directive still hangs over my head. I haven’t been on my trails all week.

Last night, as we were working on supper, I sent the boys (son and son-in-law and four dogs) down to get the mail at the end of our tenth of a mile long driveway. They returned and casually mentioned a spike buck dead in the yard. I thought they were talking about the buck my son-in-law shot earlier in the week and didn’t think anything of it.

But the more they talked, the more I realized that, no, a deer had been shot somewhere in the neighborhood and had decided to die in my yard.

“No, not in your yard,” my son corrected me. “In the woods by one of your trails down by the end of the driveway.”

Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME?

“Go drag it out to the road, then.”

“We can’t do that. Mom, it’s got a bullet in its side. We can’t drag it anywhere.”

“Why not?”

They all gave me the look like I was completely daft. I guess there’s some law about touching the deer someone else shot, or something. I don’t know. Don’t want to know. Don’t want to deal with it. I am sick about it.   

The boys assured me that some animal would eventually drag it off, that something had been eating on it already. Really? Coz I didn’t need to know that.

But nope, it’s not time to move to the city, no way will I give up my four-acre paradise. Not yet, not until I can afford a ten, twenty, or forty acre paradise. In the meantime, maybe it’s the circle of life, maybe it’s just the isosceles triangle of life.

Now it’s up to my hubby to tell me when the coast is clear and I can walk my trails again. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for Today

 Happy Thanksgiving. And sorry that I didn’t post a blog yesterday, but as you will read, I had stuff going on.

 Looking at this picture, you might wonder what I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving morning.
  I’m thankful that I can actually open the eye completely, it’s just partially open in the picture so that you can see the lid. I’m thankful that I don’t have a brain tumor, that I haven't had a stroke and that I can see out of both eyes. I’m thankful that even though the symptoms fit with Shingles, the eye doctor is stilling leaning towards this being just a stye, and that even if it is Shingles, they’re not actually in my eye.

 I also am thankful that I live in a community with a wonderful small-town clinic and that the staff there are all kind and caring and that they will squeeze in anyone who really needs to be seen same-day. You could believe because I work there, that I get special treatment as a patient, but we all treat all our patients equally – giving them all the time and attention that they need. I’m thankful they were able to get me in to see the eye doctor the same day, the day before a holiday.

 I’m thankful that my daughter was willing to drive me the 30 miles to the eye doctor. I could have driven myself, or the hubby was available and would have taken me, but I’m thankful that my daughter and I were able to have the afternoon together to talk and be ourselves.

 So what am I doing this Thanksgiving, besides hot-packing my eye? Enjoying my grand-puppies, maybe cleaning some cupboards, catching up on paperwork, and just being thankful for all that I have. Maybe I’ll pluck my eyebrows too. Yikes!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thankful for Family

 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
(Philippians 1:3 New Living Translation)

All November, I am posting on Sundays about the things I am thankful for. Here it is three weeks into the month, I am just now getting around to what I thank God for every day. That would be my family.

Not a day goes by that I am not thankful that God has blessed me with the most amazing, kind, loving husband. Hubby, I am nothing without you.

My kids are just as wonderful, even if we butt heads on many occasions. They are truly gifts from God.

I was blessed to have a mother and father who were devoted to their family. I continue to miss them both as much as ever. I look forward to the day we all meet up again in heaven. The same goes for my sister Pat. I miss my incredible aunts and uncles as well.

I’m thankful that I still have a sister and a brother who would do anything for me. I appreciate the multiple cousins, nieces, nephews, slew of in-laws, none of whom I see enough.  

I am truly blessed to have so many relatives in my life. People who support me, who give in to my whims, who make me laugh. I thank God that I’ve had the opportunity to know them all.

Thank You God for all the people you have sent into my life. I am truly blessed. Amen.
My family in 1968. I be the little one on the left side. Then Dad, sister Judy, brother Tom, Mom and Pat. Judy is holding her daughter Paula. I do not remember taking this picture, but I'm going to guess that Judy's husband took it.
The rest of these photos are from last year's Thanksgiving dinner at my house.
Unfortunately, there won't be a Thanksgiving dinner here this year as Hubby has to work. I should be thankful that he is still working, but will be more thankful when he retires. 

A horrible picture of me, but Hubby looks smashin' as always. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

What I have this Friday morning

Over the past seven years, I’ve shared lots of stories from my past, some funny, some sad and I’m sure, a few boring. My childhood was pretty boring, but on July 6, 1980, I came to appreciate how uneventful my life had been up to that point.  

It was a Sunday afternoon. I was sitting at our kitchen table trying to figure out my class schedule for college that fall. Mom was at the kitchen sink under the kitchen window, cleaning strawberries. She watched a car drive by.

We heard a bang, bang, followed by ping, ping, ping, ping. It was the Fourth of the July weekend. We thought nothing of it. The car driving by must have thrown firecrackers out the window. 

Mom’s sister came over later and after we all had eaten supper, the two of them took a walk around the yard. From inside the house, I heard one of them shout something. Dad and I ran out to the driveway where Mom and her sister were standing next to Mom’s car. The back of it had been sprayed with fine shot. We immediately realized that the noise we heard earlier had been gunshots.

While Mom ran in the house to call the police, the rest of us walked around the yard. Dad found a bullet hole in a pine tree in the front yard and two more bullet holes in the house, one right above the kitchen window where Mom had been standing at the time.

As freaked out as I was – we all were – we figured it was just the kids in that car, pulling a sick prank. We didn’t think anything else was going to happen.

The next day, Mom called me at work to say the house had been shot at again. This time the person had come through the woods behind our house and fired two shots into the house. One had actually gotten through the wall but was stopped by the metal radiator in my bedroom. Dad had been sleeping in his recliner in the living room just on the other side of my room. Had the shot come into the house a few feet higher, it could have hit him.

The cops were called again. We found shotgun shells in the trees across the road from the house, so ruled out the car we had seen drive by the day before. By then, Mom was starting to suspect who it was.

At this point as I am writing this account, I had to consult my journal from that year. A lot more happened after that that I didn’t remember so clearly.  

Mom ended up in the hospital because of the stress. The shooter went up to the hospital and confronted her. They moved her to a different room, next to the nurse’s station so they could see if he came back.

I spent one night up at my aunt’s house, but then slept the rest of the time with my sister in her room above our garage (as if being in the garage five feet away from the house guaranteed my safety).

Friday, Dad and I went in to see Mom at the hospital. On our way home, my uncle flagged us down as we drove by, to say that the shooter had been at our house nosing around. Everything looked fine around the house. Dad was calm, as always, not rattled, but I made him go back up to my uncle’s when I went to work in the afternoon.

Shortly after I got to work, Mom called to say that it was over. The man had fired more shots at the house, then went back up to the hospital. He went in the room Mom had been in before and when he couldn’t find her, he slipped back outside. The police tracked him down and arrested him in an alley.

As much as this event remains vivid in my head, I’ve not been able to share it before. The man died quite a few years ago. He had a disease which affected him mentally as well as physically. Mom always said, “he’s not insane.” But he wasn’t always in control of his decisions or his actions. That summer, he had his reasons for having a grudge against Mom (reasons I don’t feel I have the right to divulge). I don’t remember if he was ever charged with anything, but I know he never went to trial. His mom passed away this spring and my mom passed in February, so I feel I can at least now share this story, if not all the details.

The reason I’m telling you any of this right now is because of a shooting in my little community last night. A shooting which wasn’t as personal as the one in 1980, but still too close for comfort - I was at work a block away when this happened.

I think you’ll understand why I have a fear of guns. But even so, I don’t believe that guns kill people. People kill people. And if they don’t have a gun, they can kill or maim with a knife, a bomb, a car, a paperclip, their words.

What happened in 1980 was an isolated incident for those times. Not so anymore. This world has gone insane. I don’t know what’s in people’s heads and I probably don’t want to. I don’t have any brilliant answers. I think people should get to church, read their Bibles, have faith in something bigger than themselves. Study what Jesus taught, learn to forgive. It’s not much, but it’s what I believe.

That’s all I got this Friday morning.  
The house I grew up in, viewed from about where the first shots were fired. The tree in the middle of the yard wasn't here then, others were. Mom's car had been parked in front of the right side of the garage. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Crafty Me

I hadn’t planned on posting a blog today as I knew I wasn’t going to have time to write one last night. But here it is the middle of the night and I’m wide awake, so thought I might as well be productive.

A month ago, when my friends and I went to the Fox River Mall for a girls’ weekend, I went into Earthbound Trading on my quest to find the perfect purse. I had success, but by then I had been sucked into the back of the store and the sale rack. They had a stack of six foot square tapestries, originally priced at $39.99, but marked down to the $19.99. As the sales clerk came through, seeing me pawing through the pile and opening them all up, she said they were an additional 30% off.
I was like, “in addition to the already marked sales price? So, like for $14 each?”

“Oh, yes.” Then she added, “did you see the one hanging up in the dressing room?”


I had to check it out, and of course it was indeed the only one in that pattern and it was the one I had to have, so she took it off the wall for me. I can’t remember being more pleased with a shopping experience. The only downfall was that this sweet clerk had an obnoxious voice. Just like Janice’s on “Friends”. Remember when she’d say, “Chandler Bing” and then laugh? Anybody remember that?

I digress. 

 I knew I wanted to make a wrap skirt out of half of the material. Don’t know what I’ll do with the other half yet – this piece of material was that big. Of course, I forgot to get a picture of it until after I had started cutting it apart.
 Also, in case you are wondering, I did look up patterns for wrap skirts on-line, but they all seemed too complicated. I know, right? How can a wrap skirt be complicated? So I just laid my old wrap skirt on top of this piece of fabric, cut it out, sewed the sides and hem and added the waist band with tie. 

 The color in these pictures does not come close to doing it justice. You'll have to find me out and about wearing it sometime, perhaps this weekend when I am at Sara Park in Tomahawk, from 9 to 3 Saturday. I'll have all of my books for sale there, as well as our Kenyan merchandise, the sale of which will support our nonprofit organization, Tumaini Volunteers. My skirt and I will see ya then!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thankful to Live in the Land of the Free

 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28, New International Version)

For the month of November, I’m going to be posting here the things I am thankful for. Being as yesterday was Veteran’s Day, I must first recognize and thank all of our veterans. Whether they served during peace or war, they still served their country and assured us our freedoms.

There are so many others in my country who keep us safe and free – law enforcement officers, emergency services personnel, government officers. Ok that last one seems to be a stretch, but I still have to believe that at least some of our elected officials are trying to make our country a better place.

I thank God that I live in a country where I still have the freedom to worship Him, where I can hold down a job, live in a nice house, come and go as I please. There is a lot of tension in the US right now, a lot of bickering, a lot of dissension. It makes me very sad to see the things that are going on here, but I still have to thank God that it’s not as bad as in other countries. We have so much to be thankful for here in the United States. And even if there are times I speak badly of it, this is still the best place to live.

Thank You God for all the freedoms You give me. Thank You for granting me and my loved ones peace and safety. Amen.
My cousin, Ben Greene, who gave his life for his country in Viet Nam. 

My brother, Tom Loehmer, who served his country in the Dominican Republic. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Another Lost File

          Ole lit the torch in his small bare hut. On the dirt floor was the blanket Ruth had given him, not a thin one like the shuka he wore around his shoulder every day, but a large thick blanket. He could wrap it around his thin body two whole times and when he curled up on the ground he felt warm and safe. It was as if the heavy blanket were a hug.
He had also gathered an assortment of water bottles. He was always amazed when one of the guests left behind a half full bottle of water. How could someone leave water behind? He had come to realize that in this magical place water wasn’t precious like it was back home, but he didn’t want to see anything wasted. He brought all of the bottles he found into his home for safe keeping and in case the water supply from Rueben ran out.
Now he had one more item to add to his growing collection of possessions. He squatted on the floor beneath the torch and admired his gift from John. The bright colors, the life-like drawings of people and animals, the mysterious marks. The marks that he now knew were words, words which he had to learn how to read.
He gently turned the pages. They were cool and smooth under his rough fingers. In the dim light of the room he could barely make out the pictures, but he already knew what they all looked like. What was this story, he wondered, and would he ever be able to read the words that told the story? Would he someday be able to read that story to Jan-hey?
Outside of a Maasai home, when I was in Kenya for the first time in 2006.

          You’ve just read another one of the discarded scenes from “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”. Every time I read through all those deleted files, I’m amazed that I wrote that much and then was willing to let it go. I had written 31 chapters before I decided that nearly half of it had to be cut from the novel. Interesting that several of the scenes revolve around a book, the book the missionary John gave to the lost boy, the book which told the life of Jesus in the boy’s language.
          If you haven’t read “Where the Sky Meets the Sand” yet, it’s available on line at and Barnes and Noble. If you live in north-central Wisconsin, you can purchase the book at one of the sales I’ll be at in the coming week.
          Also, I value your feedback, so don’t forget to post a review of the book as well as letting me know what you thought. Much thanks in advance.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Another Recipe - FUDGE

I don’t know what has come over me. Here I am posting a second recipe less than a month since the popcorn salad episode. Part of the reason has to do with my oven. It hasn’t been working right in probably six months, but I’m going to save that whole story for another time. The only reason why I bring that up now is that I haven’t baked anything in I don’t know how long. It finally got to me and I had to make some kind of dessert.

I saw this recipe for fudge online a couple weeks ago and thought it sounded good. The problem is I have made fudge probably three times in my adult life and it never turned out. Everybody’s like “fudge is so easy to make, try it in the microwave, you can’t screw it up”. Yea, well, fat chance. I still screw it up every time.

So, I put that all behind me and tried it again. Maybe I’m mellowing in my old age and can actually cook something on the stove for the prescribed amount of time. Or maybe I finally found the fudge recipe that works.
 Three Ingredients Butterfinger Fudge:
3 cups Candy Corn
1 cup peanut butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups white chocolate chips

First off, though, the recipe I followed claimed there was only 3 ingredients in this fudge. I’m confused. Which item do you think they weren’t counting? 

Anyway, it said to line a pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. They recommended a 9x9 pan. I didn’t have one and couldn’t decide between the 5x10 and the 6x8. Luckily I had them both at the ready, coz once I started pouring the fudge in, I decided one pan was going to be too thick so used them both. One hadn’t been lined yet with foil, so I just sprayed it quick and as you’ll see at the end, that worked just fine too.
 Add Candy Corn and peanut butter to a medium saucepan and heat, over low heat, stirring every 30 seconds or so, for about 3 minutes. I stirred it almost constantly and have no idea if it was three minutes. See, this is why I can’t make candy, I can’t follow instructions.
 Add white chocolate chips and stir until everything melts together. (It will seem like it’s never going to melt...but it will!) It seemed like it melted pretty quickly too me, at which point, I thought, “I screwed this up”.
 Spread evenly in pan. Cool on counter about 15 minutes, then chill until hardened. Cut into squares.  I think I actually followed this to the T. Except again, I never time anything and as already mentioned, the one pan wasn't lined with foil.
 If you want, you can dip the fudge in milk chocolate. Melt chocolate chips (you can add a little vegetable oil to thin them) and dip the bottoms of the fudge squares in the chocolate. Set on a wax paper lined cookie sheet to harden. I got a little sloppy at this point, but whatever, I call it creative. And the pans and utensils all cleaned up like a dream.
 Ta-da. I can now make fudge!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thankfulness, Week 1

 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 New International Version)

In November 2014, I shared with you thirty things which I am thankful for, posting a month’s worth of blogs on the topic. I certainly have more than thirty things to be thankful for this year (and every year), but thought I would write about just a few of them during my Sunday blogs over the next four weeks.

I checked the Bible Gateway website, in search of four appropriate Bible verses which talk about being thankful. It was pretty tough to narrow it down to just four. Using the New International Version of the Bible (the one I am most familiar with), there are 133 verses containing the word “thank” or a variation of it, 48 verses with the phrase “give thanks” and 30 verses with the word “thanksgiving”. Hmm? How to pick just four?

Which brings me to the first thing I am thankful for today. The word of God. Those 66 books of the Bible, those nearly 1,200 chapters, over 31,000 verses, a lot of words, a lot of pages. But all of them sharing the message of God’s salvation and love for us. All of them meaningful.

I admit, I’ve only read through the entire Bible one time, but I’ve read enough bits and pieces of it, chapters or books at a time, that I’ve surely read 31,000 verses many times over.

I’m thankful that I have several versions of the Bible to choose from, including the ones in my Kindle, as well as the wonderful resource, the Bible Gateway website. So I should probably also thank God that I live in the age of the internet and technology which keeps His word always at my fingertips and the fingertips of people world-wide.

Thank You, Lord God, for always being available to me, for giving me Your word and for granting me no excuses to avoid Your message. Amen 
All my Bibles from around my house, not counting the couple that my husband has or the ones on my Kindle.
Yup, no excuse for me.