It was one of those down times on the roller coaster of our early married life. My husband was about to embark on a new job in a different state and we had no insurance.  I had remained in our old state until our house would sell.  All three of our kids had the chicken pox.  The only vehicle we had available to us was a broken down Ford Fairlaine, which barely made it to the end of the driveway.

I was beginning to feel our house would never sell and that we’d be apart for the rest of our marriage or at least until the kids were out of college.  It was in that dark time that the phone rang.  It was a doctor from hospital in St. Paul, MN. He said my husband had admitted himself to the ER after experiencing tachycardia (rapid heart rate). He said if there was anyway I could get there as soon as possible, the better it would be.

We had just recovered from a long time of unemployment. Our bank account had about 45 cents in it.  I couldn’t drive that old beater more than a mile.  My kids were contagious, and according to the doctor, my husband didn’t have long for this world.   I called my parents and asked if they could drive to our town and let me use their car to reach him.  Just after hanging up, my husband was on the phone.

Apparently, he heard the doctor making the call and felt sure that it wasn’t necessary for me to make a trip.  He was in a hospital ward, mind you.  There were no private phones, no cell phones – just lines of hospital beds holding sick people.  So he detached his IV and all the cords which attached to the machines showing his vitals and ran down the hall to a pay phone.  Of course pandemonium set in as lights were going off and on and alerts were sounding.  They thought my husband had crashed.  Imagine their surprise, when they found he was no longer in his bed!

He spent a few days in that ward as a large number of tests were run.  He felt like he was sitting in a cab watching the meter running – as dollar signs turned over and over.  His stress over not being able to pay the huge bill only added to his distress  Tests were done to see what was causing his rapid heart rate.  Stress tests were done.  Any anxiety or depression they were looking for, didn’t show up until he was there for a few days.

During his time there, a drug addict pulled out his IV and was bleeding profusely.  Paul administered first aid.  An elderly gentlemen streaked the nurses’ station creating quite a stir.  Someone got in bed with him and proceeded to wet the bed.  Paul’s room was right next to the communal rest room.  I suppose the poor fellow thought he was there.

Since he was in a university hospital, a large staff of doctors, nurses and interns were making rounds one day.  One of the interns suggested checking for hyper-active thyroid.  They did and discovered that he indeed did suffer from this condition.  It was a relief, but only added to more anxiety.

He was led down a long hall way.  At the end of the hall was a room with a danger sign.  This was the room they led him to.  He was told to wait.  While waiting he noticed a metal cup with a syringe.  After a few minutes of waiting and wondering what would happen next, a young nurse came in draped in a radio active apron.  She carried a metal container with heavily gloved hands.  She took the syringe and drew some of the liquid from the metal container and placed it in the cup.  Paul was told to drink it.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t very reassuring for him to do so, after all the precautions he witnessed.  The radio active iodine was administered to kill his thyroid and rid him of this problem.

So the story ended well, at least until the bill arrived.

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I hope I look as dignified as this old, grey, mare. 

After a long rest, I’ve decided it’s time to get back in the saddle again.  My last physical indicated that I’m in pretty good health for an old lady, but I need to get some exercise.  So I’ve been spending some time at the “Y” with my Silver Sneaker friends.

When I need motivation, I simply look over at the elderly gentleman, who resembles Tim Conway portraying an old man.  This dear man is obviously a few years older than me, but he’s there every time and even though each move is torturous for him, he continues to press on.  The fact that there’s a mirror facing us is quite a motivator too.  The one hour workout is designed to make us more flexible, get moving and work on areas that are troublesome as we age.

Yesterday was an off day, so I decided to dig into some gardening.  I garden on my hands and knees because it’s causes less stress on my back.  I stumbled into a patch of ants (they love our sandy soil.)  I vigorously pulled weeds that had resurfaced.  I put in a few new plants to dress up the area and by the time I was finished, I looked like the last rose of summer.  Sweat poured from my aging body.  My hair was soaking wet.  My knees and feet were covered with dirt and I didn’t smell very good. At that point my body cried out for relief.

I got to thinking about how quickly we fall out of shape.  When we stray from God’s Word and His plan for our lives, we get run down too.  Our minds turn to other things for satisfaction.  Without His guidance, we are like a stubborn, old, grey mare.  Things go out of focus quickly.  We think we can control our own destiny.  We try to manage, but fail.  A daily dose of God’s Word can give us the strength, physically, mentally and spiritually to get through every day.

We need motivation like we need oxygen.  God fills our lungs with hope, faith and determination to fend off the enemy.  He holds us near, walks with us and lifts us when we fall.  Even though our bodies can’t do what they used to do, he provides strength to get us through the difficulties of life.  Right now, He’s pushing me out of the door and off to the gym.

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Not so long ago,

The ground was frozen and

Covered with a blanket of snow,

Now an early summer sun beats ferociously,

Upon the landscape,

Humidity fills the air,

Hovering like a cloud of heavy weight,

The weather is much like life –

It can change in an instant,

One minute you’re sweltering and melting,

The next, you’re searching for a jacket,

Minnesota heat is somewhat a luxury,

For a few brief moments we come out of our winter hibernation,

Bask in the rays of the sun,

Dip our toes in a peaceful, warm lake,

Man the sails and pursue the wind,

We’ve learned to enjoy every warm moment,

Because there is so little of it.


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This guy wears many hats, as I’ve already written.  One of his favorites is anything bearing the Stetson name and he really looks good in it.  To me, the cowboy in Paul, is the most attractive.

As a boy, he would play cowboys and Indians in his little Roy Rogers’ cowboy hat, vest, fringed shirt and pistol packing holsters on the flat roof of the funeral home.  In his mind he had been transported to a place outside the confines of the city.  His range was covered with tar, but to him it was the wide open spaces.

Later he had the opportunity to work for a farmer out near the lake home and learned about making hay, lifting bales of it, and sneezing his way through hay fever season because of it.  That didn’t deter the young boy.  He loved the outdoors.  He loved being away from the hustle and bustle of the big city life.  He loved the freedom it allowed him.

When he grew into a man and worked in the advertising business, one of his accounts was a major ammunitions company.  Since the internet had not yet been invented, photography on location was necessary, which required trips out west and into mountainous areas.  One such trip took him into the Wind River Mountains – a natural area, where great shots could be captured in the beauty of God’s creation.

The trip required the use of horses and pack animals for all the photography gear and supplies.  It was right up his alley.  As they reached the top of the mountain, the air was thin, but the weather cooperated long enough to get some wonderful pictures to enhance the client’s product.

As time went by, the skies began to fill with clouds and it wasn’t long before it was snowing.  The snow continued and continued until there was no way they would be able to travel the now treacherous trail back.  Another adventure for this man wasn’t met with trepidation.   Every survival skill was set into motion again.  Of course they made it back, but they waited a few days to make the trip.

During that time, he made a connection with a dude ranch and was able to sell them on doing an advertising brochure.  The deal was sweet.  Our entire family would spend a week at the dude ranch in exchange for the cost of the advertising.  There are great advantages to being a good salesman – another hat that Paul wears well.

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What does a plein air artist do when the weather simply won’t allow for outdoor painting?  It’s too hot, humid, cloudy and even a little windy.  They retreat to the recesses of the studio and paint a still life.  The true artist never lets a day go by without lifting a brush – even if it means painting a wall.

So he gathers an assortment of objects of various size and shape – group them into an interesting composition – fill the pallet with globs of color, prepare the canvas, get comfortable and begin.  Capturing light and shadows, they highlight and shadow.  They play with color and dance around the canvas to the music of creativity.

The day will come when the paint will no longer flow.  I pray it will last forever.


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As you know, it’s about nine months since we’ve moved into our new “old” house.  I’ve since retired from my strenuous yet gratifying work schedule.  We still aren’t completely unpacked, but we’re getting there.  However, in all the changes occurring over the past year, I’ve found the need to get back into the work force.  Since there is no real financial benefit to writing, unless your name is Hemmingway, I’ve been looking at different ways to use my talents on a smaller scale.

Next week I will begin a stint at a memory care facility.  My own memory has been  causing some concern lately, but I think it might be because I haven’t been using my brain as much as I used to.  As we age, we don’t have the structure of a job – a specific schedule to follow – a lack of outside communication.  Since I had non-stop structure, scheduling and working with children, I went from one extreme to another in a very short time.

Did I mention, I’ll be working with memory care patients?  Oh, yes, I forgot!  This should be a challenge, but a very exciting one.  The time I spend with these lovely people will allow me to sharpen their memories using some of my drama background. We’ll also stir their imaginations by doing some poetry and memoir writing.  I hope that this will allow them to express themselves again and sharpen their recollections.  At the same time, I’m giving myself a second chance to wake up some of my own memories.

I have a few concerns, because in a sense it will be like the blind leading the blind, but I believe God has a purpose for all of us throughout our lives.  My mind has been on vacation for the past several months and it’s time for me to wake it up.  At the same time, I hope I’ll be able to help someone else.

ISAIAH 46:8-9   “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.


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One day, as my husband worked as an interpretive naturalist, a boy of about 6 came up to him, looked him square in the eyes and said, “Mr. Paul, are you a paleontologist?  Without skipping a beat, Paul replied, “No, son.  I’m just an old dinosaur.”  The answer seemed to satisfy the boy and wasn’t far from the truth.  He was nearing 70 at the time he took this job.

For a few years in his time after retirement, he began working at a nature center.  All of his years of experience in nature, wilderness and knowledge of the outdoors was enough to land him the job.  He loved it, because not only did he get to share what he knew with young people, but it gave him the opportunity to be in nature – his favorite place to be

Many of the young naturalists had not really experienced life in the wild, as Paul had.  Their knowledge came mainly from what they learned in college and the vast information on the internet.  Having spent most of his life learning through experience, may have given him an advantage, because he knew all about different birds and their habitats, wildlife of all kinds, how to track an animal, look for signs in the forest and survive in it if necessary.

I often refer to my oldest grandson as a walking encyclopedia.  The second grandson refers to himself as a pocket dictionary with pages missing.  Paul is the granddaddy of knowledge of most everything to do with nature and a lot of other things too.

Kids have always naturally gravitated to this man.  I remember when we were first married and the kids in the neighborhood would come over and ask if he could come out and play.  Part of their interest was stirred, because of how interesting he made things.  He could show them through nature how meticulous creation is – how precise and perfect God’s handiwork is – how all creatures are created in a way that enables them to adapt to their environment. He’d spend hours teaching them to whittle.  His stories captivated them as well.

Many times, as he’d trudge through the woods with the eager learners, they would hum the theme song to the Indiana Jones’ movies.  They even referred to him as Louisiana Jones once.  He does own a hat and leather jacket that resemble this character.  Of course he is a man of many hats.

All the many facets of Paul are part of God’s great design.  Each one of us is unique.  He just happens to be unique in a lot of different areas.

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A morning mist engulfs the lake, the air is fresh and clean.

You pull the anchor and set out, to waters so serene,

The sputter of the motor spits, encroaching other sounds,

That lead to the old fishing hole, where breakfast does abound,

You may sit there for many hours, in quiet contemplation.

But when the bobber bounces down, with wild anticipation,

You reel it in and hope to see, a catch that will suffice,

But sitting there just waiting, was also extremely nice.

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