Photos of Brady

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Today marks the last day of August.

When I was young I always had my eyes on the next season, the next school year, the next major age group. It seemed I was destined to be impatient and live too fast. My Grandma Strain always told me “Don’t wish your life away, Becky.”

Over the years I have slowed down a lot. I came to live here in Smalltown when I was eighteen years old. After living in a big city all my young life I felt this was the end of the road for me. In many ways that was true. No theaters, museums, malls, and no friends. I have always thought of it as though I was a diamond in the rough and some unseen hand was chipping away at my faults and shortcomings until a beautiful stone emerged. I’m a far piece from being there, but definitely have made significant progress.

Today was the day I thought to have my book finished. I am a chapter or two shy. There are reasons, such as the Olympics and being sick, but the fact remains that I didn’t make my goal. Of course the day isn’t over yet. Ha. The difference in me now and me then? Then I would have pitched the whole thing into the closet and gone on to something else. Today I have accepted that for whatever reasons I just didn’t meet my goal and have set a new one. Last week I felt tremendous pressure to finish the book by the self imposed deadline, which really stifled my creative flow. I couldn’t place two coherent words in front of each other to save my life. I put it away. Last week I had workers from a different crew because my regular people were on vacation and sick leave. My efforts needed to be focused on work. I was very frustrated. The old feelings of wanting to pitch the whole thing into the middle of next week surfaced. The people who are reading along with it as I get the chapters done are nipping at my heels wanting to know what happens next. How do I know? I haven’t written it yet. I do know how the book will end. Getting there is the tricky part.

I wear a Lance Armstrong Foundation bracelet on which his motto is written. “Livestrong.” When I get discouraged I look at that bright yellow reminder that my struggles are nothing. I can do whatever I set my mind to do, and only I can defeat myself.

Yesterday I wasn’t sure I could make it through the day. I missed kick butt Monday. Thank you to all of you who took up the cause in your area of the world. This morning I feel much better, and I think in honor of that I will have a kick butt Tuesday.

Today might be the last day of my goal, and the last day of August, but look out world…..Becky’s back. Tomorrow is another day. The first day of a new goal. A new beginning…here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, August 30, 2004


Thank you to all of you who wrote me comments and emails over the weekend. It sounds like whatever I had is going around, so I can empathize with those of you who said you were sick too.

To add insult to injury it was a beautiful weekend. Temperatures were in the seventies and a nice breeze blew yesterday. Saturday was another story. I had to take Scrappy to the vet to have blood drawn for a thyroid test. About the time I was leaving the house with him in my arms it began raining like there was no tomorrow. Me sick, him wet and mad. What a pair we made.

I spent my weekend huddled under a blanket on the couch. I am so grateful for a nice little home. Although I felt terrible I was very conscious of the fact it is wonderful to have a haven away from the world to rest and regroup.

This is Monday, and usually I am in that Hello World/Kick Butt Monday mode. Not so today. Mentally yes. My body won’t cooperate. So, it falls to the rest of you to get out there and do it for me.

Hopefully I will be much improved by tomorrow. Have a wonderful Monday.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Sunday, August 29, 2004


I have only three thoughts for today.

Summer cold.

Abscessed tooth.

ISP issues.

I'm going back to bed in the hope that when I wake up again it will all have been a bad dream.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Friday, August 27, 2004


Put me in coach. I’m ready to play the game.

I was rolling along, doing my walking and running regime and not getting anywhere. Then my knee began to hurt. Then the other knee began to hurt. John told me to email his coach. I went to run Tuesday evening and it was a painful thing. My right knee was so painful. Like every determined exercise devotee I pushed through and got my run in. John told me again to email his coach and to quit running until I did.

I finally relented and emailed the famous Mad Dog. When I came home yesterday evening I had an answer. No more running right now. He gave me a list of instructions, a couple of suggestions for my diet and an addition to my YMCA workout. I suppose he could have told me just to push through the pain and keep my eyes on the goal, but he really seems to be against pain in relation to running.

So. Here I am all motivated and inspired to get fit and healthy. I got pulled out of the game. However, I am not easily discouraged. Once I grab onto a goal I am like a pit bull. I printed off the suggestions he made and today I am back in the game. One night of rest was good. I feel more rested this morning, and ready to tackle the next mountain.

Outside input from professionals that are totally objective is a good thing. I was simply doing too much. Time to work the body smarter. I will be on a running simulator at the gym that will eliminate impact on my knees for the time being. I’ll keep you posted.

If this works, I may be signing up with Dr. Mike, AKA Mad Dog. Wish me luck, I will need it. Anyway we finally made it to Friday! We’re just eight hours from the weekend. Hope it is a good one for all of you.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, August 26, 2004


School days, school days.

I loved school. Everything about it. Most of all I loved getting the school supplies ready for the year. I have written of this before, but for some reason I had been thinking about the cigar boxes than we kept our supplies in. I asked my Mom, as I couldn’t have known where they came from. She told me that by going down to the Rexall Drug store not far from our house they gave them to you if you asked.

I remember the store well. It has a real soda fountain. They also had the various and sundry items that one found in old fashioned drug stores. Medications, perfumes and make up, school and stationary supplies, candies, and tobacco products. There were all kinds of things in there that were a mystery to young children, but I bought a lot of penny candy there.

When I was in elementary school, it was the early sixties. Everyone had a cigar box to put their pencils, crayons, eraser, scissors and glue in. If you got a real good cigar box, it still had the little brass nail that had held the lid shut. Mom took that out before we took it to school. I suppose it was a safety thing. I was raised in the generation that forbid children to run with scissors or a sucker in your mouth. Do they even make those little suckers with the flexible loop on them any more?

The other thing I remember about starting school is that we got to go get a new pair of shoes. Back them girls wore Mary Janes and little anklets to school with a dress. We were not allowed to wear slacks or shorts. Little girls were supposed to look like, well, little girls. Mom made my dresses, which were fitted at the top and had a gathered skirt on the bottom. They also had a sash that tied with a big bow. I came home many times with the sash and bow hanging from one side due to a boy catching me in a race and pulling it. She repaired many of those.

The night before school started, we laid out our clothes for the next day and put our supplies by the bedroom door with our new shoes. It was hard to sleep the night before school started, but there was nothing more exciting than walking into the new classroom and finding my desk.

Today it isn’t off to school but off to work. I always wanted to continue my education, and even went so far as paying for my registration at the local college. Money was a factor, as the kids needed raising and I had a husband who didn’t believe in college. I always regretted it. That doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow and learn, so that is what I am doing….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, August 25, 2004


This morning there is an other worldly quality to the big woods. Heavy fog hovers in the trees and over the fields. The air is so humid and thick with moisture that taking a full breath is difficult. I was going out to run this morning while it is a bit cooler, but just standing at the edge of the road was oppressive.

The wrens and cardinals are singing and robins are hunting the worms in the damp lawn. Today is going to be a wonderful day. When the birds are this happy in the morning what can go wrong? After getting soaked to the skin yesterday at work from the heavy downpours, we return to heat today.

Everyone is anxious to get started on Wednesday, as the noise from the highway drifts up the hill and down our country road. Trucking is a big industry here and the sound of the big rigs is a constant. The early school bus went by several minutes ago. The poor kids that get picked up first will be nodding in their seats.

I am hoping for a sunrise this morning. The sun hitting the tree tops outside my window as I write is one of my favorite early morning rituals. A cup of hot coffee, the hum of the computer, and the cats sleeping in their little beds at my elbow are comforts I have come to cherish.

It has been a difficult week thus far, but when I look at what I came from to the quiet life I have now I am encouraged. There is always the hope of a better day, but it is important to live in the moment and appreciate the blessings of today.

We have made it to midweek. Only two more days, and then the weekend. We can do that standing on our heads. Okay, maybe you can do that standing on your head. I never could do that. I could do it, but I didn’t like anything about it. All the blood rushed to my head and it always felt like I was going to have a stroke. I think I will just keep moving forward, eyes on the horizon. Saturday is just over the hilltop!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, August 24, 2004


We all carry baggage.

The past defines who we are and either changes us for the better or worse. Most of us have dealt with the mistakes we made and have moved on, but we still carry the baggage.

The baggage we carry is filled with memories. Good or bad, right or wrong, we have them locked away nice and safe where others cannot stir them up. I suppose it is the only way we can deal with the painful events we are not proud of and keep people from stirring the embers of past failure and hurt.

Things, people and events threaten to expose painful memories and experiences that have long been packed away. Many things remind us of those memories via a song, smell, or words.

Yesterday I dealt with three people who are part of my past. Their feelings, all very different from my own was something painful and difficult to deal with. In doing so, you topple the neat pile of baggage they are pulling behind them. We are all very selective about our baggage. It is the only way we can move forward. A phone call, a picture, a conversation changes everything.

This morning the sun is rising and the Earth is still spinning. Once again there is much to be grateful for…here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, August 23, 2004


We have returned to summer. It is too late for nature, as the leaves have already started turning color and are falling earthward. The neighbor at the end of our country road has six poplar trees lining his drive, and they are one of the first trees to lose their leaves. His work is cut out for him.

I enjoyed the heat of the weekend, as we haven’t had but a few weeks of intense heat all summer. Even though it is hot again for a short time, it is still too cool in the pool to swim. The water cools down at night and there isn’t enough sunshine or heat through the day to warm up the water. It is a good way to get a cold.

This must be the time of year that people get rid of the kittens born unexpectedly. We have seen several new young kittens around the neighborhood. Of course Mom couldn’t resist the temptation of a little calico that lived in the big woods behind their house. Callie, as she has named her, is now a resident of their garage. I still have Scaredy so I don’t have to worry about new kittens. He keeps them run off. I guess he doesn’t want another buddy now that Tiny is gone to kitty heaven.

I was successful in finishing chapter twenty seven over the weekend, and am coming down the home stretch. Since the Olympics started, I have to admit to spending too much time in the evening watching them instead of writing the last few chapters of my book. I had set the end of August as my deadline, but I may just as well reset it. I really don’t think there is any way I will be able to finish by then. Better to shoot for the middle of September.

Today is the first day of preschool for Davey. I went down to visit him last night, and he is so excited he can hardly sit still. It will be fun to hear him tell about his first day. It was good to see him that excited. Many kids hate the thought of school.

Well, it is kick butt Monday. Is it just me or do they come around really quick? Seems like just yesterday I was writing that. At any rate, it is time to get up and get moving. Happy Monday! Let’s get out there and make it a great one.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Saturday, August 21, 2004


Today is my one week anniversary of running. Where does the time go? Actually I am enjoying it very much. At least I have stopped being afraid that I will collapse in front of all the young mothers pushing their baby carriages around the walking trail. I have increased my distance, and if I can just get the breathing thing down, I think I will survive the experience.

I have started back on a weight program as well, so now I am working out seven days a week instead of three. My coaching partnership with Janice over at Heartsong is a good way to get up off my fanny and get to the track. Having someone to be accountable with is good medicine. Once I make up my mind to do something I motivate myself and stay disciplined to the task. It is hard sometimes, but that is where having an exercise buddy helps.

This morning is cool and foggy. Even the birds are late getting out of their nests. I heard the first cardinal a few minutes ago, a full hour and a half later than usual. I stayed in bed an hour longer than usual this morning because of it. It is excusable. When I think of how hard birds have to work just to go about their day, I feel badly for having dissed them from the comfort of my feather bed.

Mom, Rocky and I will be headed to Springfield today. That means I have to head over to the walking trails to run this morning. Whatever your pursuits today I hope it is a gold medal day. It is time to lace up my Nikes and hit the country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Friday, August 20, 2004


Even though there has been a return to summer temperatures this week, the signs of fall are everywhere. Yesterday morning as I was driving down the road to the highway to go to work, an industrious little gray squirrel dashed across the road with a walnut in his mouth. I had seen the first walnut of the season on the ground Tuesday morning, and I thought then that a squirrel would have it hidden away by the time the sun set.

The walnut and poplar trees have already lost their leaves, and several of the trees in the big woods are turning color already. I suppose the hot dry weather was just a little tease, because rain and cooler temperatures moved in during the night. Although it will be easier to run with the cooler temperatures, I am really not ready for fall yet.

Yesterday my brother John wrote a poignant piece about life and death. We too are experiencing the same things here. The tomatoes and annuals are at the end of their life cycle. Once vibrant color has become less vivid and the leaves are yellowing and the stems are spindly and brown. It is sad. I am a child of spring, and I love the new growth that spring brings. It is a fact of life however that to everything there is a season. The plants seem to take it in stride, and try their hardest to produce blooms that rival their spring efforts.

Last weekend I noticed the pots of russet, yellow, lavender and burgundy chrysanthemums had arrived at WalMart. They arrive with the first high school football games. I refuse to buy fall flowers yet, no matter how beautiful. As long as my pot flowers are blooming beautifully I won’t pull them up just to plant fall flowers. Stores seem to rush the seasons way too early. Last year I planted mums in October. They were beautiful, and I enjoyed them until heavy frost in the first of December.

Until I see pumpkins begin to arrive at the stores and lawn and garden centers, I am going to enjoy the last burst of blooms from the pot flowers. Only when I feel the chill, crisp air of late September and October will I give in and let go of summer….here on our country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, August 19, 2004


There are not enough words to describe how beautiful the sunset was last night. I was driving home from the gym which is twenty five miles from Smalltown, and had my eye on it as it transitioned from a big yellow ball to an explosion of pink, violet, orange, and red. I haven’t seen such a beautiful sunset since coming home from Hawaii.

Few things give me as much peace as beholding Mother Nature in all her glory. It was my gift for going to the gym and struggling through an hour of cardio and weight training. I almost didn’t go. We had a killer day at work, and I wanted so badly to lay down and take a nap when I got home. Thank goodness my resolve didn’t let me wimp out.

I had been inspired by Paul Hamm winning the gold medal in the men’s gymnastics all around competition. He was so heavily favored to win the gold medal and was on track to do just that when he had a fall on the vault that could have been the end of his hopes. I read the story on MSNBC before I went to the gym. Rather than give up he fought on with two nearly flawless routines on his last two events, pulling out the gold medal by the slimmest of margins. Who could stay home and take a nap after that?

After watching the gorgeous sunset on the way home, I watched the Olympic coverage. The determination and triumph of the human spirit is nothing short of amazing. More than Paul winning the gold, I was struck by his twin brother Morgan’s reaction. He had been watching from the stands, and when the scores were posted from the last event and the rankings of the medal winners came up he surged to his feet and both arms shot into the air. A tremendous war hoop was his first reaction. Rather than be envious of his brother’s achievement he was overjoyed. In my book, both men are gold medal winners.

Other stories that are noteworthy are the cycling events. Tyler Hamilton, the American man who had to drop out of the Tour de France with a back injury won the gold in the individual time trials. He was competing with the bruises from a previous wreck, and had possible broken ribs. He didn’t give up. Americans also won the men's bronze for the same event and silver in women's individual time trials.

The women also pulled off a gold medal victory in the 800 relay. They broke a record that was the longest standing swimming record left on the books. Incredible.

So, I have determined not to wimp out when I’m tired. There may not be a gold medal in my future, but I am proud of hanging in there one workout at a time. My opinion of myself is just as valuable. Whatever your goal, you’re a winner every day if your just keep putting one foot in front of the other and pressing on.

Today is going to be another gold medal day….here on my country road.
Until tomorow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, August 18, 2004


This is the time of the year that transports me back to Neiman Elementary School. The stores have stacks of ruled notebook paper, spiral notebooks, pens and pencils. I loved school, but I absolutely adored going to get school supplies. We didn’t have the long list of technical supplies that kids are required to have now. I can remember my elementary days very well.

We always had to have #2 pencils, a box of crayons, blunt ended scissors, a jar of paste, and a box of Kleenex for the room. In kindergarten we were required to have a Big Chief tablet and one of those big fat pencils. In first, second and third grade paper was provided for us because we were learning how to write. The paper had two wide lines on each line with a hash marked line in between. This aided in helping the student in knowing how to make little letters and capital letters. Any work sheets we had were provided by the class. Our work books also were provided.

In fourth grade we got to buy a three ring binder and wide lined notebook paper. You also graduated to a bottle of Elmer’s glue instead of the paste, and were required to have a box of colored pencils and a ruler. The great thing was we were required to have a ball point pen. Work in the classroom and math homework was done in pencil but themes and reports had to be written in cursive and in ink.

Even in high school I loved to buy school supplies. When I had children of my own I couldn’t wait to take them for the annual school supplies shopping trip. There is something about them that is exciting and full of promise. I suppose that they represent the beginning of a new year for me. New starts. New teacher, new friends. I suppose that I have always been a dreamer, and have looked at new beginnings as exciting and challenging. There is a clean slate, and the sky is the limit.

I liked doing well and pleasing the teacher. By doing well, we were rewarded with getting to clean the chalk board erasers, and handing out worksheets. I loved to do that. Back then worksheets were run off by hand. You may remember the smell of that purple ink? I absolutely adored work sheets. In the summer I worked for hours at a time writing off work sheets for my brothers and the neighborhood kids to do. We played school in our garage.

As an adult, I have a job that requires us to provide sharp pencils for the applicants to take their driving exam with. Every time I sharpen the pencils I am transported back to elementary school. It is a sad time for me now, as my kids are now married and there is nobody for me to take shopping for school supplies. I still love to walk down the aisles and see what is available for the kids. The other night I was at WalMart getting a few groceries, and there were families all over the store picking up school supplies, back packs and new jeans.

Although I may be grown, I still love learning new things. And even if I don’t have a list of required supplies to purchase now, I always buy something from the school supplies aisle just for the memories and the sense of the fresh start they invoke.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, August 17, 2004


After several weeks of dry weather I was brought out of a sound sleep last night by the sounds of thunder, lightening and rain. It has been so long since we had any rain that it took me a minute to figure out what the strange sounds were. Once I catalogued the fact that it was raining, I snuggled back under the covers and went back to sleep.

There is nothing better than sleeping through a nice gentle rain. Knowing that you’re in a dry home in a warm bed and can sleep until the alarm goes off is wonderful. I was sorely tempted to go back to sleep this morning, but that would have been a mistake. I would have shot out of bed and then fought against the clock until I had to leave the house for work. Good for me that I resisted the urge.

I stayed up late last night to watch the men’s gymnastic team win a silver medal. It was worth it then, but this morning I am suffering TV remorse. This evening I will be anxious to see what the women can do.

Many of you asked me what I would be doing after the rough draft of my book is done. In the first place I don’t know. I suppose that it is time to look for an agent or a publisher. I am unsure which is the best way to go. Secondly I have to begin the process of editing and printing the draft for submission. It was important to me to get the story roughed out first before I forgot what it was I wanted to write. Whatever I decide, it is a given that I will have to travel outside the borders of Smalltown to seek the help I need to get published.

Janice and I are into our third day of our buddy coaching program. I am being very good, and it keeps me ‘honest’ with myself knowing I have someone besides myself to be accountable to. John sent me some stretches for my lower back so that my new interval program to learn how to run isn’t sidelined. I began those last night, and am hoping that it will help with the lower back pain. Getting fit is sure hard on a person.

Thank goodness we made it through Monday with that lookout world here we come attitude. Carry through now with Tuesday, and then we are already at hump day. Isn’t it wonderful to have attainable goals! Makes the really big ones seem like Olympic moments. In keeping with that kick butt approach, this is my Ta Daaa Tuesday. Look out world here I come!

Well, that’s life….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, August 16, 2004


Oh boy it’s Monday!
There is nothing I like better than a good challenge, and in my book that’s a Monday. Anyone can do the other days of the week, but you have to reach deep down to pull up a happy face on the first workday of the work week.

I love to learn new things. Years ago when I came to Smalltown and entered into years of culture shock, I determined to learn something new at least once a year. I am over my quota this year, but why stop now? This weekend I began a new interval training program to boost my workouts. Obviously I survived the ordeal, but since I am not the gazelle my brother John is, I most likely looked like an elephant in Nikes. One must begin with baby steps and not a marathon, so it will be one mile at a time for me.

Also in the finished category are chapters 25 and 26, and I am well on the way to having 27 done as well. My goal was to be finished with the rough draft by August 31, and I will make that with no problem. Barring any unforeseen things, that is. I have come to love the characters, and I will miss them once the book is finished. Guess I will just have to start another book!

I also began a buddy program with Janice over at Heartsong. John has been encouraging people to get a coach, and since she couldn’t do that, we have decided to be exercise and diet buddies. It is amazing how you stay with it when you are accountable to someone else. So, Monday is already off to a rousing start.

I have been watching the Olympics like mad, and have been amazed at the accomplishments of the athletes. Like Lance Armstrong, they motivate me like nothing else. While I am only working toward being fit and healthy, I salute them.

Okay, Monday here I come. Have a gold medal day!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Saturday, August 14, 2004


I was successful in getting the pilot light for the furnace lit last night and the furnace came on and went through a cycle. Don’t you hate the smell the first few times the furnace comes on makes? The vents get dusty over the summer and it always smells yukky. Anyway it was working last night.

This morning I woke up to a cool house. Puzzled I got up and looked into the little glass window. The pilot light is waving like the Olympic flame. All is well there. I went to the thermostat, and it was still setting on seventy degrees where I set it when I went to bed. I moved the dial up and down, still nothing. Hmmm.

These things are always a mystery. I should have known it was going to be a problem when I got the pilot light lit on the first attempt. It usually takes three or four tries. Ok. I can do this. I guess it just isn’t going to work in August. I am tough. After all I survived to be at this point in my life, I will just dress warm.

Today I am going to begin a little interval training to rev up my workout. I cannot run. I have never been able to run, and do not plan on attempting to become a runner. That said, I am going to try a little program of walk a couple of minutes, run one minute. This shouldn’t take too long for me to figure out. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but I am only trying to rev up my metabolism. It is slower than a snail. Wish me luck, I will need it.

Saturday! I am on a marathon of cleaning, writing, exercise, and Olympic watching today. Whatever your pursuit, enjoy! I hope I don’t end up face down ….here on my country road!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Friday, August 13, 2004


Once again I am waiting in dial-up hell. Today I will be smarter though. I will go ahead and write my post and when I finally get connected, I can post my blog before I leave for work. Ha. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

We are in the forties this morning here in the big woods. I was going to light the furnace last night, but was lulled into a false sense of security by the ten o’clock meteorologist. This morning, I am cold and kicking myself for not doing what I had planned. How many times in August have I had to sleep in a sweatshirt? Unbelievable.

Like many of you I am looking forward to the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics. The year I arrived here thirty-two years ago, we gathered around the television and cheered Mark Spitz to seven gold medals. This year we may watch another young American, Michael Phelps take eight, breaking the record everyone thought was unbeatable.

Having just watched Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France for the sixth time, and the build up to the Olympics, I am blown away by what drives these amazing athletes. I am reading Lance Armstrong’s book It's Not About The Bike. I highly recommend it. It has given me a measure of grit that I didn’t have a couple of weeks ago. When I want to wimp out on my workout I think of the iron will and determination he and other athletes have developed over the years. They have an unbeatable passion for their sport, the desire to win, and be the best in their respective sports.

I have to give my brother John kudos for his training schedule and goal to go to the Boston Marathon in 2005. Although I don’t have such lofty goals, I just want to be fit and healthy. Fighting through the changes medications have made in my body is discouraging, but I continue to fight on. John has written eloquently about the subject this week, but take it from me, he is correct. Set small goals you can attain. Shoot for five pounds instead of fifty, and walk every day. Once you meet those goals, set another five pound goal. Get a workout buddy if you can’t do it alone. Mom, Rocky and I all go to the YMCA three times a week for an hour of cardio and weights. If nothing else I feel good about me. That is just as good as a gold medal in my book.
Now, before I jump in the tub and get ready for work, I’m off to light the pilot light in the furnace. Have a wonderful day, it is the gold medal of the work week! TGIF. Enjoy!

I also want to send out heartfelt thank you’s to all of you who sent good wishes for my first blogiversary. They mean so much coming from all of you good folks.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, August 12, 2004


One year ago today I posted my first blog entry. This was a dream come true for me, writing my thoughts and dreams in hope that others might read it. Since my brother John had started blogging a month earlier, he encouraged me to blog. My greatest fear was in not having the technical ability to post daily. John assured me he would help, as several bloggers helped him when he started and he had worked out the bugs already. My second fear was that nobody would read my posts. Thank goodness that was to be my greatest joy. I have been so blessed to find the blogging community full of wonderful, funny, supportive friends that I have come to think of as extended family. A year later, I thank you for that love and support, and for friendships that mean so much to my everyday life. My largest readership occurred during the span of time I was writing my life story, and the struggle between my feelings for Hank of Smalltown and my first love Matt from my home in Kansas took place. I am posting the first entry I posted one year ago in honor of my first blogiversary today. You can see where the title for my blog came from. Thank you for welcoming me into your hearts and homes!


Thirty-one and a half years ago I left my childhood home in Shawnee, Kansas to make my way in the world. This was not unusual, as teenagers leave home every day to attend college, travel, begin a career or get married. For me it was the latter, and as is the case with many teenage marriages ours was an unmitigated disaster from the beginning. The choices I made put into motion a chain of events that changed my life and those of everyone in my family and circle of friends forever.

When I entered a hospital in Sacramento, California to deliver my first baby, complications arose which placed my life in jeopardy. I woke up five days later to find my mother and step-father at my bedside. My husband was not. As soon as I was well enough to be discharged from the hospital and could pack my things, we embarked on the long journey across the country to the little town in Missouri where my daughter and I would make our new home. God’s country my mother called it.

It took several days to make the trip, but as we turned off of the highway into Smalltown I looked back-- toward everything I had ever known. Lifting my daughter to my shoulder I was suddenly afraid of all that lay ahead, but I was young, alive, and had a daughter to raise. Hope bloomed.

My journey began 32 years ago this week, as we turned down a country road….toward home.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Last evening I walked down to the neighbor’s house to sit with them on their patio. It was so pleasant, cool temperatures and just a slight breeze. I enjoyed catching up with them and Davey. Mom had been there cutting Patty’s hair, and left to go water her flowers and bushes when I got there.

After a couple of games of Candyland with Davey, he ran next door to visit with Mom and Rocky. Dave, Patty and I watched them as we visited, laughing at a four year olds attempts to help, and Rocky half heartedly watering the crepe myrtles. Mom likes to deep water her bushes slowly, but he had a lawn chair to sit in while he jet sprayed the rock wall bordering the garden, the tops of the crepe myrtles, and the dirt at the base of the bushes. Every now and again Mom would come around to see what he was doing, but we laughed from our side of the fence. I doubt the bushes got enough water to do much good, and before long all three of them were up on the deck chatting.

While all this was going on, Davey’s two beagles, Buster and Cricket were watching him from their pen. Dave and Patty told me a funny story about something that happened the night before. Dave had been out doing something in the back yard and had set down his can of beer on a ledge that circles the top of their pen. By jumping on the fence repeatedly the can inched slowly to the edge of the ledge and finally fell into the pen. Both beagles lapped up the cold beer, and Cricket grabbed the can and pranced around the pen with it, Buster fast on her heels.

It was so funny, and prompted all manner of comments from the three of us. Patty had the funniest one with the thought, “You know your dog’s a redneck if his play toy is a Busch light can.” It struck me funny. There are a lot of rednecks in Smalltown, and therefore a lot of truth to her comment.

Just another pleasant evening….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Several months ago I wrote about surprise lilies. In the spring shiny dark green leaves appear, standing about two and a half feet high. It looks odd, as no flowers appear. After a few weeks, the leaves disappear again. They are forgotten about, and life goes on. A couple of weeks ago the lilies began appearing. Surprise!

It looks odd to me, as the stems are tan not green. On top of the tall tan stems, which have absolutely no green leaves, are pale pink lilies. I suppose they are aptly named, because their appearance is truly a surprise. It is the odd color of the stem and the absence of green leaves that always strikes me odd. I never saw surprise lilies growing up in Kansas, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t seen elsewhere in the country.

Even though our summer has been unseasonably cool and wet, the life span of the flowers, bushes and trees is running out. Everything is beginning to look spent and tired, and the tell tale brown edges are evident in the leaves and weeds. I keep thinking that we will soon have summer in it’s full hot, dry glory, but no. The long term forecast is for more cooler weather. Over the weekend the weather pundits were talking about another el nino effect this winter.

All of this aside, it is Tuesday! Tuesday is one step away from hump day, and in Smalltown, trash day. That means getting myself out to the curb with the trash bag before I leave for work. I love Tuesday. It is one of the two days of the week I don’t have to exercise, so hurray. Hopefully you are equally excited about your day, and what may come your way today.

I can smell the coffee, so I am off to a day of fun and frolic, and that little four letter word called work. At least they can only make me stay there eight hours and then I can come home again….here to my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Monday, August 09, 2004


Dear Blog Friends,

I woke up in a sunny mood at 5:15am raring to go.

First bump in the road. no ISP. Evidently they chose this morning to do routine work on the service. So, long story short I am fifteen minutes from leaving the house for the day and no time to post. What do they say about good intentions?

Have patience, I will be back early in the morning, good Lord willing and the ISP cooperates. I hope that you have a marvelous day, and that wherever you are there is internet service that works.

Happy Monday!
Becky Strain


Saturday, August 07, 2004


It is such a beautiful morning here in Smalltown that I am headed out to my country road to take a walk. Although I don’t usually exercise on Saturday, the open road is calling my name. The cool temperatures are invigorating, and my hip line will benefit from a little extra workout.

Once I am finished with exercise, it is my day to clean the house. Hurray for a whole day to dust, fluff and vacuum. Usually I have to just do a little when I can. The household chores are good for my mental processes. I am working through a difficult but crucial chapter for my book, and activity helps me think. Hopefully something magical will come from it.

The week ended on a high note for me. Always a good way to go into the weekend. Wherever you are and whatever your plans, have a wonderful weekend! I have to get on my athletic shoes and get out the door….and down my country road.

Until Monday,
Becky Strain


Friday, August 06, 2004


Friday is the gift the working class gets for hanging in there all week.

For one, I am glad that only eight working hours separates me from the weekend. Whatever happens at work is just not enough to dampen my spirits on a Friday. Usually the problems that whack you on the knees come from unexpected and nonwork related sources.

Even so, with all of the other problems and challenges stacking up I can face into the wind and say loudly and clearly, “Let the eat cake!” It didn’t work so well for Marie Antoinette, but it seems to help me. It gives me a reality check. It makes me laugh at the absurdity of life. So what if the sewer bill was fifty percent higher than quoted. So what if the dental insurance will only pay half of an eight hundred dollar crown. So what if the government took half of the only measly little raise I’ve had in four years for taxes. “Let them eat cake!”

Usually I accept what comes and move on, but there are times when you just want to shake your fist into the face of fate and spew the pent up frustration that has been building and now has no where else to go.

One of the guys I work with always says that griping about things is one of the few rights we have left. Bless his heart, he really exercises that right and I am usually the person in the way when the cork blows. Oh well. It is usually so ridiculous it is funny.

Friday is the gift the working class gets for hanging in there all week, and this morning I am only eight hours from the weekend. Happy Friday, Happy weekend, Happy life!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Thursday, August 05, 2004


We are in what is called the ‘dog days’ of August.

Usually it is so hot you can fry eggs on the pavement. This is the time of year that most of us dread because of the unbearable heat and humidity. We usually have daily heat advisories and the news reports people dying each day due to the severe and punishing heat.

This morning I turned on the local news program while I made coffee and tried to get my eyes to stay open and focused. They are calling for record lows today and the rest of the week, with temperatures at night dipping down to fifty. Normally my air conditioner runs nonstop from May to September, but this year it has been off more than I have used it.

Although it is a welcome respite, I have to wonder what is happening. For the past ten years we have slowly evolved from four distinct seasons to two. I miss having the four season climate, because each one has wonderful characteristics that delight the senses. It is the way I have marked the passing of time since I was a child.

Nature is also having it’s own problems with the strange weather. Yesterday I saw an entire flower bed of chrysanthemums blooming. It was so odd that I stopped to make sure I had seen correctly. Usually it is late September before it is cool enough to coax them into bloom. The brown wooly caterpillars that usually appear in late August or September arrived several weeks ago.

I suppose that we should be grateful for the cooler temperatures, but this summer has been so uncharacteristically cool I keep wondering where summer is. It hasn’t been hot enough to paddle in Davey’s pool except for a few days. People are also beginning to speculate about the coming winter. If the temperatures are this cool now, will we have an unusually cold and severe winter as well?

Whatever the future, today I will enjoy the spring like weather. They always say that if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. I guess we’ll just take what comes….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Wednesday, August 04, 2004


The peace and quiet of our country road has been interrupted for the past two days with the sound of back hoes and ditch witches. The jaws of the machines shook the ground of my yard, attempting to dig a ditch deep enough to lay the new sewer line that will hook me up to the city sewer.

The job should have been an easy one, after all the ditch only had to be fifty feet long. The man who gave me the estimate thought the whole job could be accomplished in four hours. Two days later, I am now hooked up to the sewer. The problem arose when they ran into a shale shelf four feet down. We have hard red clay dirt in equal parts to huge rock, but this was not a good thing. There appeared to be more rock than dirt laying beside the ditch. What should have been quick and simple was two days in application.

We have not wanted the little creatures of the big woods to be disturbed with all the ‘progress’ happening, but for some things there is no help. Poor Scaredy was so scared he wouldn’t come out of the garage yesterday morning, as the guy started work before I let him out. With the sound of the back hoe, and the shovel hitting the rock, the garage shook with the effort. I left for work wondering if I would ever see Scaredy again.

When I arrived home from work last night, the trucks, trailers and machines were gone. Silence reigned. Dirt was spread over the gaping ditch that is home to a new environmentally safe sewer line. Scaredy was sitting on the fresh dirt at the corner of the house watching a bunny eat grass. The wrens were singing. Cardinals were singing. Robins were hunting worms in the fresh dirt. Ahh. Silence. Peace.

I came in and flushed the stool to baptize the new system. Everything seems to be working, and I am just happy that things are back to normal and we have survived the latest interruption of our quiet life….here on our country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Those of you who have followed my journey in Smalltown know that my daughter was born on this day and we arrived here ten days later. I wrote this piece in honor of her twenty-fifth birthday seven years ago and sent it in her birthday card. She was feeling so OLD and anxious about turning twenty-five, so I wanted to remind her how much I loved her and what a special place she holds in my heart and that of our family.


Early spring daffodils sway in the breeze, their bright yellow faces turned toward Heaven as though in praise to their Creator. Just an ordinary little clump of flowers standing bravely against the chilly spring air, yet I am reminded of the first time daffodils became special to me….

You came running toward me breathlessly as fast as toddler legs could carry you. Your eyes sparkled and your cheeks were rosy with excitement, for held tightly in your hand was a precious gift of yellow daffodils. Proudly holding them out for me you stood expectantly, dimpled little fingers clutching my heart as well as the petals. You didn’t notice my tears as I bent down to accept your gift and a big hug, then we were off to find a vase to put them in. You sat at the kitchen table gazing at the canning jar of crushed petals and broken stems as though they were the most beautiful flowers in the whole world. I don’t think that I have ever been given a more beautiful bouquet at any time since.

Each spring the bright yellow blooms of early daffodils beckoned you, and no matter where you found them they graced our kitchen table in a humble canning jar. I tried not to notice where they came from, nor did the neighbors seem to mind your invasion of their flower gardens or you helping yourself to their spring blooms.

We have had many daffodil days, you and I…your first day of school, dances, proms, high school and college graduation, watching you walk down the aisle of the church with a bouquet of gardenias on your wedding day. No matter how old we grow you will always be that beautiful little girl holding up a wilted bouquet of flowers in the bright morning sun of a spring day, and I will never greet the daffodils of spring without remembering how very much I love you.

Happy birthday Jennifer


Monday, August 02, 2004


It was a glorious weekend. We enjoyed cooler temperatures and pleasant sunshine without being stifling like July normally is. The meteorologist said this morning that our July broke records for being the coolest in many years.

Saturday night was the appearance of the blue moon. It was absolutely beautiful, and I’m thinking it was more so due to the fact that I knew it was special. Since we won’t have another blue moon until June of 2007, I wanted to make sure I looked at it real good.

Saturday night I began typing the next two chapters for my book. The goal I set for myself when I began was to be finished with the rough draft by the end of August. I am hoping to be finished before that, but we’ll see. Sunday I got up before dawn and typed until four thirty in the afternoon. Thank goodness I am finished with both, and the word count now stands at 87,459 words. Amazing.

I was able to catch a little time to go out and sit with Scaredy Cat while I was stretching my legs and resting my back. With Tiny gone he stays close to home. He was always the follower, Tiny being the one with wanderlust. He did let me pick him up just for a minute, but jumped back down again. Since he has claws, I didn’t try to hold him any longer.

Today is the first day of the work week for me, but I am raring to go. You never know what is going to happen. Thanks to my brother John of John’s Online Journal fame for putting the Missouri State Highway Patrol logo and Missouri flag on the sidebar for me. Although I was sad to lose the picture of Hawaii, it is good to project forward to new horizons.

I can smell the coffee, so I’m off to get breakfast….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain