Before & After: A Rindercella Story

Once upon a time, there was a handsome Prince who bought a cozy little house on a small acreage just outside of the nice small city he lived in. There were trees, and wildlife, a beautiful yard, in the country, and he could still get a pizza delivered.

House 2002

After he worked at painting and adding new carpet, he was pleased with his efforts and his charming 960-sq. ft. house, and all was well.

A year later, he met a Princess, who moved in shortly afterwards. Not long after that, her two dogs came to live with them. And over the next few years, as they began their happily-ever-after journey, two more dogs joined their family.

So they added a fence to their yard.

West side

The Prince and Princess, while cozy and content in their little cottage, began to feel cramped. Their rooms felt small; in fact, one year at Christmas there was only 3-feet of space between their Christmas tree and TV. This wouldn’t do!

And so, after much discussion, they decided an addition was the way to go. Could they stay married? Could they agree on anything? Would it ever be finished? This remained to be seen, and while they both might have been skeptical, neither spoke out loud, and they forged ahead.

That was how it came to be that 13 years ago today, June 26, 2002, the Prince and Princess broke ground for an addition.

SW corner

But first, one pesky big tree had to go.

Tree

With the tree gone, the digging began in earnest.

West side excavation

“Wow! Does that look different!”, they said.

West side dirt

“What’s going on here?,” Maggie and Cassadie asked. (Did you really think this fairy tale would be without dogs? Seriously?)

On a humorous note, in the background is a 24-ft. 5th wheel.  Yes. 24. Not 42.

Cassadie Maggie

Then, the walls began to go up.

First walls

And so, the handsome Prince and his crew began to set forms. It was really taking shape!

Concrete pour floor

And then the floor was poured.  The Princess thought they should have their picture taken for their Christmas card standing on that concrete floor, with the words “The Money Pit” spray painted beside them. In red.

The Prince wasn’t enchanted with that idea.

Jim n Maggie

Look how young the handsome Prince looks! And Maggie, with no gray hair.

Lull

After a lull, the framing began to go up. (Lull? Get it?) 😀

Framing traps

This was the Prince’s stepfather building the framing for the trapezoid windows. Just a guess, but the Princess is pretty sure that if the Prince’s mother saw him up there today he would be in big trouble!

without traps

Things have a way of looking really funny until they are completed. The Prince asked the Princess several times, “Are you sure that’s going to look right?”

west side of house

Slowly, it began to come together.

Installing windows

Windows came in, and were installed in the original part of the house. And, the trapezoid windows were installed in the addition.

New front door

Over the years, the Prince and Princess continued to work on their house. Through stops and starts, re-do’s and do-overs, mistakes and accidents, they’ve almost got it just the way they want it.

Many of you may know this place.

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Better known these days as Black Dog Lodge. 🙂 You’ve come a long way, Rindercella!

 

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Have a great weekend, friends!

He Doesn’t Buy Me Flowers

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Just over 15 years ago, I promised to love and honor this guy for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

There were certain things I knew about him before we got married.

He is a creature of habit, doesn’t like surprises, and doesn’t consider himself to be a creative thinker or gift giver. “Spontaneous” is not a word that I would normally associate with him.

This is a guy who bought his mom a football for Christmas when he was a kid. 😀

He’s a man’s man.

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Romantic dinners, girlie gifts or the occasional surprise aren’t part of the package, and Valentine’s Day is just another day.

It really doesn’t bother me in the least.

That’s the way my dad was, and I don’t know anyone who would say my dad wasn’t a good man.

Instead of flowers, I have financial security; I have dogs instead of diamonds, and much of our everyday life would probably seem pretty boring to some people.

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I wouldn’t change a thing.

And I love that every once in a while, he’ll say or do something that surprises me and makes my heart melt. It sustains me for weeks. Or months.

Last fall we were downstairs in the Black Dog Saloon listening to music, much as we often do on a typical weekend. He has become a big Chris Young fan over the last couple of years.

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“Hey, I want you to listen to this song. It makes me think of us.” he said.

A song began to play that I hadn’t heard before. I started to talk.

“No, I mean I want you to REALLY listen…to the words.” His eyes were piercing, earnest and insistent. Within seconds, I was speechless anyway.

I’ve been a rolling stone all my life
Flying all alone, flying blind
I’ve seen it all, I’ve been around
I’ve been lost and I’ve been found

But who I am with you is who I really wanna be
You’re so good for me
And when I’m holdin’ you, it feels like I’ve got the world in my hands
Yeah, a better man is who I am with you

I’ve got a ways to go on this ride
But I got a hand to hold that fits just right
You make me laugh, you make me high,
You make me wanna hold on tight

‘Cause who I am with you is who I really wanna be
You’re so good for me
And when I’m holdin’ you, it feels like I’ve got the world in my hands
Yeah, a better man is who I am with you
Who I am with you

Because of you I’m a lucky man
You’re the best part of who I am

Who I am with you is who I really wanna be
You’re so good for me
And when I’m holdin’ you, it feels like I’ve got the world in my hands
Yeah, a better man is who I am with you

Yes, who I am with you

 Yes, it brought tears to my eyes, and my heart melted. It has sustained me for months. And every once in a while, he’ll play it to surprise me and even sing along, if I’m lucky and there’s no one else around. 🙂

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How To Be Your Best Self

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I realized last week that my friend Vicky has shown me how to be my best self.

She and Bob left Monday after spending a fun-filled long weekend here at our house and camping at Kansas Speedway. We met Bob and Vicky in Florida, where we had the good fortune of being camped across the road from them for the last 2 or 3 years.

This year, we all just clicked. I mean, really, how often is it that a couple actually meets another couple and everybody likes each other?

“I wish we lived closer and could do more things together,” Bob said when they left.

“I wish we lived closer,” my husband said when they left.

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Friendship is an amazingly wonderful thing. I am proud to say I have a number of wonderful girlfriends who keep me grounded, listen to me patiently, drink with me if I need them to, tell me when I’m being an idiot, if I have spinach in my teeth, or toilet paper on my shoe (usually neither of which my husband notices.)

I adore them all, and I learn something from every.single.one.

But everyone needs a friend like Vicky. And if you don’t currently have a friend like Vicky, I suggest you immediately seek one out.

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We are all creatures of habit. Habit is comforting and familiar, and feels good in our stressed ever-busy lives.

Life feels good when we’re in a rut.

The problem is, a rut isn’t always good for us. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.

Vicky pushes me out of my comfort zone, in a good way.

You see, I like to color inside the lines. I am not a rule breaker. Oh sure, I might be funny and outgoing and creative, but I like to do this all within the confines of what’s comfortable. It’s human nature.

A couple of years ago, during a leadership retreat, my classmates and I participated in an exercise in which we all had to share one positive thing about each other.

My friend Cass, who is wonderfully ballsy, outspoken and authentic, (which I struggle with) sat down, put her hands on my knees and leaned forward.

“You know doll, the thing about you is that you need to get out of your own way,” she said sincerely, her eyes crinkling with her smile. 

Truer, more profound words were never spoken. WOW. I was stunned. How did she know? And I knew she was right.

Life teaches conformity. Life teaches you to blend in if you want to be comfortable. Because life can be very uncomfortable for you if you’re too unique.

I determined right then and there to let my redneck flag fly, so to speak. To be authentic. To be me. To be my best self.

And then along came Vicky.

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Vicky is bold, beautiful, has great style, and is comfortable in her own skin. She pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to be a better version of myself. And she makes me laugh. A lot.

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She’s been through hard times, good times, challenging times, wonderful times, and they’ve enriched the fabric that’s her life. She’s encouraged me to walk away from the mental checklist and open my eyes to new activities and new things. Thanks to her, I’ve developed a passion for swimsuit cover ups, breaking the (self-imposed) rules, and embracing life – and a wider variety of cocktails – with gusto.

I have a tendency to get too wrapped up in the hamster wheel that is life, forgetting that the little things really ARE the big things.

Just this weekend, she came up with several great ideas for my living room. Sunday evening we rearranged my furniture. She saw things I simply hadn’t thought about, no longer noticed.

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Because when you live in your home, after a while you don’t see things anymore. Day in and day out, you walk by the same things and after a while you no longer see them.

That’s why people call me to help them with their houses! Because I don’t live there, and I can see things they don’t.

My dear friend Christine tells me that every year I get her deeper out of her comfort zone wearing different, new colors. That’s what is so wonderful about the tapestry that we call friendship. We all give to each other.

Friendship surely has to be one of life’s best treasures. Do you have a friend who helps you be your best self?

Cheers, friends!

Grief is a Personal Journey

This post has been rattling around in my head for a few months, but I just wasn’t ready to write it. It needed to ‘marinate’, until I reached a point where I simply had to write it before I could move forward myself. I felt compelled to write this for YOU, dear reader, in hopes that sharing my journey will give you strength. Because if you’ve suffered a loss, you need the comfort of knowing that your journey to healing is yours, and yours alone. 

Ziglar

 

I’ve been thinking about grief a lot lately. Many people, some I know and some I don’t, have suffered significant loss in recent months.  My heart hurts for them.

As humans, we all share the suffering that comes with a loss, regardless of whether that loss is a human loss or a beloved pet. And we all share in the ability to comfort and lift up each other…or not.

I learned a long time ago that even when it’s expected  –  such as parent or someone who’s had an extended illness –  it may make it a little easier to bear. But even then, it’s still a shock when it happens.

And then there are the losses whose circumstances are so sudden and so tragic it leaves us struggling for answers and  wondering why and questioning our faith in God.

We all share in the cycle of life. The cycle of loss. The cycle of blessings and joy. The cycle of struggle.

I wonder if we would appreciate one without the other.

When my mother passed away, the loss was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was relieved that she no longer had to suffer or miss my dad. Yet, I missed my mother terribly. Part of the curse of being the baby of the family is having to say ‘goodbye’ to both of them well before my 50th birthday.

I was blessed to have enjoyed my parents as an adult, and to have had the wonderful opportunity to spend a lot of time with them. Before their health limited their activities, they were a lot of fun. And they had a lot of fun.

I had a great childhood. Growing up on the farm was a wonderful experience, and I miss it terribly.

I have no desire to go back, my life is the here and now. But that doesn’t mean I miss it any less.

My memories are full of my favorite things: listening to the whisper of the Chariton River as it moseyed downstream. The wonderful smell of the earth during spring planting after what seemed like a long winter. The smell of new-mown hay or fresh-cut silage.

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Baby calves, baby pigs, and baby chickens.

The peace of the countryside, and the beauty of a peaceful sunrise over the Chariton River valley, or a quiet sunset over rolling green hills.

The roar of big power as the equipment rolled out to work the land. The controlled chaos of working cattle or moving them to another pasture. Counting cattle with my dad or brother from the two-seater 1946 Old Champ airplane, back in the cattle-rustling days.

The hours spent riding my bike or 3-wheeler among those hills. Lunches in the field (food never tastes as good as when it’s eaten outside), all the trees my mom planted, her flowers, picking berries, the large garden we had.

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I said my first swear word on that farm. I was fourteen or fifteen, backing my parents car up to the barrel tank that held unleaded gas. I went to brake and my foot hit the accelerator instead. The car shot backwards into the tank, sliding the framework back into the chicken house, and the gas barrel fell down in between.

“DAMN”, I said. 😀

We chuckled for weeks remembering the panicked squawking erupting from the chickens following the “BANG” of the tank stand on the side of their house.

Picnics in the pasture with just my dog and Miracle Whip sandwiches. All these memories are so much a part of the tightly woven fabric that is me that it’s impossible to separate them. It’s part of the framework through which I see everything.

Skippy and me

That is why I can’t go home again.

To drive down to the farm just makes the loss feel more significant.

My parents house is gone now. Nothing is the way it was.

Buildings and structures don’t live forever. But the pang of loss is so sharp, so painful, the loss of so much feels so deep that it hurts too much to go.

Elmer Hilltop View

In recent weeks I attended my cousins’ sweet vow renewal and anniversary party in my hometown. It was really nice to see them, and I saw some people I hadn’t seen in years.

As I got in my car to leave, I thought about driving out by the farm or the cemetery. Instead, I turned around and headed back home. It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to end it with happiness. Not the lonely feeling of loss.

In the almost six years since my parents passed away, I have only been to the cemetery 4 or 5 times. And two of those times were for my parents’ burials.

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I know for a fact that there are those who judge me for this. Personally, I believe that the right to judge belongs in the courtroom or to God (or simply a Higher Power, depending upon your beliefs.)

But as we’ve all witnessed and been subjected to time and time again, there surely is no judge or jury harsher than the Court of Public Opinion.

My friend Dianne and I were talking recently. I don’t even remember the topic.

“I don’t go back to my mother’s grave,” she said. “She’s not there.”

And she’s right.

I feel my parents’ presence in a lot of the things I do, in the memories I carry with me. I feel my mother especially when I make her noodles or am cooking for the holidays. I feel my dad’s presence when Jimmy and I are talking business or about life in general. Sometimes random, funny thoughts will come up about my dad and silly songs he used to sing.

For instance, recently I took a silly quiz on Facebook which told me that I should live in El Paso, Texas. With great pleasure, I shared with Jimmy the story of a memory that had been long forgotten.

“He’s an a..hole from El Paso,” my dad might suddenly sing, straight-faced, in a melodious voice. Jimmy and I busted up with laughter, and I can still see my dad doing that. August 10th would have been his birthday.

These are the kinds of things that make me feel close to my parents and cherish their memory.

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Rather than placing flowers on their graves, I choose other ways to memorialize them. This year, I gave money to the cemetery. There’s nothing prettier than a well-maintained cemetery, and my mom would be pleased that theirs looked nice.

I have plans to create a Serenity Garden at the cemetery behind their graves, but I’m just not ready yet. Someday.

Grief is a personal journey that has no timeline, no specific route, and no destination. We have become such a schedule-focused society built on get-it-done-yesterday deadlines, I think grief can be challenging. It’s easy to feel an unseen pressure to move on, squash it down, pretend it isn’t there and put on a happy face.

We can schedule nearly everything else, but you can’t schedule recovery from grief.  Time can work miracles, and healing happens sometimes almost without being noticed.

The best thing we can do for loved ones who are grieving is offer them quiet support and the freedom to grieve how they need to. The route and process is different for all of us.

Grieving requires patience. And support. And kindness. And forgiveness. Be patient with yourself. Reach out if you need it. Be kind to yourself. If you know someone who’s grieving, be patient with them. Be your best self, for however long it takes.

Forgive yourself if your journey to healing is different than someone else’s. And forgive those who judge. They do so out of reasons which are their own and have very little to do with you.

“The very things that held you down are going to carry you up.”  Dumbo

There were many dark days I read that quote over and over, because it gave me hope. It still does. And it’s true.

I leave you with this prayer ( I don’t know where it came from to give credit):

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circling flight;

I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry

I am not there. I did not die.

Rainbow

How I Embarrass My Husband

After 14 years of marriage, my husband and I have both mellowed and have much more in common than we did in our early years.

After all, you take two independent adults in their 30’s and mix them together, it’s not going to be all butterflies and roses.  Nor would we want it to be; that would mean that we weren’t always being ourselves.

But there are still some ways we are very different.

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For instance, my husband is quiet. I am anything but.

I am an optimist; he calls himself a realist.

I remain convinced that ‘realists’ are pessismists in sheep’s clothing, but that’s another post for another day.

He doesn’t make a habit of chatting up strangers. I could carry on a conversation with a fence post.

He thrives on routine: happiness to him is eating a ham sandwich for lunch 56 days in a row. I believe change is ‘fresh’.

Why did you have to change the shower soap? I was fine with what we had! Why do you always have to go changing everything?” 😉

So it stands to reason when I came zooming into his life, he was in for some major change.

Jimmy is one of those guys who prefers to fly under the radar and not be noticed. Unfortunately, he’s with me.

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I’ll explain.

I learned a long time ago that God had a sense of humor. When I was younger (e.g. less sure of myself), I tried to be polished. Perfect. Sophisticated.

It’s hard to feel sophisticated when you rip the back of your dress getting into a sports car.

And so, being very familiar – and now comfortable – with Murphy’s law, I have some particular quirks that I’ve simply learned to live with.

For my husband, however, it’s an ongoing process.

I am incredibly clumsy. 

It seems to go in cycles, with no rhyme nor reason.

I fall down or bump into things with astonishing regularity. I’ve been this way for years.

I’ve fallen off curbs, in parking lots, on sidewalks and down stairs. I’ve bumped into a million different objects. When I was 12, I bumped my head on a brace on the side of a grain bin and bled like a stuck pig. The end result of this was two black eyes. For WEEKS.

Several years ago, I sustained a minor head injury and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER. En route, I complained to the paramedic that there was a dance that weekend at the Moose, and now I would have black eyes.

“Oh, that’s not necessarily the case with a head injury,” he said.

“You don’t know ME!” I wailed.

Well, sometimes when life hands you lemons, you have to make lemon drop martini’s.

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So I bought a pair of cool sunglasses and pretended to be a Rock Star.

Several years ago I was leaving work one Saturday afternoon when I slipped and fell down in the parking lot. As I drove home, I could feel the all-too-familiar tickle of blood running down my knee.

I immediately called a friend of mine. Not because I was injured, mind you. I wanted her to share my grief in scuffing my new shoes, and my amusement at the irony of falling in the handicapped parking space.

Naturally, my friend’s husband wondered why she was laughing uncontrollably and wiping her eyes.

“Are you sure she shouldn’t see a neurologist or something?” he asked, concerned over what had been a recent rash of falls.

“No, she’s just clumsy,” she reassured him.

So therefore, it stands to reason that nothing strikes fear in the heart of my husband than opportunities for me to fall.

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Such as the walk we took on the top of Ft. Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park this winter. Three stories above the ocean with no fence or guardrails, just a bumpy sandy, grassy surface about 15 feet wide was all that separated me from a nice, open air plunge.

Poor guy was worn out after that little hike, pointing out obstacles, ushering me past uneven spots, and steering me away if I got too close to the edge.

Thanks, dear!

I’m a very messy eater.

There’s a very strategic reason why you nearly always see me wearing black if we’re out to dinner. It’s because if I spill something, you’re less likely to notice!

You probably know about the White Shirt Law: that’s the unwritten law that says you MUST wear a white shirt if you’re going to eat Mexican, Italian or BBQ. It’s just the way of the world.

Do you suppose my love of pristine white shirts is related at all to the fact that I can rarely keep them clean? Hmmmmmm.

2014-04-13 11.16.43This is a new, sparkling white sweatshirt I purchased just especially for Truman State’s Homecoming parade last fall.

What a fun day that was!

It was early, it was cold, and it was a blast!

After the parade, Jimmy and I went to the Wooden Nickel for lunch. My favorite lunch dish?

BBQ Beef brisket, of course.

I made it through nearly the whole meal, completely unscathed.

Until the very.last.piece.

I tried to cut it with my fork. It didn’t wish to cooperate.

Zing! It shot out from under my fork to another area of the plate.

In the process, it literally showered me with sauce droplets.

Jimmy’s expression was somewhere between shock, amazement, amusement, and horror.

“How DO you manage to do that?” he asked. “Every.single.time?”

The look on his face was priceless. It sustained me for weeks.

After 3 days of soaking and about 4 wash cycles, my sweatshirt is as good as new and ready for the second go around.

Needless to say, I go through a lot of tee shirts in a year’s time. After a while, they just look sort of…tired. 😀

I could keep going, but there’s a beautiful day out there to be enjoyed and I’m about to go do it. Make it a beautiful day, friends!

 

How I Knew My Husband was “The One”

Fourteen years ago today, I married the love of my life. Like everyone else, we’ve had our ups and downs, but looking back, we wouldn’t change a thing. We’ve had a lot of disagreements, discussions, and disappointments…but we’re also each other’s cheerleader, ‘go to’ person for advice, and at the end of the day, we’re best friends. Here’s the story of  how I knew it was the right move, and I never looked back.

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When Jimmy and I met, we lived 1,4oo miles apart. We spent a week together, and I left Missouri knowing that I would be putting the wheels in order to move back.

I was tired of the heat, the traffic, and the bright lights of the Big City. I wanted to live in a small town again, where you ran into people you knew in the store,  life moved at a slower pace, and if you need help, people are there.

I had become de-sensitized: fatality accidents were huge inconveniences that snarled traffic; billboards with girls’ behinds were such a familiar part of the landscape that we didn’t even notice them anymore. A homeless man lived behind our dumpster where I worked; two strip clubs were on the same street, we regularly had lunch or dinner at the neighborhood casinos, and it was just all part of a normal day in a large tourist city.

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I wanted to be offended again.

So to move back home, near where I grew up, solidly in the Bible belt, was a no-brainer.  I was already ready to leave. It was not a surprise to me.

Plus, it seemed that once Jimmy and I met, it was almost as if we had stepped on an escalator…things just kept falling into place. It was easy, and it was happening without any effort on our part.

Not everyone felt that way, however.

My friends and family were shocked. After all, I’d lived there for eleven years: at that time, it was a third of my lifetime.

What did I think I was doing, moving back home to be with someone I’d only just met?

Never mind that my parents basically did the same thing…this was different. I was their daughter. And the baby of the family.

The morning after one particularly painful discussion with my mother, I was on the freeway headed to work. I had about a 25-minute commute to the other side of town, plenty of time to think.

I was teary and fragile, struggling to keep myself together. Doubt had crept in.

I did the only thing I could do: I prayed.

“God, I really feel like this is the right thing to do, but everyone’s questioning me and I don’t know what to do. Please, help me! Give me a sign that what I’m doing is the right thing! I need a sign!”

(I’m a big believer in signs.You might have picked this up by now.)

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No sooner than I finished speaking, it dawned on me that the silence in my car was oppressive. I had been listening to a local country radio station, but suddenly, there was no music. Like, for several seconds.

Just dead air space.

Seconds went by.

Suddenly a Leann Rimes song came on the radio that I’d never heard before:

I’ve never been so certain
I’ve never been so sure.
We’re on the side of angels,
If we believe this love is pure.
Is it so hard to trust it,
‘Cause we’ve been wrong before?
There comes a time in every life,
We find the heart we’re waiting for.
After all the might-have-beens,
The close and distant calls
After all the try-agains,
Don’t be afraid to fall
We’re on the side of angels after all.
Every time you touch me,
Don’t you feel it too?
The gentle hand that’s guiding us
You to me, me to you
After all the might-have-beens,
The close and distant calls
After all the try-agains,
Don’t be afraid to fall
We’re on the side of angels after all.
Heaven only knows
Why this took so long
But only Heaven knows
A love is right or wrong
After all the might-have-beens,
The close and distant calls
After all the try-agains,
Don’t be afraid to fall
We’re on the side of angels,
On the side of angels,
On the side of angels, after all.
I felt like God was speaking directly to me. I burst into tears of joy, and relief.
And I never looked back. 🙂

 

The Perfect Snowy Sunday

Snowy Street ViewWe love days like today. Especially when it falls on a Sunday.

“The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful; and since we’ve no place to go…”

There’s no place we have to be.

There’s nothing we have to do.

Snowy Pond

We don’t have to feel guilty because we’re not working outside.

Or just not working, period.

It’s a perfect day to snuggle in and do some quality puttering.

We decided it would be fun to cook together and try out a new recipe. Jimmy likes to cook, and he’s a good one. We just don’t do it together very often.  He had helped me a little at Thanksgiving, and enjoyed it enough he was willing to try it again. 😉

Let the Cooking Begin!

Those of you who know both of us well know two things: I am addicted to the Pioneer Woman’s recipes; and that Jimmy and I have a very different approach to some things. (In other words, we’re very different, yet very much alike.)

That probably doesn’t make much sense. But that’s the way we roll. 🙂

We decided to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. From scratch. With fresh herbs, wine, garlic, ground pork and hamburger…the works!

Chillin'

I believe in the phrase, “Love, Honor, Negotiate!” We negotiated over who would do what.

He wanted to use a jarred sauce. I refused, having learned that nothing can beat the taste of homemade.

He prepared the meatball mix, I made the meatballs. He chopped the onion and garlic, I sauteed the meatballs.

Sauteing the Meatballs

Here they are just hanging out and waiting for the sauce. And while the meatballs were waiting for the sauce, someone else was in the sauce.

Ready for Sauce

I learned what “cut in chiffonade” means today. I had to Google it.

What did we do before Google?

Saucy!

At this point, the house was smelling so good that Jimmy couldn’t stand it. He sampled. And sipped.

Sampling and Sipping

He had pasta. I had spaghetti squash, my ‘go to’ choice instead of pasta. Tomato, tomahto.

Spaghetti Squash

The finished project was delicious! And we actually had so much fun, we decided that preparing a new recipe together should be a regular ‘Bad Weather Sunday’ event.

YUM!

I’m tellin’ ya, preparing a dish from scratch not only feeds your body, it feeds your soul.

While Jimmy went off for a long winter’s [Sunday] nap, I cleaned the kitchen and finished some Christmas decorating.

Ballsy Tree

I don’t have any gifts under the tree yet, so I picked up some galvanized pails at Tractor Supply and made a little display.

Yes, my tree has big balls. 😀

Actually, I need one more bucket, and they didn’t have the size I wanted, so I had to improvise.

I’m pretty sure that within the next 24-48 hours, I’m going to regret putting pine cones in those pails under the tree. Ekko may be two, but it’s more like being two in people years rather than dog years. 😉

Christmas Cards

And now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, find a Christmas chick flick, and work on Christmas cards. (If you look close, you can see the three little black dogs on my cards).

It’s shaping up to be a great Sunday! Hope you’re enjoying yours, wherever you are.

Cheers! 🙂

It’s Time to Let Go….

My Mom's Bowls

My Mom’s Bowls

Last Saturday, when I was doing everything I could to avoid doing yard work, I had a sudden overwhelming urge to clean out my cabinets. Well, just one, actually.

This happens to me a lot. Both avoiding yard work and cleaning out something, that is.

I was making a dish for an event that night, and I suddenly realized how…unhandy…and unsightly..this overstuffed cabinet really was.

The problem was it was my mother’s serving ware and bowls that was taking up the space. Uh oh. I couldn’t get rid of those! Those were my MOTHER’S!!!!

I sat on the floor and looked at those dishes, wrestling with my conscience.

I examined my feelings.

Did I associate these dishes with any happy memories? No. Did looking at these dishes make me think lovingly of my mom and treasure my time with her? No, again.

This whole thought process took about 90 seconds.

My mom has been gone for almost 3 years, and these dishes have been living quietly in my cabinet.   They were leftover when all my parent’s belongings were distributed among family and friends or donated to charity. I brought them home because they were hers, they were in good shape, and I thought I might use them. I’ve used one of them once. Honestly, I don’t even really like them.

I kept a number of my mother’s things that do make me think of her.

I’ve kept her military uniform; the promissory note from the house they borrowed money to buy back in 1946; her wallet; and her funky jumpsuits she had made back in the 70’s, which I think I’ll wear for Halloween one day.

I’ve kept the basket that she painted when she was going through a basket-painting phase. It makes a great toy box! (Now if I could just teach them to put their toys away…)

The Toy Box

I kept the really funky fondue or casserole dish that I never remember her using, but I always thought it was really neat. (I know, my photo skills could have been a little better.) But you get the picture. (Pun intended!)

The Funky Casserole Dish

The Funky Casserole Dish

And, I kept the little sticker that she had bought but never used just to remind my husband (or any other fellas who visit the Black Dog Saloon) that we’re glad they are around. 🙂

The Manly Sticker

The Manly Sticker

But all these things have a memory associated with them, or they happen to be really cool or unique or meaningful in some way. And I kept a number of other things too, for one reason or another.

But the Corning Ware? Nah. The other serving bowls? Not really. They are just stuff, taking up space. Space that deserves to be filled with something either beautiful, meaningful, or functional.

So I took the picture above of them to have always and remind myself of what they looked like. I will bless someone else with them who may need them more, because that’s the way the world works.

And now, every time I open the cabinet door, my spirit lifts looking at the organized shelves that are pleasing to the eye. (Although my husband may tell you otherwise, my needs are pretty simple.)

And I hope the next person who ends up with her dishes will nourish her family with the enjoyment my mom did us for all those years. 🙂

The Day I Met My Husband

The Night We Met

The Night We Met

15 years ago today, July 3, 1998 I met a guy in a bar in Kirksville. Little did I know then that I would end up spending the rest of my life with him.

Actually, it was two days later that I realized that.

This is a picture of us the night we met. (Who is lucky enough to have a picture the night you meet your spouse?) Sorry about the quality…keep in mind it was before digital cameras.

At the time, I was a showgirl in Las Vegas (kidding!) Little did I know when I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to come back home for a vacation just how momentous that decision was.

After I got back here, I called my friend Denise, and we decided to go out and hit the town. If memory serves me correctly, we never got beyond our second stop.

It rained 3 inches that night.

I belched in front of him.

He peeked down my shirt.

We got my car stuck.

The tow truck driver who came to pull me out in the pouring rain said, “I don’t know where you found that guy, but if he won’t even get out and help you, I’d get rid of him!”

So I married him instead. 😀

How to Stay Married While Working on a Home Project

Before Restore

A Note About the Stone Wall

So, I finished my flower bed project today. But before I show you that, I wanted to tell you about the time Jimmy and I spent a Saturday dry-stacking the stone wall several years ago.

We still managed to stay married.

We were still speaking at the end of the day.

And by the evening, we were best friends all over again.

We have not always been this successful.

It all comes down to Strategy.

Ya gotta have one BEFORE you start. You know it’s gonna happen…so plan for it in advance.

So here’s what we did:

We decided that when one of us (ahem) said something that the other found offensive/insulting/hurtful/etc., the offendee would say “Dorito”. (We tried to pick the silliest word possible that had nothing to do with what we were doing, and didn’t make the other (ahem) feel as though they were in the wrong.)

Then, we had to smooch.

How can you be irritated at someone, think about Doritos (yum, especially with sour cream, but please don’t tell anybody) and then have to smooch on them?

It worked marvelously.

If nothing else, it makes both parties more aware of your choice of words. In the end, I think we only smooched once or twice.

At least, just after saying “Dorito.” 😉

Mission accomplished!

 

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