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Friday, December 25, 2009

Non-white Christmas

I really, really wanted a white Christmas.  The tiny bit of snow we had a few days ago is all melted.  Today's forecast was rain, followed by rain.  I was watching the drizzle when suddenly the sun shone brightly.  I ran to the other end of the house with my camera...

I guess God felt bad about me having no snow.

I think a full rainbow on Christmas is kinda cool!

Merry Christmas to all...

My Remarkable Hand

In a recent post, Hey, Yogi... just call me Booboo!  I made a reference to a MySpace posting about my hand.  Leslie, over at My turn to talk and My turn to rant, requested that I post the entire MySpace essay.  So, in the giving spirit of Christmas, here you are, Lesley...  the entire story from March of this year:


Today started out typical, until I heard the BOOM!  Well, come to think of it, that was pretty normal too.  My mother-in-law fell again.  She gets very impatient and forgets she can't always walk.  WHile trying to make it four feet to her stash of peppermints, she fell and hit the back of her head on something and got a nasty cut.  Hubby called me to help.  That's when I found her sitting in the floor with the back of her head wet with blood.  After locating the source of the bleeding, I held the heel of my hand firmly against it while she sat pleading with me to have Hubby and my father-in-law pick her up.  With both of them having previous back surgeries, she had no choice but to wait on the ambulance.  Besides, she hit hard enough that perhaps we shouldn't be moving her around.

The ambulance cresw arrived (a few familiar faces) and carried her off to the local emergency room.  After the CT scan showed no problem and she got a couple of souvenir staples in the back of her head, Hubby brought her back home.

During this ordeal I got a message from my daughter.  It seems Grand #3 was running a temp of 104 and shaking!  Her preschool called Mommy and Daddy at work.  Daddy was on his way to pick her up and take her to the doctor.  I was going to be in Middletown anyway for the choir concert (Grand #1) so I would get to see her and give her a dose of Nana!

I drove Dani home after the concert to find Grace still running a fever.  Her body was like a hot roll right out of the over.  She crawled into my lap and wanted to give me one of her squeezy hugs.  She wrapped around me and laid her head on my shoulder.  I put one arm around her and my other hand to the bafk of her head and rocked her as I always do when she's feeling lousy.

It dawned on me that the hand that applied pressure against the wound of the seventy-seven-year-old woman in the floor was now the hand that cradled and comforted the four-year-old with the fever.  I stopped typing just now to gaze at that hand... that hand I take for granted every day.  It's remarkable.  My God is so amazing!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Think Tiger Has Too Many Chicks?

Mr J and I have neared divorce over his chicks!  It's not that he has the chicks, or really even how many he has...  It's that he's let them run wild around here!  Imagine the grief it would bring to Elin  (and my heart truly goes out to her) if Tiger let his chicks run wild around the mansion, like Mr J or this guy...

OK, maybe it's not the same, but I've also experienced tremendous grief.  Just take a look at the destruction Mr J's chicks have caused in my territory!  (click to enlarge any photo)

  I had started some young plants here to fill in the open space.  They're gone now.  The border and decorative rocks are all but buried in the mulch, while the barrier that's suppose to be buried has been pulled to the surface by the nasty birds' scratching.

Let me interject here that I do not like chickens.  As much as I love animals, I do not consider chickens in the same catagory.  I do not like chickens.  I love fresh eggs.  I like chicken.  I do not like chickens... plural...  as in alive and running around outside my house!

See the big hole right smack-dab (whatever that means) in the middle of my lemon thyme?

No, I didn't put the hole there as an architectural element.  Those dad-blame (whatever that means) birds did it!  They dug holes in the centers of most of my plants. 

My red sedum has suffered the most damage.  Just look at this...  

See the big bare spots?  ...the chunks of bark laying about?  This sedum is much more prone to breakage than the thyme or other plants.  Here, the chickens have removed every bit of it that was above ground.  Fortunately, it is hardy and will probably grow back. I'm really hoping the white spots are just some left over snow flurries that managed to snuggle into some shadowy crevices.

In this corner of the sidewalk and driveway, I had a nice clump of Japanese blood grass... had being the operative word here.
Notice again the revealed weed blocker, and the way the mulch is scattered over the jelly pebbles.  The mulch used to be just around the grass and on the other side of the border rocks.

Now that I've told you what my garden used to look like, let me tell you what the chickens used to enjoy... running free.  They are still free-range.  It's just that their range is smaller than it used to be.

Here is what they used to have...

The big hen house is in the foreground.  The north end of their pen runs between the little red house and the horse trailer.  (That's Benji coming up the drive.)

In this photo, you can see a distinctive line in front of the hen house, but behind the waterer that is sitting on the pile of bricks.  (keeps the water cleaner)

 That is where the fence used to be.  We extended their area up almost to the barn, as seen in this next shot...

Their area actually goes past the side of the barn.  Mr J has a compost pile over there.   It is like a five-star restaurant to the chickens.  So now they have free access to it.  It's full of little critters they eat.

On a sad note, Mr J has lost one of his hens.  She was a beautiful golden lace.  We don't have a clue why she died.  Mr J wonders if she got into something there in the tall grass by the barn.  FIL has dropped a lot of nails around there and Mr J found some broken glass. 

Here is a close-up of the feathers on another golden lace hen...

He will miss her...

Think INside the Box...

...a simple way to make a difference.

If you read my past blog posts, you know that I advocate helping the homeless and the poor.  On my sidebar are a couple of links to organizations that do just that.... one large, one small. 

This is the dining hall where Target: Dayton! feeds the homeless and poor.  They also witness to them about Jesus.  Click the link on my sidebar to learn more about their ministry.

Here are some of the hats,scarves and gloves that Sandy collected for the homeless that live under a bridge in her city.  Check out her blog for the Bridge Project

At my former job, some co-workers and I adopted a family for Christmas.  We went through another employee's church that organized families' needs.  We used our coffee pot money and donations to go on a shopping spree.  This particular single mom was able to give her kids a wonderful Christmas!  And the fun we had shopping for those kids was unmatched by anything else that holiday!

One year, this same group took up a collection for the Dayton food bank.  I called the woman in charge, and she told me that the things they needed most were toiletries; toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, etc.  After I got it OK'd through the powers that be I ran off flyers to hang on bulletin boards throughout the plant.  As we filled huge boxes, we would deliver them after work.   I remember one guy, after telling his dentist about our project, came in with tons of toothbrushes!

Do you work in a place that could team up the same way?  Most people are willing to contribute to such a collection, if someone takes the first step in organizing it.  Maybe you could be that someone...
In a recent post, The Meaning of Christmas, Rae, over at Weather Vane, tells of a yearly tradition her family has of filling a box for a local shelter.  Even the grandkids get in on the act!  It's such an easy thing to do.  Imagine if every family you knew did that!  Imagine your local shelter receiving hundreds
of boxes filled with essentials for their clients.

There are many ways to help that need not be expensive or time consuming.  Please, whatever you do, don't think it's too late because Christmas is right around the corner...  Their needs aren't over when the decorations come down.   As a matter of fact, donations often pick up around Christmas time, when people are feeling the Christmas spirit of giving, but drop off steeply following the new year. 
Most food banks are facing huge crises because of the staggering unemployment levels.  You don't even have to buy food and haul it to them...  You can send them a check.

I think that the best way to make a big impact, is to recruit others.  That is the purpose behind these posts.  Hopefully, many will be inspired to do something small, and together, all those things will build a mountain of love.  Won't you join in?

I would love to hear from you on any traditions you have that make a difference to the needy in your world.  Do you have a simple way to give that you would like to share?





 Who's jolly and cute,

Wearing  a beard and

a  red flannel suit,

 And if he is chuckling

and  laughing away,

 While flying around

in  a miniature sleigh,

With  eight tiny reindeer

to  pull him along,

Then  let's face it...

Your eggnog's too strong!  

Merry  Christmas 

and a  Happy 2O10

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Their Feud is Over

My Uncle Frank and Aunt Marie are wonderful people.  I remember when I was very young, we would go visit them once in a while.  Frank is my dad's oldest brother.  His baby brother John and his sister Mary Julia have both passed on from this world.  That leaves Frank and Dad.  Only Frank and Dad don't speak.  They haven't been on good terms for over forty years!

Frank                                                 Dad

My dad's side of the story... well, it's really not important.  Let's just say it's one of those 'when a parent dies and has stuff to leave behind' kind of situations.  Yeah, Dad felt like he got ripped off.  I don't really know all there is to know, so I can't really say he's wrong.  I just know there's a whole lotta stuff around his place that belonged to my grandfather.

What I do know for certain, is that my grandparents' hearts would be broken.  I guess it's one of the blessing of having an only child...  sorta...  I hope I never see the day that my daughter will be not speaking to Mr J's son or daughter.  It means a lot to me to have them all together.

Mr J and the kids, Christmas 2007

Today, their feud is over.  My Uncle Frank passed away this morning.  He had been going down hill for a while.  We urged Dad to call him.  He had nothing to say.  Sad.  He lost his brother years ago, and now, he will never again have the chance to get him back.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Soldier Story

A soldier is hiding out in the goats woods.
Do you see him?

How about now? (click to enlarge)

That is Soldier.  (I think.  Mr J got a better look and says it is.)  He was named by my oldest grand.  A very fitting name, indeed.  You see, Soldier only has one antler.  At first, we assumed he had lost it in battle with one of the bigger bucks that inhabit the woods.  Now, I'm not so sure.  Year after year, he appears, each time having only one antler.  We have seen him every year for at least five years.  Somehow, he manages to escapes the arrows and ammo of the winter hunts.

Before all the electric fence went up for the horses and goats, we had quite a herd of regulars.  We used to put cracked corn down where the goat shed now stands.  It was a perfect view from the living room windows.  Every evening, after dinner, our routine was to clean up the dishes, and then sit and watch the deer come out.

The most regular visitor was a young doe named Cookie, also named by the grands.  (Get it?  Cookie Doe?)  Every day, without fail, Cookie would come for her evening meal.  She didn't mind that we came out the door and yelled hello to her.  She would look up at us as we made our way across the porch to the chairs, and then return to her food.  I don't hunt, but I'm not opposed to hunting.  I do imagine, however, than any deer bagged in this area is certainly not one of ours

We see glimpses of deer quite often in the wood line.  Occasionally, we see them on this side of the fence, but mostly they stay in the front pasture.  After a rain, when the ground is soft, we see enough prints that it looks like the deer path hub out here.  We actually have a place in the woods were several of their worn paths cross.  Before the goats cleared the brush, the only way through our woods was using the deer's paths.

It's hard to say if Cookie comes back now, as she has no markings as distinctive as a one-antlered buck.  But, if you're a hunter, before you pull the trigger on that bow, see if she answers to Cookie.  And if she does...  Please, send her home. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Christmas Poem

I don't know where this poem originated.  It has been around the internet for quite a while.  Nonetheless, it is well worth rereading!
Merry Christmas to our service men and women.
We thank you!

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
 Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said, "It’s really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of Nam,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures - he's sure got her smile."
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
"I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.
So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monochromatic Morning

 Our first snow of the season fell last night.
I love waking up to a world I've missed for months!

This black and white view waited outside my bedroom door .
The bare trees seem even darker against the pure white snow.

The valance over the kitchen sink is trimmed in crystal drops.
They appeared more like icicles this morning!

At a different angle, you would have seen the smoke,
billowing up from the outdoor boiler...
a sure sign that winter is near.

Though the snow was light,
the sead heads bowed in respect
of this symbol of winter.

The paling green of a willow bush
peeks through the tender reeds.

Here, you see the willow is losing its battle,
succumbing to the shorter days and chillier nights.

The horses don't notice the temperature dropping.
Their furry coats have grown plush,
insulating them from the brisk air.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dear Anonymous,

I will no longer be allowing anonymous comments on this blog.  For an explanation, click HERE.

Comment Spam... Ugh! a.k.a. Dear Anonymous

I don't know if you've noticed or not...  Your comments used to post immediately, but now they have to be moderated.  Seems a few bad apples spoiled the bunch again.

Yep, those spammers got me really annoyed!  When I'd read the comments to my posts, there would also be some ad for a male enhancement prescription.  Do they really stir up business this way?

It started out with an occasional ad, but now it's gotten to be a daily thing.  They've hit all three blogs!  And it's not just the male enhancement products anymore.  Everything from thyroid medicine to arthritis drugs have been linked to in my comments.  So I'm pulling the plug.

I hate to do it, but I'm blocking anonymous comments.  I have friends that comment without logging on, and some that don't have an account.  I used to look forward to the anonymous comments.  Most often they were from people I knew.  But now I've reached my limit.  No more anonymous comments.  At least for a very long while.  I'm hoping that by blocking them, they will get deleted from whatever computer generates them.  (Though I'm doubtful the spammers will ever go away.)

Note: Anonymous friends, please feel free to e-mail your comments to me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Bengal Barn Revisited

Well, here it is!  Remember back in the middle of
November when I posted 1-2-3 First Down?
This is the infamous Bengal Barn where it all takes place...

This past Sunday we went there to watch the Battle of Ohio.  Mr J, his son and I are the only Browns fans there.  There is one Steelers fan that is married to a Bengal fan.  In the corner is a big screen topped by a smaller TV.  There are other smaller screens lined up on both sides, plus one by the food area.  You never have to miss a play.  You can even see one screen from the bathroom!

The facilities are somewhat primitive... Notice the urinal on the right?  The TP holder matches the arms on the throne.  Bengal stripes are everywhere!  Check out the bar stools...

The half time baby shower was going on, so the main corner cleared out.  Notice the front row seating?  Yep, airline seats.  There's another set behind the bar.  I'm surprised they haven't yet been reupholstered in Cincinnati colors.

Aside from the creature comforts, it's a lot like a tailgate party!  There's always lots of hot food, salads, snacks and desserts.  (My step-son is the tall guy in the only Browns jersey, as if his height didn't make him stand out enough.) 

Here is a great view of the main TV area...

Hope you're enlarging some of these to check out all the Bengal paraphernalia on display.  See the Bengals onesie hanging to the right of the white cabinets in this next shot?
My DIL's mom has had it hanging there, waiting until the day DIL had a baby to put it on.  Since she's due in January, she gets to take it as soon as the season is over.  However, once Brady outgrows it, it goes back on the wall!

Here's a good shot of pregnant DIL and the airliner seats....

As I mentioned earlier, there was a baby shower during half time... a Bengal baby shower!  Despite how much it hurt, the group also respected Daddy's team.  Here are some throws they made for Daddy and Mommy's cuddle time with Brady...

Daddy's throw is folded up here.  They made it 7' long for him!

I wonder how Mommy and Daddy are going to decide what Brady wears...

Of course, babies need lots of blankies...

They apparently didn't want to buy any more Cleveland Browns material and went with a generic fabric in the Cleveland colors.  They also made little hats in these patterns.

I have to admit...  it was the most fun I've ever had at a baby shower!  But hey, shove the gifts back in the bags... the third quarter is starting!   Uhhhh.... 1 - 2 - 3 FIRST DOWN!

(Note:  Mommy has definitely ruled out Quinn as a middle name!)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Unbeatable Black Friday... while supplies last

This is a recycled post from last year when I was still a MySpace blogger.  I've always felt that Black Friday was in complete contrast to what Christmas is about; and what happened last year on Black Friday really pounds home the point...

It's Walmart's Fault the World Sucks!

       I guess by now, most everyone's heard about the WalMart worker that was trampled to death, while working the doors on Black Friday.  I don't know if it's been confirmed, but another witness said a young woman suffered a miscarriage in the crowd.  (later found to be untrue, but could have happened)  That was Walmart's fault, too.  And you've probably heard about the shooting in the Toys R Us store.  That was probably Toys R Us' fault.  

     In the Walmart event, the blame is for not having appropriate crowd control.  Are you kidding me?  So if I go shopping and they don't provide enough security, I can knock someone down, use them for a doormat and blame the store for my behavior?  And how can you possibly not feel someone's body under your feet?  Granted, the people at the front of the lines are probably not to blame.

      I was in a crowd like that once, when some soap opera stars visited a local mall.  It scared me to death!  I had put a friend's daughter up on my shoulders to protect her.  It was only seconds before we were surrounded by a shoving mass.  A guy next to me was pushing against me so hard, he was twisting the toddler's let against me making her cry.  I told him he was hurting her, to which he replied, "Hey Lady, we want to see too."  OMG!  What kind of animal responds that way?  There were mothers using their baby's strollers to push their way through for a better spot.  Yes, the babies were in the strollers!  Luckily my friend and I were able to slowly work our way backwards and sideways into a music store where we took shelter until the crowd dissipated.  We were terribly frightened!  I understood what it was like in that Cincinnati rock concert crowd.  It stunned me how civilized people could act that way!

      I haven't seen the footage showing the Walmart shoppers entering the store, but I'd bet the people in front had little control of their own movement.   When the first ones felt the body underfoot, they probably could do nothing about it.  We can't expect two or three decent people to be able to hold back a crowd of hundreds.  I can't imagine feeling a person being tramped by my own feet and not being able to stop and help them up and out of harm's way.  It would be a nightmare that haunted me forever!

     Personally, I've never participated in Black Friday shopping.  I've heard horror stories about how people grab things away from others.  Fights break out in toy departments.  The worst of human nature is put on display for the sake of profits.  Modesty aside, it is beneath me to act that way!  My own daughter came very close to being the only little girl in town without a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas one year.  I wasn't about to fight for one!

     So who is to blame in the Walmart tragedy?  For starters, the people who did the pushing!  It's a shame we probably won't be able to isolate the individuals that started the chaos.  They should be brought up on charges of manslaughter at the very least!  So do I think the retailers are innocent?  Certainly not.  But not just because of insufficient security...  I don't think it's entirely a store's responsibility to control the conduct of the individuals shopping there.  (Don't we know it's wrong to shove people?  Do we need a large police officers' presence to prevent this?)  But the retailers do cause the chaos by turning Christmas shopping into a race... a competition to see who gets there first.

     Lots of stores advertise a much-wanted item at a ridiculously low price, only to offer just one or two items at the price.  Whoever is third in line is out of luck, unless they can shove their way to the front of the line!  When did this start?  Why did this start?  Why not just mark a reasonable percentage off for that entire day?  Or how about everyone that makes a qualifying purchase that day is entered into a drawing for the dirt-cheap deal?  After all, isn't it about getting shoppers out spending money in their stores?  Not about selling that one hot item at 4 am?

     I will continue my boycott of Black Friday, but it will have no effect.  There are too many people out there looking for that great deal.  Besides, I look forward to Thanksgiving.  I'm not about to cut it short so I can get to up at 2 am to go shopping!  Whatever it was that Walmart offered that morning, I hope the person that got it realizes it wasn't worth the price...

2008 Black Friday sale ad