Tag Archives: family

In the Pink – Red Faced Part 2

I like to say my vacation in Texas was pure joy. In some ways the time was heavenly, but…

An infection raging on the tip of my nose, cast an unsightly, frustrating, painful shadow on the long-anticipated departure. I’m not exaggerating, the slightest twitch, sniffle or sneeze sent painful shock waves radiating across what must have been the entire room or vehicle.

*

When I arrived late on Thursday, SecondBorn was pre-occupied navigating the back roads from Austin. If he noticed my extra makeup, he didn’t let on. Still, my apex nasi throbbed. Even as we rode I prayed for a quick, miraculous healing.

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8 9 (NLT)

That first evening seemed to fly by for us all. Pretty sure nobody was any wiser about my misery, I had a good cry in a hot shower. Later as I drifted off to sleep I remember wondering if it was something I said, or maybe something I didn’t say brought on this painful and obvious infirmity. Then sleep took over.

**

The next day checking in at the grade school office, if anyone noticed my nose the secret remained safe. Surprising my grand children and their friends with lunch together satisfied an old longing. By the time classes resumed I was so elated I forgot to look in the mirror.

AlmostSixYearOld can easily charm sugar from an ant. EightYearOld has nearly changed my mind about Ten-Year-Old-Boys being God’s perfect creation. For the next two days we played, explored, and streamed texts and photos with cousins in Illinois making everything seem even more fun.

Soon the heat flow had subsided, pain turned to discomfort, the vivid colors began fading and unless affronted by mirrors, I forgot about my nose. After full, active days, with everyone tucked snugly into bed, I thanked God for the rare, amazing contentment I had been experiencing. For a while I stopped wondering how the world elsewhere spun without me.

I swear the room immediately began to glow and the most delightful, perfectly conditioned warmth filled the space. One of the first Bible lessons I got my head around came to mind:

“…I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, [becoming uglified] and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

God only knows why the infection happened when it did.  Sisters and I could joke about it for days, but reality check: my family and friends care that I’m healthy and happy – not about how I look.

I also like to believe they understand that whenever I finally show up God made it happen.

 

*Image courtesy ABSFreepix

**Image courtesy Pinterest

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Red Faced

For the first time in way too long I took a vacation.

I don’t mean a road trip on the way to my next home, a wedding or a funeral. For two years I saved for this leave. Even with the kids’ help my carefully planned time away from home included lots of air travel departing during inconvenient hours. Most important, it provided down-time with my darling offspring.

Since I would not be available to help gather the tomatoes, they had to be harvested before I left.

Seasoned travelers and most smart girls know to get together with friends the week before a vacation. Together you shop, update your wardrobe, enjoy a meal or two, and they share the little details that enhanced their recent journeys.

Instead, Izzy and I spent that time spreading tarps beneath tomato vines. Then we shook and cut the vines, loosing tomatoes. This also scattered THE DUST that collected since the sprinklers stopped rinsing everything clean daily. And then we drug and lifted the loaded tarps into wheelbarrows, stirring up the dirt that had been drying for a week.

Yeah. We know how to have a good time!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)

Despite masks and goggles, the dust set me to sneezing, with my sinuses filling and then draining profusely. My skin also itched terribly – especially the tip of my nose. The following day, my apex nasi* became tender and by the next day it was incredibly sore. *I looked it up. It’s a thing.

And did I mention RED? Not a flattering shade either.

The day before I was to depart on the next length of my travel, despite all known precautions and remedies, the redness became deep purplish-red. Yes, a painful heat radiated from above my columella. (*It’s the flesh that separates the nostrils.)

Makeup barely concealed the colors resembling orangutans backsides. What’s more, it needed touch-ups every couple of hours…

As I boarded my first flight I felt like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer guiding the last remaining passengers onto our plane. Still, I actually appreciated people quickly averting their eyes from my bleak beak.

During the flights I imagined AlmostSixYearOld taking one look at my face and bursting into tears in fear of this unfamiliar, scary-looking person. I could well imagine EightYearOld staring in wonder or stifling giggles.

Unfair as it was, I was determined to enjoy time with my gang – and to shop around the airports between flights for a miraculous concealer, mask or perhaps a stylish niqab. As anticipation rose, I imagined the heat and pressure on my face did also.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

To be continued…

 

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Re-entry

I may need help!

My calendar app says I arrived home days ago.

And yet my legs continue to feel rubbery like I’m still getting my step count in by bumping my way along an airliner isle or pulling my carry-ons around crowded airports between (multiple, affordable) flights. And instead of actual thoughts, my mind is ablur with mini-playbacks, like Pixar short features.

Though most of the smoke from the wild fires cleared while I was away, not much seems completely clear yet.

Today my Rainbow Manicure done by six-year-old TexasGrandGirl is barely recognizable after three days of innumerable washings in public rest rooms and repeated slatherings of hand sanitizer. Now this is truly phenomenal. Ordinarily I would never step outdoors without employing much polish remover to these nails. The blobby, bubbly, streaky, chipped and rubbed remnants of color delighted me all over town, through holiday airport crowds, over the clouds right through to even now.

But this morning as I walked the drive up to the road I noticed children waiting for the school bus. Labor Day and my vacation are certainly behind us. If It’s Thursday This Must Be Home.

I admit I’m stuck on how the mismatched fingernail colors on my hands bless me beyond even my impressive imagination. Days later I now realize it’s solid, inarguable evidence:

I’d been on my first vacation with my family in decades – an actual vacation and not pauses on the way to a funeral, a wedding or moving my household – yet again.

I had scrimped, saved, planned, recruited help and then together we actually made it happen. My Illinois Grand girls and I got manicures and tried new fashions. I played Pokemon with Grand boys in Illinois and in Texas and together we explored some of their worlds. I visited with my grown kids, studied their faces extensively and we celebrated our life – together.

It’s been several years of my dreams coming true.

Still:

*

As I re-enter my life here on the ranch the odd polish illustrates the astounding love the Father pours over and through us. Had anyone told me I’d still enjoy the faded mess on my hands days later, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m only now getting to where I can stand the thought of stripping it off. But thinking about it I realize how, despite all the distractions while traveling, the disrupted prayer and devotional time, God is nearby. Whether I’m crossing deserts or oceans, doing chores, even when I’m simply not paying attention, God adores me.

Like my worn nail polish.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

*Can’t brain courtesy Onsizzle

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Woo – Whee!

Many days I wonder if I’ll ever slow down and settle in – mostly when I’ve been writing about the three years before I arrived here at the ranch.

As I prepare to fly to Austin, Texas I say goodbye to the garden. Even though I’ll be away only a week, the end of the season is quickly approaching. Here days are shortening, nights and early mornings are cooling. The gelding and the steer are fluffing up with extra hair and the flowers seem desperate to soak in the sunshine while it lasts.

In Texas we’ll have almost three years to catch up on, so I expect to be road weary upon return. And then there’s that emotional roller coaster after another series of “see ya later” (we avoid saying “goodbye”). Perhaps after returning I’ll have a new perspective I’d missed before. And maybe by then I’ll have an even better grasp of why I must be so far from the rest of my heart again.

Though I can hardly wait to get there, thinking about the journey that brought me here seems appropriate.

From October 13, 2016:

Whew!

After a 28 hour turn-around for Cole, fifteen hours for me, I’m home. In my own cottage on my brother-from-another-mother‘s ranch.

No internet in my cottage yet, no TV or even radio and I have a whopping 2G cell service – from the middle of the north pasture when I visit the cattle and the mare. It’s really not all that bad…

 

Today.

While I’m still buried in boxes.

Once I unpack and set up I’ll shop for better options. For now I’ll take my time and catch up with me – it’s been a long, hard three years.

  

Try to not miss me too much. ❤

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23, 24 (NIV)

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Leak

As the week winds up and we lounge together by the pool in Chicago Land, I thought about The Leak.

From August 7, 2016 on Colorado’s Western Slope via Leak:

Two-plus weeks ago Erin and I took a break from our projects. While her sister Ellie, her family and their brother Edmund traveled to check on another property out of state, Erin manned Ellie’s house, the 5 small dogs and the cat.

I held down our home front. I’d intended to take a break from the downstairs project downstairs and check off the list of small tasks upstairs.

About midway through our sideways vacation I went downstairs for something I had seen that would be perfect upstairs.

Ordinarily I avoid going downstairs without Erin. I can go from zero to sensory overload in 06.1 seconds over the astounding collection of vintage items from 3 generations of her large family – all being sorted and repacked. Have I mentioned the fifty pounds of stuff on a ten pound property including the garage?

clutter pixabay garage

When I first arrived I enjoyed revisiting her things I saw growing up. But after sleeping on a futon for over three months (haven’t made a path to the bed yet), I now easily lose focus and my attitude can spin out of balance very quickly. Frequent, very fervent prayer helps. Still, I wanted to surprise Erin when she returned. I kept looking.

As I descended the stairs I told myself storage naturally smells musty, and dismissed what I thought was exceptionally dank air. But then I noticed the bottoms of some cardboard boxes were noticeably dark. Stepping cautiously into the room I heard and felt my feet squishing into the old carpet.

Houston, we have water.

flood toon pixabayA phone call and an hour later Erin and I teamed up to extract water. We couldn’t cut the water at the main until we found the leak.

So I became G. Annie Roo, super sleuth. I like the sound of that.

Without Edmund the fix-all brother we became very resourceful, reducing trips up and down the stairs. The following day we finally we discovered the cracked pipe. Ta-da!

Over the following week we tossed water on the lawn from bowls we filled with recycled milk jugs. Between that move, we replaced and repacked wet boxes. We were thankful to learn the 3-inch hole in the old cast iron drain is exclusive to the kitchen. We are not happy to learn the broken, slightly sunken concrete driveway outside the kitchen wall suggests a bigger problem. This whole project might take a while.

The contractors are due to arrive soon. By then we will have settled into our adjusted routine and used the better part of a tree for disposable dinner ware 😦

So goes this week’s episode in the continuing saga of two old broads rehabilitating the vintage family rental. Were the property owner any other than Erin’s mom we would have taken another, less laborious course. As it is love runs deeper and for now the futon awaits me.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)

Images courtesy of Pixabay

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2018-08-13 · 06:00

Sweet Harvest

 As the garden grows into full production we are all putting in even more hours than before. This week we not only contend with broken sprinkler pipes, (so hoses again) and weeds, but we now must harvest daily for peak ripeness and to maintain maximum production.

Comically, we all work on different schedules, so for about a week we assumed much, but none of us actually knew what the others were doing. Izzy was giving away surplus at work and the livestock was enjoying some overgrowth.

And then I slowed down one morning this week. Yeah, you’d think I’d have learned to do that more often by now…

Unbeknownst to me Izzy and Cole had been harvesting in the cool of the morning before they leave for their jobs in town – while I’m either keying away or snoozing in my cottage. An hour or so later I’ll unknowingly check the same sections of the garden and then harvest what they didn’t get to. But that particular morning when I put the house dogs back in I noticed their harvest in a crate. Doof!

All this time I was bringing the day’s collection into the fridge in my cottage thinking Izzy knows to check there every day.

Error.

Ordinarily, over the weekend and some evenings we girls touch bases or simply chat over a relaxing beverage.  I suspect their week away at the Lake put a hitch in our giddy-up so we miss a keystroke here and there.

I had to notice the crate in the main house kitchen to realize we’d do well to tweak our system again.

Done.

Eventually this scenario brought to mind one with the apostle Paul and the new believers in Corinth. First, duh – everyone was a new believer in Paul’s day. Similarly this is our first co-op garden experience. We usually talk about what we want to do next and what we’re learning from our agri-expert friends. For a few days we seemed to have dropped our communication signal.

We’re caught up from the vacation now.

“I (Some of us) planted the seed, Apollos (the rest of us) watered it (and weeded), but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  1 Corinthinans 3:6 – 9 (NIV – added paraphrase mine 😉 )

 

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Extremes

Have I mentioned how I adore the weather in this region? Even when the triple-digit weather arrives, memories of summers in Phoenix, Arizona and the bitter-cold winters in Chicago-land remind me this climate is like a walk in the park. Besides, here the extremes of both intense heat or cold only last weeks and usually include milder parentheses.

As temperatures rose I noticed how the livestock and plants all cope in their individual ways. The horses and the steer all developed a new appreciation for early mornings and the sprinklers in the early evenings.

The chickens are mostly still much of the day and are laying about 50% less than they do in cooler temps. They only get excited in anticipation of fresh offerings from the garden and the kitchens when humans approach. We’ll see what impact a chicken tractor has soon.

To the east around the lawns the rose, begonia, nasturtium, snapdragon and hydrangea blossoms suddenly grow, mature and wilt astoundingly faster than usual.

Highlights of last evening’s walk included a trio of fledglings enjoying the cool concrete of the shaded patio while the flora also recover from the day’s heat. That was until giant, wingless beings arrived making the strangest chirping ever. I’m sure they were relieved after we moved indoors to listen to their chirps. We were also glad to hear they remembered how to fly back to their nests – safe from cats lurking nearby.

In my visit to town I noticed some people complaining about the heat. I also noticed they sounded much like the people that complained about the cold during the winter. They got me thinking about Job, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?*”  Shall we accept fair weather and not harsh?

Personally, I like variety and especially appreciate that the extremes here last only a short while.

“Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God…” Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NLT)

*Job 2:10 (NLT)

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Ker-Plunk

This week I juggled my plans so that Izzy’s daughter and I could take a road trip to Aremote Lake. With my methodical planning we had lots of time so we could shoot up the countryside – with cameras – to our hearts’ content.

Happy and relaxed, I headed back home alone at the perfect time just before dusk that same evening. I got so many great shots I could hardly wait to get back within signal range and download them. Without any traffic and downhill all the way I could blast home in barely over 2 hours, so before I approached the main road I made a pit stop.

The short story is my cell wound up falling into water – clean enough to retrieve the device. Another good reason for keeping a few extra gas station paper towels on a road trip – after wiping the phone off and popping the battery out… suffice it to say it won’t emerge from the rice for another day or so.

Ordinarily I’d be a mess without my phone. However, with the rest of the family still out of range through to the weekend I honestly haven’t missed it.

Seriously, aside from texts from my grand kids, without my constant reminders, alarms, calendars, lists and calls LIFE GOES ON. What’s more, my heightened organizational skills have been delightful. I’m happy to report that not that much has changed in the past eight-to-ten years since smart phones became mainstream.

And thanks to Pixabay you can still enjoy some of the highlights of my lovely drive. We needn’t necessarily mention that without a signal my photos haven’t downloaded. Yet.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (English Standard Version)

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Gad-Zukes!

I’m amazed how I felt a little discouraged as this week began. I considered what the garden is actually producing compared to the labor we put into it six days a week. We were all feeling disappointed that we see lots of tiny, little buds, but no cucumbers in particular.

 

Even so, on her “day off” Izzy and I were out there on our knees, enjoying the cool of the morning and pulling weeds.

Imagine my surprise when she blurted out, “CUCUMBERS!”  And then, “Growing in the spaghetti squash. We’ve got cucumbers!”

Sure enough, before I could get over to shoot what to us is phenomenal, Iz had picked four nice-sized cucumbers and found more growing among the astoundingly prolific spaghetti squash. Remarkably only buds are on all the other vines down the rest of the row.

Later, as I packed bags of lettuce to share with friends at our Bible Study meeting, I thought about how the week turned around.

Firstly, I’m glad this week I’m not the only silly soul. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only human that tends to focus upon our understandings, expectations and agendas and we sometimes miss something else God may be doing.

 

For another example, last year I was disappointed that no home groups from my local church meet near our neighborhood anymore. That disappointment is now a sharp contrast to how I look forward to Friday evenings – every week.

Regardless how tired I may be, Former Neighbor Andee texts me from her new home barely ten minutes away to tell me she’s on her way, to start heading down my driveway. She knows what it takes for me to leave the cottage. I’m not proud that usually I’ve splatted against a wall by five and try to talk myself out of going – nearly every week. But every week I climb into Andee’s truck and I’m astounded at all I learn about our study topic and our friends, the people in our group.

This week more than anything else, I’m grateful for God’s eternal perspective. I appreciate the blessed assurance that He likely enjoys much of our silliness between the blessings. And He knows the cucumbers are worth the wait.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

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Pressing Back

As this week began, even with the four of us working at it, I felt the pressure keeping up with our super-sized vegetable garden. The weeds were seriously battling for the ground that served the livestock well in previous years.

Often I’d spend enough time bent over the rows that moving the rest of the day was a challenge. Even so I’m glad for it. Taking a little time out with ice packs each day began as physical therapy. As often happens I soon turned to prayer and in no time rose again refreshed and determined to keep up the good work.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

About mid-week Cole took advantage of a western breeze. He mounted a tank on the ATV and drove it around the garden side of the fence, spraying the outward perimeter as he went.

Surprisingly, the only casualty was one sprinkler head at the north end and the conductor holding the hot wire above it. We replaced them quickly so the sun didn’t burn the entire north end of the crop. Two days later we can barely see where the balloon-like tires rode over the cantaloupe vines.

With a couple of days of light cloud cover we took a break from weeding to bring in the first loads of fire wood. Staying warm this winter should be much easier with a new log splitter due to arrive any time now.

With all that we still found time to relax a minute, count our blessings and gear up for fireworks later on this week.

And the lessons continue.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

 

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