Proud to be an American….

 

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I can’t listen to (much less sing) patriotic music without getting all choked up. Perhaps you too feel that way about your favorite patriotic songs either as an American or of your own home country. I think it is great to be proud of our heritage!

There is no time in the United States like the 4th of July (American Independence Day) to appreciate our patriotic music.  Some of our most beloved songs have been around for some time while others are more recent. Regardless, they still fill our hearts with pride and bring a tear to most eyes.

Some of our most well known and popular songs are:

America The Beautiful-sometimes called the national hymn of the United States. It was adapted by a poem written in 1983 by Katharine Lee Bates.

My Country ‘Tis of Thee (also known as America) was written in  1832 by Samuel F. Smith. It was his desire to create a National Hymn for the Untied States.

The Star Spangled Banner-our National Anthem. Written by Frances Scott Key in 1814, it officially became our national anthem in 1931.

God Bless the USA-sometimes referred to the  ‘unofficial National Anthem’ was written by Lee Greenwood in 1983.

This Land is Your Land-written by folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940.

God Bless America-an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1938.

From the mountains…

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…to the prairies…

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…to the oceans …

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God Bless America

Cross at Groom, Texas

Many thanks to all who served!

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(my dad-his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery)

Thommmee and his father-both proudly served as US Marines.

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(combined over 45 years of service!)

I am…

Proud to Be An American.

What is your favorite patriotic song?

Summer, Sewing, & Retirement

Every once in awhile I need an attitude adjustment. This retirement thing is a work in progress. Even after 2 1/2 years I can easily fall into lazy habits, get off track, cringe when I jump on the scale, and well…basically I need to refocus! Not that I am not busy but I sometimes have found myself being busy with the business of being busy.

Huh????

Last week is a perfect example. On Monday I was at the hospital all day waiting for the arrival of our newest great-granddaughter. Very exciting! I was the on call labor coach in case the young parents needed reinforcements. I have been front and center for four of my own (of course), my sister, and four grandchildren. For six others I have impatiently sat in the waiting room. I have completed 3 Lamaze classes, read countless books, and offered too many hours to count of advice by phone, visits to nervous moms, and had more than most of sleepless nights in this miracle of babies, pregnancy, and babies being born. So there was no place I would have rather been!!

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I mean, is she perfect or what????

It was also the weekend visit of one of my oldest and dearest friends, a baby shower of her second grandchild, and a visit from our oldest grandson, home from almost two years away. During the week I met a sister for lunch, had my brother staying with us (and thrilled to have him back),  met a friend for coffee and another dear friend for our usual swimming meet up. Church, household stuff, Bible study, and oh yeah…Thommmee-the most patient and understanding husband on the planet needed some attention too.

Anyway, I realized that all of this business was causing me to stress a bit and I wasn’t enjoying the moments with all of the scheduling. I was talking too much about what I still had to do (how special did that make the person I was with feel?) so….readjusting and focusing on my friends and family became priority. Fortunately, these wonderful people love me as is and were most patient with me. I have to say, I treasure each and everyone of them!

Once I realized what I was doing I reminded myself to do what I love, make Thommmee a top priority, and slow down a bit. After all, retirement does not need a checklist!

What does that have to do with sewing you might ask? One of the things I love is sewing. My newest project is making these Sprocket Pillows.

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(for a niece)

They are so fun to make and a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

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(given to a granddaughter)

I am giving them away as fast as I make them.

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(another granddaughter)

I am not offering a tutorial as I was not able to obtain permission from the website where I found them (besides her tutorial is so fantastic). You can find instructions at cluckclucksew with a template included.

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(my friends grandson-nursery colors black, white, and gray!)

They are simple, fairly quick, and come in two sizes.

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We are leaving in a few days for a trip. It will include a visit along the California coast. Our itinerary open and flexible. Brother is back to work, baby and new parents are doing fine (we saw them yesterday). The grads have graduated, no birthdays, and the diet is out the window anyway.  No sewing next week but, that is alright.

I am ready for some quiet and time with Thommmee.

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Books and Reading

 

Oh where oh where have I been??

READING!!

After a rather long break from reading I am finally back at it. If you have followed my blog for any time, you might recall that I was in a somewhat state of despair because, after a lifetime love affair of reading, I was suddenly unable to focus on a book. I lamented how frustrated I felt and many of you offered encouragement and support that it was a phase and would pass.  You were so right!

Not much of anything is accomplished these days with my nose stuck in a book!! I felt it only fair to share a few of the titles that have kept me so busy and away from my blog. Not being a book reviewer, it is with reluctance I offer my opinions… but here goes!

I first started out listening to a few books through Amazon Audible. My first try was a huge success with A Man Called Ove by Swedish author, Fredrick Backman. This is the story of a cantankerous old man and his life after the death of his wife. He has his own peculiar biases and opinions which are challenged in a humorous and engaging way. This was an absolutely wonderful book and the narrator was a perfect match.

On a roll now, I moved on to a tender story of two sister separated during the Berlin Blitz of World War II. Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner was touching, thoughtful, and held my interest throughout. Great book!. I am currently listening to another of her books  A Fall of Marigolds. This is an interesting story of a nurse working on Ellis Island in 1911. The history of the time period is quite fascinating but now I am now only listening to audio books while I am at the gym (and sadly this is not often enough to keep me motivated in the story).

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Encouraged, I began to haunt the public library for new titles and authors. What a surprise to find new titles can be found through their online search catalogue. Links provide reviews from the editor and actual readers which certainly helps in the selection process. Books can even be reserved online! A text message is sent when the book is available so I simply walk into the library to find my requests waiting for me. Books can be renewed online after I receive a text alert that the due date is approaching! How convenient is that???

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a marvelous read! It is the story encompassing three generations from Australia to England. This mystery and the lives of the women it chronicles will keep you turning pages well into the night!

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Next, Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas caught my eye. I found this book on a Pintrest list of all places. Set in Colorado during the Great Depression, it is an lovely fictional history told by an 86 year old mountain woman. The story expands as she mentors a young woman new to the area. Watching the friendship develop is a reminder how special woman friends are in our lives. Do you also treasure your woman friends?

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Our women’s Bible study is reading Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur. This book gives new insight to some of the Bible’s most interesting women such as Eve, Sarah, and Rahab. If you have any interest in learning more about some fascinating women during Biblical times, this is a great book.

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Next was I Belong to No One by fellow blogger Gwen Wilson (garrulousgwendoline). She has written an intimate portrait of her younger life growing up in rural Australia during the 1970’s.  What courage she has shown by sharing her story with others. It was hard to wrap my head around the girl in the book with the Gwen I have come to know through our mutual blogs. I was deeply reminded that although we are influenced by our personal journeys, history, social prejudices, and mores,  it is what we do with those experiences that shape our future.  This book truly  shows that we have a choice to overcome obstacles at any point in our lives! Thank you for sharing your story, Gwen!

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Currently I am reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. This book gives an insight into the life of an Alzheimer’s victim and her family. You may be more familiar with the movie staring  Julianne Moore who, in 2015,  received an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Alice. Since I had not seen this movie and was only aware of the subject matter, I was surprised to find how much I like this book. Had it not been loaned to me I may not have ever picked it up.

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 So…

…this is what has been keeping me busy.

Do you have any recommendations for me?

Birthdays

Do you hate birthdays? Enjoy them?  While some people plan elaborate parties others prefer to let them pass quietly by. Not our family! We make a big deal out of birthdays for every person-every year.

It’s exhausting!

I was ten years old in 1960 when our parents  decided to load up the station wagon and move five kids, across country from Maryland to California. A moving truck took some of our belongs and Dad hauled a rented moving trailer behind the car. With dreams of starting fresh, they headed out some 3,000, miles for a new life in The Land of Milk and Honey (became known as The Golden State in 1968).

In the days before seatbelts were required (or in fact used much) we were able to spread out and claim our favorite spots for a trip that would take three weeks! Perhaps it was because we had never really vacationed before that our parents made this long journey an adventure. Most days we settled into a Holiday Inn with a pool and spent the late afternoon and evening swimming in a “real” pool! No more blow up or soft sided pools for us!  We must have eaten out some but supporting a family of seven on my dad’s income alone must have been difficult. (Surely there was an ice chest full of Kool-Aid and bologna sandwiches, but I actually do not remember). Dad worked  six days a week and  typical of the times, Mom was a stay at home mother. Thinking back I cannot imagine how they afforded this trip or how difficult it must have been to uproot five kids under ten years old.  I only remember the adventure we had! To see such sights a the Mississippi River, (even Mexico), or the desert of the Southwest was a dream come true for kids who had never ventured far from home. Sure, we had seen the great sights of Washington DC but a real road trip-it was a chance of a lifetime to be sure.

I was never really clear why they decided to leave behind their brothers and sisters, a large number of cousins, lifelong friends, and even a few grandparents. They would simply tell us that they always dreamed of living in California. This didn’t make a great deal of sense since our mom was miserable for the first few years and  Dad really missed his siblings. In those days long distance phone calls were expensive and it was not as easy to reach out to those left behind. Perhaps that is why they made such a fuss over birthdays and with it began the tradition of the

Birthday Party.

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To be sure, they couldn’t have known how it would spiral out of control in the coming years but for our little California family it was everything. Soon another sister came along and now there were eight of us.

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With only two of us sharing the same birthday month, that left seven months in which to celebrate. December with no birthdays allowed us to focus on Christmas and in November, with no birthdays, Thanksgiving was our big event. Easter seldom interfered with any birthdays so we pretty much had a celebration about every month. We did not  invite friends to these birthdays. It was all about family! We had a special dinner followed by your favorite cake (which Mom always baked) and ice cream. Presents were always a part of the festivities. With little to spare (I am sure) our wonderful parents managed to provide a very special celebration. It was never about the extravagance of the gifts but always more about the giving.

In late 1970, things changed, I got married! Now a new person was added to the birthday rotation. The following year we had a daughter and another birthday to celebrate. Two years later another daughter until  there were soon four little ones. I know some of their fondest memories are the birthday celebrations at grandma and grandpa’s house. Adding to the numbers was a slow process and many of the dynamics in the family changed. A brother and sister were married for awhile, eventually a nephew was born, another sister married. And still the birthday parties continued-for every person, every year. Naturally I took over many of the celebrations at my home, my parents added a pool to theirs. Usually it was grandma and grandpa’s house. Dad just loved having his family at his table. The kids loved the pool. We all pitched in.

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As the size of the family increased so did the number of birthday parties. In 1997 Dad died. It really was his love of family and celebrating that kept this in motion  We began to make some changes. My sisters and I established the…

Annual Sister’s Birthday.

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(hamming it up at the Sister’s Birthday party)

  The brothers had a joint party in the spring.  More grandkids and spouses were added.

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(hey, this is supposed to be a happy occasion!)

My son moved out of state with his daughter.  Birthday parties were combined. Then Mom was gone. Still the parties continued. A grandson joined the military and moved away.  Great grandkids slowly arrived.  People had jobs and families to deal with. The kids pitched in and organized and had parties in their homes.  We had beach birthday parties, pool parties, camping parties,  pizza parties, and barbeques.

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Sure, some people couldn’t make it to every party but that didn’t stop us. You can’t change tradition…

…or can you?

Over the last years or so, some of the adult kids have said no to having a traditional party. Occasionally they will opt for small affair of some sort.

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At first I resisted. After all, these were my kids but… here we were some 56 years later. Thommmee and I seldom miss a party. I am tired. A few years ago I told the kids I was done with the party planning business. Invite us and we will come. At first this worked well. They jumped to the challenge.

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(looks like a forest fire!)

They made quarterly birthday events but then… slowly… something strange happened…. some birthdays went ‘semi’ celebrated (at least in any formal way). Sure, we still dropped by with a gift and good wishes or mailed birthday and gift cards. The younger kids were still being celebrated. I closed my eyes and

just let it all happen.

We go when called and never forget (no not one) birthday. My siblings and I still celebrate-so far. As for the big  Sisters  Annual Birthday…? I don’t know. We lost a sister last year and another is planning to move away. That leaves just two. We haven’t yet decided what to do. My brother is off on his own adventure and we don’t know his plans. Yes, the other brother will have a party at the end of the month.

The loving tribute started by my parents has now come full circle, I think. It is, perhaps, time for new traditions to be established. We were taught the value of a loving  family and that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Hopefully these values will continue to be passed on.  I am so grateful for these many years together and many celebrations.  At times it has been difficult to embrace the changes. I am ready to let go. Its funny to me that the kids will not allow me to miss my birthday celebration while refusing to have one of their own.  Despite celebrating with my sisters they always insisted on having some special celebration with me. I always  feel a bit strange about this. Maybe it is their way of giving to me what they received all of these years, or because they love me, or simply it brings them pleasure. Whatever the reason I am going to lovingly accept their gift this year with no fuss-simply gratitude.

Birthdays will somehow always remain a very special part of our family.

Thanks Mom and Dad. You were the Best!

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(I bet they are smiling)

 

 

 

Missing Person Update…..

 

Our prayers have been answered!

I received so much support when I posted about my missing brother. I appreciate each and every one of you so much. Thank you. I am happy to report that that contact was made late today.

Although we have few details, we are full of joy and gratitude. Two weeks ago we posted our missing person plea on Facebook and someone responded! He was spotted about 100 miles from home by a friend of his. She called and let us know that she had talked to him and that he is alright. No specific information was given.

That can be a discussion for another day.

Today, we just want to thank God, our family, friends, and everyone for their encouragement and love. I  know that not all missing person ordeals have a happy ending. I do not even know how our story will play out but…

I do know that prayer works!

(and so does Facebook!)

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Missing People

We have probably all seen the posters of missing persons or watched a TV program showcasing a particular missing person, or a newscast with a tragic story of a missing child or high profile story of a coed. Did you know that in the United States alone there are as many as 90, 000 people that might be missing at any given time? (source USA Today).

I was shocked to find such  statistics! Many of these missing persons are found but how did they go missing in the first place?  Children are abducted for many reasons. We can all agree that this is heartbreaking for both the child and the family beyond belief and understanding. In this post I will not even try to discuss the very sensitive and sad story of the  more than 8 million children that go missing worldwide each year. No country is immune to this tragedy.   I will instead focus on adults that are missing…

most specifically…

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…my brother who went missing on March 20, 2016.

Of the many missing persons in the US, almost 60, 000 are adults and  more than half of them are male. Adults go missing for a variety of reasons such as accidents, suicide, mental health issues, suspicious circumstances, and sometimes deliberately.

Wow!

This is much more difficult than I thought. I planned to write an interesting overview on this subject full of stats and such but…

I just can’t.

We have done the normal things-filed a police report, checked hospitals, phoned, Facebook, drove around, prayed, asked for prayers, checked with friends…..the problem is…is he a deliberate disappearance like some family members think? Would he really leave us hanging like this? Is it time to plaster his face on milk cartons and telephone poles? Would he really allow us to worry?  We are a very close family! Is he grieving at the loss of our sister last November? He is a long distance truck driver-is he working? Is he on the road?  Has he chosen to live under a bridge or in a park?  It is said no news is good news. We just want to know. Some think if we crank up the search we will paint him into the proverbial corner. If he left deliberately… is he just too embarrassed to make contact?  He has  previously “disappeared” for a day or two at a time…but not this long.

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Come home Jimmy.

We miss you.

We love you.

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Zion National Park

This past week we had a opportunity to spend half a day in Zion National Park. Sadly, a few hours is not enough to really to explore all that this park has to offer. Having any time at all here leaves you hungry to explore more of Zion and the other wonders that Utah has to offer.

As Utah’s oldest and most popular national park, Zion is located in Southern Utah, about 163 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada. The quaint little town of Springdale is the somewhat official starting place to begin a visit. There you can board a tram for entry into the park, spend the night in one of the lodges, stop for a meal or drink in one of the cute cafes or restaurants, or visit one of the many rock and gem stores found there.

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We chose to drive into the park as we had big plans for a picnic after some exploring.

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Once inside you will need to park your vehicle and board one of the trams that run throughout Zion.

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The trams reduce the pollution and congestion within the park. At no cost to the rider, you can hop on or off at one of the many stops. They stop at such interesting places like The Grotto and Court of the Patriarchs. Running about every 15 minutes there is really no disadvantage to this arrangement. In fact, you can get a nice overview and scenic overload from the tram.  Load up your bike, picnic, or hiking gear to head out for an extraordinary day!

Zion is extremely popular with hikers. To really appreciate all of the beautify and diversity found here one might need to explore beyond the visitor center and tram stops. Destinations such as Emerald Pool Trails and Angels Landing called to us but with our limited time and my agility, we had to carefully choose where to spend our time. We decided on The Narrows  which is perhaps one of the most familiar and popular hikes. (A great place if you are in Zion during a hot summer day). We departed the shuttle at The Temple of Sinawava and hiked the 2.5 mile (round trip) Riverside Trail  along the Virgin River to the entrance of The Narrows. Once you begin the hike through the narrows, the water can be ankle deep and even  chest high in some places. I was pretty impressed with myself that I was able to make the hike at all! The trail is nicely paved and even-which makes it wheelchair accessible! Many of the people we passed along the way were prepared for the water. They had hiking sticks, backpacks,  water-proof pants, or water-proof leggings. People of all ages were prepared for the water adventure.

Along the trail we were able to appreciate the hanging gardens…

…plants that seemed to grow right out of a rock wall.

The trail meandered along The Virgin River.

We observed the Weeping Rocks…

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…where water seems to seep from the rocks.

The majestic views were breath taking.

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The canyons were wide and the skies were blue.

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After our hike and the 90 minute tram ride, we headed back to the visitor center and our awaiting picnic.  A few years ago we were able to hike the Timber Creek Overlook Trail which is located in the most northern part of Zion.

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Located in higher elevations, the scenery is as beautiful. There is a five mile scenic drive that rises above the majestic canyons and the red rocks of the Kolob Canyons. It was merely by chance that we discovered this often forgotten area of Zion. When traveling through Utah to another destination, we took a chance to stop here not realizing that  Kolob Canyon is somewhat separate from the main part of Zion but should not be missed!

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With many of Utah’s National Parks yet to explore, we have  Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef on our list of places to visit. We do love the outdoors and are already planning our next adventure!