Today was the special day that our family traveled down to my husband's father's grave site, to leave flowers and a U.S. flag there in respect for his service in the military and for him being an important person in my husband's life.
I'm sorry that I was never able to meet my father-in-law. He passed away when my husband was around 16 years of age. He has been sorely missed by my husband and his family.
I asked my husband if he could share with the girls one important thing he remembers well about his father. My husband knew immediately what he would relate to our girls: Grandpa had a wonderful sense of humor, and there was a lot of laughter found in their home. I thought that was a great memory to share, and I've always known that my husband also shares the gift of humor and laughter.
The cemetery is only located about 30 minutes away from us, but since our trips to that area for family gatherings are usually held in the evenings, when it is dark already, we only get to visit the site about once or twice a year.
Our girls have learned so much from these visits to the cemetery. They've learned about the level of honor and respect that a cemetery deserves. They've learned the right types of attitudes and behaviors about visiting such a location.
They've also now begun to realize the importance of keeping our area's history "alive." They spent a good portion of our time down there brushing away the dried cut grass from flat headstones, and brushing away dirt and dust from some of the upright headstones. They were very concerned that because of inadequate care...and the passing of time...some of the pioneer headstones are now difficult to read due to the encroachment of black moss on the headstones under the trees. They are very interested in learning how to clean off the headstones so that the wording is preserved. This may be something we research as a family and help do occasionally, if the cemetery association is open to this.
After we clean off Grandpa's headstone and some of my husband's aunts' and uncles' graves, we usually wander up the hill and spend some time looking at the pioneer portion of the cemetery.
Even after all these years of visiting the cemetery, I'm always amazed at the number of young babies, children, and women who passed away at such a young age. Oh, I'm not forgetting the men who died young, but there are just so many more women who died early, probably due to childbirth, that I find this so sad.
But today, we were ALL startled by something rather unexpected at the small cemetery!
My husband and I had just finished walking downhill to some of his aunts' and uncles' grave sites, when I realized that I had just walked directly over a large snake...without realizing it.
After we got over our initial surprise, we noticed that its head was not flattened but quite on the "roundish" side. While bull snakes can shake their tail like a rattler, they don't actually have any rattles to shake; it's just a defense mechanism.
As we were driving down the winding country road out of the cemetery, my husband noticed the snake now crossing the road...but it was SO much longer than we originally thought! Hmmm..."Stop the car!" "Daddy, can we look at it?"
So, out of the car we jumped, and took a look at the very long snake...which was actually two bull snakes head to tail, slowly slithering away from the cemetery, trying to cross the dusty gravel road. Did they make it, or didn't they?
That was our adventure for the day. Snakes in a cemetery - not what we really expected to find, especially on a cool, cloudy day. But it made the day a bit more memorable, which is always a good thing.
This is a picture of our master bedroom...in 1980...when it wasn't a master bedroom at all, it was a well-known answering service in our town!
One of our neighbors, whom we didn't know very well, passed away about a year ago. This week, his adult daughter was continuing to sort through her parents' things (her mother is in assisted living due to advanced Alzheimer's), and she found a newspaper article from 1980 that featured the woman who had our home built for her in 1950. Her name is Clover.
Because I find this story so fascinating, especially since we are living in "Clover's home", I would like to share it with you. I wish she had been able to write her autobiography after she retired; unfortunately, she passed away before being able to do that.
I knew some of this story already, because my next door neighbor just behind us was best friends with Clover. They actually both moved up to our town from California to start new lives as neighbors.
Here's the newspaper article from Wednesday, January 30, 1980:
But appearances are deceiving. She gets around. And the smile never leaves her face.
"I've always thought that I could do anything," she says, "and I have."
That includes raising a son (age 23), and running her own business. This year, Clover's Telephone Answering & Secretarial Service (address left out) celebrates its 20th anniversary.
She started the business in 1960 after her second marriage ended in divorce. "I knew I would have to support myself," she says.
For two years, she worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, operating her telephone answering service, catching catnaps in between calls.
Gradually, the business grew. Today (1980), operating out of what used to be the garage of her home, she employs about 10 persons working in three shifts around the clock.
And in addition to the answering and secretarial service, Mrs. M operates a shortwave radio as part of a nationwide vehicle communications system.
She also publishes a newsletter for county builders which lists jobs coming up for subcontractors. And contractors can come to her office to examine building plans for upcoming jobs.
"My life has been busy, happy, and fulfilled," she says.
Even after the 1937 accident in Los Angeles which left her handicapped, Mrs. M refused to be anything but busy, happy, and fulfilled.
"There's a story I find hard to believe myself," she says, "but I remember in the hospital after the accident I told my mother, 'If this had to happen to somebody, I'm glad it happened to me because I can handle it.' And I think maybe that's because I'm an individualist."
But such problems were quickly overcome. Today she can, for example, cut her own steak, operate a switchboard, and type up to 70 words per minute (her own typing technique involves a combination of the touch system and "hunt and peck.")
She also can drive, with the use of one artificial leg (she does not use the leg for walking), and her car has no special modifications.
Even her house does not betray the fact a handicapped person lives there. The doors are a little wider than normal, the kitchen cupboards a little lower. Otherwise, it could be anybody's home.
"I'm not one to go in for a lot of gadgets," she says. "I think you should be self-sufficient, no matter where you are."
She adds: "I'm quite an egotist. I figure there are a lot of things I can do as well as anybody with two hands. But if it's a three-handed job, I'm not adverse to calling in some help."
Mrs. M may be nearing the end of her business career. "I thought real seriously about selling out and retiring and I almost did it this year," she says, "but I got to thinking about the economy and how crazy it is and decided to stay with it awhile."
When it does end, however, a new career will start. "I want to write my autobiography," she says, because I think I have a story to tell."
But first, she says, there are "two more things I want to do - bobsled or ice sail and fly in a glider plane."
"I think that would really be super."
Even Mickey Spillane would have a hard time topping that.
--David Tishendorf, writer
Julieanne's take on all of this:
I find this true story of Clover's to be amazing. What a strong, capable woman!
When we were looking at houses to buy for our own family, I had walked past Clover's house every weekday for almost three years, but the price was too high for our budget - we only wanted to buy something that we could live in easily when we were down to a single income.
After Clover passed away in 1990 due to lung cancer, a realtor purchased this home for the use of a relative who was using a wheelchair. The room used for the answering service was converted to a master bedroom with a bathroom and laundry "closet". After a short period of time, the handicapped relative was no longer able to live in the house, and various nieces and nephews lived in or rented the house from the realtor owner, their aunt.
In late 1996 or early 1997, the house was placed onto the market again. It had been sorely neglected for six or seven years now, with many of the beautiful landscaping and plants/trees left to "do their own thing." The house remained vacant for almost two years because the price was far too high for the market levels at that time...and because it was located in a low-income level neighborhood.
Eventually, the price was dropped by over $20,000, and it suddenly became available to us as it was near our price range...which was VERY low. People told us we could never find a decent house at that price, but we weren't willing to pay more than that.
We moved in when Kelsi was 3 months old, on the days that were our 30th birthdays - my husband and I have our birthdays only two days apart from each other.
The house was infested with cockroaches, spiders, and ants; my husband called pest control almost immediately (not on my request, but because he HATES those varmints!). I killed a little snake in our house that first weekend we were there. Sigh.
We love our home, even though it has some negatives. It is not in the best of neighborhoods; it is built from concrete block - something that was NOT done in the 1950s when Clover had the house built for her to make it safer in case of a fire; we still haven't been able to remodel the bedrooms and one of the bathrooms - they look like concrete block rooms with very old carpet. The girls' room has reddish "outdoor" style carpet from the 60s or 70s.
But there is a lot we LOVE about our home: a large living room (compared to all of the other houses in our price range back in 1998); four huge nearly floor-to-ceiling windows in our living room and dining room; wide doorways; a large "galley style" kitchen; no wasted space anywhere (the hallway is 6 feet long and contains three doorways).
One of the best features about our house that we find so practical is that Clover had a cement sidewalk poured all around the outside of the perimeter of her house. Having this nice sidewalk (and the accompanying wide overhangs from the roof) enables us to walk completely around our home - outside - even when it is raining and storming, and we don't get wet.
Clover knew what she was doing, and what she needed in a house. She had it designed to fit her needs: easy accessibility, large views of the outdoors, and no wasted space. In addition, it was right next door to a public school, so she could literally look out the large living room windows and watch her son walk to and from school.
Clover's son lives up the street with his wife who developed physical challenges that required her to be in a wheelchair in her younger years up until the present time.
I wish I could have met Clover. I would have admired her spunk!
I hope you enjoyed this true story as much as I do!
Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would like them to do to you."
Romans 12:14 "Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them."
Hebrews 13:16 "And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God."
Matthew 5:44 "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"
Matthew 19:19 "Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself."
Galatians 5:14 "For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself."
Those verses sound like the Golden Rule to me, or the principle of the Golden Rule!
I have got so much to learn in my life. I do know, though, that practicing the Golden Rule has been of great benefit to me over the years. I don't treat others kindly and lovingly in order to "get" something back from them. I do it (or try to do it - I'm not perfect!) because it pleases God, and because it is the right thing to do. No, righteous living won't earn me a place in heaven - it's only trusting in salvation from Christ that will do that - but it can certainly make life a lot easier for me here on earth to apply the Golden Rule as often as I can.
I have an older neighbor who has become a part of our extended family. She is such a dear friend. She isn't a "grandmother" to me; she is my close friend, and I put great trust in her.
I like to think that she and I have a "pay it forward" kind of relationship with each other. For a number of years, she insisted on paying me when I took care of her yard and pets when she was out of town. When we got fish tanks a few years ago, and they would need food once or twice a day, she began to come over and help us out when we were out of town. Finally, over the years, she agreed to no longer pay me for coming over to her house and helping out when she was on vacation.
Some people may think I am crazy to insist that she doesn't pay me, but because she comes over twice a day to open up or close the blinds, check on our cat, and feed the fish, (and soon to feed/take care of our guinea pigs!), I think it is a fair trade. Being able to trust someone to take care of one's beloved pets is priceless!
Because of difficulties she has had with her eyesight in the last year, I've driven her to and from the airport (an hour away), to a funeral (four hours away), and to eye surgery (two hours away). She pays for my gasoline expenses and buys me lunch or dinner. We enjoy each other's companionship, and it is a friendship of mutual respect and love.
I give her an older computer printer; she gives me a really nice set of computer speakers (big bass speaker - oooh, the girls are lovin' that!).
This mutual friendship with my neighbor is such a blessing! She comes over to most family and holiday dinners with us, either at our home or my parents' home - they love her, too. We don't love each other for what we can "get" from each other; we love each other and enjoy blessing each other with gifts and helping each other out.
If more of our relationships were based solely on love, and not just what we can get out of the relationship, think about the level of JOY we would have in our lives!
Consider the Golden Rule - and "paying it forward." They are two principles that will do much good in our lives here on earth.
In blender or food processor, chop dates, nuts, wheat germ, oats, and coconut. In a separate mixing bowl, blend together peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and powdered milk. Gradually mix chopped nut-date mixture with large mixing spoon or in heavy-duty stand mixer.
Shape "dough" into walnut-sized balls. Refrigerate until firm on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Store in a plastic bag or covered plastic or glass container and refrigerate.
Here's the free PDF printable recipe for you to download!
Only about twice a month would she begin to cry and moan and groan about having to play the violin.
The other 28 days each month, she would dutifully set up her music stand and her violin and begin to practice as part of her morning chores.
We finally decided that since she doesn't love playing the violin, we aren't going to be paying for violin lessons for her anymore. She's played the violin for three years, so this is sad for me.
I know that almost every adult who has taken music lessons has wished that they had not quit lessons as a child or young adult. Brittany will probably regret quitting, too, at some point in the future. But, she is willing to practice a couple of times each week to learn the youth orchestra music, so I'll need to learn to be content with that.
She will also be starting piano lessons soon. I taught her the basics, and now she's ready for a "real" piano teacher!
While some extended family members are very disappointed at our family decision to have her stop playing violin, I know that this is the right thing to do. It's not even a hobby to her, although she was faithful and diligent to practice five times a week (barring sickness and being out of town) for the last three years.
I will just console myself with the knowledge that Kelsi is still loving playing the violin. Aw, the sweet sounds of a beautiful violinist!
Update: Four years later, my sweet Brittany is now 14 years old. She has been playing piano for almost four years now with her new piano teacher - and she is sounding brilliant! I took piano lessons for 13 years, and Brittany ranks where I was after about 13 years of piano lessons. Better yet, she still loves it! We made the right decision to have her stop violin lessons. We don't regret it. She is also using her piano skills to bless others and to share music in church.
1. In a 9×12" baking pan, combine the oats, sesame seeds, nuts, and salt. Toast in the oven at 350° F for 12 minutes or until light golden in color. ***Stir every 4 minutes or so to prevent burning.
2. While waiting for the oats, nuts, and seeds to toast, combine honey and coconut oil in a saucepan and heat until coconut oil has melted and they are well combined, stirring frequently.
3. Stir the dried fruit into the honey-coconut oil mixture and allow the fruit to soak up some of the sweet sauce.
4. Remove the oats, seeds, and nuts from the oven when they are golden brown.
5. Take sweet sauce away from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour fruit/sauce directly over the toasted mixture. Stir until well combined, adding chocolate chips or carob chips if desired. Press mixture into the pan with the back of a spoon.
6. When cool, cut into bars, store in refrigerator in an airtight container, and enjoy!
Here's the printable PDF version for you to download:
Everyone in my family knows that I am a big klutz. The running joke is that if I had to seek employment, I would do many kinds of jobs (as long as they were legal), but I would never be a waitress.
Tonight "broke" a record...almost literally. Well, a couple of dishes. While cleaning up the kitchen after dinner this evening, I opened up a cupboard and immediately, a small bottle of white vinegar fell down and shattered a bowl into a million pieces. Sigh. I swept the mess up off of the floor and continued to clean up the kitchen.
The girls were busy folding clothes and putting those away, or they would have been cleaning up the kitchen and washing the dishes.
It would have been safer.
And less expensive.
While washing dishes, a plate slipped out of my wet hands and smashed to the floor. Another sigh. No cursing or even negative thoughts came to my mind. I am SO used to being a klutz that I have to smile.
Believe it or not, I am still using the everyday dishes that we were given as a wedding gift when we married 15 years ago. I think I've accidentally broken more dishes in the last two years than I have in the last 20 years.
The only thing I can do to try to avoid having this happen is to work slowly...never quickly. When I'm in a rush, I drop and break things, cut myself with knives or scissors, spill things and make messes.
I'm glad that I've never seriously injured myself or someone else from all my years of practicing klutziness. It would be a lot harder to truly show joyfulness if I was regularly hurting myself badly...or someone else.
May God give you grace, and the ability to work quickly and efficiently without being a KLUTZ!
Tonight's dinner was all about lemons. Not that it didn't go well, but several dishes were big on that luscious lemon flavor that so many of us enjoy!
We enjoyed Lemon Pepper Chicken, Baked Lemon Pasta (from Pioneer Woman), dinner rolls, carrot sticks, and Lemon Meringue Pie, left over from our visit to Marie Calendars when I drove my neighbor out of town for some eye surgery.
Here are the recipes for two dishes from dinner:
- bone-in or boneless pieces of chicken, your choice
- lemon pepper
Place thawed chicken into oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper. Bake or microwave cook until no pink remains inside chicken pieces.
Baked Lemon Pasta (www.ThePioneerWoman.com)
- 16 oz. thin or regular spaghetti or Dreamfields low-carb spaghetti
- 4 Tbsp. salted butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole lemon, juiced and zested
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
- grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or dried)
- extra lemon juice, if desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.
In a 10-inch or larger skillet, melt butter with olive oil over low heat. When butter has melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.
Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, and then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together; pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish.
Bake, covered with lid or foil, for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes. (Don't bake too long or the pasta will dry out.)
When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more fresh lemon juice over the top. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Add a final squeeze of lemon juice on the top, if desired.
Delicious if served with crusty French bread and a simple green salad. EnJOY!
Hi! I'm Julieanne!
You'll find me in the kitchen
trying new Trim Healthy Mama recipes, loving God, and carrying out that love as I bless my husband and teen daughters.
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