Green Light for Canada!

My most excellent travel agent completed arrangements today, and I have tickets reserved for a flight to Canada. Oh yeah, and back too. When we were checking out dates, I asked Jess how long he thought I ought to stay. He said, “Stay as long as you want to.” I said, “Okay, how about if I stay a month?” He says, “Not THAT long!” I reminded him he said to stay as long as I wanted to, but he declared there were limits after all. I think he’s afraid how he and Jonathan would fare cooking meals and doing laundry for such a long time, ha!

Anyway, after checking the various flights available, and trying to get the best possible combination of departure and arrival times, I picked my flights, and have an itinerary. It was a trade-off which airport to fly out of, Huntsville or Nashville. It works better for Jess if I leave from Huntsville, but it means instead of one layover, I’ll have two.

I’ve leaving around noon on April 10th, and after two layovers in Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul, hope to arrive in Winnipeg by 9:30pm. By the time we get back to Richard & Chrystie’s house from the airport, I suspect I’ll be pretty well done in after such a long time traveling.

But then I have the next 4 ½ days to visit, before I have to head back home on the 15th a little after 1pm. That may be stretching Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,” but maybe since I don’t visit that often, they can put up with me for an extra day or so.

Besides, I’ve got to have enough time to spoil Ellie before I leave.

Getting My Traveling Shoes Ready

It’s been quiet for the first couple of months of 2008, at least traveling wise. However, there are plans being made to change this stay-at-home venue, so I’m getting prepared.

One of the things I noticed a need for in all that flying around last year is a laptop case on wheels. My laptop is heavy. Zipping through airports with it slung over my shoulder is tiring for this old gal. I started looking for such a case as soon as I got home from Alaska. Trouble is, they’re all so expensive.

Help came from an unexpected quarter last week. An acquaintance who sells Avon advertised a set of luggage which included a laptop case on wheels. Even better, the price for the entire set was less than the laptop bags I’d seen. Of course, the luggage is bright red, but I figured that’s all to the good. It will be easier to keep track of among the sea of black luggage!

My Canadian travel agent (aka Chrystie) is working on a time for me to go visit Steinbach. Right now, it’s looking like an early April visit, so March is still stay-at-home time.

But then we’re planning to travel again in May. We’re heading for Oklahoma so Jess can visit his family. We’re going around Decoration Day to make it easier to see people all in one place. I’d love to see them plan another reunion, but the relative who so ably planned the last one had a house fire, and is busy with getting her house fixed back up. Maybe next year!

Then we’re also planning a trip to West Virginia in July to visit my family. This should be great fun, because Richard, Chrystie and Ellie are flying down, and Jonathan is traveling with us, so we’ll all get to visit with Dad/Grandpa and Maria, Scott & Caleb. I’m sure the boys will also want to see their Grandfather Boggs.

By the time we get around to visiting everyone, I’m sure it will be another busy year!


28 years ago I was in the hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I wasn’t in the best of shape after being in labor for over 24 hours, having a "regular" delivery after a C-section the first time, and before it was all said and done, needing minor surgery anyway. Didn't matter, I was still thrilled because we had another fine son! He was born 3 weeks early and seemed tiny at 6 1/2 pounds when compared to his older brother's birth weight of 9 pounds!

Jonathan being held by his Great-Grandmother Ruby Nichols
while big brother Richard looks on - February 1980.

It didn't take him long to fill out though, and before you know it, he was up toddling around. The picture below was taken when he was about 1 1/2 years old, and we were camping at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.I couldn't find one where he actually had the blanket over his head. Maybe I never had one, but anyway, there's a story behind this picture. Jonathan was supposed to be going to sleep, and was being a little rowdy, even after repeated warnings. When we came back inside the camper to get after him, he quickly threw the blanket over his head, and held really, REALLY still.

After all, at that age, you figure if you can't see your parents, they can't see you, right? I guess it at least worked well enough to get him out of trouble, because we were too busy laughing to reprimand him anymore.

By the time Jonathan was ready to start school, we'd moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio to West Virginia. We ended up back in the same little town where I was raised. His second grade teacher, Mrs. Oldfield, was one of my best friends when I was growing up!

While we were there, Jonathan was a Tiger Cub in Scouts, while Richard was in the older ranks of Cub Scouts. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed living in the house we built on a 7-acre plot from the farm where I grew up.

One of the things we enjoyed was the number of hummingbirds we could entice to the feeders. We never got up to the major numbers that my friend, Ann, had at her feeders in Ohio, but a couple of dozen at once wasn't unusual. Since I was doing some freelance writing at the time, I took a picture of Jonathan and one of the hummers at a feeder, and sent it in with an article on hummingbirds. It was published in a children's magazine (I think it was "Jack & Jill"), so Jonathan can say his picture was in a national magazine!

But all good things must come to an end, or so they say (whoever they are), and we moved away from our home in Eureka to Wheeling, then to the Cleveland, Ohio, area and after that on down to Alabama.

One of the things the boys enjoyed most about our house in Alabama was the swimming pool.

Jonathan and one of the boys' friends, Billy, in the pool.

We had a lot of changes in our life while living in that house. Jonathan had a lot of health problems with strep throats and ear infections and ended up having a tonsillectomy, plus he also had mono. Through all the ups and downs, Jonathan continued to make good grades in school. He and Richard also started attending a youth group at church, and were baptized.

We stayed in Alabama until halfway through Jonathan's senior year of high school. Jess and I wanted to move to a little farm, and it wasn't any further for Jonathan to drive to school from the new place than it was from the old.

Before you know it, Jonathan graduated, and is now coming up on his 10th high school reunion. Wow! (I don't even want to think how many years it's been since I graduated from high school.)

Here's the clan at our then-new home in Tennessee. That's Richard, Jonathan, Jess and my dad in the back, with Chrystie, Mary and me in the front.

He started working as a computer programmer while still in high school, and continued to do that at various places for a number of years afterwards.

Here he is about four years ago, holding a goat kid.

Now he's at a crossroads again, after trying out some college courses and realizing that wasn't going to work out. The question is, what next?

Headed off to work at Toys R Us.

Jonathan has changed a lot in the last few years, and become much more outgoing and confident. He's done things that just a few years back I would never believed he'd do. So I know whatever he decides to do next, he'll do well!

So, here we are, and Jonathan is celebrating another birthday. I don't know about him, but I feel lots better today than I did 28 years ago!

Happy Birthday Jonathan!!!

Party on, Shop till ya Drop, & Keep on Keepin’ On!

This past Saturday Jess and I cleaned up and put on some decent duds and went to a party in the middle of the afternoon. Amazing! I can’t remember when the last time was I went to a party but the four Tate Boys were throwing a shindig for their Dad, Homer, to celebrate his 80th birthday.

It was held at the church so they’d have plenty of room and had a good place to put on a little program and have some speeches. It was enjoyable hearing some of the childhood stories about our friend, but it didn’t take long until sitting in a pew really bothered me.

After the program, there was a reception in the fellowship hall and I had a chance to see a number of people I haven’t talked to in ages. It was mostly enjoyable, but why does everyone have to pat a person on the back? I need a t-shirt that says, “Please don’t touch my right side.” or “Left sided pats and hugs only!”

Sunday morning I went grocery shopping on my own. I don’t do that very often, because I get tired pushing that full buggy and picking items up, put them in the buggy, put them on the check-out counter, put the bags in the buggy, put the bags in the car… it’s nice when I have an able helper but he was most decidedly sick. At least he was up to helping me carry in the groceries when I got home.

Which brings us to Monday, when I took my sickie helper to the doctor. Yes, he had the flu, and that left him with a sinus infection, and here’s a prescription for an antibiotic and cough medicine. After a trip to the pharmacy and grocery store for some yogurt (probiotics!), we went home and collapsed. Jonathan is feeling better, and is supposed to go back to work tomorrow.

As for me, I’m trying to be well! Ignore the scratchy throat and sinus headache, keep on keeping on! Well, I at least get the “have to” chores done for feeding the critters, both the ones outside AND those inside.

Now another bout of rainstorms is moving in, so I wouldn’t know if I have the flu or not. The aches and pains are pretty similar from the weather induced fibromyalgia pain and aches and pains from the flu. That’s life!

All a body can do is keep on keepin’ on.

Happy Valentine's Day to the Diamonds!

My mom used to have a plate on the wall with this verse:

True friends are like diamonds
Precious and rare.
False friends are like autumn leaves
Found everywhere.

Ain’t it the truth!

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of finding out people you thought were your friends…weren’t. Sometimes it’s that old knife in the back deal, or maybe times get tough and people you thought you could depend on disappear, and other times it’s more innocuous, just a drifting apart and away.

But then there’s the real McCoy. These gems are the friends you’ve discovered along the path of life, people you may not hear from for long stretches, but remain a thought away, ready to help in any way they can when you need it.

Those kind of friends are, to mimic a MasterCard commercial, priceless.

I’ve been fortunate to meet some pretty amazing people as we hop scotched around the country in my younger years. Here are some of the diamonds in my life, people that have been my friends for years (listed in alphabetical order – I sure don’t want to try to figure out who’s the best of the best!) --

* Ann
Friendship is a sheltering tree. - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
We meet when Ann was expecting her youngest child and both our husbands were working for the same company. We discovered a mutual passion for farming, food coops, reading, and many other things. During a difficult divorce, she was my rock, frequently checking in on me by phone. She’s a class act, and one very special lady.

* Joan
Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.- Anais Nin
Joan and I met on an email list about goats. Yes, goats. We also both love to read, and have many other things in common. She has a fantastic sense of humor, a great philosophy on life, and we both know what it is to deal with chronic neuralgias of different sorts. We commiserate together; we laugh together! An email from Joan is always a special treat.

* Kieren
Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness of existence. - -Sydney Smith
One of my newer friends, we met on the Rest Ministries penpal list. We both have fibromyalgia, so understand a lot about what the other deals with every day. Though she lives in England, the magic of email allows us to communicate whenever we feel like it.

* Linda
Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. ~Plautus
We lived in Iowa twice. Long story. In that time Linda became a great friend. She carries the joy of the Lord in her heart and it’s always good to hear from her. She has a way of lifting your spirits.

* Robin
There is magic in long-distance friendships. They let you relate to other human beings in a way that goes beyond being physically together and is often more profound. ~Diana Cortes
It’s a long way to Maine, but that’s never mattered. Through years of talking about homesteads and sustainable agriculture, friends and family, helping her moderate a couple of email lists, and having her as an editor for some writing work, Robin has remained a steady friend. She’s one talented lady! Although we’ve never met face to face, our hearts know each other.

* RR
If a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it. ~Edgar Watson Howe
That’s just the kind of thing this special friend does. She surprises people with flowers and other produce from her garden. She bakes bread and shares it and other goodies from her kitchen. She lends help when it’s needed. She even makes aprons! When I moved to this area, I asked the Lord to give me a friend who was a kindred spirit. Did he ever answer that prayer! Friends and cohorts in mischief, it’s a dangerous thing when we get together. There’s no telling what might happen!

* Sonia
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man's counsel is sweet to his friend. – Proverbs 27:9
Back in another life, we met when both our husbands were attending seminary in Pennsylvania. We were also pregnant at the same time, me for Jonathan, her for their oldest son, Ryan. She and her husband are in South Africa with Ambassadors International Ministries, doing work to combat the AIDS epidemic. Distance and changes in our lives haven’t altered the fact we’re good friends. Sonia is a fountain of good advice, encouragement, and helping me remember there are other people in this world who desperately need our help. She's one of the nicest people you could meet - outgoing, not shy!

I have other friends, of course, but this group has stood the test of time. So today I say to this great group of friends:



for being a diamond of a friend!

Modeling my new apron...

I needed to make some pizza crusts for supper tonight, so I decided it was a good time to try out my new apron. Yes, my new apron! Remember back on New Year’s Day when I was talking about things I missed “from times past”? Full-length aprons were #2 on that list.

Apparently my most excellent friend RR read that and decided to put her also most excellent seamstress skills to work. She made me an apron for my birthday out of material with chickens all over. How cool is that!??!

I asked Jess to take a picture of me modeling my beautiful new apron, and here it is:

How about that! He didn’t even chop my head off this time! (Well, he’s been known to do that…)

While he was taking pictures, my crazy parrot wandered into the kitchen to see what was going on. Jess wanted a picture of me and my sidekick, and boy! He was on a roll tonight and got another decent picture!
A crazy old chick with an apron covered in poultry and her parrot pal… you know I can’t resist such an easy “opening” for a punny comment….

It’s a really FOWL picture!!!

Feel the love....

Between snail mail yesterday and in my email this morning, I have about a dozen birthday greetings, all from businesses. Places like adidis via email, and Peebles via snail mail. How very nice of all of these companies to remember my birthday!!! And in the spirit of generosity, they’re being oh-so-nice to me by offering me a chance to spend money on their products. Of course, most are offering me a discount to do that, so I guess it’s a real birthday gift!!! Wow!!!

Feel the love….

Now in all fairness, my good friend RR made a special trip up here Monday to deliver a sack full of brightly colored packages for my birthday. Jonathan gave me a DVD of a movie I've been wanting, and Jess also remembered my birthday. So there are real people who have sent or given me birthday greetings also.

But it just strikes me as kind of funny how many COMPANIES are remembering my birthday. Good ploy - Happy Birthday! Here's a discount, spend some money at our store!

Like I said... feel the love....

Tears of Regret

There’s one constant in life, and that’s change. Family, friends, work, leisure activities, maturity, spiritual growth – it doesn’t matter what it is, everything in your life is subject to change. It may be very little change, such as just growing older each day. It may be major changes like a different job, a marriage, a new baby, a death, a divorce… the list could go on and on.

We can change a lot of things in our lives, and sometimes other people or circumstances cause the changes for us. Some of the changes produce happiness. Some changes are sad. Some changes are kind of neutral; they just don’t make that much difference one way or the other.

The last few days I’ve been forcibly reminded of some of the changes in my life. Most of those changes have been due to chronic pain and fatigue. I spent the previous three days feeling the affects of “rain pain”, which means it’s difficult to do much more than the “have to” tasks. Today since I’m feeling a little better, I’ve been trying to catch up on some chores.

One of those is some paperwork I’ve been putting off. Big Brother in the form of the USDA sent an “Agriculture Census” we needed to fill out. Jess did most of it, until he got to the part asking how much wool we sheared in 2007, and how many sheep and goats we sold. I had to go back through my paperwork and figure that out.

Going through all the registrations and sales slips to get a total on sales tugged at my heart. I saw name after name on those registration papers of positively beautiful sheep. I spent years building up the genetics and wool colors in my flock. It was a labor of love.

And it’s gone.

We have a few elderly goats and ewes, but due to my health, we sold all of the breeding stock last year. There will be NO lambs frolicking in the fields this spring.

I miss it all. The beautiful sheep, their lovely wool, cute little lambs, even the work I can no longer do for lambing and shearing. It was a joy to go out and sit in the field and listen to the sheep munching grass and watch the lambs play. But the changes my health has made in my life prevent it.

I shed some tears while looking through all that paperwork this morning.
Tears of regret.