Say Hello To My Little Friend

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When City Boy and I first moved here, I was immediately adopted by Kaylee, the little girl across the street.  She and I do things together like walking the dog, tramping through the woods, playing computer games, eating, etc.

She was very proud of her big icicle find the last time we were out in the weather.

Back in June it was a different picture outdoors.

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It was already hotter than blue blazes (whatever that means) when we moved in to our humble temporary home, and Kaylee was right there to help.

But, that was then and this is now, and the two are a sharp contrast.

The city park, where kids like Kaylee usually like to hang out and play, is cold, gloomy and quiet.  Only whispering ghosts of children’s laughter might break the silence.

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Wouldn’t it have been a fun surprise to have seen snowmen in the park?!

Even on the gloomiest days there is usually something a person can do to brighten it up, even if it’s only to smile.

Just an update on my son’s father, who I mentioned in my previous post: He actually made it through the surgery.  Even though there were some unexpected complications during the surgery, he somehow managed to pull through.  He’s not out of the woods yet, and still isn’t very coherent most of the time, but we are told it has more to do with all the medication they are giving him.  Hope and God’s grace is there for those who reach out and grab it, for sure.

For now, darkness covers the ice, and bedtime fast approaches.  Greetings to you — be careful, stay safe and warm, and be blessed!

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Winter’s Hope

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“February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.” ~J.R. Stockton

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The haunted wood

Winter is so full of promise — it causes many of us to appreciate the other three seasons of the year so much more!  But there is such a quiet beauty about winter that keeps it from being a total downer.

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The haunted wood

On Wednesday my 23-year-old son may have to say goodbye to his father.  A heart surgery is coming up tomorrow that, according to what doctors have told them, only has about a 20% chance of being successful.  Despite the weather, my son has driven up to Missouri to spend some time with his father.

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The haunted wood

It’s hard to know what to say when someone who is probably at death’s door tells you he is really afraid.  I have told him his son is headed up there and will be there soon, and that City Boy and I are praying for him and thinking of him.  I have told him that with these surgeons he is in good hands.  Blah, blah, blah.  I don’t say it out loud, but it all seems like pointless words.

But, you know, with every breath of life there is hope.  Maybe that 20% chance is all he will need for a new beginning.

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Backyard magnolia tree berries

The hope that Winter brings for a nice, warm Spring just around the corner is the same hope we should use for everything else in life.  The ever present thought of what might be just around the corner; the hope in that slight chance that things might turn out even better than expected; the anticipation of rebirth.

Backyard magnolia tree in ice

Backyard magnolia tree in ice

As you stumble through this winter wonderland of snow and ice, or even if you have a winter full of nice, sunny days, I hope you are full of hope.  Be careful, stay warm, and be blessed!

Backyard magnolia tree in ice

Backyard magnolia tree in ice

“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” ~Victor Hugo

On Ice

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“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~Ruth Stout

The haunted wood in ice

The haunted wood in ice

The lower Midwest winters can be grueling, not just because of the type of precipitation, but mostly because whatever icy/snowy weather that happens is unpredictable.

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The haunted wood in ice

But no matter how confining winter weather can be, the beauty of it is inescapable.  Every tree, every branch, every part of the woodland is drenched in a tapestry of frozen splendor.

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The haunted wood in ice

The ravine often overflows during times like this, and we are always at risk of having a flooded backyard, depending on how much ice and snow we get.  But it does make for a pretty scene out in the woods.

The haunted wood in ice

The haunted wood in ice

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” ~John Burroughs, “Winter Sunshine”

Greetings for now from us in the house by the haunted wood — be careful, be safe, be warm, and be blessed!

A Delta Greeting

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What a year full of changes!  Life is that way — good or bad, it goes with the flow, and we just have to go along with it if we can’t change it ourselves.  But that’s a good thing at times!

Mom, at home about a week after second surgery

Last May my Mom, then 85, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She underwent a lumpectomy, then several weeks later was told they hadn’t gotten all of the cancer and that she needed a mastectomy.  Back into the hospital she went, and afterwards I stayed at her and Dad’s house for nearly a month while she recovered enough to be able to make it on her own with Dad’s help.  The healing has been slow, especially due to her age, and she is taking no treatments, so we all keep our fingers crossed.

In June Frank was accepted into a year-long residency program at a hospital in Arkansas, and so we had a ten-day notice to pack up a three-bedroom house and get moved.  That was the most horrendous move I have ever made, and I hope to be more prepared in May when the residency is over and we move again.

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We are now living in a small town in the Delta region of southern Arkansas.  Our neighborhood borders an area of land that is heavily wooded and is an Indian graveyard of some sort (the “haunted” wood, supposedly).  I have not been exploring there yet, because it is very densely overgrown, but I’d like to find some of the gravesites if I can get brave enough to push my way through the woods.

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The haunted wood

 

Just inside the haunted wood, turned around and facing the back yard

Just inside the haunted wood, turned around and facing the back yard

The tree line extends behind our house, and a ravine runs right through the middle of it, which adds to the difficulty navigating through the woods, but I’m pretty determined, so we’ll see what happens.

A holdout winter leaf floating in the ravine water of the haunted wood

A holdout winter leaf floating in the ravine water of the haunted wood

Although winter makes most things bare and dead-looking, we do still have some greenery mixed-in our local foliage.  Pine trees dotted here and there, some sort of leafy bush scattered throughout the woods that has leaves that stay green.

A few holdout leaves cling to bare branches

A few holdout leaves cling to bare branches

Pine tree adds a little green in amongst the bare winter woods

Pine tree adds a little green in amongst the bare winter woods

And some sort of tree in the back yard that is still green.  I don’t know what kind it is, but someone suggested that it looks like a magnolia tree.

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City Boy and I wanted to send our greetings to you from our little house next to the haunted wood, and we hope this year so far has been kind to you and shown you favor!

Valentine’s Day will be here before we all know it, so stock up on chocolate and flowers!

 

Winter Is Beautiful (Except For the Things That Bug Me About It)

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Cell phone shot of dormant Winter crop

You’ve seen them.  THOSE people.  They are outside on a 22 degree day in short sleeves and slippers doing some sort of house/lawn/car repair.  The cold doesn’t bother them.  Meanwhile you’re huddled inside with the flu, hacking up a lung, the slightest movement of air making you convulse in shivers.

But then that’s just it — you think to yourself, “Dang, I would be cold even if I didn’t have the flu.  I’m cold all winter.”

Why are some people impervious to cold, while others can dress out in eight layers of clothes until they’re unable to bend their arms or legs, and still be shivering?

It’s a mystery of Mother Nature.  Or Mother Someone-or-other.

And while I’m here, a word or two about neighbors (and you know which neighbors you are):

If your teenage son is going to start his loud car early in the morning to warm it up and leave it running for 20 minutes, there is no need for him to spend five more ear-splitting minutes revving the engine full force as he’s leaving.

Ah, but I’m ranting.  Really, I have great neighbors and I’m sure you do, too.  It’s just that when the really cold weather hits, some people tend to be too cold to think.  But that’s true of some people whether they’re neighbors or not. 

So, I’m just asking, when the temperatures go way down, try not to kick thoughtfulness out the door.  Not everybody handles cold weather well.

One more little piece of Winter etiquette to consider:  It costs money to heat our house.  Know that if you knock on my door and start trying to sell me something or save my soul, I’m not going to stand there holding my door open to hear your spiel/sermon.

And no, I’m not letting you in.

The Rest of the Story

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There has been a lot of cold weather and snow and ice this winter in our neck of the woods, but it hasn’t dampened the togetherness, fun and activities that abound this time of year!

My last post was made two months ago from my daughter’s house (I am hanging my head in a frown of shame), and I am anxious to get back in the swing of blogging.  But the first thing I want to tell you about is the rest of the visit with my daughter and her family — it was a real hoot!

It was a big surprise to me when The Pioneer Woman and her husband Marlboro Man, Ree and Ladd Drummond, dropped into town to pay a visit!  Those of you who don’t know who they are can find out by watching Ree’s show on the Food Network or visiting her blog here.  Ree also has several cookbooks out, and they are all good!  My favorite is her most recent cookbook, A Year of Holidays, in which she covers recipes for all of the holidays throughout the year.

Pioneer Woman is also a show that my eight-year-old grandson, Michael, watches avidly (who’d have thought?), and so when I had previously bought several of Ree’s cookbooks I ended up letting him choose one of mine.  Ree has also written a children’s book, and I tried to talk Michael into letting me get that for him instead of the cookbook, but he was not interested.  He liked the pictures in the cookbook, and wouldn’t you know?  The cookbook of mine that he chose was my favorite, the holiday one.  Oh well, he’s my grandson — I can deny him nothing.

At any rate, Michael was thrilled to meet both Ree and Ladd, and he and Ladd got into a little hairstyle conversation — Ladd even took his hat off and showed his hair to Michael!  We all found both Ree and Ladd to be very friendly, real people!

Joel, my son and youngest of my children, decided he wanted to take me on a trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas as a late birthday present for me.  I saw a lot of beautiful Fall scenery, went up into a high tower, and toured the town.  Joel wanted to tour the town’s haunted hotel, the Basin Park Hotel.  The hotel hosts a normal “ghost” tour, but since Joel had already been on it, he decided to take me on the tour himself.

Trouble is, Joel tends to forget a lot of detail.  A typical conversation during the tour was kind of like this:

Joel: “This ballroom is supposed to be haunted.”

Me: “By who?”

Joel: (shrugging) “Some girl.”

But the tour was fun, anyway, and even though we didn’t get to see any ghosts, the history is really interesting.  The elevator wasn’t put in until 1905 (using it kind of scared me), and the whole place smelled like most really old buildings smell, so it added to the nuance.  The hotel was originally a fine hotel, and I tried to imagine what it must have been like in its glory days.  They still even accommodate guests, and have some nice rooms, but the overwhelming smell alone would deter me from that, not to mention that everything in the building now creaks and pops.  If you’re in Eureka Springs sometime I would recommend a visit to the Basin Park Hotel.

Later that evening my daughter and her family, Joel and I went out for Joel’s birthday celebration at a game place called the Lokomotion.  Joel and my son-in-law Bobby enjoyed some go carts while the rest of us worked on earning lots of tickets so Mickael could get some great prizes.  Afterwards we went to a buffet to eat (my favorite thing to do), and the whole evening was a blast!

Lokomotion

As always, I had a great visit with my daughter and her family, and look forward to the next visit!

Since I am so behind and didn’t even update some of my far away family members on what everybody here has been doing, I’ll be trying to post a catch-up post this weekend.  I hope all of you are doing well and staying warm, and that you are loving life!  

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

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Most of us have made dishes that turned out a little “too” spicy, so this is a tip I will keep handy!

My Meals are on Wheels

Over spiced your dinner? Just add a bit of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. The sweet flavor allows your taste buds to handle more hot, saving your meal.

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Time Away

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Cover of "To Grandmother's House We Go"

One thing about having every
single one of your children and grandchildren living a distance from you is that you can take mini excursions to their house to visit.  “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” has given way to “Grandma’s coming and she gets to sleep in MY bed and I get to sleep on the air mattress!”
I have been out-of-state for a visit with my oldest daughter and her family.  My 22-year-old son lives with them, so it’s a double feature for me when I get to visit with them at their home in Arkansas!
My curly-headed seven-year-old grandson considers my visits to be an adventure, like camping out.  The inconvenience of having someone take over his room doesn’t seem to bother him at all, and it gives him chance to show Grandma all of his toys and explain to her in minute detail how each of them works.
The trouble with visiting here is that I always eat too much, way more than I am used to, and usually stuff that is not very good for me.  So then I always go home fatter and sicker, but it’s worth it to me.  I enjoy seeing my kids and both grandsons, and I do enjoy good food!

Picture of the Ozark Mountains from Missouri S...

The Ozark mountains here in the northeast part of Arkansas are beautiful, and the scenery and vistas are wonderful.  There’s a reason this old gal loves the Ozarks!
Life is slow and easy here, and that’s alright — I’m looking forward to sharing some of my adventures with you when I get back.  In the meantime, I hope you are anticipating Thanksgiving with great relish!

Our Heroes

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Here’s hoping you’ve had a wonderful Veteran’s Day holiday of blessings and cheer, and also observance of our wonderful veterans and men and women in the armed services!

I thought I would share this video I put together in honor of my husband, Frank (City Boy), as well as many, many other service men and women and their families, who gave so very much of themselves for this country.

Have a wonderful, peaceful night, and a great day tomorrow!

One Fall Day

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Sunrise over our Hillbilly 'hood

Sunrise over our Hillbilly ‘hood

As the day awakens and everyone wakes up with it, there is a sense of anticipation for what is to come.  The new day holds a promise of things yet realized — what it brings is up to us.

Sunset over our Hillbilly 'hood

Sunset over our Hillbilly ‘hood

As the sun sets and nightfall is near, our sense of anticipation can still remain.  Our bodies and minds need rest, but our spirit and drive are still there, waiting to start another day tomorrow.

Moonrise over our Hillbilly 'hood

Moonrise over our Hillbilly ‘hood

Lock the joy of the day in your mind and heart, let go of the trials and pain of the day as you lay down to rest, and let troubles fade away as you drift off to sleep.  Whether joy or trouble, a new day full of new possibilities awaits you.  Nothing is carved in stone — a day and a night can change everything.

Meanwhile, someone is getting ready for her trip to the pumpkin patch…

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It’s me, Precious Baby!  And I’m kinda unsure if this will be a  trip that babies like.

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Still not real sure about this…am I for sale?

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All right, so, now what?

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Am I supposed to be doing what he’s doing?

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Well…this…MIGHT not end up being so bad…

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You’re not gonna cry again, are you?  Between teething and wearing a diaper I’m already pretty wet.

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This turned out to be kinda fun!

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I’m so glad Daddy and Mommy brought me!

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And look what Mommy took a picture of — a bug on a pumpkin flower!  She’s getting pretty good at this picture-taking stuff!  But then she’s had lots of practice taking pictures of ME!

Things in Hillbilly Land and this side of the world are coming to a close for the day, and blessings abound everywhere if we look for them.  Whether it is a beautiful grandchild, a beautiful sky, a bug on a flower, or anything that shows us God is near, enjoy your blessings tomorrow as you travel through the day and through life.  Blessings to each and every one of you!