Akela Jane Will Be Missed

October 16, 2007


We had to have our wonderful  12 year old Australian Shepherd, Akela, (aka Akela Jane, Keeler, Killer) put to sleep last week.  I immediately sat down and wrote a gut-wrenching post for the next day that, let me just say, you should thank me for not posting because it would have torn your heart out! 

But, now that I’ve had time to get past the initial surge of grief, I believe I can write a tribute to her that will help you and me remember the reasons to have a pet, when you KNOW that you will have to say good-bye someday.

When we lived on the farm Akela was a “guard dog.”  She was NEVER aggressive with people, but she vigilently patroled our acreage and did her best to keep other animals off “her turf.”  She had a nasty fight with a big, mean looking ground hog once, and she won.  Probably, because she did that with all her heart, just like she did everything else.

When we moved “to town” four years ago, I had some concerns about how happy Akela would be when confined to just a small yard.  But, we got an invisible fence (I highly recommend them), so that she could be outside whenever she liked and, in most cases, as long as she liked, and we didn’t have to worry about her leaving the yard.  She would just lay out in the yard, looking out over the lake, watching the geese and ducks, and just generally watching the world go by.  What a life!  And, if neighbors were out doing something, like sitting on their decks with friends, Akela would go to the corner of our yard nearest the “action” and just watch them.  I have wondered if that sometimes made people a little uncomfortable, but no one ever acted like they even noticed.  But, apparently SHE found THEM verrrrry interesting.

For her exercise, we have always thrown “the disc.”  We bought the nylon cloth frisbees so that they wouldn’t hurt her mouth, and she LOVED LOVED LOVED to chase one.  She would jump high into the air, coming down with the disc in her mouth, and sometimes roll like a gymnast does — and I suppose for the same reason — it didn’t hurt as much when you hit the ground.  And then come running back to you, as fast as she could (and she WAS fast), for you to throw it again.  This would go on, until YOU got tired, because she NEVER did.  In fact, many times, when we would be sitting on the deck, she would go get the disc and bring it to one of us and lay it in our lap to throw for her.  And, if we laid it aside because we were doing something else, or carrying on a conversation, she would retrieve it from where you had laid it and lay it in our lap AGAIN, and if THAT didn’t work, she would get it AGAIN and lay it in SOMEONE ELSE’s lap.  She didn’t have any favorite “thrower” — anyone would do.  She loved it when our grandchildren would come because there were more “throwers.”

Our next door neighbor, Mike, was one of Akela’s favorite people, and here’s why.  Any time he was outside at the same time she was, she would take the disc and go over and lay as close to his yard as the electric fence would allow, and then lay there and watch his every move, until he would (and he ALWAYS did) take the time to stop whatever he was doing, and throw the disc for her, and then give her a tummy rub. 

Akela DID have a couple of habits that not everyone was thrilled with.  We were never able to break her of jumping up on people.  And, at the same time, licking them!   (Of course, this meant that most of the time, she went into her kennel when there were guests in the house.)

The first time Akela “met” Linda (who is a dog person without a dog, so Akela “adopted” her and her husband), Linda leaned over to “greet” her, and stood back up “slimed.”  She said, “How did I get wet?”  Akela was a fast and efficient “licker!”  And a friendship had instantly been formed that would last a lifetime. 

Linda was listed at the kennel as Akela’s “next of kin.”  Many times Linda and her wonderful hubby would take or pick up Akela at the kennel, or, if we were going to be gone for a long day, they would come over mid-afternoon to “potty” Akela and feed her, and, of course, throw the disc for her!  Linda has said that she has a dog — it just lives at a friend’s house!

About 6 years ago, the Vet told us that Akela Jane needed to lose a little weight.  (It runs in the family!)  So, a friend told me the trick of replacing a cup of a dog’s food with canned green beans, to cut down on their calories.  We did it and it worked!  The Vet was amazed.  And, after she had lost the weight, we continued to replace a half cup of her food with beans, because she liked them so much.  She thought they were a treat!  Go figure.

One more thing about Akela.  We could see she was starting to show her age about a year ago, when we were still working, and it made us begin to wonder how much longer she would last.  At that time, I said a prayer, asking God to let Akela at least last until after Hubby retired in December, because she was always such a stress reliever for him.  When he would walk in after a stressful day, you could just see his spirits buoyed when Akela lavished love and slobber and discs on him! 

God granted that wish.  Hubby retired in December, and we had her for 10 months of our retirement that we got to spend even more time with her.

Thank you God for Akela, and the wonderful love she gave us.

When I Say “Diet,” Hubby Hears “Die”

October 15, 2007


Hubby and I have had to work on our weight, with varying degrees of success, over the years.  When the time comes, He KNOWS we need to do it.  He KNOWS we’ll feel better when we take off some weight. He KNOWS in order to lose the weight, we have to cut back on portions, and try to eat healthy.  But, just because he KNOWS all that, doesn’t mean he has to LIKE IT.

Hubby is not a happy dieter, but he is a SUCCESSFUL dieter!  I find that very annoying.  Because I AM a relatively happy dieter, and it is still much  harder for me to lose the weight than Hubby.  I always tell people that all I have to do is decide to go on a diet, and Hubby immediately loses 10 lbs.! 

 I’ve been told that women have more trouble losing weight than men because a woman’s body is designed to hold on to fat that would be necessary to nourish a baby.  My answer to THAT is, “It’s okay, Body, we can let go of the fat now — we’re not going to have any more babies!”  Apparently, my metabolism is hard of hearing, just like my ears, because all of me continues to want to hold on to the fat.

When we started our “Year of Getting Healthy” in January, and joined the gym, I really thought that would be enough to make us lose weight.  But, no surprise, Hubby lost 30 lbs. in the first 3 months and I lost 8!  Big whoop.  All that exercise, DID make me feel better, but I couldn’t believe I wasn’t losing any more weight than that.

So, in May, I brought in the big guns — I joined Weightwatchers.  I have belonged to WW probably a half dozen times in my life, with varying degrees of success.  That organization definitely believes in redesigning their process regularly.  There were a couple times I joined that I found their program so complicated, it just didn’t seem do-able for me.  But, the program they have now is very straight forward, and I have been successful on it.  I have lost 27 lbs. and am feeling much better — but need to lose at least 20 more to reach the WW goal range.  I’m not sure I can do that, but I have decided that WW meetings are going to be to me like AA meetings are to alcoholics — a support group to help me be strong against my “addiction.”  Besides, I realllly like the group at my meetings, so it gives me an added incentive to go when I know I’m going to see people I enjoy — including our leader.

Of course, Hubby is not interested in attending WW meetings, partly because he is sure he would be the only guy there (men are definitely a very small percentage), but, also, why go to meetings when, obviously, he can lose without them!  I think he feels that somehow it’s not “manly” to be “officially” dieting. 

If this whole post has the feel of annoyance on my part — you’re reading me correctly.  This “unfairness” in the realm of weight loss, him vs. me, is a little bit of a sore point with me. 

Some examples of his weight loss “strategies.”

While we were both supposedly dieting, we went out into the garage to get in the car one day, and I happened to notice a large malt cup in the top of the trash can.  I asked him about it and he said he had been passing the ice cream shop and just picked that up instead of lunch.  I said, “That really isn’t a good way to diet — skipping the protein, etc. you would normally have for lunch, and replacing it with the empty calories of a malt!”   We then laughed about it, and as a final dig, I said, “Well, have you learned your lesson?”  He said, “Yessss, I have.  I will put the cup UNDER something in the trash can next time!”

One evening I told Hubby I was going to have some light microwave popcorn and I was going to try spraying I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on it because I had heard that that was really good.  I tried it but didn’t think it helped that much.  After I went to bed, Hubby made himself some popcorn.  The next morning, he told me that he had tried the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and that he thought it was reallllly good!  I expressed my surprise that he had liked it because I had found it just okay.  Then, I found out a possible reason why.  He said, “Did you spray it on until it dripped?”

When I was growing up, my favorite “treat” was the chocolate Hostess cupcakes with cream filling.  Now Hostess makes a “diet” version of those.  It is a tube of three very little cupcakes, for 100 calories.  So, I bought some, and I have to say that one of those 3-packs and a cup of coffee is a very satisfying, chocolate-wise AND diet-wise, dessert for only 100 calories.  But, the supply was going down pretty fast, so I asked Hubby if he was eating them too.  He said that he was and that he really liked them.  Then he told me he was eating three tubes at a time!  (I think he does some of this stuff just to torment me!) 

And, with all this, he STILL loses weight!

God may have given me CHILDREN to make me humble, but he gave me HUBBY to teach me patience!

Thank you God for giving me Hubby — and giving both of us a sense of humor!

His Eye Is On The Sparrow — And Me!

October 14, 2007


I read a post a few days ago in which the writer was talking about prayer, and she had some interesting comments from readers.  I would have made a comment, but I just couldn’t come up with the right words at the time.

But now that I’ve had time to think about what I want to say and how to say it, I would like to share with you what I think about prayer and my relationship with God.

First and foremost, I know that God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. And I know that, because I BELIEVE that Christ died and was raised from the dead in order for my sins to be forgiven, I will live for eternity in Heaven after I die. He said it — I believe it — ‘nough said. 

A pastor said something one time that makes my salvation feel very personal.  He said, “Christ would have died on the cross if you were the only one who was saved.”  Because God’s mind is infinite, and can do anything, in any amount of time, I personally believe that, Christ probably thought of each person who ever did or ever will live on Earth in the time He was on the cross, and maybe even said a prayer for each of us!  That’s kind of awesome to think about isn’t it?  To think that He might have thought of you personally, by name, while He was making that sacrifice?   But, that is how personal I think God wants our relationship to be with Him.

Matthew 10:29-31 says:  “Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows.” (NLT)

So, when it comes to praying, I believe that God wants us to “pray without ceasing.”  I take that to mean that there is nothing too small or trivial in my life that I can’t pray about and know that God cares and will answer!  Unfortunately, to my small mind, He doesn’t always answer as quickly as I would LIKE or in the way I would LIKE — but, He does ALWAYS answer! 

I read one time about a woman who kept a prayer diary, and I have always thought it would be a neat thing to do.  She wrote down prayers in a notebook, and then simply wrote down the date they were answered, and what the answer was!  She said that it was amazing to see that, truly, every prayer she wrote down did eventually have an answer written beside it — and sometimes an answer she could never have predicted.

So, on this Sunday, I suggest that we all do one little thing today: Say a prayer about something that is troubling us, and then write down just that one prayer.  When it is answered, write down the date of the answer, and what the answer was. 

Here is my prayer:  “Dear Heavenly Father, please bring a buyer to Gunny’s house in Charlotte so that his family can make the move to where  he is in his new job.  Thy will be done.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen”  I’ll let you know when this prayer is answered.

If anyone DOES do this, I would be interested to hear from you. 

Now, we’ve talked about food for the soul (prayer), but I like to give you a recipe for the tummy on Sunday too, so here is a quick, simple pineapple cake that is WONDERFUL with fresh fruit on it (my favorites are blueberries and/or strawberries). 

Pineapple Sheet Cake

Combine: 2 C. flour — 2 C. sugar — 1 t. soda — 1 t. salt — 20 oz. crushed pineapple NOT DRAINED — 2 eggs

Pour into a greased jelly roll pan (11×15) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  But, DON’T OVERBAKE.  Start testing a few minutes early, and remove from oven AS SOON AS a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and then frost.

Glaze:   8 oz. softened cream cheese — 1/2 stick butter, softened — 1 t. vanilla — 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar  — a little milk if it needs thinning

May God bless you and your family this Sunday, and always.

The Road BEST Traveled!

October 13, 2007


Years ago, I heard this little “fable” and I’ve always remembered it, and tried to apply it to my life. 

The story goes:

A wise, old man spent much of his day, sitting by the city gate making conversation with those who passed by.

One day, a traveler approached and said, “Hey, old man, I am just arriving here to live.  What kind of people will I find here?”

The old man answered with a question.  “What kind of people were in the town you have just left?”

The traveler proceeded to rant and rave about how awful his former neighbors were and recounted all the slights that he felt he had suffered at their hands.

When he was done, the old man answered his question, “I’m sorry to tell you that that is the sort of people you will find here too.”

The traveler walked away grumbling about his sorry lot in life.

Later in the day a second traveler arrived at the gate, and also approached the wise, old man.  He also asked about the type of town this was, and the old man answered him with the same question he had asked the first traveler.

“What sort of people lived in the town you are coming from?”

The second traveler answered, “That was a wonderful town.  It was filled with people who went out of their way to help each other, and treated each other with kindness and love.”

The very, very wise old man then answered, “Then that is the kind of people you will find here.” 

 May God help each of us to look for the best in those around us — because what we look for is what we will find. 

Halloween Should Be Fun! (Part 2)

October 12, 2007


Yesterday’s post about Halloween really got my juices flowing on Halloween costumes.  So, I thought I’d share some other ideas I think are cute:

To go with the bag of groceries described yesterday, husband could wear a white apron and carry a bag of groceries (regular size) and go as the carry-out boy! (a dying breed, by the way)

Wife wears a cardboard box painted to look like a brick.  Husband wears work clothes and carries a trowel, as a bricklayer.

“Rich Witch.”  Wear a Witch’s hat, dress all in black, including feather boa, dripping in “jewels” (gaudier the better) and with cirgarette in looooong cigarette holder. 

I love this kind of costume.  These next two are great “ice breakers”  — get everyone talking:

“Which way is up?”  Wear witch’s hat, carry a bathroom scale and an arrow pointing up, with a question mark pinned to your clothes.  Don’t talk and have people guess what figure of speech you are.

A “Legal Document.”  Wear doctor’s scrubs, with a “U” and  the wrapper from a peppermint patty pinned to your clothes and carry a book clearly labeled in big letters, “law book.”  Don’t talk, and have people guess what you are.

“Misconception” — Woman either pregnant or made to look pregnant, dressed in long formal dress, wearing a tiara and a beauty-contest-like banner that says, “Miss Conception.”

I love clever costumes, and I’m sure there are websites out there that have a zillion of them.  These are just some of the ones that I remember.

Hope you have fun either using one of these ideas, or, even better, coming up with something clever of your own!

Hope your Halloween is fun and happy!

Halloween Should Be Fun!

October 11, 2007


There is a house not too far from us that has it’s whole yard FILLED with tombstones and gross looking goblins and witches and what look like mutiliated bodies.  And, I do mean — FILLED.  There are probably at least 100 items in that yard, with all kinds of webs and fake smoke draped all over the front of the house itself.  It is all in dingy colors — black, gray and gross! 

I’m sorry.  I’m probably old fashioned, but I liked it better when that sort of really scarey/gross stuff was saved mostly for “haunted houses,” and homes were decorated with FUN stuff (Casper the Ghost comes to mind) and jack-o-lanterns.

So, in the spirit of this “Fun Halloween” that I advocate, several years ago I bought a little guy at Cracker Barrel (Don’t they have the best stuff?) who was about 3 feet tall, and looked like a little boy in a costume with a cape.  He was motion activated, so that when someone walked in front of him he spread out his arms/cape and said “Happy Halloween!” in a little-boy voice.   I LOVED it!  So, I bought him and brought him home.  And, on Halloween night, I set him out on the porch, beside the front door  so that he would welcome our trick-or-treaters.

Well, he was a busy little fella!  He DID do his job when little groups came to the door, but I kept thinking I heard someone out there at other times too, and then when I would open the door, no one would be there!  My hearing isn’t great — so it SHOULD BE the other way around — I should MISS hearing someone — NOT hear them when they aren’t there!  Welllll — it was a WINDY evening, so can you guess what was happening?  My little fella was being activated sometimes by the WIND — so he was out there talking to HIMSELF!  Needless to say, his battery BARELY made it through the evening.  But I loved him anyway.  And, frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with talking to yourself — I do it all the time in the grocery store — until I see someone looking at me funny.  I am going to be so much fun in “the home.”  (Be sure to bring me your leftover trick-or-treat candy when you come to visit me!)

My all time favorite costume is — (drum roll) — a BAG OF GROCERIES!  When Gunny-to-be was in 7th grade, he needed a costume for the costume competition at the carnival at school, and our niece, who was in her 20’s, told me about this costume that she had been a hit in at a party the previous year.  We did it and he won!  Although, he had a little trouble carrying the prize off the stage because, he didn’t have arm-holes, so his prize had to pretty much be put in his “bag of groceries!”

What’s great about this, is that it isn’t hard.  You get a cardboard box that pretty much covers the person from neck to knee, and cut a hole in the top for the person’s head to fit through.  Then you use brown paper grocery bags to cover the outside.  Around the top, have the edge of the sacks stick up a couple inches above the top of the box, so that the look is of a very large grocery bag.  Use a mesh bag that potatoes come in to put over the person’s head, and empty boxes of different products you have in the cupboard (of course, you can put the contents back in afterwards) and put them around the person’s head “in the bag.”  With a little imagination, you can make this look really realistic  (Some plastic fruit or vegetables stuck in would be great too, or even a stalk of REAL celery.  As that wilted during the evening, it would be a great conversation starter!)   One note:  Because of Gunny’s experience with the inconvenience of not being able to use your hands, you might want to put a hole in each side (maybe covered with a loose flap of the brown paper?) so that the person COULD put a hand out if they had to, but the grocery bag looks more realistic if there aren’t arms sticking out the sides.  So, that’s it!  I hope some of you might be able to use this idea.  

By the way, the next year, Gunny and DD both needed costumes so, we made him a giant rural mailbox, with the door open and a couple of giant pieces of mail sticking out, and we made her a grandfather clock with her face as the face of the clock!  They both won prizes that year.  I remember that thinking up and making those costumes was great fun for all four of us.  

May you all have a HAPPY, safe Halloween.  Don’t eat too much candy!

Family Reunions – Mental Snapshots to Treasure

October 10, 2007


My family had our every-five-year reunion in July at my oldest sister’s home near Atlanta and it was wonderful, as always.   

Sis and her husband bought a home many years ago with a pond and some wooded acreage, and four of their five children have since built homes on the property too.  So, a reunion there is a group effort — one daughter was in charge of the food, one in charge of the games.  One son-in-law was in charge of cooking the pig for the pig roast.  Because of a lot of hard work by all of them, they put on a great 3-day reunion. 

A highlight for the littlest children, that I had never heard of before, was the “candy man” — apparently a regular event at parties in that part of the country.  One of Sis’s college-age grandsons put on over his clothes one of his mother’s old long, flowing housecoats (what a good sport he was!) with candy attached all over it.  Then the kids got to chase him around the yard grabbing candy off the robe!  It was great fun to watch for the rest of us and, of course, the children thought it was great because they would love any game that involved “chasing” and “eating candy.”  The only one who may not have had “lots” of fun, was the “chase-ee.”  He ended up, face-down on the ground, exhausted (but laughing), with the kiddies sitting around (and on top of!) him, now able to fill their bags with candy without having to chase it!  (sort of a Halloween “candy feast” in July)

  When you have a family that has always been spread out across the country, reunions take on a really important place in your life, because they are a time when you take mental snapshots to treasure between times you see the others.  We took lots of “real” photos too, of course.  But, when you think about it, “mental snapshots” are so much more vivid because they involve not just the visual — but also the senses of smell and sound, like the aroma of food cooking and the sounds of conversation  and laughter everywhere.   This makes wonderful memories for a large, four-generation, spread-out-all-over-the-country family that will have to pretty much last each of us until the next reunion five years from now!

The dynamics of an event like that are very interesting to me.  Even though these are all people you are related to, you spend pretty much the first day, getting “re-acquainted.”  Meeting new wives and husbands.  Seeing new “babies” — who may not be babies any more, but were born in the last five years.  Then you spend lots of time talking (something I humbly admit, I’m pretty good at) for the next two days, catching up and getting to know.  Wonderful.  This is what “roots” are for a family who don’t all live in the same town and see each other every Sunday at church.  

It used to be that families “normally” lived in the same area, but I think spread out families like ours have become very common now.  So, family reunions become much more important for re-connecting.

I encourage any of you who have families that are spread out like mine, to try very hard to attend family events (reunions, weddings, and even funerals) so that you will remember and your children will learn — “from whence you come.”

May God bless each of you with memories, like these, of YOUR family to treasure and to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Gone Fishin’? Not Me!

October 9, 2007


Four years ago, Hubby and I were made an offer by a developer for the farmhouse we lived in and the land around it.  So we accepted the offer.

Soon after we had made the decision to move, we were invited to dinner with several other couples at the home of some retired friends.  When we walked out their french doors onto a patio that overlooked a small lake, we were in awe of the view.  And then they told us that even though this was a development, the lakes could actually be used — for swimming, (non-motorized) boating and fishing.  And, by the way, they said, the house second door was going on the market next week!  Long story short, we bought the house second door.

In many ways, the location of our new home on a lake has been a real treat for Hubby and me.  We love the view of the water, there are several sail boats on the lake that are beautiful to watch, and we know more about ducks, geese, loons, etc., than we ever imagined we could.  It’s a wonderful place to live, but fishing just isn’t something that holds alot of interest for us.  In fact, I have NEVER fished.

Well, our retired friend second door is an AVID fisherman, including ICE fishing, which I personally think looks like about as much fun as having all your teeth pulled!  In the winter, it makes me soooo cold when I see him hauling all his “stuff” way out on the ice and setting up his little shelter and then sitting out there for HOURS all bundled up looking down at that hole in the ice!  (Although, I have to admit that, when they invite us down for a fish fry, I’m glad he did it!)

When we moved here and Mr. Avid Fisherman found out I had never fished, it became a game between us to see if he could convince me to fish.  He was SURE that once I tried it, I would love it.  I was just as convinced that I didn’t have to experience it to know that I wouldn’t like it.  But, my lack of enthusiasm was no deterrent for him.

So, soon after our move, he asked me several times WHEN I was going to try fishing.  So, finally, I thought, “Okay I’d play his game”.

I said, “All right, you’ve convinced me.  I’d really LIKE to fish, but I don’t want to touch the slimey worm, so could you please come over and put the worm on the hook for me?”  Ahhh, he saw this as the first step to making me a fisherman, so he said, “Sure, I could do that!”  Rats.

So then I said, “Well, I have never touched a wiggly, scaley fish before, so could you come over and take the fish off the hook for me ?”  He said, a little less enthusiastically this time, “Yes, I would be willing to do that.”  (He was seeing this as a little more work for him than he had anticipated.)  

Well, then, I said, “Since I’ve never fished, of course, I’ve never cleaned one before either, so would you be willing to take it over to your house and clean it for me?”  (I certainly didn’t want that mess at MY house!)  He was starting to smile because he knew what I was doing, and wasn’t going to let me off the hook, so he said, “Yeah, I suppose I could do that.”  And, just to add emphasis, he said. “Anything ELSE?”

I said, “Just one more thing.  I like it lightly breaded!”

The four of us are still good friends, and I still don’t fish. 

Should A Road Trip Ever Involve A Fire Truck?

October 8, 2007


This is a long one, so you might want to take a potty break and get a cup of coffee before you start.  Hopefully, you’ll think it’s worth it!

Back in the early 80’s, Deb, Pam and I worked together and had become friends.  So, when Deb had her first baby, of course, Pam and I were excited to see the baby and told Deb we would come up to her house in a rural area quite a ways north of the city after work.  She did give us directions, but I don’t remember any scrap of paper that we were referring to, so we must not have written them down. (one paragraph in, and you can already tell the direction this storying is taking, can’t you?)

This was supposed to be a quick trip.  Deb had told us it was less that a half hour to her house.  We didn’t really make plans to eat BECAUSE it was going to be a quick trip.  We could eat when we got home.  So, we headed north right after work — excited — delaying dinner time — and with only a vague idea of where Deb lived!

We headed north on Hwy 221 confident that when we got to the first little town, we would find SR 52 running east out of it.  When we got to the little town, we drove sloooowly through it multiple times looking for SR 52.  Then, we drove slooowly through it more times looking for a road that might be SR 52 called by some other name while it was in town.  Then we started driving out any road that DID run east, in hopes that when we got out in the country either that road would miraculously become SR 52 or we would cross SR 52. 

One of the times we were wandering around out in farmland, we came to a quaint little filling station, and Pam went in to ask directions.  She came back with some really convoluted instructions (at least they were to our directionally challenged minds), but we struck out again, with renewed hope of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. 

A little while later we came to another filling station — wait a minute — it was the same one!  I pointed out the obvious — that we must be going in circles.  Well, we probably should go in and ask for the instructions again.  I looked at Pam, waiting for her to hop out of the car and go in and ask for the directions AGAIN — after all — I was doing the driving, so that made her the navigator, right?    For the first time in a while, I really looked at Pam.  She didn’t look her normal perky self.  Was that a scowl on her face?  I had never seen Pam scowl before!  Or, maybe it was just hunger.  She HAD mentioned that we should stop and get at least an ice cream cone the one time we had passed an ice cream shop — but I was sure Deb’s place must be just around the next corner so I talked her into waiting.  

Anyway, here we were at the filling station again and obviously we hadn’t correctly followed the instructions we had previously received.  Time to ask again, Pam.   Then, formerly perky Pam spoke in a calm voice, “I asked for the instructions last time.   I’m not going in and ask the same man for the same instructions AGAIN!”  This is one of those blurry times.  I don’t think either one of us went in to ask again.  Partly, because I think we saw the man inside looking out the window at us like he recognized us from before, and neither one of us could work up the nerve to tell him that we needed the same instructions again.  I can only assume that we then talked it over and decided we remembered what the instructions were and how we had erred — so we struck out again, with renewed resolve.

By this time, we had been looking for well over an hour, and Pam was getting really hungry!  I was too, but I was busy driving and was totally focused on FINDING DEB! (That makes it sound like Deb was the one that was lost, doesn’t it?  Good thing she wasn’t, and depending on us to “rescue” her — she’d have died of old age before we found her!)

Out of dumb luck rather than any plan, we did end up back in the little town and decided we would ask for instructions from someone in authority (those “authority” people always know where everything is, right?).  There was the fire station!  Perfect!  And, we could see several guys standing out front talking.  We’d ask them! 

I can only assume that when we staggered out of the car, disheveled, probably near tears and babbling, these trained professionals could instantly recognize (maybe even smell!) people in distress!  We told them our whole pathetic story about wandering around FOREVER looking for our friend Deb’s house, and then a miracle happened!  They said they KNEW Deb and her husband and KNEW WHERE THEY LIVED!  They explained to us that we were looking in the wrong direction — Deb’s house was WEST of town.  We should just go to the car dealership they were pointing to down the street and turn on the street just past it, etc.  Okay, we had pretty clear instructions now, so we took off — hopeful again. 

And, in hunger and trauma-induced hysteria, DROVE RIGHT PAST the street the kind firemen had told us to turn on — and they were all standing in front of the station watching!  Rats.  So we turned around and started back to the street where they had told us to turn, but, HERE THEY CAME — ON A FIRE TRUCK!  They met us at the missed turn and said we should follow them and they would SHOW us where Deb’s house was.  How stupid did they think we were?  Oh, wait a minute.  They KNEW how “stupid” we were — we had just missed the first simple instruction they had given us.  So, we fell in behind the fire truck.  One of the guys even stood on the wide step at the back of the truck.  Holding on with one hand and, this realllly shows how stupid/stressed they felt we were, at each intersection we came to, he would gesture us on, apparently afraid we would just lose sight of the fact we were supposed to follow them and wander off on our own again.  Finally, they stopped the truck and gestured for us to pull up along-side.  They then pointed down the road at a white house and said that was Deb’s house!  We thanked them profusely and drove toward Deb’s (while in the rear vision mirror I could see them watching to make sure we got there!  I’d LOVE to hear the story THEY must have told about this event.).

We drove into Deb’s drive, exhausted but relieved to finally be there.  Of course, we had been on the road so long, that, by this time, we couldn’t stay very long!  In fact, by this time, it would probably have suited us just fine if she would have just brought the baby out to the car for us to see, so that we didn’t even have to get out of the car, and could have started home immediately.  Who knew how long it would now take us to get HOME!

But, of course, Deb didn’t know any of this.  So she came out of the house smiling and totally oblivious to what we had just been through.  We crawled out of the little tin can I was driving (a standard shift, plain jane Fiesta with cloth seats that we now felt like we were wearing like a cheap coat) to go into the house to see the baby.  As we ohhhed and ahhhed over the baby, we told Deb some of the story, but we were  really too exhausted to talk too much.   I think we only stayed about 15 minutes, because we now had to find our way home!   

This would be a great story if we had gotten lost on the way home too!  But, it’ll just have to be a fairly good story, because we did manage to find our way home in a reasonable amount of time.  Thus ends our “wandering in the wilderness” to find Deb.

I had lunch with Pam last week and we talked about the fact I’m writing a blog now, and she said, “You’re going to tell the story about our trip to Deb’s, aren’t you?  It’s one of my favorites.”  So, here it is, Pam. 

Our son the Gunny says, “The worst experiences sometimes make the best stories later.”  How true. How true. 

Fall Blessings

October 7, 2007


Happy Sunday!  Happy Fall!  HAPPY APPLES!

I am so thankful for the changing of the seasons.  I feel very blessed that we live in a part of the country where we have four distinct seasons.  Just when a season starts getting a little “routine,” along comes a new season to shake things up and make things interesting and “new” again!

For about 20 years I talked to truck salesmen all over the United States and Canada regularly because of my job.  In all those years, I found that especially the ones in California and Florida LOVED to tell me about their beautiful weather — and there is absolutely no doubt that they  had something to brag about!  But, I would always tell them that because they had beautiful weather regularly, they surely couldn’t appreciate it like WE appreciate OUR beautiful days, because we don’t get nearly enough of them to make them routine.  When we have a beautiful day we REVEL in it, and Fall is one time when we get to do our share of “reveling.”  When the leaves “turn” it is absolutely gorgeous here.  Thank you God for the beauty of Fall.

When Fall comes, there are suddenly foods that sound sooooo good, like vegetable soup and chili and — APPLES!  What other food says Fall more than apples — big, crisp, crunchy ones just to eat, or as hot apple cider, or as great apple desserts!  Thank you God for Apples! 

Here is a wonderful apple cake recipe that Mama loved to make.  How can you not love something that includes apples, nuts and cinnamon, topped with cream cheese frosting!

Mama’s Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together in large bowl — 2 C. sugar — 2 C. flour — 1 t. salt — 1 t. soda — 1 t. nutmeg — 2 t. cinnamon.

Then blend in 1 C. applesauce and 2 eggs.  (Mixture will be stiff.)  Stir in 5 cups of sliced apples and 1 C. chopped walnuts (pecans, if you don’t like walnuts).  Spread in greased 9×13 pan.  Sprinkle on top 2 T. lemon juice  and 1 t. dried lemon peel.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Frost with cream cheese frosting when cool.


Mix together 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 1 stick softened butter, 2 t. vanilla and enough powdered sugar to make it frosting (recipe says “3/4 box” powdered sugar, but I don’t think it comes in a box any more, so just go by sight and taste.  (I would say, start with two cups).  Add a little milk if it is too stiff, add a little more powdered sugar if you put too much milk in and it’s too runny, and so on — you get the idea. 

I hope you love this cake as much as our family does!

One last blessing.  Hubby’s family always said (and we still do) the following blessing before meals.  It is called “The Common Table Prayer.” 

“Come Lord Jesus be our guest and let Thy gifts to us be blessed.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”

Thank you God for the “faith of our fathers” that has been passed on to us. 

On this Fall Sunday may you and yours appreciate and enjoy your own Fall Blessings. 


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