Sunday, January 22, 2012


Today, January 22, marks the 11th birthday of Shadow, our illustrious granddawg!  As daughter Holly posted on Facebook, he's weathered six moves, three kids, and two cats!  He was, after all, their "firstborn" son.

Happy birthday to you, our doxie man . . . you've made so many things in our lives much more interesting--not the least of which is the fact that you helped me realize my dream of writing books!  And, our doxie Duke is thrilled to have you as his buddy and loves it when you visit us whenever you can.

May you have many, many more years as the elder statesman presiding over the animals in the family--Duke, and Piper and Aslan, the cats--as well as the grandchildren: Annika, Alexa, and Asher (harking back to the family dog Nana in Peter Pan!). They simply view you as their older brother, and you've never thought of yourself as a mere dog, anyway.

Dachshund lovers, we think that is fine and proper, don't we?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The former Lambert farm
that belonged to my grandparents,
Walt & Bertha Lambert
Recently, our granddaughter Alexa, age six, saw a photo of my dad, known to our daughters as Papa Duke.  Of course, Alexa never met him since he passed away a number of years before she came along.  She said wistfully, "I love Papa Duke . . .  and I miss him, too."  I reminded her that she had never met him (silly me), but with the wisdom of a child, she replied, "Well, I can still miss him, can't I??" 

Yesterday was a special day for me.  Clark and I spent some time with relatives from both of my parents' families, and it was such a blessing to see cousins I hadn't seen for 25 years or more!  We all live some distance from each other, but 12 of us were finally able to meet together after all these years.

My mother is from a family of ten children, and she has one younger brother, my uncle, still living.  My father had several half siblings, along with numerous nieces and nephews, who have had children and grandchildren as well.  I have no idea where numerous cousins and their children are right now, but I'm taking steps to rectify that.  With my father in the military all throughout my childhood, we often didn't get home for years at a time when we lived overseas.  The extended family merely adjusted without our presence (not that I blame them at all).  And now, my initial cousins have children and grandchildren that I do not even know or probably never will get to know.  When I see those around me who spend time with their extended families because they all grew up together, I recognize this is the flip side of the military life: living lots of interesting places and meeting lots of interesting people is fun, but one often forgoes family roots and relationships.  In addition, Clark and I have lived out of our home state much of our married life because our jobs have taken us to various parts of the country.

Another view of the farmhouse:
we used to play on the porch!
Yesterday, along with the aunt and uncle and the various and sundry cousins we could assemble, was a huge blessing for me:  we recalled our times as children and some of the shenanigans we shared at our Grandma Lambert's farmhouse.  The years just fell away for us as we laughed and talked over a shared meal.  Those loved ones who have gone on before us to eternity were with us in spirit as we recalled them fondly, sharing some of their stories and experiences that we remembered.

Families are special--do not take them for granted!  When we are young, we often don't see the need to stay in touch with far-flung relations, but now, I want to re-establish relationships with as many of my extended family as I can.  My father is no longer here, and my mother is in very poor health.  I see that the path ahead for my extended family will become obscured if I do not seek to light it by reaching out to those family members I can now.

I have boxes of old black-and-white photographs inherited from my parents.  In many cases, nobody is left who knows the people in them!  One of these days, I'll be throwing them out, but I'm not ready to do that just yet, because I do recognize a long-ago face here and there, but I'm the only one in my immediate family who does.  One thing I've always done is write names and dates on the backs of our photos. In that way, our grandchildren will someday be able to place all those faces!

A portion of the farm where my mother and
her nine siblings grew up in the 1920s and 30s
Recently, our granddaughter Alexa, age six, saw a photo of my dad, known to our daughters as Papa Duke.  Of course, Alexa never met him since he passed away a number of years before she came along.  She said wistfully, "I love Papa Duke . . .  and I miss him, too."  I reminded her that she had never met him (silly me), but with the wisdom of a child, she replied, "Well, I can still miss him, can't I??"  She feels as if she does know him, because I've tried to keep the grandchildren (his great grandchildren) acquainted with him through the stories he told us and the zany experiences he had when he was with us.  In fact, the granddaughters often ask for "Papa Duke stories" when we are together.

For instance, they love the story about the time I substituted a rubber hot dog for a real one on his plate at a family cookout when I was a teenager:  he had put the mustard, ketchup, chili, onions, and coleslaw on it (the way we like it in the South), but when he tried to take that first bite, the entire "dog" came out of the bun since he couldn't bite through it.  The look on his face was classic!  Another story they love is when Papa Duke imitated a mosquito that had somehow managed to get trapped in the freezer and then flew out erratically when the door was opened a little while later.  My feeble attempt to imitate him makes them laugh!  (You'd have to be there, I suppose.)

I believe he approves.

Monday, January 16, 2012


For those of us who own and/or love dogs, this sentiment is so very true.  I want to be the kind of person that my dog thinks I am!  He loves us unconditionally, is always glad to see us, and looks to us for his well-being.

God the Father created man's best friend to show us His unconditional love--we simply have to accept it as a free gift.  It doesn't get any better than that!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Here are some "paths" that a friend sent me.  Oh my--I don't think I'd risk trying to follow most of them!

These photographs from around the world are beautiful, scary, thought provoking, and imaginative.  Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Son-in-law Kurt provided
"I express my individuality" magnet :)
Yes, I've been collecting refrigerator magnets for many years, and I have hundreds of these colorful bits of plastic, wood, glass, feathers--what have you.  Do I have one from every place I've ever visited or lived?  In a word, no.  Growing up in a military family and living overseas in several foreign countries, there was no such thing as fridge magnets BACK THEN.  A "dear" friend asked the other day, "Oh, did they even have REFRIGERATORS when you were a child??"  He'd better be joking!

My husband Clark tells people that we'll have to get a second fridge one of these days if I keep collecting.  But I just have the top half of the front and one side decorated, anyway--still have lots of room to spare.

Various magnets are dedicated to particular themes: 

PLACES - A quick glance across the fridge reveals some of the places we have visited in the U.S., in no particular order:  NY, NJ, VT,  KY, OK, IN, AR, NH, TN, FL, GA, SC, AZ, NM, TX, MA, VA, WV, and IL.  A friend from church recently gave me two magnets from when he used to travel for his work:  one from Malaysia and one from Vietnam (I haven't been to either place).  I also have a couple of magnets from Hawaii, given to me by friends and family, and I haven't been there, either. Our daughter Bethany and son-in-law Kurt gave me a die (singular form of dice) from Las Vegas, from their vacation last year.

There are also special events/places we've enjoyed in New York City: The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater, the United Nations, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, Long Island Ferry, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The Twin Towers (we were there in May before Sept. 11), the Bronx Zoo, and Junior's Cheesecake in Brooklyn. I don't have a magnet from Carmine's Italian Restaurant, The Brooklyn Tabernacle, Rockefeller Center, Chinatown, Radio City, Madam Toussaud's Wax Museum (where I had my picture taken with the wax version of Brad Pitt), or Fulton's Fish Market, but I do have a New York City taxicab. 

We've also visited The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC; Linville Caverns in the NC mountains; Cape May, NJ; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel (we once lived on MD's Eastern Shore in Pocomoke City); the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, MI (featured in the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME, starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve--I love that movie!); the Grand Canyon; Niagara Falls; The Continental Divide, NM; PA Dutch Country; Hersey's Chocolate Factory; Sedona, AZ; Myrtle Beach, SC; Disney World in FL; various points of interest around Washington, DC, such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building; and the Smithsonian; and of course, Graceland in Memphis, TN!  I also have a guitar-shaped magnet emblazoned with "ELVIS."  For you barbecue lovers out there, we ate at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis, and trust me, it deserves its rating in the top ten BBQ restaurants by the Food Network.  Where DID that little pig from there go??

Although my family and I visited the World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium, when I was a child in 1958, there were no magnets back then, so I made one out of a necklace I had depicting The Atomium, a huge silver building shaped like an atom, with concourses connecting the sections representing "neutrons" and "electrons" to the "nucleus" of the building.  Quite imposing. While on this same trip, we experienced the Tulip Festival in Holland, which was breathtaking, with intricate floats made entirely of flowers.  No magnet there, but I do have a set of decorative wooden shoes.  We visited medieval castles in Germany, and I've misplaced the mouse souvenir I bought from a little shop.  As an adult, I've wondered what was the significance of a mouse souvenir from a castle--perhaps because mice were common inhabitants in them?  On another trip across Europe, we attended a bull fight in Spain accompanied with much ceremony and flourishes from the bull fighters, but that was not really to my liking--I felt sorry for the bull.  No magnet for that, but I do have a handkerchief :).

CHOCOLATE (are you surprised??) - one proclaims that "Families are like fudge:  mostly sweet with a few nuts." One of my favorites  is my chocolate chip cookie, which looks so real that someone actually tried to eat it years ago when I placed it on a tray (as a joke) with real cookies!  I also have a chocolate candy bar.  It looks real, too, and the granddaughters thought it WAS the real thing.
OLD-TIMEY AMERICANA - an old treadle sewing machine, a wood cook stove, an ironing board/iron, along with a hand-cranked meat grinder, a cast iron skillet containing eggs and bacon, percolator for coffee, egg beater, old radio, carton of eggs, sacks of flour and grain, rolling pin, Coca-cola memorabilia (remember the polar bears?), Ivory soap, a milk bottle like those which used to be delivered to homes. 

FOODS - a tossed salad, a blueberry pie, a tin of muffins, a stack of pancakes, a bunch of bananas, a cutting board laden cheese and salami, a basket of apples, a basket of fresh veggies. 

COWS - ranging from one that moos when a button is pushed to a cow thermometer, and even a little stuffed animal cow with magnets on its hooves.  In fact, my kitchen is decorated with black-and-white cow decor, but that's for another post!

Also in the mix are magnets about family:  "A daughter is a forever friend," and one of my personal favorites, "Grandmas are special" (I didn't buy that--the granddaughters gave it to me); terse sayings:  "You can't scare me:  I'm a teacher!" - "Lord, grant me patience, but hurry!" - "Never trust a skinny cook,"   And in honor of the dachshunds in our family (and my books), of course I have a doxie magnet.

For some inexplicable reason, I also have a trashcan full of trash, a butterfly, a gumball machine, a gingerbread man, an outdoor grill, Poppin' Fresh dough boy, and a painting by the French artist Monet (Oh yes:  that was from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC).

I have the loaf of french bread from Paris, France, and also a sombrero and woven blanket from Mexico.  I bought neither one myself, and although I lived in France as a child, my brother brought me the Paris magnet.  A family member gave me the Mexico magnet.  And, there's a maple leaf flag, representing our enjoyable car trip across much of beautiful Canada a few years ago.  

Oh, and missing from my collection are places for which I have no magnets to herald that I've been there, unless you count old family photographs and home movies!  Florida (we lived in Homestead, south of Miami),  Oregon, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Delaware, Ohio (lived in Cincinnati), Wyoming, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland (we once lived on the Eastern Shore, and later in Rockville), Connecticut, South Dakota, Kansas, Alaska (lived in Ft. Greely, south of Fairbanks, for 3.5 years, and I attended summer camps in Denali National Park, site of Mt. McKinley), and Missouri. I plan to check online for obtaining those one of these days.

There--I've mentioned the interesting ones.  More than just colorful bits on our refrigerator, these magnets represent wonderful memories of enjoyable trips and fun places we've visited.  The others make great conversation starters that proclaim views on life or humorous sayings:  "I am woman--I am invincible--I am tired."

Above all, they represent to me the blessings in my life:  the great times spent with family and friends and the travel to places we've enjoyed.

Photographs are merely a slice of time that proclaim split seconds of life, but my magnets represent the entirety of the experience.  My final mention, but perhaps my most important magnet, proclaims:  "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."  Matthew 6:33 KJV


Monday, January 2, 2012


Yes, our family had a wonderful Christmas together . . . and I hope yours did as well.  And I can't believe that 2011 is now behind us.  They say that as we get older, time seems to fly faster, and I agree.  A year now seems like six months to me!

Sadly, my elderly mother fell again, requiring stitches in her head, and breaking her leg just above the knee.  She's also exhibiting signs of dementia, and it is so hard to see a once-energetic, busy woman reduced to just lying in bed, trying to remove her leg brace, not understanding what's going on.  She still knows us, thankfully. She is in God's hands . . .

Here are a few pictures of our blessed Christmas:

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