Still winter here

This morning

This was the view from our van this morning as I joined James in heading to school. I had agreed to substitute for the elementary special education teacher today, so we were off early. It is still snowing and more is expected over night. Ah such fun.

Leaving …

The shop

The shop

Today we are leaving on the trip to Tenn. to watch Paulina participate in the NAIA National Indoor Championships for Track and Field. She always says it should be Field and Track. HA! This will be our first trip on a plane since we went to D.C. back in, well I can’t remember. It was to visit Jessica who was an intern for Senator Conrad of ND. Bush Jr. was in the White House, which we didn’t get to tour or even drive by. Means we need to go back, maybe when Oprah is there. Ha!!


Back steps

Back steps

Today James is about going out of his mind because we had a bit of snow over night. Pictures to the side. Roger was not too pleased when we were packing. She kept putting a toy into the carry on and this morning she laid on the big suitcase. I think she would sneak along if she could. They have both been so needy since we returned from the wedding, this trip will likely send them for a spiral. I am just so relieved we are at home the following week without even a day trip. Hurrah. Wait, we will have to go to a grocery store someplace, we don’t even have bread in the house, but that is ok, nothing will spoil while we are gone. So, I have my iPad with and hopefully can drop a post in before we return. Happy March to you all.

Moving the last child, again!

The room with a view.

A room with a view. Ha, ha!!

This past weekend we were in Jamestown to move Paulina from her room at Jessica’s place to a dorm room. As all things work out, I think this will be for the best. Considering the extent of the winter with all the snow and ice and cold, the big bonus will be walking to class instead of driving. It is also a win for Jessica because it will give her time to consider how and when to start getting ready for those two little ones coming this spring. Their items will take up enough space to fill both of those rooms upstairs so not really sure where Jessica and Tony are supposed to fit in the future. They have been thinking of cribs and dressers and changing tables and car seats and baby holders (strollers–bouncy chairs–walker type things) and in the meantime no one has even considered at least not out loud all the toys that will show up because of these twins. I suspect Raja will want to take her little toy area and hide it in a corner of the basement or the garage so they can’t touch any of them.

The view from the doorway

The view from the doorway

For Paulina dorm life means a smaller space, but she is in the end going to enjoy the change of how she is now part of the campus. Something she has not experienced since transferring to U of J. I am a serious advocate of campus life. I moved off as a senior, and it was an interesting experience for one year, but lonely in the end. That last semester when I was student teaching in town, I should have come back and stayed on campus for the convenience. Water under the bridge and not the topic, so back to the moving.

The closet before unpacking

The closet before unpacking

Paulina and I went up on Friday and threw, literally, stuff into boxes and bags and suitcases. I laughed because it was one of those hasty moves, not the type I like to join in where you carefully pack for where you will unload. Since this was all going into the same little space it really did not matter. It was so great that Tony and Jessica came to help with the unloading. James and Paulina and I had filled the cars which was the easy part, seriously. The hard part was getting the two heavy items (small fridge and little plastic bathroom carrier) up three flights of stairs. Yes, she is living on the third floor in a small, private room looking north out at the throwing area. That is probably the best part of her room is she goes down the steps and across the parking lot to practice, that is after the snow melts sometime in July according to our best estimates. Sadly school is out in early May. Hmmmm now I am not sure how that was a benefit. At any rate, the room no longer looks like the pictures in terms of where everything is placed. She spent Saturday after we left and some time on Sunday getting things in place and working out the kinks on Monday. Hopefully this works for everyone. She stopped at Jessica’s place yesterday and said she was greeted rather happily by Raja. I suppose the dog is wondering where the afternoon napping buddy went. HA! Enjoy your January days, we might be wishing for some of the coolness come July, but I am not banking on it.

Jan. 9 Working on the clutter/organizing

It feels like I did nothing today, and yet I picked songs for Sunday and organized my brain which took the major part of the day. Ha! What I really did was fill in my calendar in terms of when I have to lead the worship at the Health Care Center and write the articles for the local newspaper this year. I also sorted through my binder of what needs to be completed this year. That was the organizing my brain part.

Messy counter

Messy counter

Clean counter

Clean counter

What I accomplished that you can see is cleaning off the kitchen counter, sorting and organizing the empty jars and removing several items from the freezer so that the pizza order fits in. We made it with that just barely. I had to drag three of the larger ones into the freezer above the fridge. I guess I know what we will be eating this week. Not really, pizza is usually set aside for Friday nights.

Tonight is a clean out the fridge sort of night with some hamburgers and hash browns made from the potatoes we boiled up on Thursday night when Paulina was here. So the cleaned off counter is sort of a joke. I still have to sort through those onions and probably slice them up for dehydrating tomorrow. I will be sure to put on some really sad music since the aroma with have my eyes in tears anyway. I put the other items where they belonged and the biggest issue was I finally fit those blue mugs into the cupboard. Hurrah. I love using them, but I just always overlook them where they are. They were a gift from my sister-in-law a few years ago. Notice the two trays hanging up on the wall. It is my version of no backsplash. I know that my cupboards are not considered real modern, but this house was built in 1917 and the intent when we took it was more of a semi-restore than a full out remodel. White cupboards and marble countertops were not really the fad in those days. Everything was wood on wood and that is where we are.

That propane tank was cleared off a bit on Friday, now look at it.

That propane tank was cleared off a bit on Friday, now look at it.

Well enough for now really. What have you decluttered today? What have you organized?? I am still thinking that the bathroom upstairs is calling my name. I am thinking that might happen tonight. Last night I went through the church email via the webmail and got it from over 500 to a little more than 250. If I throw out what I sent, I should have it wiped out. Hurrah!! Digital clutter counts as clutter, no need to keep what you won’t ever use. Enough and stay warm, we had more snow this morning, just glad it quite by afternoon. Hope the storms mentioned for early this week do not develop.

Survival Mode

We saw sundogs on the way to church, but the were so wide, I am sure that I could not capture them with a small camera.

We saw sun dogs on the way to church, but the were so wide, I am sure that I could not capture them with a small camera. On the way home the wind had switched and there was lots of drifting.

Finally we were able to meet for services in 2017. We held a somewhat celebration of Epiphany, though no serious reference to it. This was our first service after the two days everyone in the congregation endured without electrical power. Thanks to a couple of members the water in the church was drained and all the faucets left open to prevent any major problems if the temperature dropped below freezing. Not all basements did, but that is a real danger in these times, and far more so in an unfurnished house than in a place that is always partially heated.

Our scriptures were: Hebrews 2: 10-18 and Matthew 2: 7-15 & 19-23. The title if you can’t tell from the text was, “Survival Mode.”

It is so good to see so many of us gathered here together this morning. What a testament to the faithfulness of our congregation. I really only anticipated a very few of us to venture out because of the cold. And certainly a great thanks is owed to the dedicated workers who cleared a nice path for us to get in the door.

To say this has been an interesting start to winter and Christmas season is, well an understatement at the least. I titled our message today, Survival Mode, so we could spend some time thinking about what we have been through and how it connects to the scriptures, but also to let us reflect on how God’s grace is with us in all things.

So I don’t have to tell any of you what we mean by survival mode in South Dakota. Anyone who was raised in the northern plains understands the dangers of a real winter. In fact the cold we have been experiencing since the storm is not just life threatening, but it is the kind of cold that we who have lived here all our lives joke about. We say this is what keeps out the “riff-raff. We know just how dangerous it is and how to “survive” in it. Winters like last year spoil us. This year we are finally getting the real thing. This reminds me of some of those winters when my Dad would fight with the electric waterer out in the feedlot, or that year when Paulina and I were in Pollock and most schools were off because of the cold, but we were in session, and for science class they did a lab outside where they threw hot water into the air to see if it would freeze before it hit the ground, and it did. They took pictures.

For me one of the hardest things about enduring something harrowing is responding to going back to “normal.” It seems that no matter how the experience affects some people, as soon as it is over some sort of “drama” shows up to take away the camaraderie or the pull together attitude that you get in those times. I always think if only we could show those attitudes all the time. I think that I get my ability to kick into gear during those crisis times because of how I grew up. For me a crisis or a major event seems to bring out our family’s best work. It is during the tough times that my mental process kicks in to do its best work and when I am able to remain the calmest.

When the power went out on Christmas night, and I knew about it when I fell asleep, unlike everyone else in our house, my mind went into the zone of what would need to be shifted around to allow for the least amount of damage. And even before the outage during the day when James noted that with the significant rainfall, we could have an outage if the wind picked up, the first thing I did was to make sure all my electronic devices were fully charged, though when the power went out and the cell towers went down, it didn’t matter how full the batteries were charged.

I have to confess that I didn’t have to do any of the real work such as helping with hooking up a generator, checking on other houses or going outside and shoveling, I started the day by staying in bed with the cats around me and being ok with a cold breakfast. Actually we could have eaten for a week or more with the leftovers in the fridge, the fruit on the counter and the snacks in the pantry. Mostly I kept thinking how lucky we were that our other two daughters were not home for Christmas. Having only the three of us in the house made it much easier. Of course having a sister and brother-in-law with a full generator set up was a big bonus. By that I mean he has his generator hooked up to the electric box and so it has the potential to run any part of the house, although not all at the same time. (side explain info on math involved…campsite)

I am sure everyone here has a story or two that tells how you survived the outage, and I have heard a few of them as I made some phone calls later in the week to see how you were doing. Each one of us has our own unique story of how we survived that power outage, how we reacted while on survival mode.

The scriptures we read for today are a story of survival. It seems that this year the lectionary scriptures pull our focus to Joseph, the human father of Jesus. We don’t find stories about him very often in the gospels. From what I could count, he is only mentioned 7 times in the gospels, mostly in Matthew and Luke, but also in two verses of John. However, the story that we discussed on Dec. 23 when we held our Christmas Service and the scriptures of today speak loudly and clearly about why Joseph was chosen to be the human father of Jesus. I understand it as being because he understood the importance of Survival Mode.

He didn’t wait around and wring his hands and wonder what he should do. He didn’t take time to ponder the messages that were sent to him by God, and he didn’t stop to second guess what it was all about. He heard the message, he accepted his call, and he got to work. He would have made a great director of FEMA, or at the least a very good emergency management coordinator.

By the time the Wisemen came to Bethlehem to visit the baby and pay homage to this new king, Joseph was on board with who this baby really was. He had already heard from one angel about Jesus, and he knew that it was the Messiah living in his house, and that he and Mary had a pretty big job ahead of them keeping this child safe. So when there was a second visit from an angel, he didn’t hesitate. He had to be fairly well versed in the religious and political goings on of the time to know that Herod would see a baby Messiah as a major threat, and so when given the option to head to Egypt, he didn’t wait for morning, they left in the dark of night as soon as he heard the warning.

Last around Easter I mentioned the movie, Risen, and there were a few of you in the congregation that also saw it. About the same time there was another movie about Jesus’ younger years and it was called, The Young Messiah. I am not sure where the idea for the script came, perhaps the Apocrypha, or someone’s thoughts, but it sure made you wonder about the dangers to the life of Jesus as he was growing up. If that concept is to be believed or even considered, it gives an enormous weight to the role of Joseph as the human father and protector of the young Jesus, the young Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, the Incarnate God.

Jesus as the Incarnate God is what makes Christianity completely different from any other religion. Most religions believe in a higher power. A good portion of them believe in a creator and life after death, but this is it in terms of believing in God coming to earth to atone for our short comings, our sins, in order to redeem us to a status that allows us to live beyond this world in an eternal world with God.

In essence belief in Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus as the Christ, the Incarnate Son of God puts us in full survival mode from the day we accept him to the day we join him.

My thoughts as I was preparing for today were all over the board, but that was because I have had too much time to read and ponder too many different topics. I have been considering a few things set to affect our near and distant future that we can’t talk about here, but my conclusion today is this: the bottom line for our life individually and as a church really is this: “What value do we put on life, and what sort of life do we value?” What is important to us? I seriously believe that importance shifts when our lives are reduced to survival mode, and I so dislike how easily the drama and the pettiness of so many unimportant issues creep back into our bubble when we are no longer faced with our own survival. Believing in God is not just a pie in the sky, feel good sort of thing that advertisers tell us we need to pursue. It is not like looking for the best new tool (in the kitchen, in the gym or in the shop, or the nicest car or even the perfect erase-all-the-wrinkles face cream.

We are called to a faith in God by the very essence of our being. Because God formed us and knows us and loves us, we are drawn to that love to fulfill who we are. Our survival is not just about food and drink and temperature, it is about love, God’s love and the love of fellow believers. Part of our survival in this church this year is contingent on our ability to live that and to share that with everyone we know. Let’s be sure to do that this week and every week. Amen!!

Jan. 6. Third item revealed and dividing an aloe vera

Scooby doo burp rags!!

Scooby doo burp rags!!

So yesterday I wrote about making three items, then stopped short of telling you the third one. Today I am able to tell you what the third item is because it has been delivered. Item three is a set of 4 burp cloths. They don’t really look like a set, and I did a horrible job of setting them up to take a picture of them, but they are off to the left. The picture shows two with print side up and two with the burp puke on me side up. I used some material left over from making a shirt I made for Victoria when she was a CNA. Little did I know that the neck line wasn’t right for her, and I ended up donating it to a thrift store. I sure had fun sewing up that top. My big thing was doing the pockets. They were matched up so well you couldn’t tell they were there. Anyway, I did some research on what material is the best at absorbing liquid and I came up with a flour sack dish towel. I had James pick up a couple of new ones at the drug store before he came home from school. I used less than half of one on this project.

Samples of notches

Samples of notches

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a simple matter of having two pieces of material that are the same size with the right sides facing and sew around three sides and part of the fourth. Trim the corners with a V notch, turn and press or press and turn then top stitch the edge that was open in order to turn it. This is basic common sense and beginning to end it took me less than an hour. The hardest part was squaring up the scraps of print material.

The plant I took apart was the one in the background.

The plant I took apart was the one in the background.

Gift for Marva

Gift for Marva. I tied it up to brace it for a bit.

One other item that I want to show off is the aloe vera plant that I repotted and took off the new little ones and repotted them. I was after a gift for my church secretary. She had picked up one of the little aloe plants that I took to church a couple of years ago, but it ended up dying. I always give away plants with the idea that they have a life-time guarantee. So here is her replacement plant. I took the main plant and put it in a rather large pot, but because these aloe vera plants are so large and top heavy, I realized that it needed to be braced up.

The large plant repotted and baby plants given a new home.

The large plant repotted and baby plants given a new home.

I had just been in the cupboard filled with old flower pots and ribbons and such, and had seem a bag of small dowels. I used them around the plant to hold it in place. I also took one of the long plastic sticks that holds the card in a bouquet, and used it to brace up the plant for Marva. I also found a cute decoration that is a silver wire that curves around the plant perfectly. I also tied them up loosely to give the plant some support until it gets settled in the pot and takes root. As much as I want to get rid of the clutter, I just can’t toss things when I can find a use for them as I did in this project. I think more than tossing, I need to do some sorting and reorganizing so that I am better able to find things when I am looking for them. Well, hope you have enjoyed these little projects. I love to give things I have made myself or something that I have. Making all three of the projects that I wrote of yesterday and today, were really fun to put together and to sew. I also am very happy when I have a plant that is good enough to share. If anyone knows me they understand that when I give you one of my plants it is like giving a part of me, so you know it is special.

Leaving Linton

Leaving Linton

Well that is all for today, catch us tomorrow and hopefully there will be something exciting, though I am not sure that I will really have anything. We are currently in Jamestown. We drove here today to help Paulina move onto campus at University of Jamestown. We are one day too early to get in on a couple of basketball games. Rats!!! We will try to get home in the light tomorrow. The roads coming on US 83 were not the best, though I 94 was just fine getting into Jamestown. OK. enough!

Jan. 5: A trip to the Vet.

The road to the Vet place.

The road to the Vet place.

Today was supposed to be the day that Sophia had her bad tooth removed. While I was in the shower, the Vet lady called and as Paulina answered she learned we probably were not having that tooth out today. We didn’t feed her or let her drink anyway, just in case. The trip south on Highway 83 was not bad nor were the few miles to Glenham, but going north on the little county road to the rural area where the Vet place is located was almost sheer ice. We were so glad that it was the two of us and that James was safely in school. He freaks out on bad roads, and you almost have to wrestle him to the ground to get the keys because he feels it is the man’s job to take care of the helpless women in bad circumstances. Now I love his chivalry, but sometimes, it is just nice to assert your own independence and self-worth, and dang nabit it you don’t drive so fast, ice is doable.

Sophia on the table avoiding the camera.

Sophia on the table avoiding the camera.

After arriving we learned that it is pretty dangerous to put a hyperthyroidism animal under anesthesia if the place has no heart rate and blood pressure monitoring systems and that without a solid three month of good thyroid readings, we probably should not take the chance. Besides after looking at the tooth, the vet lady said that the tooth was no worse than what she noted on the chart in July. So, we will just have to monitor her eating habits and try to supervise how she eats to make her more comfortable and on and on and on.

Where Sophia was shaved to draw blood.

Where Sophia was shaved to draw blood.

We did notice that yesterday when Paulina divided up her food and put it in smaller portions she ate better. She also likes to have attention while eating. What a thing she is becoming in her old age. She came to us in 2003 in the summer when Liza was moving to Bismarck to go to hair dressing school. If she was born in May as I think she was, this makes her about 13 years and 8 months old. According to one website that I checked in on that makes her equivalent to a 70 year-old human. Wow, she is just about the right age to have an opinion in some organizations. So, that is a different post and not the topic for now.

Pheasants looking for food and shelter.

Pheasants looking for food and shelter.

On the way home we pulled over to try to get some pictures of some Ring Neck Pheasants (South Dakota’s state bird) along the fence and feeding in the fields. As soon as we slowed down, they began to fly away, so the pictures we could get were limited. Also it was -23 degrees windchill as we were pulling out of our driveway in town, not sure what it was in the country. The temperature according to Siri was -5, so it was not really a day to be outside. Oh that is in Fahrenheit in case it matters. Here is the best of the pheasant pictures as they were heading for the trees for shelter, and the other is of the area south of our house when we finally got home. Later as I looked at some of the pictures, I noticed a “No Hunting” sign on the fence, perhaps that is why they congregate there. Actually the season is over for another year, so no worries for them except the weather.

Sunshine through the clouds.

Sunshine through the clouds.

My feet are still a bit cold. I suspect that my shoe tops are a little wet and that is my main problem. Well, off to find something constructive to make of the day. Some joint sorting or packing or maybe even a little work on the message for church on Sunday, hopefully we are able to get there.

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