Saturday, July 28, 2012

For my Dad

So despite the fact that I've not been posting on my progress for the Air Force Marathon I'm doing in memory of my dad, I have been making really good progress!  My longest run in this training has been 15 miles - which I've done with energy to spare.  This will be my 3rd marathon and will be followed by my 4th marathon exactly one month later.

Along with training, I've been doing some research into the Fisher House. Stop and think about.  I don't know about you, but I have a decent job.  Yet if my daughter who is in the U.S.Army were to be injured and was hospitalized away from our little area of central Pa, I would need to live out of my car in order to be near her.  We've had friends who have been in just this type of situation and hotel accommodations are just NOT affordable on a middle-class income.

A Fisher House is "a home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes are normally located within walking distance of the treatment facility or have transportation available. There are 57 Fisher Houses located on 23 military installations and 20 VA medical centers. Many more houses are under construction or in design -

For instance,since 1990, Fisher House Foundation has served more than 160,000 families and provided over 4 million days of lodging, saving them (the families of injured military) more than $192 million in lodging and transportation costs. The highlights for 2011 are listed below.

I've decide to increase my personal goal from $550 to $750.00 to raise for this organization.   Please think about donating to the Fisher House organization - whether it is $1 or $100.00.  I think military families are the forgotten population when thinking about the casualties of war.  It is important for our injured military to have family closeby to expedite their healing but if their families can't afford it, what can be done?  You can follow the link to donate or you can send a check made out to the Fisher House Foundation and send it to me.  I'll make sure it gets to where it needs to go.

In addition, later in July I'll be selling 'Jellies for Joe'.  A pint of blueberry jelly for $5 and ALL of the money goes directly to Fisher House.  My dad's favorite fruit was blueberry and I think that the best way to fundraise is to include something that he loved.  So think about it.  Please.  And if you want some blueberry jam, let me know.

2011 Highlights
Families served: More than 17,000
Average length of stay: 10 days
Average length of stay for combat casualties: 45-60 days
Saved families more than $25 million in lodging costs, plus food and transportation
More than 75,000 hours of volunteer service

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This morning I will 'teach' my first Sunday School class ever.  I'm not so sure that I should really use the word teach as I've not attended Sunday School as an adult.  But the regular teacher is on vacation and I offered to do this for him.  Despite having pretty specific guidelines for teaching this class and despite knowing that there will be folks there that will help, I have been quite nervous about this. That is until I sat down and saw the lesson for the week: Restorative Justice.  A few lines sum it up: "It seems that there are a lot of good excuses for not taking action to correct wrongs. Doing so can be costly in time, energy, and money, it can lead to misunderstanding and conflict.  The trouble is that ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Instead, over time, it gets worse." Adult Teacher's Guide, Studies in the Old Testament by David C. Cook.v. 113, 4.

Given what has been going on the past several months at my alma mater, this is very appropriate. I'm heartsick about all that has happened, mostly heartsick for the victims and I pray every day that they will be able to start healing.  I also pray that as a community we can start moving forward and making the world a better place instead of this incessant looking back which does no good.  We can't change the past, we can only affect the future.

It makes me remember something that my parents taught me a long, long time ago:
  Do the right thing.  Every time. No exceptions.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Still running.

But my running has sort of a stealth mode to it....... I wake up eeeeaaarrrrlllyyyyy to avoid waking up this guy:
He is deaf.  So I wake up and creep around through the kitchen in the opposite direction from where he is sleeping.  There is not a creak, not a shake, not a sound.  I silently slip into the bathroom and change into my running clothes.  I open the door.....and he's there!  He knows!  

Goat eyes shining on the rare occasion that I can make it out to run.
Now during the week, I don't do long runs.  And when I don't do long runs, Casper can't go simply because it takes him at least 2 miles to calm down.  The first couple of miles he is prancing backward, grabbing his leash, dodging to and fro.......I don't want to break a leg tripping over this puppy.  And I don't want to hurt him by falling on him.  And I can't leave him home because he screams like a banshee out the window.  And lets face it, screams out in the country at 5am can be a bit troublesome.  First thing you know, the roosters will start crowing and then the next then the goats will be thumping and bleating to get out of their shed.  Utter chaos at One Old Goat Farm.  

So instead I run during lunch.  In the heat of day.  Sweating and sweating  - all because Casper can't stand to be left alone yet doesn't understand a good thing when he has it.  He's a sweet dog really.  And he gets a good workout everyday - as he drags me down the steps to chase leaves in the field or as goes barreling through the living room trying to catch a piece a dust or as he builds his doggy biceps digging a hole to China in the sofa.  And I am NOT joking.  And this is for the SECOND time!

But I'm still running. I'm still raising money for the Fisher House and will continue to do so until the end of August.  


Friday, July 13, 2012

Food for the soul.

 Just proof that I do more than whine lately. Although these are only a portion of the quilts I've completed over the last nearly 30 years, they are most of the quilts that have made their way to my mom's house.

My first quilt was a monstrosity that took 3 men and a boy to lift: a pinkish tumbling blocks quilt that once placed over the recipient, would cause him/or her to never move again.  At least while under that quilt!

I do need to take pictures of that one because I made pillows to match.  I'll never forget that quilt - aside from the fact that it was my first hand quilted quilt, it was made from colors that had I not purchased the kit, would have like the plague.  But it was warm.  And very protective.

The quilt at the top of the page was a quilt made of 30s feedsack replicate fabrics for my Aunt Carol.  I swapped the pinwheel blocks with quilters across the country and then set them in the garden border.  I love this quilt and am glad that my mom now has it.  It is a smallish quilt but the colors scream Spring.  The next quilt is one that I made for my dad - with the pine trees - all the same, yet different - just like real pines.  And a little cabin amongst it all.  Just like my dad would have loved.  The border fabric is made up of true maple leaf colors.

 One Christmas when I didn't have money - less so than most Christmases - I made both of my parents a pillow.  Again with the maple leaf square and the pine tree.  And at the bottom, a cross stitch hanging for over their mantle commemorating the years they spent in our home.

One day I hope to track down and take pictures of all the quilts and wallhangings I've made over the years.  Like all quilters, each quilt tells the story of who I was at the time.  I rarely make dark quilts but I've always had a hankering to make a quilt of rich purples and blues set in true black.  While my quilt tops are most often pieced by machine, all of the quilting is done by hand:  partly because I don't have the skill to navigate a large quilt through the sewing machine and partly because when I handquilt, I put messages in my quilts and I enjoy the simply back-and-forth rocking of the needle.  Right now I have several quilts in different stages of progress.  Here in the midst of July, it seems totally feasible to not only have all of my quilts quilted and finished by the end of August, but to have a new autumn quilt cut, pieced, and in the hoop by the middle of September.  The nice thing is that even if that autumn quilt is still in the hoop, it will still keep me warm on fall nights.

So yeah, I feel bad and sorry for mankind and myself a lot.  But I realize that there is a ton of beauty out there, too. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where is He?

So last year I wrote about embarking on the path of Christianity.  A path I've always tried to follow.  But how do I connect the head and the heart?  I feel as if I am full of nothing.  Nothing!  I still haven't cried about my dad's death. Which is crazy because I can't describe even closely how much I love him (and my mom).

I'm relatively intelligent.  I've a graduate degree in counseling.  But it is all words.  All of it: the right thing to say, the right emotion to show.  I'm not feeling it.

I want to grieve my dad's death. Oh, how I love him!  I want to sob and sob and sob for him.  I feel like a shit because I held his arm down for an IV when he didn't want the IV.  And I'll never forgive myself for that.  I thought I was helping.

I want to feel the connection between Christ and me: not the way others think I should feel, not from the perspective how others have witnessed Christianity from other humans but the way I feel about it.  Which is SO hard to explain and I know I sound crazy.

So how do I react? I break myself down and down and down until all that is left of me is the absolute minimum - the real me.  When my mind and body are not strong enough to avoid the fear and pain, then maybe I can deal with it.

I was really, really sick once. About 23 years ago.  Sore throat, headache, body aches - the kind the lasted over a week.  I was so sick that I didn't go to my daughter's  school concert and trust me, I have to be at death's door to miss anything like that. At that time I felt the most vulnerable and that my body and mind weren't there to protect me from my feelings.  I think this is where I need to go.  It is my purpose of two marathons in a month.  I need to beat myself down until I deal with my dad's death and until I hear God. 

I know He is there.  But I don't know how to find him.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Here in the country.

 Here in the country, we do things a bit differently.
We know that anything can be accomplished with a little determination and some duct tape.  Yesterday afternoon when it was scorching hot, my daughter made a dragon costume for her little wienie dog complete with wings and a hat.
 Here in the country, we know that lawn tractors can be used for a lot more than mowing lawn.  They can modified and raced.  I spent the evening with  my youngest son and felt his joy as he figured out why his tractor wouldn't start and got it started.  He also set his personal record in lawn tractor distance. 
 Here in the country, we help each other out whenever we see a need.  My husband had to go in early to work tonight and wasn't able to attend Ikey's tractor pull. . . . Ikey's second tractor pull. Ever.  Ikey knows a little bit about the construction of his lawn tractor, I know nothing.  Maybe a bit less than nothing.  As is true of every bit of Brown motor vehicles, the tractor doesn't run quite the way it is meant to run.  Or should I see, it doesn't start or stop the way it should.  For instance......most motorized vehicles require only the flip of a switch to turn off.  Not Ikey's tractor.  First you have to click your heels twice, touch your nose and spin and the you have to touch a piece of wire to a screw and hold it there long enough for the power to disconnect.  O so the first part isn't true but the rest of it is.  I wasn't really aware of the details I needed to understand about the pull.  Like you don't always start the lawn tractor, you need to disconnect the battery, you have to weigh it, measure it, etc......  But every step of the way, someone was there to offer up help - whether to help push the tractor or to tell us that the engine had flooded.

Here in the country, we live amongst the Amish.  And their beautiful gardens.  
 Here in the country, today anyway, it was dang hot!
But mostly here in the country, we are proud to be an American.  And even way out in the boondocks, out in the middle of a cornfield, with a bunch of redneck, tractor-pulling people, the National Anthem is played and everyone stands and every John Deer, International H, or any other brand hat is removed and we place our hands over our hearts and praise God for our country.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


 It was the annual badmitten tournament that wasn't.  Despite it being a trillion degrees out, there was a breeze strong enough to prevent us from playing badmitten.  Instead we played volleyball with a huge beachball.

We had a great time.  Spent the day taking it easy - other than playing volleyball - and just enjoying the company of family.

Later in the evening though, the wind had died down enough that my daughter and I played a bit of badmitten.
 We thought it would be fun to invite Sebastian.  He thought it was fun.  He cheats.  He played for a little while but then we thought maybe it would be a good idea to take him and his little pal Max down to the creek to cool off.  After all, Sebastian will be 56 years old tomorrow.

So off we went.  Sebastian leading the way - Max, Jordan and I following behind.  Sebastian has the same routine when he goes to the creek: he jumps in and swims around a bit, and then finds a rock.

Sebastian loves rocks.  I have a flower garden lined with rocks Sebastian has brought to the house and tried to carry in.  He has a blast with them - he tosses them and rolls on them.  Buries them and then digs them up.  It's funny because Casper and Tucker have climbed onto the rock-tossing bandwagon.  The pile of rocks by the back door is growing larger and larger.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Magic

 Last night was our first campfire of summer.  S'mores, fireflies, the sound of the creek, and scary stories.  It's funny that despite my youngest kids being 15 and 13, they still want the old stories that I told them when they were young.

On the Fourth, we will be having our annual badmitten tournament.  My writer son will come home to participate and to try to retain his title.  It's going to be rough going for him.  We've practiced.....

I love this holiday.
There is something so calming about the Fourth of July.  No pressure to do anything other than to appreciate our freedom and give thanks to those who have given and offered up the ultimate sacrifice so that we could just have fun.

I'll never forget the first year my oldest daughter was in Iraq.  The kids and I once again were enjoying a campfire and someone, off in the mountains, was setting off the most beautiful display of fireworks I've ever seen.  My daughter called me and while the fireworks were dancing behind the mountains, we realized that we were looking at the same moon from opposite ends of the world.  It was the farthest apart we've ever been but yet we felt so close.

My thoughts and prayers are to all of those in the military and their families - past and present.

Thank you.

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...