Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Rainbow

This morning, besides the 11 inches of accumulated snow, we had a beautiful snow rainbow. I don't remember ever seeing such a sight before. Have you? In the middle picture, you can just barely see both ends. The upper arch was not visible at all (maybe earlier in the morning). It lasted for a good hour until the sun was too bright. Leave me a comment if you're familiar with this phenomenon of nature.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

First Snow on Wittstruck Road

We have been having snow off and on since Sunday morning. Yesterday at mid-morning it measured 4 inches. This morning it measured 6 inches and it is still snowing. We're supposed to get the "BIG" storm tonight. We'll see!
If you click on the picture with the bench, you can actually see the snow.
(Again, these pictures are not lining up for me! But, they will position themselves differently when I actually post them.)
As we look down our road, we're wondering if we'll venture out today.
Have a great day, whatever your weather is!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Waiting is an Art

Last summer, as a gift, I received a devotional book titled I Want to Live These Days with You. It is a year's worth of short excerpts from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian of the twentieth century who was imprisoned and executed for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

I thought today's writing was excellent, and I want to share it with you:

Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting--that is, of hopefully doing without--will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.
Those who do not know how it feels to anxiously struggle with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them. And for those who do not want to win the friendship and love of another person--who do not expectantly open up their soul to the soul of the other person, until friendship and love come, until they make their entrance--for such people the deepest blessing of the one life of two intertwined souls will remain forever hidden.
For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens here not in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming.

Thanksgiving and Getting Ready for Christmas

I have no clue why these pictures ended up all over the page, but you know how it goes with me and pictures and blogs! But, anyway, you can see some of the pictures from Emily's pre-Thanksgiving visit and a couple from when the rest of her family arrived. It was so much fun to have her here for her first official visit all by herself--the first of many, we hope. And, we're already looking forward to Bri's and Paisley's visits on their own. Jacob, of course, has been coming every summer for several years.
The first two pictures show how Emily "earned her keep." She had to feed the cats and make waffles every morning. Some of our fun things to do were getting out my nativity scenes and having a tea party with Jessie's tea set.
After Thanksgiving, all the girls worked together baking cookies. Is that Jeremy in the background doing dishes? And, we put our Christmas tree up and set up John's old train around it. The train was a huge fascination for the girls. It is John's from when he was a little boy in the 50's and it is in incredibly great shape. The track and transformer are modern, but the train is all the original. And, it whistles!
Well, I'm going to post this and see where the pictures end up then.

The White Horse King, the Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin Merkle

Before reading Benjamin Merkle’s book The White Horse King, the Life of Alfred the Great, the only thing I knew about this ninth century monarch was that he had “Great” in his title. I finished the book published by Thomas Nelson with a great appreciation for this godly man who courageously rid his land of the fierce, marauding Vikings and then installed a system of protection, a plan of literacy, and a foundation of justice in his area of early Great Britain.

Merkle’s well-researched story may be a little long on battle stories for my liking, but he does an excellent job of showing his readers that Alfred isn’t just a battle-worn commander. Alfred becomes a compassionate, God-honoring leader who sets a goal of providing education for the common man in his country so all have access to the early writings of church leaders. Alfred, himself, learned Latin and then translated the first fifty Psalms and Augustine’s Soliloquies for his countrymen. Alfred generously established monasteries, churches, and schools, but wanting to give more of himself to God, he resolved to give one-half of each of his days to study and prayer.

In Merkle’s own words, “Alfred truly was the great king of England, the one monarch who rightly understood the needs of the nation and unrelentingly gave all he had to supply those needs.” He is a model for all who aspire to leadership.

I was fortunate to read this book under the auspices of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program. You can read about more of their books at

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Power of Respect by Deborah Norville

How was a waitress who refused to show her gap-toothed smile turned around to become a successful finance graduate?

How did a veteran teacher make a difference in the life of a young “unteachable”?

How did a CEO avert the downward spiral of a company caught in the stranglehold of the economy?

These life stories and others are woven through Deborah Norville’s The Power of Respect. Norville has written a well-researched discussion of the destructive fallout of disrespect and the redeeming value of simple, sincere respect in families, classrooms, and workplaces. And she doesn’t just talk about the good and the bad; she gives step-by-step ways to instill respect in our own lives and in those around us.

Although Mrs. Norville uses little Scripture, the Golden Rule permeates her book. Like her, I’m thinking, “Why do we have to spend so much time and effort discussing this?” There were times I thought the writing could have been more concise, and although she says, “Respect begins at home,” I feel her book would have the greatest value in the workplace—especially now when workers are trying to hold onto jobs and management is trying to increase the productivity and satisfaction of the workers they have.

The most valuable statement in The Power of Respect is on page 2: “No one is too unimportant to be ignored. No one is so significant that others don’t matter.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Fantasticks--fantastic!

Last weekend in Minneapolis we were able to go to North Central's musical, The Fantasticks. It has a cast of only 15, but Jessie was excited to be a part of the chorus. The production was fantastic--the acting, the singing, the songs, the story.

The story is so good on so many levels. It's a story of boy loves girl, the story of two fathers who pretend to feud to keep the boy from the girl when really they're scheming to bring them together, the story of the blindness of love until the light of day and the reality of life, the story of man going into the world seeking adventure and finding cruelty instead, the story of trading the thing most dear for deceit, and finally the story of finding contentment back at the beginning. Add to all that some delightful lyrics and melodies and a couple buffoons straight out of Huck Finn. I hadn't realized it would be so funny!

It's easy to see why The Fantasticks has the world-wide record for the most performances of a musical ever!

Congratulations, Jessie. You did a great job in your first college performance.
Have a great day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Atchison, Kansas

Well, I need to catch up with this blog! A variety of things have been going on.
First, my good friend and fellow grandmother, Susanne, was here last week with her 3 little doggies. This first picture is Taffy, the oldest, and the second picture is John, playing with the other two, Tulip and Tiki. Taffy was a little too mature for roughhousing with him, but the other two loved it.

Then later in the week John took me on an outing for my birthday. We drove down to Atchison, KS, where we enjoyed looking at the beautiful mansions, like this one, and the gorgeous fall colors. In its hey-day, Atchison had the largest per-capita number of millionaires in the country. That was in the famous days of the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe railroads. At one time up to 85 passenger trains per day stopped at the Atchison depot. I can hardly imagine that!
This picture was taken along the bluff-lined Missouri river.
We had our first stay at a Bed and Breakfast. The house was built in 1948 as an example of Italianate architecture (if I remember correctly), by Mr. Fred Stein, who invented the first radio which ran on electricity from the wall rather than from the cumbersome battery cells used previously. Go to the following to learn more about a fascinating man

This is a picture of The Professor's Room, our bedroom. Yes, there was a bed and a bath as well!
Part of the reason for going to Atchison was to visit the Amelia Earhart home and museum and see the new movie Amelia. She was born in Atchison and lived with her grandparents for most of her early years. This is a portrait of her in the upstairs of the house.

John and I were the first "official" guests to a special exhibit of some of her own clothes and other items, as well as some from the movie. I don't remember seeing this outfit in the movie, so not sure where it came from.

For the movie, we went downtown to the only theater in Atchison. It was so old I wondered if Amelia had gone to movies there, but never heard anything about that. When you walk into the theater, you're standing under the screen and facing the audience. Although every seat was full for the movie, I wanted you to see how tiny it is. There were only 3 seats on one side of the aisle and 6 seats on the other, for a total of 116. (If you do the math, you'll see that doesn't come out right. Our row had only 2 seats because of a curved jut in the wall.)But, I think they had divided their old theater into two theaters, so the original would have been double this. We were glad we arrived more than a half hour early so we could sit together. Late arrivals weren't as fortunate!

At any rate, we enjoyed all the sights of the small town. I would recommend it as a short jaunt of a trip. And, for those "in the know," we did go to Nell's Hills. If you're not "in the know," as I wasn't, you'll have to figure that out on your own!
Have a great day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finally Some Sunshine

Today was the first day in about two weeks, I think, that we've had some sunshine. I apologize to all the people over the years that I've said, "Fall is beautiful in Nebraska--it is our only predictable season." Well, not this year! We've had damp and gloom for a loooong time. One person said it reminded them of when they lived in Washington state. Now you know we've had it bad!

My reading deprivation lasted for about one week (maybe less). It was just too hard, but I did finish a sewing project during that time, and did some cleaning, and a teensy bit of cooking. But, one day I had to go to the library for something else (it's the library's fault!) and the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society leapt off the shelf into my hands. I had never seen the book, but a neighbor had raved about it last year, so I knew it would be good. And I was not disappointed.

It is so funny, you just have to laugh out loud in places, and so touching, you want to shed a tear in other spots. It's all about books and writing and publishing and the World War II Nazi occupation of Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel. I think it is an entirely fictional account, but so believeable. The story is told in letters back and forth among the characters, so you feel like you're privy to every secret in their lives.

The truly inspirational part of the story for me is that it's the first published work of a woman who was 81 years old when she wrote it. Unfortunately, she died before it was released, and her niece, who is a published author, did the revisions for her. The niece applauds her aunt for being the master storyteller of their family. I wonder why she hadn't written a book earlier.

If you haven't already read Guernsey, find a copy ASAP and settle down with it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reading Deprivation

Last post I mentioned the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about how to bring out your creative side, and one of her "requirements" is to write everyday. (She says to write 3 pages, but I'm pleased if I finish 1 page each day.) One thing this writing accomplishes is to "unblock" your creativity. In other words, you're supposed to write about all the things, people, circumstances that are keeping you from being creative, so that once you've written about them, you've moved them out of your way and voila! you're free to be creative.

But, then she goes a little far and says that one thing that blocks creativity is too much reading! So, she recommends a season of reading deprivation so your mind can think about the things you want to create instead of focusing on what other people have created. Actually, I have to admit that she makes a good point. I find that I can really become wrapped up in a good book, or in a series of good books. Like lately! She doesn't say this deprivation has to be long term but until you've spent some time "creating" and you're no longer blocked.

I was giving some serious thought yesterday to trying this, but then because of a new tutoring student starting today I had to read Lord of the Flies last night. (It's amazing I'd never read it before because it seems to be required reading for many high school students. I think that trend may have started in the late 60's after I was out of high school.) But, I was able to finish it in less than 24 hrs. So, now, I'm back to considering the deprivation thing. I'm not going to give up my day-to-day readings that I'm already committed to, but I may have a season (a short season) with no "pleasure" reading. (Not that my day-to-day reading isn't pleasurable--maybe frivolous would be a better adjective--for the reading I'm giving up, that is.)

Hmmm--what will I do with that extra time? Is there something creative I should be working on? We'll see! I do have a sewing project started, or some knitting, or maybe I could do some creative cooking, or work in the yard, or. . . . .

If you have an opinion about the reading deprivation, let me hear it.

Have a great day!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Two More Books

This week I finished two more books--very different from each other, but were they?

The first was Barack and Michelle by Christopher Anderson. It offers some interesting insight into the early years of our president and his wife and their beginnings as our First Couple.

My second book was The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I had noticed it on the best seller list for some time and had read an excerpt in Reader's Digest. The subtitle is The Story of Success. Gladwell gathers information from others who have done the research and presents their studies and statistics to support his own views about how success works. I'm not usually one to spend time reading about "how to become successful," but this book was fascinating. The examples and the ideas are VERY interesting--in some cases, different than what we would expect. I won't say any more, but give it a try.

I'm also in the midst of Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges for my ladies' Bible study and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney for Sunday School and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron for my time with my walking friend. These are all excellent, but I read and study them one chapter per week. Most importantly, in God's Book I'm reading Romans, also very slowly as there is so much to think about.

As you can see, I'm using my extra time to do some reading this fall. The time may become filled with other things soon enough, but for now I'm enjoying!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

End of a long career!

I said on Sunday, "I am beginning my 25th and last year of being the parent of a teenager." Brian turned 13 in 1985 and Jessie will turn 20 in 2010. But, actually, when I did the math, I realized I had a four-year break when Annie turned 20 in 1999 until Jessie turned 13 in 2003.

So, does that mean I'm an expert?--BY NO MEANS. Just ask any of my kids! I have no special insight and no particular wisdom. It was only by the grace of God that any of us survived.

My friend Susanne Scheppmann just did a workshop on Parenting Teens at the D6 Conference in Dallas. True, her career was a little shorter than mine--probably only 10 years--but she has put some serious footwork and study into the subject. Look her up at, and if you are struggling with your teenagers or know someone who is, order her book Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents. She has some great insight into traveling through those years.

I must say, too, that I had some great teenagers. Sure, there were trying times here and there, but God is so faithful! He worked in spite of all my efforts to derail what He was doing. He deserves ALL the glory.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home from Louisville

John and I have returned from a "working" trip to Louisville, Kentucky. We had a good week of work setting cosmetics in an Ulta store.
The drive to Louisville, although about 11 hours, is really a very pretty drive and is divided easily into 3 fairly equal parts--home to KC, KC to St. Louis, St. Louis to Louisville. As you can see, we drove right past the St. Louis arch.It's interesting, too, that each of these three major cities sits on a major river--the Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Ohio. But, we know that many of the early settlements were on rivers because rivers were major sources of transportation for both people and goods before we had railroads, highways, and semi-trucks.
Here's a view of the Louisville skyline. I'm thinking about posting some skyline pictures to see how many you can identify.

One evening I was able to take the car and do some sightseeing on my own. John was exhausted from work and doesn't really care for historical sights anyway. So, I found two places not far from our hotel that I could find without having to drive on the interstate system!
This is a picture of the home of George Rogers Clark. He was the brother of William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame and supposedly the founder of Louisville. His home is on a beautiful piece of land called Locust Grove in a beautiful neighborhood of Louisville. I wasn't able to go in the house because it was closed for the day but enjoyed walking around the estate.

Not far from Locust Grove is the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. Taylor was the 12th president of the U.S., but died just over a year into his presidency. His father, Richard Taylor, had served as an officer in General George Washington's army during the American Revolution and received 6,000 acres of land in Kentucky for his service. So, although Zachary was born in Virginia, his family moved to Kentucky soon after his birth.
This picture is of the grave of President Taylor and his wife. The stone object in the background is the original grave and the mausoleum structure is the current burial place. Several members of their family are buried in a plot to the left of the picture, but then the rest of the land is a national cemetery.
If you have never been to a national cemetery, you should try to visit one sometime. It is interesting to see the uniformity of the gravestones and to walk among the graves and see which war the soldiers served in. Most importantly, it gives you a tiny glimpse of the numbers of valiant men and women who have served our country. I'm curious to know when this particular piece of land first became a national cemetery because the oldest grave I noticed was from the Spanish American War. But, I didn't walk throughout all the graves.
The next night John took me on a date for the highlight of our week! We attended the National Quartet Convention at the Louisville Exposition Center. The auditorium holds 20,000+ people and it was nearly full. This picture is not the best, but I thought the colored spotlights made quite a sight. The stage is the white segment.The music was excellent. It started at 6 pm and we left at 10 pm although the music continued until 11 pm. That was 4 hours of solid music from quartets and other small groups. Even while they were setting up for the next group, they played black and white films of old groups singing. Each group peformed for 17 minutes and the convention was Sunday night through Saturday night with concerts every afternoon and every evening. That's a LOT of quartet singing!
All the groups were very entertaining, but the most exciting for us was seeing the Bill Gaither Vocal Band. This next picture shows how they announced each band with their name in lights around the auditorium.
Thanks for putting up with my travelogue with a little history thrown in!
Have a great day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Two books this week

I have just finished the second of two books I read this week. They have some common points, but yet they are so far from each other.

People of the Book and Dewey are both about people who love books, they both have a central narrator along with several other characters surrounding that narrator, and they both have a thread that moves forward while at the same time moving back in time to tell other stories. The authors of both books are skilled and passionate about their stories.

People of the Book is a fictional account of the making and preserving of the Sarajevo Haggadah. The narrator, a conservator of ancient manuscripts, is called to work on this precious prayer book commonly used at the Jewish Seder. As she searches for clues about the book's past, the author recounts stories of each stage of the haggadah's journey from its beginnings in Spain in the 1400's to its current display case in the museum in war-torn Bosnia.

Dewey is about a library cat in Spencer, IA, and the librarians who rescued him from the book drop on a very wintry morning in January in 1988. This tiny golden kitten readily adopts his new surroundings and wins the hearts of everyone who meets him.

Are both books redemption stories? Dewey Readmore Books (his official name) certainly gives his life day-by-day to redeem Spencer at a time when it was facing economic collapse. People of the Book is a chronicle of God's chosen people, which is always a story of redemption, but that is an underlying theme of this particular story. Neither book is a "history" book, but a telling of the stories of the people in those times and places.

Both books are great reads, but really at opposite ends of the spectrum of "types" of books. People of the Book is a very serious work--rather dark and intense, but yet intriguing and powerful. The author, Geraldine Brooks, is a masterful storyteller, already proven by her Pulitzer Prize for her book March. Dewey is a light-hearted account of a darling cat growing up in a library in small-town America. The author, Vicki Myron, is a librarian surrounded daily by books, but she's never written a book before and I doubt she'll write another. People is for mature readers (rated somewhere between PG-13 and R), but Dewey is for anyone who loves cats or libraries or the Midwest (totally G-rated). One book wrenches the heart; the other warms it.

It's good to read a variety of books--that's what I was about this week. It's doubly good when a book-lover is blessed with books about books!

Have a good day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, but isn't that what EVERY day is? I know God has a perfect plan for me, but I'm not sure what it is. I don't want to miss it. But, while I'm waiting, here are some pictures.

The first two are from Texas when I stayed with Paisley. The first is at the park near Paisley's house and the second is Donavan at the parakeet house at the Tyler Zoo. Scores of parakeets and a few other birds flock to the seed-covered sticks you hold in your hand. Paisley wasn't too sure about all the birds flying around, but Donavan and I enjoyed seeing them.
These two pictures are Jessie's dorm room at North Central University. Emily and Bri were excited to see her room the day they picked me up.

These two are some pictures of Jessie and I enjoying some loving from our little Minnesota girls.

The last two are my dear friends Mark and Susanne, Jeremy's folks. They were so sweet to just happen to be in Minnesota with their motorhome and planning to return home through Nebraska just when I needed a ride. Susanne and I had great "girlfriend" time on the trip. We didn't mind that the detours and stops along the way caused the trip to be longer than intended. Thanks, guys, it was great fun!

Have a great day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Beautiful Nebraska Day

Today was one of those beautiful Nebraska days--the kind we have most often in the fall. It's a cool (60's) morning, clear blue sky, with the promise of warming up to the 80's, no more.

I celebrated this fantastic day by riding my bike. My car is fixed (thanks to Don), so I attached my bike rack, loaded up my bike, and headed into town. I started at 56th and Hwy 2, rode to 27th and Hwy 2, turned south across the bridges (Jacob knows), and rode almost to Old Cheney. I figure a round trip would be 6+ miles--a good start for me.

Since it was such a wonderful day, and because it is Saturday, there were loads of people on the trail. After I turned to head back, I counted 44 people who I met or passed or who passed me. They were walking, jogging, rollerblading, and biking. It's nice that Lincoln has such great trails and even better that so many people take advantage of them.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Summer's almost over? How can that be?

Where did the summer go? I'm home from a great weekend of visiting Annie and David in Longview and babysitting Paisley while they went on a couple's retreat. Paisley and I had a great time--we played, went to the zoo, read books, shopped a little, and just snuggled.

This afternoon I went to lunch and a movie with my walking/Bible study gals. We saw Julia & Julie and so enjoyed it. It's a really sweet movie, especially if you remember watching Julia Child on TV, or if you enjoying cooking now, or if you're a blogger, or if you've just turned 30 and need a little pick-me-up.

I'm looking forward to the routine (if there is such a thing) of the fall, but am excited/sad too about taking Jessie to college in Minneapolis in a couple weeks.

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Here I am: sad one minute and happy the next!

That's all for now!

I Give Up!

I spent all afternoon today--from 1 pm to 8:30 pm--trying to put some new pictures on my computer and then my blog. The blog was entitled "I Keep Trying." But, after much frustration, I've decided my time would be better spent on something else. So, I'm giving up on blogging until someone volunteers to sit next to me, teach me each step, help me write down each step, then watch over me to make sure I've learned it.
So, if you have been checking this blog, I'm sorry. Don't bother anymore! Just look at Steph's blog and go to everyone else's from there.
If you want to see any of my pictures--my grandkids, the balloons, the fireworks, the bats, the spiral staircase of the Kansas state capitol--just ask me in person.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Feathered Friends

Just have to tell you about all the BEAUTIFUL birds I've had at my feeder the past two weeks: Baltimore orioles (thanks to Jeremy starting them out with some grape jelly), rose-breasted grosbeaks (my favorites next to the orioles), goldfinches, indigo buntings (really a prize), downy woodpeckers, a rare hairy woodpecker, red-breasted woodpeckers, cardinals, a brown thrasher and a nuthatch, as well as the nuisance blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, starlings, and grackles. On the ground I've had turtle doves and robins. One day a robin was in the feeder (a very rare occurence), sampling the oriole's jelly! (Jer, I'm into my second jar of jelly.)

If you can't identify any of the above, look them up in your bird book. I wish I could show you some pictures, but that's challenging through the kitchen window without scaring them away. I'll work on that.

I think that's pretty impressive for just a small-time feeder in the country near Roca, NE! I have a feeder with just sunflower seeds and a little cup (actually a green plastic cup from the gelato place in Austin) for grape jelly; a finch feeder with thistle seed; and a suet feeder (which is now empty--where's Jeremy when I need him?); and my bird bath.

I can only watch them while standing at my kitchen counter, so it really helps pass the time while I'm doing dishes and cooking.

I hope your days are going as well as mine!

Friday, May 22, 2009


All our family was home for Jessie's graduation last weekend. We had a fantastic time. Here are a few pictures.

This first one was taken the night of the Honor's Convocation. You can see Jessie and her girlfriends wearing their Honor Society cords.

This is Jessie singing her mini-solo at the Show Choir Show.

You can get a glimpse of our "decorated" garage for Jessie's party. It was so nice to not worry about the weather and the pink and green and black colors looked beautiful.

Here's a great picture of all our family after Jessie's graduation. You can see all our kids and spouses and grandkids, plus our nephew Curt.

Have a great day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

PROM Pictures

Here are some pictures from Prom. You can see Jessie's dress somewhat. The first one is of her "twirling" around while she was waiting for Brad to arrive. The second one is one of my favorites with her by herself. The last one is at the Haymarket. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day for picture taking.

Now onward to graduation!