We sold our first calendar!

We've already got our first order (thank you Linda)!!! We're hoping for great things this year, so it's nice to have already made a sale, even though we haven't got our first copy to proof it.

I took this picture of Starbucks when I was in Seattle, Washington. And yes, the dog was there, and I don't know what he was looking at - maybe hoping for his master's return? At any rate, it worked well, and makes it look like he's looking at Ellie, who of course is "Photoshopped" into the picture.

The first Starbucks opened in Seattle in April of 1971, so I thought this was just the picture for the April page of the calendar!

Give me a frappuccino please!

It's a small world!

We enjoyed Thanksgiving at Dave & Debra’s house. Randy came down from eastern Tennessee, and Dave’s mother, sister & her husband also were there. We had 12 people sit down for Thanksgiving dinner.

When the conversation got on my family, and I was telling them one son was back home working and farm-sitting, and the other was in Canada with his wife and daughter, they asked who Richard married.

Then it got really interesting. Dave’s family have almost all been involved in New Tribes missions at one time or another. So when I told them Chrystie’s maiden name, and who her grandparents were, they were amazed. They KNOW a lot of people in her family!

Why? Because they were/are involved in New Tribe’s missions too.

Now what do you suppose the chances are that my son, born in West Virginia and then living in Alabama, would meet online someone from Canada, and all these far flung relatives of theirs would actually know each other because of a group headquartered in Florida???

Like I said, it’s a small world.

Calendars for Christmas

The calendar is finished, and I finally finished the sales page. You know what the hardest part is? Deciding on the price. We aren't a big charity organization that can place large orders and cut costs. So this calendar costs more than one that can be purchased at Walmart or some other stores. But it's also bigger and has thicker paper. It's a quality calendar.

Then there's the fact this is a FUND RAISER. When someone purchases a calendar, they not only get a calendar, but contribute to "Ellie's Medical Expenses Fund."

So after much debating, I finally settled on a price and finished the sales page.

Don't clown around - get a calendar!!!

I'll be interested in seeing which size calendar most people prefer, last year's smaller size with the flimsier paper, or this year's bigger calendar with heavier paper.

I know I have to buy a few extra calendars for Christmas gifts! Oh wow! That's the next project - December and Christmas is coming up fast!

As usual, I've got more to do than time and energy to do it!!!

Every month is finally finished...

Did we just get home Sunday? Yeah… well… it’s been a frenetic couple of days! I’ve jumped back in to the usual farm chores, been to the grocery store, and been pushing, pushing to finish up Ellie’s 2008 calendar.

And hooray! It’s finally done! Jonathan helped me put the finishing touches on February’s page this morning. Richard did the cover and the December calendar page, plus took the picture that became the June calendar page. He helped putting the holidays/events on the calendar. We emailed back and forth the biggest part of the day, fine-tuning pictures, captions and holidays.

We finally declared it finished, and I’ve got one ordered to hold in hand and double check it, though it should look like the PDF “ready to publish” file.

"Dah-ling, I can't wait to get my Oscar for Cutest Actress!"

I’ve been working on a sales page and should have that ready soon.

Now, to get to work on the neglected house, cooking better meals, Christmas stuff, health routines, snail mail… gee, I may have a hard time finding anything to do now….


Home again in TN!

It was a long drive home. It took longer to get home than it took to drive down to Florida, as there was a lot heavier traffic on the way home, and it was raining off and on all day. There wasn't a ray of sunshine all the way home today, and many times traffic was at a dead stop.

It's good to be back, except I've already started thinking of all the things I need to get done. Some of them, like yesterday!

Groceries head the list. Mother Hubbard's cupboard is bare.

Then there's finishing up a calendar, getting to work on the stuff I need to do for helping the Fibromyalgia, thinking about Christmas, and the list goes on and on.

Break time is over!

Family Treasure

We’re headed back home after a visit with family in Florida. It’s always interesting to see how the kids have grown, and to see how everyone is doing, and to sit back and watch the different personalities at play. I don’t doubt that at one time or another, each of us has wondered what in the world all the rest were thinking. We have some, well, shall we say strong personalities in our family!

But one thing doesn’t change: we are family. A blended family like ours takes a while to mesh, to see how everyone connects, and to grow to love one another, but when push comes to shove, family is what counts. And whether you have all kinds of money, or you have very little, your real treasure lies in your family. Jess and I are very blessed with all our kids and grandkids we have scattered over two countries, and to have been able to spend Thanksgiving with some of them.

Our recently visited family treasures include:

Debra – Jess’s daughter and matriarch of the clan in Florida, she does a fantastic job of looking after her four kids and husband. It amazes me how she manages to keep up with her household and everyone’s work, school, church and other activities, not to mention her own. She’s a great cook, smart, and creative. (You should have heard the song she made up for Jess’s birthday to the tune of “Oklahoma.” Instant classic!)

Dave – Debra’s husband, and patriarch of the clan. He’s super family oriented - a great dad, hard worker, steadfast, and as Jess puts it “all around good guy”. Not all your family treasures are blood relatives – sometimes you get very fortunate in the people who marry into the family, and that’s how it is with Dave. (And we like a lot of the same foods, so I know he’s got good taste!)

Lee – The oldest grandchild, a college student, and long-time worker at Chick-fil-A, where he does a super job. He’s not only good looking and quick-witted, he’s a great singer and guitar player. Superman! He has great potential!

Emily – The next oldest grandchild, recent high school graduate, and working hard at Target. She’s also a talented piano player and singer. Beautiful, both in appearance and spirit, she has a tender heart, very loving. I suspect you’d be hard pressed to find a truer friend. She’s a jewel in the making.

Ryan – Next grandchild in line, junior in high school, and also working at Chick-fil-A. He’s big into football and building up those muscles, so looking buff. He’s a hard worker, cute, and has a fun personality. (He also inherited Grandpa’s explosive sneezes!) He wants to play football in college, and we’re all rooting for him! We know he can do it!

Kelley – The youngest of this group of grandchildren, a freshman in high school, full of energy, and of course, Daddy’s little girl. She loves to run, plays a mean trumpet, and is ever so pretty. She’s blossoming into an interesting young woman, smart and fun and talented. She’s capable of doing great things! (And she and her sister are capable of breaking into song at any second!)

Randy – Jess’s oldest son, and visiting in Florida at the same time. Sometimes Phantom Son, but we really love to see him! The more we’re around him, the more we find to like. He’s a steady worker, looking for answers in life, and has a quick and sometimes unexpected wit. A quiet treasure, he and I have a lot of personality traits in common (but don’t hold that against him!).

All of the above are also fluent in games and Sports-speak. That’s a foreign language to me, but we still manage to communicate.

Family treasures we missed seeing at Thanksgiving include:

Jonathan – youngest son, and presently holding down the fort… er, farm. Besides looking after critters, he’s been super busy working at Toys R Us. Jess often tells him “the fruit does not fall far from the tree”, as he has a lot of his mother’s great traits! However, he’s more outgoing, and has developed more people skills than I would ever have dreamed when he was younger. Fluent in Geek-speak, and an asset when I have a PhotoShop question, he can be a great help! He can also be a hard worker and has a lot of creativity, intelligence and talent. All he needs to do is figure out where to focus. There’s a niche for him out there somewhere!

Richard – son in the far north, having moved from Texas to Canada. Great husband and I know Ellie couldn’t have a better dad. He’s a hard worker – the company he works for recognized what a gem he is and hung onto him even when he moved to another country! He's not only a computer whiz with mega-brainpower, he’s inherited his Grandpa Boggs love of woodworking and makes some beautiful stuff. He’s also bi-lingual, speaking fluent Geek-speak AND Sports-speak. He probably has one of the most well-rounded personalities of any of us. I’m sure he inherited only the best of his Mom’s genes, ha, ha!

Chrystie – Richard’s wife, and daughter of my heart. She’s a fantastic wife and mom, and I have no doubt a great asset to the college library where she works. She keeps up a dizzying schedule with Ellie’s doctor appointments and therapies, work, church and home. She has a bubbly personality and a tender heart, lots of smarts and wit. She’s just so talented! I couldn’t have picked a better wife for Richard (as if he’d let me do the picking anyway!).

Ellie – our youngest granddaughter, and the cutest little two-year-old in the universe. Having Cerebral Palsy may slow her down, but no matter what she can or can’t do, what a gift she is! Just thinking of her makes my heart smile. She has to work harder to do things most of us take for granted, but has such a happy spirit. Generally, I’m not much of a “people photographer”, but this cute little person is an exception! The world is a better place with Ellie in it.

And there’s also, Jason, Jess’s youngest son, living and working in Huntsville. He’s a good looking young man, and can work hard when he has a mind to! He’s been working with brick layers, and has really honed-up his physique.

Of course, we have siblings and parents and other extended family we’re glad for, but kids and grandkids are the closest family treasures. Even better, most of our treasures love the Lord, so will also be treasures in heaven. We’re just extremely blessed.

Yes, we’re rich with the best kind of treasure.

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Birthday!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends!

Happy Birthday to Jesse B. King!!!

Here's he is in a picture I took yesterday, playing pool with son Randy, and son-in-law, Dave.

And then enjoying some time singing along with Emily as she plays the piano!
Today we go visiting some more, eat some more, and otherwise have a great day!

You all do the same! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

What were they thinking?

If you’ve done much traveling at all, you’ve probably come across the same situation – small rooms. That in itself isn’t so bad. I understand that the management wants to get as many rooms as possible in the smallest space possible to make more money and all we need is a place to sleep.

It’s the arrangement of the amenities that I question.
Specifically, who designed these bathrooms?

As shown here, you have to be a contortionist to reach the toilet paper while sitting on the throne.
What puzzles me is the fact there are two other walls available within easy reaching distance that would have been better placement for the toilet paper. So why did they put it in such an awkward position?

Murphy’s Law of Motels: The bathroom will have the most uncomfortable layout imaginable.

There's a bird in my dishwasher...

Okay, so there's not one there NOW, but there was:

I was busy in another room packing stuff, when I heard our parrot going "Hello, hello" from the kitchen. When I went to investigate, there she was, perched on the dishwasher door I had opened to allow the dishes to dry, investigating what she could "get into."

Our conversation went like this:
Me: What are you doing?
Bird: What are YOU doing?
Me: You know you're not supposed to be there.
Bird: "Soooo????"

Now to truly appreciate that, you'd have to hear her say it. She's imitating MY voice, and the exact tone I use when the guys have aggravated me about something and I say, "Soooo???"

She says it with an ATTITUDE, and she knows what she's saying.

Never a dull moment!

Just one of those days...

You know, one of those days when everything goes to hades in a handbasket (and where did that saying ever come from anyway?)

Earlier in the week, the water line to the ice maker/water dispenser on the fridge started leaking. Jess figured he'd fix it this weekend. Jonathan helped him pull out the fridge this morning - a big undertaking in itself since it's a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer tucked in a space just big enough to hold it!

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough line left to cut below the leak and pull the rest through to attach back to the fridge. Jess tried several different methods of "jury rigging", but at the end of the day... the line still leaked.

If that wasn't bad enough, we discovered the furnace isn't working. Jess tried restarting it several times, but it didn't cooperate. We called the repair guy, but got an answering machine, and who knows if he'll bother to call before Monday.

That wouldn't be so bad, except we're supposed to LEAVE for Florida on Monday. Now what?

For my part, I came to the realization there is no way I can completely finish the calendar before leaving Monday. Richard volunteered to work on it while I'm gone, so hopefully I won't have so much to do when we get back, and can get it ready for sales fairly quickly.

So instead of another day working on the calendar, I spent the day doing laundry, getting a game turn ready to send in, doing laundry, started to get things together to take on the trip, did more laundry (do you detect a pattern here?), baking birdie bread and cupcakes, doing laundry, getting a newsletter out for some missionary friends, and otherwise keeping busy with stuff I need to get done before leaving.

I still have a lot to get done Sunday to finish getting everything ready for this trip.
Guess I'd better get to bed, since it's 1:11am, and I need to be busy tomorrow!

Of rain & calendars & too much to do…

I know now why I felt so bad when I last wrote. It rained a couple of days this week, with 3 or 4 showers leaving over an inch of water in the rain gauge. The weatherman didn’t think we’d get any moisture, but my aches said differently.

Yes, the drawbacks of being a human barometer become painfully clear sometimes.

That meant there were a couple of days I had great difficulty doing much, so I’ve fallen even further behind on getting things done around here. Right now I’m pushing to get Ellie’s 2008 calendar done to give people time to get one ordered and delivered before the end of the year.

I’ve made a lot of progress the last couple of days, partly due to Photoshop Consultant Jonathan’s help. He took a Photoshop class not too long ago in college, and was able to give me some ideas and help in how to do some things.

My #1 discovery: “Layers are my friend.” Start with a background, add to it piece by piece, element by element, and craft the picture needed. My most recently completed work had around 24 layers -- some have more, some have less.

I’m not an expert by a long shot, but I think the pictures are turning out well and will make a nice calendar. It helps to have such a cute model!

I wanted to be done before leaving on Monday, but I’m not sure I’ll make it. I still need to do laundry and get packed up and ready for being gone a week. I need to go to the grocery store this weekend. I need to leave a “Chores List” for Jonathan, so he knows what needs done for the animals. I need to be sure there is enough food for turtle, cat and bird.

I need to, I need to! The list goes on and on, and I’ll have to pare it down to only the things most absolutely necessary.

I always seem to have more to do than time and energy to do it!

A Little Down & Out

I’ve been doing a little of this and that today – working on the calendar, doing some laundry, cleaning the kitchen, critter chores, answering some email – but I’m not moving very fast. I’m tired, tired, tired, and a little down and out.

The muscles in my back are misbehaving, hovering on the edge of spasm. Maybe it’s from being hunched over my desktop computer, peering into the screen, doing the fine detail work on pictures for the calendar. I wish I knew more about ergonomics. I’m sure I could improve upon my computer set-up and make it a more comfortable working area.

Maybe it’s ironing – that kind of back and forth motion always irritates the thoracic neuralgia. Maybe it’s… oh, who knows? It doesn’t really make much difference I guess.

I also got emails today from a couple of people I haven’t heard from in a long time. Nice people, but another sad reminder of how times have changed.

Let’s face it, when times are going well, you know a lot of people and think you have a lot of friends. It’s not until things change, and you have an illness, economic downturn, or some other problem, that you find out how many friends you really have. And it’s generally a whole lot less than you expected. Support you thought you could count on, well, all of a sudden it just isn’t there.

There’s a whole lot more fair-weather friends in the world than the real deal.

Thankfully, I’ve also got some great friends. Maybe it sounds corny, but I’m taking about the kind of friends who listen to you when you’re just having a bad day, to helping you through a divorce, kids in trouble, chronic illness, or whatever setback life deals out. They rejoice with you in good times, but also stick around when things go bad. They’re the ones who are still there when you need a true friend.

My thanks to those of you who are the real deal – you know who you are!

All Keyed Up

The scent of Hawaiian Banana Pineapple bread is drifting through the house. I had a bunch of over ripe bananas, having obviously bought way too many for little Miss Ellie to eat up while she was here. I also had some leftover pineapple, so decided to try out a new recipe. After Thanksgiving I have to totally eliminate sugar from my diet for 3 months, so I won’t be doing any baking of sweets. So for now, I’m keyed up, ready to try something new from the oven.

I’ve been working on Ellie’s 2008 calendar today. I got 3 new pictures done, or thought I did. When I tried to upload one of them, it turned out the file was corrupted, and I’m going to have to rework it. Bummer!!!

Fortunately, I had some good advice earlier today (thanks Jonathan!) about saving the file while it was still in layers, then make a new file for the flattened image. I’ll still have some work to do, but not nearly as much as if I’d had to start all over!!!

I’m all keyed up about the calendar though. I think it’s going to be not only bigger, but even better, than last year’s calendar. I think the picture I finished today for March is going to be one of my favorites.
What's left? I’ve got to rework the one that got messed up somehow, then I have three more to work up. Finding or creating backgrounds for some of these takes a LOT of time, sometimes as much time as working up the picture itself.

Also today, Jess took our car to the dealer for some work, and while he was there, he had them make another key. Mind you, it costs $75 for a new key, and that does NOT include the remote. Nope, just an ignition key.

But now I have a key for the car again, so I’m all keyed up!

Beginning Another Journey

No, I’m not talking about taking another trip/vacation, although we are going to be headed to the Orlando, Florida, area soon for a Thanksgiving visit with Jess’s daughter, her family, and his oldest son. And that’s good, as I haven’t seen them in a long time. Jess has visited a couple of times this year, but with family scattered all over the US and Canada, sometimes we go our separate ways for visits. Simple economics – one plane ticket is half as cheap as two.

Anyway, the journey I’m talking about is more like a new segment in Today’s Trek, my life’s journey. We all have choices in our life every day, but sometimes we come to a bigger crossroads, where we need to make a radical turn in our journey and change things. I feel like that’s where I am right now.

I’ve got all sorts of changes I need to make for my health. My new doctor has prescribed all kinds of supplements to correct several problems, like a deficiency of certain vitamins. Some are only a temporary need, some I may have to take on a long-term basis. My biggest problem with all that is the fact I am the world’s worst at remembering to take ANY pills. The only way this is going to work is if I can manage to establish some kind of routine.

While I’m figuring that out, I also need to make other lifestyle changes, including my diet. I’m not talking about “going on a diet.” That’s a stopgap measure, and so many studies have shown people eventually go off a diet and gain back all the weight they lost and often more. And no wonder! Who could stay on The Grapefruit Diet or any other deprivation diet on a long-term basis?

No, I’m talking about a lifestyle change, going back to eating more healthy foods. When the kids were younger, I was a sort of “health food nut.” We grew away from it, and that’s too bad.

It strikes me that on the whole, people take more care about what they put in their automobile than what they put in their body. We worry more about what we feed our pets sometimes than what we’re feeding ourselves. Yet we’ve only got this ONE body, and to borrow a geek phrase, “GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out.” If we feed our body junk food, sooner or later it’s going to be a junky body, prone to health problems.

So, my journey needs to take a new direction, with more emphasis on healthy habits.

While I’m at it, I’ve also been thinking about CHAOS, another facet of my present lifestyle. There are several factors at work. Take two packrats and combine their households, with stuff left behind from kids and from previous marriages, then add yet another household when one of the kids moves back for a while… that’s definitely a recipe for CHAOS.

It doesn’t help my health slows me down, and I don’t suppose a single day goes by that I don’t wish I could have accomplished more. Sometimes I think about all I need to do and it’s positively overwhelming. But you have to start somewhere, and I think my somewhere is going to be using some of the routines I’ve been reading about by the “Flylady” for organizing your home and life.

So for the next few days, while I’m working on Ellie's 2008 calendar, my hyperactive mind is going to be mulling over the possibilities, sifting and sorting, looking for the best way to restructure my life. A tall order, but I think a necessary one. I need to change direction, try to improve things, go for the gusto!

Wish me luck!

The Fibromyalgia Clinic – Take II

Today was my second appointment at the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic. Jess chauffeured me over to Marietta, Georgia again. This time we made a day trip of it instead of going the day before and staying overnight.

My hour with the doctor was spent going over pages and pages of lab reports. Some stuff was pretty much what I expected, but there were also a few surprises – some good, and some not so good.

At least today was an improvement over the first visit if for no other reason than I didn’t have to “donate” 20, 10, 5, or even a single vial of blood. They did, however, still poke around looking for a vein to put an IV in, and I got a shot in the posterior before I left.

I suspect for the next day or two I’ll have to deal with the same “toxic response” I had last time after getting medications. I’ve already got a humdinger of a headache, and taken 3 Aleve for that and the generalized aching-all-over feeling settling in.

As soon as possible, I need to figure out how to incorporate all the changes I need to make and supplements I need to take into my daily life.

I’ve got my work cut out for me!!!


I took lots and lots of pictures for Ellie's 2008 calendar. Considering you only need 12 for a calendar year, after saving back the ones I think I'll use, there are still a lot left over.

To see a slideshow of some of our "better bloopers", click on the picture below.

The good, the bad, and the funny -- we had a good time taking ALL the pictures!

The Joy & The Pain

It’s 3a.m. and I’m overclocked. If you’re not up on Geek-Speak, the clock rate of a computer is essentially the speed at which a computer performs its most basic operations. Overclock means “to speed up a computer beyond the manufacturer’s specifications in order to make it run faster – the motherboard and CPU may or may not be able to handle the increased speed.”

In human terms, I’m constantly running faster than my motherboard brain and CPU body are meant to by my Maker, especially with the handicap of chronic thoracic pain and fibromyalgia. Sometimes I can handle the increased speed, but more often than not, there’s a price to pay for being overclocked.

But I digress.

I had half a dozen titles running through my head for this entry, like “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, “My Cup Runneth Over”, and “Family Fun.” We’ve been having such a great time visiting with Richard, Chrystie and Ellie. With them living in the far north these days, we don’t get to visit near as often as we’d like to, so what time we get is extra precious.

And speaking of extra precious… one word: Ellie. Grandma has been having such fun playing with the cutest little girl in the universe (and any parallel universes there might be too!). We went Trick-or-Treating, we’ve watched “La La” – otherwise known as Ariel of The Little Mermaid, and we’ve played a whole lot of “dress up.” We’ve got our live babydoll working as Super Model, and getting pictures taken for Ellie’s 2008 calendar.

Yesterday morning we got pictures of Ellie as a clown,

a princess,

and dressed up in a little red velvet dress for a Christmas picture. Yesterday evening we got shots of her in bib overalls in a harvest type setting, in a cart, and on Grandpa’s tractor. We also bought a cute little Halloween outfit on sale yesterday, and took a picture of Ellie with some pumpkins.

We tried for one of Ellie in one end of a wagon and the sheep eating grain from the other end, but that was a disaster. Even our little sheep are 3 or 4 times Ellie’s size, and she took one look at the sheep and started crying. Daddy had to rescue her while Grandma put the sheep away.

Uncle Geek (otherwise known as Jonathan) was an invaluable assistant yesterday afternoon, contributing ideas, helping to set up our backgrounds, and carting me around to find pumpkins and such. And of course Ellie’s valet, aka “Dad”, helped us keep Ellie smiling!

Later this morning, we hope to get pictures of Ellie as a Care Bear, and in a monkey suit (NOT a suit suit, but the furry little brown animal variety).

Then the pain part – time for the visit to end, and they’ll be flying off to Orlando to meet up with Chrystie’s family and their vacation time at Disney World. (I think I’m a little jealous.) Grandma will be left with a mostly empty nest again, cleaning up the mess I made all over the house dragging stuff out for picture props, and dealing with my greatly protesting body which is saying, “WHAT were you thinking!??? WHAT have you done!???” and “PAYBACK IS HERE!”

That’s okay. I knew I’d have to pay to play. It’s worth it.

Trick or Treat!

We have company, hooray, hoorah!

Last night we dressed Ellie up in a Care Bear outfit, and took her around for her first Trick or Treat experience.
Finally, having that subdivision close by was a bonus!Of course, everyone commented on what a cute little girl Ellie is! How perceptive of them!!!

Look what I got!

And the Triumphant Trick or Treater returns home, after bagging a bunch of goodies!