Around the World…in seconds

Yesterday I had the most views here that I’ve ever had! How exciting! I love to see all those little flags lined up, showing all the places people visited from. Wondrous world that we live in!

continents-975936_1920

Thank you to everyone that stops by, reading my posts, liking and commenting. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you!

And I am just one ‘like’ away from 100 likes on my author Facebook page! That’s pretty exciting as well. Follow this link if you’d like to make it officially 100 likes and above.

https://www.facebook.com/deborahanndykeman

I know for some of you this is probably not a great accomplishment. I read your blogs and after only a few months, you have a couple thousand followers, and thousands of hits. It hasn’t been that way for me. I started this blog back in May of 2015, and it has grown, but it’s been slowly. It can be discouraging at times. You wonder what you’re doing wrong. I admit it’s been hard for me to know what to focus on here. I’m kind of out there with a lot of different stuff. So I’m thinking on that. But I have met some wonderful people…encouraging people, through this WordPress community. And it’s so much easier than sending a message in a bottle, hoping it lands in some faraway place! 😉

Thank you all for your support. If you have any tips on how to make this better…I’d love to hear them. Meanwhile, I’ll keep reading your posts and learn all that I can. Have a great Wednesday!

Before the Glitter

I never had the privilege to see Branson, Missouri before. Before all the traffic, before the chain restaurants, and the Hollywood attractions. I wasn’t born yet when the book The Shepherd of the Hills was first published back in 1907. You may purchase your own copy right here: https://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Hills-Wordsworth-Classics/dp/1840225815

It is a book I’m adding to my reading list, and hope to get to very soon. Because I think it will speak of a Branson, Missouri I somehow long for, although I’ve never seen. I have that feeling a lot in my life!

As you may have guessed by now, my husband and I just returned from Branson. I do love going there. At one time, we always went to Silver Dollar City, but we haven’t purchased season passes for a few years now. I think for our entire family, the memories we have, are about that magical place. I say magical, because the entire park seems to take me back to a more simple time. Those years when you were thankful for a roof over your head, food to eat, and clothing to do what needed to be done. Usually a pair of work clothes, and a set of going out clothes for the store, meetings, neighbor visits, and maybe even church. I’m sure some folks even had another set of clothing just for church, weddings and funerals. Those folks had even more than most.

I love the setting of Silver Dollar City. The rambling hills, cabins dotting the pathway, trees offering shade, and the smokey smell of the food vendors. If I close my eyes, I can picture the little stream, and hear the music as you enter Silver Dollar City…and that’s the way I picture the old Branson.

Progress…something we always strive for in our personal lives, what we as a society want to have. But what are we losing along the way? I’m just as bad. I not only want a roof over my head, but I want it to be free from leaks, well-insulated, heated and air-conditioned with running hot and cold water. I want easy-to-clean floors, and electricity so I may use my computer at two in the morning if I wish. That electricity sure comes in handy when I want ice cream from the freezer! I want several pairs of shoes to go with different outfits, and I most assuredly don’t want to go to the river to wash my clothes! Yes, I am spoiled by this life. And because of that, I don’t see the shaded woods, and the trickling brooks as much as I should. As much as I would like.

I love going to Branson. I would like to live in Missouri someday. But I don’t enjoy the traffic, the neon signs, the high prices, and the tired employees at the end of the summer. I don’t blame them…working with people, serving people is a thankless job. For some reason, even people on vacation can be rude and demanding. I have never understood that. A vacation should be a happy event.

Each time we visit Branson, there is another Hollywood attraction. I say that because I think of bright lights, expensive museums, and so much stuff to give entertainment. Ten years ago when we first started visiting Branson on a regular basis, there were still the old restaurants. The ones that made you feel like you were going back in time and experiencing the real Ozarks, the authentic cooking. Some of the older souvenir shops were still around. When I thought of Branson, I thought of talent. Talent in music, crafts, arts, and cooking. Now all I see is one more chain restaurant that I can visit in Topeka, Kansas, and way too much glitter.

Don’t get me wrong…there is still incredible talent there. It just seems harder to find, and when you do, it’s expensive, and it shouldn’t be that way. What is wrong with having places to go that are special just because they are what they are? No frills, no glitter, no competition to stay in business by having bigger and better. Maybe that’s just the way it goes in life, and we can’t get back what we once had. Not once we travel the path of being spoiled and catered to.

I’m going to read The Shepherd of the Hills…and dream of a more simple time. A time when the sun rose with a golden glow over the mountains, and set to the hum of cicadas flitting through the trees and meadows. The orange, pink and purple hues the only glitter to be seen. Cold mornings when you woke to the smokey aroma of the cook stove, and bacon sizzling beside eggs. Hot days when you could dip your toes in the cool brook, shaded with tall trees.

ozark-166113_1920

Maybe even a quick swim between chores, the rocky bottom massaging your feet.

lake-662607_1920

I want to top a long hill, and look out over the deep valleys and the bushy peaks, water shimmering in the distance. Sitting on the long front porch of my cabin, my rocking chair creaking beneath me would be an excellent way to finish a day. Maybe a friend or two playing guitars, and singing gospel and bluegrass. That’s the Branson I want to see…the one I wasn’t privileged to view. Enjoy a bit of Bluegrass music!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah8JBK5hFgs

 

 

 

Sometimes It Hurts

It is a sad day at our house. The two babies, (the two kittens) my husband rescued, were taken to the Helping Hands shelter in Topeka, Kansas, where we pray they find good and loving homes. They were only with us for almost three weeks, but they became a part of our lives very quickly. I must be getting old, but the emotional upheaval is more than I can stand. 20205746_10207245748420537_865269655_o

I sincerely pray that loving families adopt them, and that they have a good life. At least we know that three weeks of their lives were better than what they would have been if my husband hadn’t found them.

Last Friday night, our older cat came to the back door to eat. Cassie was to be an indoor cat, and for the most part for much of her life she was. But she really enjoyed the outdoors, and she was a very savvy cat. She would jump to the garage roof when it was not safe in the yard, and observe whatever dog, skunk, or intruder from her perch. When I left for work at 5:30 am, if Cassie was outside, and on the roof, I woke my husband to walk me to the car. Something was not right outside. Cassie would greet us each time we arrived home, running to our car and waiting for us to open the doors, greeting us with a “meow!”.

The arrival of the kittens didn’t make her happy. At one time, she rarely stayed outside after we went to bed. She would obediently come in when called, sleep with our youngest daughter, usually under the covers, and then head out again in the morning. During the cold months, her time outside didn’t last long, and on really frigid days, her nose was all that peeked out. But with the kittens here, she preferred to eat outside, or quickly in the kitchen, and then she left.

Last Friday night was the last evening she came for supper. We have called and searched, and Cassie has not answered. She was born the November of 2006, and became part of our family around Christmas time. She was a good cat.

So, we lost not one, but three cats over the past couple of days. Our hearts are heavy, and sadness meets us each time we enter a room where they once played, or snuggled on the sofa. And for now, I don’t want to hurt like this again for any family pet. I’ve lost too many over the years.

Our youngest daughter is devastated of course. I can’t blame her, but it’s the reality of life. One that I don’t understand, one that I don’t want to live through again. At times like these, you think it best to not care for anything, not let your heart melt at the touch of a kitten on your toes, or the soft feel of their fur against your cheek. For if you care for no one, or about nothing, you have little to lose. Right?

This life is painful at times. Your heart is ripped from your chest, and wounds are tore open, left to bleed. The loss of a loved one or a family pet is never forgotten. But it does ease in time. Time softens the sharp edges of pain, and blurs the memory just a bit. And I’m thankful for that. Maybe someday another cat will share our home, maybe Cassie will still return. But for now, that sharp pain is there. And I don’t like it. This is Cassie, taken last autumn.14536809_10155389110863009_1992044396_o

Mood Music

Sometimes you need some music to set the mood. I have a PowerPoint I need to work on this week. Rather than get frustrated with my lack of knowledge where that program is concerned, I thought I would listen to some music to help ease the pain of inexperience. I found this on YouTube, and I’m pretty excited. The man’s name is Tim Janis. I had never heard of him before, which is not saying much. I don’t get out and around like I once did. If a child or a grandchild doesn’t mention it, or it doesn’t fall on my doorstep, I don’t hear about it. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much! I don’t generally watch the news, or listen to it on the radio. I don’t read a paper. Whatever I see or hear comes to me through the internet when I’m checking my e-mail or Facebook. They may not be the absolute best sources, but that’s what I do.

Tim Janis has been around for awhile. You may read about him here on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Janis. In my opinion, he sounds a bit like Enya and John Barry, kind of wrapped up together. Which is wonderful for me, because I’ve always loved their music. Out of Africa was a movie I really enjoyed, and a big part of it was the music from John Barry. (My husband thought it was wonderful music to nap to). Somewhere in Time was the first movie that I saw with his music, and I was enraptured. Our oldest daughter has the middle name of Elise because of that movie!

So no more talk, you can enjoy Tim Janis as well, right here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAFRD9hScmI

He has so many tracks you can listen to on YouTube. And they all have gorgeous photography to go along with it. I would love to just sit and watch, but that can’t happen today or I won’t get a thing done! Be sure to ‘like’ and subscribe to his channel. I don’t think you will be disappointed. And if you’re in the area, he will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City on December 1, 2017. He must be really good! 😉

Salad Ingredients…

When I was much, much younger, before I attended Kindergarten, I watched Sesame Street. At that time, it was a new show. It was pretty unique in the way the ‘puppet’ people interacted with the real people. I loved all the little scenes, the singing and getting to know Maria. I found it fascinating to watch her get married, and have a little girl of her own. All the while, the Muppets a part of that world.

So, when my husband and I went out to eat this past Saturday night, this scene from Sesame Street kept running through my head:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C8nl8eBoq0

To watch more classic Sesame Street, please go to this link: http://www.sesamestreet.org

I had ordered a salad. At one time, I always ordered salads when we ate out. Not just because they are healthy, but because I really do love them, and I do not like to make them at home. On Saturday night, I even ordered blue cheese dressing, which I also love, but generally I try to stick with oil and vinegar. So, with great anticipation, I took that first bite of romaine lettuce and a chunk of steak, blue cheese crumbles and dressing mingled enticingly.

And there was a hair in it!

This was not a tiny hair, but a long hair. I had to deposit the entire bite in a napkin. Needless to say, I lost my appetite. The once delicious-looking salad wasn’t so beckoning any longer.

Yes, I did eat the salad. Very cautiously, examining each bite. But the enjoyment was gone.

No, I did not complain to the waitress. I probably should have. But we were the only patrons, and our waitress was very nice, checking on us regularly and giving us big smiles. One of the times she asked how everything was tasting, was right after I had emptied my mouthful into my napkin. I could not think of a way to smile back and graciously say, “There was a long hair in my salad, I almost gagged, and now I want to leave.” After all, it wasn’t her hair. (I know this because she had beautiful blonde hair in a ponytail, almost to the middle of her back. The hair was shorter, and brown. Rather like the hair on the cook we saw behind the counter.)

And while this was going on, I thought of the Sesame Street skit about the fly in the soup. I do not know why this came to mind from under the pile of other memories, many years of memories, but it did.

I still love salads, and I will order them again. But I probably won’t go to that particular restaurant for some time. It has always been clean, the staff very friendly, so I will just chalk it up to a bad experience and go on. I don’t think you always have to set a situation right. Sometimes you just walk away.

Maybe I will be making my own salads again for awhile. Or just have a large plate of something like this. All the right, delicious ingredients for a salad. Doesn’t it look yummy, summery, and fresh?

vegetables-2203300_1920

 

You Aren’t What You Think!

I’m wondering when your mind and thinking processes catch up to your body. In my head, I think I can still work as I did when I was 18 years old. My brain wants to rationalize as if I was still in my early twenties. “Bungee jump…sure! Why not? Work in the yard for 8-10 hours, take a shower, then go out and have fun until midnight…I can handle that!”

Even up until about 3-5 years ago, I could still handle the working in the yard for 8-10 hours, and even longer. I was a bit sore, but after lying down in a cold room for the night, I was ready to hit it again the next day. Now, 3-4 hours in the same yard, and I’m done-in. And our yard is looking like it!

When we moved here 10 years ago, I wanted a sanctuary. Someplace for me to go and sit among the shrubbery and flowers. A quiet spot to do nothing in, just relax. Well, I definitely have the shrubbery now. It’s still not very quiet. The neighbor’s grandchildren have progressed from the riding bikes through my flowers and screaming, to the teenage years of blaring radios and loud mufflers. Walking into the yard right now sends shivers down my spine as my eyes find every corner of the yard that needs attention.

Yesterday, our youngest and I tackled the ‘monster hedge’. This is what it looked like last March after a good trimming with the chainsaw.

20160317_185606
Spring Daffodils

Now it’s a jungle out there! This is the hedge in the front yard. I have two in the backyard surrounding the garden. I love it for the windbreak and the privacy it gives. But each year, our son-in-law comes over and chops it down with a chainsaw to a more manageable height. And then it grows again! If we lived in the middle of nowhere, it would be wonderful. It grows quickly and it’s hardy. But in a neighborhood with power lines, it’s just too much. Our daughter and I only tackled the sides of the monster hedge, cutting off the branches that attacked our vehicles each time we drove into the driveway. The tops will need the chainsaw once again. The hedge in the front now looks like this picture from last summer, only the hedge is about 6 feet taller:

14002332_10155192807973009_1134810174_o

Yes, I think my yard is out of control. I think it’s time for an apartment with a couple tomato plants in containers on my tiny deck. And that is not the thinking of 18-year-old me! My younger self was not constrained with health problems or thoughts of restrictions on what I could do. I could do it all! And our poor children were my little helpers as I did. They could all tell you stories of their tortuous lives as they helped me with my projects.

Our son was the privileged crew member on this little stone terrace. It looks so neat and tidy here!

I hope at some point that our children don’t recall just the bad moments of hard work. The sweating hours in the heat and sun. Caring for the younger children in the house, and making meals while I painted outside or worked in the garden. My prayer is that they learned the value of a hard day’s work. The sense of accomplishment from completing a project and having it look fantastic. The knowledge that you can do much with a little elbow grease and the willingness to try something new. Those will last you a lifetime.

Yes, my mind is getting there. After only a couple hours yesterday, I’m done-in today. But you can get down the driveway, and hopefully our youngest is learning something along the way. I’m not as motivated as I once was, something our oldest four children remind me of every now and then. So I guess my 18 year-old brain is beginning to catch up as well! Have a beautiful summer day!

Patriotism in America, Part Two

Happy 4th of July! I’m happy to see you back.

I don’t normally write a two-part post. I don’t usually post about anything too controversial. Discussing politics and getting fired up is not the purpose of this site. I want all to feel welcome here. But I also have a belief system, and at certain times, it is appropriate for me to state that.

Yes, I do believe you can have patriotism for your country and disagree with the principles it was founded on. But why would you want to? Personally, if I’m going to fight for something and be willing to die for it, I want to believe in it and support it. It’s very difficult to give your life for something you hate.

And here is where we come to the fork in the road. Those that believe that this country was founded on Biblical principles, and those that do not.

I have just finished reading the Declaration of Independence, and it would be a great activity for any American to do, especially on the 4th of July. The people that do not believe in the Biblical principles this country was built on, will of course try to change the history. And because we have freedom in American, those people can put up a fuss.

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World. (I have copied this from the link below, so I did not edit or correct.)

Here is a link if you would like to read the entire Declaration of Independence: https://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/read-the-declaration/

I believe that our founding fathers, for the most part wanted the best for our new nation. They wanted to be free, they wanted to be happy and they wanted the same for their family and friends. I believe they understood that they were created by God, and that they followed the Bible. Yes, there were some different views taken on it, just as there is today. Just as there always will be until we are face-to-face with our Creator and we understand. We are human, and we fail. But I believe the founding fathers set this country up under God’s direction and guidance. I think that for many, many years, this was a priority in most people’s lives. And even if they didn’t accept Christ as their Savior, they knew He was there and they had respect for Him.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case in America today. People do what is right in their own eyes, and don’t care too much about what the Bible says about anything. And if they believe God is there, and the Bible is true, they certainly don’t use it as a guidebook for their lives. They would rather float along doing what they think is best. And that is why America is in trouble. Again, we are human, many times lacking wisdom, and to just float along with no guidance causes lots of trouble. Observe any child that is allowed to do whatever they think is best for them. It is not a good situation. God knew that, and gave children parents to instruct them, and guide them, to give them principles to live on for the rest of their lives.

If you have ever read the Bible, and the Old Testament in particular, you know what has happened to nations that turned their backs on God, and decided to do what was right in their own eyes. There are cycles repeated over and over of a king coming in that applied God’s principles, and that nation being blessed. Then a corrupt king would come in, bringing idols and doing what he thought was best rather than following God. That nation fell. Historically, much of this can be documented in areas other than the Bible. In the New Testament, Paul warned the people over and over through his letters to keep seeking God and His guidance.

Is America seeking God and His guidance? Are you pursuing that in your own life? I admit, I get caught up in my own life, and start doing things my own way. And then the trouble begins.

Patriotism in The United States of America should be vigorously supported by Americans because we believe in our Nation, and what we were founded on. We should be willing to give our lives for that. And if you don’t believe that, at the very least, you should have respect for those that do.

Patriotism is at an all-time low. And that is not from statistics that I’ve looked up. That is my personal observance. From children that do not know how to recite The Pledge of Allegiance, to people that do not know what to do when the flag of our country is before them. Americans that think Memorial Day and Independence Day are just great summer holidays. I’m not saying you can’t celebrate, and I wholeheartedly think you should. Go to a parade, have a picnic, take your boat out, and then watch the fireworks.

But always remember, and teach your children why those days are set aside. Hang your flag proudly, thank those that are serving or have served in our armed forces. Respect your leaders. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to agree, but you should respect them and their position.

And remember those that have died for us, so we can celebrate today. And always remember Who started it all! Have a fantastic 4th of July, in whatever way you decide to celebrate it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfSOAnjQzgs

Patriotism in America, Part One

Pledge of Allegiance

Many of us grew up in the era when The Pledge of Allegiance was still recited in school. By the time our children were in school, it was not a daily occurrence.

I just did a really quick research on the The Pledge of Allegiance, when it was written and who wrote it, and the additions over the years. This post isn’t about that, so I won’t go into details. You may do the same research if you are interested.

This post is about patriotism:

The quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one’s country.

History changes over the years. It is rather like the old telephone game that we all played. Whisper in the first person’s ear. By the time the message has traveled around the room, it has changed. Sometimes so much that it is unrecognizable to the person that first spoke the words. None of us were alive, 200, 500, 1,000 years ago. We rely on events passed down through the generations, ancient recordings and more recently, pictures. If someone relates something inaccurately, or puts their own spin and emotions into it, the facts are no longer there. And over time, the facts get buried.

In America, we are a young country compared to many. But even so, most people from the WWI, (Jul 28, 1914 – Nov 11, 1918) era are no longer with us, much less the Civil War, ( Apr 12, 1861 – May 9, 1865), or the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), also known as the American War of Independence. We rely on records and writings from these events to form our opinions about what occurred.

I think it is pretty safe to say, that most of the men that fought in these wars were patriotic. They had and showed, vigorous support for their country, The United States of America. It saddens me greatly, to see the people of this nation, not all, but some, forgetting their patriotism. The wonderful thing about America is that you don’t have to be here.  But if you are, you should support your country.

It’s not about the president, or your rights. All of us have disagreed with our leaders, all of us have been less than pleased with decisions made for our country at some point. Your actions are what matter, and when our actions trod on our patriotism, they are wrong. And that is what will divide us as a nation.

Men have fought long, gruesome years for our freedoms that we have today. Families have been destroyed. Because of their honor and integrity, their patriotism, we still have The United States of America. Independence Day in America, the 4th of July, is the day set aside to remember and celebrate our independence. And it should be a day of patriotism for those living in this country.

Tomorrow, I will conclude this post. So be sure to check back.

 

Swinging From the Trees

The cover picture above was taken last night during another storm here in Kansas. No…not really! I wouldn’t be out at one in the morning snapping pictures. But, I’m fairly certain this is the way the landscape was looking.

If the storms keep up, we will officially be in a tropical rain forest before too long. Then Kansas will look like this:

argentina-1559925_1920

Which is really pretty and green. But with all that water, comes lots of greenery, which again, I love, but plants can bring little creatures like this:frog-649564_1920

Or this, (warning, graphic material here!):

rain-forest-2151573_1920

I’m sorry, I just don’t like snakes in any form. Even if they are a cheery green color! This pretty bird isn’t too bad:

animal-21102_1920

But he looks a little grumpy. I would be too if I was living in a swamp. When people think of Kansas, they remember tornadoes, and Dorothy wearing red sparkly shoes. I haven’t seen a lot of those shoes around here, because believe me, they’d be in my closet if they were available!

The storms the past few nights have been different than usual. They come if with a loud bang, literally. Lots of lightening follows, and then the sky opens up, dumping buckets of water. They pass us pretty quickly. A couple of times, another storm has come through. When you are waiting to take your shower between cells, this can be rather frustrating. No tornado watches or warnings that I have been aware of, just tons of water. I can enjoy that, since we have a good roof.

All this water is wonderful for the garden, and the lakes that are filling up. Until it’s not so great anymore! My husband has been wanting to purchase a kayak. Before long, he will be able to use it to get to work.

So for now, I’ll treasure the water, and try to breathe through the humidity. I have a scraper to tackle the moss build-up on the side of the house, if this keeps up. Little frogs, even blue ones, are welcome here. A pretty bird or two would be delightful. The grandchildren would love a monkey swinging through the trees. But, ‘NO SNAKES ALLOWED!” signs are posted two inches off the ground.

And soon we will return to the Kansas we know so well:

kansas-1912323_1920