A Hint of Fall In the Air

8 08 2011

After many weeks of heat waves with heat indexes that make life very uncomfortable–there is a hint of fall in the air.  I can tolerate August’s heat because I know fall is just around the corner.I love the grass beginning to dry up.  Those large brown patches make my heart sing.  I’ve never been one to spend a great deal of time or money on my yard.  So the death of it –is always a joy.  I know this offends those who love their yards. 

I love to see the first dried up leaves in the  yards, too.  This is happening quite a bit since we’ve been absolutely scorched by the sun.  We pay to have our yard cut–so the end of yard season makes me want to dance.  We’ve a bit to go though–but the end is soon here.

I’ve already been scouting the second hand shops for more harvest decorations.  I’ve put away all of my spring and summer decorations.  I do love my potted plants but they are with me all year long.

Labor Day is my favorite 3 day weekend.  Just a few more weeks to go before it arrives.  It is then that I begin some of my fall cleaning.  I also begin to prepare a winter pantry of canned goods to last throughout any winter crisis that might occur. 

I have my air conditioning off today and it looks like it might be off the rest of the week.  I love open windows.  I love the cool nights.  Here’s to the first faint hope of Fall.

God bless each of you!


In Memory Of Sam And Katie

13 05 2009

Forgive me for not posting lately.  It has been hectic with Jim’s health problems.  Also, Vera has had a very serious bout with her lower back that kept her from making her May 6th flight to Kansas, City Mo. for her internship.  Seventeen years ago, she fell  43 feet and the older she gets–the more trouble she has with her lower back.  Hopefully, she will be leaving on May 22.

Inbetween all of these circumstances–we noticed that Katie, our 15 year old cat, was not eating much nor grooming herself.  She has had bad times before but we’ve always been able to get her interested in food again.  Katie had a bond with Vera that was special.  Vera always went the extra mile with our geriatric Katie.  Katie was so afraid of our dog.  She lived on our fridge.  We would put the dogs up to have special “Katie” time.  She always knew when Jim and Vera were going to play table games.  Her eyes told us that she wanted to be a part of the game.  So that would be one of her special times.


Jim and Katie

Jim and Katie

Jim liked to put Katie in his lap while he was playing table games.  He claims that she helped him win against Vera.  Friday evenings have always been our movie night.  Katie would know it was movie night and motion for us to take her off the fridge.  So we would put the dogs up and let her enjoy movie night with us. 

She didn’t always live on the fridge.  However, she has always been very afraid of things.  When we rescued her as a three year cat in l997–we still had our original dogs.  She lived upstairs for almost a year.  Then around the time Vera started college–Katie started living behind our entertainment center. 

When Sugar and Lucy got old–Katie began enjoying more freedom in our home.  Then in 2005–I had to put them both down.  That same day, Rudy came along.  I had never planned on getting another dog.  Sandy, my oldest daughter owned Rudy but gave her away.  Rudy was found in Cadiz , Kentucky by a couple passing from Georgia on their way to Chicago.  They rescued her and brought her back to the vet clinic where we live.  I was called and asked if I would get Rudy.  I made a quick decision to keep her.  And that is when Katie started living on the fridge.

A few months later another daughter asked me if I would take their dog.  I accepted “Tickie”.  The two dogs have always been a bit much for Katie.  So she has lived a very secluded life.

When Vera came home to help me through my breast cancer operation–Katie was so very happy.  I personally believe that Katie knew Vera was going to leave and decided that she no longer had the will to live.

The decision to end Katie’s life was extremely hard on us.  In February –it was also hard to have Sammie, a 12 year old cat, put down.  They both started going downhill very fast. 

In memory of these precious cats–I’m posting a video of them together back in October of 2008.  Katie loved Sammie –so occasionally Vera would put the dogs up and take them both up to her bedroom.  They really had a great time with each other that day.  So in memory of our dear cats—-I hope each of you enjoys this video. 

The House Blessing, Part 1

21 02 2008

Although I’ve written a little in previous blogs about our desire to sell our home, move and start life over somewhere in the country–I’ve decided to write more detailed blogs about our adventure.  The adventure ended with our staying put, my painting some rooms and having a house blessing.  So here it goes……

About this time last year, I gave up substitute teaching.  I had gone back to work when Jim was just returning to work–after having been home recovering from an aortic dissection .  I was very pleased to have one of our high schools welcome me back.  This school gave me steady work from that time until I chose to resign the end of last February. 

I was longing for a new adventure.  Those first weeks home I began to read as many Jesse Stuart books as I could.  He is a Kentucky writer who grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.  His books date from the l930’s through the early l970’s.  He can describe the beauty of nature and the character of people better than any author I’ve ever read. (Speaking of nature, Maria just called to tell me that she is watching six deer in her backyard.)

We’ve lived in the city all of our married life.  I wanted to enjoy country life the way Maria does.  I just germinated on those kinds of thoughts through early spring.  Finally, around my birthday in April, I presented my thoughts of moving to Jim.  At first, he was very reluctant about such an idea.  I must have painted a pretty picture for him because it wasn’t long until he agreed with my plan.

I knew we’d have to simplfy  our home to make moving easier.  Our basement hadn’t been cleaned out in 10 years.  It was full of ancient computers, printers, old washers and dryers, an old refrigerator and a sundry of other things.  Maria was eating dinner with us one evening when we just decided to take the plunge.  Maria wanted to be in charge of helping us get rid of our junk.  We offered to pay her for her help. 

She began by rounding up our son, Ben, to help take the old appliances to a company that pays people for scrape iron.  Maria and Ben loaded up all of the appliances and took them to the scrapyard.  It took several trips.  I was more than happy to let them have the money from the appliances.  Next, Jim was in charge of sorting through all of the computers and printers he had acquired through the years.  Jim had a habit of picking up every computer that he saw was being thrown out.  I mean– we had quite a collection in one area of our basement.  He was not very happy to give up his collection , but he knew that we would never be able to sell our home–if we didn’t thin out our possessions.  He took most of the computers and printers to a second hand shop.  They seemed glad to have them.  A few days later, Jim stopped by to see if they had actually been put on the floor to sell.  All of them were there! 

Now my weakness is collecting desks.  I had a couple of desks in the basement.  I also had two desks upstairs in our main living area.  I also had a desk in one of the bedrooms upstairs. I had a habit of using them to store stuff I didn’t  exactly want to throw out–but I didn’t know where else to stash the stuff.  I cleaned them out and gave them to the Mennonites.  I just can’t handle desks.  We now have one large desk on which our computer sits. 

Another weakness that Jim and I both have is collecting too many books.  When Jim was sick, we gave away about 600 books.  Yet our living room and family room still had too many bookcases with too many books.  We sorted through all of the remaining books until we only had two bookcases of collectibles.  We gave approximately another 800 to 1,000 books away.  We also gave away the bookcases.  Collecting books and bookcases is another temptation that we’ve decided to avoid. 

The next area was musical instruments.  In my living room, I had a spinet organ, an old upright piano and the piano that I inherited from my childhood.  I had the organ and the upright piano long before I acquired my childhood piano.  In 2003, we bought my childhood piano from one of my first cousins.  I had tried to give away the old upright piano many times.  No one wanted it.  Finally, a friend of Maria’s came and got it.  I gave the organ to someone else that Maria knew.  Thus, my living room and family room were free of two musical instruments,  two desks, and several bookcases of books.

This process went on from April of 2007 to July of 2007.  Finally, we were ready to place our home on the market.  I’ll finish today’s post by describing our home just a little.  It was originally built in the l940’s.  It was orginally just  a large square.  The living room being the largest room about 21 ft by 15 ft.  The original floor plan  for the remaining of the house was two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.  In the l960’s a family turned the attic into two large bedrooms and a half bath.  A stairwell had to be built.  Also, two large porches were added on.  We have a lovely front porch and a porch on the side of our home. The house also has a large basement that runs the whole course of the main floor.  Thus, over a period of 22 years, we had collected way too much paraphernalia. 

Stayed tuned for part 2 of our story!

God bless each of you!

The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 9

7 02 2008

CHAPTER 9  Mom Goes Back To College

The cold winds of January , l986 blew hard. Each of you children came down with strep throat. I made beds out of blankets in the living room. It was the same experience I had when the chicken pox hit our family. It was just so much easier to give out your medicines during the night.

Twelve inches of snow fell to the ground the week of Valentine’s Day. School was dismissed for a week. I had not seen such snow since I was a young girl. The whole neighborhood was festive. Children had their sleds out. Our home is on the corner of a hill . This made it all the more fun for all of the children. However, once again, each of you came down with strep throat. In those days, the book keeper, of Pediatric’s Associates, let me pay a small amount on the bill each month. I had seen her at the Kroger store and made arrangements. She had grown up with my mother. Therefore, she was glad to help me.. That day and age is over for good. But how thankful I am that it still excited in l986.

Spring finally arrived and so did the arrival of our first kitten. We had some friends who persisted– until they got us to accept a kitten from a litter at their house. Actually, they just dropped it off with a litter box, some food and a bag of litter. How can one say no to that?

I had never had a cat or dog in my life. Brad’s dog, Harpo, was the only animal that I wasn’t scared of. I was so afraid of the little kitten that Fred and Jan dropped off. You children named her “Tinker”. I made her stay in the basement the first night. Then I felt sorry for her and let her upstairs. From the beginning, she was an indoor/outdoor cat. She followed each of you children– wherever you went. It took me a few weeks not to cringe ,when she got in my lap. By the end of the summer, Tinker and I were very much bonded.

All summer I had been working on plans to return to our UK Community College and finish my associates degree in Liberal Arts. I was not doing well with my driving( I never drove much anyway) so Jim dropped me off at the college each morning and I walked the four miles home each day. I would arrive home around l:00 p.m. each day. I would quickly change into my jeans and get a load of wash started. I would grab handfuls of home made granola to stave off my intense hunger. I didn’t have time to sit down and eat– I had to keep going–fast! I still remember Tinker following me to the clothes line each afternoon. I remember one particular afternoon when I had a white T shirt on and my jeans. I don’t know why , it just remains strong in my memory. I had to push to get wash hanging out ( once again, we didn’t have a dryer) and some studying done before you children arrived home from school. Tinker would also take naps on my desk while I studied. I grew so very fond of her.

My studies were demanding because I hadn’t been in school since l974 . I remember that you liked to drill me on my biology. You even memorized some of my chemical equations. (You turned out to be equally gifted with science, math and the liberal arts.) I certainly have never equaled your abilities. You and Maria were still students at the elementary school. However, Ben and Sandy graduated to the 5th and 6th grade center. Each of you tugged at me for special attention. It was stressful to keep up with my studies, the housework and laundry. I worked hard to keep up with meeting everyone’s emotional needs.

As the weather got colder, I enjoyed my walks home. My Aunt Mildred always picked me up if the weather was bad. She was the widow of my Uncle Jack ( mother’s brother). I don’t know what we would have one without Aunt Mildred. She didn’t live far from us and often would show up with a loaf of homemade  bread, muffins or a cake that she had baked. She was a tremendous help to our family.

Life was never dull at our home. In the midst of my studies and balancing out all of my duties, Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit form Iowa. This was Dad’s mom and step dad. I was completely stressed out. However, the week turned out to be fun. I’m so thankful now that they came. I don’t believe they ever were able to visit again.

Our little Toyota finally died. Mimi and Billy gave us their l970 Oldsmobile. It was a sure tie in ugliness to old Beulah. At least it wasn’t chained down. We drove that car for many months. Brad and Susan were finalizing their wedding plans. Brad asked me to represent mother. Phillip still had his preaching license, so he agreed to perform the ceremony.  Phillip and I went down the night before the wedding.The three of us spent the evening at Brad’s home telling our stories of “growing up”years. It was a precious time. Billy and Mimi loaned Dad one of their cars to drive to the wedding. After the wedding and reception, we all went over to Brad and Susan’s home and watched them open wedding gifts.

Monday morning after the weekend wedding, I started my finals at the college. I made straight “A”s. Christmas was lean once again. We went out to the country and cut a Christmas tree down from a friend’s farm. Tinker the cat, was also the special joy of that season. I didn’t have the maturity in those days to realize that such times were only a tiny slice of life and that we should always live in the moment. Depression hit me hard during the holiday season. I look back with regret that I was so short sighted.

The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 7

16 01 2008


By the end of June, Mother called to tell me she had breast cancer. They must have found the cancer in the last stage, because she died on August the 4th of that summer. We immediately made plans to attend the funeral. We didn’t have a reliable car, so we borrowed a neighbor’s station wagon. We stayed at Phillip and Teresa’s home. After the funeral, there was much sharing about mom’s life. We were all together as a family. My youngest brother Brad, had his dog, Harpo, with him. Harpo stayed in the den with us as we sorted through many of mom’s things. While driving home from Birmingham, your Dad surprised me by telling me that he knew we should put our home on the market and move to Kentucky. From the moment we drove in the driveway of our home, our plans began. There was a surge of excitement in our family because of this new plan to move to Kentucky. We soon put our home up for sale and Dad began working on his resume. Phillip took these resumes and passed them around in the various print shops in our little Kentucky town.

Meanwhile, school had started again. You were in the first grade. Like Sandy and Maria, Miss Davy became your teacher. Miss Davy used concepts that were years ahead of Kentucky. For instance, in the writing center, there was no right or wrong way of writing. The emphasis was on your creative flow of thought. You adapted to the learning centers quite well. Sandy had never liked the centers and one day just refused to attend school. She wouldn’t tell us anything specific about what she didn’t like. I went to talk to the principal and Miss Davyabout this problem. Instead of ignoring my request or punishing Sandy, she set up a meeting for Sandy to tell us what was bothering her. We went through the classroom and when we arrived at the creative writing center, Sandy told us that she was scared. At that point , Miss Davy assured Sandy, that she would not be punished for incorrect spelling. Sandy never had any more fears of attending school.

The excitement about moving continued to mount. Our home sold very quickly . It was sold by the end of September. Our home was not in the best of shape, although it was clean. We never had any money to make improvements. The location , I think, was the selling point. We had a large private lot next to a creek , not far from a thriving business area. However, Dad still didn’t have a job , nor did we have any prospects of a home in Kentucky. We knew that we wouldn’t make enough off our home to buy another one. We knew we’d have to rent a home. We didn’t seemed scared about either potentially negative circumstance.

An early morning call the first Saturday of October brought extreme excitement to our family. The owner of a print shop in my hometown, set up an interview with Dad. Our car was now working thanks to our elderly but vibrant neighbor who lived behind us. He helped Dad overhaul the engine of our little Toyota and even paid for the parts. So on Friday morning , October 12 , Dad made the trip to Kentucky for the job interview. He got the job and then began looking for a home. Mimi (Teresa’s mother) and Clark (Teresa’s brother who was in the reality business) drove Jim around to look for an affordable home to rent. The sale of our home was to close on October 15 and we had to be out of our home by the end of October. We planned to arrive in Kentucky on the 18th, but we still hadn’t found a home. I don’t remember being afraid. Perhaps we had blind faith– but we were upheld by an incredible optimism that is not usually a part of my life.

Suddenly, the most exciting event happened. Tuesday of the week we were moving, Phillip, found us a four bedroom home in an older part of town.. It was renting for $275.00, a bargain to us. We told Phillip to get it for us. We knew it was for us although we had never seen it. Teresa told us later that she walked through the house just praising God for His provision. I had been praying for a four bedroom home with a large yard.  That is exactly what we got.  Add to that being neighbors with folks who knew me from my childhood–an added benefit.  I still marvel about finding this home that we could afford.

The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 5

16 01 2008

Chapter 5 We Almost Lost our Home

August came quickly. It was time to get each of you children ready to attend school. You and Maria , went to the private kindergarten at McElwain Baptist church. You attended three mornings a week. Maria attended each morning. Ben and Sandy started first grade at McElwain public school. I was so scared to send them out alone to the public school system. We had no money for school supplies. The nice lady who helped us financially with our news letters– slipped us a twenty dollar bill which paid for Ben and Sandy’s supplies.

Sandy had a Miss Davy for her first grade teacher. I can’t remember the name of Ben’s teacher . She was young, pretty and smart. Since we didn’t have a car, I had to walk up to the school each afternoon to get Ben and Sandy.. Dad found a used stroller that Maria could ride on the back of. You fit in the seat part even though you were three years old. Otherwise, I would not have been able to get Ben and Sandy home from school. It was a good mile to the school– so I had a two mile walk each day. When it rained, I asked a neighboring family to pick Ben and Sandy up.

You still were having a number of potty accidents when you started three year old kindergarten. I used to pack an extra pair of training pants for you to take to school. Soon your teacher sent a note home that if you couldn’t use the bathroom, you couldn’t attend school. You liked going to kindergarten , so that threat solved your wetting problem, pronto. No set back could keep you from smiling. You always had and still have more smiles than anyone I’ve ever known.

Our neighbor, Susan,, asked me if would take care of her children after school. So I had Robin, Robert and Matthew visit with us each school afternoon. Two evenings a week I still cared for Laura and Ricky. I can’t imagine how I had the energy to care for all of the extra children but I was only thirty years old. Youth was on my side.

By October, it was clear that we just were not going to get enough support for our writing ministry. We were behind on our mortgage . Only this time , we didn’t have anything to sell except that old station wagon that had been purchased with the selling of Mom’s sterling silver. Nevertheless, we put a for sale sign on the car and someone purchased it for two hundred dollars.

Dad’s old friend, Charles offered him a job at his dry cleaning supply business for five dollars an hour. He even agreed to take Dad to work each day. It was fourteen miles each way. Our dreams of a writing ministry were shattered , but we knew God wanted Jim back in the secular work force. We did continue writing our letters but knew a full time ministry was out of the question. God really very mercifully cared for our family during that six month period.

A few friends pulled together to help us keep our home. Christmas and winter were right around the corner. Dad ,earning only five dollars an hour meant that Christmas would be lean. However, Christmas turned out to be like a fairy book story. So many folks remembered that Dad had been without a steady job. Our friends, Dan and DeAnna, provided a great deal for each of you. Also the ladies of McElwain Baptist brought over many gifts and goodies. Last of all, the manager of Kmart found out about our family and sent two new outfits for each of you. He also provided toys and plenty of candy. It was a wonderful season for our family. One of the best gifts of all was attending your Christmas program at McElwain Baptist. I can still remember the little green velvet dress you wore..

The winter proved to be stressful with finances. Sickness always came our way. But we did get invited quite often to Robin and Robert’s home to watch movies with their family. They had a VCR , quite a luxury in l983. Another treat was DeAnna, taking our family and Matthew to the Ringling Brother’s Circus. Matthew just stayed a part of our family until we moved to Kentucky in l985.

Let us move on to May. We had been without a car for an entire year. Our doctor friend had a 1972 Toyota that he was willing to give us. However, he wanted to make sure we could afford some upkeep and the insurance. He did give us the car! We were so thrilled to have a car once again. We started driving out to East Lake Park to enjoy walking around the lake and feeding the ducks. We also enjoyed many trips to the library. We visited the many different library branches around Birmingham. Having gone without a car for so long, these ventures were precious to us.

Once again, it was school time. You stayed at McElwain Baptist Kindergarten. We decided to put Maria in the public five year old program. Maria, , was the first of you children to attend public school kindergarten. This gave you and I some special time together. We had lunch and the early afternoon together each week day. Since Charles still picked Dad up for work each day, I was able to drive our little Toyota up to the school to pick Ben, Sandy and Maria up. The fall was warm and beautiful. We had many afternoons of you playing in the backyard in the pine straw while I hung out the wash. But difficult times were ahead.

Sandy had a lump on her neck that had to be removed. We had no insurance. This required same day surgery. In December, each of you children developed a vomiting virus. It hit Maria very hard. She had to be hospitalized for 24 hours. In November, we didn’t make our house payment. December and January, we couldn’t make the payment either. Christmas was bleak. No goodies or gifts came in at all.

In February, the mortgage company told us we had just a few weeks to catch up on our payments or they would take our home. I cried and cried. Dad went to talk with a friend.. This friend presented our plight to his church. This church didn’t feel compelled to help in any way. We were not faithful to attend any church during this time– so we didn’t have a church family to know we were in need. During this time, my brother Phillip, came for a visit. He said that we just didn’t have enough faith. He chided us about this lack of faith all weekend. I was exhausted with crying. He left on Monday morning. There was an envelope on the table with enough money to catch our house payments up. He gave this to us as a gift. It was certainly the mercy of our Lord. For all of Phillip’s hard challenges–he showed some empathy. Believe me, I know Phillip well enough to say that nothing we could have said or done would have moved him. His gift was simply a merciful act.