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Purified

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "fire". Here's my story...
It had been years since she'd returned to the town where it all began... her introduction to the madman who was to become her husband.

Travelling alone across the state on a journey to visit her parents, she had stopped at the cemetery along a stretch of rural highway north of town. Something inside her demanded that she go there to see his grave with her own eyes, to make certain he was really gone. The small military headstone bearing his name and vital statistics gave no clue to the nature of the man interned there, but she remembered.

Before leaving, she took a photograph to share with her daughter when the time came that she would want to know, that she too would want to be certain. Road weary from the journey of nearly a thousand miles, she decided to spend the night in a motel, giving her time to drive around and see what places and images still remained familiar from the those years of her life.

She drove past the nursing home where she'd worked as an aide. It hadn't been a good place then and she was glad to see it boarded up now, the souls of those she'd cared for long since ascended into heaven.

She drove past the small college where they'd both studied, and past the house with the tiny upstairs apartment where they'd lived when they first brought their daughter home from the hospital. She drove past the old hospital too, remembering so clearly that day more than 20 years ago when she first held her daughter in her arms.

She drove past the park where she used to take her daughter to play in the grass, where she would squeal with delight as squirrels scampered close by.

Finally, late in the afternoon, she summoned up her courage and turned on a familiar street not too far from downtown. Driving slowly, she spied the fenced playground of the old parochial school across the street from "the big house".... but where was the house? In the place where it should be there was nothing but an empty lot. Suddenly she found herself confused. Was this the right place or had the years played tricks on her memory?

But yes, there was the yellow house on the corner next door, the one with the teenage daughter that used to undress in her room upstairs with the window shade up, much to the delight of the young men in the big house. She stared again at the large, grass covered lot beside it, still not quite believing what she was seeing, or in fact wasn't seeing.

It was the right address, the right location, but the big house had vanished as if into thin air. The empty lot, with its neatly manicured lawn, held no trace of the large three-story white house with the sweeping front porch on which she's sat so many nights breathing in the evening air and praying to whatever gods there might be for deliverance and redemption.

It seemed like forever ago that they had lived there - she and her husband and their young daughter - serving as house parents for the dozen or so young men renting rooms while attending the local vocational college. She remember each of them. For the most part they had been like brothers to her - caring and supportive, and enchanted by the little girl who delighted in their attention.

But there were two among them that she later learned were in alliance with her husband, and in allegiance to the power of darkness that he served. It was not long before that darkness began to seep into their lives and permeate the rooms they occupied. A shiver went up her spine as she remembered all the evil that had transpired there.

She was young then, and not nearly as sure of herself as she was now. She had cowered in fear, and remained obedient to the bonds that held her there, though she often considered leaving and at one time went so far as to investigate a nearby apartment as an option if things got worse. And they did, but still she stayed. She didn't understand back then that there are always other options.

When he graduated from college they moved to Denver so he could attend graduate school. Not long after, he decided instead to join the military and a year later found them living in Germany, the place where it finally came to an end as the marriage unravelled and she went her own way.

That relationship had come and gone at great emotional cost to her and her daughter. As she sat there in the car staring at that vacant lot, she couldn't help but wonder how differently life might have been if she had left him in the beginning instead of at the end.

Later on she did a little research and learned that a raging fire had consumed the big house one night, after standing a few years vacant. It was thought to be a case of arson but no one was ever caught or punished for the crime. Perhaps they didn't know, but deep inside she knew. She knew well his love of fire and his penchant for destruction.

So many lives had been damaged and destroyed by his actions. He had returned to this town to live at some point after their divorce and his release from the military, and he had died there at the age of 35 - from heart failure the death certificate had said. But no autopsy had been done, and she knew there was more to that story too.

Heading back to her motel room she breathed deeply in the night air. It was finished... he was gone; the house was gone too. The ground had already purified itself and reclaimed the sanctity it once held. It was going to take a lot longer for her and for her child.

(Note: Since this is a true story, I am also going to use it for Monday Memories, although the tone is a bit dark. This happened a long time ago, and my life is so much better now! You're invited to stop by Monday Memories and share a memory with us too!)

Six Word Saturday

I'm going in to work this morning, making up for time off yesterday. I leave you with my Six Word Saturday summary of yesterday's activity and the way I'm feeling at the moment...
Dentist's chair... three hours....face hurts!


On a more positive note... my dentist's office passes out warm soft snuggies (the blankets with sleeves) to patients, since they keep it a little cool while they're working. Nice touch! They make lovely security blankets! :-)

Feline Fanatic


It's time for another Thursday Thirteen post! One of my cats will be giving birth to a litter of kittens within the next week or so. She's been assigned to the guest room to use as her own private maternity ward/nursery so that the other cats won't disturb her or the kittens until they're a bit older. This will be her first and only litter, and we're more than a little bit excited about the prospect of new babies in the house! In honor of Daisy, this week's Thursday Thirteen list is a compilation of things I love about cats :-)
  1. Cats are independent, they choose who they like, we don't choose them.
  2. Cats are beautiful... soft and furry with amazing eyes, they come in a wonderful variety of colors, designs, and fur lengths!
  3. Cats are extemely flexible... you can drape one over your arm or wrap it around your neck. They can sleep comfortably in the contorted postions.
  4. Cats have the strength and agility to leap up onto to high places, gauging the distance and landing safely with amazing accuracy.
  5. Cats are sensitive to human emotions, they know when you're upset and they will be extra affectionate to try to soothe you.
  6. Cats are content to be near you or to rest on your lap. They don't beg to be walked or taken outside to potty.
  7. Cats are clean and tidy. They bathe themselves regularly and carefully cover up the evidence after using the litter box.
  8. Cats are intelligent. They understand most of what you are telling them, and they will teach you to understand what they want by their actions or various meow sounds.
  9. Cats are proud. If you scold them they will sit with their back turned to you to make a point of their displeasure.
  10. Cats are easily embarassed. If they make a mistake, such as loosing their balance while walking on the edge of the tub and slipping into the bath water, they will scramble away and glower at you for laughing.
  11. Cats are good hunters. They easily catch mice, snakes, rabbits, squirrels and birds. Even those that have no front claws can catch prey!
  12. Cats are playful. They will play with a toy mouse endlessly, tossing it about as if it was alive. They will chase balls around the floor, and chase each other, pouncing and wrestling as it if was a serious game of war.
  13. Cats purr when they are content, they curl up on your lap, shut their eyes, and rumble softly.
I think it would be nice if humans could purr when they are happy too! :-)

Well

Well, I never did get my letter written for "Write A Letter Wednesday" last week, so I'll post it for this week instead. Speaking of wells, there is a common belief that in Texas there is "an oil well in every back yard". In our case that's about to become true (refer to photo above to get the idea)...

Dear Big Oil Company,

It was so nice of you to send Mr. Friendly PR Guy to our door to inform my husband that you intend to appropriate nearly a quarter of our land for the purpose of drilling an oil well. I can't begin to tell you how sad that makes us.

It hasn't even been a year yet since we purchased this 2-1/2 acre parcel of land about 16 miles north of the town where we work. We bought it with inheritance money from my father after looking long and hard for just the right spot with plenty of peace and quiet and privacy. The 204 ft. x 536 ft. lot seemed just the right size for our home, workshop, garage, and storage shed. We situated our manufactured home about a 100 feet back from the road, not wanting too large of a front yard to maintain, and leaving lots of space in the back to plant trees, start a garden, make a walking path, and eventually even set up a firing range where we could practice target shooting.

With the upturn in the economy, the oil field is booming again. We've seen drilling rigs popping up all around us, their bright lights making them visible at night for miles in all directions. One went up about a half a mile away, then came another about a quarter mile distant from us. We feared that before long one would come even closer, and we hoped it would be on one of the undeveloped pieces of property around us. No such luck.

Thank you Big Oil Company for letting us know that that the law says oil wells can be placed as close as 1200 feet from each other, and that you can pretty much put them any damn place you want as long as you observe that limitation.

Why, we asked, couldn't you instead put this one on one of the large tracts of nearby ranch land where an acre of caliche topped with a pump jack would hardly be noticeable. The answer came too easy... back then land titles included not only surface rights but also mineral rights for whatever laid below the ground. That means you, Big Oil Company, would have to pay royalties to the land owner for any oil found and pumped. But nowdays land titles here are for surface rights only. The property owner gets nothing for oil pumped from their land. Even surface rights are a bit of a farce, aren't they, since what rights do we have to determine anything regarding this matter? In acutality, none!

So you decided that you want a forth of our little piece of heaven for your drilling location. You will bring in big trucks with lots of equipment to make a road thru our neighbor's property (vacant except for a borded up camper trailer and some fallen down buildings), surface about an acre of ground - half on his property and half on ours - with caliche, construct massive mud pits, and set up a drilling rig some 120 feet tall, that will run 24 hours a day, non-stop, for approximately three weeks. Lots of noise, lots of lights, lots of stench, lots of trucks and workers coming and going across our neighbor's property and the back half of ours.

Sure you are being "generous" by providing us with a small sum of money in return for deeding over the piece of our land you want, and by providing money for us to stay in a hotel during the three-weeks of drilling activity if the noise/lights/stench/general commotion make it difficult for us to sleep in our own bed at night. And we should be "thankful" that the well itself will sit 38 feet outside of our property line instead of inside it. But what about the half acre of caliche that overlaps onto our property and will become a permanent part of the well site? What about the mud pits that by law don't have to be cleaned up for twelve months? What about the permanent loss of this piece of our property? What about property devaluation due to this eyesore?

So many nights have been spent sitting on our back deck watching the beautiful sunset painted across the western sky. That view will forever be obstructed by your pumpjack (see photo below). Lovely, just lovely.

The whole thing sickens us, Big Oil Company, it hurts our hearts. We didn't buy a lot of land, just a small piece that we could afford, and now you tell us you can take that from us and use it as you wish. Sure, we could fight it in court, but we don't have the money for that, and even if we did, its a fight we can't win. You have might on your side, lots of money for high dollar lawyers, and support in high places. Oil is big business. Some land owners who tried to prevent you from drilling on their property paid dearly. Retaliation may be illegal but it's not unheard of in these parts... you have ways of intimidating those who oppose you.

The truth is, as angry as it makes us, there is really not a damn thing we can do about your oil well... but it isn't fair, and it isn't right. Might doesn't always make right. Even sadder is the fact that, despite your PR Guy's friendly demeanor, you honestly don't give a damn about how this decision impacts our property or our lives. It's just business as usual to you. It's all about the profit to be made. People don't really count for much in your business, do they?

Thank you, Big Oil Company, for invading our privacy, for destroying the natural beauty of our property, and for stealing a piece of our dream.

Sincerely,

Mr and Mrs JTS

6WS

My slogan for Six Word Saturday has pretty much been the theme for this entire week...
Life Keeps Stealing My Blogging Time

It's been a rough couple of weeks here. Last week on Friday my supervisor lost her job without warning. They had a replacement in her chair by after lunch. Guess it had been in the works for a while. The new supervisor decided after just a couple days that the job wasn't right for her and left at lunch on Wednesday. The controller from our head office taught the two of us how to do daily accounting routines to keep things going until someone new is brought in. Good to learn new things, and we are kicking butt for the time being, but we were already loaded down with duties, so days are even longer and we go home pretty wiped out. Hopefully a third person will be brought in soon. Hoping even harder it will be someone whose personality is compatible with ours. We don't have any say in it. My coworker is just 20, but she and I get along really well and make an amazing team. Makes things so much more bearable there!



Needless to say, there has been little time and energy left for blogging by the time I get home at night. So many things I want to write about bouncing around in my head, I get really frustrated. Ahhh, to win the lottery so I could retire and spend lots of time writing every day... maybe even get that book written. Oh well... "life is what happens while we are busy making other plans", and basically it's all good 'cuz I have a wonderful guy to share it with!

Never Forget


This week's edition of Sunday Scribblings and Monday Memories takes me back some thirty years to a time when I was living in Germany in the role military spouse..

My mid-twenties found me married to my first husband, mother to a three-year old, and living in an apartment in small town in the state of Bavaria in what was then known as West Germany. My husband was stationed at the U.S. Army post there, and it was home to us for two and a half years. Being of German ancestry, it was a lesson in the country and culture of three of my great-grandparents, and an experience to remember for a lifetime.

While there, we made many day trips and weekend visits to the cities and towns within driving distance or train trip. One such journey stands out in my memory above all others, it was a visit to one of those places you don't want to see, but somehow you sense you must... to be a witness to what occurred there.

I am talking about Dachau... infamous concentration camp where so many lost their lives during the Holocaust. We took the train, arriving at the small station where a taxi was secured to deliver us to the gates of the camp now maintained as a memorial. Walking thru the museum, we were joined by other tourists and groups of German school students who had been brought there as a lesson in their country's history. It was obvious that some of them were being made aware of this atrocity for the first time.

The picture you see above is of the front entrance gate to Dachau. This is where freight trains crammed full of human beings deemed unworthy to remain in free society by Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" stopped along the tracks to be unloaded and interred. "Arbeit Macht Frei" says the gate... literally translated "Work Makes Free". Not free for the great majority of those interned there for whom death was the only freedom granted.

Death came quickly for some... the old, the young, the infirm... sorted like cattle and directed to the gas chambers. For others it happened a bit more slowly... sickness, starvation, exposure to harsh winter weather clothed only in rags, inhumane work conditions, torture, cruel medical experimentation, and the abuse of sadistic guards took their toll. Not just Jews, but also sympathizers, Gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally handicapped, along with religious leaders, and educators who dared to speak out against the regime.

How to dispose of all those bodies piling up? The answer came much too easy... row of ovens in the crematorium burned non-stop round the clock hurtling ashes skyward. "We didn't know what was happening there, please don't blame us" said a disclaimer printed on the menu in the guesthouse where we ate lunch in the nearby town of Dachau. A picture of the ovens is posted below.

We walked thru reconstructed barracks in which human beings had been stacked like sardines, we stood inside the gas chamber and looked at pictures of corpses piled high in the adjoining room. One would say it is impossible, but I swear the stench of death still permeates the walls there. We stood in silence in the crematorium. What could one say in the face of such atrocity, such horror? How could one even begin to comprehend the madness that led to this?

Everything is nicely sanitized now, grounds clean and manicured, buildings spotlessly clean as are most public places in Germany. If you knew nothing of what had occurred there it might not seem so evil, it might not make you feel quite as sickened. But I do know. We all know. History forgotten is destined to repeat itself. Never forget... never again.

Never Forget


This week's edition of Sunday Scribblings takes me back some thirty years to a time when I was living in Germany in the role military spouse..

My mid-twenties found me married to my first husband, mother to a three-year old, and living in an apartment in small town in the state of Bavaria in what was then known as West Germany. My husband was stationed at the U.S. Army post there, and it was home to us for two and a half years. Being of German ancestry, it was a lesson in the country and culture of three of my great-grandparents, and an experience to remember for a lifetime.

While there, we made many day trips and weekend visits to the cities and towns within driving distance or train trip. One such journey stands out in my memory above all others, it was a visit to one of those places you don't want to see, but somehow you sense you must... to be a witness to what occurred there.

I am talking about Dachau... infamous concentration camp where so many lost their lives during the Holocaust. We took the train, arriving at the small station where a taxi was secured to deliver us to the gates of the camp now maintained as a memorial. Walking thru the museum, we were joined by other tourists and groups of German school students who had been brought there as a lesson in their country's history. It was obvious that some of them were being made aware of this atrocity for the first time.

The picture you see above is of the front entrance gate to Dachau. This is where freight trains crammed full of human beings deemed unworthy to remain in free society by Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" stopped along the tracks to be unloaded and interred. "Arbeit Macht Frei" says the gate... literally translated "Work Makes Free". Not free for the great majority of those interned there for whom death was the only freedom granted.

Death came quickly for some... the old, the young, the infirm... sorted like cattle and directed to the gas chambers. For others it happened a bit more slowly... sickness, starvation, exposure to harsh winter weather clothed only in rags, inhumane work conditions, torture, cruel medical experimentation, and the abuse of sadistic guards took their toll. Not just Jews, but also sympathizers, Gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally handicapped, along with religious leaders, and educators who dared to speak out against the regime.

How to dispose of all those bodies piling up? The answer came much too easy... row of ovens in the crematorium burned non-stop round the clock hurtling ashes skyward. "We didn't know what was happening there, please don't blame us" said a disclaimer printed on the menu in the guesthouse where we ate lunch in the nearby town of Dachau. A picture of the ovens is posted below.

We walked thru reconstructed barracks in which human beings had been stacked like sardines, we stood inside the gas chamber and looked at pictures of corpses piled high in the adjoining room. One would say it is impossible, but I swear the stench of death still permeates the walls there. We stood in silence in the crematorium. What could one say in the face of such atrocity, such horror? How could one even begin to comprehend the madness that led to this?

Everything is nicely sanitized now, grounds clean and manicured, buildings spotlessly clean as are most public places in Germany. If you knew nothing of what had occurred there it might not seem so evil, it might not make you feel quite as sickened. But I do know. We all know. History forgotten is destined to repeat itself. Never forget... never again.

You're The Best!


Here is my belated contribution for last week's Write A Letter Wednesday. It's a letter to an awesome young friend and coworker...

Dear J,

I decided to write you a letter to tell you how much I like sharing my workdays with you. When you think about it, we spend more time together each week than you do with your family or friends! Who would think that fifty-something old lady would spend her days with someone of just twenty and they both would enjoy it? It can be a pretty stressful place to work at times, with all the phones ringing, people lined up at the counter, and someone needing copies or a project done. Being able to laugh and roll our eyes at each other in sympathy helps diffuse the tension, and all the joking and friendly banter makes the time pass so much faster!

From the very first I saw that you have a real gift for conversing with people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether it's an old geezer or a young hottie at the window, you smile and visit with them all, making them feel welcome and special. So often sharing a friendly word can make all the difference in someone's day. I love it when our customers leave with smiles on their faces!

I was happy when you told me you've changed your college major from accounting to nursing. You are definitely a people person, and genuinely caring, so I know you'll make an awesome nurse! Speaking of school, I'm glad that you're dedicated to finishing it and earning your degree. I know it isn't easy to work a 40 hour job while carrying a full course load and still find time for homework, a little sleep, and even a little fun now and then, but you will never regret it. You'll appreciate the income you are able to earn with your nursing degree, and the freedom to choose from almost anywhere you'd like to live and work. In this day and age it's essential for a woman to have her own financial security, and not ever have to depend on someone else for your survival.

Speaking of making good choices, I also applaud your decision to wait to have a family for at least a few years, and to take care to make sure that doesn't happen before you're ready. Too many young people where we live somehow think it's cool to have babies, just like it's cool to have a pet or a new car. Parenting is a tough job, and it's a unwise to tie your life down before you're ready for that commitment. I've listened to all you do for your sisters and little brother and can tell how much you love them. I realize that you've done a lot of the parenting in their lives. When your turn comes, I know you'll make an awesome mom!

Additionally, I am proud that you've decided to participate in healthy relationships rather than putting up with guys who are by no means respectful, responsible, or caring. You want to end up with someone who values you and loves you, and treats you the way you deserve to be treated, not with someone who treats you as property. I wish I had been that smart about things at your age!

If there was a gift I could wrap up and give to you, it would be the ability to recognize your own beauty and self-worth. You've been given too many messages of not being good enough or pretty enough, of doing everything wrong, of being a burden or a disappointment. This is untrue and unfair. You are beautiful inside and out... attractive, friendly, caring, sensitive, intelligent, and willing to help others. I'd be proud to have you as my daughter!

While I'm sure there are times when you have tested your parents' patience to the limit (because that pretty much comes with being a young adult), it seems like your mom is pretty hard on you at times, eroding your self-esteem. We've talked a little bit about the lives your parents have had, and what your home life was like as a child, and I think you can understand that maybe they are doing the best they can with what parenting skills they have. I'm sure what your mom wants most of all is for you to grow up smarter, not making some of the mistakes she made, so that your life will be less difficult. Sometimes she just goes about relaying that message in a way that is hurtful to you. Please try to be as forgiving as you can, and keep the door of communication open between you. You will find yourselves closer again in the years ahead. It's obvious that your dad loves you a whole bunch too. Don't take advantage of that love by letting him be over-indulgent and permissive. Ask yourself what's truly best for you, and sometimes that means having to do it yourself, or earn it yourself, or even waiting for later!

Most of all, believe in yourself, and your ability to accomplish anything you want! Continue to make smart choices. Everyone you encounter in life will teach you something - either what to do or what not to do. Strive to be a good person and to avoid the pitfalls of folks we both know who forget to treat others with respect and sensitivity.

How you feel about yourself is critical... learn to love yourself even while striving to improve in areas you feel are your weakest. We are all a work in progress and no one has achieved total perfection yet... except maybe in their own eyes. :-)) When you're taking inventory of the things you list as your faults (too often and too many really), be brave enough to also list the things that are right and good about you. Finish up that long ago homework assignment to list your positive qualities... there are many!

The most important lessons one can learn in life is to do it one day at a time and live in the moment. We can't undo the past, or change a single thing about it, so there isn't a point to living with a lot of regret or self-condemnation. We learn from our mistakes, that's their purpose! We can't do a whole lot about the future either, except to prepare for it, so there is little point to spending a lot of time worrying about "what ifs". Live for the day, make it count, and as I always tell my own daughter... "Keep the door open"... always hope for good things to come. You deserve them and they will!

Again, thank you J, for being a ray of sunshine in our lives... for giving me a reason to look forward to coming to work each day, and for helping us get thru the rough times with humor and smiles. May God bless you always!

Love,

Josie

Note: Write A Letter Wednesday will be coming up again in a few days. Start thinking now about someone you'd like to send a love note or a not-so-loving note to. Write your blog post and share a link to it at the Write A Letter Wednesday site!

Let Me Count The Ways

With Valentine's Day coming up, this week I'm dedicating my Thursday Thirteen to my beloved husband. Here are thirteen of the many things I love about him...
  1. His amazing blue eyes - they truly twinkle with light and laughter!
  2. His wonderful sense of humor and childlike sense of fun. He's never grown too old to be playful.
  3. His old fashioned values and strong sense of right and wrong.
  4. His respectful treatment of women.
  5. His wide range of knowledge on so many subjects.
  6. His eagerness to learn new things and new technology.
  7. His bravery... he is truly afraid of almost nothing.
  8. His strong relationships with his daughters and grandchildren. They can and do talk openly with him about everything.
  9. His love for cats, and his willingness to share his home with them.
  10. His tenderness, compassion, and caring, and his romantic nature.
  11. His intelligence and the way he thinks things thru. His ability to take charge of situations.
  12. His size and strength. He is all man... he makes me feel safe and loved.
  13. His willingness to put up with me... it's not always easy! :-)

A Special Place to Eat

Last weekend my husband and I decided to visit a small family-owned Chinese Restaurant in a city not far down the road from where we live. Sitting there brought back a warm memory from my childhood that I decided to write about for Memories on Mondays this week...

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, there wasn't much in the way of clothing stores. A few times each year my mom would plan a shopping trip to a small city about an hour away that had a larger downtown area with better shopping. My sisters and I always looked forward to these trips with great excitement. Not only did it mean a few new outfits and maybe a new pair of shoes or a coat for each of us, it also meant going to a very special place for lunch.

During World War II my mom had served as a telephone operator in Portland, Oregon. Eventually she got homesick and returned to the Midwest to this small city not far from where she grew up to be closer to her parents. She shared quarters in a rooming house with a few other working girls. When we went shopping she would drive by the places she used to live and work and tell us stories from her life before marriage to my Dad. It was hard to imagine my mom as anything but a mom, but we loved hearing about it.

We would shop for awhile in the morning, and then eagerly head across Main Street to an authentic Chinese Restaurant for lunch. We always ordered mom's favorite entree - chicken chowmein served with crunchy noodles and bowls of steamed rice. Mom knew the Chinese couple who operated this restaurant from her pre-marriage days, and would tell us how she and her friends at the boarding house would roll up the legs of their pajamas at night, pull on long coats and shoes, and head over to the restaurant for a bite to eat. I loved how she would smile and laugh as she told us about this carefree time in her life.

As little girls growing up in the very "white bread" Midwest, this beautifully decorated restaurant with it's bright red and gold decor and fancy menus with items listed in Chinese as well as English fascinated us. Try as I might, I can't remember the name of the place anymore. (I do well to remember my own name most days :-) But I remember exactly how it looked, and how grown up and special we felt as we ate there with Mom and waited eagerly to see what fortunes might await us in our cookies at the the finish. All three of us acquired a love for Chinese food that remains with us to this day.

When I think of my childhood, what stands out most is times like this and the extra effort my mom put in to making simple things and ordinary times special. It is a lesson that could well be heard by today's parents seeking to amuse their children with high-dollar gifts and high-profile adventures. It isn't so much what you do with your children, and definitely not how much you spend, it's that you take the TIME and the EFFORT to make happy memories WITH them!

Why don't you share a special memory with us sometime this week? Write your post and add a link on the Memories on Mondays website. Leave a comment here too!

A Tragic Story

The prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings is "story". I'm going to share a story that is weighing heavily on our hearts and minds today...

Last evening my husband and I headed to a nearby city for dinner. A few miles from our house there is an intersection of two rural highways. We noted that Hwy 1788 heading north had been completely blocked off by orange emergency cones. We'd never seen that before and wondered about it, thinking maybe there was some kind of vehicle check going on or perhaps an accident further up the road.

Heading home a couple hours later, two highway patrol vehicles were now blocking access to that branch of the highway. Atop of one was a flashing message sign saying that the road was closed due to an accident ahead.

This stretch of rural highway is flat and open and not heavily patrolled, encouraging high-rates of speed. Drivers in our county and the adjoining one often prefer to take it as a "back road" for just that reason. Blowouts are not uncommon, and I'm sure there have been other accidents, but I've never encountered one that actually resulted in both lanes of the highway being blocked off for a long period of time. It didn't sound good. This morning's news carried the horrific story of what occurred.

A grandmother driving a Volkswagen with her three grandchildren, ages 8, 3, and 2 as passengers, was travelling southbound on the road, following a vehicle driven by her son and daughter-in-law. For some unknown reason, she veered into the northbound lane directly into an oncoming dump truck being driven by a 56 year old man. The car was dragged and at some point the truck overturned on it's side. Both vehicles burst into flames. Both drivers and all three children lost their lives.

Compounding the tragedy, not only were the parents of the children witnesses to the scene, but the wife of the dump truck driver had been following behind him and saw it as well. The news report said that her husband had talked to her on the cellphone after the accident, prior to the fiery explosion. He had been unable to get out of the truck in time. If you want to read the story or watch the video, here's the NewsWest 9 link.

My husband was a tow truck driver years ago, and tells tales of horrific accidents... coming home unable to sleep after working them. I can't imagine what that must be like for all the emergency workers involved last night.

I share this story with you because today there are two families... that of the parents who lost their children, and the wife who lost her husband, who are greatly in need of our prayers to help them thru this dark time.

We are not privileged to the "whys" in life, or what the purpose of such a horrific tragedy could be, but it is a sobering reminder to all of us to treasure those we love, and to make sure we never, ever part on anything but loving terms. We never know at what moment they could be taken from us.

For lighter fare, go to Sunday Scribblings and read what other bloggers are writing about today.

Weekend Wrap Up

You might have noticed that my posting and commenting has been somewhat limited this week. It wasn't by choice... it never is. It's been on of those full-tilt stressful weeks that leaves me feeling a little frazzled, like I'm being pulled in too many directions and there's not enough of me to cover the spread.

Do you ever feel like you're not making the grade in any area, not really getting it right, keeping folks happy, or even yourself satisfied, no matter how hard you try? Or maybe you're just not trying hard enough, or maybe you're just too tired or defeated to try harder. All of the above apply to this week.

I find myself wondering in amazement how it is that I used to manage to be so organized, when the kids were still at home... clean house, meals on the table, work running smoothly... and still managed to find time and energy for walking and reading and craft work and such. How did I do that?? Is it just because I'm older and it all takes longer, or is it all that much harder, or what??? I'm confused, and admittedly frustrated with myself for not being able to pull it together!

Yeah, I know, I'm being hard on myself. I'm trying most days and I'm doing ok, but there is so much more I want to do, feel needs to be done. I want to do i well... not just ok. I want the feedback that I'm doing better than ok too. In some situations, the powers that be aren't the kind to say that very often. More likely it will be pointed out the one thing you didn't do instead of the ten you did. It feels defeating. That's how I feel at times, just plain defeated.

Ok, now that I'm done venting. The realities of my life at the moment are such that it does take most of my waking hours just for work and the few domestic chores I accomplish, along with helping the hubby a bit as he hobbles around on a walker while recovering from surgery. I hate the feeling that I'm letting others down a bit, not making my commitments, or if there are not, not making my personal goal of how to nurture relationships. There's not enough hours in the day, and not enough energy in me to go more hours if there was!

I do manage to make a little progress, and that always feels good. I need to work on being less like that person I mentioned, and see what has been done, rather than focusing on what hasn't. It could always be worse. (By the way, that expression generally annoys me... sure, life could always be worse - but then again, it could always be better too!)

I know at least a little of what the problem is. I am restless within myself. Change is coming, needed changes in the basic ways I live my life. I am dissatisfied with the stagnation point I've reached. Whenever I get easily agitated it's usually because I am feeling like a snake trying to wriggle it's way out of an old, too snug skin. Time to learn and grow, time to expand my thinking and my way of being. Time to stop talking about what I need to do, or should do, or want to do, and take some realistic steps toward doing it!

A birthday is always a good time for review of the past year and re-evaluation of where you're headed on your life journey. In the coming weeks I will be doing just that... taking stock of what's working and what's not in my life and what exact steps I intend to take in response to that. I'll keep you posted as the process unfolds.

For now, it's just turned midnight and the new week has officially begun. Time for some rest, then to wake up and welcome a new day. Every day is a new opportunity to embrace life. I think I'll focus on doing just that!

Moments of Joy


Following Louise's blog Recover Your Joy has given me much to ponder, starting with the concept of joy.

At times in my life joy has been absent from the picture. I recall a time when a friend came to visit and asked me, "What have you done lately that was fun?" And I couldn't come up with a single thing in response. The realization hit me hard at that moment... something was seriously lacking in my life, that something being joy.

Even now, joy is at times a bit illusive. I am content, I am at peace, I can definitely say my life is now good, where once it was far from that. But can I honestly say I am experiencing joy? I wonder if my capacity to feel that kind of intense emotion has been diminished or damaged along the way.

I am not one prone to bold displays of happiness... my feelings are more internalized. But certainly there I times I can think of that I have felt better than just ok, more than just happy, truly joyful... delighted with the given moment in my life. From this awareness springs my Thursday Thirteen list for today. I give you thirteen times in my life (in no particular order) that I clearly recall as being moments of joy...
  1. When I was small and a mama cat brought her kittens to me. (I wrote about it in this post.)
  2. The first time I held my babies in my arms.
  3. My wedding to my beloved husband.
  4. Standing on top of Terry Peak in the Black Hills after making the climb.
  5. Watching the deer walking next to a cabin we were staying in the mountains as we ate breakfast out on the deck.
  6. The weeks I spent at Red Cloud Indian School with the children there.
  7. The day I saw my previous town of residence in my rear view mirror as I headed down the highway to being an exciting new chapter in my life.
  8. Walking hand in hand with my husband on the beach in the moonlight.
  9. Driving our Polaris Ranger for the first time on a ranch road with amazing scenery all around.
  10. My first experience with guns and target shooting at the same ranch.
  11. Adopting our cat Sophie from the Humane Society and bringing her home to be a part of our family.
  12. Eating a picnic lunch on the rural piece of land we had just purchased that was soon to become our new home.
  13. The rare but treasured occasions I've spent together with my son and daughter in recent years.
What have been some of the most joyful moments of your life?