Seymour. See more. 

Through the years we haven’t learned much about picking out a family dog.  Every time has been completely different and every dog has been completely unique. Knowing that some of us have  allergies hasn’t kept us from adopting the wrong dog either.    It seems that they have all adapted  to our home in their own special way.  
Lady was our first protector. Adopted when the girls were just four and two, she became the mama bear dog that we needed and never let a stray animal of any kind onto our property.  We introduced everything from cats to sheep to ducks into her care. And for fourteen years she did a great job.  

Dolly was her collie sidekick for about six of those years. They never ran the neighborhood.  Just kept us busy with late night noise fits to warn off coyotes or raccoons or the wandering deer. 

Furbie was a story of his own. He blessed our home with fur-friend power to everyone we knew.  His word knowledge was so good we had to be careful what we said or his interpretation could lead to serious disappointment.  The funniest character flaw was his two rows of bottom teeth.  The frustration of trying to get him to “come” was overturned by the fact that he would “Go!” wherever you might command. For instance “Go sofa,” or “Go Granma'” was met by immediate obedience!

Waldo was not a good replacement for such an intelligent fur-ball. But alas he was next on the adoption radar. He’s a very smart little firecracker. And that explains the problem.  He won’t shut up. I’ve tried everything, and have finally just resolved that if there is someone new, there will be an exuberant barking bomb that only ends when the ammunition is empty.  Good thing firecrackers have a short fuse. His energy doesn’t last too long. Probably should not have taken him to that Fourth of July fireworks show as a five month old as his first real social gig. He’s lived up to that explosion of excitement ever since!

Seymour. See more . 

We brought this big boy home July fourth 2015 in a car laden with construction equipment. That was the weekend my husband, my brother and my daughter built the an-elephant-could-walk-on-it deck at my mothers house.  Bringing an 80 pound Labrador home in such confinement probably tested my husbands patience more than I’ll ever know. 

This is our good boy. Just too bad he sheds.  He has only one fault. He will tear down the door on the house just to get in and be with us.  Be With.  That is his goal.  He has companionship bred in his blood.  

The other breeding mix-up is the hound dog blood. Recently I moved two of his favorite toys to safekeeping. Placing them inside the locked food bin has them ever handy for “playing” with him when I go out the back door. Today I decided to throw green ball for a few fetch -returns.  But alas my eyesight has gotten a bit troublesome on the pitch. So the green ball found the tree branch on its flight to the ground and was perfectly directed away from Seymour’s location. The next thing that happpened rather surprised me. Instead of watching or listening for the ball’s fall and whereabouts, he put his nose to the ground and proceeded to “find.”  This tracking technique occurred four more times as the branch location interrupted my pitch each time. Next time  I will use the word “find” when we play. I was pretty impressed with his ability inspite of the sub-zero temperatures. 

The Bible passage that settled on my mind follows: Jeremiah 29:13, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (NKJV)

With the coming of the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” I was happy to exclaimed that I already read the book through my talking book library loan program. Seymour’s purpose is in his name. When we got him they had given him an awful three syllable name of Goliath.  Well no dog answers to such a long name. So I knew right away what name he would have. It took quite a few months to get him to listen.  My purpose for him is to use him as my eyes when I’m outside. He finds Dad, the greenhouse, the garage, the mail, the old house, the steps, the font door, the horse-Cocoa, the flower bed, the garden, and many other such places as I name them. We have done this with leash, with guide dog harness, with slip-collar, and with me just hanging on to his neck excess.  I have done this in broad daylight and in the blindfolded darkness of night. He never ceases to amaze me at taking me directly to my command. Seymour has allowed me to see more.  

One last story for the smile-factor. One night as he was taking me back to the house from our visit to the garage where dad was working, he ran right into the hitch on the vehicle with his shoulder. It was a pretty loud smack. Ever since that night Seymour steers way around the vehicles. We were laughing about this at his expense and decided he needed a doggie lamp for himself not me!

Blessings to all who enjoy a good game of seek and find. When you search may you always find the Lord’s gifts even in the mistakes and interruptions of life. 

Oh no – I think I blinked!

A mother’s parody on children growing up

One Saturday evening after a particularly difficult week I pulled up my phone to look at my Facebook feed only to throw it back down much like a hot potato. When I began sobbing uncontrollably my daughter traded rolls with me and held me in her arms to ask me what was the matter. 

“I blinked,” I sobbed into her shoulder. 

“You what?” She asked as I was unintelligible. “I don’t understand. Is everything okay?”

“Oh no-” I sobbed , “I think I blinked!”

“I don’t understand,” she repeated.

So between tears I explained that the picture on my Facebook feed of my niece and nephew fingerpainting at the table was wrong. It threw  me back 20 years earlier to when we used to have table time activities. Now look here she was doing a complete role reversal  on me. And I’m pretty sure I blinked. Somehow I missed when the children at the table had changed. It had all happened much too quickly. Now my despair at aging had just been escalated like the Richter scale of earthquakes!

For the first 10 years of my life our family lived in northern South Dakota. Herried  was just 7 miles from the North Dakota border on highway 83. We moved next to the opposite end of the state to Herrick. There we lived just 7 miles north of the Nebraska border on a very gravel road. It was during this time frame that I became aware of the broader world. Often we would take the road less traveled and I would hear comments like these: we are coming up to such and such town or here’s the hole in the road place or if you blink you’ll miss it. Places like Artas and Mound City  were replaced with ones like Lucas and Clearfield. 

One  such place was Saint Charles an old stop on the railway line that now was nothing more than a church steeple, an old log general store, and once thriving elevator for local farmers. It’s steeple protruding above the tree line is an image I can recall easily.  I remember holding my eyes open  until they seemed to hurt from dryness. The trail of dust behind us could obscur the once visible so quickly. Oh how I didn’t want to blink and miss something important that everyone else would talk about and I had not seen. 

Last week the soybeans in the field changed colors. They are the first of natures markers for fall in our area. The leaves turn from green to yellow to gold to rust and then brown dryness gives way to a barren pods only twig. When Lennea was in high school she captured a photo of snow and ice on the unharvested bean pods. It was the early snow that devastated many cattle ranchers in our state.  We used the photo on a calendar for the following year. That picture is burned in my memory bank. 

The day that I missed the seemingly overnight color change I was reminded of my childhood fear blink and you’ll miss it. 

One of the toys I had as a child was called the viewfinder. The pictures are on a little disc which when slid into the finder can be seen by clicking a lever on the side. The pictures are so tiny on the little disc but become larger than life when the viewfinder is placed up  to the eyes. It’s magnifying power entrancd me. I remember staring at those pictures and clicking the lever over and over and over to watch the scene before my eyes change. As a child the little gadget was nearly the same as  watching out the car window on trips. On occasion however the lever would only get pushed halfway and the picture could be stuck between frames. Here there was nothing but darkness. 

 As a teenager I was diagnosed with our family’s genetic RP.  The eye doctor was so alarmed at the rapid digression of my  cones. He warned my parents I might be blind within five years.    They began doing field vision tests on me which were ancient in practice compared to the much easier visual photos they take now of the retina. I hated these field tests for I felt that I was always missing the little red dot. I wasn’t even blinking and I was missing it. 

The fear of missing things or not remembering a scene before me has traveled with me. I often find myself staring at the scene before me trying to capture the image lest I never forget how something looks. I wonder like my relatives before me who have gone blind if someday I will blink and nothing will be there anymore. Will it be like that childhood viewfinder who’s frame is stuck between images ? 

Recently I saw an exaggerated passage of time sign that read something like this: Fall is here that means it’s nearly October and it’s practically Thanksgiving and Christmas is next week!  This warped calendar parody made me think of the childhood fear that I’d had of  blinking and missing some important mile marker. Using landmarks for whereabouts while driving is not quite the same as using which children are at the table for telling one’s age. However exaggerated my feelings had been, that’s exactly what I had just experienced. And so for some reason it also reminded me of the best advice I had ever received on parenting. 

The second night after my first daughter was born God sent me the best nurse that I could’ve had. She spent all night walking and talking with me after my surgical birthing experience. She gave me this advice: 

“Don’t ever talk about your child as being in stages.  Don’t say things like I can’t wait till this stage is over. Or when this stage is passed things will be better.  Don’t curse your children with the terrible two’s or the awful teenage years.  Your child’s life is not some stage you must endure. Enjoy each phase of growing and learning. Live in the moment otherwise you’ll never enjoy the journey of your daughters growing up. Because you’ll blink and one day she’ll be gone. The growing up stage will disappear and the curtains will be pulled shut forever.”

 I never forgot her wise wee hours of motherhood advice. 

Most of us have had that instant Kodak moment when something looks vaguely familiar. Oddly enough time has warped in lightspeed fashion and our brain waves tell us: that reminds me when…

So I was reminded of my own children and their table time activities when I saw a picture of my niece and nephew. So what you might say, we’ve all had things like that. Some how  for me it was more than just a snap shot moment. My Facebook feed had become my adult viewfinder. I had that incredible overwhelming emotion that told me I had just blinked. The past 20 years have been reduced to a blink. Now I knew that nurse had been right. My children were no longer on the growing up stage. The curtains had shut and then reopened to reveal a different set of children at table time. 

Oh yes – I think I blinked!

Tomato season is here

The seasons seem to come in life whether we are ready for them or not ready for them. This week we laid in the ground a dear friend who would have celebrated his 69th wedding anniversary. Our hearts feel a certain gravity even though the season of life’s winter had been long.  Why is it so hard to believe another life has left us?  We are perfectly fine with season changes in the year but seasons of life are hard to grasp. 

Tomato season is here. For years the sign of ripe tomato meant that school was in session. For the first time in 19 years school isn’t as big a deal in this house. Yet I know for other households it might be a really big change. 

The smells of salsa and spaghetti sauce use to be the backdrop for book learning to begin for my homeschooled daughters. They might take a break and help me. Or I would get beautiful music to work by, as they practiced their cello or violin during my kitchen duties. Through  those years of schooling I enjoyed their presence so much. When the springtime of their lives  suddenly turned to summer, and my fall was left with silence during tomato season…  Well, I cried. 

The first fall they were both off to college marked the beginning of a new season for me. My drivers license was no longer in my wallet. My peripheral vision had digressed to a point that the central vision was also deteriorating and the eye doctor would not sign for a drivers license exemption. This event was simultaneous to our empty-nest season. 

Though this may have been untimely, I knew that I didn’t want to suffer a traumatic car accident. So I accepted this change of season. But the inability to release myself from loneliness at my girls absence from home soon began to feel like a prison sentence. My pain seemed magnified. I missed my girls, I missed my ability to drive, I missed schooling at home and now it was tomato season. So I cried. 

After a couple of years the season got a bit better and I asked my husband to help me in the evenings and weekends. That went better for me as I had a new tomato buddy!  Then last year a new season arrived. Illness. God chose to allow me to have pleurisy. Thankfully it was not the sign of any other physical ailment and the viral pleurisy would run its course for about seven weeks. Right through tomato season. So then I missed my girls, I missed home schooling, I missed being able to do anything.  And now I missed tomato season, too! I would have cried but I hadn’t the air or breath to do so. 

People quite frequently use to ask me one question in particular as this season came. “Wouldn’t my girls miss out on all the stuff that school children got to do?” My answer was always the same. There is always something to be missed. Perhaps we felt that those school children were missing out on the kind of life we lived. 

So this tomato season has arrived and I vowed it should be a good one. Canning and putting up produce is supposed to be a harvest celebration. Something like the feast of the harvest moon or whatever! My husband’s favorite thing about harvest is spending a few hours in the combine with his brother. My first daughter’s favorite thing about fall was seeing the jars of sauces multiply before her very eyes. My second daughter seems to enjoy the camera worthy moments of discovery that occur in hunting for the vegetables. The photo above and the video below were both done by Lennea.  My favorite thing might be reminiscing about all the animal harvest stories. 

Lady was our first puppy. As a black Labrador retriever, we thought she was fitting her name. Until she discovered the garden. I would consider the cucumbers and other produce and try to leave them until the perfect ripeness. Then they would disappear. I soon began to wonder who was stealing my best slicing cucumbers -Lady of course!  I finally caught her sneaking back to the garden after I had gone into the house. She also stole rhubarb, green beans, and green tomatoes. 

Lady left us the year Yolanda went to college. Many others can tell the same story of the family pet whose heart is unable to survive the favored friend leaving home. This too is a season of life. Bil Kerne said, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift from God, that is why we call it the  present.” We remember our dear ones of the past. But it’s those present still who are God’s gifts to us now.

Our favorite animal for the harvest no-goods, ones the bugs or rabbits found, is probably Cocoa.  He is our no good horse or rather our good for nothing pony. Our chore boy!  The reason we have chores. Cocoa is so excited when we start spring gardening. He whinnies and snickers just yards from our work area. And he is never very far away whenever I weed or cleanup garden mess. He believes we plant the garden for him. It is his noisy consumption of any no-good-for-canning produce that gives us endless laughter and enjoyment. 

Tomato season is here. God’s gift of tasty goodness, no matter the season of life.

Finding glad when happy is lost

The moral of this story will be quite obvious but only makes sense when the whole story is told. So I’m going back a few years. 
We had a little furball friend named Furbie when the kids were growing up. I say little because his predicted 12 pounds grew into nearly 25 pounds. He spent so much time with this homeschool mom and her two daughters that his word knowledge was that of a forever toddler. He was pretty smart for a dog. 

Furbie knew all the names of his toys and we could ask him to retrieve them by those names. He would hunt for them in his toybox hidden under a sofa cushion or lost behind the furnace door . One time for Christmas he received a hoops and yo-yo’s squeeze toy. This plush toy described all of our puppies good attributes and we thought it was the perfect toy for Furbie. The problem was that the perfect toy had a squeeze recorder that did not withstand his teeth command and broke only seconds after he removed the gift from its wrapping. His visible frustration was so obvious that we re-dubbed the toy the-worst-Christmas-ever. Our little furball friend could retrieve that toy by name for the rest of his all too short life. 

Another of the toys that he received as a birthday gift we named happy. It was a little green Dura play squeak ball that he only played with when he was truly happy. He played with it when we were all home or just after a haircut or when a bag of new food was opened or just after a shower. The toy was appropriately named. 

When he died we kept his things and I sanitized them and gave them to our new dog Waldo. Once again it wasn’t long before Waldo had bequeathed happy as his most favorite toy. We went on the hunt and purchased a couple more of these little balls as a back up so that we would never be without. However the original happy was never surpassed. Waldo would soon learn to pout and cry and whine and even bark if original happy was lost behind the sofa or the furnace door, under a bed or a dresser. Finally original happy met its end as the toys rubber became so soft it cracked and no longer squeaked. When the crack reached thumb sized I decided that much like a worn pacifier for a little child, it was time to discard old original happy. Besides we had two new ones right?  

We had purchased a little green one and a little blue one but Waldo has taken to the blue durra play ball rather than the green one. We call it glad. 

Glad however is a substitute for happy. It is not happy. Happy is gone. Happy is circumstantial and often driven by the happenstances of our surroundings possessions and such. Glad is finding a substitution. Glad is deciding life could be worse and there could be no toys at all. Glad is searching for the blessings in spite of the trials. Glad is knowing that even though life is not Disney World Happy it is not an earthquake either. Glad is perhaps playing with a broken hoops and yo-yo toy. 

A friend of mine gave me a little business card sized poem years ago that says this:

What God Hath Promised

God hath not promised / skies always blue / flower strewn pathways all our lives through / God hath not promised / sun without rain / joy without sorrow peace without pain / But God has promised / strength for the day / rest for the laborer / light on the way / grace for the trial / help from above / Unfailing compassion Undying love

That little card has been on my kitchen cabinet right next to my sink for nearly 20 years in four houses and four different kitchens. Perhaps I don’t always find happiness in my circumstances. Sometimes I forget to play the glad game and look for my blessings in my trials. But God always finds a way to break through the storm clouds and shine joy that is eternal into my day​


Yesterday the 14th of July about noon I went out to do some errands and in my wandering discovered a little flower of the hour in the rocks next to my flower boxes. I thought it was  an unusual flower so I captured a picture of it on my phone. My thoughts had been of my niece Amanda much that day as the day marked her going to Heaven fifteen years earlier. At supper we ran into her dad’s uncle and aunt at Burger King. I don’t believe in coincidence. I had also been thinking of a young woman who had just lost her full-term baby, and of a relative’s sister who is battling  cancer for a second time. These thoughts had filled my mind with sadness, frustration and much prayer. 

Later that evening we went to visit my husband’s brother and wife. I experienced my dark moment when my brother-in-law invited me  to come in at the garage door; I stood frozen. As I was unable to see anything or where to go, I didn’t feel comfortable running into him or into anything else for that matter. Later in bed that night I expressed my feelings to my husband and told him “I just don’t want to do this.”

Today there is no sign of the little flower. The hibiscus weed is often seen in the ditches around this area. So my thoughts turn to a familiar  passage in Scripture. Isaiah 40 verse six through eight

The  voice said ,”cry out!” and he said “what shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass and all its loveliness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades because the breath of the Lord blows up on it. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers the flower fades but the word of our God stands forever.”

Gavin and I went out that that evening at about 6 PM for I wanted to show him the flower but there was no sign of it. My flower of the hour had disappeared. I had taken a picture of it. I had crocheted a granny square of it. I had asked a neighbor weed expert about it.  The Venice mallow had disappeared.

The next reference that I followed in my reading led me to John chapter 12 verse 34. But the passage doesn’t make a whole lot of sense until you read the whole thing. I will insert verses 34 through 36 here. 

The people answered him, “we have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever and how can you say the Son of Man must be lifted up. Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them a little while longer the light is with you walk while you have the light lest darkness overtake you. He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light believe in the light that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke and departed and was hidden from them.”

I know there are many people who don’t understand my blindness. My husband even often forgets. Because I can read and see what is in front of me (sometimes) people don’t think of my blindness much. My eyes focus on what they want but there is no peripheral  vision at all. I can often run into what is directly in front of me. 

 Last Sunday at church some poor generous little child offered me his second give-this-sucker-away candy after the children’s moment. I didn’t even see this gift until later. The child had offered it to me and waved it in front of me but finally laid the candy gift down in my glasses case. My husband recounted the scene to me as he sat in the upstairs sound booth and had a birds eye view of the whole play. The couple behind me had seen the whole thing and the wife  whispered to the husband she didn’t see any of that and the husband  whispered back nope doesn’t have a clue. 

This moment would be rather embarrassingly funny only for the fact that it involves me. It is no joke for me. It brings tears of sadness and tears of frustration and anger. 

And it leads me to a midnight cry that says ” I don’t want to do this.” 

I am glad we had our niece for 17 years. I am glad the lady fighting cancer got to see her son get married.  I hope the young woman who lost her full term baby got to hold him for an hour. I’m glad God gave me my little flower-of-an-hour while I could still see it.  

Romance at 25 years

Just when I thought life was yelling me into a little rabbit hole and the tears were about to run unchecked, the cute little boy in my life ran into the house from his outdoor duties to bring me a flower. Actually it was my husband coming in for a jacket while mowing and stopping long enough to tell me that the irises were exploding purple all over the flower bed. There was just enough time for me to snap some photos. 

Some years ago I wrote a poem that was inspired by my brother bringing my mother some dandelions. Here  it is 


This flower is a mothers joy

And many a tear it has brought

For out in the sun her little boy

Plays without a thought

Suddenly amongst the dirt and grass

He sees the Lionhead weed

And into the house he flies so fast

He forgets the mud on his feet

Mother yells, “Stop! Get out!”

But her little boy doesn’t hear

He tumbles forward to bring her his gift

And down her face rolls a tear

For her little boy that was in the yard just

Was playing so without thought

Until he saw this flat yellow flower

And of his dear mother he thought

This poem was written in May of 1989. My brother was six years old then. I don’t remember if I was home after my spring term in college or if my mother just told me about a bouquet that he brought to her. But it was so endearing. 

Recently my daughter brought me another bouquet some boy has given her. I say another because she had been a little overwhelmed with unwanted suitors and found it easier to bring the flowers home to her mother then to turn them down. At about the same time frame, I had been expressing to my husband my desire to pick up some flowers to plant in my boxes in front of the house. So when he asked me the other evening if I had gotten any flowers that day I told him no that our daughter hadn’t told anyone No that particular day. He just chuckled then asked if I had gotten to the green house yet. It was my turn to laugh as I had misunderstood the topic at hand. 

This evening as he shared with me the joy of our exploding purple flower bed I thought of the young boy he once was to his mother. I had actually been talking to his mom on the phone when he tracked the grass all through the house on his search for warmth. I was quite happy with myself for not yelling at her little boy for the mess he added to my daughter-just-home-from-college-boxes-everywhere floor that can’t be swept right now!  But I was especially glad that after 25 years of marriage our romance is still very alive and my husband was the one to “give me flowers today!” They were not discarded roses from an unexpected, unwanted suitor. Yes, my mother in laws little boy left his thoughtless mowing moment because he thought of me!

The dripping faucet

The decision to online journal has been a desire of mine for sometime now. I have always kept a journal. I have an entire chest full of them, so I suppose that means writing is second nature to me. I’m not even sure what the focus of my writings will have other then for me to regain my focus
Four years ago my second daughter graduated from homeschool high school and  I retired from teaching. However after 20 years of mothering purpose I have spent the last four years much like a fish out of water flopping around on some dock. My creative outpouring nature has nearly reached its death. I have finally begun to feel more like a drowning victim whose last breath is about to be swallowed up by water as it fills the lungs. 

It was at this last breath moment that my inner dream finally cried out and I asked my husband to help me set up a blog site. Always wanting to write a book I have never felt like I had anything worth reading. But my desire to write has never gone away. From my early years of poetry writing and birthday card creations to these latter one’s of song compositions and frustration venting journals, writing for me is an outlet that at times acts like a dripping faucet and at other times like a white water rapids. Writing for me is in innerspring that just cannot be stopped up.

These last four years with both of my daughters off to college and my drivers license revoked my attempt to remake myself has been very difficult. I have spent much of this time mothering myself and nearly failing. What is a legally blind retired homeschool Mother to do when there is no one left at home to Mother??

My faith in the unseen has given me hope that kept purchasing ink pens and writing tablets. Even as my eyesight continues to digress my love of writing is a deep well that leads me to still Waters and refreshes my soul.