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Monday, April 30, 2012

ZZZZZZZs




Wow!  The last day for the A to Z Challenge is here.  I checked my dictionary to find words and topics for the letter Z.  I finally decided to use the universal symbol for sleep—ZZZZZ.

As babies, we sleep almost twenty four hours a day.  We awaken briefly for physical needs, eating and other bodily functions, but otherwise, we require a tremendous amount of sleep.  It is so rare that we see a newborn baby’s eyes open, that we announce it to anyone within earshot, “Hey, come here! Zoe’s got her eyes open!  Look!  Isn’t she beautiful?”

Gradually, babies are awake more and more and for longer periods.  Before we know it, we are hoping they will fall asleep and sleep all night, so we can get some rest, too.  Mom’s walk around like zombies, big dark circles under their eyes, and move slowly.  Fatigue drains everyone’s energy.

When children start school, it becomes a nightly battle to get them to bed early, especially in the early fall, after a long summer of staying up late at baseball games, camp-outs, and other summer activities.  Once the new bedtime routine is established, most kids are ready for bed at the designated time.  Then is when Mom and Dad enjoy a few moments of alone time together before they, too, hit the sack.

Teenagers go through a phase where their sleep routine is off kilter.  They stay up late, and want to sleep late.  Without motivation, some teens will sleep well past noon, and want to stay up past midnight.  Once they get jobs and are responsible adults, they are more content with normal sleep routines.

If Mom or Dad work the “graveyard shift” catching a few ZZZZs becomes even more important.  Working night shifts disrupts the normal circadian cycle of human sleep.  It is not normal for humans to stay up all night and sleep all day.  We are not, normally, nocturnal creatures.  And society does not always allow for nocturnal work.  Receiving a waking phone call from a telemarketer or political action committee wanting donations, does not endear the caller to the victim of the phone call, who must then try to fall asleep and get some decent undisturbed rest.  These people must often turn off the ringer on their phones and hang “Do Not Disturb” signs on their front door in order to eliminate the distractions.

As we grow older, we seem to need more sleep again, but the urge to close our eyes comes at odd times.  Mid mornings, mid afternoons, and early evenings are frequent calling cards for Mr. Sandman.  And if we can’t sleep because we are at work or driving, it can even become dangerous.

At the nursing home, the residents nap after meals, and are often ready for bed by seven or eight o’clock.  ZZZs are frequent and do not normally last more than a couple of hours.

Sleep deprivation affects our entire body and all of it’s functions.  Mental acuity drops significantly if insufficient rest is obtained. Digestive function is affected, and night workers often feel as though they have a “flu bug.”  Heartburn and gastric upsets are common. Lack of sleep can cause respiratory problems as well, with frequent bouts of bronchitis, colds, and pneumonia.

Those with chronic disease are often afflicted with sleep deprivation.  Arthritis, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and those afflicted with hiatal hernias and esophageal reflux disease may find it more comfortable to sleep in a recliner rather than bed.  Spouses of sleep apnea victims may report that neither spouse gets the sleep they need.  Snoring and sudden respiratory lapses cause great concern to those listening to the irregular respiratory patterns.

Pain is one of the leading causes of sleep deprivation.  The distractions of daily living can help keep pain at bay, or at least help make it more bearable.  But trying to sleep in pain is almost impossible.  Without distractions, pain rises to the forefront and will not be ignored, without medication or other pain relief methods.

Dreams can also interrupt deep sleep, especially nightmares.  Sleep occurs in layers.  Some sleep is deep, in which there are no dreams.  Light sleepers often do not get proper rest, because the slightest noise or movements will wake them. The deep sleepers usually feel more rested because there is not the interruption in their sleep.

Another factor in sleep is a condition called tinnitus.  This is the name for a ringing sound heard in the sleeper’s ears.  Sometimes this is caused by certain medications.  But it can be very distracting, to the point of causing hearing loss during the day when it becomes louder than the outside noises.  A doctor should be consulted to find a treatment for tinnitus.  Keeping a fan or tv on will also cause the tinnitus to be less distractive.

So, as you can see, the body needs a lot of good, uninterrupted, deep sleep to be at the best functioning level.   Any alterations of the sleep pattern can result in sluggish behavior, fatigue, and even exacerbations of illnesses.  If you stay up late to watch that favorite movie, and sleep in late in the morning, you will start a habit that will create many problems with health.

Many doctors recommend a brief nap in the afternoon for most adults.  This can be difficult, if your work prevents a break at that time.  On the other hand, if you start a habit of taking a nap, it can be difficult to stay awake during the days when you are working.

All this talk about sleeping has made me drowsy.  I think I’ll go take a nap.  Have a nice day, and get plenty of rest, now, y’hear?




Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yard Sales




Weekends during the spring and summer usually include seeing yard and garage sales in every residential block, in church yards, and the listings in the local newspaper take up an entire column or more.

Back when my kids were little, I went to every yard sale I could.  My kids wore used clothing, because I was not working, and the money had to be stretched as thin as it could be stretched.  They got new clothes for birthdays and holidays, but summers were often spent in shorts and t-shirts or tank tops.

This morning, Dennis took me to Concordia to eat at a restaurant for breakfast.  Usually, I grab a couple of slices of toast and a glass of juice for breakfast, or microwave a frozen breakfast sandwich of sausage, egg and cheese.  Only occasionally do I cook myself a full breakfast.  I’ve just never liked cooking for one.

Anyway, we were driving through Concordia’s residential area to get to the restaurant, and there were yard sales going on.  People were standing in front of makeshift tables laden with used kids’ clothes, small appliances, wall decorations and I even spotted some bicycles and riding toys.

Suddenly that primal urge hit me once again.  I wanted to stop and shop.  I haven’t shopped at garage sales and yard sales for years, because in our old house, we were so terribly crowded with what we already owned, and now in our even tinier new house, there is no room for anything here, either.  Besides, my kids now have kids of their own, and some of them are in the teen years, where under no circumstances would they wear someone else’s cast off clothing.  Heaven Forbid!

So, I don’t really know what I would shop for at these yard sales, but it seemed almost instinctive to stop.  I stifled that urge, however, and we drove on by, not once but twice—once on our way to the restaurant, and once on our way out of town.  What is it about yard sales that attract women so much?  I understand the need for inexpensive baby clothes and equipment and toys.  Have you priced the new stuff in the stores?  Yowza! 

Antique hunters often find rare treasures hidden in the piles of junk sold at yard sales.  Someone who really likes decorating in the style of the 70s and 80s, might find something to put on their walls.  But I don’t fit any of those categories anymore.  So why did I want to stop?

Is there a yard sale gene in our blood? We’ll call it YS1971.  1971 was the year I was married, and first started going to yard sales.  I have had the urge to stop at all yard sales since that time.  How do we cure this disease?  Is there a treatment?

I have had many yard sales in my 40+ years of marriage as well.  I’ve never really made enough money to accomplish anything, but I did get rid of a lot of stuff I no longer needed.  I now have two houses full of stuff that I need to sort through and eliminate.

A new twist to the yard sale is to take a picture of the item you wish to sell, and post it to local buy/sell pages on Facebook.  I’ve seen items snapped up in a matter of seconds after being posted.  Some people think their merchandise is worth almost new prices.  They soon learn that yard salers do not pay almost new prices for used items.  Most items sell for perhaps15% of new cost, or less.

I’m thinking about supplementing my nursing income by placing these free ads on Facebook and getting rid of some things that I have no room for.  I have an antique bedroom dresser and vanity that is in pretty good condition.  I’m going to take a photo of them and post them online.  It’s really the ideal way to get rid of things.  The ads are free, there are no shipping costs, the people who buy the items know me.  They come and pick the item up and we exchange cash.  What’s not to like?

Perhaps the future lies in attending yard sales, buying the best stuff, then selling it again on Facebook?  Hmmmm..I’ll have to think on that for a while.

In the meantime, happy yard sailing! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Xenophobia



Xenophobia is the strong and unreasonable dislike or fear of people from other countries.  Wow!  There is an epidemic of this in our world today.  Countries and their inhabitants are so paranoid these days about whom they can trust.  Terrorism has created distrust for anyone with skin color and facial features of inhabitants of the Middle East.  Anyone with Latino features is branded an illegal alien, and often the fears are not based on fact.

I imagine a similar situation happened a long time ago in the Biblical times.  When the Tower of Babel was built, everyone left speaking in different tongues.  I can only imagine the distrust and bigotry that started.  And it has continued in this world every since.

I like to think that I’m not a bigot.  I like to think that I give everyone a chance to be a good person, but I know that sometimes that basic mistrust comes out in me when I meet a stranger with a foreign accent, different skin color, and different cultures.  I don’t like that about myself.  It has gotten worse since 9-11, but I really am working on it.

I have made friends with people from other countries online.  That has helped me to realize that there are good people across the ocean.  I realize that life’s experiences have turned many people bitter and mistrusting in the Middle East.  How could we expect them to trust us, when we have dropped bombs on them in the middle of the night?  I’d be wary too. 

But somewhere, somehow, I think we need to work toward a world peace.  It’s not going to be easy.  There are evil people in the world who love to stir up hate and rage and distrust in this world for their own personal gain.  But there are also the peace loving, gentle people, who are weary of all the fighting.  How can we connect with these people?  How can we put the fighting behind us?

Religion has often been the basis for hatred.  As a Catholic, I am taught to love my enemies, to offer the other cheek.  But, I also realize that there are religions that offer “heavenly rewards” for killing those that do not share their beliefs. That scares me.  These same religions claim to be peace-loving, but radicals in their faith follow the violent traditions that have created so much distrust in the world.  How do we know who we can trust?

For now, I try to follow the tenets of my faith.  I try to trust and obey the commandments I learned as a child.  I pray for those who are in harms’ way.  And I pray for a brighter future for mankind.  I pray to not become a Xenophobe.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writing




Writing has been my passion since I was ten years old and wrote my first short story.  It was the longest story I had ever written, and was loosely based on the story of the Donner party tragedy.

From that point on, my writing was largely fiction.  I loved starting with just one sentence as a starting point, and allowing it to take me places where I had never dreamed of actually going.  I learned to do research about places, so that my stories would be historically and geographically correct.

I took all the writing classes I could in high school, and especially loved a Creative Writing class that was offered my senior year.  I also signed up for Yearbook and the school newspaper.  Anything to be writing was my goal.

In college, I took English Composition I and almost lost my love of writing because of the instructor.  The man who taught my class was a really strange duck, who loved complex compound sentences and considered us simple-minded if we wrote simple sentences.  He had a horrible temper and if someone interrupted his classes or lectures, he would throw books and other objects at them.  I quickly learned not to sit in a direct line with the door to the classroom after several near misses from books flying through the air.  His language was not exactly ideal for teaching young impressionable students either.  I did not get a very good grade in his class, and felt like I was a failure.

The next semester, I took English Composition II and had a lady instructor who was very positive and supportive.  She loved my writing and I made excellent grades.  I got my mojo back and discovered that no teacher can force you to write in a style that does not suit you.  But a good one can reinforce your good style and make it better.

My writing after college was limited to my journaling for a long time, until I started working for the local newspaper.  My love of writing and words blossomed from that point and has never shriveled again.  I wrote a weekly column for the paper under the last editor, and even when he closed the paper, I continued to write my essays for a time.

Writers Village University was just getting started online when I first discovered it in 1998. I joined and still am a member.  A six week free fiction writing course (F2K) was started by WVU, and I took the class three times.  Eventually, I began volunteering as a mentor intern.  I served in that capacity for several sessions, then graduated to a full mentor.  I loved that unpaid job.  Watching new writers sprout from just desiring to write to become accomplished writers is so rewarding.  I just love it.

I’m not certain if there will be another session of F2K because of some personnel problems that have come up, but I really hope there will be.  I love teaching writing.  I love watching people grow from hobby writing to professional writing.  I love seeing my name and my work in print.  I love t he comments that my “fans” make.  They are so supportive.

I love writing.

Volunteering


Volunteering

Being a firm believer in volunteerism, I sometimes get myself spread a little thin.  At one time, back in the mid 1980s, I was an officer in five different organizations.  Doing my volunteer work became a full time job without pay.  I had an office with a huge desk, file cabinets, and all the trappings of a busy business office.  It completely wore me out.

I dropped out of most of the organizations, and took a paying job for several years.  Then I found a better paying job, and progressed from below minimum wage to the pay I’m getting now as a nurse.

When I wasn’t serving as an officer, I was volunteering for service organizations, baking cookies for VA hospitals, teaching religious education for our church youth, and many other duties for charitable organizations.

It is a very rewarding activity.  No, the monetary rewards are not there, but the feeling that I was doing something worth while made me feel very good about myself.

Nowadays, most of my volunteering is limited to my Art Club presidency, and giving monetarily to favorite charities. But I still believe in volunteering time and assistance for good causes.  I enjoy baking cookies and cakes, and often give them to bake sales for organizations. 

Nursing homes are always in need of volunteers.  There are many simple things that can be done to help there.  Our nursing home has an ice cream shop that is open on weekends.  Volunteers are available to serve the ice cream and popcorn on weekends. 

The chapel volunteers help the residents get to church services and deliver Communion to those who cannot attend.   Some volunteers are helping with laundry for those who do not wish their clothing laundered with the general population.   Reading to the residents, doing nail care, shopping errands, and other activities are always appreciated.

So if you have some extra time on your hands, and would like to help, why don’t you mosey on down to your local nursing home and offer your services as a volunteer.  You will meet some lovely people there, and might even run across an old friend.  And you’ll feel good about yourself.  And sometimes that’s the best reward of all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U-turns




Whenever I see a “No U-Turns” sign on the highway, it really ticks me off.  I mean, why can’t I change my mind?  Isn’t that a woman’s prerogative?  To make a U-turn, I reverse the direction in which I was heading.  If I’m going the wrong way, shouldn’t I correct that?

Sometimes, I’m not necessarily going the wrong way, but I’ve forgotten to do some little detail prior to the trip.  Sometimes those little details are quite important.  I have to be able to fix those omissions.  It’s not every day that I forget to pick up my grandkids at school, but if I do, I’m darned sure going to correct it before I get home!

Sometimes the U-turn involves a larger portion of the pie called Life.  A change in career, a change in marital status (just using this as an example, not planning this one, ok?), a change in health decisions, each can be life-changing.  These U-turns must be thought through thoroughly..goodness, that’s a tongue-twister!

Before we bought the house we are currently living in, we looked at several others.  One was in Clifton, almost right across the street from our old house.  I often sat on my front porch and dreamed of how I was going to decorate it.  That house didn’t work out for us, and we had to make a U-turn in our plans.  Then we found a house in Clyde that we liked, and almost bought it, but the money we were planning to use for it was not as much as we had planned, so once more, we U-turned.

When we did finally find this house, I was almost afraid to sign the papers, fearing that another obstacle would jump up and bite me in the arse, and forcing another U-turn.  But soon we were the proud owners of this tiny little house and were busy sorting and packing to move.

I’ve made many career u-turns also.  For a long time, I worked in the same place, but was suffering from burn-out, a professional disillusionment.  I needed a change of pace, a change of location, or a change of career.  I tried the hospital nursing for a few years.  I liked it, but missed my elderly companions at the nursing home.  Now I’m back with them, and happy.  But my health is falling apart, so another U-turn is fast approaching.

Since I don’t have enough money to retire, I’m looking at other options for a career that is not as physically demanding as nursing.  I’d love to open an art shop, selling art supplies and offering painting lessons, but that would be a risky undertaking.

My other option is to buy an existing newspaper, and work at it.  It would have a certain amount of physical effort involved, by needing to attend many functions to cover them with photos and stories.  But it’s the kind of work I really love to do, and it’s not as financially risky.

So, right now, my U-turn is on hold, while I explore all the options and considerations involved.  I’m still working at my nursing job, but it is becoming more painful by the day.  If there were a position in which I could work at a desk with a computer, I’d be much more comfortable.  But that does not seem to be an option right now.  So I’ll continue as best I can.

In the meantime, if I need to make a U-turn in the road, I’ll do so, watching ahead and behind to make sure the Highway Patrol is not watching me, and that it is safe at that moment to turn around.  I certainly don’t want to have to write another blog post labeled “Under Arrest!”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Times Are Changing


          Times are changing.  But while some things never change, certain aspects of them are different.  I’m talking about teen dances.  I remember in high school, the boys always stood or sat in huddles on one side of the room, watching the girls, and punching each other in the arm while teasing about the girls they liked.  The girls sat on the other side of the room, waiting in frustration to be asked to dance.  Some of them would get exasperated by the boys’ behavior and start dancing with each other.  Eventually, the boys and girls would get together to dance, just about time the dance was scheduled to end.  Then the youngsters were frustrated because the dance was ending so “early”.
          One Saturday evening, we attended a combination birthday party and Hawaiian Luau dance for our granddaughter, who was leaving the nextThursday for Massachusetts to live with her dad and family.  Regan had asked for this dance, because she dearly loves to dance, and thought it would be a good chance to see most of her schoolmates here before she left.
          The dance was scheduled to begin around 8 p.m., but the music  actually started at 7 p.m.  The early music was mostly for the chaperones, the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other younger children, meaning it was country music.  Elijah Jackson was acting as DJ and his computerized setup was working quite well.  There was even a disco ball strobe light in the corner behind him throwing colorful light streaks across the room as it revolved.  It was really kind of cool.
          Most of the early dancing was done by the little ones, from 1 year old to 11 years old.  Some of the adults danced with the tiniest kids, while the teens and tweens sat or stood around on the opposite side of the room.  This was all much the same as when I was that age.
          But there was a difference in this dance.  Instead of dancing, most of the youngsters were talking in small groups here and there, but they were almost all huddled together over cell phones.
Cell phones do not necessarily put off a romantic glow.  They do not encourage verbal interaction between the users.  I’m not sure the texting going on was all about the dance.  I think some of the texting and messages being sent back and forth across the room were probably messages that perhaps Mom and Dad would not approve of.
          But times being the way they are, this type of interaction seems to be the norm rather than the exception.  There were 3 or 4 kids actually dancing on the floor or just off the floor, but they were dancing individually or with people of the same sex.  Actually they were showing each other the latest dance moves, which was quite entertaining.
          The kids were all very well behaved, at least while we were there.  But I wonder if any of them actually danced with other peers, or if it was a big texting session set to music.  The music changed while we were there from the easy going “old folk” music that we enjoyed early in the evening to the Michael Jackson music, and other rock music of this century.  We stayed for about 90 minutes, then came on home.
          Watching the teens texting each other while talking to each other seemed almost bizarre.  A lot of things seem strange lately. 
Technology has developed to such a heightened level, but still almost primitive compared to the inventions of the future to come.  Who knows in what ways we will be communicating in the future?
I’ve heard stories about microchips that will be placed under the skin to keep track of children so they won’t get lost from their parents.  On the surface, this sounds like a good plan, but will these chips be removed as they reach adulthood?  I doubt it.  Will this be a way for big government to keep tabs on everyone?  Will we be losing another freedom? 
Microchips are being developed with our medical histories on them also.  This can be a good thing in an emergency, but what if this gets into the wrong hands?   Who all will know of our medical problems?  Will this knowledge be used against us when applying for work, or for public office?  Big Brother is creeping into our lives so slowly and insidiously, that we are not even aware of it.  It worries me.
I know it sounds like I am a paranoid schizophrenic.  Maybe I am.  But I believe government has changed so that we work for them, and not the other way around, the way it was intended when this country was founded.  I believe we need to keep closer tabs on the people who are keeping tabs on us.
I believe we need to get our lives and our country back on the right track, before we lose it.
I believe I  need to end this article, and get my laundry and dishes done.  Until next time, happy texting!

Shih Tzu Dogs: Starr and Bandit


Shih Tzus

The American Kennel Club breed standard gives the following description of the Shih Tzu breed as a “sturdy, lively, alert toy dog.”  Other attributes described include “a highly valued, prized companion, proud of bearing, with a distinctively arrogant carriage.” Originally from China and Tibet, the breed was bred to be companion dogs.

They do most certainly have an arrogant carriage.  In fact, my two Shih Tzus are almost snobbish at times, ignoring me when they choose, and equally demanding, depending on their desires.  They are affectionate, happy, friendly and with most people, trusting.

If the luxuriously soft double coat of hair is left to grow long, the owner can expect to spend many hours grooming the animal.  Most owners, however, if not desiring to use the creatures as show dogs, are content to keep the coats kept at “puppy length”, with very good results.

Color-wise, the Shih Tzu can be several different colors: white with black, gold, silver, or chocolate markings, but also may be solid in color, ranging from deep black, red, or charcoal gray to pale silver or gold.  My two Shih Tzus are white, with gray, tan and just a touch of black around the eyes and ears.

Shih Tzu dogs were developed with one purpose in mind: to be a companion.  And they are very good at it, too. They take their jobs very seriously.  They make good watch dogs, with excited barking when a stranger comes to the door.  They will make low growling noises if the visitor is not someone they trust, but they are not a vicious breed, and are easily won over by treats or a non-threatening pat on the head.

They love to be pampered.  My two dog, Starr and Bandit, love to have their tummies scratched, and will jump up on my lap or chair, and roll onto their backs, presenting their tummies for a massage.  They are very affectionate, and love to give their owners tongue baths. 

They enjoy constant attention.  Starr and Bandit follow me everywhere around our home, and while I am at work, they sit by the front door and wait patiently until I return, even if I am gone far into the night.

They do not like rules.  They have short attention spans and very selective short memories.  Housetraining is an almost insurmountable challenge to Shih Tzu owners.  They can be trained to use newspapers or pads much easier than they can be trained to go outside.  They will even disobey on purpose if they are not happy with you for some reason.

I got two dogs (both from the same litter) for a reason: to keep each other company while I am working away from home.  Shih Tzu dogs do not like being left alone.  Having two of them is quite entertaining, as they play like puppies, and frolic around the house, making adorable little fake growling noises and  high pitched whines at each other while they are wrestling.

Don’t expect Shih Tzu dogs to do chores, or regular “exercises”.  They get plenty of exercise during their play.  They are not good candidates for obedience school, because they will invariably misbehave during class and if anyone laughs, the dogs feel rewarded, and will remember to do that particular trick the next time they are “performing” for a group.  They are natural-born entertainers.

You don’t train Shih Tzus..Shih Tzus train you.  You will soon learn several things to remember when dealing with your dogs.  Flexibility and compromise are very important.  Your dog may follow your rules for a short time, but only as long as the reward is satisfactory to them.  It all depends on how much your dog wants the payoff at the end of the exercise.

You must exercise firm kindness and always keep a good sense of humor. These dogs are the family clowns.  Their adorable little faces with big black eyes and expressive features will make you laugh just to look at them.  They love to sit or lay on your lap or at least by your feet.  If I want to take a nap in my recliner, I am certain to have both dogs lying on my lap or my feet and taking naps with me.  The warmth of their little bodies is usually quite welcome to me.

As I sit here typing this article, I have Starr sleeping on the floor by my feet, and Bandit is lying across my lap, with her little head resting on my left forearm.  She is quite content to stay that way as long as I am content to leave her there.  Sometimes I do see a little jealousy between the two dogs, who both want to be on my lap at the same time.  At those times, I must be firm and stop their quarrels at once.

They are small dogs, standing 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulders, and weigh approximately 10 pounds.  They are good with my grandkids, and with most people. They usually live between 12 and 14 years.  They love to run free, but need to be kept on a leash to prevent them from chasing and running in front of cars.  They do tend to jump up on people if not trained that this is not acceptable, and even then, in their excitement they sometimes forget.

I love my Shih Tzus, and don’t know what I’d do without them.
I hope to write future articles about each of my two little doggy clowns. 

Do you have a favorite breed of dog or cat?  I’d love to hear about them.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Rainy Day Activities






Do you get bored on rainy days?  Do your children whine about needing something fun and interesting to do?  Why not try a few of these activities?

1.    Start a game of Monopoly, or other board games.  These can take up a lot of time and with several participants, can be quite challenging.  Charades can be fun too.
2.    Take old Sears or J.C.Penney’s catalogs and turn to the underwear pages.  Choose a full figure to cut out and then go through the catalog and located clothing that will fit.  If you prefer, let the kids draw and color their own outfits for their homemade “paper dolls”.
3.    Watch a nature show together and discuss the differences between species, and how they fit into the ecologies where they live.
4.    Bake cookies or cupcakes, and let the kids decorate them.  Then let the children serve them for a meal, or take them to the local nursing home and donate them for the residents.
5.    Visit a nursing home and let the children get acquainted with some “adopted grandparents.”  This is good for both the residents, who crave children’s company, and for the children, who learn a new respect for the elderly.
6.    Have some seeds and potting soil on hand and let the children plant some flowers and herbs in Styrofoam cups.  Be sure to label them with the name of the flower or herb so you will know how to care for the plant in the early stages.
7.    Read some fables and fairy tales aloud and explore the morals being taught in each story.
8.    Write a song or poem together.
9.    Write a story as a group.  One person will lead with the opening line or two.  The next person picks up the story and adds a few lines, then the next, so on and so forth..then read the story aloud to the group.
10. Draw a picture in the same way, using paper folded several times, letting lines extend down just past the paper fold, so the next artist can find where to continue the drawing.  Figure drawings of people are good subjects for this activity.

There are so many other activities that can be done.  Use your imagination.  Try to include activities that includes all members of the family, rather than just allowing the children to vegetate in front of television cartoons all day.

Take some photos of your day together as remembrances of the occasion.  Start a photo album with your children.  Let them choose the photos and explore the stories behind the photos.

Let your child write his/her own book and illustrate it.  These make marvelous keepsakes that you can put away to enjoy again and again, even after your children have children.

Above all, keep the mood light.  Try not to be critical of their work, but praise them whenever possible.  This builds their self-esteem and confidence to try new projects.  And you have had a wonderful day of bonding with your children.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quotes


Today is about the letter Q.   So I’m sharing some of my favorite quotes.

“Good is not good, where better is expected. ``Thomas Fuller (1608 – 1661).  The Church-History of Britain, 1655.

“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” Seneca The Younger (5? B.C. – A.D. 65).  “On Sophistical Argumentation,” Moral Letters to Lucilius, 34.1, tr Richard M. Gunmere, 1918.

“Less is more.” Robert Browning (1812 – 1889). “Andrea del Sarto” (I. 78), Men and Women, 1855.

“We are never so much disposed to quarrel with others as when we are dissatisfied with ourselves.”  William Hazlitt (1778-1830). Characteristics in the Manner of Rochefoucault’s Maxims. 163, 1823.

“Big Brother Is Watching You.”  George Orwell (1903 – 1950) The caption under the ubiquitous poster of a glaring Big Brother, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1.1, 1949.

“The greatest strength and wealth is self-control.”  Pythagoras (6th cent. B.C.)

“Sympathy is two hearts tugging at one load.” Charles H. Parkhurst (1842 -1933). “The Good Samaritan,” sermon.

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.”  David Starr Jordan (1851- 1931) The Philosophy of Hope, 2nd ed. (1st ed. Title: The Philosophy of Despair), p. 39, 1907 (1902).


Obstacles revisited


Remember my post a few days ago about Obstacles?  I wish I had seen this image before I posted that article..lol

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Prison Escapees at Large Today

UPDATE: One Of Escaped Inmates From Ottawa County Jail Apprehended In Nebraska, Two Remain At Large | The Salina Post

This report has caused quite a stir in north central Kansas.  I was alarmed when I heard that prisons would be farming convicts out to county jails a while back.  What has happened today has confirmed my fears.  I thank God that no one in my family has been hurt by these maniacs.  I do have family in Minneapolis, plus a friend who works with me.  I am keeping them in my prayers, that they and their families stay safe.

I highly recommend that everyone in Minneapolis and also in the surrounding counties keep their doors locked. Don't leave your keys in your car, and keep a firearm handy, if you know how to use one.  Call 911 immediately if you see anyone matching the convicts description lurking around.  Don't answer the door unless you know who it is and it is someone you trust.

Prisoners who have committed capital offenses should never be farmed out to local jails.  They need to be kept in the higher security prisons.  I hope our counties have learned something from this disaster.  I hope they find these men immediately and return them to Ellsworth or a higher security prison.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Obstacles: Real and Imagined




Ok, I’ve got a few goals.  I’m going to write in my blog, paint a landscape, pay my bills, clean my house, read that book that keeps calling to me, lose some weight.  Yeah, right! (Note sarcastic tone.)

Setting the goals is the easy part.  It’s following through that gets me, every time.  Sometimes the obstacles that prevent me from achieving are natural, unavoidable ones.  My health is not the greatest anymore and flares up at the most inopportune time.

But most of the obstacles I face are the ones I put in front of me.  Why do I do that?  I want to be successful.  I want to write my novel, get published, create those paintings.  Why on earth would I sabotage my own efforts?

Fear of failure is often behind my procrastination.  If I don’t try, then I can’t fail, right?  Wrong.  If you don’t try, you never succeed.  So that logic is terribly flawed.  But  still I keep doing things that keep me from achieving my goals.

Dislike of the task is another reason.  I hate paying bills.  I loathe housework.  Dieting has never been a pleasant experience for me.  So I don’t do them, and pay a significant price for the omissions.

Laziness can be used to describe my lack of action most of the time.  It takes time and effort to set up my paints, decide what to paint, draw the sketch, and actually start and finish a painting.  Then, if I don’t quite get the painting done, and it needs to dry (oil paintings can take days to dry) before I can frame it, then I have to find a place to store it where it won’t get damaged.  So I don’t start a painting.  I put it on the back burner.  If I had enough burners for all my unfinished projects, I would be able to cook for an army.
Disorganization, I suspect is probably the root of much of my procrastination.  I don’t have a reliable systematic plan of action.  I don’t have constructive habits formed.  I allow tiny distractions to keep me from doing the work that I want to get done.  Income tax time is a prime example of this “syndrome.”  I absolutely hate doing income tax preparation.  Thank God I didn’t become an accountant like my dad wanted me to become.  I would be totally miserable in my work.

Splintering is a term I sometimes use to describe my avoidance of certain tasks.  This is when I start a project with good intentions.  I actually intend to complete whatever I want to get done.  I may get everything set up to do it.  I may even actually start working at it. 

But somehow, in the space of a few hours, my resolve splinters away with tiny distractions.  After working for a few minutes, maybe even an hour or two, I grow restless.  I stop working to use the bathroom. As I emerge from the bathroom, I decide to get a drink of water.  As I reach for a clean glass from the cupboard, I notice a few dirty dishes in the sink.  Oh, my.  I’d better wash these.  So I start washing dishes.  The phone rings, and I visit with the caller for a while.

After the call ends, instead of returning to either of my prior chores, I start a batch of laundry, and watch some tv while folding clothes.  Next I decide to check Facebook to see what the weather is doing, and end up chatting with friends, then playing some games.  The original project is long forgotten. 

I may return to it later, but the resolve has dissolved, and I can’t get that energy back.  So, either I put it away until the energy returns, or leave it in place while I fix lunch.  And so the day disappears in a myriad of distractions, and I fail in achieving my goal for the day.
This happens on a pretty regular basis.  There are some projects that I do actually complete, simply because I have to get them done.  I do eventually get my taxes ready for the preparer, I do get my laundry done, because I’ll run out of towels, clothing, and clean bedding if I don’t.  I have to keep clean clothing for Dennis so when he comes in unexpectedly from the truck, he’ll have fresh clothes to change into after his shower.

But the projects that do not get completed often outnumber the ones that are finished.  I feel shame when I think of all the projects I have volunteered to complete and do not get done, or end up rushing through it to finish, not doing the best I can do.  I could blame it on my astrological sign, perhaps.  Libras are notorious procrastinators.  But placing blame does not solve the problem.

New Year’s Resolutions—I don’t even bother to make them anymore.  It’s useless.  I fail with those before the middle of January.
I promise my doctor that I’ll watch my diet and get more exercise.  Yeah, right!  She usually smiles, because she knows they are just words.  Oh, I probably really intend to do those things when I say them, but there are just so many obstacles!

I know what I need to do.  I know how to do it.  I need to start new healthy and productive habits.  Get those nasty, unpleasant tasks completed early in the day when I’m fresh, before the computer or the television is turned on.  I may even do that for a week or two.  But I usually revert to my old tricks.

Maybe I need to read a book on organizational skills.  Maybe I need hypnotism to set up better habits.  I’ll have to think on that.  Right now I think I need a drink of water.


Dixie Barnes is a registered nurse who dreams of writing and illustrating children’s books.  She lives in Kansas with her husband of over forty years, and two Shih Tzu dogs.  She loves spending time with her three children and nine grandchildren. She mentors the F2K Free Writing Fiction class in Writer’s Village University and writes fiction, including YA novels and short stories, essays, and poetry, which she posts on her blog Living Fossil Images at http://livingfossilimages.blogspot.com/2010/09/living-fossil-images.html?spref=fb.  She paints in watercolors and oils, and enjoys working in colored pencil.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nursing Homes




“I would never put my parents in a nursing home.   They are just warehouses for the dying.”

“No one that loves their parents would ever dream of putting them in a nursing home, where they are abused, starved, and left sitting in urine and feces for hours.”

“I would rather die than go to a nursing home.”

“I could never work in a nursing home.  It’s so depressing, and it would be so boring.”

These are just a few of the comments I have heard from people when they find out I work in a nursing home.   Many of these people have never spent much time inside a nursing home.  They may pop in once or twice in their lifetime, look around, and make a snap judgment about the place from the first impressions they receive.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes are not ideal.  But the ones where I have worked are not that way.  The residents are cared for by caring professionals, who are up to date on the most current treatments and regulations. 

The Annual State Surveys of these nursing homes have been excellent.  There are no perfect nursing homes, because they are staffed by human beings, but the people I work with care about the residents and have taken them as family to an extent.  The sound of laughter between the residents and staff and visitors is like bright cheerful music.

There are activities planned daily, and often at least twice if not three times a day.  Besides the usual bingo, which remains a favorite for many, there are shopping trips to the local stores, trivia, and trips down memory lane where they can talk about the “Good Old Days”, and their lives before admission.

Some of the residents live in the assisted living and independent living areas, and can leave the building with family for special occasions, or just to go for a ride.  Families often bring meals in and share with the residents in the residential dining room.

Televisions, stereos, computers, cell phones, and other miscellaneous electronic gadgets are available for residential use.  Books and magazines are brought in by staff to share with the residents.

Spiritual  needs are met by local ministers and priests, and we have an entire wing dedicated to the Sisters from the local Convent who need special care.  Our beautiful chapel has regular services several times a week which are attended by residents, and by parishioners from the area parish.  Volunteers assist the residents to the chapel and help them return after the services.

The food is very nutritious and tasty, and the residents have a say in what is served.  Each meal plan is offered with multiple choices in entrees and other courses.  Supplements are offered for those needing extra calories or nutrients.  We have a relaxed meal schedule, so that those who wish to sleep in for breakfast can still have a hot delicious meal when they get up.  Some prefer to eat in bed.

We have full time laundry and maintenance technicians, and  requests are usually filled immediately for repairs that are needed, or equipment that is needed for ease in handling the residents day to day cares.

We have a staffed Restorative and Therapy Room daily with physical, occupational, speech, and restorative therapists on staff.  It’s not unusual to see residents walking in the halls with a staff member by their side.  Some that cannot walk longer distances have motorized wheelchairs or scooters that they use for mobility.

The nurses are competent, knowledgeable, and compassionate.  They will go the extra mile to make life better for the residents.  The aides are hard working and get along pretty well with each other.

The facility itself is attractive.  The chapel and front lobby are beautiful with high vaulted ceiling in the front lobby reaching to the skylight in the roof.  Carpeting and tile floors are in good shape throughout the facility. There is a working fountain outside the main dining room windows, and a lovely courtyard surrounded by residents’ rooms in the center of the facility.

We have animals that roam freely around the facility.  A dog, several cats, and an aviary with colorful birds keep the residents feeling like they are in a homelike atmosphere.

There are so many other nice features about the place where I work.  The other nursing homes where I have worked have similar qualities.  I have not been in a nursing home that is like what is described in the opening paragraphs in this area.

If you would like to do something special for someone, come to a nursing home, and spend some time with the residents.  Just sit and talk to them, watch some television with them, share a few stories, take them for a wheelchair ride to see the aviary.  It would brighten their day immensely.  And it will make you feel special too.  If you like the experience, become a volunteer.  They are always needed.  You can ask the personnel director how you can help make someone’s life a happier one.  God will reward you for it too.

God bless you.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Middle Age




Oh my Goodness!  I just realized something.  I’m old!  It was hard enough to realize that I was middle aged about twenty years ago.  It took me almost half of that twenty years to come to terms with it.
But today, while skimming through my dictionary under the “M”s, I came across the definition of Middle Age.

Harper-Webster’s Dictionary describes middle age as “the period in  your life when you are between the ages of about 40 and 60.”  I’m almost out of middle age and about to enter the limbo stage between middle age and senior citizen status.  How did this happen?

Some days I do feel like a senior citizen.  Especially when I realize my grandchildren will start graduating from high school next year.  And when my health problems flare up: the diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and now my most recent diagnosis of osteoarthritis in my hips.  My current episode of pneumonia has aged me about ten years I think.  And somehow, when I recover from a disease bout, I don’t feel any younger.  It just levels off at the current age stage until the next round of antibiotics begin.

I would love to be able to go for walks with my daughter and granddaughters, walk the dogs, ride my bicycle, and play in the softball and whiffle ball games my family loves.  But after only a few moments, I begin having intense pain in my lower back and hips.  By the time I reach my destination, I am in agony.  So walks are very limited in scope these days.

Work schedules are difficult now too.  I remember back in the 90s, I could work the twelve hour shifts, attend nursing classes, and keep up with four teenagers at home.  Where did all that energy go?  Now, I can only work about three eight hour shifts in a row.  If I work four, I invariably end up with bronchitis or some other ailment.  I have graduated from ibuprofen to tramadol to Lortabs for the pain I suffer while standing doing my work.

My cognitive function varies as well.  When I’m writing, while sitting at my computer, I can write and put two words together that actually make sense.  But after working an eight hour shift, my nursing charting sometimes makes no sense at all.

There have been some advantages to middle age, however.  I have learned tolerance.  I no longer become as angry when I see children being disrespectful, or when my dogs misbehave.  I am more tolerant of alternative lifestyles, even though I have no desire to live them myself.

My faith has become much stronger, and I am more assertive.  Probably not as assertive as I should be yet, but my distaste for conflict has taken a back seat to the strong desire to convert others to my political views.

A Libra myself, I have always tried to see both sides of every situation.  This has made it much easier to deal with conflicts, as I can understand the opponent’s side of the story. 

So, what do I do now?  Do I change anything about my lifestyle?  Do I change careers?  I see my nursing career waning at this point due to my debilitating diseases, but is it too late to begin a new venture?  I have no desire to go back to school to learn a new trade. 

Rather, I am drawn to the prospect of either buying the local newspaper, or opening an art/craft store and offering art classes.  How much capital either of these would take is unknown to me.  I have been afraid to check into those details.  My husband is afraid to see me leave my good paying job to take on a risky business venture.  But I have five years at least before I can collect Medicare, even if it still exists by that time.  I need to make some plans.  I want to explore my options.

Middle age is almost at an end.  What will senior citizenhood bring?  Time will tell.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Love Expressions



Being married for over forty-one years takes a lot of work and thought.  It means giving everything you have to keep that spark alive.  And if you are successful, the relationship will remain strong, even after the physical expression is, shall we say, not the most important part.

I have learned a few things about keeping that spark growing.  It may not be the fiery passion of newlywed love, but it is much stronger.

I’d like to share some practical ideas for those of you who would like to express your love for your life partner.

Honesty and respect are two of the most important aspects of a happy marriage.  If you can’t trust your partner, it erodes the feelings of love away.  If a mistake is made by one, confessing and taking responsibility for that mistake is vitally important.  From that time on, you will have to re-earn that trust.  That takes time.

Remember anniversaries and important dates.  Especially wedding anniversaries, the date you met, and other significant relationship milestones.  If you have trouble remembering these dates, put them into your smart phone, or have someone do it for you.

Give your love the valuable gift of your time and attention.  It may become comfortable to spend your evenings watching television or playing computer games, reading or whatever individual hobbies you may have, but remember to reserve some special one on one time just between the two of you, to listen to each other, and to talk about something other than the jobs, the household, or the kids.

Sometimes this means doing something that you really are not that crazy about.  If she likes chick flicks now and then, take her to one, even though that military action movie you’ve been dying to see is also playing.  Then, the next time you go to the movies, she may be more willing to sit through your violent movies, even though she may spend most of it with her hands covering her eyes.

When the two of you shop together, treat her to something she would love to have but is too practical to purchase.  You’ll know what that is by watching her face as she shops.  If you buy clothing, though, be sure to know her sizes first.  If you buy it too small, she will be embarrassed when she can’t get into it.  If you buy it too big, she might feel that you think she is fat.

If  you buy her flowers and candy for Valentines Day or an anniversary, it’s a nice touch to send it to her work place.  It will make her female co-workers jealous and the romance of it will increase doublefold.

Plan your little surprises for each other throughout the year, not just on  holidays and anniversaries.  It’s especially romantic to get flowers “Just Because.”

Bake his favorite cake or fix his favorite meal when you know he’s having a hard day.  He’ll appreciate the gesture.

For men: the most often requested gifts for women include jewelry, perfume, lingerie, clothing, and handbags.  Also nice is a night out on the town with dinner, perhaps dancing, and romance.

For women: the gifts that men request the most: clothing, gift certificates, stereo equipment, smart phones, sports equipment, tickets, tools.

Men, remember that not all romantic evenings have to end in sexual activity.  Snuggling and cuddling are always enjoyed.  Don’t forget the aftershave and mouthwash.  Very important.

Try something new and different occasionally, like spending the weekend in a hotel with a Jacuzzi or spa.  Reserve the honeymoon suite, and share a bottle of champagne and flowers.

Women, make the first move.  Men really enjoy the feeling of being wanted and needed, just like you do.  They do like being pursued, even if they say they don’t.

Give him a massage.  There is nothing more sensual than a nice loving massage using scented massage oils.

Men: ask her to marry you again.  Our church has begun offering renewal vows at various times of the year.  We have done it a couple of times and it always brings tears and a rush of new love for each other.

These are just a few of the ways that we have kept our marriage a happy one for forty-one years and counting.  There are so many more things that you can do.  The main thing to remember is to keep your eyes and ears open to new ideas about what makes your partner happy. 

It’s not about giving her the most expensive or the most unusual gifts, but about thinking about what she needs and wants.  She may not always come out and tell  you these needs.  You must learn sensitivity to her wants. 

This goes as well for men.  They may need reassurance that you respect and love them and want them.  They have fragile egos that need constant reassurance that they are “doing the right things.”

Keeping love alive can be a daunting challenge.  But it is also a fun and rewarding challenge.  Are you up for it?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kansas Trivia


K is for Kansas

Collecting Kansas trivia has always been a hobby of mine.  Today, I’d like to share some of it with you.

Q. What 1964 Kansas State University graduate won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics in small bore rifle shooting?
A. Margaret Thompson

Q. What Kansas football legend was from Speed, Kansas?
A. Gale Sayers

Q. Who flew a Kansas made aircraft in breaking five world records for business jets?
A. Neil Armstrong

Q. What was Jim Ryun’s fastest running time for the mile?
A. 3:51.1 on July 17, 1966

Q. Where was the first indoor bathtub installed in Kansas?
A. Ames Hotel, Wamego (1870)

Q. Who founded Pizza Hut?
A. Frank & Dan Carney, Wichita

Q. Who was the first Christian martyr in the United States?
A. Father Juan de Padilla

Q. What president signed the bill to make Kansas an official territory?
A. President Franklin Pierce

Q. Which trail is sometimes called “The World’s most historical highway?
A. Santa Fe Trail

Q. Name the famous trail which extended for 2000 miles over half the continent and is referred to as “the second highway” through Kansas?
A. Oregon Trail

Q. Why did Kansans observe “Meatless Tuesdays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” during World War I?
A. to conserve and economize

Q. The last Indian raid in Kansas was made in what year?
A. 1878

Q. The original  term “Jayhawk” referred to what?
A. an antislavery person

Q. Who was the retired farmer and disabled Civil War veteran who created the “Garden of Eden”?
A. Samuel Perry Dinsmore

Q. Where is the “Garden of Eden” located?
A.  Lucas, Kansas

Trivia found in the book Kansas Trivia, Kurt Parsons, Editor, KDS Publications, 1984, Wichita, Ks. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just Until We Meet Again


Just Until We Meet Again

Just as the wind blows the dust
Across the prairies,
through the barnyards,
over the fields and the graves,
so does it blow across the
desert of my heart.

The sands of time erode
The edges of my pain,
And healing begins again.
The anniversaries, holidays and
Special days that we celebrated once
Together, seem emptier than before.

Joy from being together, with love,
Once the light of my life,
Now appears as a dim memory
Of a life gone forever.
I see you in my dreams,
I hear you in the wind.

You echo in my heart,
You speak to my brain.
I feel your presence deep within
The cold corners of my being.
Why did you have to leave?
Why did we lose our way?

I see your face in the visage of others,
I hear your voice in the conversations,
The scent of your favorite fragrance,
The sight of roses reminds me of you.
Your favorite flower,
That you gave so freely.

Some day we will be together again,
Our paths will cross in time
I look forward to that day
When my life is complete once more.
And then the joy will return,
And we will never part again.






Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inspirational Quotes


Inspirational Quotes

All of the quotes shown in this blog entry are taken from “Quotationary” by Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, Published in 2001 by Random House Webster’s, New York.

“Efficiency is concerned with doing things right.  Effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter F. Drucker (1909--). Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices 2, 1974, abr., 1977.

“Every man loves what he is good at.” Thomas Shadwell (1642-1692). A True Widow, 5.1, 1679.

“Ability without ambition is like kindling wood without the spark.” ANONYMOUS

“How can a moral wrong be a civil right?”  Slogan (American).  Anti-abortion position, 1990s.

“None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). “Greatness,” Letters and Social Aims, 1876.

“What I do object to about America is the herd thinking.  There is no room for individuals in your country—and yet you are dedicated to saving the world for individualism. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970).  Tommy Robbins interview, Redbook, September 1964.

I chose the above quotes at random, not to prove any point, merely because I believe them to be interesting and relevant in today’s world.  I hope  you have enjoyed them.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Illusions~~Art or Fake?

Liu Bolin ~ The Invisible Man

This guy paints himself.
He uses no trick photography;
he just paints himself.
The last
last picture is amazing!













Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Holiday Holy Day


Holidays/Holy Days

On this Easter Sunday, my thoughts turn to current events and the strange situation our country has entered, bit by bit, day by day, without realizing the danger we are in.  The secularization of our country started quite some time ago, but during the past ten years or so, we have found that our religions, especially the Christian religion has become endangered.

Our country was based on religious freedom.  That means we have the right to believe in the entity or the faith of our fathers, or whichever faith we choose to embrace.  Most of our colonists were Christians, who were feeling religious pressure in the homeland.  They came here with the hopes and dreams of millions of others who wanted to worship the God of their fathers without persecution.

For a long time, Christianity was a strong force in this country.  But this has been eroded by those who feel fear or revulsion for any religion at all, and by those who would force conversion at the point of death to a faith not of the Christian’s choosing.  Laws against prayer in schools, against religious celebrations in public, even against the mention of God in public have become commonplace.

At the same time, the media, including newspapers, radio, and television, and internet sources are propagandizing against Christianity.  Movies that desecrate Jesus, prayer, and other religious celebrations are on the rise.  Christmas is especially under attack.  Many companies are so afraid of offending customers, that God, Jesus and Christmas are not allowed to be uttered by employees.  "Merry Christmas" was a greeting I grew up with, but many businesses insist on saying "Happy Holidays" now.  I never had reason to resent this until the atheists began attempting to remove God from the courtroom, from our money, and from every aspect of my life.  Now I boycott businesses that will not reply "Merry Christmas" when I greet them at the front door.  Mel Gibson made a movie a couple of decades ago about the Passion of the Christ.  He was brought under severe criticism and the toll on his career was devastating.

As the criticism of Christianity increased, so, as well, did the immoral behaviors in our society.  Clothing styles in many cities are obscene in their display of skin.  Tattoos and body piercing has become the new norm.  Those that revere the body as the Temple of Christ are appalled, but are told these aberrations are art, not garish displays of body mutilation. 

It’s no small wonder that our children are confused. Some see their parents getting tattoos and piercing, once only found in the drug-infested areas, and yet hearing their parents tell them they shouldn’t do drugs because it is unhealthy. 

They see their parents drunk and stoned in public.  Many are unfaithful to their spouses, and marriages are ending by the millions.  Where is the happiness?  Where is the love?

It’s my opinion that until we find our way back to the standards we once shared—until our families find their way back to God, Family and Country, that this downward spiral into Hell will continue.  It is not the responsibility of our government to tell us who we can worship.  It is not the job of our government to take over every aspect of our lives.  It is not the purview of our government to tell us how to raise our children.

I see our country heading toward a dictatorship at an alarming rate of speed.  We can no longer stand by and allow those who would destroy our great Nation do so without taking a stand for our rights and our freedoms.

I love my God, my family, and my country.  I intend to do whatever I can to help keep it a strongly independent nation, one that resumes the use of the constitution that was written at our country’s infancy.

I realize that I have become old, infirm, and have very little power, either financially, physically, or politically.  But I do still have the Power of the Word, and the ability to create documents using my own words.  That can be a powerful tool.

I strongly suggest that if you feel similarly, that you write or call your congressional representatives, and let them know that you will not tolerate the elimination of God from your life.  Let them know that if they do not share your convictions, then perhaps it is time for them to leave office, so that the People can have their Country back.

For those who are in agreement with the direction this country is heading, I have only pity.  Those who believe that the government owes you a living, owes you a free ride, are in for a serious disappointment.  A parasite can only live and breed on the host for so long before it ruins the health of the host and kills it.  Then the free ride is over, and the parasite dies as well.

I wish everyone a Happy Easter, and the wisdom and the vision to see what is happening around this nation.   God bless America.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Grandpa Dennis


Grandpa Dennis

My husband, Dennis, works himself to exhaustion every week.  Driving a semi hauling butane and anhydrous ammonia is an exhausting and stressful job.  It takes serious concentration to avoid running over people in cars, on motorcycles and pedestrians, not to mention deer, cattle, and other assorted animals on the road for long hours every day.  Eighty-thousand pounds of cargo thrust puts a lot of pressure on the driver to constantly be able to think ahead, anticipate, and react instantly to any hazards that may arise.

Therefore, when Dennis comes home, he has to get plenty of rest.  He is usually home for thirty-four hours every week.  Each weekend, he had plans of all the things he wants to get done, around the house, with me and the family, especially his “grandbabies”.  Even though none of them are still babies, he still thinks of them that way.  He is very protective of them, and enjoys doing little projects in the yard with each of them.

He loves to raise flowers and trees.  At one time, we had over 125 rose bushes in our Clifton yard.  Many of those have died since he’s began trucking longer distances.  But the ones that remain are still brilliantly gorgeous every summer.  He loves grooming his hardwood trees and is always watching for new varieties.

He is especially proud of his magnolia trees.  Clifton and Clyde are north of the area where magnolias usually thrive, so it has been a constant struggle to keep them alive during the harsh winters in Kansas.  We have been lucky the past couple of years, however, and his trees at this time are blooming beautifully.

Lilies, tulips, daffodils, and many other varieties of flowers abound in our Clifton yard.  We are making plans for flowers in Clyde, but so far, we have a few tulips and some roses growing.  He has also planted some trees in our yard. 

Another hobby of Dennis’ is bird and squirrel watching.  We have bird feeders and squirrel feeders located strategically around the yard for optimal viewing pleasure.  Some day, we would love to purchase the lot to the south of our house and plant trees and flowers there.

Unfortunately, the project that takes up most of his time when he is home is viewing the backs of his eyelids.  He comes in so exhausted that resting on the loveseat in our living room and watching a little television seems to take most of his energy.  Part of that is from getting older.  We are slowing down.  We are becoming a burden to our children.  They worry about our health. 

Retirement will probably be only a fantasy for us.  We will have to work until the day we are totally unable to function and either die or end up in a nursing home.  That day seems to be rushing at us very quickly these days.  We’ve had so many dreams crash and burn over the past 40+ years.  But we remain happy and content in our tiny little cottage. 

Being a grandparent is one of the largest joys of our lives.  We love watching the children play in sports at school, even though we don’t always get to attend.  But you’ll never catch us without a recent photo of each of the kids.  We are very proud of our children, and of our grandchildren.

The photo below was taken October 9, 1999 at our daughter, Becky's wedding.

The Lord has blessed us greatly.