Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Togetherness--Well not this year.

We usually celebrate Thanksgiving at our house--all my extended family attends if they are able and we usually have around thirty people here.  It wasn't going to happen this year.  For one reason or another it was just going to be impossible for anyone to attend.  So Turtle and I didn't cook a meal.  Instead we joined our daughter-in-law's family in the city, where we got to visit with Blaze.  He had two grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, two grandfathers, an uncle, and a jillion cousins all in the same house.  When we decided to take him outside in the cool fall weather, the first thing he saw was this mighty mound of dirt.  It superseded the jungle gym and even the trampoline. 

It was at this point that his two supervising grandmothers realized that he was wearing new clothes and new shoes and that his mom was probably going to be a little frustrated with us. Ah well.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles away, his other cousins found it colder on the Chesapeake Bay, where their family is dedicating a volunteer year with the Mennonite Disaster Service, re-building homes which were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy a couple of years ago.

 They stayed indoors and played with Legos--building everything from Dalek schools to Doll RV's.

Over in Little Rock Arkansas, two more families rejoiced in the birth of a firstborn son and grandson.

In North Carolina, another sister was able to be together with her family and recorded the moment for us all with this:

And out in West Texas, Some family members had to work; others weren't feeling well. They had pizza and lasagna and pies, but they didn't post a picture. So  drove over there a couple of days later and snapped a candid photo of two out of five of them at least:

Up at the top of the Texas panhandle, my niece was taking engagement photos...out in the wilds with authentic rugged canyon backdrops.

So yes, we were scattered all over for Thanksgiving.  But I thank God for every one of us.  Maybe we'll see each other at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tolerant, Hopeful, Distrust

Our Three word Wednesday prompt.  I wrote a haiku for each word

Tolerant until
Someone disagrees with me
Must be raving mad

Hopeful for justice
But only if the judgment
Matches my demands

Distrust is planted
Rashly cultivated--and
The innocent burn

Red Rock Canyon and the Photo Shopping Uncle

We went to Red Rock Canyon the other day to take Baby Blaze back to his parents. 

(He's two, but doesn't mind being called baby, in fact he gets a little miffed if you try to call him a big boy. It seems he's figured out that those two words are usually pronounced in verbal proximity to a job we want him to do).  

Anyway, Red Rock Canyon is only a couple of miles off the interstate highway but, for not being out in the wilds of creation, sure looks it. The ground is level and unprepossessing until suddenly the road drops down, turns a corner, and you are traveling into a sweet little canyon with high rock walls which are perfect for clambering. There are handholds and footholds and snug little trails worn by hundreds of adventurous feet.  Then there are a few sheer cliffs--stuff for rappelling.  

Elijah started climbing up the wall and I nervously snapped a couple of pictures, not realizing that I had caught Blaze as he contemplated joining his Dad on the wall.  Of course, when I saw the pictures, I posted them on face-book to get reactions from all my friends and relatives who rely on social media for daily news.

My brother in law....the artist/photographer in North Carolina, altered the last one and put a little moment of fear into my grandmother heart.

Baby Blaze took it all in stride.  When his mom showed him the picture he said: "I very tall!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanks, God, for Four Months

My Thanksgiving this year is for four months: August, September, October, and November. They were months I came close to not seeing, because on August 3rd, I nearly bled to death.

My great grandfather died of colon cancer; my grand-father had cancerous parts of his colon removed--twice. There's been colon cancer through-out my family for years.  All my siblings have been checked for it. I was the hold-out...but finally, I decided I was ten years overdue for it might as well give in and have a colonoscopy...just to see.

The doctor was re-assuring. After all, I was the kind of patient she liked. Healthy. No problems. no meds. No known allergies. Just vitamins occasionally. She said I'd have no trouble.

And I didn't. She found three large polyps that were not cancerous yet and removed them. On Wednesday, after the anesthesia wore off, she told me to resume all normal activity. So I did.    I ate normally and walked my normal two miles a day, I traveled to Amarillo to visit my Dad who was in the hospital and I felt perfectly energetic, except for a respiratory infection and a mild back pain.

Sunday, I went to church but didn't stay. My throat was sore; I couldn't sing and my sinuses were stuffy. After taking some Advil and cold medicine, I slept all the rest of the morning and afternoon.

That evening was the first day of school. We had a teacher's retreat/in-service time planned down at Quartz Mountain Resort about an hour from our house. Since Turtle had services planned for that evening, I drove myself down. It was a gorgeous day.

After supper that evening we all sat out on the porch by the lake and visited.  There were deer going down to the water to drink, and the breeze was just cool enough to make sitting outside perfect.  We played a game, putting slips of famous names in a bowl and giving clues to guess them. It went on and on.  Meanwhile, my intestines were hurting a little. I tolerated it for a while, then asked if we could take a break so I could run up to my hotel room.

There was a little wooden path that ran from the deck to the stairs. It looked mysterious and I felt euphoric. I remember running along the path, just because I liked the sound of my footsteps on the hollow wood. Then I ran up the stairs to my room and into the bathroom.

My first thought was: "On no!" Now I have a stomach virus on top of this cold, " but when I looked, I noticed a lot of blood in the stool. "Hm," I thought, "Must be the aftermath of that polyp removal." and I returned to the group on the deck and played another round of the game. However, I wasn't entirely at ease about the situation, so when another teacher arrived, one who is an R.N., I drew her aside and asked it that was normal for five days post-polypectomy.  She said, "No. Not at all." So I ran back upstairs to call my husband and have him look for the paper with the doctor's instructions on what to do in case of excessive bleeding.

When I entered the room, I knew that I had to go back to the bathroom before I called. This time it was like turning on a faucet.  And it was all blood. Lots of dark red blood. I called Turtle. He agreed that I shouldn't try to drive home, and found the emergency number for me. I gave three tries, but couldn't get through to the hospital, and I had to make the last call from the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Turtle had managed to get through to the hospital and talk to the ER nurse. She recommended that I come in, so he suggested I get another teacher to take me to an emergency room about thirty minutes away.

I walked down the hall and out onto the stair landing. Suddenly I felt dizzy, and I knew I shouldn't try to walk down those stairs. The deck seemed far away in the moonlight. I didn't think they would hear me if I yelled.  Then a face tipped upward, reflected in the lamplight, and I beckoned with my arm. Someone stood up.  At that point I sat down on the floor and began to be a little worried.   I have donated blood before--a pint is what they always take, and I had never felt dizzy from it, nor come close to having to sit down.  Nor felt the least bit nauseated like I did now. And my heart had never pounded nor my breath turn into little pants.

When my colleague arrived, she said: "Did you forget your room key?" "No. I need someone to drive me to the emergency room. I'm bleeding" She ran back down stairs and I went to the room again...back to the bathroom....then to sit on the bed...and once again....back to the bathroom. .It was bleeding really fast now, and I knew that if the blood kept accumulating at that rate I would bleed out before an ambulance could get out to this isolated little resort. Back to the bathroom…

Two lady teachers rushed into the room in time to see me collapse onto the floor.
I don't remember feeling terrified, but I do remember thinking something was out of control. It was like I was running and running, chasing after something that was just beyond the grasp of my arms. That something was my life.
Everything was fuzzy around the edges and I thought/prayed in weak little bursts which matched the panting of my lungs: "Lord, this is certainly an undignified way to die, but if this is what You want, I'm ready to do it...only if it will bring someone closer to you and not drive someone away...but all the same, I'd like to be here for my grandchildren, and if that's not to be, I'll see you in a minute.
The fuzziness was still there and I remember saying aloud:  "I can't feel my arms.  I can't feel my lips. Everything was going numb. At that moment, I felt the hands of the two teachers on my lower back. They were praying aloud. ...nothing too theologically hesitant either, just:  "Lord, right now. Stop this bleeding."

People were on the phones. Talking to a paramedic. Talking to my husband. I lay on the cold floor and poured sweat. Then into the nausea I heard somebody's voice asking if I could turn over on my back.  It surprised me greatly that I answered, yes, and, finding that possible, I tried to turn over and made it.  The effort made me breathe faster though, and now I was suddenly cold...shaking cold.  They brought a blanket, and lifted my feet. Suddenly, the nausea left. I was fuzziness. No fear either. The bleeding had stopped for the time being, and the ambulance was on its way.  We sat there visiting quietly. It didn't seem like very long but they told me later that it had taken forty five minutes to get there.

There were lots of adventures after that...but I don't want to go on and on forever. To sum it up: two emergency rooms, two ambulances, two pints of blood, and a diagnosis of two sliced arteries later, I was clipped with little clamps, pumped full of IV fluids and sent home in peace.  After a few days of rest, I was able to make the first day of school!

So this Thanksgiving is for August, September, October, and every day of November that I have lived...and walked....and enjoyed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Year Full of Labor

Labor Day...Already
What a summer crammed full of events!
I'd say I was too busy to write and post here but that wouldn't be the truth. The truth is that I was too weary and writer's block took hold of me. Things are different now. I want to write. At least today I do.

Here's what's been going on:

In the spring of 1014 my husband, Turtle, and I decided to buy a house and fix it up for our eventual retirement. As we've gotten older, it's been a topic frequently discussed but not acted upon.  We did buy a little cabin on a lake seven years ago, thinking maybe that was the thing to do, but after working out there on Saturdays and some days every summer we decided that it was too removed from civilization--grocery stores and hospitals--to be practical. We live in a parsonage--a nice one which we appreciate very much--but there will come a day when we step down and let a younger pastor take over.  At that time we will need a place to live and rent is so high we won't be able to afford it on social security income. We've worked all spring and summer on repairs:  painting, plumbing, and replacing dead wood. It is still not ready. Our idea is to rent it until we need it ourselves and we pray for clean, gentle renters.

At the end of July we had another wonderful Vacation Bible School for over fifty children.  We were in the wilderness with Moses and even had a "water from the rock" event.

On the third of August, I had an emergency event which could have ended badly, but didn't. I'm completely recovered.

During the first week of school Turtle's mom and my dad both had medical emergencies much more serious and they aren't recovered completely yet. We've been driving to Arkansas and Texas to be with them. It's hard to give up the generation that raised you and become the "elders". We want them to stay here as long as possible.

School has started. We have around 85 students this year and I love them. They have good attitudes and are hard-working and delightful.  I really have a wonderful job and just might keep working for years if it stays this rewarding. I know. It sounds too good to be true and I'll probably complain later, but right now I'm optimistic.

So, that being said, I plan to write about every one of these events and post pictures even. That is if my writer's block doesn't return. I'll try to post stuff that might help other people in the same situation, but if I ramble on and on in a verbal "selfie", please just forgive me. You don't have to read it and skimming is a good art to develop.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm not really a sports fan...but I am a grandma...

This is Blaze, my 18 month old grandson, at his family reunion on Easter Sunday afternoon. There were bubbles, and sand boxes, swings, badminton, and little kids with baskets. The weather was perfect: light rain and spring breeze. The event took place at his other grandparents' home so he had two sets of grandparents, two great-grandmothers, lots of aunts, second cousins, and other family members present. I just followed him around and took pictures. He'll not be this age again.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Lure of Labor in the Lavender and Lilac

I started out the day with the best of intentions.
It's a holiday.
I'll clean house.
I'll scrub the kitchen.
I'll do the laundry.

Then I took a brief, brisk walk.
On my way back, I noticed an offending rose-bush branch that had plopped itself right over my sidewalk. That rose bush was wildly out of hand. Stepping inside for a pair of lawn shears, I noticed that my kitchen window was sadly cloudy; maybe if I trimmed the rosebush out of the way, I could reach it without scratching my arms and give it a wash.

 Three hours later, two of my back windows were washed, Three lawn bags of old leaves cleaned from the flowerbed and sacked for pickup. The lavender had been transplanted back into the bed, from which it had been straying a little further every year for the last ten, and the crowded irises thinned and transplanted to the bare bed where once tomatoes struggled. The tulip beds were watered, the lawn raked and ready for rain, the rose bushes trimmed almost into oblivion...and the lilac? Well I couldn't trim it in bloom like that. It smells wonderful.

Sigh. The house is still in dire need of straightening. Maybe tomorrow.
But hey! It's spring! And the weather outside is exhilarating!

And I'm not the only one who's going to think so. Somebody loves "plowers".

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood

Just in time for spring which may yet emerge from this confused winter season with its thunder sleets and ice pellet storms, comes this hilarious junior class production:
The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood. 

 This imaginative look into “medieval England” during the reign of the unfortunately-absent King Richard; the nefarious rule of his brother, Prince John; and the rebellion of a well-loved outlaw, Robin of Sherwood Forest is a spoof--replete with flashbacks, fade-outs, and anachronisms. The actors are superb. They shatter stereotypes and break the glass-wall with pithy advice to the audience. Here's the introduction to the play and a few one-liners that introduce the cast of characters. For the sake of privacy, I've left off the real names of the actors, but if you hail from these parts, you'll recognize their faces.

Town’s Guy , a local yokel with one foot in the past and the other in the future, sets scenes and advises characters of both Nottingham and the home of outlaws—Sherwood Forest.  


The most famous inhabitant of Sherwood, Robin Hood, reclaims money from the wealthy and restores it to the poor. 

Will Scarlet, Alan A-dale, and Little John, are merry outlaws who share in Robin’s vocation, and, unhappily, his dangerous lifestyle. 

Jane of Locksley, Robin’s sister and right-hand confidant, lives in the forest also, and manages the wildlife found there. 


The merry men’s comrade in arms, the good Friar Tuck serves as an adviser as well as a friend to them all. 


 If one were to leave the safety of the forest, and venture into the town of Nottingham, one would encounter other dangerous creatures: Namely

The conniving Prince John who sits uneasily on a throne not rightfully his and plots to make it so. 
His cooperative cohort the Sheriff of Nottingham is frequently found at the palace, where he helps initiate schemes--nefarious and nasty.  

Of course where the rich and famous congregate, we find fawning ladies.

Lady Gillian Laughalot and Lady Mary Ellen fawn over the royalty, which includes the unfortunate
Maid Marian, King Richard’s daughter, who is caught by the rising ambitions of her
 Uncle Prince John.

Thankfully, she is not alone in her misery. Her lady in waiting, the incomparable Millicent Heavenscent shares her every danger. 
If you live near Western Oklahoma, I suggest you come out on Friday night, to buy yourself  a five dollar ticket to see The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood.

Here are a few more pictures from dress rehearsal!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Little Things to Pray About

Everybody prays about big things…well everybody who thinks God cares and will help them out of a huge mess, whether they stumbled into it or made it themselves. Not everybody, however, prays about the small things.
Father, help me write this just like I feel it.
People like to think they’re  perfectly capable of taking care of things on their own, coasting along until they hit the proverbial brick wall. They don’t want to bother God with trivial concerns.
Forgive me, Lord, but I haven’t any such qualms.
I pray about everything, even little things, all day long. Sure, I pray about the big things too—impossible things I haven’t anything in my power to fix, like people who can’t believe and don’t recognize truth.  I don’t give up, and I’m sure God doesn’t either as long as I’m pleading for His mercy, but those little things…well they’re my daily conversation.
Lord I’m overwhelmed with the beauty of that boisterous boinging sun you just sent up all brilliant orange to hover over the sallow winter fields!
Yesterday, Clay came home for a two day visit. While we were rushing around getting everything done, She lost her cell phone. It’s a lifeline.
How is it possible, Lord, that we’ve become so dependent on technology to keep us safe and independent? But I know You understand. You, more than anyone, "get" this situation…
And so we looked. We searched. We tore the house apart…and the car. We retraced steps.  We searched the grass where we had gone for a walk  together.
If someone should stumble across it, Lord, don’t let them entertain the idea of replacing the sim-card with their own and thinking themselves blessed by the “finders keepers” mandate.
The last place she remembered holding her phone was on the street outside the orthodontist’s office. Could she have dropped it into the gutter? Or set it down on the window ledge and walked away oblivious? Not likely. Not Clay. We called her number. We listened in vain until the battery died and the dusk brought dismal frost.
Ah thanks, God, for a warm, comfortable bed and the blessing of sleep…and if it isn’t too much trouble…I know you do this all the time for me, but Clay is still missing that phone and I’m her mother and I just can’t help but feel responsible for it since I’m the one who insisted that we walk that route. Help me.
And I dreamed of lost lonely things until it was suddenly morning.  
I woke with this clear memory in my mind: Clay saying “…unless it fell out of my pocket when I ran to catch up with you that time”. So, even though we had been over that very ground before, I took five minutes to return in my car and park nearby. I had five minutes. Five minutes before I had to leave for school. Five minutes in the dark, gray dawn, straining to distinguish anything on the wet ground where a cushion of wet leaves appeared black and soggy with discouraging frost.
Please, Lord, sharpen these eyes…
I turned to go. It seemed hopeless. Then I saw it—a leaf shaped like a frost-covered rectangle, black and blurry like all the other leaves.  Leaning down to touch it, I wasn’t sure until the actual contact. The phone. It was her phone.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! And Callooh! Callay!'Lord, I hope you don’t really mind that I quoted Carroll instead of a Psalm but I want to “chortle” in my joy!”
Next time I lose something, I’ll try it on my own a little longer; I’ll be more self-sufficient, Lord …or maybe not. There’s a part of me that never wants to give up our running conversation be it ever so mundane. And if  I twitter on and on like one of your little sparrows sold for a farthing I still remember that you care for even them.