Oh, to be a SUPER GRANDMA!

A good friend often knows what you’re thinking even when you don’t express it. I hadn’t mentioned this particular situation, but got an email yesterday asking how I was “doing with it.” Perceptive as always, this friend had figured out from reading my dear daughter-in-law’s blog I’d be thinking about this.

What’s that? Well, my lack of grandmothering.

Ellie’s Mommy has started a new part time job, and one of the days she’s at work Ellie stays with her Northern Grandma (I’m Southern Grandma – big surprise, huh?). This has been a weekly routine for some time, even before the job, and her grandma also takes Ellie to her swimming lessons that day.

I am green with envy.

Yes, I know they can only be near one set of parents. And at one point, they tried to work it out so they’d be moving here, and I would have been the fortunate one, and Northern Grandma would have been kind of left out. I would have felt bad for her, but hey! I know I would also have enjoyed the kids and Ellie being close. It just didn’t work out that way.

And I know it’s better they are in Canada, with an extended family there to help out when needed, and a publicly funded health care system to help with Ellie’s needs due to her having Cerebral Palsy.

And if I am brutally honest with myself, I also know I would feel guilty not being able to care more for Ellie if she WAS close. The last time we were all together, about the time Ellie needed a rest time, so did Grandma. I don’t have the stamina for much physical activity, even just walking around a mall, for more than a couple of hours at a time. So I’m not much of a help as a babysitter.

This wasn’t how I envisioned having grandchildren. They were supposed to live relatively close, and I was supposed to be able to enjoy playing with them days on end. Instead our grandchildren are scattered from Florida to Canada, and I am unable to cope with much visiting.

And to take Ellie swimming? I can’t even think of putting on a bathing suit without cringing. I flinch when putting on a shirt. Clothing has got to be LOOSE, so it doesn’t rub against hypersensitive skin. Many mornings I think, “It’s just not right it hurts to put on a shirt.”

But life rarely turns out just like we thought it would. And it’s certainly not always fair. So while I’m envious Northern Grandma gets to spend so much time with Ellie, I’m thankful Ellie has a grandma close by to love her and play with her. I’m thankful for email and digital cameras, so I get wonderful pictures and little movies on a regular basis, and I can see how she’s growing and what she’s doing.

It’s not the same as being there of course, and I am sad I can’t be a better Grandma to Ellie and our other grandchildren. But I can and do rejoice I have grandchildren, and unlike my mother, have lived to see them.

I love them. I pray for them. I try to do the best I can. And in the end, I guess that’s all any of us can do, no matter what our situation.

But I sure do wish I could be SUPER GRANDMA, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound and play and play and play!

Where did everybody go?

When I started writing today, I was thinking about giving, and the many ways I benefited from times when I could give to others. But I guess my mood is a little darker, probably a result of “rain pain.” (The rain we’re getting is much needed, but it does hurt. It’s tough being a human barometer!)

My mind wandered from giving, to all the things I used to do for others, to wondering where all those others went when I could have benefited from knowing they cared.

Strangely enough, as it grew harder for me to get out and I saw people less, it got so about the only time I heard from most people was when they wanted me to do something for them. I’ve always felt that was kind of ironic.

I didn’t expect dinners or visits, but just an occasional note via snail mail, or an email, would have been really nice. It doesn’t take a big effort, just some little thing that lets a person know someone still remembers they’re alive. It hurts when people you thought cared about you seem to forget they ever knew you.

So if you ever know someone who is dealing with a chronic illness and don’t know what to do, try checking out the Rest Ministries site, with a list of ways to encourage people.

You don’t have to know exactly “the right thing to say,” you just have to give another human being a little sign that you remember they exist.

I appreciate those that have been there for me, have been my friends through the good times and the hard times. A person’s friends are their greatest treasure. May you be as richly blessed as you have blessed me by your kindness.

THANK YOU for being there.

The End of "TN Tattlers"

I used to write stories about life here on the farm called “TN Tattlers”, a sort of update on the latest happenings with our family and on the farm. I sent them to several friends and family members, but I eventually stopped. Why? Well, let me write a mini-Tattler, then I can better explain the problem.

Monday Jess, Jonathan and I rounded up the sheep we had left, and sorted out the four we needed to deliver to a farm about an hour away. That’s a long story in itself, but suffice it to say the round-up did NOT go well, and we had a lot of trouble getting all the sheep into the shed. By the time we got the four we needed on the truck, stopped by the vet’s office, and finally made it to the farm where we were delivering the sheep and unloaded them, the morning was pretty well shot.

Fortunately it was easier unloading the sheep than it was getting them loaded in the first place. The summer heat was making itself felt, but we took time to look at the lambs, sheep and Great Pyrenees there. We didn’t get home until mid-afternoon.
A Cotswold lamb with some other sheep at our friend's farm.

Yesterday Jonathan and I went grocery shopping. We generally go fairly early in the morning before it gets too crowded. It takes a while, since we are getting food and household supplies for the entire week. When we get back home, Jonathan unloads the groceries from the car and I put them away in the kitchen.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting through peafowl eggs in the incubators to see which were developing, and which weren’t. I also checked the water in the buckets for the critters outside, fixed supper, and various other chores.

Today I’m baking. I just took a couple loaves of Sourdough Oatmeal-Walnut Bread out of the oven, and put in a couple of loaves of Cinnamon-Raisin Bread. I also baked a batch of Birdie Bread, which consists of leftover bits of fruit and veggies, eggs and cornmeal baked in a rectangular cake pan. I cut it in cubes, bag it up and freeze part of it, then feed a few cubes to Baby the parrot each day. What she doesn’t eat gets thrown to the peafowl.

In the middle of all this baking, I got a phone call from a neighbor saying one of the goats had her head stuck in the fence, and had to go take care of that. Naturally, she was at the furthest end of the pasture, so it was a long walk in the mid-day heat. Also naturally, she was contrary and instead of helping, she hindered getting her head and horns back through the hole in the fence.

Okay, that’s a sample of what I used to put in TN Tattlers. So what’s wrong with it? Well, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s “The Rest of the Story.”

As in all the TN Tattlers, I only wrote about the things we did, and didn’t mention the impact any of the activities had on me. But the truth is, after each bout of physical activity, I need time to recover. I didn’t mention how often I had to rest, or how much the pain levels increased after each physical exertion. Because I didn’t talk about those things, many people reading my stories figured I could do anything I wanted, so why wasn’t I doing more of the things I used to do?

I got tired of the unrealistic expectations my stories unfortunately engendered, but neither did I want to give a blow-by-blow account that included the effect activities had on me.

Thus, I wrote no more, and that was the end of the TN Tattlers.

But You Look So Good!

My dear friend, RR, informed me that while she was enjoying reading my stories, I was once again missing the mark. The main reason for this blog was supposed to be sharing how chronic pain affects my life, and most of my entries don’t have more than a passing reference to it. Of course, she’s absolutely right, and once again my upbringing is hindering my expression of how I feel. Pain? You’re sick? Don’t complain!

I must try to remember there’s a difference between complaining all the time and talking about pain in an effort to help people understand what it’s like to live with an invisible illness like chronic pain.

So what IS it like?

Most people have no comprehension what “chronic pain” means. A frequent scenario goes something like this – you’re in the grocery store, church, wherever, and someone you know stops to chat. The initial greetings of “Hello, how are you?” are made. This is merely a social pleasantry. Most people really do NOT want to know how you are. However, a few may then ask, “Is your pain gone?” or something similar.

After hearing this several times, you’d like to say, “No, the pain is not gone. It’s called CHRONIC pain for a reason. Here’s your sign.” But not wanting to be rude and realizing most people mean well, instead you say something innocuous, like, “No, I still have it.”

Then what happens? They get this incredulous expression and say, “But you look so good!” And you get the distinct impression people think you’re a bit of a hypochondriac, because after all, you can’t hurt very much and still look good.

Lest it be thought I’m being overly sensitive about this, I am by far not the only person with chronic pain to have noticed this phenomenon. In fact, for some time, Rest Ministries, an organization for people in chronic pain, had a logo with “But you look good!” on it.

It’s hard for most people to get a grasp on chronic pain. Everyone has experienced pain, yes, but there’s one problem. The pain was temporary. You had a headache. You took medicine and it went away. You had a toothache. The dentist took care of it. You had labor pain. The baby was born. You had a kidney stone. Excruciating pain! But eventually it passed or was removed. You may have had some pretty bad pain, but even in the midst of it, you knew it was temporary. The pain would end.

You can’t fully understand living with CHRONIC pain until you’ve had pain a long time, until you and the doctors have tried everything imaginable to alleviate it, and until you know it is NOT going away no matter what you do, and you see the rest of your life shimmering before you with the cold hard edges of pain constantly stabbing at you and wearing away your strength. It’s there. It’s always there. And it’s not going away.

There’s a reason people with chronic pain have a higher suicide rate than the average population.

Living with chronic pain is getting up in the morning and wondering what it would be like to wake up without pain, and trying to remember what your life was like before you had pain all the time.

Living with chronic pain means becoming increasingly isolated as pain restricts your activities, and people you thought were friends forget you exist because you can’t stay active in church or work or other activities you once shared. It’s being sad because you know people who enjoy activities you’d love to do, like having their grandchildren for whole days at a time, while you’re lucky to manage a couple of hours.

Living with chronic pain means living a life most people do not understand. They have no experience living with continual pain. They can’t see your pain. It’s all the above and more. But maybe as the days and weeks go by, people reading this blog will get a peek at a different lifestyle and gain some understanding of what life with chronic pain is like.

Because even if I look good, I still hurt.


You’d think being used to having pain all the time, a little ant bite or two wouldn’t bother me. You’d be wrong.

You see, ants don’t like me. I try to leave them alone. When I’m in the garden, do I bother them? No, I do not. When I’m watering my flowers, do I bother them? No, I do not. So why do they feel it necessary to go out of their way to bite me?

I had my first real run in with ants when I was out taking pictures of cotton fields one summer. There was a bit of a slope in one field, and I was trying to get just the right angle, so walked out into the cotton a little ways. Big mistake. Those nice bushy cotton plants were hiding fire ant mounds. By the time I got back to the car I was dancing around and brushing ants off my legs. Needless to say, they got their bites in.

Next I was trying to find barns to photograph. I found a nice red one sitting at the far edge of a field of corn. To get a good shot, I stood along the opposite edge of the field among some short weeds. Unfortunately, those short weeds were just tall enough to disguise a fire ant hill. It wasn’t long before I beat a hasty retreat! And yes, more bites.
At least I got good use out of the picture, with putting our little Scarecrow Ellie in it for the October page of her 2007 calender.

It took weeks for all those ant bites to heal. That was bad enough, but I think it set up an allergic reaction to ant bites, and not just fire ants. Those stupid little black ants bite me, and I get a big blister, a red swollen area 2-3" round, and it itches like crazy!

The simple solution would be to put some kind of cream with benzocaine or lidocaine on the bites to numb the pain. Only trouble with that is the fact I have a reaction to those meds, and it just makes things worse.

Guess it’s not just ants that don’t like me. My own body doesn’t like me much either.

Bird Brain

Sometimes calling someone a birdbrain is a misnomer. The slang term usually refers to someone stupid. When applied to the REAL bird brain in our house – Baby, the African Grey Parrot – nothing could be further from the truth. Her little gray cells are in continual action, and she can be one determined little creature.

Today we’re waging a battle of wits. I hate to say I’m losing to a bird, but I must face up to the facts. She’s winning.

I want her to stay on or in her cage. She wants to get down and go walkabout. I tell her she ought to be thankful she gets down periodically and during the day is allowed to crawl around on her cage and play gym. “Many little birds,” I tell her, “are imprisoned in their cages 24 hours a day.” She remains unimpressed. She wants to be able to get down and walk around whenever she feels like it.

The biggest problem with her being on the loose is her aspirations to be a Carpenter Bird. A puppy is a many-toothed destructor going about on 4 paws, but a parrot needs only 2 feet and one beak to wreak havoc. Parrots chew. It’s a natural behavior. It’s just what they do, and if you get a parrot you’d better know that going in or you’re in for some unpleasant surprises.

One of her favorite haunts is to slip in the pantry when you open the door.

Unfortunately, parrots have no concept of what’s okay to chew up and what isn’t. The old phone book? A great chew toy and who cares? But the new cupboards? Your best furniture? A hardback book? You may not like it, but they all seem like great chew toys to a parrot.

Granted, she does need to get plenty of exercise, but there is no safe way to allow her down by herself. I have to keep watch on what she’s doing at all times. Sometimes that’s not convenient.

So to keep her on her cage, I’ve put baffles around the legs. I put rolling cardboard tubes on cross bars. I have cloth covering two sides. Every time I block one escape route, she figures out a new way to get down. Jess says she’s like a squirrel, figuring out ways to get to a bird feeder. Whatever you compare her too, she’s smart and persistent.

I come up with ideas to block her pathway down. She comes up with new ideas to get down. No matter what I try, sooner or later, she always comes up with a new path to freedom.

It’s a battle of wits. And the bird appears to be winning.

I'm down and going walkabout again!

Happy #13!!!

The number 13 gets a bad rap as being unlucky. Sure, lots of bad things are purported to have happened on the 13th, but probably no more than have happened on any other day. For us today was a lucky day, because it’s our 13th anniversary.

Yes, 13 years ago we had a very small and informal ceremony at our home church, with only the pastor presiding, and the three sons still at home – Richard, Jason and Jonathan - as witnesses.

Today was even more low key. We spent the morning loading up a group of 12 sheep and goats for delivery to a very nice lady, Lillie, in Lacey Springs, Alabama. Jonathan helped us catch all our goats and sheep so I could give them worming medicine, then load the twelve Lillie had chosen onto the truck.

It was a wrench letting them go, though I know it’s necessary. Jess and I can no longer handle these critters routinely for the care they need. There were some beautiful ram lambs, and lovely ewes, and my very handsome and loveable ram that sired all this years lambs.

This flock represents almost a decade long breeding program with the Shetland sheep, working for easy lambing, good disposition and moorit colors. (Moorit is a term from the Shetland Islands for a lovely reddish-brown color.)

Sometimes the timing is just off. Jess and I met too late in life to realize some of our shared dreams, like having a BIG farm and LOTS of animals.
(This picture was taken at the Kings 2005 reunion in Oklahoma.)

We’ve enjoyed our smaller farm and critters, but it’s time now to let the larger animals go. We've already sold several animals, and have four more to deliver. And I know Lillie will take very good care of the critters she got today. We’ll keep a few of the older ewes and a couple of older goats to graze down the pastures, but concentrate more on fowl creatures. They’re easier to handle!

The pastures are looking a lot emptier these days.
But our lives are still full, and Happy Anniversary to us!

Jess and Crew in Kentucky

Last weekend Jess went to Kentucky with a bunch of old and new buddies from the place he used to work. The purported purpose of this trip was to see the NASCAR Busch series race on Saturday. However, it may be that they have the "whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" kind of mentality since I heard they also went to Belterra Resort Hotel and Casino.....

Here's the whole crew:

And here's Jess with his long time buddy and fellow estimator, Bill:
Despite the heat, I think they all had a good time!

Kitchen Chaos

It’s been a long time in the making, but I think the kitchen remodeling project is going to be totally finished soon. Never mind it’s been almost two years since we started! We got the estimate for the cabinets in August 2005. At the time, our kitchen looked like this:
(In case you didn't know, you can click on these pictures for a larger view.)

It was dark, the cupboards were dingy, and the linoleum had big holes in it here and there.

It was definitely in the market for a makeover.

The cabinet maker was recommended to us. He makes lovely cabinets. What we didn’t know is that he was soooooooooo sloooooooow. He was way overbooked, and any time one of the developers wanted him to put cupboards in a house, our work waited while he finished theirs.

To be fair, he wasn’t the only hold-up in getting the kitchen finished. I had to tear off several layers of wallpaper, and in the end, some of it had to be scraped off piece by teeny-tiny piece. Then the wallboard had to be repaired, and everything repainted.

It doesn’t take long to write about it, but it took me a very long time to actually DO it. First off, there was just a lot of work. Secondly, chronic pain + fibromyalgia = a couple hours a day of being able to do any physically demanding work, more or less, depending on the day’s pain levels. So projects don't progress very quickly.

At any rate, the cabinetmaker finally finished his work, and got the cabinets made and installed close to my specifications. I got the ceiling painted, the wallpaper off and the walls painted, and our neighbor put down the new flooring for us. Jess got the new blind put up on the new picture window we had installed. The kitchen was looking pretty good but needed a couple of finishing touches.

And so it stayed until yesterday. First, Jess repaired a small hole in the flooring, where a certain bird went walkabout once, and since there were no baseboards holding the flooring down, picked at the edge and made a hole before her activity was discovered. He did a GREAT job fixing it. You have to know where to look and get close to see the repair.

Then Jess cut pieces of baseboard to fit, got them painted, and nailed into place. It looks FANTASTIC!

He also put the corkboard up on the wood panel we put on the wall between the living room and dining area to cover the hole where we took out an unused electric heater. Unfortunately, he ran out of glue before he finished, so he has a few more squares to glue on, but that shouldn’t take too much longer.

So we’re getting close to being finally finished with the makeover. It’s a major improvement, and the cabinets and flooring are beautiful, but I’m not sure if I’d have the heart to do it again if I’d have known what we were getting into.

I’m past ready to be totally done with remodeling and the resulting kitchen chaos!

Rain Pain

Yesterday we got rain, and boy! Did we ever need it. The drought conditions here are past severe and extreme, up into the “Exceptional” range according to the map at:
We got one inch of rain yesterday, and that was wonderful, but we need much, much more to begin to make up for weeks of dry weather.

What was NOT wonderful was the pain levels. I was feeling pretty “achy-breaky” yesterday, and finally the light bulb came on. “Aha! It’s RAINING.” It had been so long since we’d had rain, I’d forgotten how much it hurts!

Yes, something about the change in weather does evil things to my body, causing the fibromyalgia pain to flare up, which in turn jacks up the thoracic neuralgia pain levels, and all that pain makes you really tired.

Researchers can’t say exactly why changing weather can cause an increase in pain levels, except to say it appears to have something to do with the change in atmospheric pressure. Whatever the cause, I feel it. Usually it hurts worse when rain is coming, but yesterday the pain was worse while it was raining and for a while afterwards, well into this morning. Who knows?

But we need rain! So I guess I’ll just have to pray for more rain pain.

A Father's Day Salute

There are lots of great dads out there. You know what I mean, the ones who are more than a biological parent. They’re the ones who take an interest in actively caring for their children. Feeding them, changing diapers, taking kids to school or practices, playing games with them – the guys who are THERE for their kids and not ashamed to let them know they love them. Those are the REAL Dads in this world.

I know a couple of extra special ones.

First, there’s my husband, Jess. When we got married he already had a family. My sons were in their teens, and had been through a really rough time with their biological father leaving. Jess not only helped care for them financially, but went above and beyond that and adopted them in his heart. He taught Jonathan how to drive, he helped them in whatever ways he could, and showed both boys he CARED about them. He was there for them when they needed him.

He didn’t have to do that. He could have gotten by with a much more superficial relationship, but instead he stepped in and became the father they needed. A REAL dad.

And while taking time for Richard and Jonathan, he didn’t forget his own kids. Every one of them is special to him. He really cares about every single member of his family, including all the grandchildren. And we love him all the more for it.

Then there’s my son, Richard. From the time his daughter, Ellie, was born, he’s been active in helping take care of her. He showers her with love and attention. I am in awe with how much he does to help take care of her. I’d like to say I did a good job raising him, but the truth is, we all make our own choices, and it was HIS choice to be the kind of parent he is. I don’t believe Ellie could have a better dad.

Not only does he dote on Ellie, but he also dotes on her mother. One of the best things a Dad can do for his children is to love their mother and provide a happy, stable home. In this day and age, it doesn’t happen near often enough. It’s a blessing to see when it does.

To say I’m proud of him is such an understatement.

Both of these Dads take the extra step, the extra time, the extra love, and really show their children how much they care. They are what a Dad should be and more. Any man would do well to emulate them.

Jess and Richard – I salute you.
Thanks for being such great Dads!

A Mother's Legacy

My mother’s birthday would have been this past week, on June 13th, to be exact. Thoughts began swirling around in my head then, but I was deep into a project with a deadline, so had to wait a while to actually write anything. Now that the project is done, here is but a tiny part of what I could say about her.

Mother’s shape us in ways we don’t always understand or even suspect. Usually somewhere down the road, after a woman is grown and on her own – and especially if she has children – she will at some point do or say something and have this shocking revelation, “I sound (act) just like my mother!”

Don’t try telling that to a teenager. They’d never believe it.

However short or long the time we have with our mother, we are being molded. Even if someone never knew their birth mother, that too has an influence on their life. There is no denying whatever relationship we had or still have with our mother has far reaching effects, and an important cornerstone to building the person we are.

My mother was no different. I’m still sorting out the many ways our relationship impacted who I am today.

Unfortunately, many of my memories of my mother are tied up with death. One of my first vivid memories is of me sitting on a hard backed chair, legs dangling, and Mom explaining that I would be going to school a year early. I don’t remember the words, but instead a sense of compelling urgency. I needed to go to school THIS year, because my mother was sick, and she might not live to see me go to school NEXT year.

Yes, my mother was different. She was going to die. Most kids don’t think about their mother dying. It’s fortunately not part of their world to imagine such a thing happening. It was part of my world since I was 5 years old.

Once in grade school a fellow student asked our teacher what leukemia was. I knew. My mother was going to die because of it. Tears coursed down my cheeks while she explained it to the class. Later, when we went to our phys-ed class, she pulled me out of the line of kids marching around and around the gym and apologized. I told her not to worry about it, I didn’t mind.

I lied.

I minded a great deal, then and every other time I was reminded. And it shaped me. I had to be a “good girl” because what if I was bad and my mom died? How could I live with the guilt? Would her death somehow be my fault? I was always striving to live up to what I felt were her expectations for me, whether real or in my imagination. The building block of “there might not be a tomorrow” was shoved into my psyche.

Many times during my childhood I went to stay with my paternal Grandmother. She lived nearby and I could go to school while my mother was far away in some hospital and unable to care for me. I didn’t understand exactly what was going on then. Of course now I realize she was having treatments for the leukemia, most likely chemotherapy.

It became a pattern in my life. Long periods of things being normal interspersed with stays at my grandmother’s. During the normal times, my mother was in remission. She worked harder than most people I know, and never complained within my hearing. She defined the word “stoic.” You didn’t complain because you were sick.

So there was yet another building block cemented into my personality. Still today I have trouble admitting when I’m feeling bad, when I’m having pain, even to a doctor. You are NOT supposed to complain. That is seared into my brain. It means most people never have a clue that I have chronic pain and how much it affects my life.

When I was a teenager and full of my own ideas and concerns, I tucked away thoughts of my mother’s illness. It lurked in the background. It still shaped me, but I didn’t actively think of it so much. And so it went until my last year of college. I got married in December, between semesters. My mother worked hard on that wedding. She frequently mentioned she’d like to see some grandchildren. Soon.

It never dawned on me the time was drawing near when she was really going to die. I was used to the routine: my mother went to the hospital every so often, then she came home. She ALWAYS came home. Never mind I was in nurse’s training and should have seen the signs. I knew my mother was going to die, I always knew it. But not NOW, not yet.

It was a crushing shock when four months to the day after I got married, she DID die. Within a few short weeks I graduated from college on Mother’s Day. It hurt.

I canonized my mother for many years after that. It was a long time before I realized it was all right to admit she wasn’t perfect. She had many virtues, but like everyone else, she had a few faults also.

She was a remarkable woman, struggling to raise a family in spite of her illness, helping on a farm doing much of the manual labor outside while my father worked at a factory, and intensely devoted to her kids. She didn’t live long enough to see any of the grandchildren she longed for. I know she would have loved them so much, and been so proud of them, but she never got the chance to shape their lives.

But she certainly shaped mine.
And I still miss her.

A Moo-ving Experience

Sunday morning I woke up at 4:30am. With chronic pain and fibromyalgia, my sleep patterns are often a tad erratic, so I usually just go with the flow.

At daybreak I went outside to do chores. I took my camera out with me, hoping for some good pictures in that nice early morning light.
I flipped the picture so it wouldn't be upside down, but this is actually a reflection in our pond of the sun hitting the tree tops.

By the time I’d wore myself out, Jess was awake and getting ready for church. After he left, I decided I’d try to get some more sleep.

I’d been asleep about an hour when the dogs woke me with their frantic barking. They usually quiet down after a few minutes when it’s a stray dog going down the road, but this time they just kept on and on and on.

I decided I’d better get up and investigate. I looked out the front door to discover this huge creature staring back at me.

It was a moo-ving experience.

Yes, there was a huge black cow leisurely munching her way through what little grass there is in our front yard.

Naturally, I couldn’t resist and went and grabbed my camera. After I took a few shots, she ambled on towards our garden. Noooooo! THAT didn’t seem like a good idea, even if she was dropping organic fertilizer as she went. I tried to shoo her away from there back into the yard, but she went in the opposite direction and moseyed on up into the orchard.

I figured it was safe to leave her there, since unlike goats or sheep, the cow wouldn’t eat the bark off the trees. I went inside and called over to our neighbors, Dwight and Dorothea. I figured they’d know who owned the cow so I could call and inform them they had an escapee.

It turned out the owner is one of Dwight’s best friends. After Dwight called him and apprised him of the situation, Dwight came outside to see for himself what was happening.

In the meantime, I’d discovered there was more than one loose bovine.

When Dwight got outside to investigate the cow in our orchard, I pointed out there were also a couple of cattle in his driveway. He took one look and declared the little steer looked just right for putting in the freezer. Sounded like a good idea to me too.

It wasn’t too long before Dwight’s buddy, Shorty, showed up with a stout stick in hand. He must have thought one of cattle might be a bull, or that it might help scoot the calves along, because he sure didn’t need any stick to move that amiable cow.

I went back inside and left the Dynamic Duo to steering the cattle back to their pasture, especially since part of the journey was through a bog and tick-infested woods. Have at it guys! I’ll cheer you on!

Ahhh, life in the country.
We have such udderly unique experiences.

Bonus Blessing

I was out on a photo safari before dark, and found a surprise animal in the back yard. There was one of the the yearling ewes with a newborn lamb!

I went in to tell Jess the news, and he said, "How did that happen?" Well, first you have a ram....

Seriously, it's a good question. The ram would have had to be in with the flock in January for us to get a lamb now. None of us could remember that happening. However on closer inspection of the calendar, I remembered we were in Canada the first part of January, and had farm sitters. They did not mention a straying ram, but ... that's just about the only explanation.

Which leaves us to conclude we'd better check the other 3 yearling ewes, and see if they might be expecting also!

Oh, and the bonus bonus - it's a ewe lamb! I've already named her Serendipity.

Reminded of Blessings

Rain, glorious rain, we’re happy to see it!
Come down on our heads, We’re happy to get it. . .
Rain, glorious rain!

Okay, not a great verse, but if you’ve ever seen “Ice Age II – The Meltdown”, sing that to the “Food, Glorious Food” tune. (Jonathan knows that one sticks in my head…. I sing it every time we go to the grocery store.)

Yes, after weeks of deadly dryness, the water level falling in the pond, and crunchy grass in the pastures, what a blessing to finally get some rain. I got soaking wet opening gates to allow the animals to get in their shelters, and was thrilled to feel all that unaccustomed water falling on me outside. Who knows how long it will last, but I guess we’ll just have to be thankful for whatever we get.

And while on the subject of being thankful, I just received a phone call that reminded me how very fortunate I am, and how much I have to be thankful for.

I didn’t know the lady who called, but she soon apprised me of who she was and how she knew ME. It seems she was a sort of step-daughter-in-law (long story) to one of the veteran’s I wrote to. She lived in the same area as the nursing home he was in, so would sometimes check in on him.

I’d already guessed her news, as earlier this week I had a letter returned from the nursing home. Yes, sad to say, but my sweetheart of a veteran had passed away.

Even sadder to say, his two sons did not bother to attend the funeral. It seems Dad didn’t have any money left to hand out, so they hadn’t been in contact with their father for years. My caller informed me there were very few people at the funeral, and that it was a pretty dismal affair.

Later, when she started going through his meager possessions, she kept seeing stuff with my name on it. Letters, pictures, tapes – he had kept every letter I’d sent him. She looked at the letters and listened to some of the tapes, and realized we had been in correspondence for some time. Yes, it had been about four years.

After explaining all this, she came to the main reason for her call. She wanted to thank me for being there for Dick, for “giving him a window to the outside world”, and caring for him when he had so few people who bothered, including his own sons.


What a mix of emotions. I’m sad he’s gone. I’m even sadder he had so few people that let him know they cared about him. I’m honored that I could be one of them.

Now multiply his predicament by tens, hundreds, thousands of lonely people. It makes me very thankful to be so blessed, and have so many people who care for me! What a comfort to know I have family and friends who keep in touch and are concerned about what happens to me.

Sometimes we take it for granted when we have a loving family and friends, and don’t realize how blessed we are until something happens to remind us.

I’m reminded. How about you?

The Trek Commences

I've been thinking about writing a blog for a long time. My dear daughter(-in-law) gave me that last little shove I needed to jump on the bandwagon by sharing her most excellently written blog with me.

So, ta da! Here I am, finally writing my first blog.

I've procrastinated for ages, because I figured I ought to have something really good to write about in my first-ever blog, right? Nice idea, but I finally decided if I waited around for that perfect inspiration, I was never going to get started, so here's an imperfect blog from an imperfect person, just another pilgrim making that trek day by day.

And of course, that's why I titled my blog "Today's Trek." Every day is a few more steps along the way, another stage of our journey, and by the way, while we're on this trek, why be normal? MUCH more interesting to be un-average, different, downright eccentric even. (NO, I did NOT say strange, weird or abnormal. Eccentric is a much nicer word.)

So stay tuned in to "Today's Trek". Some days it will be funny, some days thoughtful, some days maybe even a little sad. Just like real life, cause hey! That's what our trek is, life's journey.

Trekking onward...