The Horses Can’t Eat It

I haven’t written in awhile, probably because I have been busier than a one armed brick layer, and that leads to the first thing I am thankful for. I am thankful that, even after all these years of use, misuse and plain old abuse, this rather stumpy body still manages to work in an acceptable fashion.

Oh some days it’s hard to get cranked, the choke seems to stick, there is a whine in the power steering unit and the ball joints pop and groan, but I still manage to get it out on the road and keep up with average traffic.

So I am thankful that the Good Lord has seen fit to give me a body that can stand up to hard travelin’. I believe He knew I would need it.

I am also very thankful for the people God has put into my life. I believe the polite phrase for most of us is colorful. And we are as colorful as a Carney caravan painted by Picasso.

Old drunks, young artist, sweet souls, hard travelers, long riders and several failed experiments in modern chemistry, who have added more love, laughter and wisdom to this old man’s life than ever he deserved. I love you all, even the ones who I have threatened to behead with a dull shovel, and you know I was only a little peeved.

However, I am especially grateful for a handful of you. There are my two daughters, Katherine and Shannon who are full grown people in their own right, and who I can think of and smile. There are my other three who came as a package deal with my Connie. Two of them are grown men and the third is a teenager, and they have brought joy into my life.

Also there is Connie. I ask her often, “Do you know how much I love you?” And she answers with a smile and a shake of her head to say “no.” Then I say, “I don’t either.”

New Family

Connie and my wedding. Most people start a family after they are married, we kinda did it differently. Like most things.

And I don’t. One of the things I learned while being taught to jump off of high places with a rope is that the human mind cannot really comprehend distances straight down more than about 66 feet. When I try to look at my love for Connie, it is just all that I have and I have no idea how much that is.

Maybe I should consider how thankful I am for all the material blessing I have been given. In less than seven years I have gone from a homeless drunk with half a suitcase of worn clothes, a beat up old Bible and a dinged up guitar, to having just a whole buncha neat stuff and critters and all that.

It’s nice and I am grateful for it all; but it’s just things.

Some years ago in Texas an old cowboy was buying his third round for the house. A man at this table cautioned him to slow down, that it was getting expensive.

The old man laughed and said, “Its only money, the horses can’t eat it.” I was there that night, drinking his whiskey and, insult added to injury, I stole his saying.

Those who I love and who love me are what I judge my wealth by and, on that scale, I am very rich.

I hope each of you feels the same and I pray God’s own blessing on you all.

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So What Would that Look Like in Latin?

I must confess that my Lawn Tractor has been giving me a little trouble recently. The last three or four times I used it, I was getting uneven cuts. It was dragging badly and it got hung up on a couple of high spots. I casually looked for the answer to what was causing this, but seeing nothing obvious, and the problem not being too severe, I continued to use it.

Let me promise you that before starting any motorized device, I always check the oil and the gas, check tensions and tightness where appropriate, and do a walk around to make certain that “this” is in fact still attached to “that”.

So I was finishing up the yard yesterday and decided to mow the, now knee deep in weeds, garden patch. Part way through I took too big a slice of that weedy pie and stalled my mower with grass and weeds wrapped around the blade.

Have I mentioned that I am not as young as I used to be? In point of fact, I am not as young as most TURTLES used to be. Getting down on one knee once involved just dropping down. Getting up was a matter of rising in total defiance of any laws of gravity that might believe they apply.

Getting down on one knee now requires a thorough recon of the area to make certain that it is clear of twigs, pebbles and other foreign objects, plotting a route down that allows for too much yaw and play in my bad and my worse knee (I do not have a good one) having already chosen what, if necessary, I will use to pull or push myself to my feet. Can I get an Amen from the Geriatrics among you?

So, I get down on one knee and free the blade of all fouling weeds. Now to get up: I put my hand on the right rear tire and push myself to my feet. To save you any doubt I did in fact make it to my feet, but picture for a moment pushing down on a big black marshmallow. My right rear tire was effectively flat. I used the gauge on it and the gauge read “seriously?”

It is two tenths of a mile up a dirt road to our little quick shop. So carefully I limped my little tractor to the quick shop only to find out that the air hose hanging between the pumps was busted. Limping back, I recalled that, while my own portable air compressor was busted, I always carry a can of Fix A Flat behind the seat of my truck. Fix a flat worked fine and I continued with my chore for the afternoon.

That is not why I started this little essay however. I want to discuss a truth that was brought home to me as my hand buried itself into what I assumed was a functional tire and I realized with a flash of insight what I had overlooked for about a month.

A Lawn Tractor runs so much better if all four tires are inflated.

You may say that this is obvious and that any fool would know it. I will tell you that I am personally acquainted with one fool who obviously did not. The larger issues I meditated on while I bounced around finishing the lawn had nothing really to do with tires or tractors but expanded to include life in general. They included such things as:

1. No matter how smart you are, how well trained you are, how careful you try to be, and how much you plan, something will go wrong. The equation we call life has far too many variables in it for us to be able to control them. Only the Great Mathematician has that kind of skill.

2. Beating yourself up over something is a waste of time. Every person who has ever performed knows that you are going to make mistakes; they also know that, even if Auntie Mable’s garter belt explodes in the middle of Sweet Hour of Prayer, you do NOT stop. Quit blaming yourself and fix the problem.

3. If you cannot laugh at yourself it is going to be a long, long life. There are things in life that require serious contemplation; you are not one of them. We live one step away from our next stumble; you can laugh or cry. On my better days, I laugh.

4. The Maker of Everything made it all to its purpose, and declared it perfect. The designer and builder of the only perfect things loves you. Even when you neglect to check the air in your tires.

When I finished, I came in and, over coffee, shared with Connie my story of the mushy tire and some of my contemplations, I told her then, “I probably should make ‘You Lawn Tractor Works Better With All The Tires Inflated’ my motto. I wonder how that would look in Latin?”

The Results of the Poll

A few weeks ago, we took a poll asking what kind of posts you would like to see more of.

To the ten of you that voted: Thanks!

“Wild Herbs/Edibles” and “Faith Based”, were the top two choices, with three votes each. Then there were two votes for “Daily Experiences” and one each for “Animals/Farm Critters” and “DIY”

Ok, so my mind, working like it does, my first thought was faith based wild herbs and edibles? Well, ok, maybe not.

Let me ask you this: What do you all think of a weekly or maybe biweekly post about each of those things? Tell us what you think in the comments, use our “Contact us” page, or talk to us on facebook.

For now, let me say this. Every time I go out to forage, I am always amazed at how much God has given us that we don’t even recognize. Go for a walk in the woods, or in a meadow, or some place where wild things grow, and just look at the variety of plant life. Look along the side of the road, and see all the different wild flowers. Look at all the different types of trees!

Genesis 1: 11-13 says

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.”

It was good! It was ALL good! Do you realize what that means? Before Adam and Eve sinned, there were no poisonous plants! Poison ivy wasn’t! Stinging nettles didn’t! Still, even after the fall, God made a way, like he always does. There may be poisonous plants now, but there are also healing plants.

From what I’ve been told, jewel weed, which can be made into a salve for stings and itchy rashes, always grows close to poison ivy. The cure grows close to the poison! How cool is that?

Oh, and stinging nettles? Their “juice” can treat the stings of their own leaves! Not only that, but nettles are used to stop bleeding and have all kinds of other health benefits. You can read more about that here.

So, I guess I did write about faith based wild herbs and edibles, huh?

Connie

Writing 101: Expand a Comment

A few days ago, I read a blog post over at My Enduring Bones called “The Young and the Rested”  She wrote about those nightmares that send you screaming from your bed, and how she loves them, because they give her lots of creative material.

This was my comment:

“I have dreams like that too; some of them I still remember from when I was a child. Full of color and terror that stays with me for days, those dreams have the opposite effect on me. They leave me frozen, and unable to focus. I’m glad you can make use of yours!”

How often do children have recurring nightmares? I don’t know, but I had them. I dreamed about a girl with no face, and an old woman reminiscent of Whistler’s mother at least three or four times over several months, maybe even years. My early grade school years were rather chaotic, so it’s hard to pin things down. I remember events based on who I was living with and where I was going to school. I don’t remember the details of those dreams, beyond what I already said, but I remember waking up scared witless.

In my early twenties, the nightmares were so bad that I would be afraid to go to sleep. That was before Freddie Kruger and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I didn’t like those movies at all, and I loved horror movies!  Most of the dreams then were about demons chasing me. At the time, I was in the Army and married to my first husband. I drank a lot in those days too, and I don’t know if that helped or hurt. I do know that sleep deprivation and booze is a really bad combination for someone with Bi Polar disorder.

In the thirty years since then; my dreams have calmed down significantly, and nightmares come rarely. As a matter of fact, the only one that sticks out for me is when I was dreaming that Kat’s dad was acting like Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining”. That said more about the deterioration of our relationship than it did about anything else.

Did you know that some medications can cause vivid nightmares? Yeah, guess what? Starting with the one dose of morphine they gave me in the hospital and continuing with the other necessary medications, my freaked-out subconscious woke up! You ever see the movie “Rose Red”? It took me a day or two to figure it out, but once I did, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. I said something like “Lord, you know I have to take this medicine, and you know that I have to sleep. I’m trusting you to keep the bad dreams away.” I still had vivid dreams, but they weren’t scary. Not even the one where Ed was telling me I couldn’t have coffee. Thanks again, Lord.

Connie

Come Unto Me

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  -Jesus (Matthew 11:28)

It’s been an exhausting week. The anitbiotics I was given after my kidney stone surgery had a side effect of causing drowsiness, as did most of the other drugs they gave me. I could chose whether to take the two different types of pain medication they gave me, but the other two drugs were not an option. So, even when I stopped taking the pain meds, I was still pretty useless well into the day. How do I know it was the antibiotic? I only took it twice a day; morning and night. I took it right after breakfast, and within an hour I was back in bed. I was sleeping until three or four in the afternoon, and then I would be fine for the rest of the evening. It kind of messed up the whole day.

Sunday morning was the last day for that drug, which meant I missed church (GRRRRR)! Yesterday, I took my other medication after breakfast, and Ed, Kat and I made a trip into Independence for the day. A friend of mine from high school was selling a tiller, and the price was right. We did some other shopping, visited my son Kyle (aka “Bam Bam”) who was just getting off work, and got back to Braymer about five; just in time for Katherine to go to her volunteer first responder class.

Braymer is a volunteer fire department and they recently started a junior program for teenagers, fifteen and older. A friend from church thought of Katherine, and although I was doubtful of her interest or ability, I have been pleasantly surprised. She took to it like a duck to water.

Anyway, she went to her class, and Ed, who had felt lousy all day, went to bed. As most of you know, I was here writing. I don’t know how long I was in here when I realized that the dishes hadn’t been done all day. I went to the kitchen and made an executive decision that they weren’t getting done then either.

This morning, I got up around 7 to rumblings of thunder. Ed still wasn’t feeling well, so I just let him sleep. Kat and I watched the radar and the sky for awhile and finally decided to go ahead and let the chickens out, and feed the dogs. Kat got a great picture of a caterpiller chewing on milkweed. She was conviced it was a Monarch caterpiller and I think she might be right.IMG_20150915_094323 About the time we got finished, the sky opened up on us. It was a cold rain; the kind that can chill.

I came in and cooked breakfast. By that time Ed was up, and I was kicking myself for not having any herbal preparations ready. I did set some sage and mint simmering on the stove for him to breath, and put some eucalyptus essential oil in a small jar of baking soda by his bed. He said it helped some, but later, we went to get him some cold medicine. Katherine is sneezing and coughing too…so here we go.

We did some other chores, started the laundry, and then, had school this afternoon. It went much better that way. After supper, I was still working on yesterdays dishes, and still trying to get laundry done. Kat and I went out to check on the dogs and put the chickens up. Ed has gone back to bed, and I sent Katherine in that direction too, thinking they both need some sleep.

As I went to the basement to rotate the laundry, it occured to me that I was tired. Deep, down in the soul, tired. Sometimes, when I know that I really need to talk to the Lord, and I don’t really know what I need to tell Him, I just call his name. “Lord?” Then, I remembered that I still needed to write. So I set some pots to soak, and came in here. The day seven instructions for writing 101 said to start with a quote, and this one came to me as scriptures often do; just when I need to hear them most. That’s the great thing about the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

The Spirit knew exactly what I needed to hear. Jesus says to come to Him when your worn out, and beat down, and He’ll give you rest. That dosen’t mean that your circumstances will change; although sometimes they do. It means He is right there with you in the middle of whatever is going on; giving you strengh and peace like only He can.

Thanks, Lord; I needed that.

Connie

Writing 101 Day 3: Treasure

On Day three of Writing 101, we were given a list of words and told to choose one. I chose the word “treasure”.

The expression, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has been around in one form or another for a long time, probably because of the truth of the concept. It basically means that what one person finds useless, another might find valuable.

I like junk. If I see something “free” on the side of the road, I have to at least slow down and take a closer look. I have done some excavating in the old burn pile on our place, and found quite a few treasures. When he found a small, old tractor or lawn mower tire in one of the junk piles left on the place, my son told Ed, “You know, Mom is going to want this.” He was right, and I think I have an idea of what to do with it. I’ll share it with you when it’s finished. I keep tin cans, toilet paper tubes, glass containers, bottle caps and whatever else I think might be useful. I think I probably told you about the time I picked up a used windshield wiper turned it at an angle and told Ed; “Look honey, it’s an eyebrow!” He just calmly said, “No baby, it’s a windshield wiper.” Its taken some time, but he is starting to come around. Here are some pictures of some of my repurposed junk.

We found this in the side of the road a few years ago.

We found this in the side of the road a few years ago.

same dresser  painted and decorated with ribbon and scrapbook paper

same dresser painted and decorated with ribbon and scrapbook paper. The bottom drawer needed some work, so Ed has it in the garage

rub made from old sheets

rug made from old sheets

tin man, dog and flower

tin man, dog and flower

God tends to favor one man’s trash too. The scripture is full of examples of the Lord choosing the most unlikely, least qualified individual to serve His purposes. Jesus himself was the “stone the builders rejected” who became “the cornerstone”(Psalm 118:22, Matt 21:42, Eph 2:20, 1 Pet 2:6). I take great comfort in knowing that God sees the hidden beauty, the buried treasure in us; just like I see in a old piece of junk along the side of the road.

Connie

Proof I’m an Idiot, or Stress Makes Me Stupid

Like well worn grooves in a old dirt road, our patterns of behavior often keep us in the same old rut. When something happens, we don’t think it through, we just react. Remember the scene in Jumanji where Peter is looking for the ax and discovers the shed is padlocked? Focusing on the locked door, he picks up the nearby ax to break it. Then he realizes that what he wants is already in his hands. You can watch the scene here.

I have some issues with anxiety, but normally I catch it before it takes over. One of my favorites verses is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I have used this verse often both as a prayer and as a simple reminder; and as I said, normally, I can catch the anxiety before it develops a life of it’s own.

Evidently, yesterday was not normal. I don’t even really know where I lost track. Okay, yeah, well maybe I do. Ed’s late schedule has meant that I am up way later than I want to be, which also means I’ve been sleeping in later too. Yes, I could just deprive myself of sleep, but as anyone with Bi Polar disorder knows, that just isn’t a good idea. I woke up feeling rushed, and didn’t get my morning Bible reading in. I usually check my email early in the day, and I didn’t get to that either. Like I told you yesterday, Ed had to be at work by one, so again, that threw the “schedule” behind.

Since I didn’t have Bible study at church this week (a large number of our church members are in Colorado for the National Youth Roundup: NYR), I thought it would be good day to get Katherine in the kitchen and do some meal prep. Then I discovered we had one onion left.

First proof of idiocy: What are the number one and number two veggies that we use more than any others? Onions and Garlic! What did we not plant this year? Onions and Garlic!

Have we mentioned that we only have one vehicle? Have we mentioned that it has a manual transmission that I don’t know how to drive? The second point becomes irrelevant when Ed is at work, because he has said vehicle with him. Still it leaves us at a disadvantage.

Anyway, we needed onions. There is a little grocery store on Main Street. It’s a mile round trip. Before the accident, I walked that distance several times a week. No big deal. Now, it seems daunting. Nevertheless, we needed onions and I wanted to go get them. Katherine thought I had lost my mind when I told her, but was more than willing to go along. The whole trip took thirty minutes. Maybe I’m in better shape than I thought.

We spent the afternoon prepping veggies and cooking meat, using recipes found in It Starts with Food. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I kept thinking that I really needed to post something here, and really wanted to do some kind of feature (I actually have a couple more in mind that I will share later). That is where I got the idea for “Picure of the Week Wednesday” After I made that post, I checked my email and saw that I had a ping back from Rebirth of Lisa for my participation in her Word Crush Wednesday event last week.

Second proof of idiocy: I completely forgot about that event, and I really liked doing it. May end up choosing the quote earlier in the week, posting it on Wednesday, choosing my pictures on Wednesday and creating “Picture of the Week Thursday” Are you all totally confused now? Wait, it gets better.

Last night, at about 10:10, Ed called, as he always does, to tell me he was on the way home. I got his supper lined up, and then went to take a shower so that when he got home, I could go to sleep. As I was heading for the shower, the phone rang again. Ed’s truck broke down eight miles from the house, and he needed me to find someone who could come pick him up. He didn’t have any numbers in his phone, and this is where the proof of idiocy becomes undeniable…for both of us.

I don’t have a single phone number of anyone in town. I take that back. I have two numbers: one of those people is on vacation in Alaska, and the other is in Colorado for NYR. So, I did what I always do when I need to get a message to someone. I hopped on facebook to see if anyone was available…nope. OK, look up phone numbers online. Ever tried to do that? That is when I got a small glimmer of brains. I remembered that old, almost unknown, and rarely used thing called a phone book! Yes people here still have house phones, thank the Lord! I looked up the number of one person that I thought might be available, but his answering machine picked up. I left a message, and then had the only brainstorm of the day. There is an elderly couple who live across the road from us. Mr “A” has helped Ed mow and helped us with other things too. I had his number at one point, but I don’t know where it went. So I checked the phone book and there he was! By this time it is 10:50, and I really hate calling people late in the evening, but I did.

I talked to Mrs. “A”, apologizing for the late hour of the call and explaining the situation. Sure, he’ll go get Ed! No problem! So, our nearly 80-year-old neighbor went and brought Ed home. In the meanwhile, the person I called first called back, asking is Ed still needed a ride. I thanked him and told him we had it covered. When Ed got home, we both thanked God for good neighbors, and asked Him to handle the truck situation. We should have let him.

This morning, we had another problem. The truck was still eight miles from town and Ed was afraid that the damage was severe. We don’t have a lot of cash. There are (at least) two mechanics in town, but evidently, no tow service. The closest one is twenty five miles away. You KNOW that cost, right? The second problem was that the mechanic wouldn’t be able to work on the truck until tomorrow. Ed needed to be at work by three today.

Ed got hold of the tow service and then called his job to give them a heads up. He told them that if they wanted him to come in, they might have to come get him. He really didn’t think they wanted him that badly.

Not being one to just sit on my hands, I felt the need to do something. I know two people who have cars they could loan us for the weekend, but they both live about seventy five miles away. I got hold of my son Kyle and asked if I could get use of a vehicle, would he and his girlfriend bring it to me. He said yes. I did manage to track down a vehicle but it wouldn’t be available until this evening. Okay, we’ll take what we can get.

About an hour later, Ed’s job called. They had someone lined up to come get him and bring him home tonight. We were both impressed. A short time later, the phone rang again. It was the mechanic. Not only had they got to the truck today; it was fixed. The problem? A broken belt. While Ed walked down to get the truck (again, about a mile round trip), I made phone calls, thanking everyone and telling them we wouldn’t be needing the loaner vehicle. As I hung up the phone, I felt that I could almost hear the Lord say, “Oh ye of little faith!” Yep! Last proof of idiocy!

Ed went to work and I sat down to catch up on my time with Lord. I’ve decided that tonight is going to be night off. I cooked a lot yesterday, so I wouldn’t have to today, so supper can just be leftovers, and Katherine can help clean up. Maybe we’ll watch a movie. Maybe I’ll just take a shower and go to bed early. Tomorrow I’ll start working on smoothing out those old ruts.

Connie