Tag Archives: friends

Cultivated

Remembering the women we were at the beginning of our friendship takes some work now. A grade school classmate of my husband, I met AgriGirl and her parents when two of her three children were in primary and pre-school. We bonded immediately.

Only one facet of our friendship ever troubled me; for a time we were the most amiable, personable, but uncontrollable gossips I know – just between the two of us no subject or person were untouchable.

After a couple of years of rehashing many social events together, I grew a conscious about some parts of our conversations – people’s private, intimate details. At that time my husband and I were separating so I wasn’t proud of that season of my life. A good friend, AgriGirl stayed close, doing all she could to lift my spirits and help me through. Even so, I began to wonder; if my kind, sweet, honest friend talked about other people’s deeply intimate, personal lives to me, why wouldn’t she talk about my present mess the same way to others?

Though our dirty little secret was ours alone, that profound revelation pierced my soul. For a while I could barely stand myself. Soon afterward I realized we were friends because we were so much alike and that I never carried our stories any further. Still, we both weeded out topics that weren’t meaningful, pruned and snipped what wasn’t uplifting or helpful. In a heartbeat we would turn a subject from Anyone-Not-Present to finding knanker bulbs,* and the former subject didn’t come up again. The difference made us even closer, better friends.

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26 (NLT)

Recently, thanks to our smart phones, AgriGirl and I caught up with the years since we last lounged away the afternoons on her beautiful, Mid-west deck. We shot photos and Pinterest tags back and forth so that I’m bursting with new ideas, much like old times. She’s talking about coming here to, well, talk and hang out. I can imagine she might need the visual of my life on the ranch to fully get her head around it.

I’m glad for the relationship AgriGirl and I cultivated over the years, that we can still chat for hours. Aside from politics, global events and our families in general we pretty much stick to discussing the two of us, reminiscing, what we’re doing now, comparing our project lists, bucket lists and our few dreams that haven’t come true – yet!.

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” Galatians 6:7 (NLT)

* Yes, Danny and DBDO readers, I made up the word 😉

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

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Stuffed

Late winter is my favorite season for baking. It warms the cottage while filling it with delightful aromas.

It was the last week of the month. With frozen, wet roads I had left the ranch only when necessary, so supplies dwindled. This is typical. I have seen hard times, so any day there is food is good and having choices is great! I take advantage of bargains and stock the freezer and pantry. Still, there was remarkable room in both.

That particular day I had to be especially creative. I was delighted to find all the makings for a pumpkin cheesecake pie – of all things! Hey, it includes all four food groups.

I gathered the ingredients and began making the crust. But when I went to roll out the dough I couldn’t find my rolling pin.

After exhausting every possibility I looked about for anything suitable for the task. Rolling the dough with a tall juice bottle, I mentally rummaged through lists of things I’d inadvertently left in Texas or Colorado last year.

I put the pie into the oven and began cleaning up. As I put things away I began to laugh. Without some extensive reorganizing I actually have no place for anything else. This cottage is stuffed full!

I know any time I need a rolling pin or baking sheets, I can walk 20 yards and borrow Kendra’s, but the situation made me deeply reflective.

Over my history I experienced some devastating losses. Yet, hard times taught three generations of my family to be resilient, flexible, inventive and most of all thankful for what we have.

It’s not my preference, but if I must I can fish and hunt. I know how to clean fish and dress out a deer, rabbit or fowl. More important, I adore growing vegetables and canning them.

Over the years, I learned to use a pair of forks or knives as a pastry cutter. A tall glass makes an adequate rolling pin as well as a cookie cutter. Since I needn’t make it anymore, a quart of yogurt provides me calcium and protein and a storage container as well. With friends I learned how to make cheese and delightful breads. Long ago, Moms passed their talents for making biscuits, tortillas and pancakes from scratch on to me. And hanging out with Kendra I recently learned to make candy.

Though some of my history is grievous indeed I’m glad for it all today. Because of hardships and heartbreaks, God and I are sufficient in all things. I am blessed indeed!

“I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.” Philippians 4:11, 12 (The Voice)

 

*Image courtesy of ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello

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Keep Juggling

A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.

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I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never said it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis when we met. Always strong, stable, and focused, one would never know she too was familiar with trauma.

I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert does. Pain doesn’t intimidate her, no siree.

Bert recognized the clown in me and patiently coaxed her out. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles our dings were our secret.

Clowning was different from other performing arts I’d ever done, demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined. Bert’s passion for it was infectious and I came to love it too.

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But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating on books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.

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Fellow Clowns, audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed Arleenie Beenie’s talents for years.

With Bert’s coaching I went to clown camp, trained, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines, together, solo and with other clowns. Adding pantomime, juggling, face painting and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.

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Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:

A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.

How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?

The answer of course, he juggled them.

The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops. For me the allegory was a game changer.

Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.

I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I keep the boxes moving.

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Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and she donates all proceeds to Liberty Wildlife and other sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.

I have a living example of God’s delight in me, remembering Bert’s face as I jumped the next hurdle, mastered the next challenge.

In loving memory of
my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie/Arlene Powers

Signed, Bert

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

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Game Plan

Super Bowl Sunday was a little bit of a letdown in my cottage. Yeah, the teams played an exceptional game into overtime – go Pats! The Falcons defeating Green Bay in January deflated the season for me. I tried, but by Saturday night I was weary from a few restless nights in a row. Once home from church I excused myself from the game party and retreated to my cottage.

ref-3Left to my own devices, by nightfall a couple of “iffy” calls had become concerns. When I would normally have been sound asleep or at least soaking my aches and pains, I was in a scrimmage in my head – with myself.

 

On the way to church that same morning, Good Old Friend and I planned to save time after services getting a few last-minute things. She’d drop me at one market and then I’d walk to meet her at another. Hut!

My purchase and then, careful of my footwork, walking the whole 200 yards took moments. But then I couldn’t find her car in the lot. As I looked for her I maneuvered into the practically deserted store and got two items that were at the front – still watching for her.

ref-2Half an hour later, sidelined outside the main entrance, I realized I hadn’t turned my phone ringer back on after church. Defense – Twenty Yard Penalty!  The twenty-minute-old text glared at me from my purse, “Where are you?”

By the time I was in the car, Old Friend was rushed. She had driven back to the store where she left me, didn’t see me on the way there or back and began to worry. She politely waved away my apology for diverting from her play. Dropping me off, good byes were genuinely warm and quick.

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Later, alone in my cottage, I began replaying that experience and others from the week – spoiler alert – from my weary perspective. Again. And. Again.

Despite my attempts to avoid it, I ran plays till I couldn’t see anymore. I loathed how I felt. Being considerate and patient with my feelings is hard for me. And there’s the rub. It was all me.

Considering Old Friend’s kind, patient character, I’d prayed my knees sore asking God for help.

I woke refreshed, but not long into the next morning’s routine I noticed the previous night’s darkness creeping in again. ref-6-pixabayI stopped cleaning (okay, organizing the firewood by type and then diameter), and grabbed my Bible to find another play.

Epic fumble.

Working on my article was not going anywhere believable. I flipped through my pocket notebook; my thoughts while away from my desk, and especially off-topic notes from sermons. My latest entry froze the gridiron:

“My inadequacy relieves me from the burden of trying to do God’s will in my strength.” *

I’ll spare you the drivel drama details. My whole upset was over one intercepted throw that had me feeling inadequate, unworthy, with no chance for a draft.

I like being independent. But left to myself I plow into walls that defy all logic. Aside from having my own vehicle my present circumstances suit me perfectly, but they also open opportunities for new, unexpected plays.

Practicing my touchdown dance here.

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Before I got back to my story, Old Friend texted me to confirm our next coffee date and then sent a photo from her game party with her family. Awww…

 

 

“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NLT)

All images courtesy Pixabay

*From Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministry, Those Feelings of Inadequacy

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Something Good

The morning came painfully early. Literally. As the weather report predicted four inches of snow fell overnight. Covering. Everything. Here.

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On a ruler four inches doesn’t look like much. But four inches covering the snow that fell days before on ice where some melted, it equaled a lot of hard labor here at the ranch.

These are chores that can’t wait, even when other time-sensitive work calls. The plowing, shoveling, removing ice – yet again – seemed like the aftermath of a blizzard requiring all hands on deck.

 

After a hard day’s labor Eleven-Year-Old and I made snow angels – a fun debriefing for him, icing my neck and back was therapeutic for me. And I had my full day-job agenda to meet.

At age sixty-something, the next morning I regretted having abused Younger Me’s body – sorely. I felt every old injury. I’m not old, but this morning I sure know what old feels like. Compound that with more snow, ice, the additional physical activity I haven’t done in well over three years; I’d earned a good whine.

Instead I groaned quietly reminding myself this too will pass soon as I pulled up my big girl boots.

20161215_074333As the livestock thanked me for their morning meal, I continued moving through more new deep powder to the lot. Passing the truck I remembered I must help unload the rest of the wood as well as meeting a deadline – Yikes! Today.

Rather than telling myself everything is as it should be, with the backlog of work awaiting me, the voices in my head recalled negatives people spoke into my life over the years; You at a ranch? In business for yourself? Really?

Here we’re all still getting our heads around my first fall and winter back home, under new circumstances with a different household. I desperately want to help more, but I’m still learning how to. I already learned how not knowing enough can cost everyone more time and cause additional work.

I normally ignore Cole mumbling, not realizing anyone’s nearby. But this morning, without realizing it, I took his murmuring personally and felt like a burdensome slacker. However, instead of rushing to help with his chores, with my head down, I stayed my course and headed back to my cottage – for tea and prayer.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and who carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.*”

20170110_100153I don’t know about most people, but for me learning to do just what’s needed for the day, maybe the next takes time. Safe at home now I can learn to enjoy life more, rather than constantly brain-storming, considering every possibility for the coming months – or years. For the first time in years I don’t feel like I’m in this alone. This is strange to me and requires considerable adjusting – daily.

As I prayed the Small Voice reminded me I’m in better shape than anyone but God could expect. I began recalling some of the feats the Holy Spirit and I did together since I arrived, the times we met challenges alone and mastered them, let alone my amazing history. My guys and I not only survived, but against all odds, God and I exceeded expectations of anyone that matters.

Getting lost in all the negatives, the what-ifs and the should’ve-would’ve-could’ves in life is too easy.

Isn’t life better when we look at positives instead? I’m positive I’m not broken. I’m mended. We’re all patch worked together into a beautiful, marvelous story.

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Kendra and Cole 2016

 

You’ll have to excuse me for now; Cole just came in asking, “Do I even have to come get my own coffee. Sheesh.” Translated that means he’s glad I’m here too! 😉

 

 

 

“… For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

*Matthew 11:28

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Understanding Helen

I broke my coccyx. Sure, I could say tailbone, but honestly, how often in life do we get to use the word coccyx? Yes, on Christmas Eve 2016 I experienced the full impact of the saying, “… like moving the furniture in Helen Keller’s house.”

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*

On the night before Christmas Eve we all prepared for my first visit with extended family for the whole weekend:

Know that, like a true sister Kendra excels at seeing past my mess and makes herself at home in my apartment. She lived here with Cole and the boys, so she knows the layout and gets altered priorities (like saving rinsed dishes in the sink until it’s full and worth running water till it’s hot). Even so, Cole hiding Christmas gifts in my place put a slight hitch in my giddy up. For Christmas Eve-Eve Kendra and I planned some girl time together to wrap the gifts she also hid here. I moved small furniture around (including my desk chair) to give us space and lessen the chances of her seeing anything she shouldn’t yet.

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*

With the altered routine and too excited to sleep well, I was slightly disoriented the next morning despite two world-class lattes. At one point I decided to chance having an internet signal to check the weather forecast and be certain I packed appropriately. Surprised to see I had a strong signal, and I’ll admit I got side-tracked, I took a moment to scan my inbox. I began easing myself onto the chair – that wasn’t there.

I’d give anything to have the video as my derriere kept lowering – long after it should have touched the chair that’s most always perfectly in place; the look of confusion-giving-way-to-panic realizing I was falling alarmingly fast toward the concrete floor, and then the hard bonk-jar and the ultimate, graceless bounce as my legs spayed before me.

Assured no one witnessed my ridiculous landing, I was glad to know my floor was clean enough that my lovely skid was without any annoying dust/soot residue on the seat of my black jeans. I realized the level of pain in my posterior forecast a very clumsy, inelegant present me meeting the extended family.

Forever the writer, I quickly began giggling over the scenario despite the agonizing bolts shooting from my nearly freezing fanny as I cautiously turned to lift myself from the floor.

I immediately decided to share the experience with Kendra, which actually required walking it off toward the main house. Certain I’d fractured something, but delighted I actually could walk, I was giggling hysterically by the time I made the back steps. Stepping up with a more intense shot of pain I prayed, “Lord, please help me not throw a wrench into our Christmas and help me through this.” I imagined His perspective of my recent event and laughed even more.

Fortunately Cole was out checking the truck so that between us girls, Kendra soon fully understood what had happened. In rare form I poured on the humor. Despite her obvious concern she too began giggling as she poured a small coffee for me and laced it with some peach moonshine saying, “If your bags are in the truck this will help.”

They were and it did.

Roo & Kendra Christmas 2016

Roo & Kendra Christmas 2016

A week and three long days later, I’d confirmed nothing more could be done to help me. The hairline fracture pains me whenever I move. I often reflect upon Christmas in Washtucna and Sister-in-law’s concern. I explained why I moved so carefully. She understood my example clearly, “… You see, changing my routine can have the same effect as moving the furniture on Helen Keller…”

I was glad that by the time most of us sat at the large dining table playing Nerts, no one was troubled by my stance at the end of the table, or my audible groans each time I reached across it, alternating legs stretching out behind me for balance as I slammed my cards for points (we’re all serious card players). Aside from being especially careful navigating down the stairs to my room and despite the pain it was a wonderful weekend.

Though I never won a single game, I’m content with the abundant holiday blessings. Sure, I could have slowed down enough to look or feel for the chair in its usual place, but then again the fall could have done far more actual damage than it did. I thank God for humbling me – and slowing me down dramatically. Then there were the extra calories I burned standing and walking rather than sitting. Pain also forbade me from risking the frozen steps to tour the chicken house as the youngsters ski boarded the surrounding wheat fields.

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As I turned 55 I lived in and worked for a 55-and-over community. Over those few years I often witnessed the damage a slight trip or fall can cause aging bodies. Granted, I have 7 – 12 weeks of discomfort to look forward to, but I clearly I am blessed and much better off than I have any right to be. Slightly less nimble than I ever was, but abundantly blessed.

Besides, I can now play the sympathy card at my discretion.

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“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

*Images courtesy Pixabay

Donut pillow image courtesy Amazon

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Eggsact Timing

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I get eggs from an obliging neighbor’s chicken coop whenever I can. We’re huge fans of hard-boiled eggs (yolks are rarely on for me), so eggs are a mainstay for fast, easy protein.

Knowing which are fresh can sometimes be tricky, especially with free eggs. We faithfully place eggs in water before cooking. Fresh eggs roll right to their sides. Good, but older eggs stand up or roll around. These are best for hard-boiling. If an egg rises to the top of the water or floats it goes away, preferably unbroken.

 

Yesterday I realized a carton had been in the ‘fridge for longer than I could remember. None lifted, so all were edible, but some moved faster than I like. Remembering Cole loves deviled eggs (okay, and inspired by the marvelous Victo’s post), as I went about other tasks, I boiled them and then deviled them.

Sprinkling them with paprika and finely minced parsley for a festive touch, they were so pretty at my kitchen coffee station, I thought to take a picture and went into the bedroom for my phone. Tickled because I rarely think to shoot a photo, I wanted to share the joy. First I texted Cole that they were there, to please eat them. I didn’t realize the time and the shop has been unusually busy so I didn’t think anyone would respond right away.

I’d already seen Cole earlier, and still hadn’t changed from my lounging flannels, when I heard the door open I delayed long enough to make the bed – I even set the pillows that usually stay on the arm chair in the corner unless I expect visitors. When I heard the door again…

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I returned to the kitchen. Instead of a plateful of eggs all dressed up for the photo, four halves remained. The guys were hungry and the eggs didn’t suck.

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Sometimes my plans go better than I expect. But hey, there’s still lunch, a snack and maybe even breakfast tomorrow.

Oh, and I still haven’t changed from my lounging flannels. Jus’ Sayin’.

To perfectly cook hard-boiled eggs that peel easily every time:

 

 

Cover room temp eggs under  2″ of water and bring to a full, rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat. Let the pot stand (don’t lift the lid) for 10 – 20 minutes. Altitudes (or whatever) vary so you’ll have to figure out the best timing for perfect, yellow yolks. After ten minutes rinse one till it’s cool enough to peel and split. If the yolk’s done to your liking pour out most of the water, fill the pot with ice or ice water and let the eggs cool enough to handle – about 7 minutes.

Once cooled, crack the eggs and then roll them between flattened hands enough for air to get between the membrane and loosen the shell all around, then peel the shells off. Voila!

Quinn’s Deviled Eggs:

For 6 hard boiled eggs, 12 deviled eggs

Slice eggs in half placing yolks in bowl and arrange whites on a serving plate. Into yolks mix 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, with a splash of mustard. We like dijon, but brown or plain yellow prepared mustard is good. You may also like a little more mayonnaise. Be brave and experiment. Add salt and white pepper and mix thoroughly.

We like to grate a tablespoon of onion into the yolks, 1/2 teaspoon of sifted Coleman’s mustard, and a tiny splash of white balsamic vinegar or drops of lime juice. Be bold – find what you like best! Quinn also likes to add a hint of ground, prepared horseradish. Personally I think the horseradish is too many flavors for the pallet, but to each his own.

Pipe mixture into the whites (a zipper sandwich baggie with one corner cut off works) and sprinkle with paprika. I also add a tiny pinch of finely minced parsley during the holidays or chopped, fresh dill is delightful any time.

Advisory: Our family throws caution to the wind and typically prepares at least 3 dozen eggs for family gatherings – and they’re gone before we sit down to the table together.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

Eggs Freshness Test, Water video courtesy YouTube and HappyEggDelivery.com
Chicken image courtesy Pixabay

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Deep Gratitude

This week I asked God to show me things and events I take for granted or overlooked, things for which I’m thankful.

All y’alls probably don’t forget the epic moments in your lives that turned the tide for you. This morning I awoke with one such memory – that ended a friendship.

Typically I prefer to avoid dwelling on the dark times of my early past, but this week memories blessed me with a clearer perception of God’s infinite grace, the day I didn’t pull the trigger.

My family of origin is rich – with extremes. Some of those include violence. When I was young I witnessed such from a distance and was sometimes at the receiving end. While I not only survived but overcame them, they affected me. Not always in positive ways.

I left my marriage not solely to remove my sons and myself from physical harm but because of infidelity on many levels. We all got over it, but soon after the separation I recognized violent roots in me.

A good friend surprised the boys and me with a visit to our new home. She’d told me weeks before her new husband had shoved and grabbed her hard enough to bruise her. I wasn’t as happy to see him with her.

woman-angry-pixabayHe quickly felt my reluctance to receive him and soon began urging her to leave. Forgetting all she’d confided in me, she simply said they wouldn’t stay long.

 

After chatting in the kitchen I started walking them through the house to show her the changes we’d made. Soon didn’t come fast enough for him. Entering the second room he grabbed her arm forcefully, insisting they leave immediately. I perceived violence.

revolver-sillouette-bixabayFaster than I recall ever moving before, I reached into the closet we stood next to and retrieved the single action .22 revolver we kept at the back of the high shelf.

I aimed the barrel at her husband’s brow saying, “Let go of her, and leave.” My eldest son later said my strange, icy tone gave him chills from the other room and the pitch of my friend’s voice confirmed her terror as she warned her husband, “She will shoot. Don’t test her.”

The husband realized his life depended upon his next move. He slowly let go of her, raising his hands above his head. From the doorway, thirteen-year-old Iain stepped beside him, and taking his elbow urged him toward the back door saying, “Good choice.”

As the husband backed away with Iain, he cautiously said “Honey, if you’re ready I’ll be in the car.”

In my history the behavior and attitude the husband initially exhibited typically led to me bleeding. One of the last such instances, my friend was in the house during some of the brutality I had survived. In the present all I could think of was protecting my sons and perhaps my friend.

Iain guided the husband outside. After closing the door I lowered my weapon. My friend shocked me by shaming me for doing what I considered the best response to the situation. She cried saying she couldn’t understand me. I was dumbfounded.

Months before Erin came to take me to the hospital. I’d been hit so hard I didn’t get up. After I came to I determined it was the last time I was going down defenseless. The friend I presently stared at, mouth agape in disbelief, had witnessed the attack and called Erin.

As the couple drove away I checked the pistol and then put it back on the shelf. I gathered my sons and assured them everything was okay and then encouraged them to talk about what had just happened. Soon I asked Iain why he went to the husband. He answered, “I saw you hadn’t pulled the hammer back, but he didn’t.” Then shrugging his shoulders he quoted his uncle, “Neutralize the threat.” There were no other questions.

Iain has always astounded me – often in good ways. He never forgot Grandpa, a WWII vet, vigilantly teaching the family of huntsmen, “You hear that sound [a firearm cocking], drop wherever you are.” Iain had’t heard that distictive sound that day.

Minutes later we all returned to what we’d been doing before the guests arrived as though it was any other day.

In almost 25 years, I did not recall that event. After many changes in my life and my heart the memory came to me, tormenting me for days. At the time of that incident I was remarkably spontaneous, especially proactive regarding any perceived threat. A practiced shootist then, I gladly remember now that I never cocked the gun that day. It was the last time I’d pulled a firearm for over two decades.

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Whenever I just breathe deeply enough to feel the familiar old scars where my ribs and scull cracked beneath my beloved’s boots, I am thankful. Today I’m thankful to be home safe and sound. I’m not proud, but I’m thankful for the times I stood against physical violence with equal force. And I thank God especially that one particular stand could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t.

Mostly I’m thankful for my sons. Against the odds they are peacekeepers today.

“When I think of all this I fall to my knees and pray to the Father… Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:14, 20 (NLT)

Images courtesy of Pixabay

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Longreads

Good Call

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Kendra taking a moments pause

Here at the ranch we observed Veterans Day with deep gratitude, heartfelt prayer, revisited photos of the valiant service members throughout our families (including Cole, three of my offspring…), tribute posts to Facebook, and lots of labor. At sunset our Friday gathering of friends and visitors left Kendra’s Cowboy Caviar long enough to salute the flag in honor of our veterans.

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Feeling a bit drained I decided to recline with a DVD for the later part of the evening, American Sniper. But minutes into it Kendra and Cole burst through the door, Kendra giddily declaring, “We have a calf!”

Jumping up from the couch, I grabbed my jacket and was on their heels, out the door and westward to the paddock. Cole had already moved Girlfriend, the mare and Nickel, the steer to the south pasture. The cows, C’mere and C’mon furtively chomped alfalfa while eyeing the fence yards away where the newborn calf rested comfortably.

Cole wandered off to points east while Kendra and I ooh and aah-ed over the new arrival. Wrapping our coats more tightly around ourselves, Kendra thought aloud “How funny; weeks of great weather and she waited to birth on a foggy Veteran’s Day.” I replied, “We’ll call him Grunt, maybe?” And then, “Nah. What’cha got?”

After a nano-second pause, Kendra said, “Hero.” “Bam,” I replied. Much fist bumping ensued.

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“The Lord your God will bless you as He has promised.” Deuteronomy 15:6 (NLT)

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Filed under Notes from the Apex