Photos of Brady

Monday, July 31, 2006


Good morning from Smalltown!

We are bracing for temps of 100 plus today and heat indexes in the 110-115 range. Wow. Thank God for air conditioning and cool water.

Finally I am feeling better and able to eat more than yogurt, chicken broth and popsicles. Last night we had a little pizza party down at mom's house with the neighbors Dave, Patty and Davey. It was a lot of fun, and great to eat something solid.

I went out to check on my son and his little family after church. They are all fine, though Brady had been sick with a flu virus. Poor little guy. That is what daycare is good for. The babies just keep passing those bugs around. The doctor still wants to refer them to a specialist about Brady's soft spot. They are trying to decide what to do about that.

Napoleon is still sleeping in the tree next to my house. Over a year now! I didn't know he was still sleeping there as I hadn't heard him screaming into the night for some time. Evidently he gave up on whatever or whoever he was looking for. Now he silently flies up to roost and seems content with his lot in life. He has lost all but one long tail feather. It is two feet long, and looks funny being the only one in his once magnificent tail. I suppose they will grow back.

Well, it is kick butt Monday, and I will be spending it in a meeting with my boss and the staff at the office. I made a cake to help ease the tensions afoot. Let's see how that works.

Have a great day. I will see you, good Lord willing, tomorrow morning......here on my country road.

Until then,


Friday, July 28, 2006


I am finally home again. Thank goodness!

I had a fast two days of meetings and training, which was actually something I could use this time. More and more of our job is moving online in the way of reporting and communication with the Jefferson City General Headquarters offices. Changes and new ways of doing old things is often difficult, but when everyone is in the same boat it is fun to learn.

Miss Chicky is doing much better. I am glad to see it, as she is such a sweet little kitty. The vet said it was most likely just a virus, but with West Nile and tick fever making the rounds, I was really concerned. After losing Tiny in much the same manner two years ago I didn't want to take a chance.

My tooth and gum continues to heal. It was a week ago today, and yet the stitches are still there. Hopefully they will dissolve soon. I have no pain, and the swelling is almost completely gone. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers. I am eating regular food now, just slowly and on the other side of my mouth.

I am glad today is Friday. I have a long commute, the exam station being an hour and a half across the back roads. While beautiful, I will be filling my boss in on the changes coming, and making a time to train him on what he needs to know to do the monthly reports. He isn't computer savvy and will soon be retiring, so it may fall to me and the other supervisor. It is fine either way.

Have a great weekend, and if there are any new developments or changes with Chicky, Napoleon, Lena or anyone else, I will let you know. For now it is just good to be home!

Until next time,


Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Today I am off to Jefferson City for two days of meetings and training. It will be a change of pace, but not home. I am still not feeling all that great, so home is where I would rather be. Hopefully the time will go quickly and I will be home before I know it.

Chicky seems a little better. I had mom check on her yesterday while I was at work, and she was able to coax her out of the garage. When I got home last night she was laying on the front step. I was glad to see it. After I changed my clothes I went out and sat on my garden bench. In just a minute she came over to me and sat on my lap. If I didn't know better I would say that my cat has a cold. Her nose is dripping and she looks miserable. She isn't all that hungry yet, but she did eat a little when I put her in the garage for the night.

The vet's office told me that there is a virus going around, and they have been seeing several cats with Chicky's symptoms. I think today mom and Rocky are going to get some antibiotics for her. I had worried that she had tick fever, which is fatal. Thank goodness she wouldn't have a runny nose if that was the problem.

I hope that while I am gone life treats you well. I will see you Friday morning.....here on my country road. God bless.

Until then,


Tuesday, July 25, 2006


After three days of resting, sleeping with my head elevated, eating soft foods, ice packs, and rinsing with salt water and liquid medication, I am going back to work. I suppose it is progress.

I thank you for your thoughts, prayers, comments and emails. The endodonist's office called yesterday to inquire about the surgery site. Since I was warned not to peek so I wouldn't tear the stitches, I could only say that I was having no pain. The swelling is almost completely gone this morning.

While I still can't eat hard foods, I have graduated from chicken broth, applesauce, yogurt and popsicles. It will be a while before I can eat chips and crackers. That is fine. Baby steps.

I am a little concerned about Chicky. He didn't come when I went to feed him last night, so I went into the garage to leave food for him. I was surprised to see her already in bed. I left her food, but she didn't come eat. I talked to her a bit and petted her before shutting her in for the night. We will see how she is this morning.

Well, I had better get around. It will be time for work before I know it. Have a great day, and I will see you in the morning.....here on my country road, good Lord willing.

Until then,


Saturday, July 22, 2006


Well, I have survived the ordeal with the endodonist. It was not pleasant, nor was it the drubbing I had expected. Thank goodness for giant strides in medical/dental technology.

The worst part were the shots to deaden the gum area. After that part it was bearable with moments of short lived pain when the root tips were wrestled out. All in all I would say that round one goes to the endodonist who had assured me I would feel no real pain in his care. He was right for the most part, but to be fair it was a mess. He did a great job, and is pleased with the results. The offending bacterial infection has been eradicated and I am on my way to renewed mouth health.

Yesterday ice and pain pills were my friends. Today will be a day of rest, keeping the head elevated, more ice packs, salt water rinses, ibuprofen, and soft foods. It was a good reason for me to buy popcicles! I have a stack of decorating books by the couch, a good romance novel, and a day of home decorating shows to watch between naps. A good day, all things considered.

Your thoughts and prayers gave me strength. For a gal who hates anything dental, it was a comfort. Thank you, and while I would love to return the favor, I hope no one I love or care about would have to go through this!

Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks again,


Friday, July 21, 2006


Today is the day I go to the endodonist for my surgery. I am so tired of feeling bad and the swelling and infection that it will be a relief to have it all over. I am a bit anxious of course, but I know that I have a good doctor.

We are leaving for Springfield in a little bit, so have to get around. I just wanted to thank you ahead of time for your thoughts and prayers. Matt tells me ASAP. Always say a prayer. I so agree, and believe me I will be praying for the Dr. and his staff.

I will let you know in the morning how I am getting along. The surgery is set for 1:30 this afternoon. I hope your day is a good one, and good Lord willing I will see you here in the morning for an update.

Until then,


Thursday, July 20, 2006


On Tuesdays we now work in the YMCA building in the town we are in that day. The facility is much better, and we no longer have issues with mold. It has also opened up a big opportunity for us to be positive role models for the children who are in the daycare program there.

Most of the children have loving homes and families. They are there from the time their parents go to work until the time they get off. It is a structured day of games, activities, physical exercise, and rest. In order to get to the rest room we have to walk through the arena that houses the basketball and volleyball courts. Last week a little girl came up to my coworker and shyly said hi. Usually this lady would have just walked on by with a muttered hello, but the little girl was persistent. I listened as she told her name and said she was tired of being there. It seems that she is dropped off at the daycare center at 6 each morning and isn't picked up by her grandmother until 6 in the evening. When my coworker asked where her mama was, the little girl explained that her mama was in prison and she lived with her grandmother. Her grandmother had had to return to work in order to foot the expense of raising her daughter's child.

The conversation was a short one, and in a few minutes the little girl rejoined the group she was playing with. I could tell that my coworker had been affected by the situation, and several times through the day she mentioned her. As we came and went from the restroom we would all say hello or wave to her.

This past Tuesday we were getting set up for the day and the little girl came up to us. She smiled and said to my coworker, "I remember you!" Thankfully she returned the smile and said that she remembered her too. Now it seems that a mission field has opened up. Yesterday we were talking about the little girl. I told the three women I work with that we are being watched all the time. Not only by the little girl on Tuesdays, but by everyone everywhere we go. Because we wear a uniform and work for the Highway Patrol, people watch how we conduct ourselves and what we do. It is a big responsibility, but also an opportunity. I challenged my coworkers to always remember that, and to smile and be pleasant even when they don't feel like doing so. You never know when a smile and kind word will be the only happy thing that happens to those we meet. I also told them that this particular little girl would remember the uniform and the kindness all her life. It may get her through some rough times ahead.

Today we will meet people as we go through our daily walk. Greeting them with a smile and being receptive is a good way to serve others. As always, with a small girl and childlike faith, a deep and lasting lesson was learned. Angels unaware.

Have a great day,


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


We've found ourselves in a good old fashioned heat wave. Yesterday it was 101 and today it is to be hotter yet. While some like it hot, I find myself liking it less and less with every passing year.

Last night I was mixing up a cake to take to work this morning. I love using my KitchenAid mixer, but as I was creaming the sugar and butter, the power went out. No power means no mixer, no lights, no TV, and worse- no air conditioner. Since I had the oven heating it didn't take long for the house to get hot. Thank goodness for candles for light, a strong arm to finish mixing the cake, and a gas oven with which to bake it. Less than an hour later the power came back on. I wasted no time getting the AC back on. In no time comfort settled around me again and I have a beautiful cake to take to the office this morning.

I was saddened to learn that my step-sister died over the weekend. She was my age and had many health problems. One of our good family friends wrote last night to say his mother had passed away yesterday. My heart is sad. Life happens, and many times it is full of heartache.

Wherever you are today I hope that you have comfort and love.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Well, my worst fears have come to pass. The wren parents nudged their little ones out of the nest over the weekend. Right into Chicky's clutches. I had feared that she would get them, and by the time I got out into the yard to rescue them it was too late. The little windchime stands silent, and the father wren has stopped singing his beautiful joyful song.

Sometimes I hate nature. The cruelty is hard to deal with, at least for a soft heart. Chicky is just being a cat, I realize that. I don't have to like it. When I came home yesterday from Springfield, I called Chicky so I could feed her. She didn't come. I went on to the house and changed into some shorts, as the 100 degree heat was oppressive. I still didn't see her, which is unusual, but I did hear some poor little creature screeching from the garage. Chicky didn't need any cat food.

Nature and cats aside, we had a good day at the various doctor appointments yesterday. Our lunch was wonderful, and it was a good kismet shopping day. I will be having surgery on my tooth Friday however. The endodonist changed my antibiotics to something stronger and got me signed up for the surgery he hopes will get rid of my problem. One would hope.

I will of course keep you posted as events warrant. It seems there is no lack for something to talk about....here on my country road.

Until then,


Monday, July 17, 2006


Good Monday morning from my country road.

I only have time for a few lines, as I have to leave in an hour for Springfield. Finally the day has arrived to see the endodonist. I spent a miserable night, after irritating my gum surrounding the abscessed tooth with my new Sonicare Intelliclean toothbrush. Must be the effect of last weeks full moon.

At any rate, I have to be ready when mom and Rocky honk at the road, as it is the day mom and I have our annual checkup and tests at Springfield. When we finish there it is off to lunch and then to the endodonist. This first visit is only a look-see and decide what to do visit, so hopefully we can go off to the flea markets after that. My gum is just too sore for anything else today.

Have a great kick butt Monday. Today it looks like I am the kickee instead of the kicker, but some days are like that. Wish me luck, and I will see you all here in the morning, good Lord willing.

Until then,


Friday, July 14, 2006


Who knows why we dream the things we do?

I tossed and turned all night, dreaming I was stuck in an airport waiting for a flight out of a steamy tropical locale. I have no idea where I had been, who if anyone I had been there with, or where I was trying so desperately to get back home to.

I did see things that looked as though they had come out of an old movie, blended with things I had seen at the tropical airport in Cancun. I had no feelings of sadness, so evidently it hadn't been an end to something or someone. More just a series of events as time wore on and people drifted in and out of focus. People I used to know, relatives, people I know now.

Strange. I am sure my brother John and sister-in-law Barbara would have a field day with all of this, but it may be something as simple as the medicine I am taking for my tooth. Who knows? The alarm went off and I will never know the outcome.

I hope you slept well and are ready for a good day. At least it is Friday! We can do eight hours standing on our heads. Make it a good one.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 13, 2006


Yesterday a young man named Kenneth came in for a driving test. He is from a very small town in the backwoods of the Ozarks, and had been in several times over the past year. I gave him his test, and he settled into a chair to take it. His grandparents had brought him in, and they sat nervously in the hallway waiting.

Kenneth passed his test, and while I was checking his eyes and writing up his paperwork I asked if he wanted to take the driving portion of the test. He said yes, that he needed his license in order to leave for the military next month. He is almost nineteen years old. I asked him where he was going for basic training, to which he responded San Diego. Of course I assumed he was going into the Navy. "I'm going to be a Marine, ma'am."

We talked for a few minutes about the tough road he had ahead of him, and as he left for his driving test, I extended my hand to shake his. I knew that he most likely had no idea all that lay ahead in the months to come. I told him to be safe and would pray that God would go with him.

While he was out for his test, his grandfather came in to tell me that all Kenneth had ever wanted to do was go into the military. Having retired from the Army, they had hoped he would enlist in that branch of service. However, Kenneth had another idea. I told the grandfather that I would remember to pray for Kenneth in the days and months to come. These young men and women have a very large burden on their young shoulders. Most likely he will be sent to Iraq.

For most of us the war is not something we face personally each day. It isn't being fought here, so things for us aren't much different. For those families who have loved ones in harm's way, it is much more personal. Looking into Kenneth's young face was sobering for me. San Diego and Iraq are very far away from the small rural town where he lives.

Godspeed Kenneth. Semper Fi.

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Move over Katrina. Yesterday we had rain that made a ''toad strangler'' look like drizzle. I was working in our new office, which is located in a huge metal building when we heard what sounded like a freight train. One of my coworkers went to check what was going on and returned shortly with her eyes as big as saucers.

We were being deluged by Katrina's little sister. I don't think I have ever seen rain fall that hard for so long. Along with the wind, I could only imagine what a real hurricane must be like. One of the neighboring counties was asking for help, as the storm had passed through their county leaving downed trees, buildings, and tremendous amounts of heavy rain. We evidently were experiencing the same storm.

A few days ago we were in the grips of a drought here in the Midwest. There was talk of how to make it through the long range outlook with no hope of measurable precipitation. Thank the good Lord. While coming a bit too fast, we now have had almost 10 inches of rain this week. While that may fade as a distant memory in another month, it is a blessing right now. So much of the six inches that fell Monday ran off, but surely some of it seeped into the ground.

You take your blessings where you find them, and right now we are thankful. I am happy to tell you also that Lena is home from the hospital, 40 pounds lighter. The amount of fluid she lost is amazing, and the sores on her legs are healing. She sounds stronger, but is still having trouble breathing. Your continued thoughts and prayers for her are appreciated. I still have no real relief from my tooth, but the medications take time to kick in. I do have an appointment with the endodonist Monday. Hopefully they can get to the bottom of the problem once and for all.

At least we have arrived at mid week hump day. I hope that you have a wonderful day, full of all the good things life offers.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I was home yesterday with an abscessed tooth. Yes, it is the same one that has plagued me for almost two years. It is something that knocks me off my feet when it flares up, so I called the dentist yesterday for some meds to treat it until they could see me.

When they called me back they suggested that I go back to the endodonist that did the root canal on it two years ago. So, there we go again. It will be a very painful few days until the antibiotics kick in and the pain lessens. This time maybe they can get to the bottom of the reason why it keeps flaring up.

While I was laying on the couch I listened to the wren scold Chicky, who laid on the porch all day. I felt sorry for the little bird. He was so distressed that a cat was lounging so near his newly hatched little family, and by the time I put Chicky in the garage for the night he was exhausted. I suppose Mr. Wren thought that he had been successful at finally scaring Chicky off, and that is fine.

At any rate I would stay home again today but it is the first day at our new exam station and I am the supervisor. Duty calls. I hope that you have a better day wherever you are today. I'm just hoping that the meds will do their magic quickly. At least today the wren dad won't have to worry over Chicky, as she doesn't lay on the porch when I am gone for the day.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, July 10, 2006


Today is a special day. It will go unnoticed by people all over the world as just another day. The sun will rise and set, twenty four hours will pass, and most people will never know why it is special. Thirty seven years ago I met a special person who became a lifelong friend. We had several other friends we ran around with, but in the end it was just us. We had an immediate connection. We have shared the highs and lows of the teen years, problems at home, fad diets, and boys. I have wonderful memories of talking, laughing, crying, and eating. There was a time when we were the only happy thing in each other’s lives. I had always wanted a sister and a forever friend, and she became both for me. Diane and I have shared years of happiness and joy, endured separation, tragedy and silence, and survived painful misunderstandings and disastrous decisions. Often she put my happiness above her own. I haven’t always been the best example of what a friend should be, and I have often said she was a better friend to me than I was to her. As with every relationship we have had our good times and bad times, but we are kindred spirits. That bond has carried us through the storms of life successfully, and brought us to the autumn of our lives comfortable with ourselves and each other.

I can remember the first time I saw the movie Beaches. The story was a good representation of my friendship with Diane. The theme song, Wind Beneath My Wings, said everything I had not been able to capture with words. Since I have always been the one running ahead and she was always chasing along behind, she heard the same song and heard a different message. We are each other’s cheerleader, confidante, and staunchest supporter. With that thought in mind, I suppose it is easier to understand why we each think we are the lucky one.

When bad things happen to her, I feel it in my spirit. I feel an overwhelming compulsion to call her. She has the same ability to know when I am going through difficult times. That bond has been unfailing. I could have a slumber party with her today and it would have the same result as our sleepovers had as teenagers. We would listen to music, eat too much pizza, and talk and laugh until our sides hurt. We know everything about the other, and we are still friends. I turned fifty in March, 2004. Although she couldn’t be with us in New Orleans, I called her from the balcony of our room on Bourbon street. As usual she was concerned I would fall off the balcony, and as usual I promised her I wouldn’t, even though it was close a couple of times. Four months later we went to Kansas City to visit my brother George and our family celebrated Diane’s fiftieth with her husband and sixteen year old daughter. We ate and talked and laughed all weekend. From margaritas to chocolate chip cookies, over pizza and cheesecake, we caught up with each other. I gave her a gift of gold, a heart of rose gold basket weave surrounded with yellow gold filigree and flowers. It was the perfect thing for us. Two hearts so different, yet bonded together forever. The rose gold basket weave represented to me the many times our paths have crossed through the years, and stay interwoven now. This year I am crocheting her an afghan, and the same sentiment will apply.

I started a birthday week for her years ago when I couldn’t afford gifts. Each day of her birthday week I would send a card, letter, or poem I had written for her. It has become something we look forward to all year. When we are old, we will still talk, laugh, and cry together like schoolgirls. We will act silly, relive the somber times of our lives with regret, and look forward to the years ahead with joy. Happy birthday Diane, my dearest friend. Although we have been friends for thirty seven years, the journey has just begun. How I wish I could be there, but I will be in spirit. Eat some cake for me, and know that I will be right here to hear all about your day when you want to share it. We have come a long way, but the road stretches out before us. God bless you. Today you are Queen for the day. Can you hear me clapping?!

Until tomorrow,
Becky Strain


Friday, July 07, 2006


Good morning from my country road.

Remember the little wren couple who built a nest in my windchime? Well, I am pleased to announce that they are now the proud parents of numerous baby wrens.

I heard them cheeping the first time the day Amber went missing. I was returning home after looking for her- hot, tired, upset, and crying. As I came up the front steps I heard them. A very proud papa wren was sitting on top of the little house singing. I startled him and he flew away to a nearby birch tree. As I stood listening to the sounds of his new offspring, he once again began to sing.

They say when someone dies, something is born to take it's place in the world. In this case we have a new brood of wrens. Although I will think of Amber always and keep her close in my heart, I will now forever remember her when I see the wrens and hear them sing their beautiful songs.....here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,



Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Last weekend I kept my grandson Brady while my son Jonathan and his wife Aimee went to Saint Louis to see her mother Lena at the hospital. You know Lena's situation is dire, and the hospital is certainly no place for an active eight month old baby. This was the first time I got to keep him overnight, so I was thrilled. Here are just a few of the dozens of pictures I took.

He looks innocent enough, but Brady was attempting to dodge my attempts to feed him his cereal.
After successfully getting his breakfast into him, a nap was in order.
How cute is Brady TV!!!!

Peeking at grandma while counting beads.

Catching a few winks among new friends.

Learning how to crawl is hard work. We had a wonderful time, and in spite of mom and dad trying to come get Brady early, we got through the night just fine. I think it was harder on them than it was Brady and me.

I hope your holiday was filled with Kodak moments and lots of love.

Until tomorrow,



Monday, July 03, 2006


Saying goodbye is always hard. June 29, Amber just disappeared. Given her medical problems, age, and frailty, we have given up all hope that she will be found alive.

Yesterday mom and Rocky took her bed out of the house. As long as I saw it there it wasn't really real that she was gone. Seeing the little box she liked to sleep in gone was like a punch to the midsection. My heart constricted and tears came.

I miss her so much. My condolences to Rocky, who had to say goodbye to a long time friend. For five years she has been a part of my life, but she had been his traveling companion on the big truck for a long time. She loved to travel, but more than that she loved Rocky, mom and me.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, caring comments and emails. There is an empty place in our hearts that nothing will be able to fill. God bless you all.

Until next time,


Saturday, July 01, 2006


Good Saturday morning. I am getting ready for Brady to come for the weekend while my son and daughter-in-law go to Saint Louis to see her mom Lena. While I am thrilled to get a chance to take care of my grandbaby, I am sad that Lena is ill.

The tests came in yesterday that show only 14% of her heart to be working now. I am not sure what that means except that the last tests showed 17% working. I will know more when the kids get back Sunday. Please keep praying for her and I will keep you posted as I get information.

We still have no word on Amber. It is as though she simply vanished. I think that she was snactched away by a hawk or an owl. We have both, and so many people have related stories to me about their pets being taken that way. I can't bear to think of it. She was such a sweet little dog, and gave so much love. She never demanded much, and even though she was only about 6-8 inches tall, she was a giant to those of us who loved her.

Be safe this holiday weekend. I will have my hands full with an active 8 month old, but I will try to get some good pictures to share with you.

Until next time,