Category Archives: Changes

Learning Lessons

Leading Learning

I am learning the hard way that I need to pay attention to the ORDER of my activities to get some control of the civilized part of our yard.  As I type, I’m TRYING not to scratch all the chigger bites I gathered yesterday while trying to clear a path on the north side of our shop. It was totally overgrown, so I had sprayed it pretty heavily a couple of times with weed killer previously. It hadn’t done the job, so I got serious yesterday.

I got a path cleared, but learned-

  1. to spritz on Ben’s Tick and Insect Repellent before heading outside. We just got this. It got really high ratings from Consumer’s Reports.  It says it is the “wilderness formula” 30% Deet, and repels mosquitoes that may carry the Zika virus. At any given time we are outside, my husband is unaware of bugs. I come back in with bites all over. I will TRY to get in the habit of spritzing this on before I even think of going outside.


2) I will then mix up bug spray (We use Eight – great on killing bugs, but doesn’t harm plants or our animals) in our 2-gallon container and spray it over the areas I will try to weed whack in.



3) After I have sprayed the bug killer thoroughly, I will weed whack, getting everything cleared out.


4) Then I will spray the weed killer (we use KillzAll) again, hosing down the area.

5) Then I will spray again with bug killer.


I’m HOPING that if I build this habit, I won’t end up looking like someone chewed on by zombies with my usually sunny disposition marred by trying really hard not to scratch….


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Filed under building good habits, Challenges, Changes, Gardening, learning new things, taking care of yourself

Gotta Hand It

Your Tango

One of my many pet peeves is people putting things on high shelves. “High” in my case encompasses anything I can’t reach without getting a step stool or ladder – a LOT of things. I am 5’4″ and shrinking.

I have finally ALMOST gotten my husband to stop doing this, although his first inclination is to put everything WAAAAY up – ‘out of the way.’ I have modified his behavior by SWEETLY ignoring the step stools and ladders, going to get him, making HIM get up and come get whatever it is that he stored up there. I thank him profusely for the help, and then do it again without guilt when I can’t reach the next thing.  FINALLY, he sees the pattern and the NEXT time stores it down lower… :0)

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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Pet Peeves

Dogs Have a Way

Thom Jones –


We found and adopted Molly in 2005.  She was 15 in February. She brought a light-hearted goofiness to our home, even making our pit bull, Bambi, smile.

Bambi is gone now. We have Amber, a 95-pound 3-year-old yellow lab now. Sadly, Amber is jealous of Molly – after initially getting along fine – and so we are very careful to keep them separated.

I told you recently that we discovered that Molly has cancer.  The vet examined her, cleaned out a really ugly place that had sprung up on one side of her mouth, and sent her home with antibiotics and pain/inflammation medicine for 14 days.  We had agreed that if she had some quality time left, we wanted her to have it.

You see her sleeping at my feet as I type. She now rests well. When she awakes, she is full of energy and barks sharply for us to let her out. Many times she barks again within a very short period of time, knowing that she gets a treat when she comes back inside. She is taking great joy now – gaming the system – going in and out countless times each day. Her bright black eyes sparkle and she grins each time she gets another treat.

She is prancing around the yard, hopping around, playful as she hasn’t been in years. I’m playing with her, then spending as much time as I can each day, giving her as much love as possible. She is getting a lot of happy dog days now, and we are treasuring each one.

One happy day at a time.




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Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Changes, Family


Everett Ruess via Lisa Bearnes Richey

My personal situation has forced me to live one day at at a time – sometimes one HOUR at a time. With this change in focus, I’m actually finding some good coming from it. Though things are tense here many times, being forced to ‘stay-in-the-moment’ is freeing.

Instead of worrying about my ‘to do’ list, all the other stuff I might – or even SHOULD be doing – slips WAAAAY down in priority. As I’m learning to focus on the most important, wringing out every moment of joy possible, my mind is less burdened. If I do anything else during the day, that’s good, but it is no longer NECESSARY.

I am being given the chance to keep my head on straight. I have people who are very, very important to me. I have animals who continue to give me unconditional love. Enjoying whatever time I have with them is paramount.

Making every day count – “while I am alive, I intend to live.”

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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Cherishing the Quiet Day

Back on Track – I HOPE

The Pandemic is my latest excuse for not sticking to my diet and exercise program. (I have a whole sackful of excuses – and add more at a ferocious rate.) My husband is another excuse – he doesn’t have as much weight to lose. We grocery shop together, and all kinds of things I shouldn’t eat show up at home when we put the groceries away. I have decided to stop using this as an excuse, though. I’m hoping the man will live for MANY more years, so I will just have to be stronger on avoiding his ‘extras.’

Yesterday I got disgusted with myself – FINALLY. I re-read the first part of Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan. I am feeling re-motivated to get back on track and start losing the lard again.  I am now, (starting again yesterday) tracking my food intake on Suzanne tells you how to tweak the settings there so that you can follow your macro and even tweak it from time to time as needed. (Your ‘macro’ is the comparative percentages of fat, carbohydrates, and protein you should consume each day in order to try to lose the girth.) I have also decided to spend more time on, Suzanne’s website, to try to STAY motivated.

Before I fell off the wagon, I had lost 40 lbs and 43 inches. I have gained 9 pounds BACK since the Pandemic started. :0(  Since it is beyond stupid to try to stay safe from the virus while simultaneously stuffing food I shouldn’t be eating into my mouth, I’m promising myself to treat myself better.

Because of my good friend and hair dresser Michael Remillard, I learned that maltitol is to be avoided. Yesterday, when I was re-reading Suzanne’s intro, I noticed that she mentioned it, too, but apparently I simply read over the top of it. It’s in a lot of sugar-free and no-sugar-added products. It can spike blood sugar and is to be avoided.

Also, because of Michael, I have discovered an ice cream I can eat when I must! The brand name is Rebel, and the flavor I think is wonderful is Mint Chip. I’m also on the lookout for Triple Chocolate.  The PINT has 4 net carbs!  The pint lasted me for 4 servings. Hooraaaaaay!

One of the things that Suzanne said that really resonated with me was that  when you make a mistake at one meal, instead of just blowing off the rest of the day and eating whatever you want because the day is ‘blown,’ you should redouble your efforts by eating correctly the rest of the day, giving yourself a break and sticking to the plan. You don’t have to be perfect – you just need to be consistent.


Yesterday I made her “Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Bake.”  

“Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Bake” by Suzanne Ryan, Simply Keto

She encourages you to throw extra low carb veggies in wherever you can, so I throw fresh spinach into her already delicious recipe. (I tried broccoli previously, but my husband didn’t care for it.)  He doesn’t mind the spinach at all. :0)  6 servings. We each enjoyed a wedge of this with a big salad.

I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding carbs. (My personal macro has me staying at 14 carbs or under daily. )  My biggest problem is adding fat. I am studying her meal plans at the end of the book this time to get a better handle on what I can choose to better reach the 70% fat in a healthy manner. I have been tending to eat too much protein, and that can throw you off, so planning my eating with MyFitnessPal will help there. I can enter what I’m planning to eat, see how that meets my requirements, and adjust BEFORE I eat a wrong thing.  I am learning to pay more attention – using the tools that will help me, reading labels more carefully, etc.

Snacks and desserts are danger areas for me.  I have avoided these area in Suzanne’s book, but found something I want to try after the next trip to the grocery store – “Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nut Fat Bombs.”  I love casseroles, so I’m also going to get set up to try her “Twice-Baked Cauliflower Casserole.” 

Another lady I find who has good keto recipes is Kyndra of Peace, Love and Low Carb.   She sends recipes to my email inbox.

Sorry if I’m talking your arm off, but as you can see, I am newly motivated. I am hopeful that by NEXT Monday, I can report that I have lost some weight, changed a measurement, or I can report on the new recipes I’ve tried.

Meanwhile, I’ll bake a loaf of my keto bread today.


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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, DIET!, Healthy Eating


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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Health Alert

Washin’ the Dog

“Walkin’ the dog,
Just walkin’ the dog
If you don’t know how to do it,
I’ll show you how to walk the dog.” ~ Rufus Thomas

NOW substitute ‘washin’ for ‘walkin’ and you can sing along with what I’ve been doing for the past couple of hours.

At the Lewis house, we enjoy two-dogs-in-one: Fuzzy Molly that you see above and Sleek Molly, below, after she has been to the groomer.

Molly is truly at her FUZZIEST right now. Add to that the fact that she is NOT a sweet ‘lady’ dog, but a ragamuffin who LOVES to stick her nose in the dirt; bring all manner of stinky things out of the woods and into the front yard; dig up moles, voles, and other oles; and you have an idea of how very dirty she gets. Usually about the middle to the end of March, she starts her once-every-six-weeks or so trips to the groomer. We get her hair cut short all over so that we can save her from the ticks and/or fleas who manage to get on regardless of collars, sprays, and medicines made to help with that. There is also a time of the year that she runs through the grass, coming back to the house COVERED in tiny awful burs from her nose to the tip of her tail. With her hair short, I can use a comb to remove most of them without causing her much grief.

Another adaptation to the virus outbreak is that we can’t take her to the groomers. We’ve had off and on yucky rain for at least a couple of weeks now, and she comes in, dirtier and dirtier, with her hair starting to mat, no matter how many times I brush her.

This morning I spent about 45 minutes with the Furminator tool we got that you use like a brush.


It removes a lot of the excess hair without teeing off the dog too badly. I filled up half a trash can (!) with the hair I removed, stopping when her patience ran out.

Then I took her plus three dog towels into the kitchen and lifted her into the kitchen sink. She is quite docile when she’s thoroughly wet, so I scrubbed her as well as I was able with no-tears dog shampoo and spent a LONG time getting her rinsed. She has supe- thick, combination cocker spaniel and schnauzer type hair, so I rinsed her for a good twenty minutes.

It took all three towels to get her to quit dripping enough that I could take her to the back bathroom and use my hair dryer on her for as long as I could before she protested.

She is now lying on the carpet at my feet as I type.  She is still coming over and rubbing herself all over my jeans, trying to dry her face more. When she dries a lot more, I will brush her again and we will add a new flea collar we got for her. (We already put one on Amber, our 95 pound yellow lab.) They are supposed to last up to six months, protecting them from fleas and ticks. We found them when we Googled, “best flea and tick collars.” They had good reviews on Amazon. The brand name is Rolf Club and the collar is called 3D. Fingers crossed the collars are worth the price.

My shirt is wet and has white dog hair all over it, even though I tried to use a sticky roller to clean up some. I did get the kitchen sink cleaned up and the towels are in the washer. I hope I don’t smell like I’ve been, “washin’ the dog” …


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Slug Fest?

Bright Side


  • Vacuumed the first floor – office, living room, hallway, dining area, kitchen, pantry, utility room and two half-baths
  • went grocery shopping and put stuff away
  • fixed lunch
  • did 3 loads of laundry
  • changed the sheets on our bed
  • changed the tires on the truck with my husband – from the snow tires to its regular tires. It took us two hours, but we got it done
  • fixed dinner
  • cleaned up the kitchen


am being a SLUG. I have done very little. I did almost nothing in comparison. I got a keto chili in the crock pot this morning and fixed lunch. I fell asleep in my chair. (I had the heat pad under my back in the recliner and the throw over me the perfect ‘sandwich’ of comfort.)

I am just now writing some blog posts. I feel like a slug, but I guess I needed a day of rest. It’s funny. I feel just fine while I’m working. Then it all catches up to me and I’m reminded that I’m no spring chicken anymore.

So – slug fest for me today. Maybe I’ll have more energy tomorrow….


Filed under aging, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Housekeeping - Maintenance

Thoughts on a Friday 3-20-2020

Wild and Wonderful

Well, yesterday I called and told my friend Kay that my husband and I had decided that we would stop going to Lunch Bunch on Fridays until the coronavirus pandemic calmed down. We are in the high risk group for the virus, so we’re trying to limit contact as much as possible. This was a really hard decision because Linda, Kay, and I (plus various others) have met for lunch every Friday for almost 19 years now.

This morning I discovered that the governor of Arkansas has ordered all restaurants, bars, and gyms in Arkansas closed until further notice. (Restaurants can offer take out.)  Schools will remain closed through April 17th. I also learned that we have to make an appointment if we want to enter the lobby of our bank, though the drive-thrus and ATMs will be functional. City Hall and the Police Department buildings are closed to the public, too.

I have to tell you that – as worried as I am about the virus – I’m MORE worried about the economic effects of all this, and the changes that are being made in the power of the government as we try to get through this. I hope that we are able to get a handle on testing, possible medicines and equipment that help people suffering with the illness, and protect those trying to help the ill as soon as possible.

This being said, here are things that are NOT being cancelled –

Lisa Parkhurst Blaisdell via Ginger Charles

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Filed under Attitude, Cause for Celebration, Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises, Health Alert


Clive Staples Lewis from

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Filed under aging, Attitude, Changes, Good Thoughts


Slightly sassy, much shorter, more comfortable haircut thanks to Michael Remillard. The earrings are some I painted for myself.


Filed under Changes

Just Dance

The Enchanted Portal

I love this.

Last year at some point I decided to QUIT feeling buried in things I SHOULD be doing and to consciously incorporate some fun into every possible day, whether it be working outside in my flowers or veggies, playing in my art room, sitting in my recliner with coffee and a book, sitting on my porch or the deck just doing nothing….

I have to tell you it’s been a really good thing for me. I feel MUCH less stressed, and HAPPIER.

I’m still a slob and will never get awards for my house being clean all at the same time, but I realized that if I killed myself and things were ready for House Beautiful to come photograph, it really didn’t matter. My husband didn’t notice. The people who came didn’t say anything. I had the satisfaction of a job well done for a minute, but only a minute – for it seemed as if everyone – humans and animals alike – conspired to mess things up again as soon as possible. I figured I could 1) get angry that they were messing things up and yell at them, or 2) go for a reasonably clean most of the time and not stress over it. Since I adopted the latter I’ve been much happier, too.

Now I do something on my SHOULD or NEED TO list, and then I do something fun. It may be only for a short time before I do something else on the list, but then I consciously relax and do something for me.

It’s a happier life ‘dancing to the beat in my soul.’



Filed under Attitude, Changes, doing what you love, Encouragement, taking care of yourself


Pieces of Soul via Blanket You via 2 STAR art


There is something about bright colors that lifts my spirits. I can be feeling down, see something like this image above and can literally FEEL happiness flood through me.  When I was a kid in school, I wanted a 64 color box of Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener more than anything. Somehow it never happened, so I always make SURE I have one now. I have one in my art room upstairs right now! :0)



I have never been able to create anything I really liked with the crayons, but I have found artwork since by others that simply takes my breath away. I’ll share some of what I’ve found soon.

The lesson that I get here, though, is not limiting yourself, opening yourself to new learning, new people, new experiences, new ideas, trying things you’ve never tried before, living life to the fullest and most colorful.

“LIFE IS ABOUT USING THE WHOLE BOX OF CRAYONS.”  I’ll put this on my to-do list!!!!!


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Filed under Adventure - Outside Your Comfort Zone, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, quality of life


Bruderhof Communities

Playing in my art room is therapy for me. An escape from anything that is bothering me. A way to work out feelings. A joy in experimentation.

We converted a third bedroom into my art room several years ago. I helped my husband put up extra shelves all the way across one wall. We got extra stand-alone shelves and a drafting table advertised in the newspaper. We put up a few more shelves on another wall. I converted the closet into a supplies area. We put up another large table that is as long as one wall.  There is a ceiling fan from which I hung a cute mobile of merry-go-round horses.

Years ago my husband and son got together to give me a present of a lot of my favorite songs on CDs. I have a player up there, so I can fill the room with glorious music – some of which I danced to as a teenager a hundred years or so ago – and lose myself in the world of music and paint.

The only limitations is my imagination and my ability to make my visions come out on whatever I’m trying to paint. Lately I’ve been having ideas for tees on which I have spots that won’t come out in the wash. Since I’m a slob, I seem to have a never-ending supply of tees that can use a face lift.

Yesterday I finished another.


Lately I am trying to do things each day that make me stronger.  I’m getting back into exercising, monitoring what I eat more carefully, working in my flowers when the weather isn’t lethal, playing in my art room, spending time with our son, walking outside several times a day, and reading.

The result of all this is hopefully a stronger, happier, calmer me. I don’t have to be able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but being able to handle whatever comes as well as possible would be good.  I am in DAY 4 today. So far, so good!


Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, aging, Attitude, building good habits, Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise, fun in my art room, Giving New Life to Old Tops, Health Alert, Lewis Art, playing in my art room, quality of life, taking care of yourself

A Nice Wednesday

Jeff Jett – LinkedIn

Jeff Jett posts these wonderful photos on LinkedIn. He is an avid supporter of wildlife and wants to do what he can to help preserve wild animals and their habitats. I don’t know who took this fabulous photo, but it’s one of the nicest I’ve ever seen.  Great way to start the day, isn’t it?

The high temperature for the day here in Greenwood, Arkansas is forecast to be only 88 and no rain. (Fort Smith, about 9 miles from us, just had the most rain EVER for August, and the month isn’t over! The usual rainfall for the month is 2.59 inches. This month we’ve already had 11.13 inches. Needless to say, this much rain has caused many problems, and is one of the times where it is GOOD to live on top of a ridge line. (We won’t dwell on our getting our electronics fried in June due to being on top of this same ridge line.) We are hoping that the temperatures will continue to ease and that we can again enjoy being outside.

Our son is still with us, after my husband’s health scare. Thank goodness he can work from anywhere, so he is able to keep up with things he needs to do while helping us create the ‘new normal’ around here. One of the things we’re trying to do is walk around our yard after we feed our animals in the evenings. So far, our results are a bit iffy (The first night my husband opted to mow the lawn with the riding mower while our son and I walked. Last night we made it around the yard once, with my husband stopping to pull weeds or fix things every few steps.) We will continue our efforts – the goal being to get him moving, doing at least a bit of exercise each day, and hopefully enjoying the weather while we’re doing it.

While creating a ‘new normal,’ I’m redoubling my efforts to get myself as healthy as I can – and staying that way – so that I can handle whatever challenges the future brings.  I’ve become lax on my exercising (this time using the excuse of my husband’s health challenge), so I’m going to start with a session of yoga today. I will try to do SOMETHING exercise-wise daily, plus try to get my husband to walk in the evenings.  I’ll also try to do something for myself each day – whether it’s playing in my art room, like I did yesterday, painting a tee –



working outside in my flowers or veggies, enjoying a good book, or – like tomorrow – having my once per month massage.  I’ll continue my efforts to lose the lard.

I hope you’re having a beautiful Wednesday.



Filed under Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise, getting the lard off, taking care of yourself, Thoughts on a ________

In Life

Lisa Bearnes Richey


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Filed under aging, Challenges, Changes, Family


Credit – Gardiner Family Chiropractic

We had two more doctor appointments today and finally have answers.

Last month my husband had a stroke. His speech and mobility were affected. He is stronger every day, getting better and better. Our son came back from Thailand to help us deal with this. Getting answers as to what my husband needed to prevent another have been quite an ordeal.

The short answer is that what we have been doing for the last two weeks – baby aspirin and Plavix – should be all that is needed. Neurocranial surgery is not needed. No invasive procedures are needed. We have some issues remaining that require referrals to other specialists, but the big worry is now fading away. We can concentrate on the day to day and get to our new normal now.

Lessons learned:

  • Stay at the ER until you have talked to the ER doctor – no matter what. The fast referrals will come from the ER doc. If you leave, you are at the back of any line for any appointment, procedure, test, etc.
  • Be the squeaky wheel. You can be polite, but keep the procedure going. Call or write the people who can make things happen. If they say someone will call, don’t depend on that. You are in charge of your healthcare. You are the one who can keep the focus on the problem, actually GET seen, GET answers, GET help.
  • Don’t try to deal with life-changing things alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, neighbors, relatives.
  • Be ready when someone else needs YOUR help – help in whatever way you can. It is ALL good.
  • Try your best to stay calm and do the best you can where you are, with the tools you have. It’s all you can do.

We are lucky. We can do this.  Such relief!


Filed under Challenges, Changes, taking care of yourself


About Signs

Having a health scare is just that -scary.  Trying to get help for it is a character-building exercise at a time you’re under great stress. Once the initial hurdles have been jumped over, another of life’s realities rears its ugly head – you have to take charge, doing whatever is necessary to get the help needed.

Yesterday was a case in point. I have almost no tongue left because of biting it so many times while I was on the phone making my way through the bureaucratic maze, trying to get tests scheduled and appointments made.

I had been told we would receive calls regarding where and when we should show up for tests and referrals to various specialists. I was given a card with a phone number to call in case that didn’t happen. I was to use it if I didn’t hear anything in a week.

When I called the number on the card, I found that the ‘referral department’ doesn’t actually handle referrals – they give you phone numbers to call – one of which was the ‘scheduling department.’ It turned out that the scheduling department didn’t actually schedule the tests, they ‘authorized’ them. I received another number to call to actually schedule the tests.  The finally scheduled group of added tests will help the specialists figure out what is needed and who should do it.

You get the picture.

It’s bad enough to go through the health scare. The problem is compounded when you finally realize that even though you HAVE TO go through the maze – endure the system – in order to get help, you are your own best advocate. You have to steadily, persistently, keep pushing until you actually get the needed tests scheduled, the actual appointments scheduled to see the specialists, get the results of those, the plan of attack to fix the original problem, the guidance on how to best care for the person who is sick and isn’t in a position to deal with this.

We are thankful. Our son – who lives and works in Thailand – wanted to come to help. He did and is here. He is keeping us calmer, more able to slog through the mazes, phone trees, delays, frustration, attitudes, and emotions, actually injecting some much-needed humor, as well as calm strength.


Filed under Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises, Family, taking care of yourself

Good News for the Future!

Beingsalem Via Mara Spirig – LinkedIn

We just had people from Arkansas Valley Electric Co-op come to the door, saying they needed to measure our poles for the coming installation of a new fiber optic line. He went on to say that in the future, the company will be offering a bundle for people out in the sticks like we are, including Internet, TV, and Phone!  He said it would be a year or year and a half, but came back to bring me a brochure.

There is hope for much faster, more reliable service in the future – if we can live long enough!  HOORAY!


Filed under Changes, Good Thoughts, quality of life


Shlreline Primitives via Carol Auclair Daly

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Filed under aging, Challenges, Changes, Encouragement, taking care of yourself

Humor as a Stress Reliever

Sometimes we aren’t sure which way to jump, which path to take, what is in our future.

One of the many things my dad taught me was to stand back and try to see the humor in any situation. He had a bad accident, falling off a horse when he was three, leaving him with a shortened left arm with an almost useless hand. He learned to use humor to keep kids from bullying him. He would make them laugh so hard they forgot his ‘disability’ and took him into their group. He used jokes and sarcasm to make his views known. An example of this was he would say, “Nice skirt” to me – when he actually thought it was too short and I needed to change my clothes. Whenever he was in a group, you would soon hear laughing. He passed his ability to see humor in most situations on to me. Just before he died, he scrawled on a napkin, “Remember me laughing.” Though it took me awhile, I do. What a strong, smart man he was!

I have used his lessons many times over the years. I can never win an argument, for example, because I can either easily see the other person’s point of view, or I ‘see’ us having a ‘discussion,’ see the humor in the situation – or the fact that what we are ‘discussing’ has little priority in what is important in life, and the tension dissolves.

Many times life throws us curves that challenge us on seeing the humor.

We’re in the middle of one right now, and things have been difficult. Our son is now home with us, helping with the situation. He brings CALM, caring, good sense, a healthy sense of the ridiculous, love, and lots of hugs. He has had us laughing several times already and he’s only been home a day.

I found this on the net this morning, and it made me smirk. A good reminder to keep my head on straight and be extremely glad my two guys are together. Together we will figure out in which direction we should go.


I Need Real Help


Filed under Challenges, Changes, Family, taking care of yourself


Wall Street Journal – Illustration – Brian Stauffer


“I think that life is difficult.

People have challenges.

Family members get sick, people get older, you don’t always get the job or the promotion that you want.

You have conflicts in your life.

And really, life is about your resilience and your ability to go through your life and all of the ups and downs with a positive attitude.”

Jennifer Hyman


Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Encouragement

New Game


Getting older is sometimes the pits. Lately, our dog, Amber, my husband and I are playing a new game called, “Who is Worse Today?”  The game consists of comparing insults and injuries to our bodies and then declaring a winner for the day. There are no prizes – just care and commiseration.

Several weeks ago, Amber got hurt mysteriously on her morning outing. She had a badly skinned place on her head, skinned places on her legs, and she was limping badly. We still don’t know if she was clipped by a vehicle in the road at the bottom of our driveway, a cow kicked her, or what. She obviously was the winner for several days. She is fine, now, by the way, is happily jumping into the back seat of the truck again, running around barking at ghost gophers, and happily taunting us with her ball.

I was the winner for a couple of days, getting bitten/stung by fire ants on my arm. Apparently I am mildly allergic, swelling up fairly dramatically, hurting and itching at the same time, etc.

Today it is my husband’s turn to be declared the winner –



He made a new pvc pipe thingie to attach the newly rebuilt planter to the irrigation system.  He found that one of the hoses needed to be replaced. In that process,  we boil water to get the hoses  onto hose barbs, etc. Anyway, somehow, he lost his balance and fell down into the planter. We had trouble getting him up, but finally managed it. He scraped one leg and knee, and will probably have bruises, scabs, etc. for some time to come.  He acted as though he were more insulted and embarrassed than hurt.

We got his wounds cleaned, put antibiotic ointment on, got him into clean clothes and into his recliner with a glass of cold tea. He is relaxing and reading there now.

I really wish we could forget this new GAME of ours. It really isn’t fun. I AM really, really thankful that so far, no one has broken bones or had injuries that were life-threatening or life altering.

We keep talking about trying to be more careful, paying better attention, etc., but things happen too fast sometimes.

I’m glad that we have good air conditioning, a nice comfortable chair, food, tea, and hopefully a nap to offer the winner for today.


Filed under Challenges, Changes

Good News!!!!!

I told you that two of the 14 brick planters we have built up on top of our ridge line collapsed suddenly. We knocked the rest of the bricks down and tried to prepare ourselves to rebuild them.

We found that 25 years or so makes a huge difference in our stamina and ability to work in the heat. We ended up mixing one bag of mortar each day, laying one layer of bricks with it, then cleaning up for the day. We did this for five days, finally completely the first of the two planters. We put the potting soil we had saved back into the planter. My husband recently redid the plastic PVC pipe irrigation piece for the first planter, so technically it’s ready to plant. With a heat index of 105-110+ degrees, we have ignored the problem.

I’ve been trying to find a real brick layer to rebuild the planters. We had the bricks and the mortar, so it was their time, labor, and expertise we were paying for. The only man who came to give us an estimate knocked our socks off with how much he would charge for the two planters. We told him, ‘no thank you,’ and built the first one ourselves.


As you can see, it looks pretty awful.  It DOES hold the potting soil. The picture doesn’t show the new irrigation piece, but it’s ready for planting now.


This is the second planter. We have been mowing and weed whacking around this the whole spring and summer, hoping to find a brick layer.

FINALLY, yesterday a wonderful man named Jose Aguirre came up and looked at things. He rejected the mortar we had bought, both the sand version and the one with small pebbles, and gave us an estimate. I was overjoyed that it was reasonable, AND we can do it!!!!

He will come out tomorrow at 8 in the morning to do the job!

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that my husband and I don’t have to do it. I was trying to gear up for it mentally, thinking that when we start getting up at 6am each morning  (trying to adapt for the school year with Alessandro, our 16-year-old soccer playing student from Italy comes to live with us and go to school this year, starting August 6th) – that we could get right out and lay one row of bricks each day while the temperature was still in the 80’s.

If our wonderful luck holds, tomorrow we will have a newly rebuilt, good-looking planter to enjoy!

I’ll take pics. :0)


Filed under Challenges, Changes, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance



Am I excited about my new clothes washer? You’d better believe I am!!!!

Since Mother Nature fried a LOT of our stuff about 3 weeks ago, including our clothes washer,  I’ve been washing clothes in our kitchen sink. I almost looked online to see if I could find the old washing boards people used to use. Needless to say, we have a LOT of laundry that is waiting for attention.

The washer was delivered this morning by two really nice men. They had a big truck (but not a semi). They BACKED it up the driveway! Our driveway is steep. It is 650+ feet from the road to our house. And they managed to BACK the truck up to the top. The first thing I said was that I was so impressed with their driving.

They took the old washer and pedestal out. Then they told us that they couldn’t install the washer because we wanted to use the old pedestal.

SO – They brought the pedestal back inside, then brought the new washer in, and went over with my husband what we would need to do to install it.

We had to lay the new washer down on its side. (The big dog bed was right there, so that made a good cushion.) We then screwed the old pedestal onto the new washer with much gnashing of teeth and a few bad words. We then managed to stand up the washer on the old pedestal, then move it carefully toward the place it would live. My husband took the ‘moving bolt thingies” out of the back of the washer, attached the power cord and the water hoses. We jockeyed it back and forth a little at a time, until it was in the right place.

We threw in all the towels that were used in the getting-rid-of-the-old and installing-the-new, threw in some soap and turned it on. It actually has a special cycle for towels! It hummed a bit. We re-read the manual. We were supposed to HOLD the start button down longer. It hummed again. Then my husband said more bad words because he figured out he forgot to turn on the water.

We turned the machine off, jockeyed it out far enough so he could turn on the water, then jockeyed it back into place.

Finally we had to put the drawer back in the pedestal. (That screws into place on runners.) The inside of the drawer was disgraceful. (did I mention that I’m an awful housekeeper?) so I got a wet cloth, mopped it out, dried it and then put stuff back in. (I actually like the pedestals because of the height they add to the front loading washer and dryer, rather than because of any storage, so the drawer probably hadn’t been opened since we got the set in 2005….)

The washer is now running happily, about half way finished with the towels. I have about a hundred (more or less) loads left to do – gathered over the past three weeks – so guess what I’ll be doing over the next few days!

I am truly delighted to have a washer going again. I’ve become spoiled and I really missed it.

It will be GREAT when all is clean again!




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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob

Adjusting our Body Clocks

I told you recently that my husband and I signed up to be host parents for a 16-year-old boy from Italy this school year.

Alessandro will arrive August 6th. School starts August 13th.

We have been setting our alarm clock for 8am – feeling virtuous that we then get up to let our doggies out for their morning run. If we didn’t do this, we tend to stay up ’til all hours, sleep fitfully many nights, would sleep in to try to catch up, making our poor doggies wait.

Since our day will start at 6am for the school year, we are proactively trying to reset our body clocks so we won’t be complete zombies, unable to function.

Today we started getting up at 7am. The sun was up, so it was easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t say anything to my husband about what I was doing last night – resetting the alarm – and he either didn’t notice, or didn’t say anything. It’ll be interesting to see when he realizes. :0)

Starting the last day of July, I’ll set the alarm for 6am. I don’t even know if the sun will be up then. That will be harder if it is also still asleep. Hopefully, by the 6th, we’ll be more used to getting up. By the 13th, the first day of school, I hope the 3 of us will be handling it well.

So far, we got up and got the grocery shopping out of the way early. I have an hour more to try to get my to-do list done – unless I end up asleep in my chair…


Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Challenges, Changes, Family

Adaptation Run Amok

Sony Pictures Entertainment

“Adaptation” – a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

I told you that we had a bad storm and lightning or the power going on and off repeatedly combined with a circuit breaker tripping resulted in LOTS of electronics being hurt or killed. Suddenly, we had no computers, no Internet, no TV, no way to play movies….. a real culture shock and character-building exercise.

When I finally realized there was nothing more to be done about the problem, I decided to go out and work in my garden. (My stupidity on setting up the irrigation system for it resulted in NO water being sent out there, other than Mother Nature’s largesse and the plants were suddenly suffering.) There was lots of dead stuff that needed to be pruned, weeds to be removed, etc. I took my gardening stuff out there and got started, pleased that I was adapting to our new situation.

Suddenly the wind came up and the skies turned dark. The tree branches were becoming more and more active. My hat blew off and I had to chase it. The rain came down in a WHOOSH! – Mother Nature laughed at me – soaking me before I could gather my stuff and head for the house.

By the time I got to the house, I was dripping. My husband took one look at me and laughed. I was really steamed. I had TRIED to adapt to our situation, opting to be productive in the  garden since we couldn’t get onto computers, watch TV, etc., and I was standing in the utility room, dripping for my efforts. :0(   (I have since cleaned up the garden. I’ll try to post pictures tomorrow.)

I have read four books in the past two days – one by Renae Christine listing 150 suppliers of stuff for handmade products; a book by an author new to me who writes kind of like JK Rowling in the Harry Potter series, the last book in the Traveling Pants series, and a much-loved re-read of a Nora Roberts book.

I have a new Keto recipe to try tonight from the Simply Keto book – actually TWO recipes – one for Keto Honey Mustard and the other for Keto breaded chicken tenders. We’ll try these tonight and I’ll report on this and one other recipe I tried recently that’s a winner.

Latest update on our really annoying electronics problems is that the new TV should be ready for pick up Friday or Saturday.  When we get it hooked up, we should be able to tell if any other things in the entertainment center were affected. Fingers crossed that all else is okay.

My husband has continued to work with his computer after getting the new network card in mine and getting the new modem and 24-port switch installed. He has decided that we do NOT have to drive to Tulsa tomorrow for an appointment with the Microsoft people. He’ll work with it some more, test it when we have the new TV up and running, and then decide if we need to do something further.

THAT leaves our clothes washer, which decided to throw a fit today at the end of the first load. It sounded like a jet was trying to land in our living room. I ran in and shut things down. My husband will download the PDF of the manual that goes with our washer and dryer and see if he can figure out why the spin cycle has lost its mind, whether we need parts, or WHAT.

All of this from ONE storm…..

We are doubly thankful that more wasn’t affected. We are also grateful that we can sit in a dry home reading good books while we repair or replace the things we lost.


Filed under Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises, Mother Nature

We’re Back!


We had a bad storm a few days ago. The power was going off – our generator came on – the regular power came on — over and over and over again in quick succession. After we went to bed this continued. I had to reset our alarm clock and restart the fan at least 6 or 7 times.

We got up to find no power in our office. All the on and off again had finally caused a circuit breaker to trip, so when we moved that back into position, we thought we were okay. NOT SO!

The short version of the story is that the network card in my computer gave up the ghost. Our modem was dead. Our 24-port switch that controls everything was gone. Our TV was gone.  I finally got a few things added to my phone – something I basically use for emergencies, so that I could communicate at least a little. No computers, no TV, no movies. I was able to order replacement stuff mostly.  We got a new modem on the way via our regular phone.

We kept finding ourselves trying to go look something up in the office and were reminded that we couldn’t do that anymore.  It’s a good thing we love to read.

This morning we received the new network card and the 24-port switch. We ran errands quickly because we wanted to be home to receive the modem. We got that before noon. My husband worked and worked, and then I worked and worked and we are finally back up on our computers have have Internet again!

Our TV should be ready for pick up Friday or Saturday.

We’re still not sure whether we were hit by lightning or the rapid on and off of the power did us in.

It’s a real culture shock to find out how dependent we are on computers and Internet. And devices. And how spoiled we are.

I couldn’t write on my blog, and that’s the thing I missed the most. I also couldn’t continue work on my new Etsy store. I was pleased that I could add email and Hangouts to my phone so I could let people know what happened.

I’m more than delighted to be able to write to you again!  Forgive my delayed replies to your comments, please.

This has been one of life’s character-building exercises, for sure.

NOW we concentrate on why the spin cycle is causing problems on the clothes washer, and find out if anything else related to the TV is gone, too….



Filed under Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises

Getting the Lard Off – Hopefully

World Of Female

Yesterday I officially started the Keto eating plan, hoping to continue to lose the lard, but also figuring that this plan will be much more flexible with our foreign exchange student, Alessandro, a 16-year-old soccer playing student from Italy. He joins us for 10 months starting in August, and I want to be well into our new good habits by then.

I’m using a wonderful book called, “Keto After 50” by James Wilson. Since “50” sounds young to ME, I like this approach which is modified for older people. I’ve been reading a ton on the net, too, since one of my concerns will be high fat – to be processed by this older body with no gallbladder. Happily, I found that I can take a couple of supplements that will help with this.

My husband is a Type II diabetic (although he only admits to having a ‘sugar problem’) It’s super important to me that I keep him on an even keel. He is almost to his weight goal now (within 10 pounds – HOOORAAAAY!) while his WIFE continues to battle the lard. :0)

At this point I’ve lost 43 pounds and almost 48 inches.  I want to lose another 30 to 35 pounds and then stay there, with good eating and exercise habits.

We started on Nutrisystem, but then decided that we have learned 1) what we were doing wrong, and 2) how we’re supposed to be cooking and eating. We are almost doing the Keto program already, having stopped (mostly) eating bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, and salt. We splurge every once in a while, but that’s a quality of life thing for us.

I’m ordering supplements and gathering good recipes. I’m trying to reorganize our pantry – AGAIN – both to plan for the new eating system AND to make room for a lot more cooking than I’ve done in awhile. (It’ll be a real culture shock for us to feed a 16-year-old athlete – and from ITALY!)

Since I’m working in the yard and/or the garden almost daily, I’m going to TRY for more formal exercise three times a week. I’ll stick with my elliptical trainer, my yoga for ‘older’ women, and either the walking video or the dance video each week.

I told you I started this yesterday. The scale showed me down 1.2 pounds this morning, so I’m encouraged at this point – knowing that my weight loss will slow with time. I’m concentrating on doing the first two weeks – eating 20 grams of carbohydrates or less per day.

Wish me luck?

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise



I’ve told you before that when my husband wanted us to be a host family this year, I agreed. We have been notified that we are accepted to receive Alessandro, a 16-year-old boy from Italy for the coming school year. All we know at this point is that he is quite the soccer player, has pets at home, and sounds really nice.  He will be here August 6th and will stay with us 10 months.

Since we’re a bit long-in-the-tooth and set in our ways, we’re looking for things we need to change in order to be the best host parents possible.

Of COURSE we plan to encourage him to be active in as many things involving school as possible. Classes, sports, clubs, new friends, outings, etc. We will encourage him to bring friends home or spend time at their houses. We’ll look for fun things to do and places to go. WE will also try to be as active in his life as we can – a real change for us. :0)

  • Since we’re retired, we’ve gotten into the habit of setting our alarm for 8 a.m. each morning, mainly doing THAT because we have pets depending on us to let them out, feed them, etc. It’s also nice to be up in case the mailman drives up our driveway because something is too large for our box, or we get a delivery from Fedex or UPS. But we realize that this won’t cut it for our new roles as host parents.

We have decided that we’ll be decadent and slothful until July 1st, at which point we’ll start setting the alarm for 7 a.m. August 1st we’ll start setting it for 6 a.m.  Alessandro will be here on August 6th and school starts on August 13th, so we should be ready – with our Circadian Rhythms in sync, hopefully.

  • We’ve been eating ‘weirdly’ compared to what a 16-year-old boy from Italy may expect. We’ll check with him, of course, to find out what he normally eats, favorite foods, and do some adapting. In the meantime, we’re going to change to the Keto-After-50 eating plan – a modified version of the regular Keto plan, designed to be easier on old folks. We’ve basically been eating a lot like this already, but have been having only salad in the evening, or splurging and having chicken and soup over rice – a big no-no on ANY smart eating plan….

We’ve also been eating only poultry and fish, and we’ll expand that to include beef and pork again, but use Keto recipes. I can also cook pasta for Alessandro (and probably my husband, who refuses to eat alternatives) but “I” will try zucchini noodles or cauli-rice with my portion. (The only concern I’ve found is that I need to do a bit extra on supplements to help me handle the higher fats without a gallbladder.)

I’m sure we’ll add a whole bunch of other changes to our list as we get closer to the time Alessandro arrives, but I think we have a good attitude and are starting to adapt. (I’m checking to make sure soccer and basketballs are aired up, badminton set is intact, board games are available, checking our sports channels on TV….. )

I’m happy to hear my husband thinking about what we need to do. He seems energized by the changes we’re making, thinking about things we can do to make our ‘temporary son’ (or grandson) feel welcome and happy.





Filed under adventures, Challenges, Changes, character-building exercises



My poor brain is overflowing with good suggestions for how to make my new Etsy shop better.  I’m feeling totally overwhelmed right now, not knowing which way to jump.

I’m going to go do something else from my ever-growing to-do list and then come back and choose ONE thing to do in my shop.

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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Dreams, empowerment, learning new things