Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Finances

One of the principles on finances that my parents drilled into me throughout my childhood was "Never, ever co-sign a loan with anyone." 

Hubby and I have followed that advice to our benefit.


In my teen years their admonitions of "Don't co-sign on loans" also included examples of the tribulations of friends and relatives who struggled financially when the individual they "helped out" couldn't make their monthly payments.


Those examples stayed with me.


But only when I was an adult did I realize that their financial principle passed down to me was from the Bible. 


Eventually two verses related to my parents' financial admonitions caught my attention.


Proverbs 11:15 NIV Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe. Proverbs 11:15 NIV 


As I started reading the Bible through each year, I found more of my parents' pithy sayings that came from the Bible.


Another verse of wisdom that has guided our decisions:


Romans 13:8 ESV Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 ESV 


And our parents' stance on co-signing did not mean they ignored the financial or health challenges that friends and relatives faced.They found other ways of helping rather than totally assuming someone else's debt.


I am thankful for the firm foundation that our parents gave us.


 


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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Creative Camping


July 4, 2019, in the Smokies was a hoot.

That summer for the first time, Hubby and I joined a coastal Mississippi contingent of more than 40 relatives and friends. 

We all booked campsites at Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for July 4th week.

A nephew and his fellow firemen whipped up delicious breakfasts and suppers with others in the group contributing tasty sides and desserts.

The Independence Day rule that year was to join the group costumed as an American icon, whether real, fictional or non-human. 

Lady Liberty, Hollywood stars, fast-food items and well-known TV characters were among costumed campers gathered for breakfast, photos and a morning parade through the campground. 


Son Walt as the wrestler Rick Flair


Marilyn Monroe, AKA daughter-in-law Sarah, works on
our grandaughter Stella's braid for her Wizard of Oz character Dorothy


Nephew Ryan (right), as exercise guru Richard Simmons, leads the parade of campers.

Sister-in-law Anita with her husband and offspring

Anita came as a Brownie complete with the authentic beanie. Her costume choice triggered memories of days in the second grade when my mother and other moms volunteered to lead me and my friends in crafts and adventures. 

Eagle Scout and Rosie the Riveter
That's me as Rosie the Riveter next to my Eagle Scout. Never did get Rosie's polka dot head gear tied right!


Hubby joined his sister in the Scouting theme. He actually is an Eagle Scout. He earned all those merit badges on his sash during his youthful scouting years. 

When 2020 rolled around, everyone congregated in Elkmont again. With COVID uncertainties, plans were fluid. That held for the 2021 Smoky's gathering, too.

Several things didn't change, though--good food, good fellowship and good fun!
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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Post Surgery

It has been a week since I had what had been discussed as  "minor" surgery with assurances that after a morning surgery and an overnight hospital stay I would likely be up and about.

Today is exactly one week post surgery. I am just now beginning to get past my zombie state. The hour drive home from the hospital was a clue that I was not likely to be up and about as quickly as I had anticipated. 

When I partially surfaced from a drugged sleep upon our arrival home, Hubby was faced with a wife with the strength of a cooked spaghetti noodle. I do recall him getting me into my transporter and into our house then into bed.

I am finally mostly off of pain pills. I am back to using my rollater to walk a little more each day. And my trusty iPhone has recorded my mileage from 0.11 mile Thursday to today's count of one mile.

Hubby has been a wonderful caregiver, helping me meet personal needs, safely move about a bit and tempting my mostly nonexistent appetite.

And finally the brain fog has mostly lifted! 

I'm thinking my surgeon had rarely, if ever, operated on a patient with disabilities from stroke similar to mine. But through it all, every individual we encountered was great--helpful, friendly, caring. That held true whether they were medical or clerical or the guy who pushed me in the wheelchair out to our vehicle.

And before I went into surgery, my surgeon asked if he could pray. Of course I said yes. I had already been praying for him, his team, Hubby and me.

That was a welcomed first for me. I would love to know if others have had that experience with a doctor!

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Honey Island Swamp

Having a retired editor for a husband comes in extra handy for this blogger.

 

After reading my earlier post, he pointed out that I had failed to offer a clear description of where Honey Island Swamp is located in Louisiana. An attempt to craft a clearer description of its location smacked me with the realization I had no idea. I had just ASSUMED I knew! (To the uninitiated, it is about 35 miles north-northeast of New Orleans just east of Slidell.)


A visit to Wikipedia provided specifics:


The Honey Island Swamp (FrenchMarais de l'Île-de-Miel) is a marshland located in the eastern portion of the U.S. state of Louisiana in St. Tammany Parish. Honey Island earned its name due to the abundance of honey bees once seen on a nearby isle.

The swamp is bordered on the north by U.S. 11, on the south by Lake Borgne, on the east by the Pearl River and the west by the West Pearl River. The swamp is located within the Pearl River wildlife management area and managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

It is one of the least-altered river swamps in the United States. Considered by many to be one of the most pristine swampland habitats in the United States, the Honey Island Swamp covers an area that is over 20 miles (30 km) long and nearly 7 miles (10 km) across, with 35,619 of its 70,000 acres (280 km²) government sanctioned as permanently protected wildlife area.


My family's Friday afternoon departures to the houseboat years ago took us down U.S. 11 from Hattiesburg. When we crossed what we called East Pearl River my excitement ratcheted up. I knew at that point we had crossed from Mississippi to Louisiana and we were getting close to our destination. 

But I never realized from East Pearl River to West Pearl River everything on our south side was Honey Island Swamp.

There are so many gaps in specifics from my younger years. I just accepted everything the adults in my life told me about the world around me and the lives of my parents and older relatives. I rarely pursued the details. Now I would love to know more. Those details I do remember of their life experiences are treasures.

Blogging is one way I am attempting to save memories both ordinary and special. What are your strategies?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Thanks for the Memories!

"Another Bee Adventure" at Linda's Life Journal was an intriguing post that brought memories of a dear elderly but active family friend. 

Mr. Ford kept bees in Louisiana's Honey Island Swamp near where his three-room houseboat and my family's single room houseboat were tied up on west Pearl River. 

He never used protective gear. He said the occasional stings helped his arthritis. 

I was a curious five-year-old, and he was extra patient with my dogging his steps and pelting him with questions. He never agreed to take me to his bee hives, but he did give me just about free rein with all his many other projects. 

A favorite memory was of when he hatched a bunch of quail eggs and hen eggs. He had the baby quails in one huge cardboard box and the chicken biddies in another. He let me cuddle them and play with them.

He graciously accepted my dubbing the fluffy little quails as cowboys and the biddies as Indians. it was a time of innocence before political correctness changed the nomenclature. And it was before I was aware of his struggles with alcohol that drove him away from his home and family.

I was much older and he had passed on before that knowledge came my way, bringing both sorrow for his losses and admiration of his building a life that included friendship and  generosity toward a shy youngster.

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Friday, July 16, 2021

3rd Annual Group Smoky Mountain Camping




Family and friends at Elkmont Campground

Hubby and I joined relatives and friends for a week of camping and EATING at Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week.

We are the red-shirted couple in the photo, obviously the oldest campers there. With more than 30 in the group, we weren't the only ones who were joining the fun in spite of health challenges, though. 

But Hubby's compression sock mandated by a circulation issue and the obvious effects of my 2011 hemorrhagic stroke that affected my left side, the "youngsters" of all ages were ever alert and eager to help us oldsters. 

That helpfulness ratcheted up to an even more intensive level when Hubby came down with an intestinal bug. Tammy, a nurse in the group, sent over some medicine. 

Amy, another camper picked up some Pedialyte during an outing. Our niece contributed Pepto Bismol chewable tablets. 

Hubby's sister delivered all those helpful items. Hubby's brother and wife checked on us regularly.

And without their parents' knowledge, Miles and Cooper, the two youngest campers in the group, rode their bikes over to our campsite to check on us. Hubby was zonked out, but I was awake and charmed.

We are latecomers to this group of campers, but it is clear that Miles and Cooper have absorbed the example of awareness and caring for others that is characteristic of the adults in this group. 

P.S. The white tent behind us was "ground zero" for lots of great food and laughter. 

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Blessings?

Lately I find myself forgetting what item or items I’m going after when I navigate my rollator from our all-purpose room to another room. 

There is an upside, though, to the aggravation of repeated trips. Each trip adds to the mileage recorded on my iPhone. That helps me meet my goal of walking more than a mile a day. And that's a blessing.

The day I started this post was a 1.2 mile day. Not great but not bad for a stormy day with heavy rain and lots of thunder and lightening that limited me to walking circuits inside our two-bedroom home. 

 When Hubby and I make it to a walking track or another outdoor space that has easy-to-navigate surfaces, I can usually make it well beyond that 1.2 mile total for the day.

A side effect of this walking activity has also created an urge I can't seem to resist--to check my iPhone throughout the day for my latest mileage.

At least that iPhone addiction keeps me moving. That's another blessing.


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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Flashback

One of Mad Snapper's posts wowed me once again at her facility and enjoyment of discovering and mastering new ways to enhance her blog posts. 

Her visual experiments make me laugh, see unexpected beauty, call forth a tear or see fascinating facets of what would otherwise be considered ordinary.

My admiration and--I confess, envy--stirred up memories of a time in my life when I was in awe of my female in-laws and cousins and quite envious of their outstanding skills in all categories culinary, crafting, home decorating and creating designer worthy apparel.

I recognized and secretly bemoaned the fact that my homemaking skills fell far, far short of those of my cousins and in-laws.  

I tried, Oh, did I ever try. It was a matter of emotional survival at the time. 

But my culinary skills were barely at the survival level. Our young sons did love the "not-from-a-can Sloppy Joes" I fed them on Saturday nights when Hubby was shepherding a Sunday morning newspaper edition to publication. 

But organizing and getting meals on the table in a timely fashion was definitely not one of my strengths. 

My successes sewing my own clothes disappeared in the early years of marriage after I realized my spouse had a better handle on what looked best on me than I did. 

So I only approached my sewing machine for minor garment repairs. It languished while Hubby and I shopped the ready-made offerings at department stores and dress shops.

And I would much rather read than continue lame attempts at creating the crafted items similar to those that graced the homes of my relatives.

I was just the odd duckling among all my skilled relatives.

Finally, though, it dawned on me that I was in a unique position with an attribute that not one of my talented and skillful relatives and in-laws was exhibiting. 

They were all so accomplished that they usually accepted each other's accomplishments with interest but little fanfare.

I, however, was always looking forward to seeing--or tasting--what they would create next, whether delicious meals and desserts, designer-worthy clothing, handcrafted jewelry, or other amazing handcrafts. 

My enthusiasm for their talents was spontaneous. I couldn't contain it. 

Eventually my contribution to the family talent pool became clear to me: The Appreciator. And I was really good at it!

Decades have passed. Appreciating is still my role, and I relish it

No need to measure up. Just do my job and keep enjoying the fruits of their talents!

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

July 2020: In Spite of COVID

Traditional photo with son Walt and his family before they head for home

Hubby and I gathered with a coastal Mississippi group of campers in July 2020 for a wonderful time of family, friends, food and fun in the Smoky Mountains.

Our oldest son and family joined us for three days of the 11 days we were camping in the national park's campgrounds.


Selfies may be our new tradition.

After breakfast at the Log Cabin Pancake House in Gatlinburg, we went to the sign at the  entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to document our Smokies experience.

Then son and family left for home. Hubby and I returned to a campsite we had reserved for several more days. 

But age had caught up with us. Hubby announced he was tired and about ready to head home. 

I concurred. We left a note for Hubby's sister and brother so they wouldn't think we were abducted by aliens.

We pulled out and hit the road accompanied by great memories and an equally great pleasure anticipating the comforts of home.

UPDATE: We are planning another Smoky Mountains camping trip. I think Hubby and I are now the elders of the Mississippi Gulf Coast camping group. 

Here's hoping my energy doesn't fail me!

But just in case, I'm loading my iPad mini with reading material in addition to the digital versions of my various Bible translations.

Give me something to read and I'm a happy camper, regardless of circumstances. Well, except that night several years ago when a severe storm tore through the campground.

There was a sizable crowd gathered in the campground's outdoor theater for a ranger program. Since keeping my balance in low-light conditions is a challenge, Hubby had driven our van and parked across from the ranger station. 

We hiked across the bridge over Little River, made it up the paved path to the amphitheater and chose a spot down close to better see and hear.

The ranger arrived and started the program. Suddenly we heard a roar in the tops of the trees. A cyclonic wind hit. We joined the crowd scurrying out of the amphitheater.

We made it to our van. Hubby drove it close to the ranger station and parked. He had chosen the space farthest from trees for waiting out the weather front. 

I don't recall any injuries or major damage in the campground, but our van was thoroughly rocked.

 


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Friday, June 11, 2021

A Good Dilemma

When someone asks what my favorite Bible verse is, I am at a loss. First of all, my memorization skills have diminished. But the real challenge is that wherever I am in my yearly read-through of the Bible, there are just too many verses to pick just one as THE FAVORITE.


It is rare that I fail to encounter verses that speak to me and fill me with awe, encouragement, peace or some new perception about God’s plan and continuing grace for me through the death and resurrection of Jesus my Savior. 



This is what I wrote after reading Romans 5:1-5 on June 8, 2016, almost five years and two months post-stroke:


"Peace with God through faith. I have read through this chapter dozens of times. I cherished it in an abstract way. But today as I started reading, it is designed for me--immediate, overwhelming, personal, concrete. I stopped at verse 5 to write. Verse 1 reaffirmed my salvation. Verses 2-5 detailed what I have experienced following my hemorrhagic stroke on Good Friday, April 20, 2011.


"Take Romans 5:2 as an example: Through Him we have also obtained this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."


When I wrote that I was so thankful for being able to stand physically as well as spiritually through His grace. I’m still giving thanks for that every day. 


ROMANS 5:1-5 ESV Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


Yes!


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Reading Adventure

Last year when the Corona virus situation developed, I had reached John 17 on my New Testament reading list. That chapter included Jesus’ prayer before his arrest and crucifixion. 


He prayed for his disciples who had been with him in his earthly ministry and then prayed for those who would become Jesus followers without ever having seen him.


I guess I had just been reading that passage as I would read a story but had never before really grasped that those Jesus followers he mentioned after the "but also" referred to me personally and all others who believe but have never seen Jesus physically.


John 17:20-21New International Version reads “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21NIV


It was especially comforting as COVID-19 sparked mandated changes that swept through our lives.That experience confirms for me once again the absolute necessity for my reading through God's Word each year.


I am amazed at and thankful for how each year different Bible passages pop out for me. They flood my being with fresh and powerful perspectives just when I need help--for meeting current challenges, dealing with unexpected change or recognizing and eliminating bad habits and attitudes!


Reading the Bible through every year has become an adventure that I treasure.


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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Exploring?

The turtle below is not the first box turtle to come up the ramp that leads to our entry door. It is the first, however, to detour onto the ledge adjacent to our screened porch.

When Hubby spotted this traveler, it was stalled. The ledge wasn't wide enough for a U-turn. And I don't think box turtles are equipped with a reverse gear. 

Hubby rescued the visitor after fulfilling my request for a few pictures with my iPhone. 

Wildlife around our home is really, really wild. Wild and sometimes weird.

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

My Bad

In a May 17 post about my botox treatments, I attributed the absence of a photo of the actual injection to Hubby's squeamishness about needles.

I was wrong, wrong, wrong! In spite of his needle aversion, he did record the first of the injections on my left arm and hand before he escaped. About three days ago I saw the photo below on my iPhone.

Life enriching injection

When I saw it I apologized to Hubby for my erroneous post. I also realized that I, too, have an aversion to watching the actual administration of the Botox shots. 

That photo gives me the creeps!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Childhood Influences

My elementary school years were filled with wonderful teachers who were a positive influence on my life.

Mrs. Collins, my fourth grade teacher, was one of my favorites. Looking back, I don’t think phonics was ever on the official curriculum at my school. 


That didn't stop Mrs. Collins. She taught phonics anyway with enthusiasm and a creative flair that often resulted in boisterous sessions filled with laughter and fun.


She introduced me to all sorts of mental tricks for spelling accurately. Her mnemonics helped me navigate the English language. 


Her enthusiasm nurtured my budding fascination with expression through the written word, and I soaked up her every word as gospel.


One afternoon she asked another girl and me to stay and help with some after-school tasks. We worked hard, thrilled to be asked. When we were finished we happily basked in our teacher’s praise and appreciation.


In those days I was an extremely skinny, shy, conscientious rule follower. Somewhere along the way that year, I had gotten the impression that at the end of the school day, we were supposed to take every single one of our textbooks home and study. 


For weeks my school day ended with me packing my book bag and lugging all my textbooks the five or six blocks home. That day, though, I blurted “Could I leave some of my textbooks in my desk?”


“Oh, honey, you don’t need to take all your books home,” Mrs. Collins said, and gave me a hug. I listened, stunned, as she explained that she had been encouraging those students who NEVER took a book home and regularly failed to complete homework assignments. 


I went home happy that day with no textbooks, just a couple of books I was reading for fun. Those for-fun books were nearly as hefty as some of our textbooks. 


But they didn’t seem to weigh anything at all!


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Sunday, May 23, 2021

I'm Not a Robot

Having a bit of frustration with those CAPTCHA "Verify This" photos recently. 

If the items are small and/or dark I can rarely discern whether or not the correct item is there or not. My glasses don't help. 

My current strategy is skipping to another set until a photo appears of something close up that spills over into more than one square.

That's working for me so far. 

May all your plans for this week work out for you! Every blessing.

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Uh Oh!


Oops! Someone didn't notice the "Low Clearance" sign on a huge oak tree limb that extended over the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Calhoun Street in our town's historic district. 

I wondered if the dismantled limb of that live oak and displacement of the sign that was on that limb resulted from someone texting while driving, talking on their cell phone, or a distracted driver's trailering a ginormous boat to the harbor's boat launch. 

That injured live oak took me back more than three decades ago when I had an encounter with one of those huge boats and its owner. 

My stint as a reporter had acquainted me with the town's militant garden club matrons determined to protect those stately trees that lined the main street of the small downtown business area. 

Walking back to my office from getting the daily report from police and fire departments, I was aghast to see a blatant attack in progress on a defenseless live oak by a guy standing on a huge boat trailered behind a pickup. He was sawing away at a large limb arching over the main street and blocking his boat's progress.

There were a number of other routes to the harbor's boat launch. I got his attention and suggested he take one of those alternate routes that had wider streets and fewer oaks near the street.  He was dismissive. I bolted for my office nearby and called the police I had talked to only minutes before. 

I don't know whether those officers truly valued live oaks or just didn't want to tangle with the women who wielded major influence in the close-knit community. I do know the law arrived promptly and halted the unauthorized amputation.

Back to the present. 

During the five years in our current home, we are often at that intersection with the low-clearance warning. It is tight with vehicles parked in front of a church and the parish's elementary school. And a number of the older homes across from the church have on-street parking as well. 

Traveling that route often involves stopping two or three car lengths from the intersection and waiting for an oncoming vehicle to clear the intersection. But everyone always seems polite and not in a big hurry. 

Hubby and I call it the "scenic route." We enjoy the changing of seasons evident in the landscaping around homes. 

Whether changes are from storms or from homeowners new or longtime giving their homes and landscapes makeovers, there is always something new to see. 

I guess deriving such pleasure from a simple drive--or taking brief strolls down memory lane--is sure evidence of old age! 

P.S. What is an easy way to insert an arrow beside the dangling "low clearance" sign in the photo above? The time of day wasn't the best light for that sign to pop out.

I tried tinkering with the "insert special characters" feature on blogger to put an arrow pointing to the sign, but evidently that feature is above my blogging IQ level!

Have a great weekend!

 

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Thank Goodness for Botox


It's not as bad as it looks!

Every three or four months I have botox injections to relieve the spasticity that severely limits movement of my left hand and arm. 

For one of the appointments last year I asked my neurologist if Hubby could take photos of the whole process for my blog. 

My doctor was okay with the idea, but I had overlooked a crucial element. Hubby has an extreme aversion to needles. I just hadn't realized that aversion included needles not intended for him.

That particular needle my neurologist is holding was just one of about half a dozen needles scheduled for my left arm and hand. What isn't in the picture is me stretched out on the examination table. 

That day I realized that I have my own category of needle aversion. Observing a single injection or a single needle for drawing blood has never bothered me. I had never really watched the actual botox sticks though. And I don't want to.

So there is no pictorial record of the treatment that allows me to continue finding new ways to put my stroke-affected left arm and hand to use. But I did get the photo below of those dreaded needles!

Although things on my left side are far from normal, even slight improvements give me a greater ability to contribute to our home. Hubby still does most of the work indoors and outdoors.  But laundry and other mundane tasks have gone from being a chore pre-stroke to a source of encouragement and a sense of accomplishment for me now.

Blessings abound!

P.S. Even though I have had those injections for about seven or more years, I am embarrassed to confess I never could remember if they came around every three months or every four months. I also never counted the exact number of injections until I took the photo above prior to my most recent Botox session. 

In pursuit of precision I checked my calendar. Now it's imprinted in my memory. Those shots roll around every three months. 

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Help for the Asking #1

 COVID restrictions have loosened up in our area. Those restrictions plus long-standing stroke-related issues had dramatically decreased my in-person encounters with other human beings.

Email, Facetime, phone conversations and texting are just not the same as hugs and a good visit.

But peace from worry about how my kids and grands were really doing came through prayers I had encountered as I read through the Bible each year. 

Here's one of my favorites for family and friends when I don't know specifically what challenges they are currently facing:

Ephesians 3:16-21NIV: "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 


"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 


"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:16-21NIV


What a freedom from worry to be able to trust God with my loved ones!


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Monday, May 10, 2021

Covid Affects Wildlife Visitors?

Hubby continues feeding the wildlife in our north yard. His usual breakfast guests are birds, raccoons and box turtles.

We have seen several changes among the raccoons since COVID. The number of early morning raccoon diners has diminished from as many as 16 to about four or five. 


We have been watching one of them for several weeks as its coat has gradually changed color so much that we are calling it Blondie.


Blondie, left, visits Hubby's diner.

COVID-19 has probably shut down the raccoon hair salon, and Blondie can’t get a touch up to sport the hue of its pre-Covid self.


Another change is escalation of physical skirmishes. We have seen brief altercations between two raccoons before, but the losing combatant would retreat a short distance then continue chowing down.


That has dramatically changed. I haven’t researched it yet. My guess, though, is that it is probably also due to COVID-19, since so many changes these days are required by the powers that be. 


Just as in the human population, the dominant raccoon is either an elected raccoon official, an appointed enforcer or a private critter citizen who has assumed the role of shaming others into compliance. 


Of course, the raccoons are all compliant in the mask department. But up until the enforcer/shamer appeared, they would often be bunched together. Most times they were even bumping into each other as they gobbled the dry dog food Hubby had tossed out.


Lately, though, the enforcer/shamer attacks the raccoon diners. It drives most, if not all the other raccoons away, effectively creating social distancing. 


And surprise, surprise, it secures all the food for itself.


UPDATE: My researching of blonde(blond) raccoons has so far only turned up mentions of blonde raccoons that were born blonde. I have found one mention of aging raccoons' coats fading but nothing about a regular gray raccoon gradually turning blonde. 


Blondie remains a puzzle for me, and she has not shown up lately. The diner visitors lately continue to number four or five and have been a mostly peaceful lot with no unusual squabbles at feeding time, regardless of coat color. 

 

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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Survivor

Evidence of coastal Mississippi's occasional harsh weather conditions

Live oaks are icons of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

The live oak above on Scenic Drive in Pass Christian is not the largest or most damaged survivor of sometimes harsh conditions, but Hubby couldn't resist photographing its gnarled and broken limbs against a background of blue sky and white sand beach. 

His spontaneous photo session in early March punctuated a Sunday drive to Pass Christian's Cat Island Coffee House.

Once there we settled down to enjoy the view of Mississippi Sound and the city's harbor across U.S 90 from the coffee shop. 

Enjoyment of a vanilla latte for him and hot Earl Grey tea for me was heightened by our drinks being served in actual ceramic cups. 

No styrofoam except for to-go orders. Seems to taste just a tad better in those generous-sized ceramic cups! 

Our Sunday drive was a triple pleasure: 

--a photo to help me resurrect my blog,
 
--a visit to one of our favorite coffee shops, 

--and visual pleasures of water, white sand beach, graceful old homes that survived Hurricane Katrina, and evidence of new construction on lots where homes did not survive Katrina.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Staycation

Recently I took a week off from my current round of physical therapy for a leisurely week of travel with Hubby. Somehow plans morphed into a busy week of meetings and impromptu gatherings, all enjoyable, but not resembling travel.

We did make one 18-mile jaunt to fulfill a desire I have had for awhile: a visit to the Model Train Museum in Gulfport, Mississippi.

A busy day at the museum

We forgot that local schools were out for the week after Easter. Kids from toddlers to teens were exploring the museum's indoor and outdoor exhibits with parents. 

Entry was through the modest building that had housed the museum in its early years. It was packed with people. They were moving around the extensive layout of model trains. The trains were in continuous motion. 

One of numerous model train displays

It was worth the visit but what captivated me just as much were amazing Lego displays on shelves against the walls. 

The pathway was narrow between the trains and the Legos. Definitely not rollater friendly. Hubby took my rollater back to our van. I wound up trapped for a while beside two young Lego fans of about 8 and 11 years old. 

The situation was a perfect opportunity for people watching. Those boys were totally engrossed in evaluating the objects of their enthusiasm and documenting their favorite Lego constructions with identical kid friendly cameras.

They were charming and sparked a bit of nostalgia for when our two oldest grandsons were into Legos.   

The museum had expanded to cover most of an entire block. It included outdoor exhibits, a train ride and several more buildings packed with displays of model trains as well as photos and memorabilia of Gulfport's railroad history. 

There was even a toddler area with train engine riding toys kids could sit on and push around the tracks. A couple of two-year-old boys were making their trains go, go, go under their parents' watchful eyes.  

The Lego creations from Star Wars battleships to the Taj Mahal shared display space with the model train exhibits throughout. 

I appreciated that Hubby willingly took pictures for me. I was disappointed, though, that I didn't even think to ask him to get images of those fantastic Legos.

After the third exhibit hall, I had depleted my energy. We spotted an exit, and I waited inside while Hubby made the trek to move our van closer to the exit.

While I waited I watched a lady nearby manipulating pieces of cardboard and chatting with four guys standing around her work space. They offered me a chair. What a relief! 

Of course I had to find out who they were and what they were doing. They were volunteers in the initial stage of starting construction of a new display. Evidently enthusiastic volunteers and visitors' donations keep the trains running.

And now the museum will soon be expanding operations even more to an additional building across the street.

Glad we went. It was a fascinating experience. 

Fascinating and exhausting.


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