Friday, March 28, 2008

45 years ago

Celebrating my 1st birthday.

I love this photo! My mom, two grandmas and two great grandmothers sang altogether, "Happy birthday, dear Sherry." Isn't that just the coolest?

I had the privilege of growing up near my grandparents. They were in the stream of my daily life: my sick days, my summer days, my afterschool days, my Saturdays, my Sundays, my holidays. They gave so much to me, in so many ways. My grandmothers are gone now, but many memories linger. Traits and gifts of who they were, are now a part of me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lions, and tigers, and bears...well, almost

We drive 90 miles north to a doctor every other week and lately the sights we're seeing on the way up and back make us feel like we're driving through a wildlife park, where the wildlife are contained for your viewing pleasure. Some are saying our area hasn't received this much snowfall in 30 years. There is still much snow in the mountains, and so the animals are coming down to the open wheat fields and meadows because they are hungry. The deer are everywhere, some in large herds. I spotted two elk (cows) last week.

We heard that a moose (cow) was in our town's junior high parking lot after school a week or two ago. The kids were ordered back inside the school and the buses were delayed about an hour until the moose had left the vicinity. Friends that live out in the country have told us of moose tracks in their yard, lately. We've also heard reports of wolves in areas near a couple of small towns close to us.

When we flew back home from California a month ago, a coyote was in a grass area between landing strips. He started running toward our plane as we were landing, like he knew there'd be some food scraps for him to find soon.

Yesterday on our trip to the doctor, besides the normal spring sightings of new calves frolicking, puppies playing, horses being frisky, and Canadian geese couples staying close to their goslings, I delighted in seeing the extraordinary. I spotted a group of wild turkeys. I saw a large flock of white birds in a marsh/pond area, as we zipped by, and wondered what they were. Later we saw another flock of white in another marshy area of a field. They had long necks, but I didn't think they could be swans. At home, I paged through my bird book and found out they must have been tundra swans. Cool!

But the grand finale of yesterday's trip was the bald eagle sitting in a field. All three of us saw him as we drove by, and my son, driving, found a place to turn around the car. We pulled over to the edge of the road across from him. He sat so regally and majestically, turning his head this way and that. He was huge! I'd read somewhere, that animals don't usually get frightened by a car, but if you get out of it, that is when they'll run away. After we had admired him for a while, I decided it was okay to test this theory with the eagle, as I wanted to see if I could get a closer picture. Sure enough, my getting out of the car frightened him, and he took off in flight. Surprisingly, he soared back toward us. We saw his huge wing span, as he sailed past us and up into the pine to disappear from view.

Next time, the binoculars need to come along. And some day, I'll have a digital camera so I can share my pictures along with my stories!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits

I'm sure you are all awaiting with bated breath for Part II of my Academy Awards story. Well, I haven't written it yet, so you'll have to wait a little longer.

Today I received a surprise in the mail: The April issue of Saveur food magazine. It appears I've been given a subscription, according to the dates printed on the label. I don't think I'd even heard of this magazine before today, but after my initial reading this afternoon, curled up on the couch after lunch, I can tell I'm going to really enjoy it. The magazine seems to focus on food from around the world, with pictures and cultural stories that go along with the recipes. Right up my alley. Thank you, anonymous giver! Please let me know who you are so I can thank you properly.

It seems like I spoke too soon about the sauna. I used it three times and by the third time I found that I was running into the same old problem. I didn't sweat very much and for the next couple of days I experienced short moments of vertigo. I decided that the sauna was still a "no go" and wondered why. Right about that time, a friend had accidentally returned somebody else's health book to me amongst a pile of my gluten-free cookbooks. As I was taking a look at the book, I stumbled across a small paragraph about using saunas. It said, "The dry heat of a sauna can reduce the fat in oil- or fat-based organs such as the liver and gallbladder." Bingo! That is exactly the problem we've been trying to address. Those organs are already on the very scary short side of fat because of our lack of absorption. So until we've made greater improvements in that area, we'll need to hold off on the sauna. I am so happy to have learned that tiny, but important piece of information.

I'm considering purchasing an asparagus steamer. As we enjoyed Easter Sunday dinner at a friend's house, my family proved me wrong. I had told my friend, when she inquired, that I would be the only one who would eat asparagus. Well, they all tried it and a couple of them even asked for seconds! But here's the thing, it was really fresh and it was steamed "just right." Today I learned on A Veggie Venture blog that because the asparagus spears stand upright (in an asparagus steamer) while steaming, the denser ends are closer to the heat source, the tender tips are further away." That makes it easy to get perfectly steamed asparagus every time. It would be worth the purchase to have another vegetable option around here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed.

We were blessed to sing once again, "Christ the Lord is risen today" this Easter. The world was made new when Christ rose from the dead, and as our pastor said to us this morning, "There's no way to undo it."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Watching the Academy Awards in Southern Cal: Part I

Aunt Dorothy felt badly that we didn't feel well enough to go sightseeing on our recent trip down.

I had been able to take Erin to the library (with a "loaned" library card,) and attached to the library was the Art Gallery that I mentioned seeing the National Geographic exhibit in. Also, Erin saw a movie in the theater by herself; but, besides stopping at a roadside look-out area between Carlsbad and the doctor's office, and a two-minute walk on the beach at Carlsbad on a cold, windy day, we weren't up for being out and about.

Never fear. Had we, we would have been out galavanting we would have missed the highlight of our stay: Watching the Academy Awards with Aunt Dorothy (and cousin Barb for part of it). We were in Southern California, for heaven's sake, watching the Academy Awards was what we were supposed to be doing.

How do I come to this conclusion? We were riding in cousin Barb's van after she'd picked us up at the airport, and she said, "You'll be here during the Academy Awards. " "Oh yeah," I replied. (I found out later that acting girl Erin was right there with her, having already thought of the fact that we would be no more then 100 miles from where the actual event was taking place.) But farm-girl me found the remark a bit odd. I was thinking "um, so..."

But as the weekend went on, I realized the significance of her statement. To understand it better, I thought of what I might have said in my younger days if, say, my grandma and grandpa told us they were coming to visit us on the weekend when the Minnesota Vikings were in the Superbowl. "You'll be here for Superbowl Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa." The big event of the year. We were right there, in Southern California, where the movies, the actors, the awards mean everything.

Earlier in the day, on Sunday, Aunt Dorothy had told Barb that she wanted to take Barb and her husband out to eat with their daughter, Briann, and her friend that was visiting from out-of-state. She said, "Let's make it tonight or tomorrow night." But a little later she realized her mistake, "Oh, I can't take you all out tonight, I'm watching the Academy Awards."

At three o'clock, Barb tuned the TV to the channel hosting the awards. The ceremony wasn't to start until 5:30, but they start televising at 3:00 to catch the actors' arrival on the red carpet. Aunt Dorothy, Barb, and Erin settled themselves in. I'd not quite gotten into the spirit of things, so I went outside to sit in the sun that had finally shown its face and read a book.

Aunt Dorothy did get up to take a walk (with her cane) by herself. Barb had to leave with her husband to visit with her daughter and her friend, but by four-thirty, Brady had come downstairs and I'd come back in the house, and the four of us settled in for the night. I sat myself down, not all that enthused, and thought, "when in Rome." It beat the alternative of lying in bed upstairs with my nose in a book; I'd spent way too much of the weekend doing that already.

So I settled myself into the the mode of being on the couch with Erin for the next four or five hours(I just don't do that) to watch the stars (or that). Brady must have come to the same conclusion and he settled himself into the rocking chair. Aunt Dorothy sat in her rocking chair up against the TV, her nose having to be literally in front of the TV in order to be able to make out anything at all on the screen. Given our isolated rest times all weekend, it felt like a party.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Friends Forever

Happy Birthday highschool girlfriend!
Debby moved to my hometown the summer before our 8th grade year. We hit it off instantly, I don't remember there being any question about it - we were best friends. We did so much together: We played in band, we sang together (the picture below of the two of us was taken for the yearbook the year we sang a duet for contest and baccalaureate,) were officers in FHA, cooked and sewed in home-ec, competed with one another in 4-H,business, and snow queen contests. Our sophomore year we were co-assistant editors of our highschool yearbook, and our junior year we were co-editors.

Yesterday, I took a look at that yearbook we edited, and I giggled. It has to have one of the most creative themes in the history of our highschool: Popular song titles of the day were put together to create section titles and copy (I think a senior friend, Conda, helped us think of that. We could blame her, anyway, if anyone from her class ever calls us on it); we picked shades of orange for the the cover and several inside pages; we used stars for borders, and hokey "jelly bean people" clip-art (I think our advisor is to blame for sticking those in - to fill up white space, probably.) All I could think of, while paging through it yesterday, was that I was glad it wasn't our senior annual!

And when she wasn't out on a date (which was rare, *smile*) we hung out together. I have fond memories of when our moms were taking a painting class one winter. My mom dropped me off at Debby's and picked her mom up. We spent those nights just hanging out in her room, doing nothing but talk.

When Debby signed my yearbook, she wrote "Friends Forever." She meant it. She's been such a faithful, consistent friend to me through the years. She and her husband live just a half of a mile as the crow flies from my parents, and even if we can only see each other for a short time when I am back to visit, it is always a wonderful treat.

Have a happy day, Debby! Thanks for the memories and thanks so much for being a forever friend.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just her and her horse

You have to watch this video taken at a riding competition. Stacy Westfall has trained her horse (it took three years altogether, 1 1/2-2 hours, 5 days/week) so that she can ride without the use of a saddle or a bridle. This video is a touching one, too, so grab a kleenix. If you're interested in finding out more about her, here is the web-site.

God's faithfulness is what counts

You may have noticed (or not) that I don't usually blog about our health issues unless I have a little something good to report. There are a couple of reasons for this. Mostly, it is because I am living this illness times three already, through the chronic fatigue symptoms that plague each of my two children, as well as me. If I write about it on my blog, I'm forced to relive it yet another time. That's why I don't write many letters, either. Its just too hard to think about what we've been doing and remembering, "Oh yeah, we've been suffering."

When I do write about our health issues here, I am trying to show, most of all, God's faithfulness to us. This encourages me and hopefully it does you, too. Great is His faithfulness! Enjoy your Palm Sunday.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Two steps back, one forward

I know, I've reversed the order of the idiom, but the order of my steps aren't very law-abiding these days.

Steps back: 1) Cold virus 2) A few ingredients in a supplement caused a big flare-up of our symptoms (mostly mine, because I was taking a larger amount.) Those nasty ingredients weren't the important ones in our protocol, thankfully, just some extra ones they had put in for good measure - huh! Why do we have to keep learning what to stay away from?

Step forward: Using our far infrared sauna again!

I haven't blogged about the investment we made in a sauna last November. In December, I almost wrote about how great our new far infrared sauna was and how much we all liked using it, but then we had to stop (using it.) After that, I didn't want to write a sad post about how we had sold our boat to buy it and now it looked like it was turning out to be another one of those, "been there, done that" type of deals.

Our first couple of weeks of sauna treatments had seemed to go pretty well, but then we realized we weren't sweating like we should. Thanks to our SCIO treatments, we always knew we were having a problem with being dehydrated, even though I push the water like crazy. (If you don't believe me, just ask the kids' friends.) Not sweating when you're sitting in 130 degrees or so of heat is not normal, and in fact, I found out, via Internet, it can be quite dangerous.

This week, it occurred to me that our new protocol has us taking stuff that should get our bodies hydrated. So I decided to give the sauna another go. Results? My body cooperated like it should under intense heat (nice way to put it.)

It would truly be a step in the right direction, (read - a giant leap towards regaining good health,) if this new supplement protocol and the sauna-taking would keep panning out. Thanks for your prayers.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) on Chronic Fatigue

"Having this disease is like living in a phone booth," she says, "The world goes on around you, but you can't get out and you're in this extremely tiny place all the time." ( interview)

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Have you ever been to an auction? I'm talking about an auction of an estate or farm. Iowa is a good place to go to auctions. My in-laws go to them whenever they can. Pink depression glass, fabric, quilting magazines, or sewing supplies are some of the treasures my mother-in-law brings home. You never know what you'll find at the bottom of the box you purchased or what others will find and share with you because they don't want it.

I like to find bargains like most people. But I prefer to find my treasures at weekend garage sales or flea markets.

I've only been to a few auctions. One time was with my mom and the possessions being auctioned were her great aunt's or cousin's; another time was with my husband's family, the possessions of his grandmother. Another time we attended the auction at the farm house and acreage we were buying, the possessions of the elderly couple that was moving out and moving into a retirement apartment in town.

I get sad at auctions. Something about having all the possessions of a person or family laid out on tables in their yard for people to rummage through and gawk at, just plain gets me down. My mom was trying to buy many of the homemade quilts that her aunt had made, the children and grandchildren were trying to buy up odds and ends at Grandma's sale, and the elderly couple kept walking around and watching their possessions slowly disappear.

The memories spread out across the tables and hide in boxes. They lean against the big tree the children use to climb. Change! You walk around and feel it seeping under your skin. Change is part of life, I know, but not a part you usually go looking for. And the sociologist in me has to look at the whole picture - has to imagine the faces that looked into the dresser mirror, the celebrations that filled the plates - so then it's become an invasion of privacy; eavesdropping, snooping.

So, please, I tell my family, don't put my possessions out on my yard to get auctioned off. And please, don't ask me to do it for you. Because something like this (see below) happens every time, I just know it.

The Auction
Leo Dangel, from Home from the Field

Not even a bid
on the old plow
rusting in the grove

We were married only months
when he took all our money
and bought that plow--

really all my money, money
I had earned as a hired girl,
babysitting, walking beans.

He didn't ask me,
just bought the plow,
Our first big fight,

His main fault maybe--
if something needed doing,
he didn't think about feelings.

I feel him behind me now.
He touches my shoulder in a way
that says he remembers

how much that plow cost.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

At home in a book

So, the sore throat that nagged at me last week, settled itself into a full-blown cold this weekend. Any kind of sickness on top of our chronic fatigue completely does us in. Every tiny bit of energy we may have "goes off to war" to fight the new invader and leaves us stuck in our tracks. Stuck: Not. Able. To. Move. Think. Talk. Pass Go.

Thankfully, dh was off this weekend. But he had worked an extra day last week, out-of-town, and wasn't at his normal full speed. So we couldn't really get ahead of the game - as in lots of extra left-overs for when he returned back to work.

There were leftover pancakes to heat up yesterday for breakfast. For lunch, Brady managed to form some hamburger meat into burgers to put on the broiler pan and we heated leftover vegetables from Sunday noon. But that was it for the leftovers, so for dinner Brent fried us eggs and toasted some bread.

I wasn't able to go the spring library sale on Saturday, of course, even the last thrilling hour: "a bag of books for a buck" part of the sale. What a hard thing to lie in bed and think about; all those books missing the opportunity to be adopted by me and placed on my beautiful bookshelves, surrounded by other lovely book sale finds.

On Monday, I still needed consoling, and so I went down to my previously adopted books to remind them that I loved them and would again someday add to their bountiful family. To experience part of the adoption process that I missed out on, I dug for a "find" and brought it upstairs to the couch to enjoy. (The couch conotates a small improvement, as the first days of my cold were spent in bed.)

I found the perfect companion to curl up with. It was from the free library sale shelf of my old hometown library. This little library was the one I worked part-time in during my 7th and 8th grade years. It was such a small library that my days to work gave the librarian her days off. It was just me and the books and a few patrons, whose visits spread out here and there through-out the day. The large room in which the library was housed was part of the new building built by the city; the garage for the fire-trucks on one end. There was no other scent like the smell of this new room with both old and new books sitting on the shelves.

As soon as I pulled this book off my shelf, I sniffed it (doesn't every reader do that?) I immediately knew this was the cure to my weekend pining for good 'ol used books. The smell. Even with my cold, if I held the book up close and inhaled, I was back in my hometown library. Really. What a wonderful treat on this gloomy, "I feel like I'm going to die" day.

Of course, it needed to be a children's book, with my head feeling stuffed-up and heavier than a bowling ball. I delved into Family Sabbatical, by Carol Ryrie Brink, which actually made me feel all the more homey and content, since the author grew up in the town I'm currently living in.

All in all, not a bad place to be stuck.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Six Word Memoir

My daughter was passed the following meme:

A life. Yours. In six words.

So I thought I'd try mine. (That's not it.)

Here it is:

Off the farm, journey in faith.