Photos of Brady

Thursday, March 31, 2005


There has been an arrest in the death of our trooper. They formally charged the man yesterday with first degree murder and armed criminal action. Hopefully this will bring some closure for his family, the large patrol family, and his many friends. It is only the beginning of the long process, but knowing that the man believed responsible is in custody is gratifying. The investigation continues.

We are enjoying unbelievable spring weather. It has been in the 70’s the past two days, and today will be 75. Added to the sunshine, you have perfect weather. The sunsets have been gorgeous all week, with vivid colors I have only formerly seen in Hawaii and Mexico. After so much cold gray weather, it has been a welcome respite. Our spring flowers, trees and bushes are popping with color and fragrance. Just walking down our country road fills the senses with spring.

The planting of daffodils that borders my property have been beautiful. The brave little blooms have weathered the harsh winds and cold weather that has plagued Smalltown for the past two weeks, and their tenacity has paid off. Seeing their bright faces reaching toward the warmth of the sun always brings a smile to my face. It is a fine lesson of putting down strong roots, standing firm, and never giving up, even in the face of adversity. Each year I watch their battle to endure the remnants of winter to bask in the warm spring sunshine. It is always uplifting.
The birds are unusually happy this morning. I have been awake off and on since two this morning. They began their joyous songs shortly before five, and have been serenading me ever since. I finally gave up the fight to go back to sleep and got up. Hard to sleep with so much happiness all around me.

As we come to midweek, I wish you warmth, sunshine, the fragrance of spring flowers and the glorious songs of birds. Take time to smell the flowers today. Nature is in full spring glory. I can guarantee that just by taking a few minutes to enjoy the simple pleasures of a spring day it will lift your spirits and bless your heart. I’m off to start the day….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, March 29, 2005


This morning while I was getting a tea bag out of the box for my usual cup of green tea, something on the box caught my attention. After reading it twice and being surprised that it was hidden on a tea box, I decided to share it with you.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion. It is easy in solitude to live after your own, but the great man is he who, in the midst of the world, keeps with perfect sweetness, the independence of solitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Part of growth is learning the value of solitude and retrospection. I never gave much thought to either when I lived in the city, mainly because of my youth, I suppose. I also planned my days around being as busy as possible. When I came to Smalltown, I suddenly had more peace and quiet than I had ever encountered in my life. Country living is a good place to learn the art of solitude. Being quiet is one thing, being alone is another. Solitude is enjoying the alone thing so you can enjoy the quiet thing. I was never comfortable in my own company before. Once I learned solitude and retrospection, I began to learn who I was, where I had been, and how to learn from the mistakes to become a better person. Over the years I have grown to search out solitude. I look forward to having time to listen to and watch nature, think about problems and projects, and just be grateful for my lot in life. Oh, I have goals and dreams, and they have a place in my quiet time, but I am a person who is always seeking to improve what the world doesn’t see.

Two scriptures apply here. Paraphrased, “Be still and know that I am God,” and “Whatever my situation, there I shall be content.” This is called Grace. Learning to bend, accepting and responding to where you are. Becoming someone better, stronger, more serene, compassionate and giving.

Many people are not comfortable within their own skin, or thinking back on past mistakes. It has been a great learning field for me. It is akin to balancing. You can’t go forward without settling the past. Mistakes learned from are signposts along the way to a better understanding of yourself.

Solitude and retrospection make me stronger, more sure of myself, and hopeful about the future. Mr. Emerson was so right in his assessment. “….but the great man is he who, in the midst of the world, keeps with perfect sweetness, the independence of solitude.”

Until tomorrow,


Monday, March 28, 2005


This piece is a good reminder of how to organize your day. Enjoy!

Take Time

Take time to think:
it is the source of power.

Take time to read,
it is the fountain of wisdom.

Take time to play,
it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet;
it is the opportunity to seek God.

Take time to be aware;
it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved,
it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh,
it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly;
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream;
it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray;
it is the greatest power on earth.

Until tomorrow,


Sunday, March 27, 2005


While I slept, I turned 51. According to my mother it was 1:55am. I was born on their fourth wedding anniversary.

Last year I was in New Orleans surrounded by family and friends as I celebrated my 50th. I wanted my 50th year to be the best year of my life, and I can honestly say that this past year has exceeded every hope and dream I had for it. I have met every goal and beyond, and had two wonderful trips to exotic locations.

This year my hopes, dreams, and goals probably won’t be able to surpass what has obviously been the very best year of my entire life, but I am in the beginning of the second half of my life. That in itself is an accomplishment and a challenge. I am so blessed. I have loving friends and family, good health, a good job, I love and am loved in return. I am not going to stop trying, reaching, or striving just because last year was a banner year for me. I have a lot to accomplish. For one thing, I will become a grandmother this year. I have various projects in the works and a book to get to market. While I may not travel to exotic places this year, I have much to remember and cherish.

Thank you to everyone who have sent birthday wishes, and to Mary Lou, who made me a special card. It was such a surprise to find it in the mailbox! I will be celebrating this evening at mom’s with my son and his wife, and Davey and his mom and dad. Of course my friend Diane sent me a card each day of my birthday week and a big box of goodies to open.

This year, my birthday occurred on Easter Sunday. What a joyous way to begin a new year of life. Easter represents hope, joy, and prophecy fulfilled. Today as you surround yourselves with family and friends, celebrate the empty tomb and the victory we have because of it.

Until tomorrow,


Friday, March 25, 2005


Although the meteorologists forecast cloudy skies for today we had a beautiful sunrise. The sunlight will burn off the heavy fog that has been hovering in the big woods since last night, and hopefully return the Ozark hills to the more welcome spring weather we enjoy.

The birds are singing, and the wind has finally stopped blowing. There are storms coming Saturday night, so I am going to enjoy this little respite between systems and watch for the spring flowers and trees that are blooming right now. When I came home last night, I noticed that my grandmother’s special dark purple hyacinths were up and starting to bloom. Over the years, only two plants have survived, but they are so faithful. I have been watching for them, and it is always a joy when they finally poke through the ground and reach toward the sun. It makes me feel closer to her.

As we come into the Easter weekend, I hope that you are planning get togethers with family and friends, dusting off your Easter baskets, and preparing to celebrate a blessed Easter. It is a joyous holiday, and represents hope and new beginnings.

I appreciate your emails of condolence on behalf of our fallen trooper, and thank you for your thoughts and prayers on behalf of his family.

Happy Good Friday,


Thursday, March 24, 2005


Sunday evening one of our local state troopers was murdered as he arrived home after his shift. He was only 37 years old, and is survived by his four year old son.

He was a wonderful man, an outstanding trooper, and a great dad. Today a formal military funeral will be held in his home town. Law enforcement officers from all over the country will be in attendance, as well as Patrol members from Missouri, other Patrol employees, family, and friends.

While there was breaking news last evening that a person of interest had been arrested in the murder, the investigation continues. No stone will be left unturned until the person or persons are in custody, charged, and brought to trial.

Today please remember the family, friends, and coworkers who will be attending the funeral in your thoughts and prayers. We will be saying goodbye to a brother and friend,

Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham
1968 - 2005

He will be missed.

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, March 23, 2005


I spend a great deal of time looking for things that I put up in a safe place so I won’t lose them. One of my New Year’s Eve projects is reorganizing my files for the new year, so I can find the things that are important and necessary to keep the household finances humming. The problem is finding the one thing I needed or wanted to keep for a special reason at some later date.

I am normally a very organized person. I have a good mind for both the creative venture and the unorganized. It is great fun to take a mess, devise a way to organize it and get it done. Who doesn’t love office supply stores? If money were no object I would have color coded file folders for everything. I get little catalogs in the mail all the time for address labels and such, and they advertise designer file folders. Beautiful floral, smart business-like stripes, and wild pop art folders. Of course they are cost prohibitive, so I don’t have any.

Saying all of that, I looked for over an hour for the special envelope that one of my bills goes in. You know the kind. The little window is strategically placed so that the preprinted address shows through. It is a weird size. It is blue. I had it right by my computer with the bill so that I could mail it today. This morning it is gone. I have another habit of gathering up clutter and throwing it away. Although an admiral trait in most respects it is a curse when looking for something misplaced.

I have found as I grow older that these things occur with alarming frequency. In the middle of the work day it dawns on me I haven’t seen the gold earrings I had worn and placed in the crystal dish by the computer. Or the silver ring I wore to work and took off before I left for the gym. Or the list of books I wanted to read. Or a birthday card I bought for an upcoming birthday. Where do these things disappear to?

Usually I search the house in a panic. When that turns up nothing, I try a different tack. I go through the events and actions that occurred since the last time I saw the item. Sometimes that works. Most of the time, not. Like trying to remember the name of something or someone and not being able to recall it, I usually sit up in bed in the middle of the night with the answer. I have already decided not to waste anymore time looking for a little blue envelope. I will make a new one from the generic security envelopes I buy in bulk. Once the bill is mailed and gone, I will be looking for something else lost, and find that blue envelope.

Age is a funny thing. Glasses are needed to read or see things close up. The ears play funny tricks on what you think you hear. People and the TV suddenly begin talking quieter. Things get lost all by themselves. Bits of trivia can be remembered but not the place you laid your car keys. One thing is for sure. You can’t take yourself too seriously. When these things happen, I just laugh and go on. Panic solves nothing. Things turn up all by themselves when you least expect it. This is usually good for a laugh. Of course the cats are sometimes at fault, but normally I do this to myself.

Before I fashion a new envelope, I am going to look through the trash can one more time. This is something I do on principle. You just never know.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Nature provides us with an infinite number of life lessons.

We become so embroiled in the day to day living of our lives that we fail to notice, but living in the country is a never ending reminder that stress is not the road to happiness. When I first moved to Smalltown almost thirty-three years ago, I was only eighteen and had a broken marriage and a newborn baby to deal with. Having been born and raised in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas, I felt like I had been dropped off the edge of the earth and forgotten.

I lived with my mom and step dad, and right next to my maternal grandparents. Once I got my bearings, I began the process of taking baby steps to building a whole new life. Over the years I have learned the difference between the song of a cardinal, wren, nuthatch, and a chickadee. I know what a sundog is and when it appears in the sky, and the simple joy of watching the sunrise and sunset. The weather is a big part of daily life here, mostly because it is an agricultural community, and partly because there is nothing else to do. For whatever reason, there is much to be learned about life from nature.

When I lived in the city I never noticed the sound of snow falling. The birds were out in the trees and flew around, but I didn’t know their personalities, songs, or habits. The smell of the earth on the forest floor after a rain, the sight of sunrays streaming through the trees of the big woods, the joy of a wildflower growing in the gravel along the side of my country road, the peace of sunrise and sunset, and moonbeams illuminating the inky blackness of a country night are things I have learned to appreciate since coming here.

When I come home after a particularly stressful day, or the frustrations, hurt, and pain of life weigh heavily on my heart and spirit, I look up. God has placed the joys of nature to bring balance and teach us lessons about the meaning of life. Once I sit on the porch and look around the yard, the stress of the day begins to fade. My heartache eases, and the calm of a previously troubled mind returns.

This morning I was laying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off. It had been raining all night, yet at 5:10 am the cardinals began to sing. Not an ‘irritated, poor me’ song, but a beautiful full throated song. I have watched them sing more times than I can count, and I knew that instead of hiding under a shelter to stay dry, he would be sitting in the uppermost limbs of a tree with his head thrown back in song. What a lesson! I can truthfully say that I would not feel the same after sleeping in the pouring rain all night.

This morning the robins are happily hopping around the yard plucking fat worms from the formerly dry earth, the titmice, cardinals and chickadees are singing, and in spite of the rain, the sun is shining- somewhere. We have several days of cold rain ahead, but there is sunlight just beyond the clouds. When the sunshine reemerges the spring flowers will pop up out of the earth.

Hope. Growth. Renewal. Joy. Balance. Need a lesson in life and how to live it? It is as close as your window, but I would urge you out onto the porch to sit a spell, or taking a walk along your country road or city street. School’s in session.

Author's note:
I would like to welcome Dionna Sanchez of Empasis On Moms. She is a new reader, and also the founder and author of a newsletter that provides information, mentoring, education and encouragement for mothers. I am thrilled she wanted to use some of my articles from this blog for her publication. Those of you who are interested in reading more about Dionna's newletter, mentoring network, and website can find her at: emphasisonmoms@qwest.net

Until tomorrow,


Monday, March 21, 2005


Yesterday God kissed the earth and painted the sky with the glorious first day of Spring. Bold strokes of color dot the winter landscape in the form of daffodils, tender green grass, forsythia bushes, flowering quince, and early tulips. The bright azure sky was a brilliant contrast to puffy white clouds that drifted lazily on the warm breeze.

I was reminded of when I was a child growing up and such a day presented itself. My brothers and I would play in the yard until our cheeks were rosy with the blush of fresh air and youthful exertion. I can remember running across the expanse of the backyard trying to get my kite to catch the first breath of the morning breeze and soar as high above the earth as ten cents worth of kite string would allow. The anticipation of putting our paper kites together, and asking mom for pieces of old rags to use in fashioning a kite tail are precious memories. I always made my tail too long the first time, making my kite too heavy to take off. Mom or dad would patiently untie enough scraps of brightly colored cotton from the tail to ensure success before sending me back out to try again. The thrill of feeling the paper kite and its newly fashioned tail catch the gentle fingers of the afternoon breeze and soar is beyond words. Memories of standing with my brothers in the backyard watching our kites soar high above the little patch of our backyard are vivid reminders of childhood.

I also remember picking the newly bloomed tulips and daffodils and carrying them in to mom, who put them in a vase on the kitchen table for the family to enjoy. As my brothers and I chattered excitedly about the joys of kite flying mom would serve us freshly baked cookies and cold milk.

When I had children of my own, those memories served me well. I remembered the joys of early spring and how magical it can be for a child. I planted daffodils, tulips, irises, and peonies. I taught the kids how to play tag, mother may I, red rover, and hide and seek. There was always homemade cookies or cake, and I told them stories of how my brothers and I played when I was a little girl.

I was rewarded with watching my little girl and boy chase each other around the yard, laughing with youthful abandon and the joy of a happy heart. I would watch from the kitchen window until I realized the dishes could wait, and join them in the warm sunshine. Watching the wonder on their faces as their kites took flight was even better than flying one myself. Accepting happy kisses and bouquets of spring flowers are memories I still cherish. The tender blooms graced a canning jar on our kitchen table while we ate chocolate chip cookies and laughed about the beagle puppy trying to catch the kite tail before the wind took it out of reach.

Spring is a wonderful opportunity to teach children and grandchildren the wonders of childhood. The age of computers and videos have stolen the art of being a child from American families. Search your memories for those things that made your childhood special, turn off the TV and the computer, and take your children outside on a fresh spring day. The possibilities are endless and the memories will be priceless.

Until tomorrow,


Sunday, March 20, 2005


The first day of spring arrived in the big woods with little fanfare, but the robins were chirping before dawn in greeting. The sunrise was beautiful, the sky is blue, and the temperatures are to be in the 60's.

Today I have a full day planned. I am having a family dinner to celebrate my son Jonathan's 30th birthday. It is also the first time we have had a family get together since finding out that he and his wife Aimee are going to have a baby. It should be a wonderful evening.

I am on my way out the door to gather the things I need, but wanted to wish my blog family happy Spring. I hope you have sunshine and blue sky in your neck of the woods.

Until tomorrow,


Friday, March 18, 2005


This week I was faced with a very ugly thing.


We all see it, face it every day in different ways, and in a rural area like Smalltown it is pretty common. Probably more due to fear of something different or not understood than anything else. What surprised me about this was who came to me with it. A pillar of the local community.

I have mentioned the Philippine men who are coming here to learn to be journeymen. Because they are from a foreign country, one that has a large Muslim influence according to this individual, there is a concern that the men are here under questionable circumstances.

I was horrified. There isn’t anything you can say to a person who holds such strong opinions and beliefs. Their mind is made up. What I can do is continue to provide a service to all people who come through the doors of my offices and treat them with respect and courtesy.

When I was a little girl, we didn’t have a lot of money. Mom made my school dresses, taking time and care to make them pretty. My friend down the street had a grandmother who owned a little girls dress shop. She wore beautiful frilly dresses and little anklets with ruffled lace around the cuff. I felt like a cow next to her, a feeling she made worse by making fun of my homemade frocks and plain anklets. I was also chubby as a child, and the other girls made fun of me for that. When I got older, I lost weight and started making my own money so I could buy clothes from the store. I found out that a person’s worth and value isn’t wrapped up in the outward trappings and window dressings, but in the heart. Strength of character. Integrity. Compassion.

When I had children of my own they fought the same battles. They didn’t have designer clothes. I made a lot of their clothes myself on the sewing machine mom had made my dresses on. They wore them with pride until kids started making fun of them. I also trained the kids to take criticism with a grain of salt, no matter how badly it hurt. People who belittle others do so out of meanness, lack of self esteem, ignorance, and fear. Instead of teaching them to fight those things, I taught them to look around for others who were being targeted and say a kind and encouraging word to them.

Although the world is full of wonder and beauty, there are people who take away from that with their ugliness and mean spirited nature. I truly believe that we can make a difference wherever we are. Put on a happy face, greet the world with a smile, and exercise tolerance, compassion, acceptance and love for all people.

Teach your children well. Train them up in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it. That’s what the Good Book says. Pretty good advice. They say a child is a mirror of the parent. Let’s make sure we reflect something of beauty and value.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, March 17, 2005


Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Today everyone is Irish, but we have an Irish heritage. I suppose it is something that you feel, or know to be true long before you know it as a fact. I love all things Irish, and one day I will travel to see it for myself.

I have read so many books about Ireland. It is said to have forty shades of green in the countryside. The people are happy, love a good story more than eating, enjoy music and a pint or whisky down at the neighborhood pub, and have a strong sense of self. The language has a lilting quality, the country folk walk or ride their bicycles, and the heritage is magical.

Where else can you read about a ‘soft’ evening? Of course that refers to a drizzling rain. It is wonderful and enchanting, is it not? The way they phrase sentences, the words they use, the traditions they hold and their way of life is unique. Of course there are castles and legends, leprechauns and shamrocks, and the wearin’ of the green.

The Irish are a people of strong emotion. They have quick temper and a quicker laugh, and are fiercely loyal and passionate in all things. I have often read of a woman standing on a cliff overlooking the sea, the winds whipping red hair as she looked to the horizon. Waves crash on the rocks below, and she waits for her man to return to her. Alternately there is a man standing there, watching the horizon as the mist from the crashing waves dampens his weathered skin and watch cap. His true love is gone, but the sea is a comfort for him. As he stands there he remembers her laugh, the lilt of her voice, the way she tended her flowers in the warm morning sun, and the passion they shared.

Yes, today everyone is Irish. School children will wear green to avoid being pinched, bars and pubs will be filled with people singing ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’, and parades will abound. We usually have corned beef and cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, but not today. I will miss it. I do have CDs of Irish music, and I will play that and enjoy the haunting music as I get ready for work.

Top of tha mornin’ ta ya!

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Isn’t it odd what we dream about?

I was extremely tired last night when I went to bed, and had been reading a magazine called mind, body and spirit Fitness. Since I had to be at the gym right after work and didn’t get home until late, I had a supper of almonds, raisins, and some chocolate soy milk. Duh. I should have seen this one coming.

I suppose my brother John and his psych friends could have a field day with the strange dreams I had. I dreamed that I was on vacation. I went everywhere. First I was just sitting on a beach reading, the soft warm tropical breeze blowing over me. Then I was standing at the rail of a ship, my hair blowing in the wind and looking out to sea. I was dressed for dinner, the skirt of my gown fluttering in the evening breeze as soft dinner music wafted across the deck from the dining room. Lovers walked arm in arm in the moonlight. I recall going to shore in the daylight, walking the streets of the port city and pausing outside a small cantina similar to the one Matt and I visited in Cozumel. The details are so clear to me. The smell of the spicy food cooking in the open cafes, the feel of the warm sun on my skin, and I was carrying bags, as though I had been shopping. I wasn’t looking for anyone, but was remembering another time as I stood there. Lastly, I was on a houseboat bobbing in the beautiful turquoise tropical waters. I am not sure where I was or where I was going, but I could see the details of the different rooms so clearly. I remember seeing family pictures in the bookcase and on the tables of the living room, and cooked a meal before laying in the sun on the upper deck.

I seemed to be alone. I remember feeling an overwhelming sadness and melancholy, which is unusual for me. I never spoke a word to anyone, and didn’t see the faces of others although I was aware that they were there. I could hear the sound of the waves, birds calling across the water, music playing, and heard excited chatter of others as they called to friends or family.

I woke once in the middle of the night, my face wet with tears and my heart filled with an overwhelming sadness and sense of loss. I went back to sleep almost immediately, but the dreams kept replaying in my mind. This morning I am exhausted.

Who knows the workings of the human mind? I will probably never read an article on fighting flab after a supper of almonds and raisins before going to bed again. Oh well, the clock is ticking, and work beckons. Have a wonderful day.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I keep lists.

Of everything.

Places I want to go, things I want to experience, and things I want to learn. It is important to constantly evolve as a person, open yourself up to new experiences, and expand your thinking.

I have made great strides with some of my lists, thanks to the goodness and generosity of others. Although I strive to absorb all I can in those situations, the list with all of the learning items has remained much the same. I have added items to it, but nothing has been crossed off for several months.

Last year I learned to run. It was something I have always admired in others, and I wanted to at least try it. It was a journey. I am not a natural runner, I have some physical obstacles that hinder me from running as I would like to, but I have been running four or five days a week since last March. This year I am going to learn Yoga, and a foreign language.

I have made several lifestyle changes this year that have improved the quality of my life significantly. I feel better about myself, but don’t want to rest on my laurels. Sunday I made the first step in my quest. Since I cannot attend the Yoga classes at the gym because of my schedule, I ordered a book and will learn by myself.

The other decision I need to make is what language I want to learn. I took French three years in high school, and I love the language. However, it hasn’t served me well on the trips I have taken to Mexico, so I am leaning toward Spanish. I hate to travel and not be able to understand the language. With French it would be more of a continuing education situation. Spanish would be a totally new thing. I need to decide and get to work on that.

This weekend I was able to throw away several lists I have been working on. It is a good feeling. Although I have made new ones to take their place, it is still progress. There is something very therapeutic about achieving goals and finishing tasks.

Growing as a person is essential to me. A good thing. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re stagnant or moving backward. Not a good thing. The concept is easy. I am a person of passion and enthusiasm. I look forward to each day with anticipation, and look for opportunities along the way. You just never know what you can learn if you are open to growth.

There is a day stretching out before me, and the possibilities are endless. What have you always wanted to learn or do? What is keeping you from learning or doing it? The clock is ticking, and there’s no time like the present.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, March 14, 2005


This weekend I attended the birthday party of our neighbor’s little boy Davey. He turned 5 on March 9, but due to a week with the flu, his party had to be postponed. He had been so sick that it hadn’t even mattered to him. Saturday evening, Mom, Rocky and I went down for pizza and birthday cake.

I have attended each birthday party they have had for Davey since he was born. Since Dave and Patty have no immediate family here, and both of their parents are dead, Mom and I stepped in as Grandma and Aunt Becky when he was born. It has been a marvelous experience. We have gone through the Winnie-the-Pooh stage, which lasted for four years, Scooby Doo, Bob the Builder, Thomas the train, and Spiderman.

I can’t tell you how many books and videos I have purchased, computer programs, and various little toys and games. He is an only child, so he has everything a little boy could possibly want. This presents a problem when holidays come around, as it is hard to find something to buy him that he doesn’t already have.

This year Davey began preschool. He is a very bright child, so he loves school and is the best student in the class. Because he is advanced for his age, he loves playing board games. I already bought him Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. As I stood in the game aisle at the store, I picked up the Operation he said he wanted, and was trying to decide on one more when I saw Cootie. My brothers and I had that game when we were little, and it provided hours of entertainment.

Having made my choices, we set off for the party. As usual with small children at birthday parties, he couldn’t wait to get into his brightly wrapped packages. He did get two pieces of pizza down before coming to sit on my lap to inquire every few seconds when he was going to open his presents. Finally, everyone was done and we had the birthday cake and ice cream. He only picked at that, as of course his eyes were on the presents.

When the enthusiastic strains of “Happy Birthday” had faded, the dishes had been cleared, and his mother deemed it finally time, the packages were brought to the table. It was worth the wait to see the joy break out on his face. Mom and Rocky got him a magazine subscription to Ranger Rick and a little Match Box car. He was thrilled with both. Because the Operation game required batteries, he chose to play Cootie. For the next hour, we played the game, making Cootie bugs in every possible way.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. Since he is getting older, this party was different than all of the others we have attended. His personality is really coming out, and he likes to instruct us like his teacher does the class. After playing with a 5 year old for several hours, I was exhausted. You forget how much energy children have. My hat is off to all of you mothers who have small children. God bless you!

Of course I couldn’t help but think that next year at this time I will have my first grandchild. Life is good.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, March 12, 2005


Saturday morning has dawned bright with promise.

Today we are to have temperatures in the 70s, the strong winds of the past several days have laid, and there isn't a cloud in the beautiful blue sky. It will be the only perfect day we have for a while, so my to do list is a mile long.

My thoughts are with my brother John, Barb, an LJ this morning. Today is the day that they have to put their beloved dog Hobo to sleep. It is time, we know. However, the heart can't seem to grasp the logic of what the mind accepts. Hobo has provided much love, laughter, comfort, and happiness for everyone who knew him, and he will be missed. I wish I could prevent the sorrow and pain they must endure today.

As happens in life, today is the day we celebrate little Davey's 5th birthday, and my son Jonathan's 30th. They have been ill with the mysterious bronchial bug that has had everyone down for the past two months. Hopefully everyone will feel up to a little party and birthday cake today.

I am always torn when sorrow and joy occur at the same time. I feel badly for not being as joyful as I should about the one thing while dealing with sorrow over the other. It is just one of the things that challenges us as human beings.

In celebration of Hobo's life, have a wonderful day. Enjoy your families, pets, and the events of life that beckon you, with a full heart. Embrace life with everything in you, and greet the world with a smile.

Life is something we often do only with half measure. We have been given a wonderful gift, and it deserves to be embraced fully. Have a wonderful day.

Until tomorrow,


Friday, March 11, 2005


Wednesday I had the joy of group testing the Philippino men again. They arrived with brand new coats, stocking hats, and gloves. It seems that they have never seen snow before. They were so excited, but cold. They told us that they always wore shorts and T shirts at home, and although they had socks, they were of the thin variety. Looking around the room, I could see the new work boots many had on, and I wondered what they must be telling their families about the odd weather here in the States.

One other thing they were all fascinated about was lip balm. They all had a tube of chap stick in their pocket, and said they would be taking some back to the Philippines when they returned to visit. New blue jeans crackled as they sat down. I had secured a separate room where they could have some quiet away from the other applicants, and for the next six hours they took tests.
The result was that all but five of them have finished their tests and can now take their driving skills test. It was very gratifying to see smiles from ear to ear, and they shook my hand repeatedly. It was a good day.

Many times we get bogged down in the day to day struggle of life and miss the little nuances that make it exciting and meaningful. A kind word, a smile, a songbird, a little clump of flowers, a hug from a sick child, or a goal met. Along the journey we often encounter obstacles, problems, and difficulties. I used to spend unnecessary time questioning Why? Now I know that there is a lesson to be learned and I begin to work through the process to discover what it might be. Sometimes it is easier than others.

Knowing there is a lesson to learn is one thing, but the human response to certain situations is another. Most of the time I can march on. Others, there is a personal investment in the mix that causes pain, hurt, anger, and a sense of betrayal. Once I let loose of it, talk to trusted friends and family, and apply faith, hope takes over.

It is an ongoing learning process, this thing called Life. Usually I don’t think in an unemotional, logical fashion. However, I have a mentor who is a brilliant strategist and King of Logic. Since I first respond with my heart, it is a good balance. I now find myself applying some of the logic I know he will offer upon my telling him of the situation, but he is much more skilled at it than I am. I would hope that there are things in the sensitive side of my nature that are of a help to him as well. That is how life works.

It isn’t my nature to be down for very long. I believe in hope and the triumph of the human spirit. Today the sunrise is eminent and the birds are singing. I have joy and my heart is light. Life is good….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, March 10, 2005


There are times when words cannot express the depth of feeling the human heart experiences. The joy and pain of life is a roller coaster of emotion that is equalized by faith and a belief in honor and fair play. That is the anchor that gives me hope and promises me the ability to cope with whatever I face with confidence.

Nothing troubles my heart more than people who choose to do the wrong thing for personal gain. I have often marveled at the effort it takes to be deceitful. I would much rather just do the right thing, operate from a position of faith and trust, and greet the world with a smile.

There is a song that I have always loved called Joy Comes In The Morning. Seldom does one find the answers or peace they seek in the dark of night. All my life I have heard it said that it is always darkest just before the dawn. This is true. Nature has given us a good illustration of a spiritual principle. Only when you reach your darkest hour and you look up does the answer come. In order to move forward you have to let go of the problem and not pick it up again.

I had a fitful night. My heart was troubled and my mind swirled with things I couldn’t seem to turn off. Just before dawn, peaceful slumber. Today promises to be a beautiful day, if the sunrise is any indication. Faith and hope are very good companions on the road of life, and the company and counsel of good friends and family along the journey a welcome comfort. Morning dawns with joy.

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, March 09, 2005


This is the kind of morning I love to walk down my country road. There is a thick damp fog hanging in the trees of the big woods, and if I had the time for a walk this morning it would settle on my skin and clothes like a mantle. The snow is resting on the boughs of the pines and gracing the bare branches of the oaks trees. The result is beautiful.

The birds must be sleeping in, as I haven’t heard them as yet, and the snow that was forecast is still in the process of falling. I heard it raining in the early morning hours, but I see nothing hazardous. Certainly nothing that would keep me from work. I think there is always that hope I felt as a child when snow was predicted and the chance school might be cancelled was a real possibility. What a joy it was to hear our school announced in the school closings.

Many of you remember me writing about the three Philippino men who came to get their commercial drivers licenses a while back. They are all working on a crew in a neighboring town that will be stringing new electrical lines. Yesterday twelve more arrived at my station, along with two Jamaican men. Next week ten more will come, and ten more after that. Eventually there will be eighty newly licensed and working men in the area.

While Smalltown is a wonderful place to live in many respects, there is always fear involved in accepting people who move into the area. They are referred to as “come heres”. When the people come from other countries, the acceptance factor is multiplied. Yesterday I was horrified that the man who brought these men into the station disappeared. They had no idea when he might be returning for them. Looking into the faces of these men, I saw fear, concern, and hope. In a few short hours they had decided that we were friendly people. I was so angry with their situation. What a terrible way to be treated by another person, but what must they be thinking about the country they had hoped to call home?

These men are all polite, clean, happy people. In my opinion they are brave. They have a dream of a better life. Not unlike our ancestors who came to these shores years ago. One of the fourteen passed yesterday, but I have thirteen more today. I would appreciate your good thoughts and prayers.

This is a wonderful example of “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

It is going to be a great day….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, March 08, 2005


It isn’t all that unusual that winds would blow in March. After all, it is one of the things that March is noted and famous for. When I was in elementary school we were taught that if March came in like a lion it would go out like a lamb.

While March is the harbinger of Spring, it is also a transitional month. There are the residual effects of winter to deal with before the path is clear for real warmth. I have written about nature a lot this past few days, mostly because we have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures and sunshine. The daffodils are in bloom, several varieties of trees and bushes are budded out, the grass and fields are greening up, and the other Spring flowers are poking their heads out of the damp earth.

Enter strong north winds.

Sunday we had sunshine and 74 degree temperatures. Toward evening the wind came up and blew through the night, bringing the cooler air of the first of two cold fronts that were to pass through. Yesterday temperatures only gained a high of 51, and the sky turned gray. Last night the wind came up again and blew all through the night, resulting in the 26 degree temperatures we woke to this morning. The forecast is for colder temperatures tonight with the possibility of snow accumulation by morning.

Normally this is something we go through several times before Spring arrives in earnest, but it does concern the fruit producers in the area. Peaches and apples are a good crop here, so when the weather begins to reek havoc with the newly budded fruit trees, it places the harvest in jeopardy. Snow would be better than a freezing frost or ice.

There is a saying in the Ozarks. “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” So true, so true. We are hoping that this latest band of winter weather passes on by, but f we can make it through the next day or two, we have temperatures in the mid 60s coming just in time for the weekend. Stay tuned.

Winter isn’t done with us yet, but I’m not putting my kite away. Hope burns eternal.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, March 07, 2005


You may remember me writing about the little wren couple that builds a nest each year in my little birdhouse wind chime. We have been enjoying glorious spring weather this past week, and the birds, squirrels and other wildlife are busy building nests for new families.

Yesterday I spent the day writing, and after seven hours at the keyboard felt the need to get some fresh air. I walked around the yard, noticing all of the perennials that are poking their heads through the damp soil, listened to the song birds as they worked, and cast a watchful eye for any sign of Scaredy. He is missing again, but then it is mating season for cats. As a young tomcat, he is most likely just out carousing. It always bothers me though when he doesn’t greet me each evening.

I sat on the front stoop waiting for the sunset, which is my favorite time of day. As the sun slipped beyond the tree line of my horizon in the big woods, I noticed the little wren pair busy building a nest under the front left wheel well of my car. While this isn’t exactly surprising, I know that when I leave for work today they will look for another location. Anyway, their efforts made me smile. They are such happy little birds and have the most melodious song. They kept me company as the pink and red of the lingering sunset faded into dusk, but even as the damp chill of evening fell there was no Scaredy. Reluctantly I stood and moved inside for a cup of hot tea.

Inside chores kept me busy for the rest of the evening, but before I went to bed, I decided to poke my head out the front door to see about the weather. As I stepped out onto the porch, Scaredy meowed. After a good scolding, I took him down to the safety of the garage. I fed him a nice supper, locked him in for the night, and walked back to the house.

One of the best things about living in the country is the uncomplicated and familiar routine of each day. Since we are closer to nature, it is more a part of daily life. Cardinals wake me each morning, and the wrens sing at dusk. On quiet nights, the hoot owl that lives in the big white pine by the house serenades me. Last night the wind came up after I went to bed, so he was silent.

Today we have a few more hours of the warm weather we have been enjoying before the cold front arrives. This means that all of the little creatures will be busy feeding and working hard on their new little homes. They know more than the meteorologists about the way of the weather….here on my country road. Happy Monday.

Until tomorrow,


Friday, March 04, 2005


It began raining just before I went to bed. Soft, intermittent drops that gathered in strength and purpose until a full blown rainstorm was in progress. Snuggling under the comforter, I listened to the hypnotic sound of the rain falling through the boughs of the white pines until I fell asleep.

This morning I woke before the alarm went off. I like to walk up and down my country road after a rain, and early in the morning it is a special treat. Slipping on my shoes, I stepped out onto the front porch and took a few deep, cleansing breaths. The air was heavy with moisture. The birds were beginning to sing, hopping from branch to branch in the high reaches of the trees in the big woods. It always makes me smile to hear the beautiful songs of the birds so early in the morning, and my spirits soared. They have so little, their needs are so few, yet their joy is immeasurable.

As I walked down the road, movement and sound caught my attention. Ah. An industrious little squirrel hard at work. At five- thirty in the morning, there isn’t a lot of light yet, but she was carrying bits of grass and twigs in her mouth. This is an indication that there is a nest being built. Stopping, I watched her progress, and sure enough she went to the highest fork in one of the oak trees in back of my house and began tamping in the grass and twigs into her nest. Soon there will be a new batch of little squirrels here in the big woods.

The rich musty smell of the forest floor assailed my senses as I walked down the road. Dampness settled on my jacket and my face, and I burrowed my hands deep in the pockets for warmth. Two little rabbits sat frozen as I passed by, new shoots of grass dangling from their mouths. The neighbor’s big tomcat was making his way back to the barn after a night out, and I watched his progress through the tall grass of the cow pasture.

I stopped at my drive, alternately enjoying the quiet of the predawn and the sights of nature waking to greet the day. I have been several places in this big beautiful world, but these things are the same everywhere. Sunrise, sunset, nature sleeps and wakes, birds singing with joy, and the progression of life through another day.

Now, sitting with a cup of hot tea, I watch the sunrise. At peace, and with a full heart. Another beautiful day….here on my country road.

Until tomorow,


Thursday, March 03, 2005



Defined, perseverance is steady persistence in a course of action or purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacle, or discouragement. To persist in anything undertaken and continue steadfastly, resolutely, and with purpose.

To live a purpose filled and driven life, to endure and succeed in spite of all the naysayers and obstacles that arise along the way, one must have a large measure of perseverance. In spite of the odds, we can rise to the top it we don’t falter or weaken. The results may not always be what we began with, but then the journey always changes us along the way, doesn’t it? The first thing you have to learn is to be flexible. Success is not always defined by outward or monetary rewards. I would much rather have the inward joy, peace, purpose, and understanding of self that can only come from life experience.

Last week I saw a perfect example of perseverance. The temperatures had dipped into the twenties and the day was gray, foggy and cloudy. While giving a road test to a teenager, I saw a small clump of beautiful daffodils blowing in the chilly wind. Immediately I smiled from ear to ear and my spirits lifted. Whatever problems had been troubling my heart melted away at seeing a brave little clump of early spring daffodils enduring the harrowing winds and drizzle.

I made several trips by that same little clump of daffodils throughout the day, and each time I was happy to see them still hanging on. Yesterday I saw the same clump of daffodils, not only still standing with their faces to the warmth of the sun, but surrounded by a whole line of other ones that have bloomed since.

I wasn’t surprised. Perseverance is a wonderful trait to have. Never give up, never lose sight of your dream, and never give in. Greet the world with a smile on that happy face, joy in your heart, and a spring in your step.

Look around today. I’ll just bet you see a little clump of early spring daffodils as a sign. It is a good lesson. Bloom where you are planted and put down strong roots.

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Today is a special day in the life of our family. It is my little brother John’s 48th birthday.

I have written many times about how we celebrated birthdays growing up. Mom always made us feel like Queen or King for the day, made our favorite birthday cake, and we got to choose the birthday meal she would prepare for the family. Normally all was well, and John picked something we could all eat. He was a big fan of Popeye, but favored the hamburgers Wimpy enjoyed. That being said, the year I can remember as clearly as yesterday, John decided he wanted Popeye spinach and fish. To young siblings, this was like a death sentence. Somehow we made it through, but it was a struggle. Only thinking about the birthday cake and ice cream to come helped me get that spinach down.

John is a character. His sense of humor and love of performing is legend in our family. On our regular visits to the library, Mom required that we choose at least three books. John haunted the section where the joke and riddle books were found. One might think that he would be quiet and read to himself, but he liked to follow us around and read the jokes and riddles to us. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. Actually he is a talented and frustrated comedian. When he got older he was fascinated with Mad magazine and Steve Martin from Saturday Night Live, and over the years he has perfected his delivery of jokes and hilarious stories.

Although John is legally blind, he has never been satisfied to remain within the parameters of his vision. He grew up wanting to be “normal”. This required that he work harder than anyone else to achieve what they took for granted. The result is a normal, regular guy that just happens to be a standout at everything. His grit and determination have served him well as a runner, and this year he will realize his long time goal of running in the Boston Marathon.

John enjoys a large circle of friends and extended family. He and his family live in New Orleans, and the closest of us live a ten hour drive away. Although we try to get down there for visits fairly regularly, life happens. We don’t get there nearly as often as we would like. Today I am sure that he will be surrounded by his many friends as he celebrates his birthday, but I hope that he will think of those of us who can’t be there.

Happy Birthday, little brother. I love you and am so proud of you as a man and as a person. You are an inspiration and rich beyond measure to all who know you, and I hope that today you are surrounded with laughter and love. If I know you, once the crowd gathers, you’ll have a joke or two ready to tell. Eat some birthday cake for me!

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I have been blessed.

Many people cross my path in a day’s time. In speaking with them I am always struck by the negative way in which they have chosen to live their lives. Even in the way they joke about things they are negative. They have no goals, no dreams, no joie de vie, or joy of life. They see things from the glass half empty point of view. Instead of happiness, there is an overwhelming sadness and dissatisfaction in their approach to living. By choosing not to be happy, they are miserable. They live in a reactive existence.

Enter a happy person.

Through the years I have come to realize that happy, positive people are in the vast minority. I must have been born under a happy star, for I hit the floor in the morning looking forward to the day. It is a gift of time, and there are usually so many things I need or want to do with that time I end up at day’s end with half my list unaccomplished. That leaves the task of adding those things to the list for the next day, and looking forward to the challenge. I have goals, dreams, and a tremendous joy of life. My glass is always half full, happiness bubbles from a happy heart, and I greet the world with a smile. By choosing happiness, I am blessed. It is life in a proactive existence.

Happiness is a choice.

When negative people encounter positive people, there are a few things that happen. First, they hate your happiness. Second, they are happy in their unhappiness. Third, since you are happy it is an irritant to the lifestyle they have chosen and they begin to look elsewhere for like minded people. There are some people however, that always brighten when greeted with a smile, a kind word, a compliment, or a general positive and happy outlook. They respond to happiness, which gives me hope.

Greet the world with a smile.

The longest journey begins with a single step. Just a smile can make a difference in someone’s day, but even if it doesn’t, it makes a difference in mine. Do I have bad days? Yes. Do I get down, depressed, or discouraged? Sure I do. Do I like it? Absolutely not. I like being happy, positive and joyful. I just can’t seem to help myself. I look forward to life with enthusiasm and a spring in my step. There is a big, wide, fantastic world out there to be explored, enjoyed, and experienced. You are only limited by the choices you make and the attitude in which you greet each day.

I am blessed.

Have a wonderful day, whatever comes your way.
Until tomorrow,