A sincere thank you to all of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Can You Speak Wyoming?

     Travel can be such a life enhancing experience. It doesn't really matter where you travel, you will always learn something. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to quite a bit of the United States, also to Australia, New Zealand and a number of countries in Europe. All have been a wonderful learning experience and I hope to do more.

A trip to Italy (2006) Florence 

Trevi fountain - Rome

A trip to Greece (2008)

     I've always been interested in history. I love reading books about historical subjects both fiction and nonfiction. I find it interesting to learn about other cultures. It's fascinating to see how people do things in other countries or even in other parts of the U.S. Another way, besides travel, I've been able to learn about other cultures has been hosting foreign exchange students. When our children were growing up we had several: two from Germany, one from Switzerland, one from France. This experience was of benefit to the whole family. 

A trip to Costa Rica (2011)

     A couple years ago we had the opportunity to have a young lady from Japan stay with us. We had a wonderful time learning and laughing with Mariko. Although she is now back in Japan we keep in touch and she is considered part of our family. She calls us her American parents. Our grandson hit it off with Mariko and they became great friends.

Rex with Mariko and another good friend, from So. Korea, Taesub 

     Whenever Rex came to our house he would want to hang out with her if she was home. One day while they were together Mariko was watching a video on her computer. It was in Japanese. She explained to Rex that they were speaking Japanese, like he speaks English. He replied, "No I don't speak English, I'm not from England. I speak Wyoming".  They have a family friend who is from England and of course speaks with a British accent. So I guess that's his idea of English. 

    Although Rex hasn't been out of the U.S. yet, he has been to a number of states. He's visited: California, Montana, South Dakota, Kentucky, Louisiana and Florida. He was able to communicate very well with the inhabitants of those states. As he gets older he will have a better understanding of how Wyoming is a part of a larger United States. And that the U.S. is part of an even larger world. But he's already had the opportunity to meet people from many other places. And perhaps learn that although the world can seem large we have more in common then we realize. So what language do you speak?

A thought to ponder: Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Participating: Share Your CupNo Rules WeekendShare the JoyGrand Social

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Who's in Your Garden?

     Our garden offers us many hours of enjoyment. Not only do we enjoy the beauty of our flowers and the bounty of our vegetable garden; we also can delight in numerous types of wildlife.

A finch picnic

     Our bird feeders and bird baths give us a wonderful opportunity to view many types of birds. It is always fun to watch their antics.

A classy swimming pool

A puddle will do nicely too

     It doesn't seem to matter the time of year, we always seem to have some kind of avian visitor.

This robin is wondering what happened. This picture was taken in April.

A Lazuli Bunting

Here's a Northern Flicker, a type of woodpecker. They hang around into winter. I always leave some grapes on my vines for them, well what the robins don't get. The woodpeckers love frozen grapes. 

This hawk is scouting for lunch. I know they have to eat also but I sure don't like them getting my little sparrows. Fortunately the sparrows have a nice place to hide in a prickly rose bush near the feeders.

I think this is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak

This is "Morty" our resident pheasant. He has been coming and going in our yard for several years now.

Here's Morty last spring with one of his female friends, he had two.

These guys showed up in our yard one day this past August. They poked around for awhile then waddled on their merry way.

We always seem to have one or two rabbits that like to make a home under our shed. Like the other wild life they come and go.

This doe stopped to take a drink last week in front of our house.

Here's the doe's friend munching on some grass. We see this buck and several does frequently this time of year roaming around the neighborhood.

    A first for us, a couple weeks ago we had raccoons in our yard. We found the dog's water dish tipped over one morning and were wondering how it happened. That evening our motion sensor light in front went off and my husband spotted four raccoons before they scooted around to the back. The next day the water dish was tipped over again. We're pretty sure they were eating fallen crab apples. They have since moved on to greener pastures. I wish I could have gotten a picture.
     These are a few examples of the wildlife that visit our yard. Over the years as our garden has grown and evolved we've noticed more birds. Not only the number of birds but also the variety.  So who's in your garden?

A thought to ponder: "When man moves away from nature his heart becomes                                         hard."    Lakota

Linked to:No Rules WeekendOutdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Art of Doing Nothing

     Now that I'm retired I often get asked what I do all day. I'd love to be able to say I've come up with a solution for the major problems of the world. And in my spare time I've figured out how to open plastic encased items without using every tool you own. But instead I just answer jokingly, " a lot of nothing".
     I guess if your not gainfully employed you can't be doing much, otherwise why do people feel the need to ask. It's kind of the same thing you run into when you're "just a housewife". I do everything I did when I was working outside the home. I clean house, do laundry, cook meals, grocery shop. All the mundane things most people have to do. But I also have more time to pursue my many interests and hobbies.

      The other thing I have time for doing is nothing. I can hear people gasping, do nothing, how can you even consider such a thing. Socrates said, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life". Even back in his time this need to be busy all the time evidently was an issue. People think they have to be doing something all the time or they're wasting time. But just because you're busy doesn't necessarily mean your accomplishing anything.
     I also think many people are afraid of their own company. If I stop and do nothing I might have to think and I might not like what I'm thinking. There also is a great fear of being bored. You see people running from one activity to another. If you ask someone how they're doing as often as not you'll hear, "busy". Have you noticed how many people can't just sit and wait? Learning to do nothing can be helpful to a person's mental health. It can give you an opportunity to recharge. A chance to clear your mind and regroup.

Watercolor painting

    A person shouldn't wait until retirement to learn to savor the moment. Sitting on the front porch watching a summer rain. Walking through the garden to see what's blooming. Sipping a cup of tea and watching the birds dine at the feeders. Horror of horrors you're wasting time. But as Bertrand Russel said, "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time".  That's what I'm enjoying about retirement, I can do "something" or a lot of "nothing". It's my time to do with as I choose. Unless I have an appointment for something my time is my own. Waking in the morning without an alarm clock is wonderful. I don't have to leap out of bed. I can stretch, rub the dogs tummy, look out the window and watch the trees turn from dark to golden as the sun comes up. Knowing I don't have to be any where in particular is such a feeling of freedom.


     If your career is everything to you and you are happy and don't want to retire, then don't. I've never regretted my career choice of nursing. It didn't just give me a paycheck, it also gave me enormous satisfaction. But after 47 years I'm ready to try something new. I've learned over the years that I don't need to apologize to anyone for what I do or don't do. I'm not here to impress anyone. I've been through many phases in my life, retirement is just one more. It's a learning experience just like the other phases: daughter, student, newlywed, married with children, working outside the home with family, empty nester. Each time my life changed direction was an opportunity to learn and grow. Over that time I did learn a very important lesson; to make the life that I wanted; to not judge or compare my life to another person's. It's not an easy task. We're bombarded with so much information and advice, it's easy to loose sight of what is really important to us as an individual.

  Travel (Goblin State Park in Utah)

     It's good to cultivate hobbies and interests before you retire. I've always been a believer that no one thing should be the only defining part of me. I'm more then a wife, a mother, a nurse, a grandparent. I'm all these things and more. We are all the sum of our life's experiences (good and bad), this is what makes us who we are today. I hope I never stop learning and discovering. Retirement just offers me the opportunity of more time to do just that. Or maybe I'll just do "nothing".


A thought to ponder: "When writing the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen."

Participating in:No Rules Weekend

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Magic Wand

     This post is going to be longer then usual, that's because it covers 35 years. First I need to tell you a little about the person responsible for this tale, my mother, Mateel.  My mother passed in 2003, she left many wonderful memories for myself and numerous others. She was the kind of person who never met a stranger and accepted people without judgment. Her out going personality drew people to her like a magnet. She was a willing listener and people felt comfortable talking to her. When she made a friend they were a friend for life.

Sharon (L), Mateel (R)  1944

     There are numerous other things I could write about my mother and perhaps I will in another post. But this one will illustrate her sense of humor and fun. This is shown in the following story. The writing of this tale was started by my Aunt Sharon, Mateel's older sister. She wrote until 1985 when each person took over and added their bit to the story. As I copy the story for your pleasure, I will put in parenthesis the relationship of the person to Mateel.

She lived life with gusto  1956

A Gift Gone Awry?

The History & Chronology of the Infamous Potato Peeler
(an electric peeling wand)

     1979 - It all started at Christmas time, when Mateel attended a "Fancy Dan" luncheon at the Castaways in Burbank (California). She received the wand as a door prize and under her breath she muttered, "Oh shit!" (The donor remained anonymous). All too quickly she passed it on to Lillian (daughter-in-law) who received it with great joy. Or was that look one of consternation?

     1980 - Lillian presented the peeler to Sharon, who received it with her famous comment of "What the hell?" (Lillian looked on with great contentment and satisfaction).

     1981 - The magic wand then returned to Mateel as part of a birthday present. Her EXACT words when she opened the gift were,"Oh shit!" (When it came to the wand, Mateel was a woman of few words).

     1982 - With wrapping paper in hand, Mateel took great care in wrapping this wonderful wand for Susan (niece) for Christmas. Susan should have been a little wary when she got the package from her Aunt Mateel. When Sharon watched Susan open the present, she got a devilish twinkle in her eye, and then laughed so hard she could be heard up and down the Bitter Root Valley (Montana). No one could hear Susan exclaim, "It's a peeling wand. What does this @*%!& do, and WHY ME?"

     1983 - Susan sent the precious package to Beverly (niece) for her birthday with a pre-warning sign on the card that said, "Do not shake! Maybe you should wait until you are all alone and have a glass of wine first, better have two! Open ASAP in a safe place". Beverly took the advice and, with glass in hand, proceeded to open the gift in the privacy of her bedroom. The roar of laughter brought all the kids running to see if their mom was still sane.

     1984 - Christmas was when it started and on each Christmas that followed the magic wand seemed to wend it's merry way to the next unsuspecting relative. And so it was that Beverly experienced the joy of giving when she presented the family "heirloom" to her mother. Sharon was underwhelmed as the gift was opened and uttered, "My God, It's back already." While Beverly's gleeful laughter rang through the house.

     1985 - The wand did not gather dust. Sharon sent it with loving care and great relief to Jackie (daughter) with the following note:
      Jackie it is with great delight that I remember you on your birthday, and add you to the list of family members who have experienced temporary ownership of this mystical peeling wand, take good care of it while it is in your possession, and remember, you don't have to wait until Christmas to pass it on.
     That same year, Jackie wasted no time. The wand made its way to Southern California to Chris (daughter) with Jackie's words of sincerity:
     I have to say I was overwhelmed when I received this, ah, interesting gift from Aunt Sharon. It has graced a very special place in my closet since February. As much as I hate to part with it, I feel it is only fair that Charis have a turn in owning this wonderful item. Because I am such a loving and devoted sister, I now pass the potato peeler to my sweet sister Chris. Enjoy it in good health and just remember Christmas isn't that far away.
     1987 - But as you can see, Chris could not bear to part with it. There was something magical about the wand and she could not bring herself to give it up. Finally, after much self-recrimination and in a great gift giving mood, she made the sacrifice when she learned Aunt Sharon would be spending Christmas with her sister Mateel. When Sharon opened the package she was less than ecstatic, but realized immediately that an old friend had returned to her life. And yes, she thought fiendishly, Susan was getting married.

And so the chronology continued......

     1988 - Back to Susan at a family picnic, she began to plot to get even.

     1989 - Susan finally changed the course of the wand travels by giving it to the first male. She gave it to the newest member of the family, Bill (husband).

     1990 - Bill decided to pass it along in a "manly" tradition and Vince (son) was the lucky guy. And Vince, the poor soul, sent the wand back to the closet and there it stayed until......

     1997 - .....and it came back into the hands of Beverly.

     1998 - Back to Susan until its 20th anniversary in 1999! And who should receive the anniversary gift but Sharon.

     August 20, 2000 - Sharon decides since Mateel started this over 20 years ago, she deserves to have it just one more time - just for the helluvit.

     August 3, 2002 - Mateel gives it back to Susan.

     August 8, 2002 - What a lovely birthday gift for Chris.

     December 25, 2002 - Chris decides to be a trailblazer and give it to the first grandchild - Casie.

     January 2006 - A mere 3 or so years later, Casie opts to relinquish the almighty wand to her new sister-in-law, Kristin. Welcome to the family!

     December 2009 - After opening the gift three years earlier and asking her husband,"What is this weird thing?" and also wondering what kind of people she is now related to, Kristin and Vincent (grandson) move to a new house and move the wand with them. The wand languishes in the garage where every time Kristin parks the car she sees that weird box and thinks, "must get rid of that ugly thing" and "now why can't Vince's family pass down something like, say a Louis 14th silver tea set?" Finally the opportunity arrives, there is a wedding, Danny (grandson) gets married. "Ah, a new unsuspecting bride," Kristin thinks. "Better welcome her to the family and finally clear out my darn garage."

     December 25, 2009 - Carolyn and Danny received a mysterious package from Wyoming. Danny opened the box, chuckled and said, "Holy shit." Then he said, "Oh Carolyn, this one's for you." Carolyn reluctantly and cautiously opened it. She said, "I don't like this, WHAT?!" After reading the story, Carolyn wanted to get rid of it right away. After thinking it through she decided to give it to her new sister-in-law. Merry Christmas Katrina (granddaughter)

     November 18, 2012 - After persistent pressure to clear out the closet from her mother (Chris), Katrina knows she needs to get rid of this wand. But to whom? Luckily, Facebook tells her that it was Casie's birthday only a few days ago! And the family is all getting together for a pre-Thanksgiving feast. The perfect storm for a surprise potato peeler gifting. Happy Birthday, Cuz!

     June 21, 2014 - Casie happens upon the perfect opportunity to introduce yet another family member to the wonders of the wand. What better occasion than a graduation! A graduation party is the perfect place to bestow this upon Serena (granddaughter). Being 18 and heading off into the big world, Serena is ready for this responsibility. Congratulations!

  I didn't think Serena would be able to get rid of the wand so fast, but another wedding made for the perfect opportunity. She was able to pass it off to a new unsuspecting cousin. Katrina's (granddaughter) husband to be, Eric. With the help of her mother, Serena sent the following:

     September 20, 2014 - In honor of the wedding of Eric and Katrina. All our best. Keep going....instructions follow:
Young Eric soon to be wed
Just lounging around in his bed
A package doth come
What's to be done?
The possibilities filled him with dread

Hum does it reek like a skunk?
Possibly some swill to be drunk?
A box of rocks
Some stinky socks
Just open it up you big lunk!

Could be something appealing
Sure to just set you reeling
Peel back the wrap
Or give it just a slight tap
Remember with whom you are dealing...

We say kitchen tools are just the right touch 
For skilled tasks like PEELING and such
If veggies abound
Keep this around
and remember we love SOOOOO much!

     As I said each person has added their tale of the wand, but now instead of typed on paper, it is on a zip drive (which gets sent with the wand). No one has ever tried the peeler, it's so old now it might explode. The box is held together with string, but as you can see Mateel gave a gift that keeps on giving. There are still some relatives that haven't had this magical gift, who will be next? The spirit of Mateel lives on in this special "Magic Wand".

     I asked Serena to take a picture of the peeler because for some odd reason no one ever did. Unfortunately she asked her father, my brother, to carry out the task. The following is what I received from him. His exact words, "I thought this would be more A-Peeling."

A though to ponder: Life will always be to a large extent what we ourselves make it.

Participating in:No Rules Weekend

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Anything is better than Nothing

     I recently read an article about toys for children, gender specific or gender neutral. The father who wrote the article was basically saying you should just let your child pick what toys interest them the most. For the most part I agree with him. Kids, like adults, have different interests and they can change over time.
     Babies need things to simulate their senses. They should involve colors, shapes, sounds and textures.

The seat swiveled so Miranda (2007) could enjoy those experiences

     As a baby grows and matures their world expands. They become more mobile, making it easier to explore that world. Everything is of interest to a toddler. They don't really need toys. They can be happy with pots and pans to bang, magazines to tear up, the outdoors with it's grass, leaves and dirt.  

What's black and white and read all over? (Rex 2008)

     At some point most parents will note their child becoming fixated on one or two things. For awhile Rex loved vacuums and garbage trucks. Now if you want to stereotype you could say the vacuum was female and the garbage truck was male. Rex didn't care about any of that, they were just some things that interested him.

Rex helping Daddy vacuum

     More important than toys are experiences. Just going for a walk can be a learning experience for a child. But play is an important part of childhood. Play is a child's work, it's important for their development. So a child should be exposed to many different types of toys. They probably will show a preference at some point. And if a girl likes dolls and a boy likes trucks or vice versa, so be it.
     My grandmother, "Canny", was ahead of her time. In 1955 when my brother Vince turned 5, children received very gender specific toys. Vince wanted a toy eighteen wheeler for his birthday, which he did receive. Canny thought he needed to develop his nurturing side, she gave him a doll. It was a boy doll in red footy pajamas. My brother was very offended by this gift. He got angry and started crying and saying he didn't want any ole doll, basically having a little fit. At the mature age of 8 I was appalled at his behavior, you didn't act that way when given a gift. On the other hand his behavior didn't phase my grandmother. She just smiled and asked him what he'd like to name the doll. With a scowl on his face Vince crossed his arms and angrily said, "anything".

Vince  1956

     Of course he meant nothing, he wasn't going to name it at all. Still unphased my grandmother said, "Anything, that's a lovely name for your doll." So that is how the doll "Anything" got his name. I don't remember how long it took but eventually Vince decided he rather liked "Anything". He wouldn't go to bed with out him. If he couldn't find him he would run around the house in a panic, "where's Anything, where's Anything?" My grandmother knew what she was about, boys and girls need to be exposed to all kinds of toys even the so called opposite gender ones.

My son Vincent 1973, receiving his doll. He named him Sammy.

A thought to ponder: We've begun to raise daughters more like sons, but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.     Gloria Steinem

Participating in:No Rules Weekend

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Garden Therapy: A New Vegetable Garden

     Another project that we accomplished this summer was building a new vegetable garden. By we I mean; I supervised and my husband did the work. We've had raised garden beds for twenty years. But time had taken its toll and they were starting to show the strain. The wood was bowing and starting to rot. Being a Pinterest aficionado I found an idea there for raised beds. My husband is of the opinion that Pinterest should be outlawed. 

       The above picture is of the old beds. They were 20 inches high. One thing we learned from building these beds was that the 4 by 4 posts should have been closer together. The new beds are 36 inches high.

     We used 3 - 8 foot long pieces of corrugated steel per side and a half sheet on each end. As this picture shows my husband not only put the posts closer together but also used pieces of rebar in between. Al shoveled the dirt to the opposite side then removed the old wood and posts. He dug holes, set the new posts with concrete and screwed the metal to the posts. He then shoveled the dirt back to the other side, repeat.

     Here's a shot of getting ready to set posts. With so much shoveling and digging Al did hire a college student to help him with some of the work. We did make the new beds shorter then the old ones. The extra dirt was used to fill up the new higher beds. A friend with a tractor helped us with that part.

     As you can see in this photo Al painted the bottom of the posts with a protective coating. This will help the wood last longer in the ground. When he finished all the sides he cut the 4 by 4 posts the same height as the metal.

     Because the edge of the metal would be sharp he used 2 by 4's along the top. This also made a good place to set up sprinklers. We can hook up the hose from our well and water the garden and surrounding grass all at one time.

     Here's two more views of the finished beds. Because the beds did take awhile being built I wasn't able to plant as much as I usually do. But I have to say I think Al did a fabulous job. I love my new beds. We are twenty years older then when we built the first ones, so the higher beds are definitely easier on the ole back.  

A thought to ponder: "Your mind is the garden, your thoughts are the seeds, the harvest can either be flowers or weeds."        William Wordsworth

Participating in: You're Gonna Love it

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Raisin" Hell

     It's time for another dog story. I will warn you up front that this one is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
     We had a lovely male English springer spaniel. Being English we thought he should have a distinguished English name, so he was christened Sir Ashley Chadwick, aka Ashley.

      Unfortunately he didn't act very distinguished. Ashley was large for a springer but thought he was a lap dog. He always had to greet you with something in his mouth. When we came home he would run around until he found  something on the floor; a dog toy, shoe, kid's toy, sock, underwear (oops). He had a nice bed on the floor in our bedroom to sleep, but didn't hesitate to take advantage of our bed if it was empty.

     He also was very afraid of thunder, fireworks, etc.  We had to make sure he was in the house when a storm was coming and on the 4th of July. Of course you can't always anticipate loud popping sounds or thunder storms. The three screens we had to replace in our back screen door can attest to that.
     Ashley liked to sneak food. He ate part of a sheet cake that was cooling on the counter. He would have eaten it all but couldn't reach the rest. The kids Easter baskets weren't safe. We thought we'd pushed them far enough back on the counter but he managed to get one. Chocolate and jelly beans didn't sit well and his stomach started to swell. Just as I was set to run him to the vet he started to vomit and managed to get rid of his ill gotten gains.

     But those weren't the worst of his misadventures. I came home one day to find he had managed to open a kitchen cupboard and ate two pounds of raisins. Later that evening the raisins came back to haunt us. My son and I were in the family room watching TV. Ashley was standing near by when suddenly, without warning, those raisins came shooting out his butt. POW, POW, POW, like a machine gun, two pounds of raisins and some other not so nice stuff are spewing out onto my carpet. POW,POW,POW, I start screaming, "Oh my god, Oh my god, get out, get out." POW,POW,POW, Ashley's looking back in bewilderment wondering where that sound is coming from and my son is rolling on the couch convulsed in laughter. 
     Among the chaos I managed to get the dog outside. I came back and gazed at my carpet in dismay. Then I started to laugh, it was either that or cry. Needless to say that carpet took some major cleaning. This story has become a part of our family lore. We will sometimes ask people, "Have you heard the raisin story?" It is particularly good when told with hand gestures and sound effects. I hope you liked the story and I haven't ruined your taste for raisins.

A thought to ponder: A well developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.      William A. Ward

Shared with:Sincerely, Paula

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Garden Therapy: A Dance with Fairies

     This Garden Therapy Thursday post is about something I did recently with the help of my grandson. We built a fairy village. I've had fairies roaming around my yard for several years.

You can see one lurking behind this hollyhock

     These were made from plywood. I found pictures of fairies and drew larger outlines of them. My husband transferred the drawings to the wood and cut them out with a jigsaw. I spray painted them black and voilĂ , silhouettes.

     The silhouettes were done a number of years ago. So it was time to make the fairies some homes. I bought two wooden bird houses from a craft store. My husband cut out the doorways. Rex picked the colors and painted them.

On this one I used popsicle sticks on the roof but then found I'd glued myself into a corner, so to speak. I didn't know how I was going to finish the roof, then I came up with the idea of the funnel. I'm rather pleased with the outcome. Around the windows we used pine cone seed scales. The door is also popscicle sticks and some findings from my jewelry making. We found small hinges at Home Depot so the doors really open and close.

On this one we used dried moss (from the artificial flower section) for the roof. Rex glued it on in small clumps. After we were all done I sprayed the houses with clear acrylic paint.

Here's the bridge we made. Soak the popscicle sticks in water then place inside a cup or glass to get the bend you want, let dry. The railings are made from coffee stir sticks.

     The rest of the items were bought from different places, local and on line. Once we had all our pieces Rex laid things out to his liking. I thought we would have a little stream under the bridge (colored floral flat marbles) but Rex decided we needed a lake. Here is his vision.

A thought to ponder: The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.     W.B. Yeats

Participating in: Tuesday Garden Party