Monthly Archives: September 2018

Take a walk with me and my Doggies

Every morning my dogs are eagerly waiting for me to finally get out of bed and immediately take them outside. The slightest delay while I make coffee or turn on my laptop will start the whining from the dachshund. If possible the Shepherd will put her nose under my bedroom door or at least lay against it loudly to remind me that she’s waiting for me, lazy bones, and I should hurry up ! When I emerge from the room she will run to whatever bedroom the Dachshund is sleeping in and stare at the door until I open it to free her buddy so she can accost him by putting his head in her mouth. They both will stare at me intently and watch my every move and try to telepathically force me to do their will. Usually I can’t stand the ultra high pitched whining for long so off we go. Here are some photos of what we see along the walk, with captions.

Today I almost beat the sunrise over the trees. It’s only low 70s right now but will hit mid-90s by noon.

On your left is the red dirt “pond” that only holds water as long as it keeps raining.

The Sky is really pretty today.

Looking north back towards the “hill” where dewberries grow in May and where we run and ride dirt bikes up and over and down.

Along the road we get wildflowers in the spring . I run on this road.

This part of the trail is very sandy and slightly uphill. It’s more fun running down .

Trying to get the mole they can hear but we can’t .

this is the much hated Yaupon bush that grows and takes over property all over Texas and is very difficult to remove .

The back of the hill. You can see the dead berry brambles.

The steepest path down the hill , also gravelly . No trouble for Ellie.

and back to the house. My husband made the fish . There’s a huge hornet nest by the door. Lots of them this summer. Hard to kill .

I hope you enjoyed our walk! Now it’s time to drink coffee and then start another busy day! Maybe tomorrow I’ll share some of the hundred different hummingbird photos I’ve taken lately . God bless you and keep you.

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The Life of the Party

Do you like podcasts? I do and I listen to them regularly while running , instead of music. I often get blog ideas from them and that happened today while I  was listening to an East Coast Trail And Ultra Podcast  interview with Alex Ramsey, aka Barefoot Alex.  Alex was described as a person who NEVER says anything negative. I believe this because I met him once at a race and he was super friendly, positive, and happy. Even when the interviewer said something negative or somewhat rude about something, Alex would just laugh and make a joke and not partake in the negativity. This made me wish that I was that kind of person. Who doesn’t love being around super friendly, positive, happy  people? The kind who have witty comebacks, are very humble, but real, people, who don’t drag other people into gossip, negative conversations, politics, or boring subjects.

I then had to stop myself and say, hey, everybody has their own personality and contributes to the world in their own way.  We can’t all be cheerleaders or motivational speakers or the life of the party. Somebody has to do the other jobs and be the ones to laugh at the jokes. I am a teacher. My gift is sharing and explaining information. But I also try to encourage and build up people in my life with that information.  My personality type and gift is not always appreciated  and I could probably improve my skills and I want to do that. I need to learn from teachers who are able to inspire and encourage while they teach. I had a couple of those special teachers in my years of schooling and I still remember them. They didn’t take things too seriously and they were able to be flexible and also not get upset when students acted up or had trouble learning.

Other people, maybe you, might have the gifts I admire. I love smart people who can make funny jokes. I really appreciate someone who makes me laugh hard! Eddie Murphy was one of my favorites in my youth. He could never get away with some of those jokes nowadays.  I also admire blue collar workers and love to see them at work. My husband is a mechanic and basically an engineer as well. He can use all kinds of tools including a lathe and mill. If he needs a special part to fix something , he can MAKE IT! Pretty cool. I have not spent very many years of my life in paid work, so I find the whole work world fairly mysterious and interesting. I especially love entrepreneurs and salespeople, probably because my dad was a salesman. Some other under-rated people are the ones who do so much good in the world and never want or get attention for it, unless Mike Rowe finds out, the charity workers and good-deed doers and people who donate money, time and their brains to make these organizations successful.  That takes a special personality. These people have huge hearts, good organizational skills, and seemingly boundless energy. Yes, I feel bad that I am not like them, too. And let’s not forget the people who are very good at skills like keeping things safe, being  fair, executing justice, enforcing rules, protecting others, risking their own lives for others,  our police officers, firemen and emergency personnel. Not many of us are cut out for those essential jobs , and they may not always be the life of the party, and that’s okay!  I’d rather have the calm, quiet type in an emergency.

Don’t get me wrong, I do try to always be friendly, positive and happy, but it’s not my natural state. I’m more cautious, observant, and analytical. My point is that I need to be okay with myself, and you should be, too. It’s okay to admire others, but don’t ruin your own happiness trying to be someone you’re not. Find your special gift and use it to make your part of the world better.

Happy Sunday !

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My son, left, and my husband, working on a dirt bike motor. 

 

Got the Seven Year Itch?

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If you’ve read the Bible at all, or seen movies, you’ve heard how God used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and was leading them to the land God had promised until God got so frustrated by their constant bad behavior that  he punished them by keeping them in the desert for 40 years until all the originally freed people were dead. Then he used Joshua and Caleb to finally take the people until the land. They were allowed to go in after the 40 years because they had trusted God when he sent them to spy out the land, but the other spies were afraid and said it was a bad idea to go into the land.  The other spies scared the people with stories of giant soldiers and gave them bad advice and the people didn’t want to go. Even after God repeatedly proved his ability to save them from every calamity, they still did not trust him or want to serve him. This lack of faith and wandering off to worship other gods became a well-established pattern for the Israelites.

In the New Testament Christians are sometimes referred to as the ‘bride’ of Christ and other words such as marriage, adultery, marriage ceremony,  are used to compare our interactions and the intimate relationship a believer has with the LORD. It occurred to me that what happened over and over with the people of Israel is the 7 year itch. The 7 year itch is a phrase meaning that after seven years of marriage, one or both partners might get a little bored and start looking around at other people for the excitement and intimacy that has dwindled in their relationship. The ”honeymoon is over” is a common saying during the years when people start get over the infatuation and lust stage and move into the more routine days of living with someone who has faults and wants things their way.

It’s the same with how many people treat their faith and relationship with their Lord. Most people are pretty excited when they first believe and have their sins forgiven and realize how blessed they are to saved. They usually read the Bible, go to church and tell others about what God has done for them. But over the years, they may let the busyness of life creep in, stress, old habits, old sins and before they know it, they are not following God at all!  They might still do some of that or none, but they don’t listen to the Holy Spirit, they ignore it and they put themselves back in the driver’s seat of life instead of relying on God’s wisdom and commandments. No time for Bible study or fellowship or prayer other than in time of crisis, if that.

The spiritual closeness and power they once had is so low they can’t even feel it. They come to depend on other things when they feel anxious. We all know what those things are.  Booze, drugs, prescriptions, caffeine, exercise, food, shopping, internet, porn, drama, power, work, video games,  and other idols that do nothing to truly love us and care for us like God does, like our LORD will if we turn back to him. Most of these can be used in moderation without being harmful, but when we NEED them to get through a stressful day, we have become dependent. As Christians, we are to depend on God. (I’m not taking about never using medication.)

Why did the Israelites turn to idols? Well , remember that in those days Jesus had no come. Every person did not have access to God directly through Jesus and the Holy Spirit like we do now. They were dependent on their leaders, namely the priests, prophets and later the kings, to guide them and keep then on track with the Law. But over and over, even after they left the wilderness, the leaders went astray in their own lives and the people followed right after them up to the hills to sacrifice to idols, even placing their live children on the altars. Humans of other cultures have done the same but these were God’s chosen people. If even these people could not maintain their faithfulness, how could anyone? If people who had been privileged to have GOD living among them, showing them his great power, performing miracles and wonders , could not keep that in their puny minds for a lifetime, how can we? We have seen and heard it all in the Scriptures, yet we fail.

But, God! Praise God that he knows our weakness and he sent his only son Jesus to take our punishment and to cover  us  with his righteousness and bridge the gap. Praise Him for his mercy and grace on our  failure as humans. Praise Him for his patience and kindness in sending us Jesus and his disciples and giving us the written Word . He will be coming back and he will be executing his plan to redeem his chosen people at the proper time along with the Gentiles that have been grafted in. The judgment will also come in which those who have rejected his Son will be eternally punished. Pray that you will be ready. Pray that you will be found doing the Lord’s will. Pray that you will be counted a good and faithful servant.

Are you prepared? Storm thoughts

With hurricane Florence heading to the  east coast and other storms churning in the Gulf, people are scurrying to prepare and stockpile necessities in case of losing power and/or the ability to drive to stores. We no longer live as close to the coast as we once did , but we are close enough to be affected by flooding caused by days and days of rain after a hurricane or tropical storm. This time of year, hurricane season, always makes me more aware of how dependent most of us are for the basics of life.  A simple tree branch falling on a wire can shut down neighborhood power for hours or days. A major power outage can close all the stores and businesses in a city. A major flood can shut down a whole city, including trucking routes,  hospitals and banks. Houston learned once again with Hurricane Harvey this time last year that floods can be worse than winds. Some of my friends are just now moving back into their homes! Thousands were displaced and had to move to camping trailers, hotels, and other people’s homes . Then they had to pray that they had flood insurance or wait months for FEMA to help them.

The weather forecasters warned Houston for a week  that unusual amounts of rain were expected, and that flooding was guaranteed. So what did people do last year to prepare for Harvey? Mostly they seemed to buy cases and cases of bottled water, lots of snacks, batteries, and alcohol. Not very helpful in this case. What ended up being needed was boats and somewhere to escape to! People were in danger of drowning in their homes, needed to get to dry ground, were stranded in cars on overpasses. I urge the people in the path of Hurricane Florence to not make the mistake of trying to drive in flood waters or stay in a flooding neighborhood. Several people died needlessly in Houston.  South Carolina residents have been told to evacuate and I hope they will. I know it’s an inconvenience and many people hope the storm will not be so bad. Learn from Harvey. I know Harvey was a crazy storm , dropping up to 60 inches of rain in 4 days, and poor planning of flood control caused much more damage than the storm itself, but even less rain can cause a catastrophe.

But even those of us who were not under water were affected by the storm indirectly. You could not get the things you needed at the local stores . They were not available. Trucks could not get through Houston , a major interstate was flooded. Doctor appointments and surgeries were cancelled. Schools were closed in Houston for weeks or even months or for the rest of the year. Many schools had flood damage or no power. People could not go to work. Many people did not have power even though they were not flooded. People were under a lot of stress.

How does one prepare for situations like this? Here is one good source of info. Hurricane Preparedness . Here is the basic and expanded supplies list. It may be too late for some people to get all this for this storm, but you can do it later.  It is expensive to truly be prepared for weeks without power or access to supplies. You really need a working generator or alternative power sources, money in the bank for missed paychecks, a large food and water supply, vehicles that can drive in high water, a boat.  In Texas, it is hot this time of year.  No power means no air conditioning. That can be very hard on the young and old and sick. And some depend on power for medical equipment. After Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, thousands had to be bussed to other cities to live. Their homes were gone or damaged.

Thankfully there are people who are specially trained for disasters, the first responders that jump into action, the Red Cross, FEMA,  the electric linemen, the local leaders and law enforcement who let us all know what to do and what to expect. Facebook groups turned out to be a helpful source of information for us after Harvey. Just beware of false information and fake photos that get shared way too often, like these and others. Fake photos Think before you share. Verify with other sources if it sounds phony. What can you do to help? Volunteer after the storm, donate to the Red Cross, but mostly take care of yourself and your family and friends who need help. Fortify your house before the storm if you can. Then stay off the roads until it’s safe. No sightseeing. Good luck everyone and I’ll be praying for you.

 

 

Don’t let the Terrorists Win

Today, once again, we look back with grief and confusion at a terrible day in America’s history.  According to Wikipedia, 2,996 people were killed and over 6,000 injured that day during 4 attacks carried about by the terrorist group al-Qaeda. 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers were killed that day. Men, women and children of all walks of life lost their lives in an evil attempt to destabilize and destroy  and punish America for supposed crimes against Islam according to a videotape released by Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda.

In 1996, bin Laden issued a fatwā calling for American troops to leave Saudi Arabia. In 1998, al-Qaeda wrote, “for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.”[51]For a brief period during and after the attacks shocked and frightened Americans became emotionally united against a common enemy. Everyone consoled each other and many prayed and memorials were held. Bumper stickers were printed and shirts screened. We were sad for the dead, proud to be American, and glad to be alive.

Meanwhile, our leaders were taking steps to prevent another terrorist attack from happening. Namely, they created at least two new departments of government.

From Wikipedia: The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the United States federal government with responsibilities in public security, roughly comparable to the interior or home ministries of other countries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management.[3] It was created in response to the September 11 attacks and is the youngest U.S. cabinet department. In fiscal year 2017, it was allocated a net discretionary budget of $40.6 billion.[2]Also according to Wikipedia : The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that has authority over the security of the traveling public in the United States. It was created as a response to the September 11 attacks. For fiscal year 2012, the TSA had a budget of roughly $7.6 billion. Part of the TSA budget comes from a $2.50 per-passenger tax. The Obama administration had proposed tripling this fee by 2019, with most of the increase going to reduce the national debt.[45]Need I say more? We now live in a society where we are constantly watched by millions of cameras, have our cell phones and internet messages monitored by satellites, are guilty until proven innocent, and are asked to spy and report on our suspicious neighbors and fellow citizens. Have you seen this government sponsored campaign ?

See Something, Say Something.

Personally I don’t think it is ‘everyone’s job’ to become homeland security spies. Sure, if you are going about your day and something obviously wrong is going on, call 911. But to ask people to watch  poorly done videos and have them be constantly on alert and paranoidly looking for details of a scene in case they need to make a report is just wrong. We PAY people to protect us, police, FBI, the military. It is our job to LOVE our neighbors, raise our children to be kind and tolerant of others beliefs,  speak words of peace, love and wisdom in our communities. Volunteer, give to charity, invite people over for a meal, visit the sick and elderly. Leave the crime fighting to the professionals. In doing these things we do not let the terrorists win. Love wins.

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I love how America is full of tourists from every country in the world, despite the DHS and TSA making it more difficult to travel. Keep coming! We love you! 

Did you celebrate Grandparents Day?

Did you even know that  today, the Sunday after Labor Day, is Grandparents Day? I confess that even though I have six children and until recently, they had two pair of married-forever grandparents, I never have done much to celebrate this day. Maybe bought a few cards over the years or gone for a visit to their house. I’m extremely thrifty, remember those six children?,  so I’m pretty terrible at sending or giving cards and gifts for any but the most important occasions. Actually I’m pretty bad at celebrating all special occasions.

I used to LOVE shopping for gifts for people, but then I had the depressing realization that sometimes people( not necessarily grandparents) did not want the gifts, or they worried about me spending too much,  and it just made them uncomfortable. They often just wanted to spend time together without the pressure of gifts. Is it just me or do very few people actually enjoy getting surprises? Unless it’s something you specifically asked for, and then it’s not really a surprise unless they are good at picking up on clues and keeping secrets. Once, my son shocked me with a Garmin running watch for Mother’s Day. THAT was the best gift I had received in a very long time! Then a few years later, he bought me a nicer one. Yes, I really love that kid. 😉 But, HE is very hard to buy for. He is very picky and likes to buy his own stuff, expensive stuff,  and he is very uncomfortable expressing emotions, so accepting gifts is tough for him.

Once you get past a certain age, you either prefer to buy your own stuff, or you really hate clutter from things you don’t or can’t use, such as clothes that aren’t your style or size, or collectible items you really don’t need more of . Considering grandparents have usually been around for awhile, most of them have the stuff they want and need and have very specific taste. When we have given them presents, I’ve tried to make it something useful or consumable or, occasionally,  a homemade item. The one gift that they used for many years and seemed to get so much enjoyment out of was a bread machine, back in the early 1990s when everyone was baking bread. After that we could always expect a fresh loaf of bread when they came to visit.

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My sister, mom , dad (wearing the tie), and father-in-law at the nursery to see my newborn. They loved the babies!

Christmas shopping has really become a burden to me. Not only do I have a very limited budget, my children are all past the toy stage and into the electronics, computers and cars stage. I just can’t afford to buy them the stuff they  would really enjoy. In the past few years , I’ve really struggled with what to buy them. Last year I decided it would be a fun idea to take my two youngest on their first plane trip and go visit my sister in Utah during the winter time where they could experience their first real snow. I kept it a secret until Christmas and then did the big reveal. It wasn’t as well received as I’d hoped. We ended up having a good trip, lots of snowy fun , no regrets, but I don’t think they would have said yes if I’d asked them first. I’m seriously considering one big family gift for this year, probably a new TV. Based on the annual Black Friday deals, I’m not the only one who has this idea.

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My husband’s parents were wonderful grandparents and they are missed. 

As for Grandparents Day, my mom is the only grandparent still living, and she went to her favorite city, Las Vegas, with friends this weekend. I sent her a text to tell her good luck and that we love her. She is an amazing grandmother and my kids love her very much. Of course, she spoils them, which is totally appropriate for a grandma to do. She actually got up early before she went to the airport so she could make cupcakes for my son’s birthday and sent them via my sister. My mom has been there for me with each newborn and has babysat and loved each of my children. She has supported me through many parenting trials and difficulties , financially and emotionally,  and has even taken care of my disabled daughter . I wish I could afford to pamper her in her golden years.  I hope and pray that she gets very lucky in Vegas because she deserves it!

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Good luck, mom!!! She’s an expert at the slots. 

I hope you had a good weekend. Are you blessed with children and therefore have grandparents to celebrate? What gifts do you like to give them? Does gift-buying give you pleasure or stress?

Reading and Writing – Wool book review

You need to do both , right? That’s what I’m telling my kids this year. But since discovering the joy of blogging when I got injured, I’ve been writing a lot and not reading that much. This week I picked up a book, WOOL , and read it through. It’s the first book in a series. Here’s my review.

I also finally took the time to investigate the Goodreads website and app and set up an account because I enjoy reading and writing book reviews. I’ve gone there before, but only as a visitor. Now I can play along with the other nerds and smarty pants.

By the way, this week I have been feeling more antisocial and intolerant of people who annoy me , so reading a book was a great way to escape, although certain people kept interrupting me and wanting attention. I tried hard to be patient and I think no damage has been done. “Please stop talking !” was a recurring thought.

I liked the book. WOOL , by Hugh Howey, which was originally self-published in 2011 as a short story. Then he added to it and now it’s a huge series of books. The one I read was what they call the Omnibus edition from 2012, and it’s 509 pages, which includes the 5 sub-books that can also be found sold separately. So be careful not to purchase something you don’t need. After this are other books which make up a continuous story. I have already ordered the next book, SHIFT.

The title is a bit odd and I still don’t really get the meaning. I mean , the people live in a silo, so they’re like cotton? The story is about a post-apocalyptic world in which people must live underground to survive. The outer world is a toxic wasteland. Howey is very good at bringing the characters to life , and then killing them. Don’t get too attached. The plot remains mysterious for the majority of this book. I felt like I was just getting started when I only had about 100 pages left! It felt like the author was really enjoying telling the story and not in a hurry at all to finish.

I couldn’t help but compare it in my mind to other similar books. I read the 7 book series, GONE, by Michael Grant, and there’s a definite difference between the authors’ styles. Much less anger and pure violence and scary stuff in this book. Even the bad guys are subdued. But GONE is sold as a Young Adult series so maybe that’s why it’s more emotional. That series wore me out but I had to finish it!

I look forward to getting the next book in the mail and escaping into the silo with the surviving characters of WOOL.

Do you like future fiction, post apocalyptic stories and movies?