Sunday, August 31, 2008
Oh Canada....
When you read this, we'll be driving north, for a week in the Canadian woods. Some little place called Parry Sound I believe, in a three bedroom cabin our son-in-law chose for the view and solitude. The fact that we're to bring our own sheets, towels, and 'tea towels' is just fine, in light of the great price for the place. Right on a lake, with a little sandy beach for wading - with highs only in the low 70's we won't be going in past our ankles, a spot to build a campfire for roasting marshmallows every night with Landon, lots of time for curling up with a book, or board games, or taking hikes - that sort of thing. No cell phone or internet that I know of, and that sounds delightful to all of us, especially our daughter who is a cyberschool teacher and is on the computer every single day for hours.

We'll cook breakfast together every morning, figure out lunch and then maybe drive into the little town 15 minutes away, in search of a mom and pop type of place that serves dinner or we'll throw something together. We're not fussing much over the food and menus.

Other than that, there's nothing much planned except the boys' special fishing trip on Tuesday, until we end at Niagara Falls next Friday.

It's the perfect way to end summer I think. I'll be posting just a bit while I'm gone with a book review or two, otherwise you won't hear much from me over here. Isn't it funny that after you get the kids back in school you need a three day weekend to recover from that early morning rush out the door, before you can go back to it. Happy Labor Day everyone!


  posted at 8:00 AM

Friday, August 29, 2008
Talking about the Off-Limits Subject.....

There are some things you don't talk about, even amongst family, or maybe even especially amongst family!

You don't get too personal about finances, or someone's personal beliefs, or gay rights, or euthanasia, or the environment - the list can be long or short depending on the crowd and the circumstances. Politics is usually on the list of subjects to avoid, unless you already know you both lean the same direction, and when it's an election year it can be more so. I was told by someone at our church that our pastor cannot specifically promote a candidate from the pulpit or our church will lose it's tax exempt situation. He tells us TO vote, but not for WHO. He tells us what he believes the Bible has to say about specific political hot topics but again he never tells us who to vote for.

I live in Pennsylvania and it's generally a state that votes democrat - whether it's mayor or governor or president. There are also a lot of republicans living here. I attend a non-denominational, conservative church, but we don't assume anyone is anything except a Christian, recognizing you can be so and belong to either party...

We were at the ballpark this week, and they had a table set up with McCain's banners on it. I noticed it said something about him appearing, and went over and asked about it. Ends up he'll be there tomorrow night speaking, and it's only about 15 minutes from our home. I've never, ever gotten to hear a presidential candidate from either party speak. I asked how much the tickets were and they were the right price - free, so I grabbed four of them. So instead of going to church tomorrow night we're going to hear McCain speak.

I'd seen an article about three months ago about the governor of Alaska, and what a remarkable woman she is, and that she might be considered a possible for the presidential or vice-presidential nominee. I read the article, clipped it out and put it in the file box. When my husband came home today and told me she was announced as the vice-presidential candidate I regretted that I'd thrown out the article. Apparently she'll be there tomorrow evening with McCain, and I'm going to get to be there and hear them speak. I think it's a great opportunity to hear her in particular speak.

Whoever wins this election, it's going to be a history-making one. We as a nation will either elect the first black or first woman into these two high offices. I'm encouraged to know, once again, our pastor won't tell anyone who to vote for but he'll strongly urge them to get out and vote for someone. It's a privilege to do so, isn't it? And good to remember members of both parties will be taking up space in heaven someday, just like all those denominations, other than mine, out there.


  posted at 11:33 PM

A Gritty New Southern Blog
I've started a new blog, Life of G.R.I.T.S. to journal a bit about my transition from being a Yankee to becoming a Southern Belle.

You can click on the top left of this blog to get to it, or you can click here to read about the poisonous oleander bushes.

Scratchin' the Surface has been around for almost 2 1/2 years, and will have a third birthday, but about the time we physically move across the country, STS will fade away into the sunset, and let Life of G.R.I.T.S. have her day in the Texas sun. The new girl isn't all gussied up yet, she's dressed pretty simply, but I hope it'll be a fun coffee stop for anybody out there who loves all things southern like I do. Hope to see you there.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Thursday, August 28, 2008
Happy Day!
One is twenty-nine, one is two. We think both are fine additions to our family. Here they are after blowin' out the candles on 'Happy Day Cake'.
Party theme - football, everyone wore their team's jersey. There was a candy-filled pinata, busted over a blanket on the lawn. Pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, raspberry lemonaide - good stuff!
Happy Birthday, Jeremy and Landon. We love you both.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Who Shot the Small Town Sheriff....
We picked up a local paper when we were in Texas, one of those that comes out every other week and anything that's printed everyone already knew about, but at least you have it in writing.... I love that it's called 'The Progress' since in reality there probably is very little of that happening anywhere near that town. We've lived most of our married life in very small towns, and I remember pulling into the town we live in now. Seeing a KMart, my heart started to go pitter patter, if that gives you any idea how Big City we were not. Our previous towns usually didn't even have a McD's, and yes since you asked, our cholesterol levels have risen since moving to town 12 years ago. But that's not my point.

A small town paper will tell you an awful lot about the people who live there, so we grabbed a couple of copies to take home with us. There were a lot of gems inside the pages, but my hands down favorite was "The Sheriff's Report". The fact that the sheriff has time to write a newspaper article that is three pages long tells me nothing much is really happening. Sure enough, his report starts out with a few happenings, then right in the middle he starts telling old Indian stories, a few more incidents, then chapter two of what happened to the Indian uprising, and so it went.

With no further ado - I give you my favorite parts of the Sheriff's report from the happenin' town (where the grocery store is 30 minutes away and there is no Michaels or Joanns or *....) we're choosing to move to:

"Dogs got in rabbit pen. FCR-1171. You know the results."

"Deputies report to verbal troubles, FCR-340. Hot weather has arrived and this type of problem is on the upswing. Tempers just get shorter in the summer."

"FCR-790, man showed up, advised had motorcycle wreck night before, police he believes are looking for him. Yep, they do want to speak to that gent, involved in a pursuit last night."

"Troubles on FCR-497. She wants him gone."

"Tragedy on FM-489. Local youth rolls vehicle, ejected fatally in early morning accident. Our condolences to the family. We never know when these things are going to happen. Only the Good Man Above has control. Our days are numbered, whether young or old, and losing a young family member is always the hardest to bear for both family and friends. All that remains is to shore up those who remain, remember and be thankful for the time we had with them on this earth."

"Now can I tell you officially that this year's County Fair Parade has been completed. It took about one hour. From horses to pretty girls, bands to cheer leaders, stagecoaches to fancy cars. Big 'uns and little 'uns, they all had a time... Once again folks, we had it all. Was glad to see there was very little candy thrown from the moving cars to the small children. And the cold water passed out by First Baptist, it was a life saver at just the right moment."

"DWI Felony, cussing, kicking the rear windows of the patrol car, causing extensive damage. Getting tanked up makes us all bulletproof and invisible. Drunk folks don't realize just how obnoxious they are." (I'd add that about some stone cold sober people I know.)

"Early Sunday morning carried daughter over to catch plane for the Forbidden Kingdom, China, the land of Kung Fu and where lots of the stuff we buy is made. Daughter is over there on a mission trip but all she's supposed to do is teach English in a school. It seems the Chinese take a dim view of folks seeking converts. If caught, they cut off your head or something like that. English is her native language. Being a female, I already know she's very adept at using it! I can vouch for it after paying her college phone bills. "

"Animal control to Main Street, pit bull loose, trying to bite folks. Caller put his walking cane to good use."

"Goat with collar and brown dog on lady's porch. FCR-610, just wandered up, unannounced."

"Lady calls dispatch, wants to know what day it is. We all have troubles like that sometimes."

"Welp, the county fair has ended for another year. Everybody tired after a long week. Rodeos and cotton candy, carnival rides and temporary abodes at camp sites, sleepy kids resting on their mother's shoulder, others astraddle of their daddy's, up high enough to see all the sights. We'll see 'em again next year...a little taller, but just as tired!"

So our nearest town isn't going to have a Michaels or Container Store, or Marble Slab, or Pier One likely, but with people like these, who sound like characters right out of a Jan Karon novel, I don't imagine we'll feel like we're lacking much. There are two, count them T.W.O. Sonic's. To celebrate the sale of our upcoming home going through, albeit a bit out in the sticks, I phoned the number on the last page of the newspaper and placed a one year subscription, starting immediately because we don't want to miss a blessed thang!

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  posted at 2:00 PM

Monday, August 25, 2008
Tossing and Turning, in need of Bed Advice
DH and I are talking about the house we're buying in Texas. It comes fully furnished and the one we live in right now is full too. That's going to involve some sorting and tossing and giving away and putting items on Craig's List. Several of my favorite antiques will be left behind with our daughter who lives here (as will the snowblower, patio set, lawn mower). Other items will go with us to Texas, for our kids there. I might keep one or two favorites, but when you buy a house with a lot of floor to ceiling windows you don't get as much wall space for furniture and I'll enjoy seeing them in their homes.

What we're talking about right now is bedrooms.

The house we live in now has five bedrooms. The one we are buying has four, we're adding two (to the guest house which is right now a huge shop but won't be for long) and using one for my play room (office and sewing). So we'll end up with five, like we have now. Right now we own:

1 king size bed - older mattress
2 queen size beds - one great mattress, one unknown
1 double size bed - semi-okay mattress
four twin size beds - two great mattresses, two who knows
two twin size trundle beds - with who knows mattresses
1 crib - not taking with us
1 pack and play - taking with us
1 futon - no idea what will happen to this

We're planning to give one daughter a twin bed for her house, one daughter a double bed, dresser and nightstand that was hers to begin with, and the son and DIL might take the king mattress and box spring since we've faithfully twisted and flipped it at the suggested intervals. Even after 18 years it seems in very good shape and a king size mattress is not cheap.

There are also two sofas in the great room and we don't know if they fold out to beds or not. If they do, then regardless of the plaid I'm not in love with, they'll go in the guest house for more sleeping space. When you spend 15 minutes in a house and buy it, a few things remain unanswered. We're putting a lot of trust in the previous owners and the inspector's report. For instance, do the windows actually open? Does the water run? Do the toilets flush?

We don't think we'll need all these beds when we move, but probably many of them since we want sleeping room for as many people at once as possible. DH and I have had separate bedrooms for a good six or seven years but have decided we want to share a bedroom again. The issue six / seven years ago was one of us snored often and the other one sometimes. One of us got up early, one of us stayed up late. One woke up the other every single morning running appliances in the bathroom three feet away from the bed. Now the issue is more DH's back pain, and having to move in the bed a lot. He tells me it's not rolling over but rather more of twisting and turning and gyrating all over the place. So we're considering buying a king size tempurpedic bed system. We honestly considered two double beds with a nightstand in between but this home was built 15 years ago when master bedrooms weren't as big as many living rooms. It's 13 x 14 - not big enough for two of anything, except twins and I just really don't want a master bedroom that looks like Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke sleep there.

So I went online and looked at Tempurpedic bed systems. They're called 'systems' because they cost an arm and a leg. You can usually charge more when you give something a fancy name. DH told me last night what he thought they would cost, and they're that and more. The best one in their line of mattresses costs more than a good used we won't be driving that one. But even the lowest of their line is E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E. Still, we tend to keep them for a long time so it might be worth it. I saw online which stores in our area carry them, but it's not like we can camp out there for a few nights to really make up our minds. At least I don't think they'd let us do that. We could stay in a hotel that has one, and I've considered that.

Is there anyone out there who has any experience with a tempurpedic bed system? Or knows someone who does? Or spent the night in a hotel that had one? We've ordered the CD and material but you can't sleep on a piece of foam that is a few inches square and for the cost I'd sure like some input before we decide.

One way or another, we ought to have enough beds to sleep a lot of people, once we figure it all out. If we end up buying this 'system' we'll have to list it in our will, since it'll be worth more than almost anything else we own, even if the bedroom isn't big enough for anything except a good night's sleep.


  posted at 9:07 AM

Sunday, August 24, 2008
Celebrating Doing the Impossible

Ten years ago - 3,650 days ago - my husband Don quit smoking. He'd been a smoker for over twenty years and I never, ever thought he'd quit.

His doctor had told him at his last regular checkup that he really should consider quitting, and had written a prescription in case he decided to give it a try. The written prescription sat in his dresser drawer for well over a year, then one day he handed it to me and asked me to get it filled. The prescription was for Zyban, which is the same as Wellbutrin. Wellbutrin is an anti-depressant and is covered by our insurance. Zyban is strictly for smoking cessation and is not covered. I got the prescription filled (after getting our doctor to write a new one - pharmacies don't generally honor a year old prescription.) It cost $100.00 to fill it.

He has not smoked a single cigarette since that day, August 24, 1998. Ten years ago.

That's 109,500 cigarettes he hasn't smoked. I'm not even going to figure out the money we saved. It pales in comparison to what we've really saved - years of his life. On the first anniversary of his quitting date we spent a week in Cancun, paid for by the money we saved from not buying cigarettes that year. Every single year since then I asked him to choose something he really wanted as his gift. He's received a massage chair, a special workbench, a really nice fishing rod and reel; whatever he picked I was thrilled to buy it for him, to celebrate continuing to do this hard thing. He tells me he still misses it every single day, but that he quit for me. For us to have more time together.

So today, his gift will be a card with $190 in it, the cost of a day of fishing with a guide while we're in Canada, hoping to catch the oh so elusive muskie. I think it's a heck of a deal for me and his kids and his grandkids.

This isn't about passing judgement on a single person who smokes. It's about celebrating when someone does what they (and I) thought was impossible, especially when the motive behind it was love.


  posted at 12:01 AM

Friday, August 22, 2008
Tattoos and Fickle Me.....
I heard a sermon two weeks ago, and the opening question was, "What's up with all these tattoos?" Anyone 17-35 it's more of an exception if they don't have one than if they do, and often it's not just one but several. The earthy guy on the paint crew at our house this past week had his earlobe tattooed and that had to hurt! I'm not sure he was completely here and with it, but possibly a bit two sheets to the wind when it was applied.... Actually I'm not sure he was here and with it while he was painting our house!

All that said, I think I'm the type that could have had a tattoo twenty five or more years ago. Something buried deep down inside me kind of likes the look of a little tattoo applied on the ankle or somewhere not too noticeable. I don't think I would have been a candidate for those wing-type things applied above and across one's backside.... even back in the days when my backside was about two inches higher up than it is now.

There are two reasons, maybe three that I never got one.

#1 The only people getting tattoos when I was in my twentys were sailors or rode Harleys. I was a secretary and a mom.

#2 I don't like pain.

#3 I change my mind all.the.time. I would never be able to choose something I could put up with for the rest of my life, and the removing over and over would not only be expensive but hurt like a son-of-a-gun, and I refer you back to #2.

So no body art for me. I really don't know anything I don't get sick of, on a regular basis, and consider throwing away or giving away or selling other than my immediate family. I even offered my middle daughter my beloved cat of ten years, when we move, but she declined. It used to be her cat so I thought she was the appropriate person to offer Miah to, especially since our grandson is madly in love with her. My daughter asked me, "wouldn't you be sad?" I thought about it awhile and said, 'yes, but I'd get over it.'

Our next door neighbors, who keep a lovely home, have six large dogs. They (the neighbors and the canines) all live indoors. When they open their back door the recently popular phrase, "who let the dogs out, arrgh, arrgh" takes on a whole new meaning. Our neighbor's oldest son moves away to college next Friday and they decided they needed some comfort so they bought another dog..... #7 a female black lab they will be bringing home in two weeks. I told them if they'd yelled across the fence I would have been willing to give them our two for the price of one. I was a little bit serious.

So no body art. And I'm keeping the cat. And the two hairy dogs. But I'm feeling the need for change, and an uncluttered life and calm. Lately I've been coming across some blog templates that feel so soothing, calm, uncluttered. I realized all of them have white backgrounds and little of the extra stuff. So I didn't get a tattoo, and I didn't give the cat away, and I'm keeping all immediate relatives, but I did remove the background to my template. That twirly paisly black and white background that I'd considered for weeks when getting the template designed. I'm a bit weary of it, the busy look of it all. (Actually I'd chosen it with a lack of color, knowing I'd get sick of whatever color I chose.) I did save the codes to pop it back in, just in case I change my mind again. I didn't offer the cat to a perfect stranger, but rather my daughter so I could have her back if I wanted to. And doggone it (love that pun!) the neighbors didn't take the dogs in spite of the darned good offer we made, but it would have been the perfect setup. I could have gone over for a pat and a rub anytime I regretted my decision. If that ever happened.

It's good to know one's quirky, fickle tendencies.


  posted at 7:58 AM

Thursday, August 21, 2008
Trusting the Fast-talking Crazy Greek Painter Guy
When we decided to have our house painted I sent out an email to about 30 girlfriends, asking for advice on who to hire. I got about six suggestions, but one stood out. First of all, her husband is an FBI agent so I knew the company had to be trustworthy, and second, she told me the guy suggested completely different colors to her than she had in mind, and he was right. I'd never heard of a professional painter who cared what colors you chose. She said they were completely thrilled with the results. So I called the number.

The man who called me back was like a character out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Here in Pittsburgh a lot of the painters are Greek. He told me to call him Kosta because his real name, first and last, was too long to pronounce, both started with a K and had, seriously, about 15 letters behind them.

I have never met a woman who talked as fast as he did, or as much, or was as schmoozy. He had a notebook full of photos of houses he'd painted, some of them showing him standing posing next to the house in short shorts. A lot like those shorts our husbands wore when they played high school basketball, thirty + years ago. His hairdo looked like something John Travolta would have worn during the disco age. However, he did not arrive at our house in short shorts, and his hairdo had been updated.

I decided to trust my girlfriend. I decided to trust her after I met him and emailed her to be SURE we were talking about the same guy. She assured me he was a good choice. When he showed me his notebook and asked me to go through it while he walked around the house, and I started to set it down on the hood of his car, he stopped me, explaining I would scratch his car. I figured picky was a good thing, we got the quote and he assured us he could get the job done this summer. With all the rain we have here it's hard to get a painter to commit to a paint job, and sometimes you have to hire them for the next summer, seriously. Or they say yes ma'am they'll get the job done then they call you in early October to explain that we've had too much rain and they'll call next spring. I took his assurance that he'd get the job done, and signed the contract.

When the paint crew showed up, several months later, Joey and Brady were a bit earthy but seemed like good guys. I baked them brownies, made them lemonaide, and as I reported before they told me the creek would serve well as a potty for the next two days. Here's what she looked like before they started the job.

Pretty but a bit boring. We thought a new color would make the columns and porch railing pop out a bit, not literally of course.

They spent two days covering the windows and shutters with paper, spraying the house with a bonding agent then spraying the actual paint. I had no idea you could spray an entire house, since I'm challenged to spray paint anything outdoors without leaving our car or driveway or anything within 50 feet a different color. The guys and I had a few conversations that truly left me shocked. Their language, the things they felt completely comfortable bringing up - well, sometimes I just didn't comment. The house looked good with the color Kosta had suggested, and they assured me the "Michaelangelo team" would be here in two weeks to handpaint the doors, windows, etc.

Sure enough, as soon as we got back from Texas we got a phone call from fast-talking Kosta. He said the crew would be over the next day, and assured us we'd be pleased with the finished results. One of the crew members was deaf and it was interesting to see that the rest of the crew was quite adept at sign language. One was more earthy than even anyone on the first crew, but he seemed to know what he was doing, and other than me having to kill the wasps hovering around a window because he was scared to death of them, we had little interaction.

The shutters and trim ended up being a slightly different color than I thought we'd agreed to but still looked nice so I decided it didn't really matter. They crushed a good number of my flowers but I'd been warned that would likely happen. We've got a few circles of white paint on the lawn but a mowing or two will take care of that. Every single inch of the outside of our house has a fresh coat of paint, and I think she turned out lovely. She's been wearing white for a good forty years and I imagine she was ready for a change.

It's a subtle change, from white to khaki, but the crazy painter guy was right I think. I'm happy to have the house to myself today, no workmen on ladders outside the windows, no loud radios playing outside, likely annoying our neighbors, nobody wandering down to the creek.... another big thing off the list, and that feels pretty good too. Still, if you have to choose between recommendations from your girlfriends, go with the one whose husband is an FBI agent because somewhere in the middle of the job you might need a little reassurance that it's going to be okay.


  posted at 8:50 AM

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Worried? Check this out!
My daughter, Sarah told me about a great sermon this past week at Fellowship Church. I sat and listened to it online this morning, and can guarantee you it's going to be the best invested 30 minutes of this day. Pour a cup of coffee, or a glass of iced tea, or grab a diet coke - you NEED to listen to this, because if you're in the 1% of Americans who don't have something to worry about, you know someone who does that you can direct back here to listen to this. And grab a sheet of paper - this is a sermon you're going to take some notes on. Be blessed!

Choked Out from Fellowship Church on Vimeo.


  posted at 10:29 AM

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Back when my grandmother was a young girl it's the term they used for tuberculosis. Webster's defines it now as 'using up of goods'. I think it's a good way to describe how I'm feeling right now - mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. All used up.

We're back from our trip to Texas, and leaving in eleven days for a week in Canada. I like summer to be hotter than heck, and Texas fit the bill perfectly. We found the home we've been praying over for about 18 months. It's everything we hoped for and more, so there's much to rejoice over. Canada will be pure bliss - our daughter, Leslie, her husband Jeremy and their 'stinkin' cute' 2 year old Landon will be going with us to spend a kick-back week in a cabin on some lake two hours north of Toronto, then stopping on the way back for a day at Niagara Falls including riding the Maid of the Mist. We've already decided to make it an annual tradition! Don and Jeremy are spending one day hiring a fishing guide in hopes Don can catch a muskellunge. Most men never catch one in a lifetime and Jeremy assures him for a price he can catch at least one.

Isn't life just like that - past weeks too full of good stuff, and right around the corner is a plate too full of what needs to be done, even if it's just packing the car for a road trip with a toddler. I don't know about you, but when I start to feel like this, it's time to find some pockets of time to just 'be' rather than 'do'. I imagine many of you are busy shopping for school clothes and supplies, and calming the fears that come with a new school year, or maybe it's dropping that almost-grown kid off at college, or last trips to the pool, picnics, ballgames, picking summer's harvest and tidying up the flowerbeds that are starting to look a little raggedy. We all have a list that presses on us. Even good pressing down tends to make your chest feel tight.

I'm going to start, today, by grabbing a glass of iced tea, and a book, heading to the sofa for just a bit. That's bound to help, Remembering this will too:

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass - he blooms like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known. But from eternity to eternity the Lord's faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant, who remember to observe His instructions. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Praise the Lord, all His angels of great strength, who do His word, ....My soul, praise the Lord!" Psalm 103:13-22
This feeling will pass, this day will pass. I can take it one day at a time, til I'm feeling a little less consumed. Nobody expects 'vanishing grass' to be made of tough stuff.


  posted at 12:49 PM

Monday, August 18, 2008
Happy Birthday to You.......

I won't even tell how old she is, but my 'big sister', Barb, over at A Chelsea Morning, is having a birthday today. I thought you might like to hop over and wish her a happy one.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Sunday, August 17, 2008
Satisfying Worship
I'm reading a book by Linda Dillow, Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, given to me by my daughter Sarah for my birthday I believe. I'd recommend anything Linda has written, and she's written quite a few. When I was a young wife and mother I went to her writings to be encouraged and get some direction. Some of her best stuff: Creative Counterpart, Intimate Issues and one of my favorites, Calm My Anxious Heart. I highly recommend grabbing something by Linda, adding a cup of tea and heading for the sofa.

I'm still at the beginning of this book but I can already tell it's one of those. A book that came out of a life lived in the trenches, out of a heart that was seeking at a level deeper than I usually go. Here's what I read last night, on how Linda sees worship being played out in her life, day by day:

"In the morning when I kneel in worship before the Lover of my soul, I worship Him with my words, with song, and in the beauty of stillness and silence. I praise Him with the Psalms of David and with personal psalms that flow from my heart of love. I listen for His voice. Then I get up and walk in the world of relationships with a husband, grown children, grandchildren, and friends."

"As I walk through my life, I walk differently than I did before I began to understand what worship looks like. Now, I see all my life as an opportunity to bow before my King in worship. I can worship as I decorate my house, clean it, and cook many meals for others. I can worship as I travel on planes, trains, and automobiles, as I teach God's Word to women. I can worship as I speak and write books. It has been a true joy to see all my words as worship, and all my work as worship. I rejoice that I now see my pain as a sacrifice to bow before my Lord in worship."

"Worship is the lifestyle of a grateful heart."

I want that. Don't you? I'm excited to spend time between the covers of this book, as Linda shares with me how to get there from here. I suspect, not many pages into it, it'll have me getting off the sofa and onto my knees.


  posted at 12:01 AM

Friday, August 15, 2008
Happy and Broke
Three weeks ago, to get ready for this trip, we previewed about one hundred homes. We settled on thirty-three to tour. Some were added at the last minute, a few were nixed, and we ended up spending four days, at five lakes, touring thirty-six houses. We saw it all! Some homes were unbelievably beautiful, but we just could not picture living there. Visiting a bit yes, but not making it home. A few were unbelievably creepy. One honest to pete had a hidden bookcase that slid back, and then stairs went down to a vaulted room to hold the woman's jewelry. Soon as I saw the enormous spider I high-tailed it out of there.

At one there was a mix-up. The owner was home watching football and cooking lots of raw meat. We were greeted at the front door by his very friendly pit bull..... I hid behind the realtor who was a good 10 inches shorter than me, and well into her 60's.

But finally, after it all, we signed papers today in the snack shop of Bass Pro to buy the one I posted on yesterday. We'll close the end of September, and won't actually get to go back and see it again til Thanksgiving. The owners were so gracious as to bring photos of the home, from when it was being built all the way up to this summer, and I appreciated them so much since I'd already forgotten what some of the inside of it looked like. It all blurs together when you view 36 houses!

So we're a bit broke, a bit scared to have taken the first big plunge toward retirement sometime next year, and excited. Since our grown kids in Texas get to use it for a good ten months before we do, they're pretty tickled too. We fly home tomorrow, feeling a little weary but good that we found what we were looking for. It's the home we've been praying about finding for overe two years. I imagine God might be a bit weary of hearing about it too. Back in a few days, after we get back home and catch our breath.


  posted at 11:03 PM

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
We Might Have Found It....
We've looked at about 25 to 30 homes in three days, have one more day with a realtor to look at another ten, but we think we've found what we want. Here it is:

From the front it just looks like any house in any neighborhood. We sort of like that since we'll live there year-round.

The great room and kitchen are open into each other, and the second floor loft looks down over it all. Lots of windows and light and all you see out the back is water.

I'd like these cabinets to be darker, and the appliances need to be updated some, but it's what I call a 'cooking kitchen' which is what I was looking for. A place to cook big family meals when everyone shows up all at once.

A small covered, screened porch to sit and watch the lake at night, or the perfect place for morning coffee. There's a uncovered deck next to it for grilling, sunning, etc.

And DH's favorite part - a two slip boathouse for catching whoppers, or at least lying about the ones that got away. I'll be back in a few days to report whether we got it or not. The house, not the fish. Amazingly, everything goes with it - all furniture, boats, dishes, bedding, everything. All we'd have to do is move in! I'll let you know, soon as we do! In the meantime, I thought some of our family and friends might enjoy seeing what we're considering.


  posted at 12:44 AM

Monday, August 11, 2008
Consumed with Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo.....
I've been consumed lately - consumed with trying to fall in love again. It's actually been a little like E-Harmony, or online dating now that I think about it. Sit at my computer, click on 'Internet Explorer' and start surfing the web for the one of my dreams. Big and handsome, that's what I'm looking for!
No I haven't dumped DH! After 27 + years, we're still stuck on each other. I'm actually trying to find the house of my dreams, the one I've been waiting for. About the time you read this we'll be deep in the heart of Texas, sweatin' to death househunting. After spending a year looking at one lake with one realtor, we widened the search. This week we're looking at five lakes, with three different realtors, and twenty-eight homes in all. Excuse me for just a minute while I tend to this tic in my eye, these shaking hands, this throbbing head, and this befumbled brain! Even I am challenged to keep this trip organized.

DH and I planned this trip three weeks ago. Many hours since then have been spent at I didn't even know the website existed til about three weeks ago. What a find!

Here's how OCDish people buy a house: DH and I sat down and came up with twenty things we want in a home, rated them for importance (on water was #1), then we made a Excel spreadsheet, three homes per page. Then we checked out realtors on the web, and contacted a few. They set up appointments, then we flew down for a week. As we walk through each home, we'll fill in the checklist, make notes on the back, and at the end of each day refer back to the lists as we eliminate and concentrate. Very possibly this will involve a bottle of wine!

We've moved across the country a few times. Usually we were the 'three day wonder', as realtors referred to us. We'd go in, see twenty homes a day, at the end of day two we picked one, and on day three we bought it. This time, we'd like to be a bit less pushed, and sane! One thing that won't change is that if you like home B more than home A, you cross off A. Because we're traveling over 1000 miles to see these homes, and it's expensive to do so, we have to keep them straight in our brains, so we can go back home and pick two or three to bid on. If we can't come to a meeting of the minds with the owners of the first home, hopefully we'll have the next one to move on to rather than jumping back on a plane for another looksee. We're also taking a metal tape measure, camera and video camera for when it comes down to those second looks and deciding on the final two or three, and of course the very favorite that we hope to buy. Our son and DIL are lending us their video camera, and we can take home the little discs. They can apparently be loaded into our DVD player and we can see each home without being there. Isn't technology wonderful?!

I expect no matter how hard we try to do this all right, the one we end up with will hold a few surprises. I've been amazed how hard we've looked and what we still missed! We just don't want to get overwhelmed and neglect noticing there's no garage, or water, or that sort of thing.

It won't just be a week of work though. We're also going for a fun week of seeing our kids. Dan has a new truck, Janae has a new job, Sarah and Chris and their gang have a new place to live, the grandbabies are probably more beautiful than they were last time we saw them, and I'm sure they could all use a bit of spoiling. We get to go to their fun church on Saturday night, and I expect we'll slip in a serving or two of Marble Slab, or as our SIL, Chris calls it: 'slabbage'. We're tickled our kids are playing a part in picking out this house. Dan is actually touring homes with us for two days, and we've shown all of them what we're looking at, getting their votes input. We want a place that will feel like home to all of us, a place they look forward to coming for holidays, vacations, and just hanging out. I'm trusting that my mom, sister and friends (maybe even blogger friends?) will like wherever we pick, because we plan to have them there as soon as possible, watching sunsets off that dock.

Here are a few photos of the outside of our favorites so far, but who knows what we'll end up with. When we do, I'll post them to share with you. Everyone likes to tour homes, right? Right, even thirty-three of them in 102 degree heat!

This one needs a garage or carport, but I sure do like the cozy look of it!

We would write into the contract that THEY TAKE the dog with them! I do however, like the twirly slide, just out of site, on the other side of the dock. DH wants a bass boat, not the ski version you see here. At our age, we're not so much into speed, but rather takin' it slow.

This one not only has FIVE bedrooms, there's a 2 bedroom apartment over the garage. We always joked that we'd buy something with that setup for anyone with toddlers or teenagers, and maybe we will! Doesn't it look so cozy... I'd love to fill it to the brim with friends and / or family. And if DH and I begin to annoy each other, one of us could move out for a bit, to just over the garage!

As for DH - I think he'd be happy with just this! Since he's worked 31 years to get to this point, I'm determined we'll find a perfect place for him to drown worms all day long! So I haven't been a very good blogger lately, am way behind on reading and staying up with everyone. Hopefully we'll find a home this trip, and then life will settle down a bit.

So how about you? How do you go about finding a new home? And have you had any funny / disastrous mishaps while doing so? I need all the advice I can get!


  posted at 8:00 AM

Saturday, August 09, 2008
Finishing Up with a Few Things...
It's been almost two months since I first posted about "First Place", a Bible study / weight loss program I joined this summer. Our group formed back in early June, and we've been meeting weekly since then. This session will end the last Tuesday of August, and then a dear friend and I are going to co-lead the next 13 week session. That should not only be fun, but give us another chunk of time to finish getting weight off, and spend some time in maintenance before the turkey stuffing pies cookies holidays begin.

Being involved in Bible study through the summer has been good for me - the structure, the accountability, getting together with the group of women each week to encourage each other and study God's word - as Martha would say, it's a good thing'. Two of my dear friends joined with me, and we've enjoyed our weekly carpool time. It's amazing how much gabbing you can get into a fifteen minute drive!

Sometimes you're ready - sometimes you're just not. I've been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers for over twenty years, but you can walk around twenty pounds overweight while holding onto that title. They still charge you the $11 when you weigh in, a whole lot like they would if you weren't a lifetime member..... you get what I'm saying here..... Being a 'lifetime member' of Weight Watchers and a one dollar bill will get me an ice cold diet coke. It also kept me from doing anything about the weight that had slowly attached itself to me, and decided to hold on for dear life. When I signed up for First Place, I somehow just knew that I was ready. Ready to do something differently, ready to make some lifestyle changes, ready to get this extra weight off for good.

We're less than a year from retirement and it's going to involve a lot of big lifestyle changes. This seemed the right time to get healthy on all levels - spiritually, emotionally, physically. I never came back and reported on it, but seven sessions of Christian counseling put me in a much better place emotionally, gave me some insight into behavior patterns, relationships, etc. I've heard before, post-counseling, when people say, 'that was the best money I ever spent'. It was. I'm here to say, if you think you need to go, go. Even if nobody else understands, even if you don't get a lot of support, even if he won't go with you. Go for yourself. It was really a wonderful experience for me, well worth the money, and I'm thankful for good insurance that covered it. But if you don't have insurance there is still free Christian counseling out there. Joanne, my counselor told me that even counselors need counseling now and then!

First Place didn't cost me much of anything, but it's been a great program. Not only has it brought structure to my summer, something that is usually woefully lacking, I've finally lost those proverbial ten pounds I'd grown accustomed to. The ones I decided not to drag down to Texas with me, the ones I decided weren't going to be invited to the lake.

I don't expect I'll be missing them much. Isn't it hard, as a wife, as a mother, to take time for taking care of ourselves? We all have full days with a long list, and we're usually the last thing on it, whether it's diet, rest, quiet time, or just fun time with a friend. If I don't have time now, if I can't make it a priority at this point in my life, when on earth will I?

Much like staying out of the sun, much like wearing more moisturizer, I wish I'd done both these things at least ten years ago. I've heard before I can't give what I don't have. I can't care for others if I'm an empty vessel. Boy, aren't the big lessons hard to learn?!

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  posted at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Crappy, crappy day
Some days are just crappy, aren't they?

The painters we hired three months ago showed up today, nice and early. Little Joe (who wasn't little) and Brad said they'd be here at least ten hours, or til the job was done. The brush work team would come later. They apologized ahead of time for all the flowers they'd likely trample. I'd already let the two dogs out, and tended after their business, and isn't that just fun, to walk behind the dogs waiting for fresh, steamy 'results'. My rushed beauty regimen had consisted of deodorant, a comb and some moisturizer so I looked quite lovely.

When the painters arrived I noticed our next door neighbors had a red service truck parked on the lawn, between our houses. The tree man was there to remove a huge tree, damaged in last week's storm. Before Little Joe and Brad could even get started, tree man fired up the chain saw. Nothing lets you know you're smack dab in the middle of suburbia like the loud, low wail of a chain saw.

This is what our home looked like this morning. Like most aging actresses, she looks better when she's not in HD, but rather seen from a bit of a distance. Not bad for forty and no botox.

Little Joe obviously has no fear of heights. I especially love the casual look of porch furniture scattered across the lawn. When Little Joe told me they'd go down to the creek to pee, I just nodded my head.

Just behind that tree on the right is Tree Man's red truck. He spent the entire day up in that tree. With the chain saw running. Loud and low.

Mid-morning my daughter and her toddler, Landon showed up for lunch and an afternoon of visiting during his naptime. DH came home for lunch to check out how the work was going. He took that opportunity to chat with tree man, arranging for him to come trim our overgrown trees out front later this week. So we have yet another day of service people with chain saws here at our house. Such fun!

Late morning the painters moved to the back of the house. The skinny one, Brad knocked on the door. "Do you have something to pick up the dog crap?" "Excuse me?" "The dog crap, I need something to pick it up. It's all over the place, right where I have to put ladders and I don't want to be steppin' in it."

I very nicely told him I'd just 'tended the yard' that morning, so there couldn't be much out there, then I went and grabbed the pooper scooper equipment for the second time that day. Four piles. Hardly 'all over the place'. He thanked me and went back to work.

The chain saw continued to buzz. Tree limbs fell. Ladders knocked against the back of the house, outside the nursery where Landon cried because of the relentless noise, as the men walked across the roof. Leslie tended to Landon, we made a pot of coffee and settled in for a visit in spite of it all.

I got called outside about twenty seven million six times to tell me something else on our house was falling apart and needed immediate attention. Questions like, "why is that gutter so oxidized?" What female on the planet earth knows the answer to a question like that? Finally I told Little Joe, who I know was just trying to be oh so helpful that we'd already shelled out a wad of money to fix up the house to sell it, and 'it was what it was' and to just P.L.E.A.S.E. P.A.I.N.T. I.T. He didn't knock on the door anymore after that. It may have been my eyes bugging out, or maybe he's married and seen that look before.

The chain saw continued to wail, loud and low. The ladders bumped against the windows, and they continued to walk all over the roof, especially right over the nursery where Landon was wailing napping.

Finally Leslie gathered her toddler and headed back home to what must have seemed sheer bliss, sans chain saws and painters. DH came home from his work day and the painters were still here. As was the chain saw, moaning loud and low.

At about 7 PM they let us know it was quitting time, they couldn't get it all done in one day after all, and would be back bright and early tomorrow to spend another half a day here finishing up. And by the way, did we know we have two bats hanging just inside a vent on the second floor? (Where the mortar has come off the brick,which was crappy thing #5 wrong with the house.) And if we would just buy some specific goo they would be happy to shimmy back up there tomorrow and caulk it up, possibly trapping the bats inside our attic to die and rot? We took approximately five seconds to agree that was a grand plan and we'd go out tonight and buy the goo and have it ready for them. Who minds the smell of rotting bat? I personally prefer it to a live bat anywhere in our house, and honestly I just don't have time right now to put a bat house up in the backyard, while my friends I've invited over for a twilight bat party stand on the driveway watching to see if they've safely exited the premises, which is what the internet suggested I do. The world is just going to have to get by with two less live bats.

This is what the house looks like tonight - a bit like a big brick package ready to ship!

There would be no cooking tonight. Rather, we'd be running out to grab goo to trap bats. I headed outside to check the gates, and let the dogs out one more time. I noticed a faucet dripping, tried to turn it off and managed to spray myself with the water shooting out the top of the hose. Out the corner of my eye I saw one of the dogs running out the gate, across the driveway, so I started screeching (over the loud and low chain saw). I saw my neighbor trying to grab the dog, who would likely run out in the street to his death and for a split second I was trying to decide if that was a good or bad thing. I yelled 'grab fur!', tore across the yard, through the open gate, to the dog and my neighbor. We chatted about the house paint, the wailing chain saw (in the background still), then I proceeded to pull the dog inside the house, shoved him in the kennel. We climbed in the car and left, the wailing chain saw still at it in the background.

About a mile up the road DH looked over at me, paused a minute and asked, "do you smell something?" I'm sure he was actually thinking, 'man alive that lunch didn't agree with her!'. I said, 'well, actually, yes. It smells like dog crap in here, doesn't it.' Some days you just know there IS indeed going to be dog crap on your shoe, because the entire day has gone that way. I turned over my one shoe, and sure enough such horrible yuck stuck to the bottom, so I pulled it off. I lifted the other one. 'She shoots! She scores!' 100% - dog crap smushed into the grids of both shoes. DH looked at me, and calmly said, 'if this was a first date I can't say that there would be a second.' I told him, 'what? I look so great and smell good to match.' We rolled down the windows as I rode with two dog crappy shoes turned bottom side up on my lap, to the hardware store.

At Home Depot I promptly looked for a puddle (there are always puddles in PA), walked over and spied a good, sturdy stick. Standing in the parking lot barefoot, looking oh so classy, I took each shoe, plopped them down in the puddle to wash them off a bit, then whacked the daylights out of them on the curb, over and over with a few episodes of scraping at them with the stick. As I was whapping my shoe on the curb, standing there barefoot, with my hair and makeup all attractive, I spied a young teenager looking at me, out the window of her mother's car. The disgust on her face was priceless. Only one thing on a shoe would cause you to stand in the parking lot of Home Depot and swish it in a mud puddle, scraping it with a stick. I just kept whacking my shoes til they were wearable, plopped them back on my feet, and walked away like a little china doll, scraping them across the parking lot to rid myself of any last traces of poo.

So it was a crappy day, literally, several times actually. The house looks semi-awful, I look awful and smell questionable, but you know, some days are just like that. I'm praying tomorrow goes a bit more smoothly, but planning to watch where I step. After all, we're trapping and killing bats, hopefully, the dogs will be given breakfast bright and early, and the tree guy isn't done either, so he'll likely be back for the entire day too. It's likely to be just another crappy day in paradise.


  posted at 10:18 PM

Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Sew U Home Stretch - over there....
I got my hands on a great little book – 'Sew U Home Stretch', by Wendy Mullin and Eviana Hartman. This spiral bound, hard cover book is a sequel to 'Sew U', ( which focused on woven fabrics). It focuses solely on sewing with knit fabrics. etc.).

I loved this book! The layout, the fun approach, the included patterns, and the chapter on how to make the world's easiest T-shirt. So I'm keeping my copy. If you want to read more, you can go over to Five Minutes for Books . If you own a sewing machine you should probably buy it. If you own a serger, you need it!

Me personally, I'm thinking I can drag up those old tube tops I used to wear to mow the front lawn (til my daughters found out...). I think I can chop them up and turn them into something fun.

Even if you're a beginner seamstress, this book would be a good one to add to your sewing library. So run over to Five Minutes for Books to read more about it, then you can join the fun!


  posted at 8:00 AM

Friday, August 01, 2008
Winners, Summer and Back to School Musings....
Well, the three winners for Fairy Foals were randomly picked today, over at Five Minutes for Books. Congrats to #36, Rhonda Mason, #17, Tangie and #26, Elizabeth. Hope you enjoy the book - I sure did. Happy news - I was contacted today to do another review for Sourcebooks, who published Fairy Foals. This time they're sending me a non-fiction book about a little autistic boy and his dog. I'm excited to have it arrive in my mailbox and jump into reading it. Again, they're going to give away several copies so watch for that in early September.

So August has arrived, the last month of summer. Walking the aisles of Walmart, or really any other store, I'm seeing school supply lists next to boxes of crayons, pencils, notebooks in every color under the sun, and of course, that real pocketbook drainer - the kid going to college who happens to need a small fridge, organizers, bedding, etc. etc. etc. Seeing parents getting their kids ready for school always brings back sweet memories, of our own kids, and even of my own school days. Seeing parents pushing carts with hundreds of dollars of supplies, and petulant older teens walking alongside makes me happy to be at this stage of life. I always feel like we got a raise this time of year, for all the stuff we don't have to buy! The first day of school when all those kids will bring home slips of paper with lists of all the lab fees, yearbook fees, club fees - goodnight, how did we ever pay for all that? But I do still love those boxes of 64 crayons with the cool sharpener in the front.

Our next door neighbor of twelve years phoned me last week, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Bev, when you had a son who was 19, did you want to kill him most of the time?" When I told her absolutely, and that now he takes days of vacation and spends his own money to come and see us, she said, "then you're saying someday it's going to be okay?" "Right, someday it's going to be just fine." Still makes me glad we made it through those days, and are into the time of smooth sailing, when they've grown up and become friends.

We're busy this weekend with the usual stuff of summer, getting the house ready to be painted next week, mowing grass, weeding flowers, then company over for pizza and wings, and probably a lot of laughter and fun while we're at it. Sunday we're headed to the last performance of 'Annie Get Your Gun', playing at Pittsburgh's Benendum Theater - am I blessed to have a DH who actually enjoys going to a corny musical now and then, or what?! After a day or so of chores around the house it sounded like a nice ending to the weekend.

And finally, a week from today, just about this time, we'll be landing in Dallas for a week of house hunting. We've got three realtors at four lakes lined up to show us about twenty homes. Looking at all those houses online, I find myself wondering, 'will that house feel like the place to come home to for our kids?' 'Is that house the right one for us to make all those new memories in?' Memories of summers with lawn mowing, weeding, company over for pizza and wings, and even better yet - bringing home new grandbabies, or grown up grandkids, new friends, old friends... Is one of those homes the place where all of that will happen?

I don't know, but then the joy is in the journey - I need reminders of that now and then. Don't get in a hurry or I'll miss the joys that are still here, right now, at the end of this summer season. One day at a time, for all of us, even those with petulant, older teens getting ready to leave the nest.


  posted at 10:34 PM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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