Happy Birthday!

I’m not one to brag–but, I recently celebrated my birthday. At this age, my birthday is not depressing; it is a day for happiness.

There wasn’t a big party, but I shared doughnuts with a group from church and lunched with friends. The folks at the gym and I ate oranges and muffins following our workout. I laughed over pizza with old friends from my hometown and enjoyed a night of cards with folks John and I have played cards with since the 70s.

Birthday cards from family, college roommates, and other friends from the past arrived in the mail. It was wonderful, too, to receive Facebook birthday wishes, especially those from the high school years. Each Facebook “happy birthday” brought a pause to my day (watching Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and The Andy Griffith Show as I put away Christmas decorations and did laundry). I smiled and remembered each sender of good wishes.

Finally, there were phone calls, texts, emails, a special hand-drawn card by my three-year-old granddaughter, and a meal shared with family to round out the birthday event.

So, the Christmas decorations are stored away, the laundry done, and I am now a year older. I am blessed.


Traveling by Train

“Let’s get started,” Julie, my automated friend said. “Do you know your train’s number?”

I did, and I told it to Julie, who without apology stated my train would not depart on its scheduled time. It would depart five hours later. Thus began the New Year’s trip to visit the out-of-state grandchildren. I had looked forward to this visit with the family. After all, my grandson and I had a toy town to build.

Following our family visit, it was time to return home. I called my automated friend Julie for our train’s status. Again, Julie informed me the train would not depart at its scheduled time. Our train had experienced a service interruption. Finally, the train departed–three hours late. Instead of its usual blue and silver engine, though, a freight train locomotive pulled the string of passenger cars.

While waiting in my car at train crossings, I’ve sometimes suspected freight train engines ran slower than Amtrak engines. They do. John and I spent a long, long night on the train.

Still, I will never tire of traveling by train…and I will never tire of make-believe traveling on a toy train with a young grandson.


Merry Memories!

“Is something wrong?” the sales lady asked.

“No,” I whispered, looking down.

Normally I don’t break into tears at 8:30 A.M. in a hardware store, but the Christmas welcome mat caught me off guard. The old, green truck on it resembled the one my father bought after the 1949 wheat harvest—and brought my baby brother home from the hospital in the following month.

Daddy later added a set of stock racks to the truck and hauled calves to market. The cab was crowded with Mother, Daddy, my brothers and me, but the trip usually ended with a nickel ice cream cone.

In high school, I hauled wheat to the elevator in that truck and prayed if I had to wait in line to unload, I could manipulate the clutch, gear stick, gas pedal, and brake in a manner that didn’t kill the engine or allow the truck to roll backwards into another waiting truck.

Years later Daddy delivered firewood for my fireplace in that truck, and it eventually carried the last of my parents’ possessions to a resale shop in town. The truck itself  was eventually sold, and both my brothers are gone, too.

Our kids, grandkids, and friends will fill our home with Christmas joy this year. Yes, John and I are blessed…still…no one better step on my welcome mat.

So Very Busy

I am enjoying the Christmas season. I’ve decorated a little, attended holiday gatherings with friends, and sort of shopped. I have not baked, wrapped, or prepared a post for this week. So…Merry before Christmas!

While it is a busy time at my house, the Hallmark station is on continuously, and I am absorbing Christmas spirit. I’m hesitant to say I’ll get organized by next week, but at the top of the “to do” list is write a Christmas piece. Meanwhile, I’ve got to get my Christmas cards mailed….




Still Thankful


I wrote before Thanksgiving about the blessings in my life, but my true feelings of thankfulness surfaced after the weekend spent with my family. Oh yes, the turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes tasted great; and the gravy had no lumps. The ham, cranberries, green beans, salad, and bread were perfect, too; and the pies were delicious.

There were no family fights, not even among the nine cousins who ranged in age from just-turned one to almost eighteen. While there was some jumpin’ on beds, falling off, and bumpin’ of heads, no one called the doctor, and I was able to say “no more jumpin’ on the beds.”

I am most thankful, though, all members of my family traveled through Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa on Saturday–the day before the winter blizzard traveled those same roads. Also, I’m sure the three deer John and I almost hit going to our daughter’s home, and the three deer we almost hit coming home are thankful, too.





I have a large family and good friends. I live in a warm home in a free country, and I am healthy. These, I often take for granted. Then I drink a cup of coffee with a friend, spend an afternoon playing bridge, or spend an evening in conversation with friends, and I am thankful.

Once a week, I fill my pill box and am reminded I am fairly healthy. My pill box reminds me of my good health, and I am thankful.

This Thanksgiving, in a warm home, I will watch young cousins prepare a salad together and turn a pumpkin into a turkey to use as a centerpiece. I will referee as the younger grandchildren decide who gets to play with which truck and which child will pour the imaginary tea. I will see smiles on the faces of my children and grandchildren, and I will be thankful.

Our country, while in turmoil, remains free. Yes, I am thankful. I hope your life is such that you, too, are thankful for your blessings.

Clutter vs. Vandalism

I appreciate an orderly, uncluttered home, although my house has not always met that standard.

Years ago, after a very long workday, I drove home with my two younger children. I hoped to be done with dinner, dishes, and homework—and to have the kids in bed by 9:00 P.M. Thoughts of pajamas, slippers, and the recliner filled my head.

Finally home, I entered the house and saw sunlight flooded a normally dark area in the next room. Upon investigation, I discovered the back door kicked open. The microwave, computer, television, and other miscellaneous items were missing. Afraid the perpetrator might still be in my house, I grabbed my boys and hurried back to the car.

Later, the sheriff’s deputy and I walked through the house. “Gosh, the vandals sure made a mess in the kids’ rooms. There are dolls, toy cars and trucks, books, school papers, and clothes scattered everywhere. Is that a hot dog over there? Sort of under the bed?” the deputy asked.

I looked around the room. “Well…except for the missing items, I’m afraid the house pretty much looked like this when we left this morning.”

After that, I kept an orderly, uncluttered home for at least a week or two.

Cameos of the Heart

Collette Reichenberger and I will sign our latest children’s book, Cameos of the Heart, at Sayers Ace Hardware on October 20 from 10:00 until 3:00 in Independence, Kansas. This is the third book in our Cottonwood Series and features three ten-year-old girls. The first story describes life in different areas of Kansas during the Great Depression. A young girl’s life in a small Southeastern Kansas town during World War II is explored in the second story, and the third selection is set in another small town in the 1950s. It focuses on the tensions created by the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. Our first two books, Cameos of Courage, and Cameos of Strength, along with Cameos of the Heart, are available at Sayers. All three books are available at Magnolia Scents by Design and Little House Lane at Ana Mae’s in Independence. The books may also be purchased on Amazon.

What did you say?

“Did you say something?”

“Would you turn the TV up a little?”

My husband does not hear as well as he once did. He does not believe he has a hearing problem. On the other hand, I believe my hearing is great, except….

At a birthday gathering, my son received “ear ties” as a present. At least I thought that was what he said they were. I envisioned the red, flexible “ear ties” somehow draped over his ears.

“Ear ties?” I questioned.

“No, deer ties,” another child said.

“So, do they make a noise that stops a deer from jumping in front of your car?”

“No, Mom, gear ties–gear ties,” another child impatiently said.

“Oh, now that makes sense,” I answered, and planned to google gear ties later.

Shortly thereafter, I overheard two of my children discussing the price of corn syrup. “How strange,” I thought. After listening a few more minutes, I determined they were discussing the price of car insurance–a conversation which made more sense to me. (There is some similarity in how corn syrup and car insurance sound.)

“What did you say, John? Well, yes, when I make your hearing appointment, I’ll make one for me, too.”

I’m late, I’m late…

My exercise class at the gym began at 7:00 A.M. sharp. I tried to arrive on time. Running late, though, I failed to apply hand lotion before leaving home. Dry, chapped hands were a possibility. However, if late by even five minutes, I feared I might lose muscle tone–a real issue at my age.

Fortunately, I remembered I had lotion in the van console, courtesy of a Holiday Inn Express. In the pre-dawn darkness, I squirted lotion into my hand. Somehow, it didn’t feel the right consistency for hand lotion. I stopped the vehicle on the shoulder of the highway, turned on the overhead light, viewed the glob in my hand, and then read the label on the bottle. It wasn’t hand lotion; it was shampoo.

While I’m old enough to experience muscle loss, I’m apparently not old enough to remember to carry tissues in my purse, or even in the glove box of my car. Should I return home or continue on to exercise class?

The exercise class won, but I was late after all. Turned out, it was difficult driving with a tablespoon of shampoo in my hand. So much for muscle tone….