Friday, January 29, 2010

Of Kevin and Jay and Conan

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands... " 1 Thessalonians 4:11

For a few years, our local morning news station (CBS) had the Why Guy. What's a Why Guy, you ask? He was a young man, with an awesome sense of humor, who drove each dark morning to interesting places here in Western New York. He'd visit shops or diners or farms or factories or unique people to explain to us, in his own quirky, funny way the 'whys' of each place. The news anchors back at the news desk would break away to Kevin, the Why Guy, every half hour, or so, so we could watch more of his interviews with the owners or others of wherever he happened to be that morning.

The Why Guy segments were popular. Everyone loved Kevin and we all enjoyed learning more about our area's history and neighbors and places we'd not yet visited.

Life was good back then.

But then, as it does quite frequently, something happened. Kevin, the Why Guy quit his job at the CBS station and moved over a few blocks away to their heaviest competition--the NBC station, where he pretty much does the same thing, except that he's not called the Why Guy. He's just called Kevin.

Boy, was I steamed at first. I called Kevin a traitor. I vowed to boycott the NBC local news and when I'd catch Tom secretly watching it, I'd ask, "How can you watch that, knowing how they stole Kevin away--and how he accepted their offer and just left his friends at the CBS news for probably money, money, money?"

Yes, I did that. Good grief. I know.

But alas, being fickle at these sorts of things, I eventually began taking peaks, myself, at the NBC morning news. Wow, those people were good. They made news fun, if you can imagine such a thing. They showed us how to save money and they did product tests with regular people in their homes and the camaraderie between the newscasters was delightful. Not to mention that they had good ol' Kevin and his fun, around-town segments, too.

Three years later, I'm still watching them at 5:00 a.m.

What lessons I learned. Which lessons would those be, you ask? Well, that Kevin had a perfect right to switch jobs. He has a right to make more money, to go where he wants, to accept any job he wants--and none of that is any of my business. Just because I enjoy seeing Kevin on tv does not mean I own him or that he owes me anything. He has his life, his choices, and I have mine. And I have no right to wish away any of Kevin's freedom. None.

Yes, the CBS local morning news suffered. They held auditions for another Why Guy, but they stopped searching--they could never find another Kevin. They fired one of their longtime news anchors which caused quite a stir (it upset me, too, because I'd sent her a couple emails--she'd read one on the air, along with 2 others from folks, and emailed me about another one. She was sweet and an excellent anchor woman.). And a recent newspaper article was written calling their present morning show and anchors, well, boring. The same article stated the other station, the NBC one, was exemplary.

Why am I writing about this? Well, this latest thing with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien got me all riled up, especially after Oprah's (rather mean) interview with Jay yesterday.

Tom and I much, much more prefer Jay Leno (or perhaps it's the Old Jay of the Old Days we prefer). We don't understand the huge majority of people who appear to be on Conan's 'side.' For everything they say against Leno, we are thinking, instead, those things about Conan.

But here's the thing.... It's all none of my business.

God has given me so many things to think about and to do and to be and to change and-- well, I've absolutely no leftover time to get all steamed up about the Leno vs. O'Brien fiasco.

Life is way too short. Other people have a right to make their own decisions. I have a right to make mine. And if never the twain shall meet, well, it's not up to me to yank them together, creating a mess inside my own head all because I could not, yes I'll say it again--mind my own business. There's no Grace in minding other peoples' personal affairs. Trust me, I know. And I only want to go where Grace is.


People who keep their noses in other peoples' business deserve the discomfort they often get by doing so.


This is my business, though: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." ... 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Finally I'm making actual progress on our large-ish middle bedroom upstairs, the room I never show you because of its brown paneled walls, brown painted floors, brown painted window frames and brown painted doors (what was someone thinking? Sheesh.).

How wonderful, though, to give this room an airy, light touch. While wielding a paintbrush, I listen to lovely instrumental music and glance at the dancing birch tree reflections on the 'table top' (a framed print set upon a round table) while I give these paneled walls, well, a voice of sorts. They sing now, where before, they only moaned at their ugliness.

How amazing the ability to make my home lovelier even in Today's economy, to leave it fairer than I found it. But then, always that's been possible for those people who seek cheaper, more creative solutions rather than just sitting in chairs, venting and sputtering at the way things are inside their world and outside, as well.

And so it goes for the whole of this old farmhouse, a re-clothing of its walls and windows so to add warmth and color and to release its voice to sing, even on these snowy, blowy winter days.


Soon I'll paint the floors, white (a la this room). Though Heaven only knows how I will keep Lennon and McCartney The Cats off of them until they dry. :) Oh, and I'll paint the nightstand and footstool white, also. There's ever so much left to do up there.


Trust in the Lord (not your job, not the economy, not the President) with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength.... lean not upon your own understanding.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From the book, God Calling, yesterday:

"Go forward unafraid. Health and strength, peace and happiness and joy - they are all My gifts. Yours for the asking. In the spiritual (as in the material) world there is no empty space, and as self and fears and worries depart out of your lives, it follows that the things of the Spirit, that you crave so, rush in to take their places."

You realize what that means, don't you? It means that today I have choices. Tomorrow, too. Today I can fill my head with worrying about Tom's shoulder surgery on February 9th or Naomi's driving around on snowy streets or about growing older and whether we'll have money in the future--or--I can brush that stuff out of my head, lock it out and make space for peace and joy, instead.

I cannot have it both ways, you know.

Into my heart I can pack offended feelings at what my neighbor said, feel forgotten by old friends, resent having to change my diet as I grow older--or--I can keep the door closed on all that and open it, instead, to happiness and contentment.

While I sat in our recliner this morning watching snippets of the President's speech and other local and faraway reports of what's-going-wrong, I thought, no matter what's happening out there, still I create my Real Life. We may have simple possessions, money may be tight, but I can clean what we own, paint those things (and a few walls) and make our home special. I am in charge of how I feel on the inside. It's up to me to care for myself so that I can care for Tom and myself and our home. And it's up to me to stay creatively focused so that this home will always be a sweet refuge from what's happening out there.

So here's to keeping my head and heart empty of fear and worries and other garbage so that--instead--there will be lots and lots of room in the corners, even, for grace and joy and gratitude to breed and multiply.


Speaking of gratitude, a special thanks to each of you who wished my daughter a happy birthday. I forwarded your thoughts to her.


Kudos to Oprah for yesterday taking a big step in exposing our Country's horrible food system. Here are some of the main points on eating well. Click here for the message board dealing with yesterday's show.


You can become a fan of the book, God Calling, at Facebook and read the posts from the book there each day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So for weeks I've planned on feeling very old on this day. But actually? I'm still celebrating feeling loads better than I did all last year, what with, for months, walking around with an infection inside my mouth. (Don't ever do that, ok?)

Anyway, why was I planning on feeling old? You see, today is my daughter's 30th birthday.

Oh my. I'm thinking that--somewhere--a mathematical mistake has been made. Surely! For on most of my days I feel only 30-years-old, myself.


But no, it's true... For thirty years Tom and I have loved this beautiful creature who God gave us, a gift we've cherished through good times and bad. A gift like none other, one which keeps on giving to us year after year. A sweetheart who takes care of us, worries about us and gives us presents of vitamins and neck pain massagers and massage appointments and organic food so that we will last and last and so that her dad, especially, will be made more comfortable from his polio-induced problems.

What a dear girl, no, what a dear woman is ours straight from the hand of God in these our golden years. Our drummer girl, our sweet daughter.


"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him." ... Psalm 127:3


Here's my favorite post about my daughter.


Oh, and if you want to watch something hilarious from Your Show of Shows, go here. Loved it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've only known three people in my Real Life who have blogs. Two of them just recently began blogging and how wild it is to read what they're feeling, especially when I'd not even heard from one of them in 25 years and the other, only through occasional emails (heavy on the occasional part).

I wish many more of those Real Lifers kept blogs of their own, for I love knowing the intricacies of what people feel and believe. Okay, perhaps it's because I'm nosey. But I've also noticed that many people--not the majority, ok?--are able to write down (type) how they feel more easily than they're able to speak their thoughts aloud.

I am one of those people. In my blog these past 5 1/2 years I've appeared way more bold than I am in Real Life. Some of my friends, though, might disagree with that, they being the friends I feel most comfortable around, therefore enabling my words to flow. Yet mostly, here within these 1500 + posts, I've written thoughts and beliefs which, for decades, I kept to myself largely due to the fact that everyone else seemed to prefer speaking about their broken-down appliances, their frustrating boss, politics, their children's report cards/sports teams/brilliant teachers, the weather, the pastor (and his mistakes), where they went on vacation or their neighbor who does stupid things daily.

In the midst of those topics there seemed little room for what was heavy upon my mind, namely, most of my previous blog posts. So I often stood in corners, alone, or in groups and felt alone, or stared at many a dinner plate while conversations swirled around me. And ached to speak of what mattered to me.

Blogging has enabled me--and tons of other people--to do that. Yet I still hear --often--others saying that our online relationships are not real and how it's only when you have two (or more) actual, warm bodies in the same room that you have a real, legitimate connection.

To which I say bah humbug! Just think of all those clandestine relationships of authors and others down through the decades who communicated only in letters sent to secret post office boxes (not that I'm condoning such affairs, but rather, I'm just saying...). Or the letters which were exchanged between family members in the 1840's and beyond when people moved West, both before and after the advent of the phone, never to see loved ones again this side of a funeral. Were all those relationships not real?

I'm thinking it's the folks who so easily speak their minds to anyone present who will listen (or to those trying to escape, even) who belittle those of use who have found most of our kindred spirits online. You know, the bold ones. Most likely, in their minds anyway, they have friendships which they've labeled as Real or Online/Disposable as well as a heavy case of "If something isn't as I understand it, then it just can't be so."

Well, here's to the rest of us who cherish all our friendships whether they consist of warm bodies in the same room or online and a whole world away. And here's to us who waited whole decades to speak freely from our hearts, now sharing our ideas and who we are with the world after having finally discovered the perfect way and means to do so.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I've had friends who say they are too busy, too holy or too intelligent to watch tv.

And I respect that. Honestly, I do.

I have other friends who say that--nowadays--there's absolutely nothing decent/interesting/good to watch on tv. And well, though I respect that view, too, I also believe that's an over-generalization. Tom and I have a few favorite, current tv shows which we've found to be morally decent, though I admit, some of them cross the violence border frequently. And we don't even have 'real cable', just 'baby cable' (as I call it), so who knows what other inspiring, uplifting shows we are missing?

Anyway, being the great pragmatist which I imagine myself to be, I thought I'd give a list of tv shows/movies which we own on dvd for the benefit of those of you who, like me, don't consider yourself too busy, too holy or too intelligent to watch tv. Perhaps you aren't aware that some of these shows have even been released on dvd. Maybe you meant to buy a set of certain dvd's, but forgot somewhere along the way. Or maybe you would simply appreciate some suggestions for family viewing, given the state of Today's tv comedies, especially.

So for whatever reason, here's a list of some of the dvd's Tom and I own and enjoy watching:

TV Series:

I Love Lucy, This Is Your Life
Monk, Fame
The Waltons, Boy Meets World
Perfect Strangers, That Girl
The Odd Couple, Early Edition
Road to Avonlea, Family Ties
The Andy Griffith Show, Rick Steves' Travel Series
Growing Pains, Touched By An Angel
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Jack Benny Show
Red Green, Frasier
Petticoat Junction, The Adventures of Pete and Pete
On The Road with Charles Kuralt


Rear Window, The Thin Man Series
Harvey, The Snake Pit
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, Suspicion
Laura, What About Bob?
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, The Lost Weekend
The Blondie and Dagwood films, His Girl Friday
The Ma and Pa Kettle films, The More The Merrier
Frequency, I'll Be Seeing You
Destry Rides Again, Big Fish
My Favorite Wife, Groundhog Day
Christmas in Connecticut, Runaway Bride
America's Heart and Soul, The Trip to Bountiful
America's Scenic Rail Journeys, Hook
Cheaper by the Dozen (Clifton Webb), Freaky Friday (2003)
Father of the Bride (Spencer Tracy), The Railway Children (2000)
Anne of Green Gables 1 and 2
I'll Be Seeing You

Of course, the majority of these can be rented through Netflix, so it's not like I'm saying you must buy all these. It's just that I know how winter evenings can seem oh-so-long sometimes and it's too easy to just complain all sour-like that there's nothing good on tv. And it's nice when we have a choice of some good, decent shows to share with our families... and to put us to sleep, just like when we grew-up in the Old Days. :)


Brave, creative people don't complain--instead, they seek solutions.


The photo, above, is of our backyard on this misty, moisty morning. (That's not even the lake I usually show you, it's another one.)


"Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." ... Proverbs 4:23


Anymore suggestions for my lists? I also want to order the first season of Perry Mason--oh the luxurious clothes, cars, furniture and hairstyles! Oh, and the interesting court cases, too. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wearing Ones Guilt Like a Bag of Cement

I have a friend (or had one-- you decide) who would feel so guilty about not reciprocating my gestures of friendship, that she'd 'hide' from me. And then feel guilty some more.

Oh my. We'd have the best times ever when we'd get together two or three times yearly. We'd laugh and relax and watch movies in our basement or go out to eat or share lunch with our husbands or visit at outdoor church functions. We had much in common. But then Life would get in the way, especially for her since she has a real job, and too, she lives a distance away over the New York state thruway, the stretch which makes me oh-so-nervous. So always there were obstacles to our getting together, but as I said, when we did, we both agreed it was grand. Simply grand.

Once a couple years passed that we didn't see each other but I wrote letters, mailed a couple gifts and she called me sometimes and sent Christmas cards. More time passed then her husband called and asked if he could bring 'Sarah' over to our house as a surprise because he knew she'd been missing me, but she was imagining I was upset with her because she'd allowed our friendship to go stale. Silent, even.

So he brought her over and Sarah was so happy her husband had 'pushed' her into this visit. And after I assured her that I'd never been mad at her, we proceeded in having the sweetest fellowship ever. Well, except that she reiterated her list of all the things in this life which make her feel guilty.

Sarah had a long list. It wasn't a list with big-time sins--she's robbed no banks nor committed any murders and has never, ever even thought about straying from her marriage. No, not things like that, but rather, she still felt guilty that, when her daughter was young, she prayed she'd be popular because, Sarah, herself, had struggled with her own unpopularity in high school. Her daughter did indeed become popular, a fact Sarah regrets because she believes her daughter's popularity was the source of all her hardships in high school and ever since. With every mistake her daughter makes, Sarah blames herself for that long ago prayer.

That's the kind of guilt I mean, the kind which rides around upon your head like a heavy, uncomfortable bag of dry cement, veering you into a ditch to the left, a ditch to the right due to great imbalance. And slowing down every single journey you take.

Since moving to this farm we live even farther from Sarah and her husband and though I've sent a few cards and notes I've not heard back from my friend for at least 5 years, perhaps more. I've emailed her --unanswered, all. Sarah, most likely, has slipped back into thinking I'm mad at her, when actually, I'm just sad. Sad that, for the 17 years I've known her, Sarah's life seems to go from one sad happening to another, from one guilty ditch to another, seldom varying from the well-worn veering path where condemnation leads her.

And today if you, too, are walking that same path, I hope you will remind Sarah (and yourself) that Jesus died to carry all that guilt away. And the conviction He now brings is wrapped inside a Love so great, a burden so light, that there are never, ever any bags of dry cement within His outstretched hands. There's only guidance, light and freedom and a straight path to joy.


"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ... Matthew 11:29, 30


Need a laugh today? Read this. (I'd love to know if it made you smile.)


"... do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength..." ... Nehemiah 8:10

To everything, there is a season-- even friendship.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Debra's Day Out

Imagine this-- Debra had a day out yesterday. I drove with Tom to his job at 6:00 a.m. (!) then after leaving him there, I drove through the darkness to the nearby supermarket of our old town, you know, the place where we lived 15 years and where God shook-up and rearranged everything inside me. The supermarket was shadowy, lights were low--we early birds don't need lights to shop by, obviously. heh. No, I respect the saving energy thing and bought my coffee and squinted through a few decorating magazines.

Hung out until 8:00 and daylight and then drove to our old neighborhood, past the house we left behind and the streets I once walked through and noted few changes--and appreciated that. I'd not missed too much this past year-and-a-half, I mused.

I drove to Burger King for breakfast and sat beside my favorite big window, full of morning sun, and read my current book, even whipping out my reading glasses which I don't like to do in public: I'd have to admit I sorely need them.

Then off to Salvation Army across the street where I searched only for a good book--and did not find one. Then around the corner to the town library for old time's sake where I went online a few minutes and then alas! Ran into an acquaintance from years gone by. She thought we'd moved to Virginia so I told her that, instead, we'd chosen this 4-acre farm. We chatted about composting and gardening until her little guy began squealing for her from the children's room and I left the library, smiling.

Back to the supermarket for groceries then to the main reason I'd come along with Tom so early in the day--my appointment at the oral surgeon's so she could remove my two tiny stitches inside my mouth. Was out of there--truly--in less than five minutes. Then off to the drugstore which takes (I discovered recently) old syringes (Lennon The Cat's, you know) and swooshed them into the metal box. Then to the old-time supermarket next door, the one which hurls me back to the 1940's (it's stood there longer), but just enjoyed strolling the aisles amidst all the mostly-over-age-60 people, the ones who keep this ancient place in business. Then after a walk to the also-old-fashioned "Dime Store" (where I found Valentines and cheapo birthday cards), I drove back to pick-up Tom who'd arranged to leave work early.

We made other stops and picked up lunch and drove back through the sparkling countryside, then unloaded groceries from the car and gazed all around at the sun and silence upon the snow and felt its warmth and said, "If only the whole winter could be like this--what a piece of cake!"

We changed clothes and then--finally--we watched the movie, Up. Oh wow. I think this barely qualifies as a kids' movie. All I know is that it tore-up my adult heart and made me cry at all scenes with Ellie (who I loved from Moment One). Perhaps Carl and Ellie reminded me too much of Tom and myself, I'm not sure. But Tom and I made it through this emotional roller coaster of a flick, then he was off to a physical therapy appointment, leaving me here to think about the movie and such a perfect day, the best part being the arrival back to this old farmhouse.

It's nice to visit the past, but it's even nicer to leave it back there where it belongs.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Of Mill Valley, California

On this winter day (due to be sunny, hooray!) I am feeling nostalgic. I'm wondering, too, if any of you remember the song, Mill Valley, California (That's My Home)?

You can listen to it here at Youtube. It was recorded by the song's author, a kindergarten teacher, Miss Rita Abrams, at Strawberry Point Elementary School. A class of 3rd graders sang it with her and the video was directed by a young Francis Ford Coppola, even. All of this happened 40 years ago. Forty-years! The song went national, playing on radio stations everywhere. I remember it well.

Why does this interest me so much? Because I attended Strawberry Point School in the 2nd through 4th grades and my family moved away the summer before Miss Abrams wrote her song. So that makes the children in the video two years younger than me and the same children with whom I played upon the playground.

Mill Valley--an enchanted place. My very best memories of childhood happened there, in fact. My family lived at the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, a beautiful community on a hillside overlooking Richardson Bay (personally I believe we had the best view) and filled with Christian families with tons of Christian kids.

Utopia at times. Nice kids, iron banisters outside galore which to slide down, hillsides to roll, roll, roll down, concrete to roller skate upon and play hopscotch, tiny laundromats to sneak into, wood-slatted, enclosed clothesline 'outdoor rooms' to play in, a rock hill to climb, outdoor stair landings to jump off, wooded areas to pretend-camp inside and--well, stop me before I blather on all morning.

Anyway, I'd be interested to know if any of you remember the Mill Valley song. And do take a look at the video if you can, ok? (Warning: the tune will stick with you all day.)

The video will return you to a sweet time and place of 40 years ago... Forty years! This sort of thing reminds me that a year is just a span of time, like an hour. And the older I become, the more each year feels only like a moment.


A special thanks to my dear old friend, Althea, (who I connected with at Facebook) for bringing back these memories of our Mill Valley days.


Here's a nice article with updates about Miss Abram, her song and her life.


Yes, this means I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960's. And yes, it was pretty cool--I still remember all those colorful clothes and heavy make-up, bouffant hair-do's and mini-skirts! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Being Well-Rounded--It's a Good Thing

In the early morning darkness last Friday while I snatched the newspaper from our mailbox, our neighbor walked by with her dog. We spoke awhile and she told me that she's going bonkers over at her house, what with this winter weather. She's just itching to get back outside--she's all about being outside in her yard, not inside the house.

Uh-oh. It's only January, after all, and there's still so very much winter left for us here.

I've learned I must be tough to survive these snowy Buffalo winters which can last, well, six months some years. And I must plan ahead and be smart and well-rounded, too.

There are projects which I leave specifically for the dead of winter, like painting rooms or stairs or furniture. There are books I save to read at a cozy table in front of a window and recipes I try for the first time and music I save, also (I'm currently listening to the soundtrack from Road to Perdition. Pretty stuff). I have friends who don't mind driving in winter and I can have them come visit me for lovely hours of chit-chat. And just think of all those un-interrupted hours for crafts!

I write lists in wintertime. I list what I'll plant in my garden come springtime and which flowers I'll need to buy. I list which home and yard improvements I'd like to make and the approximate costs of each.

Then of course, there's my life online. Wow, does that come in handy during these long Buffalo winters! I can stay in-touch with all of you, my friends, here at my blog or on Facebook or through email. I can send you ecards or encouraging little notes anytime. (Our neighbor pretty much just emails her daughter and grand-daughter. Hmm.) There's a whole other world here on the Internet and I love the research I can do here, too--- all the recipes I can locate and the history of anything from movie stars' and authors' lives to train travel to, well, anything! Not to mention the movies and tv series I can instantly watch online at places like Netflix, Fancast or Hulu.

During our cold, icy winter months I can rearrange furniture, write letters (you remember letters, don't you?), read magazines, organize drawers, watch dvd's, clean house or learn new skills. (I've become quite expert at making meals from 'nothing,' considering how I try to avoid supermarket shopping on snowy days.)

I've known a few people in my life who do One Thing--and they do that One Thing extremely well. I respect them greatly. But come winter, I'm thankful that I'm more just the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type. Give me these long dark days to putter and contemplate and pray and create and hang-out with Jesus and I'm perfectly content. A whole other winter world appears inside my home and, finally, I've learned to enjoy it.

Well, till the first week of March, anyway. :)


There comes a greater enjoyment of winter once we stop fighting it, accept it instead, and sail in its quiet flow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oh! Oh! Look what I found early this morning. A Charles Kuralt dvd set is out. Finally.

I never did watch Charles' On The Road series while it aired on Sunday night all those years. Why? Because back then I was the good little Christian who you could always find sitting on a church bench during that hour. heh.

But probably ten years ago at our town's library I discovered one of Mr. Kuralt's videos, Unforgettable People, and I checked it out over and over until I (oh happy day) found a set of three videos at a yard sale. Oh, how inspiring to watch the woman who cooks lunch in her home for hours each weekday for her townspeople. She feels that's what she's called to do. Or the elderly farming couple who built a boat in their yard then sailed it away when he retired. Or the aging black man who keeps a garage full of bicycles for the children in his neighborhood to 'check out', as they would library books, so they can ride around after school then return the bikes at night.

I love to watch old-fashioned people who think and act outside of the box. I so need inspiration to live my own life creatively, to dance through my days to the beat of the Great Drummer and not just walk around zombie-like, as though by rote, acting or even feeling as everyone else acts and feels. We already have enough ordinary folks-- that quota is filled, I believe.

To read about this set of dvd's go to, here. Be sure to scroll down (keep going, keep going) to the comment which lists and briefly describes the people on the dvd's. Just reading those descriptions made me crazy-impatient to order these dvd's.

To order the dvd's, though, I found them cheaper here. (I've ordered many dvd's over the years from this website,

These dvd's would be my prescription for cabin fever and the winter blues. Guaranteed.


And if you grew-up watching and loving Charles Kuralt's On The Road, you'll love this dvd, too-- Disney's America's Heart and Soul. I watch this dvd over and over, especially in wintertime to keep me inspired.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Of Bunny Dogs

Speaking of creativity (my last post) here's a cute, creative idea. Years ago a friend of ours introduced us to 'bunny dogs' which he'd been served in a local hamburger joint on the Niagara River. What are bunny dogs, you ask? They are steamed carrots in a hot dog bun which you top with condiments just as you would a hot dog.

I loved my first two, but after some time and more bunny dogs down the road, well, the love affair fizzled. heh. But they're a healthier alternative to traditional, chemicals-and-who-knows-what-else-laced hot dogs. Gotta love that.

Here's a recipe, but basically you just steam whole, peeled carrots till they're tender, grill them a bit if you like, then place them into hot dog buns and top with your favorite condiments. Then enjoy them while feeling clever and better about what you are eating.


Here's another recipe, the one where I found the above nifty photo.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When my friend, Donna, came over last Thursday we had the most fun time around my dining room table. At least I hope she had fun too, because I certainly did.

During our conversation Donna mentioned an artist she'd met who'd gotten a college degree in creativity. Wow--is that cool, or what?! Immediately I thought that if I ever return to college, that's the degree I'd go for: Creativity.

But since I don't plan to visit any hallowed college halls soon, I'm thinking I'll go for a Creativity Degree here in my home and inside my real life. I mean, what with this computer and access to books and movies and cd's, well, an education in creativity and wonder and art and imagination is everywhere, upon every surface.

If I am not as creative as I would like, then it's my own fault, for I'm surrounded by inspiration. If I'm bored, it's because I've ceased my search for all things new and lovely and imaginative. If I've forgotten how it feels to be 10-years-old and at my creative best, well, that's because I've let go of what I once exercised daily (and probably took for granted).

So let the classes begin! May I set aside afternoon hours to learn and grow and be creative. May I seek until I find. May I get back what I have lost and add to that layers and layers of the creative flow which glimpses art in every room, every field with a farmhouse and every table scape, as well.

And may the aquisition of a Creativity Degree be neverending and an enjoyable lifetime away.


One of the artist's assignments was to make a list of creative ideas, to just jot down any and every imaginative idea which came to him. Loved that.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lest Reasoning Get In The Way

So have you seen all over the news and Blogland the way some people are saying that the Haitian government is so corrupt that they're getting what they deserve? And that the money we send to help people over there will eventually go into the pockets of that corrupt government so we shouldn't give anything? Or how others ask, "Why should the U.S. give anything to these other countries anyway?"


Well, here is what I know: Over in Haiti there are millions of moms and dads and children who are hurt, homeless and dying. And here is a little of what God says about that:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress ... " James 1:27

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me... 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me (Jesus).' From Matthew 25

And one more (though there are many more):

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,
when it is in your power to act.

Do not say to your neighbor,
"Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"—
when you now have it with you. ... Proverbs 3:27, 28

Others can argue against the many Bible verses like those, but as for me and my house, we will give to others in times of need. Keep your extreme complication, reasoning and excuses if you choose, but for me, giving to help wounded people in disasters is simply the right thing to do. The loving thing.

End of story.


Love gives.


"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love." ... From 1st Corinthians 13 (The Message Bible)


"Whatever a man sows, that also will he reap..."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Argh. Remind me to never have another root canal done.

I mean, I've had teeth pulled before--all my wisdom teeth, one molar and once, when I was 12, I had a front tooth pulled which grew in behind my other lower front teeth (by then I was so tired of hearing other kids ask, "Why do you have a tooth back there?"). A piece of cake, those extractions.

But this root canal tooth! When Tom and I got into the car after the extraction, I asked him how long I was with the oral surgeon. He said, "Oh, probably around 40 minutes." I replied, "Forty minutes?! Felt more like 3 days." What with all the digging, prodding, zoom-zoom filing, pushing upward on the tooth (what was with that? Shouldn't she have just pulled down on it?) and the splintering of the thing into pieces. Ick. (At one point she sighed, "Strong bone, weak tooth." Rather a good news/bad news thing.)

Oh my, all the prayers and promises I made while lying back in that chair! "Just get me through this, Lord, and I promise I will floss every single day for the rest of my life." I did not promise I'll never eat sugar again. I know better than to knowingly lie to God.

But anyway, the annoying, infected tooth is out. Gone forever. And more? Six hours later I'm still not feeling one smidgen of pain. The oral surgeon even gave me two stitches afterward and a prescription for some powerful pain killers if I need them. But no pain--not yet. I feel blessed.

It felt so wonderful to arrive back home, change clothes and snuggle into the couch. If I didn't love our home before, I loved it at that moment.

And for any of you who said a little prayer when I mentioned that this day would come, well, thanks so much. While lying back in that dental chair I thought of all you readers of my blog and what I would tell you about this latest adventure--and I felt grateful that I have such a kind, sweet audience who will actually care to read my tooth-pulling drivel because you care about me. Thank-you for that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On My Mind Today

Now with the green walls and stenciled steps, I am thinking nice thoughts about our stairwell. The more I change this house, the better I like it.

I am thinking I'm glad that my friend, Donna, is driving all the way out here to visit me. I've not left the house in ever so long (it seems) so a visitor this morning will be grand, especially such a kindred spirit as Donna.

I'm thinking God be praised for all the sunshine we are to have today... and I'm grateful we have enough birdseed for the birds outside those windows you see in my header, my favorite one of all-time. A moment in my home frozen in time.

I am thinking happy birthday to one of our oldest, dearest friends, Pete, far away, but never far in the land of the heart... and I'm sending healing thoughts and prayers outward for my sister's young daughter-in-law who may have leukemia.

And I am thinking and praying for all the people of Haiti and how blessed I was this morning to see a group there singing praise songs with arms uplifted--and how only God can inspire people to do that in the midst of ruins. And I am believing my prayers and my donation to the Red Cross will help, at least a little. No, more than just a little. I must start thinking bigger.


And while I'm at it, I'm also thinking how nice it was of you who told me you also liked my header. Thanks!


"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines and calamities. This is but the beginning of the intolerable anguish and suffering [only the first of the birth pangs]."
Mark 13:7-9

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ten Easy Ways to Kill Your Quiet Time

Let's run this post again since I can't think of one single new thing to write about at this moment. :)

Ten Easy Ways to Kill Your Quiet Time

1. Always sit in the same place. Never take a walk or go to a coffee shop.
2. Read the Bible through in a year when God is giving you a different plan.
3. Go Legalistic. Always do the same things in the same order and in the same way.
4. Stay there when God is saying "Get up and go about your day."
5. Get up before God says, "Get up and go about your day."
6. Run and answer the phone while God is speaking to you.
7. Sit there and feel like God is mad at you.
8. Read a book which is boring you to tears.
9. Never try anything new, like singing, dreaming, dancing, writing or staring out the window.
10. Hold your quiet time at your home's busiest, most hectic time of day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh wow. I can't even explain how much better I feel this January than the last one.

There's a whole bag of reasons for this change. Last winter I was coming-off the high of buying this farm and then facing three-hundred unexpected annoyances (I've already whined about many of those). And remember that verse which says for a little while we'll be tested and then we'll be given a break? (The extreme paraphrase.) Well, there was definitely some of that. I wasn't nearly as prepared for winter as usual so that meant snowy trips to the supermarket (I hate that) and we were making large payments to pay-off a loan we'd taken for home improvements so after each payday we had zero money leftover (we always had just enough for our true needs, but you know how we all are about having that little bit extra!). And more-- an early winter caught us unprepared, I had that root canal infection and the blue I'd painted my kitchen and dining room looked and felt so very, very cold.

Poor, poor Debra, right?

But this winter? I'm better organized, I've been granted a reprieve from the testing time, the loan is paid-off, we have savings and extra money again, I'm better stocked-up for winter and my new best friend, delivers food and pantry stuff right to my back porch (no shipping cost!). I'm not feeling the least bit overwhelmed, my tooth will be pulled this week and my rooms are painted a warm autumn gold (or wallpapered), bringing smiles to my face whenever I step into them.

So why the list of my last winter's woes? To encourage you. To let you know that if your Today is lousy, your Tomorrow just might be amazing. And perhaps your winter is bugging you, but always, always there's hope that by next winter, you'll love even what you can't stand at this moment. You may feel better. You may look better. And everything else may appear brighter, better and altogether different.

Never lose hope that things can change for the good. Always believe that seasons come and go-- and a better one is just around the corner.


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." ... Romans 15:13


Oh, and regarding Anonymous' question about food at you'll sign up you'll see a link for "Shop By Room." Click on that, then click on Pantry. Six-hundred and fifty-eight food choices will pop up. You can save pictures of your personal favorites so that when you return, all you have to do is use your cursor to move those grocery pictures into the tiny shopping cart. You'll love it. :)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Oh, how I love my 'new' stairs. Each time I make my way up, those roses and stems remind me that--someday--Spring will return. Someday I'll again step out the back door and feel 10-years-old and ready for a new adventure outside in my garden or up in the barn loft or in our meadows or orchard. And all the deep snow which surrounds us now will be gone and flowers and trees, instead, will bloom and leaf and waft their heady scents.

But sometimes, like now in early winter, I must make my own Spring.

And I guess stenciling those simple flowers on our stairs made me realize something so clearly. Namely, I don't want the best house on the block, no, but I'd like to have the most inspiring one. I'd love for my house to inspire each of our visitors to return to their own homes and create some Springtime for themselves... to paint a couple walls in bold colors or stencil above the kitchen cabinets or rearrange the living room in a new way. Or to make a valance out of some leftover fabric, drape some shiny white pearls over the chandelier or just clean that messy spare room once and for all.

A home which inspires--that's what I wish to create. Not one that boasts or intimidates or looks down on those entering its doors. No, just a simple place where ideas run rampant and there's way more splash than cash and everyone who steps out the backdoor leaves with new dreams swirling inside their heads the way they once did when they were ten.


Thanks so much for all your compliments about my stairs! And for those of you who were inspired to stencil your own stairways, thank-you for telling me, for as this post stated, I love inspiring others to create. I hope you know how much I'd enjoy seeing photos of your own stenciled steps!


Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Of Painting Stairs

Okay. So remember our dreadfully-ugly-grey stairs? Well, they've become the perfect winter project. I'm only in the middle of this project, but I just couldn't wait to share them with you:

Don't you just adore the miracle that is paint?

So back I go to this large-ish project of mine, Day Four or Five, I forget. It's a messy, time-consuming job, but it's worth it. Oh, and I'm considering painting the walls a light-to-medium green. In fact, I also want to paint our large middle upstairs room green, too, and the floors, white, exactly like this.

I love it when I finally make up my mind.


"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." ... James 1:8

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Lately I've heard from various friends and relatives that they just want Jesus to return, like, right this minute. Or they long to (quite frankly) just die and go to Heaven. Hmm.

They say they are tired. Tired of the way our Country is going, tired of feeling ill, tired of the way their family and friends act, tired of living the same ol' way, themselves. Tired, and afraid, too.

Yet I have other older relatives and friends who love this life which God gave them. Most days they feel good physically, they're filled with hope that their loved ones will love and serve God someday, they don't base their feelings upon the way the United States is behaving, and Jesus, even after their many years, is still their #1 joy and the reason to hop out of bed, whether it's sunny or a cloudy mess outside.

They're anticipating Heaven and Jesus' return, yes, but in the meanwhile, He's showing them an amazing time and keeping them close to His heart, a place where Life always appears hope-filled.

When I get older, I so want to be in that latter group! Heck, I want to be in that group this morning. And perhaps that's why I so often read about (and mention here to you) nutrition and the importance of exercise, as well as a positive attitude, valuing tiny things, laughter and 'not allowing my heart to be troubled.'

I don't wish to arrive at old age, an old wreck.

And the most vital thing in the world to me is to keep a running, hourly closeness to Jesus. No one, I mean no one, keeps me positive and happy and hopeful like He does. And I believe that what I become in this earthly life will matter much in my heavenly one.

I want to start well and finish well, too.

So may I listen to and obey all the myriad lessons He gives me each day so I, too, can be in that latter group, above, the one which believes to be in Heaven is good, but to be here with Jesus is good, too.


Our reasons for longing for Jesus' return may not be as holy as we believe them to be.


Life is a gift from God, a present to be opened--and appreciated-- every single morning.


"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." ... John 14:27

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Dream House

Some people say their Dream House would have 4,000 square feet and bay windows and a highly efficient super kitchen and five huge bedrooms with five large bathrooms and vaulted ceilings, a foyer and a spiral staircase.

Me? My Dream House has pineapple tops in saucers and thumbtacks still holding bits of birthday crepe paper and tiny Christmas bells around doorknobs and a creche still on the mantle in July.

There are drawers crammed with linens and damask napkins, hutches with collected treasures spilling everywhere and there's a chandelier with crystals and beads and bendable fairies. There are stacks of old records and Glenn Miller is spinning on the player with the occasional pop! from dust. Decorated lampshades send out cozy light and cupids are stenciled here and there on the walls above each black phone with a rotary dial.

There's a butler's pantry with stacks of mismatched dishes and seashells behind glass and sewing supplies on the counter and inside floral-papered drawers. The kitchen has a Formica and chrome table and chairs and wallpaper from 40 years ago and glass-fronted cabinets which reach to the ceiling.

The bedrooms upstairs were painted in Easter egg colors back in the 1950's and the closets hold old formals, wedding dresses and Halloween costumes as well as pink striped hatboxes. The hall is lined with sepia photos of the people who once lived in this house and the carpet runner is worn down the middle from their long ago footsteps.

There's dust, but there's a rampant feeling of love on every level and, always, it feels as though a birthday party could burst forth anytime and as though sunlight is shining from behind the heavy drapes, even when it isn't. There is laughter and music and creative activity and the children who live in this house hope to never, ever leave it.


This post is partly inspired by the essay, Other People's Houses, by Nancy Eberle, one of my all-time favorite pieces. Ever.


Actually? I have visited my Dream House many times in reality over and over. Tom and I often stumble across it when we attend summer estate sales.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Christmas trees across our street. I like to think that the little old couple who used to live in that log cabin (or even the folks before them) planted these trees in remembrance of Christmas or to provide some green for us all in the midst of the snow and the grey-brown of the other trees we see six long months of each year.

I sit before the window upstairs with my faux coffee, staring at these trees and listening to this (different than last week's) Susan Boyle song. A haunting song, making for lovely, magical moments on average, long winter days.

And here is some more snow outside of different windows.

Snow, snow, snow.... It's that time of year again. I can admit that now. :)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Of Acceptance

So Naomi gave me (among other things) some colloidal silver for Christmas to take for that annoying infected root canal tooth, the one which I can't have pulled till the 15th. And well, guess what? I've felt so much more cheerful since taking that stuff! Wow, pretty good, especially since for most of 2009 my head felt cranky and forgetful, making me concerned about both.

The companion change I've made since Christmas is to remind myself of something I've told you many times, namely, I've been applying more acceptance to my daily life. Officially, I've stopped expecting myself to be as 'sharp' as I was at 37.

Namely, I now accept that I must double-check everything. Double-check that I locked the car doors at night, turned out the lights, turned down the heater, and turned off the stove top, the tv and my alarm clock. And when I forget to do any of these or forget to send back a Netflix movie or pay a bill or take my grocery list? Or when Tom forgets things? I need to forgive myself (and Tom) and not say things like, "Good grief, Debra (or Tom)! What's the matter with you?"

A simple, "Hey, I'm half-a-century old," or humming the Twilight Zone theme, is kinder. I am finding that the gentler I am with myself, the less stressful I become and that leads to longer stretches of happiness. And a better-working memory, even.

My favorite teacher once said that, "People who can't accept things, often go insane." I had to think about that one awhile before I understood, but then I thought of people who can't accept that they've lost a loved one--and how that can lead to a lifestyle of paralyzing grief or even pretending that the loved one is still here. Or those who can't accept the end of a relationship and the way that can lead to not seeking new relationships (debilitating loneliness resulting) or even to stalking ex.'s. And those who refuse to accept their present age can lead to imagining one is younger, wearing clothes meant for younger folks and acting in an affected manner--and driving everyone away.

Acceptance is vital. Respecting the seasons in my life--and how those seasons are always changing--is vital for good mental health. Ignoring or fighting or running from those seasons will take me to dark places.

And may I never become so forgetful that I forget that.


Some things just are what they are.


The above photo is me at age 37, you know, back when I was sharp. :)