Category Archives: Family


So many of you have been praying for my sister, Nancy, and our family as she struggled with cancer for the past 7 months.  She died yesterday morning.  I appreciate the cards you made and sent her — it was a surprise to her that so many “strangers” cared.

She was my next-older sister, glamorous and sophisticated, loving and generous.  I feel like part of me is missing, but I am so very relieved to have her suffering ended.

Thanks again for your care.


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Hark how the bells

They said all you needed to know was how to count to four.  Really, it’s a little more complicated than that to ring handbells as part of a group.

I joined this fall and was immediately overwhelmed, intimidated and terrified — yes, at the first rehearsal.  Luckily I have been in choral music since about 5th grade, maybe before, and I can read music.  And count.  And hear harmonies.  So last night, preparing to play a piece I was sure I had never rehearsed before, I surprised myself by how relaxed I was.  After all, I know the group’s motto:  Better never than late.

I pray that my small contribution to our worship is worthy of the One for whom I play.

Christmas blessings to you, dear friends!


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No Black Friday here

You’ll probably never find me sitting/standing in line in front of a retailer in the wee hours of Black Friday, waiting for the deals!  Instead, yesterday DH and I took our Third Annual Black Friday Day Trip, this time to Woodstock, Illinois.  (Yes, the site for Groundhog Day!)

We don’t travel more than 2 hours to our BFDT destination.  Yesterday’s weather was bright and cold, perfect for viewing the town’s Christmas decorations.  Except for lunch, we left town spending less than $4.00, and that for an English ironstone soap dish on sale at the antiques mall.  Thanks to lots of inspiration from Flea Market Style, a magazine I am impatiently waiting to see, I know just what I’ll do with it (no soap!) and will show you soon.

Today, back to housework and business.

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On homework assignments and endodontics

Click to enlarge

We have had the tradition, for our entire marriage, of having popcorn for “supper” Sunday night.  DH also has an apple; I have lots of popcorn.

Now, I have a very expensive mouth.  Some people buy gold as an investment and put it in their safe deposit box, I put it in my mouth.  (Note to family:  remove all gold before cremation.) I am very careful what I eat.  I won’t bore you with all kinds of stories of temporary crowns pulled off with Caramel Nips on a lively road trip to Florida, my chain-chewing bubble gum habit, etc., etc.  Those were the old days.  Now I am careful.

And after popcorn, there can be a bit of dental hygiene to be done.  So early last week when I was experiencing dental, you know, discomfort, I figured some hulls were still there.  And I was flossing, and flossing, and flossing.  And there was pain.  And throbbing pain.  And wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night throbbing pain.

A visit to my regular dentist (to whom I had wished a hearty “Happy Holidays” only two weeks ago) was a little suspicious of something in my x-rays and referred me to the endodontist.  I was prepared for the best (popcorn hull) and the worst (massive decay).  He found neither.  Regrettably, the pain continued, my disposition blackened by the hour, and on Saturday morning our teenaged grandchildren arrived.  Not the best time to have a never ending headache.

It’s always amazing to see what comes out of their trunk for just an overnight visit.  Really, like a dozen clowns coming out of a Cooper.  Body pillows.  Gigantic shoes.  An unsettling number of grooming products.  (Wow, have I let myself go!) We had been warned that there were homework assignments coming also, and I was secretly relieved that W discovered he had forgotten his Pre-Algebra book at home.

What came instead was B’s Chemistry project to create a mole.  If you’re wondering about the connection, then you, like I, have never taken an Honors Chemistry class.  At least, not in this century.

B had the basic body pattern and an idea to create Ronald MoleDonald.  We spent a very pleasant afternoon running up and down flights of stairs for more supplies (me), sewing (her), talking (me) and solving construction issues (both).  I think it’s adorable!

Click to enlarge

In the kitchen, W created a small fireplace (with chimney) of cardboard and an impressive amount of hot glue.  He was building some sort of a board game, and if the player managed to reach the chimney, a trap door type of contraption sent a skeleton down a chute and out the front of the fireplace.  Mechanical engineer, perhaps?  Architect?

I was impressed with the afternoon’s work.  We took a brisk walk to the library for desperately needed reading material for me — I wonder if you can guess what moderately famous person’s biography she suggested I read?  I’ll tell you when I’m done with it.

I’m really not comfortable with the idea that the dental issues may just be “one of those things.”  But we’ll see if the antibiotics kick in, I can wean myself off the OTC pain stuff, and life starts looking sunnier.  Back to the studio tomorrow.

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Fair weather


In our household, “fair weather” means that the days really cool off just after supper, as the sun sets.  It usually coincides with our county fair, the last one of the summer in the state, and especially late this year.  The Sandwich Fair is named for the town with the fairgrounds.

2009 Fair tomatoes

DH was raised on a farm, so his family always attended, and his church had a booth selling homemade cookies and coffee.  The fair was part of rural culture.  Having been raised mostly in the Chicago suburbs, I think I only ever went to one county fair — until DH asked if I’d want to go.  That was our second date, one we recall every year, especially his reluctance to ask me to go because he was sure I would think it was hokey.

It wasn’t and isn’t hokey, it’s full of wonderful dirt and smells and the sounds of people greeting friends and neighbors.  OK, there are things I avoid (and I never make eye contact with a carnival worker or clown), but I love the Horticulture Building, where the produce and flowers are arranged amazingly artfully but are sadly droopy by the end of the week, and the Home Arts Building (the “Ladies Building”) with canned pigs’ feet and granny afghans.  If we time it right, we like to watch the goats being judged and the draft horse competition.

2009 Fair RibbonsLast week was my 25th Sandwich Fair.  For three years, I have exhibited various antiques and collectibles for judging.  For the first time this year I entered some stamped items.  Being an exhibitor entitles me to a free pass for the week and modest potential winnings.  Still, it’s a pleasant thrill to find out that your entries have earned ribbons.  This year I won nine ribbons on ten entries!  That haul netted me $31 in prize money; if I was any kind of a wife I would have taken DH out for supper after we picked up the items last night, but I’m not that kind of wife.

We’re already talking about which items I should submit next year.  It’s small-town delight, full of the kind of moments I treasure because I never know how long they will last.


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Bugs and boils (eew!)

Bugs and boils

This week is Vacation Bible School at church.  I’m so grateful for the air conditioned facilities; very, very grateful we are not out at camp, where the pond is icky and it is not air conditioned.

I am the assistant to the snack leader, a high schooler.  Each day we help one of the classes make a snack for all kids and staff — a snack that ties in with the lesson.  Today they learned about the plagues, and this trail-mix sort of snack was called Bugs and Boils, which appealed greatly to the kids.  The fruit gushers were especially enjoyed when related to oozing sores.  I was mostly impressed with the colors of the tongues when the Snack Shack was finished.

So here is a portion of 75 bags of bugs and boils (pretzels, mini chocolate chips, raisins, fruit gushers, and mini marshmallows).  It was a great plan to have the kids prepare the snack for the others, even if Monday it was a challenge to keep the pre-schoolers from eating the ingredients!

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The next best thing to a billion slides of my summer vacation!


Here’s where I’ve been — taking the same photos probably hundreds of thousands of tourists have!

We only had three days for this trip — I “packed” after my morning shower, so unlike most vacations, I had done no research or planning, other than to check the weather.  Just as predicted, it was mild but very windy.  Note to self:  Leave straw hat in car.

We’ve been to St. Louis before, but probably 20 years ago.  Regrettably, our road atlas is from 1995, and navigating through the expressways around SL is quite an adventure when the roads aren’t even on the map.  (Insert another appreciative wave of the hand to all the kind souls who let us move over when we were in the wrong lane!)

The first three hours of the nearly 5-hour trip we’ve done many times, and it’s still interesting.  The last two were tedious, but maybe it was because DH was asleep and I had no one to share my observations with.  I travel just like my mother did:  remarking on the livestock (“Look at the key-ows!”) and reading signs aloud along the way (“Tattoos while you wait!!!!”).  It makes me happy to be taking a road trip; I have very fond memories of childhood vacations.  More on that some other time.


We started at St. Charles, MO.  It was just a perfect day.  Sunday evening we had watched a good portion of the Ken Burns’ Lewis & Clark film, so I was thrilled to find this statue near the river.  Later we saw a very moving film under the arch about the expedition — really, I was weeping at this amazing journey and its significance.

St. Charles is full of old homes and buildings; here’s one of them.


OK, that’s enough for now — don’t want you to doze off!

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