Tag Archives: work

More Spring Cleaning

During the winter Cole lets out shop space for boat and RV storage. To help him out, his Harley Davidson Motorcycles winter with me in the cottage. As much as I enjoy revising old, happy memories riding around the countryside, come spring I’m very ready to see the bikes on the road again – or anywhere else.

Someone commented on how the relocation project didn’t seem like such a big deal. I now have highlights of this year’s event. And this post doesn’t include fertilizing the pastures that same afternoon – another all-hands-on-deck event. That’s a whole other story.

And for the record, The Deuce is available to a good home (for sale).

“Nickel” and “The Deuce”

 

The pad in front of my cottage – Before

 

Relocating the Challenger to work on later

 

Moving the ’57 Cab to the lift. Maybe this is her year.

 

… And lifting

 

Fresh air, finally!

 

ChuiyTwo tests the saddlebags

 

Cole and YellowLab take a breather before turning the keys

 

Final check before this year’s first run

 

Now GoodGirl and I can take a breather

 

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:9, 10 (NIV)

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Peaceful Pause

So, there it was, enough of a pause in the rain and the horrendous winds to allow the sunshine to dry the grass. It finally felt like a northwestern spring day.

Yeay!

All I wanted was to throw some weeds to the hens, a flake of alfalfa to the steer, mow the lawns, add the clippings on the compost pile and toss it, feed and water Izzy’s newly potted plants and then put my feet up to enjoy the sunshine and a late morning latte.

Was that really so much to ask?

 

 

 

 

Evidently it was.

A distant neighbor’s peacock insisted upon announcing his presence from what sounded like our yard.

Every. Five. Minutes.

Peacock’s can be ornery in the spring, so dogs and I searched.

Even from high in the nearest neighbor’s tree a scant quarter-mile away,  for miles around he sounded like he was in our yard.

 

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Once we solved the mystery of the clandestine peacock, ChiuyTwo understood the need for some peace and quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

GoodGirl and SchnauzerOne however had other ideas:

Finally after cleaning their paws on my freshly washed jeans, they decided they needed to rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29, 39 (NIV)

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Spring Cleaning

While Brother Cole and I remain the same, we have experienced some changes, and new players if you will:

SchnauzerOne and ChiuyTwo will be my house guests until they move to the main house at the end of the month. Getting a good, sharp photo will take some more doing.  Meanwhile, lots of playtime is the order of the day.

GoodGirl will need some time to understand our the new friends are not toys, but she’s always ready for play. And everyone approves of my new storm door.

As can be seen on four of the hens, Darryll the rooster’s departure has been too long overdue. As of yesterday he has taken residence elsewhere.

And hardly least of all, Isabella (Izzy), Cole and I juggled around some of the project trucks, parts, etc. and organized the lots a bit. There was no bloodshed during the three-day project and a good time was had by all:

Cole, getting-his-trucks-in-a-row, and Izzy.

That’s one tough little tractor

Cole has some pretty cool tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Colossians 3:23, 24 (NIV)

 

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My Groove

I began today happy to wake up, which is my preference, but soon I went on a tear.

Momentary digression:

For weeks I’ve been working on the lawns, vegetable and flower gardens around the main house. The underground sprinkler system is down. So, for the first 2 – 4 hours a day, 6 days a week I’m working in the yards, pulling weeds around the lots for chicken feed, hauling grass clippings to the livestock, tending the pastures in between moving the hoses and sprinklers. Clearly I get my steps in early!

 

Note: The potted plants around my door require about 5 minute’s attention every other day. I have gravel, no lawn.

 

 

I do all this mostly because I enjoy it, but also because 1) Brother needs and appreciates the help while he works in town and runs his business here, and 2) I’m at a standstill in my cottage:

  • I can’t paint the walls or floors before the roof is repaired and any drywall that needs replacing is done,
  • the list goes on, but I’ll spare you the whine.

You’re welcome.

Last week I began watering the grass in the evenings in case that might green up the too-beige lawn.

I may have mentioned I typically rise and go to roost with the chickens. The problem watering in the evenings rather than early in the morning is when I’m up later in the evening I have trouble getting to sleep before 2 or 3 a.m. This doesn’t work well when I usually wake between 3 and 4 a.m. – like it or not.

So back to today:

This fourth (maybe fifth) groggy, sleep-deprived morning I felt notably grumpy and shaking it off was difficult. More importantly, my chapters have taken some hits – the writing’s vague, sequences bounce all over the place and dialogues suck (it’s an industry term). Sort of like me lately.

Before long I’d zeroed in on the problem:

  • I volunteer the upkeep of Brother’s lawn and our gardens,
  • I volunteer caring for his livestock,
  • I volunteer vacuuming the avalanche of dog hair in the main house (his house) three times a week before he ever asked me to help him out with it. I admit, I do this so I don’t feel bad using his vacuum cleaner in my cottage.

Shortly after returning from the pastures this morning I became annoyed by all this – yet again.

It appears I threw off my groove.

 

With the emotional turmoil and all the changes in the household lately, Brother’s been quite overwhelmed. Been there, done that. They’re his problems, not mine. Still, I care about him and I understand his situation – and his occasional crankiness.

I must say here that Brother is mostly kind and generous. He is not obligated, but allows me use of his vehicles and is keeping the Tracker, what we call the Wanna-be Jeep mostly for me. He tells me often he appreciates how I always refuel all the vehicles and I check the oil and water every time I drive. No matter how busy he is, he checks in on me if he doesn’t see me. He offers me cash any time he imagines I need it. And he always says (or texts) “Goodnight. ‘Love you.”

He even took it upon himself to replace my ugly old shower curtain rod with a newer, shiny chrome one that matches the fixtures. It’s what he does.

Because he primarily sees the demands on his time, he doesn’t actually notice all I do to help out. It’s what I do.

After my rant at the cottage walls subsided, convicted by my attitude, I got to my knees.

It’s funny the way prayer works.

Shortly after I amen-ed, I realized I’d allowed Brother’s problems to take priority over my work – my job.  What’s more, I’m sure he has no idea.

But here’s the twist: Today I recognize my problem is I haven’t treated him like my brother. I’ve treated him like a landlord. Okay, so I wouldn’t care so much about a business relationship and would quickly insist a landlord hire a gardener, repairman, etc. But I’d never let my brothers take advantage of me (without some serious shenanigans). Family doesn’t function well like that. Believe me, I know about dysfunction.

I took the focus off my finger pointing at his problems and checked the three pointing back at me. And then I got back on my knees again. Once I regained my spiritual balance, I composed a text and scheduled it for about the time Brother clocks out at work in town:

“I’m returning to my job in the mornings. I can feed/h2o livestock, vegetables n flowers in a.m. You can h2o lawns in the p.m. If you need anything else we can talk. <3”

Walking around, moving the sprinklers, he’ll enjoy the lawns all the more. This feels like a good start in a better direction. I took a deep, sleepy breath.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:2-5 (NLT)

 

The Emperors New Groove Video courtesy YouTube

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Still Workin’

Yeah, it’s been a while. Originally I imagined this imposed hiatus would be a week or two.

We plan – God laughs.

It turns out I’d carried a lot more baggage home with me than I’d realized. And surprise, I’d gotten so used to carrying it all I hadn’t noticed the the weight. As it happens, hurting my arm and shoulder wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I had to lay a few things down and I’ll tell you, sometimes doing that right can be a long process. I’m determined to stick with it and not need to do this again!

 

Still, I enjoy my new life on the ranch, despite how it humbles me – daily. So much to learn, such astounding lessons.

 

 

I finish the chores early in the day so I’m back to work on my chapters now: Write – edit – edit – edit – submit.

I don’t have my head around my new What’s Next format – yet – but I don’t want anyone wondering if I’ve gone off the rails either.

So for now, enjoy the link to what feels like my life’s sound track from Mandisa and keep checking in!

 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

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Hiatus

It came gradually. Like the spring storms in our region, what began as slight awareness became genuine concern. I admit, during the first few days I considered this was all about me giving up coffee. Only I didn’t plan what happened. I couldn’t stop or defer it either.

My usually reliable creativity began waning. My dwindling reserve of scheduled posts concerned me. And yet strangely, I felt remarkably calm. Actually apathetic. For years I’ve worked faithfully on my dailies. And for days I’d been sending it all to the recycle bin.

I resisted, desperate to complete my lists of tasks and projects, unwilling to yield a smidgen. I wondered if this could be some mysterious new virus or bacteria. But I had no symptoms of being sick. I was not sad. My thoughts were clear. There was no hint of any crisis du jour or impending doom. I slept well and napped soundly when I felt tired. And yet I felt weary. I soon began to wonder if I was literally going mad.

I fought it every way I know how, resolved to forge onward, determined to regain my pace.

Soon I realized that for months, years actually, I’d practiced systematically slicing fragments of personal time wherever I could to produce more, serving the greater good, thinking I must work harder, do better. I hurried from one task to another, rarely pausing.

It’s not that I felt drained. Still, sparks of joy had become rare, no longer the integral element of my life. And I hadn’t noticed.

Days later, vanquished, I cried out loud, “God, I don’t understand! What am I missing?” Immediately I heard, “You.”

With that I surrendered.

I cleared my schedule, stopped work and began doing only rudimentary activities. It was hard, but I persisted.

For the time being my only assignments are animal and self care and Bible time. Even prayers are more about listening for God. After a few days I realized, I am literally living by faith, hour by hour and not by my strength or determination. This had long been my heart’s desire, but something else always seemed more important. Until now.

And the world kept turning!

This morning as I returned to the cottage, livestock munching alfalfa, the dogs happily running circles around me, I giggled. Then we circled back out to the pastures – for fun! I noticed with delight new bird nests here and there, clover flowering, tulips are opening and some brand new lambs in the neighbor’s pasture.

Again I ignored the lure to work. It feels strange, but I’m okay with that today.

I don’t know when this hiatus will end, I didn’t call it, but I’m confident in the One that did.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

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Something Good

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

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On a ruler four inches doesn’t look like much. But four inches covering the snow that fell days before, and 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, and icing my neck and back was therapeutic for me. And I had my full day-job agenda to meet.

The next morning my sixty-something body 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 and reminded myself this too will pass soon as I pulled on 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 autumn and winter back home, with all-new circumstances and 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 generate additional work.

I normally ignore Cole mumbling, not realizing anyone’s nearby. But this morning, without realizing it, I took his murmuring personally. I quickly began feeling like a burdensome slacker. However, instead of rushing to help him with his chores, I kept my head down, stayed my course and returned 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 learning to do only 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, God’s Still, Small Voice reminded me I’m in better shape than anyone (but Him) 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.

But for right now you’ll have to excuse me; 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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Good Call

My family observes Veterans Day with deep gratitude, heartfelt prayer, tribute posts to Facebook, visiting cemeteries and revisiting photos of the valiant service members throughout our families (including my dad, brother, three of my offspring, Cole…). At sunset the typical gathering of friends and visitors silently, reverently saluted 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 Roommate and Cole burst through the door, the former 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 the mare and the 3-year-old steer to the south pasture. The cows furtively chomped alfalfa while eyeing the newborn calf resting comfortably a few yards away.

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

After a nano-second pause, Roommate said, “Hero.”

“Bam,” I replied. Much fist bumping, oohs and ahhs ensued.

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“The Lord your God will bless you as He has promised.”

Deuteronomy 15:6 (NLT)

 

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Total Recall

human-1138004__180You probably don’t experience moments when your brain seems to freeze up. I do. I can easily imagine what a car overheating would feel like; you’re suddenly stuck where you are, unable to move and it’s all you can do to understand what just happened. You’ll get around to wondering why.

I’ve moved around a lot lately. Having driver’s licenses from three states over seven months, that brain fade lately happens to me frequently. I experience the phenomenon especially when I encounter people I haven’t seen or thought of in years. Maybe it’s a normal homecoming thing. Maybe. It has nothing to do with aging.

This week a woman visited our Community Group adding a fresh touch to our 6 members. I noticed upon entering the house she looked familiar. I assumed I’d seen her in church. I’ve only attended for 5 weeks, so familiar-but-unplaceable faces are commonplace. Hand extended toward her I crossed the room, when she surprised me by standing, opening her arms to me. I welcome hugs among the brethren, so a hug from a newcomer was nice.

Before letting go she said, “Eva.” And then she repeated, “Eva!” I looked more closely and suddenly recognized the woman I’d worked with at the radio station some fifteen years before. Unlike me she hasn’t aged a day!

Nice.

With all the customary jumps, squeals, more hugs and oh-my-goodness-es, we derailed the meeting for a few moments covering the broad strokes. I doubt anyone realized I sat across the room from her so I could see her clearly without glasses (my mid-range). Through the study we bounced ideas off each other like we’d done brainstorming ad campaigns. And the memories kept on coming.

Please don’t ask me for any minute details about the lesson.

Later at home, before my prayers I marveled over how well she’s done;

  • She married,
  • just sold her home and bought a new one in town in one of the newer, upscale neighborhoods,
  • her boy grew up and did time in the Service,
  • she and her husband have a growing business and
  • she still writes advertisements, only at the local TV studio now,
  • she drove the late-model Cadillac SLT that was parked where Roomate typically parks,
  • she and her husband have been charter members of our church since its early beginnings (the one I diverted from ten years ago, going to Illinois instead).

The girl’s done well.

Strangely, sleep didn’t come easily that night. Instead of resting I paced around the apartment looking for little tasks. The rustic character of the place affords them in abundance.

For the first time since my arrival, I wasn’t entirely enchanted with my life.

Before too long (quick as I am these days) I realized I’d wandered onto the slippery slope of the comparison game. Certain my prayers didn’t get past the ceiling, I decided to burn the midnight oil. Before long at all my mind slipped back into how well my former workmate’s done and I began pacing the open spaces of the apartment trying to clear my mind – again.

As I drug my hand across the polished chrome of The Deuce, Cole’s custom Harley Davidson, feeling the smooth, cold metal against my fingertips, I imagined my far more traditional, conservative workmate’s face upon seeing my new digs – and the jokes about the pair of immaculate Harleys inside my home. For the first time I questioned if I actually liked them here.

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I normally enjoy the bikes wintering indoors with me. Both my brothers cherished not only the exceptional machinery and stunningly beautiful detailing, but the memories they made riding them all over the countryside, just as I enjoy their stories of the road.

But I realized I don’t hold title on either bike.

Looking around my rustic cottage apartment:

  • the stained concrete floors (artfully colored, of course),
  • mismatched area rugs, china and flatware,
  • boxes wrapped with contact paper for storage (and temporary makeshift occasional tables),
  • the shabby chic, barnwood tables (Chip and Joanna Gaines would drool over – jus’ sayin’),
  • my late brother’s recliner (that I won’t disown for love or money), etc.

A stranger would imagine that I’m impecunious. With my background of course I am. But I’m pleased with my accomplishments that brought me here:

  • I no longer own a motor vehicle or real estate today. I drive Cole’s vehicles.
  • I actually like hanging my wash to dry rather than run the meter using the clothes dryer,
  • I don’t mind the workout from foraging and chopping wood for heat – yet. (It’s been a mild, beautiful autumn).
  • Six years after near financial ruin, with a microscopic recordable income, my credit score is now average.

So, on paper my estate’s essentially worthless.

But any time I walk out my door, the pack of dogs are happy to greet me. Horses neigh from the pastures and the cows moo whenever they see me walking westward (always glad for any tasty offering). A couple of times a day, no matter what’s going on in the shop, Cole bursts through the door, “just counting noses,” often tossing out some task for me to reinforce I’m wanted – I know, awww… DearOldFriend is always nearby to lend an ear or a shoulder whenever I need one, chatting with my guys help fill the gap when I find time to miss my grand kids and I can text or talk with the rest of the family whenever.

“If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.*” 

I spend most of my days doing what I love, so it rarely seems like work. I can walk the acreage without speaking to anyone or find a kindred soul to chat with any time I need to or work on my Spanglish. My age-old dream of a living on a self-sustaining property is gradually becoming a reality.

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Life could be better, but I’d need some serious time to imagine how. I’ll rest well tonight.

 

It’s good to be home.

 

 

 

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

Galatians 6:4 (NLT)

*Ancient Chinese Philosophy (or Marc Anthony)

Opening image courtesy of Pixabay.

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Back Home Again

Two particular things stand out from my recent trip for a family funeral.

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Stormy Daybreak, Valley of the Sun

 

First is the astounding amount of time I need to resettle after such a trip.

 

CA-AZ 1981 001CA-AZ 1981 001Not long ago we’d take up any opportunity to hit the road. Regardless of my boys’ ages we thought little of grabbing our packs on the way out the door, not knowing when exactly we’d actually walk back in. We’d cross a state line or two for a weekend adventure if for no other reason than because we could. What’s more, I recall only one instance where an eight hour drive through the night rendered me incapable of working my first shift. In all fairness that was the day after my niece took her sweet time being born – 355.7 miles from home at the time. Maybe that was long ago. That niece is in her thirties married over a decade ago.

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Now, days after returning from the last trip I am amazed at how much time has actually passed.

This morning, thinking I had a pretty good handle on things, latte in hand, I sprang to work and immediately felt blindsided by the bulk of email awaiting me, some now six days old. I slouched leaned back in my chair, sipping my steamy, comforting mug contents, listening to the uproar in my head:

  • The Nano-Organized Micro-Manager Voice screamed End-of-the-world-NOW prophesies,
  • The Artist Voice called for blues, greens and reds all to be mixed with black,
  • The Comptroller Voice demanded we audit all accounts immediately,
  • The Editor-in-Chief voice demanded I post something, anything, NOW
  • Suzy Sunshine’s Voice feebly interjected about how popular we’ve become…

This took place mere nano-seconds before I noticed the figure “3” next to the Gmail Drafts folder (meaning something most likely did not go out as I thought before I left for the airport).  A loud scream, initially remote, rapidly pierced its way to my frontal lobe, nearly breaching Central Dispatch before I arrested it, saying instead, “Voithos, where are you?”

Though I actually had internet access the entire time I was away – time away with family being the operative term. Such occasions happen rarely in our circles, so they’ve moved up the priority scale dramatically. This morning I sipped, calculated and reminisced events of the past two weeks. I determined to break tradition, and not stay at the laptop until all two-hundred and some-odd items were opened and sorted, and then take time to catch my breath. That memory alone made my neck and shoulders stiffen.

Instead. I. thought.

I decided upon the well-considered, conscious choice to sort all email into three categories (four including the Drafts folder) to address after I returned from a walk and shower with  a fresh pot of tea:

Absolutely First: Check Draft folder,

Folder 1: Stuff to open first to avoid apocalyptic catastrophe (stuff that could cost me money),

Folder 2: Stuff to deliberate over after sorting through Drafts and Folder 1,

Folder 3: Put other stuff here only if doing so won’t cost me money,

Folder 4: WordPress notifications. Get strong coffee, and then proceed.

Greens Dec 1960 Sdale 001The second thing that stands out is the very many gatherings with my siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews where we all emphatically agreed we must get together before another funeral summons us. At our advanced age, as approximated by no sign of our elders (until passing a mirror) and the horde of young people that look only vaguely familiar now, we should not press our luck as to when that gathering will happen.

So, dear readers, this post is not only me checking back in, but is also my figurative gauntlet landing solidly in the dust, a cloud billowing gently on the grass before my dearest relations. I shall again attach a link to this post in another round of family emails reminding us all that tomorrow is not promised. We must set a date.

I’ll get back to you on that.

 

“You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times.” Matthew 16:2,3 (NLT)

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