Tag Archives: fire

Beauty For Ashes

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Dean and I had a different kind of year in 2022. Odd ball weather, I suppose normal for Missouri. I observed more sundogs in the sky than I ever remember. The long winter made for quality time writing. I submitted short stories and poems to several different publications and continue to submit at least one writing every month. New writings with Flapper Press published this year, and more coming out in eMerge in 2023. We had funky shifting winds in the spring, and our first failed crop of greens. Must have been a bad batch of seeds and a few too hot days. There was a record 12″ rain one summer night causing major flash flooding in our area as well as two windows leaking in our cottage in St. Charles. Dean did some work on the cottage to prevent it from happening again, or at least we hope! We had a fairly pleasant autumn, but an early arctic blast just before Christmas, that made for a white one. Holiday celebrations were delayed due to those subzero temps, illnesses, and a fire disaster. I think the word “resilience” was used on a number of occasions this year.

Dean had struggled with sleep apnea for years, but it escalated to a serious case. It was greatly affecting his normal functions, so he finally sought his doctor about it. After several tests with a specialist, he uses a machine diligently every night now. He is sleeping much better, and so am I! Overall, I am doing well. Stress will get those PVCs going, but my heart is healthy. Arthritic days come and go. Between seasonal and per diem jobs not providing enough hours and income, this autumn I had decided to seek a new full-time HR job with dependable hours and good pay. I started this job with a local credit union a few days ago. The work culture is pro-actively positive. I will probably do this full-time stuff for another 5 years until I draw on my SS. I still teach per diem culinary evening classes at least once a month. Other family members struggle with health issues. Dean’s mother has been diagnosed with a type of leukemia and undergoing oral treatment. My Rachel continues with some painful days with the rare nerve disorder. Thankful an unexpected inheritance has been able to fund her medical care. Dean’s youngest, Rainer, who lives in the suburb of St. Louis now had an emergency appendectomy just before Christmas but is healing well. Overall, all the kids and grandkids are well. We will welcome another grandbaby in March. I continue to pray that ours and those of our loved ones’ body, mind, and spirit be whole.

We had our routine travels back to see the Kansas City family a few times, a February week away from Missouri’s winter driving to beautiful St. Augustine, FL. We stopped in Nashville, TN for our first Grand Ole Opry show. It had been on my bucket list of events for a while, and so happy to finally experience country music at its finest. We visited Dean’s brother and family in Chicagoland one weekend in August. We chose to wait for another week away for September rather than the hot summer. Went to Colorado to see the quaking aspens and mountains in Avon, Colorado area. Another bucket list experience I had for good many years. Visited family in the Denver area. Memphis bound for one night so we could see Vince Gill in concert. We enjoyed the Branson area twice, a couple of days in May with some of our friends, and another weekend in November on our way back from Eureka Springs, AR where we met up with my sister and her partner. I attended a writer’s workshop at the Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow. Also, had an unexpected trip to Mississippi in March. My younger brother, Steve suddenly passed away while he was on vacation there. My older brother, sister-in-law, Dean, and I met up with my sister there to make final arrangements.

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.”

Psalm 30:11

This year of 2022 was full as many of our previous years. Full of lovely moments with family and friends, and ones that we also said “goodbye” to so many family members. I had two uncles, one aunt, a cousin, and my younger brother pass away, and Dean had an aunt the family said “goodbye” to. Filled with mixed emotions, sadness as well as thankfulness for their lives with us. In the very last hour of Christmas Day, my daughter, Rachel and her family Micky, Hannah, Ella, & Eli escaped a fire that totally destroyed their home in Farmington, MO. A complete loss. It is a miracle that none of them were killed or injured. One of their dogs, LILO passed away from smoke exhaustion while trying to herd the family out of the house. There is a place in heaven for her. A cat and pet frog are gone from this life, too. We rejoice for our children’s lives spared, and a long road to recovery is underway. We get to witness miracle after miracle of how God is providing for them through His people. So many community and church groups have rallied together on their behalf as well as friends and family giving of themselves, resources, and love to help. I truly believe good overpowers the bad through the grace and mercy of our God! In 2023 there will be some joyful dancing!

“He will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory.”

Isaiah 61:3

A Sprout

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A sprout, green shoots of hope appeared in the garden bed today.  My chives have surfaced from its winter hibernation.   It had been 10 weeks when we left the Deanna Greens greenhouse in Defiance, just before Thanksgiving.  By lantern light we harvested all the herbs and greens chive-sproutswe had left that evening. There had not been need to get to the farm since snow has been close to null, no need to check on the 3-season structure. Dean, Midnight, and I observed signs of where an animal had laid on the other side of the bed.  Our labrador sniffed the area thoroughly “who has been sleeping in my bed?!”

This mild sunny afternoon in early February called my name to the countryside.  Perusing our 3-season structure, and then for a long walk around Boone Hollow Farm with Dean and Midnight.  Midnight lead the way up the hill, passed the farm neighbor’s sprouting garlic field we help plant in November.  Then a stroll along the cedar ridge, down another neighbor’s gravel driveway, back near our greenhouse, then over to the barn, and circling the brush piles before our return to the greenhouse. Our landlord must have set the one brush pile on fire as there were a few lasting embers and a small trail of smoke surrounded by ashes.  Present moment, mindful observations of nature. The walk and fresh air revived my soul after this weary week.

Hope is like those February sprouts of chives and garlic.  Perennial faith believes a flourishing crop and bountiful harvest in the not too far future.  Lasting embers will once again ablaze a fire to light up the darkness and give warm comfort.  The ashes of cancer lie on the ground while my daughter lights the world with her strength, faith, and love.

Midsummer Day

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The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady by Edith HoldenI picked pea pods, lettuces, and herbs galore this past weekend. After a week of rain, the sun shined for a day. Finally, I was able to get to Boone Hollow Farm and Deanna Green And Gardens Art greenhouse without fear of rising creeks and rivers. I found an old saying in my book The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady “June damp and warm does the farmer no harm,” which I feel the local farmers and folks as far as Texas would disagree. Floods waters have ruined acres of crops. May be too late to try another round of crops this growing season.

Valhalla Sunset & Camp Fire

Valhalla Sunset & Camp Fire

Yesterday was the Midsummer Day in the US, the longest day of the year. A much celebrated day in the Old World and other countries around the world, but especially so amongst farm cultures and country folk. For some it is held on June 23 or 24. There are many rituals, most common is a bonfire. I had not the opportunity to have a bonfire for the summer solstice as we celebrated Father’s Day in Columbia, Missouri with family at a steak house. Does the flame from the grill count? No, I don’t think so. But the company and food was good. And it is not too long until the Minnesota destination of Valhalla on Island Lake. I will be memorized by the flames of many bonfires and the sound of chatter amongst friends.

Papers, Papers, A Plethora of Papers

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So how did paper get to be so overkill? All the junk mail even during the electronic era? Before scrolled pen & ink messages,the typewriter, word processors, and computer words were carved in stone and wood for communication. Story-telling, musical lyrics, and fireside chats rather than books, blogs, and online chats. I’d like to reserve my paper adventures to handwritten “thank you” and “thinking of you” notes using recycled or hand-crafted papers, or papiermache or decoupage trinket boxes or other craft projects recycling greeting cards. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner for a paper creation.Happy Valentine<
With these wintry days time is on my side. I am not working two or three jobs any longer. No greenhouse chores. No pressing family matters to attend to. My allergy to the cold tells me I cannot play outside in the cold. At home and at work, I have a plethora of papers piled in baskets, boxes, trays, and file cabinets. All of which are in need of my attention. Not one paper is of immediacy. It just requires time to make decisions about what stays and gets filed, and what gets purged. I do not consider myself a hoarder, but I am beginning to wonder about myself as of late. Lack of time would be the culprit. But 2015 is the year for repurpose, recycle, and rejuvenation. How many trees can I save? Jonas At The Fireplace
At home, the unwanted papers are a part of an annual fire ritual set aside for a wintry late afternoon using the kitchen fireplace. It is the perfect Sunday afternoon to make split-second decisions before throwing the unwanted papers in the blazing fire or set aside for the files. I guarantee there will be another wintry day for filing. Our feline friends find the whistling of the fire fasinating. My work week has been somewhat subdued considering the kind of weeks and months coming out of 2014. Project deadlines and security issues were priority over these damned papers. To the shredder rather than a fire the excess papers go. I now keep most documents on electronic files. During another lull time, I will organize my computer files.
What paper projects do you create or undertake during the winter months?

I Am Perfect

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redembersIt has been less than a perfect week this week, actually very far from it! I helped put a fire out at work on Wednesday. Literally, and yes on Ash Wednesday, I played firefighter just before I was due out from the office. The ‘flight or fight” response came out, and I stayed to fight. I helped put a fire out that was on the rooftop, just outside my office. My building has been under construction for months, and the rooftop became the main project the past 2-3 weeks. Shingle tar was bubbling, a nearby plank board was glowing with red embers, with high winds blowing. After calling security and waiting for 5 minutes with no avail, I checked the rooftop door and it was unlocked. The fire hydrant was blocked with construction equipment, so my co-worker poured water from a pitcher onto the fire while I kept the door open. In 30 seconds it all was a smoking mess! Still cannot see clearly why we did the wrong thing. Authorities were notified, the site inspected, little damage, and no one injured. You would think, our superiors would be elated, right? Yet we were to set the fire alarm, escape, and wait for the local firefighters to show up or not. This past month, the firefighters never showed at 2 other fire alarms. Apparently, a complete investigation is underway to find out the cause. A local firefighter would have been a neutral party, to announce whether it was an employee fault or the fault of the contracted construction crew. I try to do the right thing, though what is right to me and 7 other people who were at the scene of the fire during and immediately afterwards, is wrong to the superiors.
On the way home from church today I saw a local shop sign that says, “I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect.” A humorous confidence booster, I would say. But it was just what I needed to remind me to laugh. And that confidence and esteem is a matter of perception, self-perception and God’s perception. God’s Word tells me that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). If I listened to others, I am nobody. If I listen to God, I am perfect. Then I replace the “I am” with “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” to forgive and bless the less than honest people, when I really rather not. Right now, it is a process. My attitude and sarcasm about this smoky mess are simmering down. I feel like shouting on the rooftop, “I am perfect in God’s eyes … I did the right thing!” Though I will settle with just knowing how God feels about me, and that means everything to me. The grace of God …

Winter’s Chill

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Winter’s chill has come with the New Year here in Missouri. Brrrsy! A thin layer of snow, freezing rain, and more snow covered the church parking lot New Year’s Day. In 2012 I did not need my black faux fur Russian hat, but I pulled it from the coat closet this 1st week of 2013. Dean calls my head covering my “Ivana hat”. I think he likes the old world style on his bride! Warm, and protects my head and ears from the stinging air. Already this year it’s requiring drastic survival tactics! It was 10 degrees F in “Skunk Hollow”,according to the local 550 AM radio station yesterday morning. A woven scarf and gloves accompany. I have long locks (unlike the photo), yet not enough for 10 degrees F. Faux Fur Russian Hat For those quiet intimate nights with my hubby in order to keep the pets from snuggling in our bed requires closed bedroom doors. Don’t want to keep the dogs and cats outside or even in that garage for more than 5 minutes. I know, they are part of the family, and spoiled! So then, pajama bottoms with a long-sleeve night shirt is mandatory as well as the space heater next to the bed. The heated air from the furnace does not circulate as well with closed doors. All those clothes kind of defeat the purpose, but makes for great snuggling with my man. Marital union must take place in the winter months, as there are plenty of people born the months of September, October, and November, right? What about those folks up in Alaska, Norway, and Russia? Somehow, they reproduce! Oil Space Heater Cups of hot earl grey tea and chai lattes are on my winter survival list also. Chai Latte Oh, cannot forget the fire in the kitchen fireplace. Spicy hats, teas, and layered bed clothes add a spark to life, don’t they?!

The Big Dipper and the Northern Sky

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My Dean & I so enjoyed our stay at Valhalla Resort on Island Lake outside of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.  It was a peaceful vacation, time to slow down our pace.  Our stay included meals with friends, walks, swims, and fireside chats with tales of old.   Friends shared stories of our childhood sparking laughter one after the other.  One evening turned into a 1:00am departure from the dwindling campfire.  A night owl called to us, or maybe he was talking to the rabbit hiding in the bushes.  Bugs chirped.  All dogs and cats had long since retired to their favorite beds.  As Dean & I walked to our lakeside cabin, we saw the Milky Way.  The Big Dipper shone so brightly in the clear northern sky.  It brought to memory my father sitting a boat nestled near the dock for that particular summer night, telling a young audience how to tell time from The Big Dipper.  My friends recalled this, too.  It seemed like yesterday …  Dad seemed to explain it so easily that we understood it. Here are a few web links on telling time with the stars: http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/telltime.html, http://www.av8n.com/physics/star-time.htmhttp://www.physics.ucla.edu/~huffman/dtime.html