Friday, August 9, 2013

Thursday Travels: Gazing Out of A Car Window

Yes, I do realize it is not Thursday. But the urge to write is upon me, and the category fits, so...

Disclaimer: Please restrain children properly. :)
I have been busy lately planning our next trip. Just the finishing touches really. It is a fairly big trip, lots of arrangements to be favorite kind! I am sure we will have a wonderful time and head home with many   cherished memories...and a much lighter wallet! While filing documents away in my trusty travel binder, I began reminiscing about past travels, specifically childhood travels. Perhaps it is the fact that we are headed to the Northwest that brings these memories to the surface. As child my earliest travel memories were of the Northwest.

My maternal grandmother lived in Portland, Oregon. I also had an aunt and cousin living there. By the time I was an adult I had an additional aunt & uncle, and more cousins, living in the area. My grandmother came to visit relatives in Kansas and Oklahoma every other year. The years she did not come to the Midwest we went to visit her for a week or two. Occasionally, due to special circumstances, we actually went to visit 3 years in a row.

Now these trips were in the 60's and 70's, and my parents were frugal people. We did not fly the 1,775 miles to Oregon. Oh no. We drove it...often straight through...over 24 hours! According to today's trip planners this would be a 26 hour trip. That may be, but my earliest memories are of a longer trip, more like 30 hours. See, the wonderful interstate highway system we enjoy today was a work in progress in the 60's and even the early 70's. There were towns and cities you had to slow down for, and mile upon mile of road construction during the summer months. I learned a lot about patience gazing out of a car window.

My brothers were much older than myself and my memories of these trips are that of an only child. No siblings to help make the time go faster, or to distract me from the panorama unfolding outside my car window. And for that I am grateful. I had nothing to do but to gaze at the scenery and observe everything we encountered on the road. It was wonderful. Plains, mountains, buttes, mesas, sand dunes, lakes, and waterfalls. I learned a lot about the geology of the western United States by gazing out of a car window.

When we traveled at night I went to sleep staring up at the night stars. You could thousands of bright stars, and even the Milky Way itself. I remember having a chart of the stars and locating the different constellations. Watching comets and meteors flash across the sky. I learned a lot about our universe gazing out of a car window.

Truckers were a common sight. I learned to pump my arm to get them to honk for me and they would always wave back to the little blond girl madly waving at them as we passed them by. We stopped to eat at truck stops, because my dad insisted the truckers ate where the best food was. I recall my parents talking about what they were hauling and where it was going. We also raced along side trains hauling their goods. We talked about how much more of the interstate system was finished since our last trip, and watched road crews busy at work. I learned a lot about our transportation system gazing out of a car window.

While we stopped every morning for breakfast, my dad's favorite meal of the day, the rest of our meals were provided by the cooler that I shared the backseat with. Homemade ham sandwiches, boiled eggs, dill pickles, cheese, carrots, & tomatoes. All packed by mom and myself prior to the trip. The big treat was stopping for fresh fruit at the roadside stands that littered the old highways prior to the interstates. At night a thermos was filled with piping hot coffee that my parents drank as they took turns driving through the night. I learned a lot about preparation and frugality gazing out of a car window.

During the day I always had a map in my hand. I always said I learned to read a map before I learned to read a book. My favorite book on these trips was an atlas! I understood mile markers, highway signs, and map legends by the age of 5. I learned a lot about navigation gazing out of a car window.

We passed town after town on these trips. I discovered how important a source of water was to these western towns. I learned how a railroad could change the entire future of a town. I saw grain elevators, wheat fields, mining towns, orchards, and fish hatcheries. I even saw old trail ruts and signs for the Santa Fe, Chisholm, Mormon and Oregon trails, long before video games were available. I learned a lot about the history of the western United States gazing out of a car window.

Finally we would arrive, bone weary, but excited to see relatives that we only saw once a year, at the most. Hugs and kisses where exchanged, food and drinks offered, naps taken, and then good conversation and a week of family time. My parents made these trips with nary a complaint, scrimping to save the money needed to buy gas to make the trip. I learned a lot about sacrifice and the importance of family...all while gazing out of a car window.

Bon Voyage ~Marla

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Once Upon a Pond

Once upon a time there was a queen. As a young princess the queen had loved fish and marine life. She had a large tropical fish tank and spent a great deal of time tending to her cute little fishies. Once the queen had married and had her very own castle she decided to put in a little pond. After all, ponds are so much more attractive than the typical moat! She started small with a tiny partially submerged pond. Pretty goldfish swam happily among the water plants. A small pump kept the water fresh and circulating. No nasty algae found its way into her perfect little water world. Little frogs came to visit the pond and mosquitoes were quickly eaten by the pond dwelling residents.

Emboldened by her success in the pond world, the queen decided it was time to take the next step. After all, bigger is always better, right? The queen pestered her handsome king until he caved to her charming ways, and excavation began. The king and their princely son dug until a pond sized hole was made on the outskirts of the castle patio. Soon the new, larger, better pond was teaming with pretty Koi. The queen surveyed her kingdom with content. “Ah,” she sighed, “Now I can sit for hours gazing upon my beautiful pond!”

Then mosquitoes discovered the pond. Soon the only way to enjoy the royal garden was with eau de bug spray slathered upon oneself. “More fish,” cried the queen, “they will eat the bugs!” Soon the pond began to look somewhat cloudy. Ugly Darth Vader like algae eaters were brought in to alleviate the problem. Soon a larger filter and pump joined the castle expenses. The royal pond soon became a royal pain

One day, as the queen sat surveying her pond, wondering how to keep her future grand princess from falling in and drowning, she had an epiphany! 

Fire! “I must have fire near my patio,” shouted the queen! The king once again sighed and busied himself doing the queens bidding. 

Now the queen and the rest of the royal court enjoy evenings sitting by the fire, talking and enjoying s’mores. And they all lived happily ever after! ….Hmmm….I wonder if a chicken coop would fit in that corner of the yard…

~ Marla  (aka, the Queen)

Friday, May 3, 2013

For Today, It Is Enough

For today, it is enough.

Living with a chronic illness or medical condition is a life altering experience. Coping with the changes it brings can be challenging at best, seemingly impossible at worst. If the illness or condition has a pain component, these challenges become amplified.

For me it all depends on the day, or maybe even the hour. Feeling good has its own set of problems, as in over extending myself, either physically in the moment, or taking on commitments without considering the physical consequences. 

After 2 ½ years of chronic back and leg pain I have finally come to grips with a simple truth. For today, it is enough.

What is enough? Whatever I have managed to accomplish that day. On some days that can be a great deal. Laundry and dishes are done and put away. Pain meds are avoided and a clear mind prevails. I can drive myself wherever I want to go. Other days simply getting up to fix myself a can of soup for lunch is a major achievement. Pain meds are needed and my mind feels muddled. If I have to be somewhere, I have to find someone to drive me.

Here are the facts of my life. Things that if I let them can cause guilt, shame, or even depression.
  • ·        My home will never be as clean as I would like it to be.
  • ·        I will have days I cannot attend something I had committed to.
  • ·        I cannot make long term plans without the possibility that pain will interfere.
  • ·        I cannot make plans for six hours from now without the possibility that pain will interfere.
  • ·        I will at times let others down because of my physical condition.
  • ·        I will have to rely on others for things that I used to be very independent about.
  • ·        There will always be those who will not, or refuse to, understand my limitations.
  • ·        I will always have a to-do list full of unchecked items.

If you know me well, you know these are all difficult things for me. I am slowly learning flexibility and patience, and most important…acceptance. 

For today, it is enough.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

From Candy Dish to Jewelry Holder

Just a fun little post today to show off my latest vintage find! I found this beautiful vintage candy dish on a swap site I frequent. I admit it was an impulse buy…but at $10 I just had to splurge a little. Once I got it home, finding a place for it became a challenge. I did have some room in the master bedroom…but did I really need a candy dish in there? Well, yes in fact I did…once it found a new life as a jewelry holder!

I love dangly earrings, but they don’t fit so well in my main jewelry armoire. I also have a few watches and bracelets I like to have out in the open and easy to grab and put on. My newest treasure works perfectly as a holder for these! Love it!

On a side note…the beautiful yellow earrings and bracelet were made by one of my Prayer Warrior buddy’s. Check out her online store at DeSignsByDarce!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Choice Is Yours

When I was in high school there was a rather popular movie made. I loved this movie and watched it many times. This is significant because this was during the late 70’s. No HBO, no Netflix, no streaming on the internet, and very few VHS players. To see a movie more than once involved spending money at the movie theater, which I willing did. And then… I bought the record album, and sang to it constantly. Yep, I was hopelessly devoted…have you guessed the movie by now?

Yes, Grease was the word back then, especially for young teen girls who wanted to be Sandy. The sweet, wholesome girl who had met a sweet, wholesome guy on vacation…and then she discovers he is a shallow pig who is willing to brush her off so he can hold on to his bad boy image in the local gang community. Obviously she should count herself lucky to have seen his true nature and move on to a boy with more substance of character! But no, she instead jumps on the shallow bandwagon herself and transforms herself into…well, honestly? Not the type of girl I would want my teenage son to date!

Ah, such is youth. But what about that idea of “wholesomeness”? Is it an antiquated notion? Something that is laughable in our modern world? Would you want someone to call you wholesome? What if someone called your 12, 14, or 16 year old daughter wholesome? Hmmm…it may not sound so bad after all.

According to most dictionaries, wholesome means;

Conducive to or suggestive of good health and physical well-being, or conducive to or promoting moral well-being.

Well, I want to take that just a little bit further. Proverbs 15:4 states;

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…”

Ouch! I just hate it when the tongue gets involved! Which is why the book of James is the most worn part of my Bible, I have to read it a lot to stay on track! But author Rebecca Barlow Jordan says it far better than I ever could…

Wholesomeness is choosing to participate in only the things that are helpful and spiritually uplifting in my life. It is a decision I can make to let God speak through me only those words that will edify and help others.

A decision I make. I have a choice of whether to build others up, or tear them down. I decide whether to participate in things that are uplifting and bring glory to God, or that which pulls others, and my own  faith, down. Should it really be such a difficult decision to choose wholesomeness?

In Him ~Marla 

Monday, April 8, 2013

What Kind of Bird Are You?

Just over a year ago someone asked me the following question, “So are you taking up knitting now? What do you do now that you don’t work?” I admit I did not appreciate the tone in which the question was asked, especially as I was on Prednisone just to be able to walk down the aisle at my son’s wedding without a horrible limp. That aside, it was a valid question. What was I doing with all my “free” time? Going from working full time as an R.N., to staying at home full time (with physical limitations), was a massive change in my lifestyle.

One thing I have enjoyed greatly is having time to feed and watch the birds. Today as I watched the birds, I started thinking about yesterday’s sermon at church. It had to do with the church and the importance of gathering together as a body of believers. Now, I love going to church…even if it is a morning service, which my body sometimes does not appreciate. So, as I watched the different birds at the different feeders, my mind began to consider what we, the people who make up the church, have in common with these little winged creatures.

I have Cardinals who use my feeder year round. They like the sunflower seeds and nuts…the meat. And they are willing to work for that meat, cracking the outer shells and going after the nourishment. These are the mature Christians…willing to take the time and effort to get to the meat of God’s Word. Dedicated, they frequent the feeder year round.

Equally dedicated, but maybe a little more hidden, are the Mourning Doves. They are more than happy to clean up the mess under my feeders. These are the dedicated workers of the church, often unseen, but what a mess it would be without them.

Interestingly enough, the most beautiful birds to frequent the feeders are the nectar seekers. Ah, the colorful Hummingbirds and Orioles. They have quite a following amongst the bird watchers. It is always exciting to see them…yet their season is short. These are the less mature Christians, often using flowery words and ideas, bright and charming; they only want to hear the sweet words, never working for the meat, perhaps encountering something that tastes bitter to them in the process.

Some of my feeder birds are obnoxious! Loud, unpleasant in voice, and sometimes in appearance too! These are the Jays, Grackles, Starlings, and Blackbirds. I sometimes toy with not putting out the peanuts and suet that attract them, but then I realize that they deserve to be fed as well. We have all encountered these people. The ones you silently judge and wish would move on to another church…though deep down you know they deserve to be treated the same as a child of God. The people who stretch us to become more like Christ by accepting them.

Squirrels! Every person who feeds birds tries vainly to keep them away, usually to no avail! If you own a feeder it is pretty likely a squirrel will attempt to feed there…eating all your food, so that your birds feel forced to find another feeder. Then off the squirrel will go, always in search of a bigger and better meal to devour. It is unfortunate that many of us have experienced these people, the ones who leave a wake of broken or split churches behind them. Often on to the next church that will feed their ego instead of their soul.

No feeder is complete without the bevy of Song Sparrows that frequent them. They have a pleasing song, though perhaps not standing out much in appearance. Yet our feeders would be quite bare without them. These people make up the bulk of our congregation. Many simply come to be fed and fill the pews…not a bad thing…but perhaps not growing much either. Not quite ready to step out on faith and serve.

So, in the style of Barbara Walters, ask yourself…if I were a bird, what kind would I be? Is this the bird you want to be? The great thing is…we are not birds…we can change, grow, and mature. And finally, give your Pastor, the one desperately trying to keep all the feeders full, a big thank you.

In Him ~Marla

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hearing Voices

I hear voices…all the time. Do you hear voices? I imagine so, especially if you are a woman. These voices are intrusive at times, other times they are quite helpful. The trick for me is learning to orchestrate these voices. The music of my brain is under my direction…I just have step up and pick up the conductors wand. 

For women this can be particularly difficult, more so than with men. Why is this? I have attached a wonderful short video that everyone should watch. It is a great description of the male and female brains by Mark Gungor. I promise it will make you laugh, but it does explain why women in particular allow stressful, negative thoughts to run amok through their heads.

My biggest problem is allowing the voices of negativity and worry to take over the airwaves in my head. They tend to be the loudest and most repetitive of all the voices swarming around in my brain. They also tend to have a great amount of perseverance. Beating them into submission is not an easy task.

So what to do when these negative, stressful thoughts come knocking at my door? Turn to Him…

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things
 ~Colossians 3:2 NIV

Once I have done that, be it through prayer, reading God’s word, or singing His praises, I find the negative voices have receded. Filled with His Spirit there is no room for the negative, and peace can be found. My brain may still be filled with the notes of voices…but ultimately I control the direction the music takes.

In Him ~Marla