Photos of Brady

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Lawn chairs used to be a necessity. When I first came to live here on my country road, no one had air conditioning. When the temperatures became unbearable everyone took a lawn chair and sat out in the yard under a shade tree in hopes of catching a refreshing breeze. There was always a big pitcher of iced tea or homemade lemonade to sip while enjoying a respite from the heat.

When you went visiting your lawn chair went with you. They were easily carried, as they simply fold up. When I came to live here in my grandparents home after their deaths their lawn chairs were in the garage. Grandpa had them hanging on nails on the garage wall. I used them myself for many years, but the webbing finally gave way with age. I sold them at a yard sale, and never replaced them. I bought a second hand air conditioner eight years ago, which greatly reduced the need for getting new ones.

Usually when I sit in a lawn chair now I am at moms or the neighbor’s house, and they have plenty for everyone. A while back I had company visit for a few days. The temperatures were in the seventies, and perfect for sitting out in the yard. I never thought anything about it because I was cooking and taking care of meal preparation in the house. When I was asked where the lawn chairs were, it took me a minute to realize the old ones were gone and I didn’t have new ones.

It is funny how technology changes our way of life. Houses used to have big front porches, many with porch swings for sitting and visiting. Since air conditioning hadn’t come into the mainstream yet, porches were a necessity. Now that most people enjoy air conditioning the porches have been eliminated from house plans and people stay inside during the summer months.

I am going to buy some new lawn chairs. Next time I have company, I will be able to sit out under the shade tree and tell the stories I write about here. Oh the memories. If these trees could talk…here on my country road.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Ice cream anyone?

Oh, I’m not talking about the various brands of designer ice creams popular with America today. There is nothing like a hot summer day and the sound of an old fashioned ice cream freezer cranking a batch of homemade ice cream.

Homemade ice cream is a group effort. I suppose that is part of what makes it so much fun and brings such vivid recollections to mind. Back when making homemade ice cream was so popular, women traded recipes for ice cream mix enthusiastically. I have many recipes for various flavors in my recipe box myself. Making a good batch of homemade ice cream ranked right up there with setting a beautiful table for meals and cooking delicious food. It is the process itself that I remember so well.

My grandparents knew how to make the perfect batch of homemade ice cream. After enjoying a wonderful meal together and the dishes were done and put away, grandma would cook up ice cream mix. While she was doing that grandpa would get the freezer ready. He had an old wash pan in the garage that he crushed ice in. In the days before ice makers and stores that sold bags of small cubed ice, grandma saved the cardboard cartons milk came in to freeze ice. Grandpa would take a hammer to the blocks of ice and crush it into pieces that would fit around the canister that held the ice cream mix.

When grandma called from the house that the mix was ready, grandpa came to get it. After placing the canister in the bucket, rock salt and crushed ice were layered around the canister to just under the lid. Ice was the final layer. Once this was done, grandpa cranked the ice cream by turning the crank handle. It usually took about half an hour for the ice cream mix to thicken and freeze. This time was usually spent listening to grandpa telling big tales while we watched the progress of the frost on the outside of the bucket. A thick layer of frost began at the bottom of the bucket, and by the time the ice cream was done, the bucket was completely covered with it. As the ice cream froze, it was important to add more ice as it melted and the water ran out the little hole on the side.

I loved to hear someone cranking the ice cream. The sound is distinctive to be sure. Many times there was a fight to see who would crank the ice cream, and my brothers liked to take their turn at it. It took a fair amount of strength, and you had to turn it fast enough for the mix to freeze evenly, so one of the adult men usually took over. When the frost reached the top of the bucket and the crank was difficult to turn anymore, the ice cream was declared done. Grandpa would disengage the crank mechanism and remove the paddle from the canister. Grandma always brought a bowl from the house to put the paddle in, and washed it up while the ice cream was packed in ice. After the ice was added to the bucket, an old towel was placed over the top of the bucket to keep the cold in.

Lawn chairs were set up around the bucket in the shade, and everyone helped carry out the bowls and spoons. Many times Grandma would make a cake or cobbler to go with the ice cream, so it was a real event. Once the towel and ice were removed, the lid was carefully pried off the canister and the ice cream was dipped into the bowls. There is absolutely nothing that can describe the taste of good homemade ice cream. It is colder than anything else, and one can hold more of it than store bought ice cream just because it is so good.

With the advent of electric ice cream freezers much of the fun was taken from the process. It is a social event. It is the whole experience that makes making ice cream so unique. I have cranked it myself many times, and have wonderful memories of sitting under the shade tree listening to the stories and laughter while someone cranked a batch.

Nothing says summer like homemade ice cream…..here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, June 28, 2004


Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful day. After the chilly start, the sunshine quickly warmed things up. I began the day attending the early service at church, and then bought some much needed groceries. By the time I loaded the car for the trip home, mother nature had turned up the thermostat.

The process of unloading the car and carrying the groceries to the house isn’t a favorite of mine, but it has to be done. That accomplished, I changed my clothes, gave Scrappy his medicine and went to mom and Rocky’s house for lunch. Davey was out in his yard and saw me coming down the hill. I promised to go over when I was finished.

Sundays are relaxed and laid back here in on our country road. No one mows the lawn or works in the yard on Sunday. It is a day reserved for visiting, catching up with the neighbors, and a nap. I walked over and chatted with Davey and Patty, promising to come back later in the day and splash with him in his little pool.

I spent the afternoon finishing two chapters in my book. So far I have written 66,247 words, and have completed nineteen chapters. My goal is to have it finished by the end of August. I began writing it in February when I returned from Hawaii, and it would be great to finish in six months time. Then comes the long process of editing. I hope to have a finished manuscript by the end of the year.

Late in the afternoon I had come to a difficult passage that is a pivotal point for the two main characters. I had received several phone calls which interrupted my train of thought, so I changed into my swimsuit and walked down to Davey’s house. We walked out to the pool, but alas the water was way too cool to swim. I sat in the sunshine while he sprayed me with his little water gun, and visited with Patty and Dave. It was a very nice break.

When I sat back down at my computer two hours later, I was able to successfully write the end of the chapter and complete the scene. All in all, it was a wonderful day. Not only did I get a lot accomplished, but it was a restful departure from my usual routine. I even laid down on the couch for a quick power nap.

Today I can return to work refreshed and rested.
Happy Monday. Have a great week!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Sunday, June 27, 2004


It is unseasonably cool here this morning, and I am wondering now why I shut the furnace down for the season. The sun is coming up, so maybe when nature turns on her furnace things will warm up a bit.

I am leaving for the day, but plan to be at my blogging post first thing in the morning. I thank you for your patience. In the way of updates, Scrappy continues to improve. Although I haven't seen the outside cats Scaredy and Tiny for a couple of days, Rocky said he saw them laying in the road yesterday morning. I guess their mother never told them not to do that.

Have a wonderful Sunday. Hope wherever you are the sun is shining and blessings come your way.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Friday, June 25, 2004


Time flies.

This week we passed the summer solstice. The days had been longer, which allowed for the maximum allotment of sunlight. Now the days will be shortened by a minute or two each day. I had a hard time getting done all I needed to when the days were longer, so this is not good news. We have begun the journey toward the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year.

My life is lived by the clock. I have to get up by a certain hour in order to be to work on time. Once I accomplish that I check the clock dozens of time before lunch to keep the crew on schedule. While on lunch hour the clock allows sixty minutes to eat, rest, read or shop before I have to reopen the office. Since I work for the public, it is essential to make sure I am punctual. Throughout the afternoon it is the same thing, constantly checking the clock so we leave on time and get back to Troop headquarters before five.

Once I am home, I have five hours or less in which to do all the things I can before bed. If there is a show I want to watch on television I have to constantly monitor the time so as not to miss it. The good thing about summer is that there is nothing worth watching. That leaves more time to do the other things on my list. There are very few days I cross everything off. That means making a new list each evening for the next day. Some of the chores I never get to, but I won’t give up. Each day I just add them to the top of the new list.

Someone very dear to me listened to me describe the challenges I was facing with time management. He is retired, but it is no different than working when managing the time in every day. He suggested that I rid my life of the ‘time suckers’ robbing me of the time I needed to do the things I really wanted to do. At the time I couldn’t imagine actually being able to do that. Like everyone I know I suffer from ‘have to’ disease. Listen to conversations people have. Listen to your conversations with others. How often do you say ‘I have to…’ ? It is an enlightening exercise. I still say it a lot. The difference is I have really worked at removing the activities, chores, phone calls, etc., that eat away at my time unnecessarily. At first it was painful. Dr. Phil calls it ‘taking back your power.’ That is a very apt description.

Now my days are more productive, less cluttered with meaningless activity, and I am happier. One of these days I will also be able to retire. Had I given more thought to time when I was younger, I would have been able to retire sooner than I can now. The folly of youth. My dear friend was more wise. The good thing is that it is never too late to begin. I am determined to retire as soon as I am able. There are a lot of things on my fantasy list I want to experience before I die. My hope is that when my book sells I will be able to accomplish many things sooner rather than later. Currently I am two thirds of the way finished with the first draft. Four months ago I was just beginning. Amazing.

Time flies!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, June 24, 2004


I stepped out this morning to take a walk down my country road. The air is damp and cool, pungent with the smells of wild honeysuckle, marigolds, and geraniums. Temperatures are hovering around fifty degrees this morning. Nippy, but the sights, sounds and smells soon took my notice and quicken my step.

The little wrens I have been missing greeted me from the birch tree by the porch. I love their happy song, it is such a beautiful sound. I am sure that they successfully got their little ones out of the nest and out into the world, as that was the period of time that Tiny went missing. That improved their chances fifty percent for survival. Tiny and Scaredy both greeted me by the garage as I walked past, so I stopped to feed them before continuing on.

The sun is just beginning to break the horizon. The sky is such a clear azure blue this morning that it just makes my heart joyful. Not a cloud in sight. This time of year, after all of the spring rain, the big woods is as lush as a rain forest. The foliage is a bright verdant green, interrupted only by the occasional wild morning glory vine, wild flower or song bird as it flies from branch to branch.

Everyone is still asleep. I like this time of day, sharing it only with the birds and other woodland creatures that venture out so early. We have an abundance of little baby bunnies right now. As I walk past, they freeze. I always feel bad for scaring them. They breathe so fast, afraid that I will harm them. Good that they are learning how to protect themselves, as the neighborhood is full of cats. Before I dismantled my walking garden they loved to eat breakfast there, happily munching my prized flowers and seeking shelter among them.

Although it is still very early, there are a few squirrels beginning to emerge from their nests and begin the journey from the big woods to the bird feeders for their breakfast. They are also very fond of the various varieties of strange looking fungi that seem to grow out of everything this time of year. Usually the stumps in the yard are good seats for the squirrels to perch on while they eat the fungi that grows around the base of each one.

By the time I made the turn and started back up the road to my drive, Tiny and Scaredy had finished their breakfast and were crossing the road into the big woods for their day’s adventures. The sound of dew dripping off the trees and hitting the ground as I pass is a fine accompaniment to the five fifteen train as it passes by Smalltown on its way northwest for coal.

The day has started, and like nature, I have things to do….here on my country road.

Note: Scrappy came home yesterday. He is so much better, happy to be home, and sleeping next to my elbow as I type. Thank you all for the good thoughts and wishes. Actually it is time for his medicine. Have a great day.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, June 23, 2004


It is a beautiful morning here in Smalltown. The sun is just peeking through the trees of the big woods, but the temperatures are very cool and I will have to take my jacket to work today. I am hoping for some summer weather. This has been the strangest June I can remember here in the Ozarks for quite some time.

This morning I will call and see about Scrappy. They kept him again overnight, and I am sure he is beginning to wonder where I am at. They told me that he is breathing easier, which is a good thing. It is funny how quiet the house is. I must spend a lot of time fussing at him to get out of things. Patty is lonely, and keeps looking for Scrappy. She will be so glad when he comes home.

I am glad to report that Tiny is still home. He will eat and rest for a few days and then take off again. Scaredy is more faithful. I have determined that as much as pets add to our lives, I am not going to get any more when these kitties all pass on. I am not home enough and they need companionship.

Hopefully the sun is shining in your corner of the world and the day brings good things. For me it is back to work. I’m sure I was meant to be borne independently wealthy, but something happened. I guess Smalltown isn’t in need of a Princess. Back to life....here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Yesterday I was expecting the news that Scrappy may not make it. What a difference a day makes. I talked to the vet yesterday afternoon, and after all of the tests, they still don’t know what is wrong with him. They thought it could be pneumonia because there is raspiness in his lungs, he is coughing, and he is really laboring to breathe. The x-rays showed no pneumonia. Heart is not enlarged. His best guess is that since the blood work showed no elevated white blood cell count to indicate infection, he must have an air borne viral condition. They put him on antibiotics and gave him a bronchial breathing treatment. My fear was that he might be having an allergic reaction to his thyroid medication. All is okay on that front, thank goodness. Today if he is stabilized he can come home.

Today mom, Rocky, and I are headed to Springfield for dental appointments. Biannual cleaning and checkups, then lunch. After lunch Rocky has a doctors appointment. There is no way that I can be back to get Scrappy from the vet, so Patty has volunteered to go get him. All of that is contingent on how he is doing this morning. Thank goodness for cell phones. I can call the vet mid morning, determine what to do, and then call Patty. The saga continues.

At least the sun is streaming through the trees here in the big woods, and it promises to be a beautiful day. Surely that is a good omen. Well, off to the races. I have to leave early so that I can go down and fix mom’s hair before we go.

Just another fun filled day…..here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, June 21, 2004


There is joy in the camp here on my country road.

Tiny is home.

I was coming home from seeing Davey and his family when I saw two gray cats run across the road from the big woods and disappear into the garage. I went in and fed them, scolded him a bit for being gone so long and locked them in for the night. He looks thin, but then he always does. Scaredy was so happy to have his brother and running partner back.

We had a nice Father’s Day here. I had mom and Rocky and Davey and his folks here for dinner. It was an enjoyable afternoon, and all of the food is gone. Rather than have it here I sent it all home with them, which my waist will benefit from.

I am very worried about Scrappy. He is my inside cat that was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. He has started ‘coughing’ and breathing very hard. Thinking he might be on too strong a dose of his medication, I cut it down yesterday. He is really struggling. Today I will have Rocky take him out to the vet to see what the problem is. This is not good. Not good. I don’t think I will give him any medication this morning, as I am afraid it might do him in.

We are in for really strong storms today, which is par for the course for a Monday. I tried to swim with Davey yesterday in his little pool, but not only was it too cool, but the water was too cold. I got in, but couldn’t stand it. We decided to wait until the sun was out and the temperatures were hotter.

I think I will go in and sit with Scrappy for a bit while I have my coffee. He needs a little TLC.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Saturday, June 19, 2004


This is Father’s Day weekend.

Many of you will be involved with activities to honor your fathers, husbands and grandfathers. The people that we are have been shaped by our parents, in this case our dads. Our core values, habits, beliefs and direction has been influenced by our dads. Whether for the good or bad, this influence has had an impact.

In my case I have had several good experiences. My dad George Strain was a good influence for the foundation of my growing up years. I had stability, security and love. I felt safe. Mom and dad provided an atmosphere of possibility, hope and dreams in which we were encouraged to reach for the stars. There was nothing I didn’t think I could accomplish.

When divorce divided our family I was fifteen. Those turbulent years changed the way I thought about family. Mom’s new husband became our step dad. It wasn’t until I came to a point of no return in my own life that he stepped up to the plate and they offered a place for my daughter and I to live. So began the long journey to my new home, Smalltown, Missouri. It was difficult at times, but I came to love him and understand him. When he became terminally ill, mom and I took care of him until his death. He taught me many lessons in life as well, but most notably how to face illness and death. His example touched everyone who knew him and came to visit him before he died.

Since then I have had other examples of what fathers are. I have good neighbors, friends and family who are good role models for fathers. Several years ago mom married her high school sweetheart. The thought here we go again rolled through my mind. After a rough start, Rocky has become a member of our family, a friend, and step dad. He is funny, generous and fun. Things happen for a reason, and people come into our lives for a purpose.

My brother John is a wonderful father. His son LJ is the light of his life, and it is great to watch them together. My brother George is single yet, but he has had several pets that he is a wonderful dad to. He has patience and a quiet manner his little Westie, Murphey, is devoted to.

My experiences with fathers has been unique and varied. I have had many good examples of different qualities that make fathers great. The common denominator has been love. You may not have had a father’s love in your life, but you may have been surrounded by that quality in a father figure. I pray that you have good thoughts and memories of that dad tomorrow. Where I generally believe that every day should be the day to honor those we love and admire, do something special for that person in your life that has shaped you.

Those of you lucky ladies who will be honoring your husbands as the father of your children, bravo. Happy Father’s Day to all of you, and God Bless!

Until Monday,
Becky Strain


Friday, June 18, 2004


If a man does not keep pace with his companions

perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

Let him step to the music that he hears,

however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

Perhaps there is no greater mantra for me than this passage.

I have been different my whole life. In my youth, I always had my eyes on the next mountain top. It seemed I had to rush through life because it was passing me by. Youthful thinking. I have a very quiet life now, and it seems to suit the place I am in it.

A short time ago I had a friend visit who has a very busy and hectic life. It was interesting to see the reaction to my life here. It was a very pleasant few days. It is also enlightening for friends to see how you live your days, the way you approach a life so different than what you once knew.

The things I take for granted now were a curiosity. How do you know that is a cardinal singing? Are you sure that is the wren? What do you mean it is going to be humid and hot because there is a haze? Watching the squirrels play, the birds feeding their young, trying to keep neighborhood cats away from baby birds just out of the nest.

All things aside, it is the peace and quiet of the life here that is so nice. Although I work full time and have a job with pressures, once I am home there is peace. Smalltown is a haven for those who are troubled, searching, stressed, or unhappy. I should know. When I arrived here thirty two years ago I was all of those things.

Life is good. Cherish each moment knowing that there is something wonderful just around the corner……or down a country road.

Happy Friday.
Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, June 17, 2004


It’s mimosa time in the Ozarks.

One of the sure signs of summer is the blooming of the mimosa trees. It is so unexpected to see the big pink mounds of color throughout the trees, but they seem to thrive here in the hot humid climate. Until I moved here I didn’t know that the hummingbirds love them. I suppose there were mimosa trees in Shawnee, Kansas where I grew up, but I only remember one at the end of our street.

In many places here where there are no other flowers the mimosa trees provide an oasis of color. I always thought they looked like big bouquets. My daughter used to think there was pink snow resting in the branches. Actually that is an accurate description of what they look like. They are large graceful looking trees. When they aren’t blooming they look like every other tree, but every summer they are awash with color.

Many people here don’t like mimosa trees because they are messy. The blooms eventually fall from the trees, littering the yard with spent pink spikes. To me that is just part of anything that blooms. Eventually the flowers die and the petals fall earthward. It is the cycle of life.

I don’t have any mimosa trees in my yard, but I do have a red spirea bush. It mimics the mimosa tree in every way, only in bush form. The hummingbirds love it as well, and spend hours every day among the puffs of color.

It is hard to say how a tropical tree made it’s way to Missouri, but I would guess it might have something to do with birds. I hope that wherever you live you have seen a mimosa tree in full bloom. There is nothing so glorious on a sunny summer day.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Monday began like every other work day.

I had an applicant who had been cited to come in for a driver skills test because of physical and visual impairments. He was eighty five years old, and was at the mercy of the system he didn’t understand to determine whether or not he would be able to keep his drivers license.

It took us fifteen minutes to walk out to the car because he had to stop and rest along the way. He had oxygen strapped to his side to help him breathe. He was determined to get to the car, and finally made it to the drivers seat. I gave him instructions and we began the test. It didn’t go well. It only took me a minute to determine that he was not only a danger to himself but to the motoring public. He pulled out in front of two different vehicles without even seeing them, and if not for the fact that they came to a stop to allow us to continue on, we would have been in an accident. Because of his physical condition I could not yell and tell him to stop.

I brought him back to the building by the most direct route, and explained to him that he did not pass his driving test. He was devastated, because it took away his independence. Now his only daughter would have to drive him everywhere he needed to go. She was very understanding and actually relieved that he had failed. It had been a big concern to her that he continued to drive.

I explained to him what would happen next, and that he would receive a letter from the Director of Revenue when he had reached a decision. I took time to visit with him, wished him good health and thanked him for his determination. Many of our younger applicants don’t have the tenacity the older generation has. They take the easy way, expect the system to pamper them like their parents have done. This man had come in at great physical hardship in order to maintain his level of dignity and independence. Giving up his drivers license was going to be a blow for him, but he thanked me for my time. I wished him Godspeed and went back into the building.

It was the right decision, but I have thought of him many times since. It is the can do spirit I admire so much that impressed me. I can only hope and pray when and if I attain the age of eighty five that I have the same grace and spirit.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, June 15, 2004


There are always mysteries here on my country road.

Two weeks ago I saw a big black snake crawl into a hole by an old stump not twenty feet from the trailer. Where is it now? I haven’t seen it since. For several days I walked down to mom’s house by way of the road so I wouldn’t have to walk by the hole. That snake hole is right on the pathway I use to cross my brother George’s lot to get to mom and Rocky’s house.

Last year I saw the grand daddy of black snakes curled up on the porch by the back door. When I came up the sidewalk I saw it, and it disappeared into a hole under the porch. Where do you think he went? He had to have been seven or eight feet long. Even now I look over to the back porch when I come up the sidewalk just in case he is still around.

The wren couple that is raising their little brood in my wind chime above the front porch continues to bring food to the little birdhouse, but I can’t hear any peeps anymore. Do they just peep when they are newly hatched? I have missed the beautiful songs that Mr. Wren sang to his mate while she sat on the nest. They are too busy feeding the little birds that don’t peep. Scaredy likes to sit on the porch railing right under the bird house, and I have worried about what will happen when the baby birds are pushed out of the nest.

What has happened to Tiny? He has been gone now for ten days. This is the longest he has ever been gone. Scaredy is still here, but he looks sad. I’m sure he has wondered more than once where Tiny is. It is still a mystery to me where their mama went to, as well as their other sibling. Originally there were three kittens. Mama kitty ran away when I brought her back from the vet where she had been spayed. She was absolutely scared to death. That night she moved the kittens from the garage. I didn’t see any of them for over a month. One day when I came home from work I heard meowing across the road. Tiny and Scaredy were watching me from the tall grass across the road by the big woods. I put food out in the garage and propped the door open with a brick. Now Scaredy is the only one left.

There are many such mysteries here. Nature is so beautiful on the one hand and so cruel on the other. Living in the country is not for the faint of heart, but it is so satisfying in other ways. One has to learn to take the good with the bad, and hope that there is a balance that keeps things in check. I need to go let Scaredy out of the garage, and start the day....here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, June 14, 2004


You’re a grand old flag
You’re a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.
Every heart beats true
For the red, white , and blue,
And there’s never a boast or brag.
May auld acquaintance be forgot
Keep your eyes on the grand old flag.

There is no big fanfare planned for today, although today is Flag Day.

When I was growing up much was made of Flag Day. One would think that since we are at war, and with the passing of President Reagan, there would be more focus on the flag.

I can guarantee that when I pass through Smalltown on my way to work the flags won’t be out. Has America lost her pride in the symbol of our freedom? Do we only save that pride for the Olympics and other sporting events?

Following the tragedy of 9/11 flags were everywhere. On cars, every building, and every flag pole. The flag was a galvanizing force for our country. A symbol of freedom, endurance, and resolve. And pride?

The blog world makes it possible for good people from all over the world to meet and comment in a like format. I am interested to know how each of you feel about your flag, whether you are American, or from another country. What feelings does the sight of the flag flying in the wind stir within you?

I hope that wherever you live there are flags flying today. Mine is out, waving gently and proudly in the morning breeze....here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Sunday, June 13, 2004


I have one more day to relax and rest before I have to return to work on Monday. I stayed on the couch yesterday, alternately sleeping and watching home improvement shows. It is a dangerous thing to do, as home improvement projects are what caused the initial injury to begin with. Or at least my attempt to do them.

Still no sign of Tiny. We had terrible storms here yesterday, and if he was anywhere close he would have come home. I am sad that something untoward might have happened to the little guy. It is one of the drawbacks of pet ownership. It has been eight days since he went missing.

Scrappy has been taking his thyroid medication pretty well. I just gave up trying to hide it in his food. I pick him up, open his mouth with my finger and pop the pill down his throat. By holding his mouth closed and stroking his throat, he swallows it right down. Until this morning. After going through the routine and thinking he had swallowed the pill, I set him down to answer the telephone. When I came back to the couch his pill was laying there. It took a second attempt to get the deed accomplished.

Today I am going to write. It is a quiet activity that will work until my pain pill kicks in, then I will be looking for a place to lay down. Better get at it I suppose.

Have a wonderful day,
Becky Strain


Saturday, June 12, 2004


Today I am paying the price for the joys of home remodeling.

Not wanting to waste the day off we were given for the Ronald Reagan funeral, which by the way I watched from beginning to end, I tore up the carpet in my bedroom. Good plan, bad result. I pulled a muscle in my abdomen, and can barely move.

The result was well worth the effort, but today I will be taking it easy. There is a certain fogginess of mind that comes from good pain medication, but at this point, it is the only way I can get around.

I am very worried about Tiny. He has been gone for seven days now. I am beginning to think that this time he really won't be coming back. It is always a heartache to help the wild critters that pass our way, but he was such a cute little fella. Scaredy misses him terribly, but is adapting to life alone. At least he has me to watch over him.

So far so good with the wrens. Mr. and Mrs. are still feeding them, but I don't hear them peeping like I did. One tragedy at a time. Don't borrow trouble, eh?

Today I have a joyful job. since I have to take it easy, I am going to unpack the new set of dishes that arrived from Pfaltzgraff. For those of you girls who are familiar, I currently have Cape May, which is a garden pattern that fits in very well with my garden inspired home. Last year I found out that Garden Party, another garden inspired pattern was still available on the By Request program. Anyway, I splurged, and the boxes arrived. Now I can rearrange my cupboards AGAIN, and make room for more dishes.

Enjoy your Saturday!
Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Friday, June 11, 2004


This week has been a somber one for our country. One of our President’s passed from this life after a long battle with a dreaded disease. He died with the same dignity and grace with which he lived his life, and was a role model for us as a nation. At times like this party lines do not matter as much as the national fabric and what weaves us together as a people and a country.

Ronald Reagan was beloved by people and leaders from all over the world. His service will be attended by leaders from a myriad of countries. I have watched a great deal of the coverage by C-Span. I have observed the reverence and awe with which the people file by the flag draped casket, and the changing of the honor guard that watches over their fallen Commander in Chief.

Today Ronald Reagan will be eulogized by friends, family and colleagues. His life will be remembered and celebrated. A people and a nation will remember. After the national services, Nancy will accompany her beloved back to their California home where he will be buried at sunset in the Reagan library.

Today is a National Day of Mourning. Today is not about how much we are different, but how much we are alike. Take a moment to mark the passing of one of our Presidents. May we as a people live our lives with the same dignity, grace, love, and compromise.

“May God bless you and may God bless this country we love.” Ronald Reagan, as he left office to become a private citizen.

“All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.” Ronald Reagan.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, June 10, 2004


When I came home from work yesterday evening the wrens were scolding. That could only mean that a cat was I close proximity to the little birdhouse that holds their newly hatched baby birds. I didn’t see one, and was unloading my briefcase when I heard a meow. Turning in the direction of the porch, I was just in time to see Scaredy attempting to get down from the top of the trailer.

There is a second roof that covers the mobile home, and Tiny and Scaredy have both seen squirrels run up the wooden support beams and disappear into the space between the two roofs. Watching the squirrels do it gave them the idea to do the same, and both cats like to lay up there. It reminded me of a circus act the way Scaredy came down. Using his claws, he dug into the wood post with his front foot and swung down. This caused him to swing back and forth until he dug in with his other foot. Once he stopped swinging back and forth he began to slowly descend the pole. When he got halfway down, he turned and did a headlong dive for the porch. Amazing.

Tiny is once again missing. I haven’t seen him for three days. Now that his foot is better, he has taken off again. I worry that he won’t come home one of these days, and Scaredy is so lonely without him. They have been together ever since their mama left them here and took off for the big woods. I have never seen her again.

The wrens are trying to protect their little babies from the cat. I can hear them peeping in the birdhouse, and am afraid that when the time comes for them to leave the nest that there will be cats sitting on the porch rail to make appetizers out of them.

Such is life in the big woods....here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Blessed rain.

This is the time of year that we get no rain. Summer is usually marked by a drought that lasts until fall, and the vegetation slowly dries up and turns brown. The sky began to darken yesterday noon, and ominous clouds began to gather. This is a usual occurrence, but the promise of rain usually travels on by us. We can hear the thunder and see lightening as rain falls to the south or east of Smalltown.

Around dinner time big fat drops began to plop here and there as I walked back to mom’s from the neighbor’s house. When I reached their front stoop rain began in earnest and fell heavily for quite a while. Looking back toward the big woods the rain fell in sheets as the trees swayed in the wind.

The birds were soon singing again and the clouds passed on by. As I walked home the color of the vegetation in the big woods and my flowers were such a bright color that it almost hurt my eyes. You can water flowers or the lawn, but nothing helps like blessed rain.

We look at rain as a blessing....here on our country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, June 08, 2004


I have been up since five a.m. trying to get online to write my post. A few minutes ago the dial up server we have to use here in Smalltown finally connected me to the internet. Sadly, I don't have time now to post, as the clock has continued to turn, and now I am going to be late for work.

For all of you who don't have to contend with the woes of a dial up connection, you won't be able to identify with this. Redialing and redialing only to have no result. Frustration compounded by a desire to kick the computer monitor wars with good sense. At any rate, things are back on track, and hopefully I will be back on post in the morning.

Have a wonderful day,
Becky Strain


Monday, June 07, 2004


Morning breaks in the big woods.

After five days off I am getting ready to return to work this morning. It is so hard to return after being off for a while. I begin to think early retirement or changing careers to something I really love to do. Once I get back and have the first day under my belt, things will return to normal.

While I was home this weekend, I learned something interesting. I have a resident black snake living in a hole by an old stump on the edge of the path from my house to my mom’s house. Great.

Blue jays are wonderful watchdogs. I was doing the dishes when I heard them announcing a problem in the woods. It is usually a snake, a cat, or a hawk. I knew it was a snake this time because they were hopping from branch to branch looking at the ground. They were following it’s progress as it slithered through the big woods, but quit squawking when they were above the propane tank behind my trailer. The problem with that is the tank sits not ten feet from the end of the trailer.

I got busy with other things in the house, and forgot about it. The evening was cool, and I walked over to mom and Rocky’s house for a visit, then on over to the neighbor’s house to see Davey. On the way home, walking along the path, I saw it. Twenty feet from my front door. All curled up and laying right by the hole by the stump. Evidently it was too cold to get into the hole. I scooted on by and got into the house where I eventually forgot about it.

The next morning I got up and was raising the blinds. There on the ground by the old stump was the black snake. The morning was very cool, but when the sun came up and the temperatures warmed a bit the snake disappeared. I have an unusually high fear of snakes. Suffice to say I am scared to death of them. I suppose that I am going to have to leave the pathway to the snake and start walking to mom’s house.....down my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Sunday, June 06, 2004


This morning I am baking a nice chocolate cake. It smells heavenly, and will be dessert for the dinner party I am having this evening for the neighbors and Mom and Rocky.

It is always fun to set the table with good dishes, use the pretty things that I hardly ever use, and get out the cloth napkins. We are having a menu of pulled barbecue pork, chunky baked beans, and potato salad. I got a new frozen drink maker, and we're going to have fresh strawberry daiquiris. Davey and his folks are nice dinner guests, as they are lots of fun, and like everything.

It will be a fitting celebration of the end of my mini vacation. Good food, family, and good friends. It is a perfect day for a party. Whatever you plan to do, I hope it is fun. No plans? There's a party at my house....here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Saturday, June 05, 2004


There is nothing like a few days away to rejuvenate the spirit.

Today I am going to catch up on a few things around the house and enjoy two more days off until having to return to work on Monday. Things here at home look good and I am glad to report that Tiny, the outside cat that had hurt his back leg is healing nicely.

The wren family hatched out their young ones, and Mr. and Mrs. are working furiously to keep them fed. I picked up the inside cats, Paddy and Scrappy from the vet. It was a shock to learn that Scrappy has developed a hyperthyroid condition. It is the reason that he has become so aggressive with Paddy. The good thing is that I will no longer have to give him the anxiety medication. Instead he has to take a thyroid pill each day. It is a bit of a chore to get the pill down him, but I will get better in time.

It is a beautiful day here in Smalltown. The sun is streaking through the big woods, and the temperatures will be in the 80's. Have a wonderful day! Thank you for your well wishes. It is good to be home....here on my country road.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004


This morning I begin a short vacation. I will be back in a few days and will be back in blog form Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

Whenever I am gone I miss you all in the blogosphere, so I hope that while I am gone you will be well and happy.

I promise to drive carefully and pack a jacket just in case. Take good care my friends, and I will be back before you know it. I'm getting a late start, so better get on my way.

God Bless,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Another day begins.

Summer’s promise is a whisper yet, but the days stretch ahead in anticipation. The sweet perfume of the flowers mingles with the song of a wren as morning breaks. It is impossible to be melancholy in the joy of morning. Is there anything as beautiful as a sunrise? The day’s first rays of sunlight streak through the trees of the big woods and call forth nature from slumber.

June beckons.

Longer days and warm sunlight lure us from the house to wriggle our toes in lush green grass and walk barefoot. Remembrances of summers past swirl through my mind. The smell of the municipal swimming pool where we took swimming lessons on cool June mornings. The smell of freshly mown grass as we rode our bicycles. The sound of the bell signaling the progress of the ice cream truck as it drove through the neighborhood. Swinging on the old swing set as we ate popsicles and bomb pops. The radio broadcasting the baseball game from the downtown stadium. The chant of Red Rover, Red Rover, send Tommy on over, dogs barking, and lightening bugs twinkling in the advancing dusk.

Wonderful memories.

Even though the morning commute and another work day lay before me, the memories of summers past provoke anticipation of this one as yet unwritten….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain