Sunday, December 23, 2007

We're Home!

Ah, it is good to be home for Christmas. We left California on the 17th and got home the 19th. We are blessed to have all our children with us this year. We had a nice visit with my parents the last couple of days, and we plan to celebrate with Rick's parents tomorrow. We expect Christmas day to be a restful time at home with the kids and granddaughter.

I've been so busy since we arrived home that I've not had time to post pictures of our trip here. Maybe I can put a few of them on after the holidays are past.

Granddaughter #2 is expected in about three weeks. We are looking forward to such a blessed event!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. May God bless you in the new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Evening Out

I discovered a new word that sounds so cool, it makes me want to repeat it over and over again. Pechanga. (A band of the Luiseno Indians)

Last night Rick and I went to Temecula to the Pechanga Resort & Casino where The Oak Ridge Boys were performing. It has been years, MANY years since we have seen them in concert. They are getting older... but they are still top notch performers.

Rick has worked so hard and has been under tremendous stress trying to keep in compliance, meet overinflated contractor's prices, and keep insureds happy and smiling. He needed the time away from the computer with the phone on silent! We really enjoyed our night out.

I find walking through a casino thought provoking and interesting. We never hang out long because the second-hand cigarette smoke really starts me to wheezing, but if you are a people watcher, a casino is a place with plenty of variety.

Rick rushed me passed the rooms designated "high limit gaming." (I think he was afraid my gawking would be unappreciated.) Just walking the polished walkways I saw all sorts of people. There was the crazy looking "Texas Oil Tycoon" type. You know, the western cowboy hat, glitzy western suit, big cigar, pointy toed boots... the kind of clown dress that embarrasses this REAL West Texas girl. I saw the guy that, from head to toe, was so perfectly groomed and dressed that you would of thought he was a Macy mannequin come to life. He was dressed completely in black. And in his company was a woman -- tall, blond, "perfect" in physical beauty, dressed completely in black as well. They were a perfect match. Then there were the grandmas and grandpas, the great-grandmas and great-grandpas. Those folks who live on fixed incomes, get discounts on their taxes, at restaurants and hotels, and complain about the size of their Social Security checks all while feeding their children's inheritance into the slot machines one coin at a time. I also saw the guy that looked like he just left his hard labor blue collar job at 5:00 and went straight to the casino with paycheck in hand. To finish off the mix of humanity was the young crowd. They were barely old enough to get into the door of the gambling establishment, and they surely didn't have enough to money to get into the big games. I felt sorry for the young girls because obviously their mothers never taught them how to dress for a cold December evening. Likewise, I'm afraid the young men were never shown how to be gentlemen. They were all there, hanging around the bar, sitting in the comfy chairs, just chatting. They were there just to "hook up" or maybe more innocently "meet and greet." (Or maybe not) Anyway, it was a hoot for me just to observe the crowd.

As I trotted along through the casino watching people, (Rick's legs are so long and he was walking so fast I had to trot to keep up) I saw something that made me stop dead still for a moment. Along the wall were some machines that resembled ATMs. The slot machines used cards instead of money, and when a person won, the machine would put money on the card. The winner then took his card to the ATM looking machine to get his winnings. The sign that hung above these machines read, "REDEMPTION CENTER." For just a moment I had a cold shiver and had to blink back a tear. I thought about everything that was happening in the casino at the moment, every thing that might possibly be going through the minds of the varied masses of people that were there. The need for every soul to seek redemption.

Something inside me wanted to shout,, "Jesus Christ is the REAL redemption center! Go to Him and HE will redeem you!" I didn't do it for three reasons. 1-Security would have thrown me out on the street. 2-If I would have stood there long, I would have lost my long legged husband in the crowd. 3-I could not have shouted loud enough to be heard over the noise of the one armed bandits anyway. I suddenly had a heavy heart.

We went on into the concert and were well entertained. "The Boys" sang many of those "old" songs that we loved twenty some years ago. Then they performed several of their "fun" Christmas songs about Santa, cookies, love and snow. Then, as if he knew my heart was heavy, Joe Bonsall prefaced the last several musical numbers by saying they wanted to sing songs about the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas, and that it is all about the birth of "Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior." I couldn't blink back the tears. In the mix of songs was one that presented the message of redemption.

Every person at the Pechanga that night didn't get the message, but at least that sold out concert hall full of folks heard the words. Maybe they went home and thought about what they heard. I did. My heart was a little lighter. I'm glad we went.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Good-bye to Palm Springs and Back to Hemet

One last look out the window at the palm and the snow.
Palm Springs really is a desert town. These are desert mountains.
There are a lot of wind chargers along I-10.
Again, here is the line between the cold snow and the desert below.

Palm Springs Continued

You can see right to the line where the rain turned to snow.
We didn't spend a lot of time in Palm Springs. (Rick had to get back and make some phone calls.) This shot caught my eye as we walked a few blocks soaking up some "local color." We didn't want to soak up too much "local color" as we encountered some of what the West Coast is infamous for. :/
Just driving down the street.
Green palms and blooming flowers beneath snow topped mountains.
Palms, palms and more palms.

Quick Trip to Palm Springs

It rained last night (which is a good thing) and it snowed again up the mountain. Today Rick took a little break and we headed over to Palm Springs. Here are a few pictures of what I saw out my passenger window.

Clouds were clearing and snow is on the mountain tops.

But it didn't snow on all the mountains. Just good old desert sand.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Please Pray! What's Up in California

I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of Jehovah. Psalm 122:1 Litv.

Yesterday morning was grand. As we drove to church, we could see that snow had fallen across the mountain tops. The air was clearer than it has been since we got here over a month ago. We only needed a light jacket, but some of the locals complained about how cold it was. It was a beautiful morning. So good it was to be in the house of the Lord, to worship and rest in the security of God's Word.

Though the church service was rest for my weary soul, I was greatly troubled by a insert that was in my bulletin. It began, "Stop SB777!" From reading the insert, I learned that recently Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that is designed to "protect" students who are homosexual, transgender, bisexual, or have any gender issues. I will quote a paragraph from the flyer.

"References to 'mom and dad' will be considered promoting bias against homosexuals. Any school activities such as having a prom king and queen or gender-specific bathrooms would also be discriminatory. Children as young as five will be subject to the promotion of homosexuality."

This is not just something that is being talked about or thought about or might happen. It has happened! When the pastor addressed the congregation about this issue, he stated plainly, "This is real, and it is bad." This is now law in California.

As I read the flyer before the service began I whispered to Rick, "How did this make it as far as the Governor's desk?" My question was answered when the pastor, in his address, stated, "Christians have not stepped up to the plate." He went on stressing the point that the church has little influence on children when they spend only an hour or two a week in church vs. the many hours spent in school and school supported activities. He said it is a war, "and our kids are losing." We have given our children over to the enemy!

All hope is not lost. A group, Save Our Kids, has started a referendum to over turn this recent assault. You can learn more by going to Petitions are being signed. The campaign must obtain over 500,000 signatures to get the referendum on the June ballot. There is a very small window of time to get those signatures, and that window will be closing in a few days.

I felt so helpless, walking past those petitions that were lying on the tables at the church. I'm not a California voter, so what could I do? What can you do? Oh PRAY! Please pray! This is a serious issues for our country, not just the state of California. If you don't know what kind of an influence California has on the rest of our nation, then you are living in a bubble. So many "trends" and socially acceptable behaviors, ideals and beliefs start here and migrate across the states. Again, THIS IS REAL AND IT IS BAD. It is time, past time, that we all, no matter where we live, step up to the plate! Prayer is our most powerful defense and weapon!

Beyond the issue of SB777, the pastor brought to our attention other "classroom activities" that should make any Christian parent take serious action. He presented to the church a public school classroom handout that had a Thanksgiving poem or song in one column, and partnered with it in the other column a reading about Ramadan. He also showed us a word search handout that when all the words were correctly found and circled, a pattern appeared in the center of the puzzle that said, "THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH." Do you think there is any way a teacher could get by with having students do a puzzle that presented the message that "JESUS CHRIST IS LORD?" I doubt it.

Brothers and sisters, this is California, but this is also Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Alabama .... if we are not willing take time to pray, prepare, and fight. Heads up Christians! I've got children and grandchildren, and so do you! Let's not give them to the enemy!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fireproof Brick

A wind claim took us high up in the mountains

Fireproof Brick
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
. We were in an area that sufferd loss from the wild fires in October. Several fireplaces were left standing alone -- monuments of the homes that once wraped themselves around the stacks of bricks and morter. I've posted some pictures here, but you can see more pictures by clicking on a picture or the link under it.

Untouched But Not Unchanged

Untouched But Not Unchanged
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
This house was across the street from one house that burned. The heat from the flames melted the siding on this home even though it was not burned.

Dishes on the Stove

Dishes on the Stove
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
Items that were recognizable in some of the homes included the hot water heater, the stove, and the refigerator. Here you can see a few dishes on top of the stove.

Melted Steel

Melted Steel
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
Notice that the steel beams in this burned building are melted and warped. It looked as if there were some business along the road that were consumed.

Green Valley Lake 11/29/07

Green Valley Lake 11/29/07
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
This car parked out in front of a house that didn't make it through the blaze. The tires, paint, everything but the metal, was burned off of this car. Some trees surrounding were burned, but as you can see, some are still green.

Nothing but a shell

Nothing but a shell
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
Rick had a wind claim on a mountain home in the Green Valley Lake area northeast of San Bernardino. Some homes in the area didn't fair so well. Here to the right is the rubble of one house that was burned to the ground. To the left is a shell of a log home that was gutted. I have posted a few pictutes here ... just a snapshot of our day. You can see more pictures by following the link below one of the photos.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Well, it's that time of year again. Television specials and commercials, music in the malls, red and green store displays, lighted houses and decorated street lights, and the ongoing controversy over how we should wish each other well. Do you say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?"

I tend to be a bit on the Ba-Humbug side when Christmas rolls around. Especially when it starts rolling around right after Labor Day. I think we make way too big a fuss. The day we celebrate that is supposed to be all about peace on earth brings anything but peace.

Yesterday, Rick and I ventured out to an outlet mall in a nearby town. Traffic entering the mall area was backed up for a mile and a dozen perturbed police officers risked their lives in the middle of intersections waving and swinging their arms like windmills in a hurricane. We drove around and around looking not for an up-close parking place, but ANY parking place. As we zig-zagged back and forth through the parking lot I saw one poor lady, in heels mind you, scaling a very steep sandy embankment as she returned to her car. She carried one small sack. I felt her pain and hoped that the gift she carried was for her mother. Only a mother would appreciate that kind of effort put into purchasing a gift. We finally found a parking spot -- up the same embankment -- which was a couple of blocks away from the mall. We waited patiently with our blinker on for the car occupying the space to back out. Coming from the opposite direction was a lady who had that look on her face that made us think she just might be willing to fight us for the spot. Our truck was bigger than her automobile, so we won.

We walked the long way to the mall. I really had no desire to slide down the embankment on my backside. As we entered the mall area, I could hardly believe my eyes. Thousands of people crowded the stores and spilled over the walkways. There was a "wait" to get into the Coach purse store. We shuffled and bumped along the sidewalk, pushed our way into a couple of stores, then exasperated, hiked back up the hill to the truck. Wow. Tis the season to be jolly! I mumbled fa la la la la all the way home.

Yes, I think we make way too big a fuss over Christmas. I don't recall any scripture that commands us to celebrate the birth of our Lord. On the other hand, the book of Luke records the words of Christ which tell us to remember his broken body and spilled blood. For it was His death and resurrection, His sacrifice that saves us, not His birth alone. So, I struggle with so much emphasis placed on this season we call Christmas. Therefore, the controversy over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays is a perplexing matter for me.

It saddens me that some power outside my own seems to make every attempt to remove Christ from our culture. I have joined other believers in signing petitions and contacting corporate big wigs in effort to keep the reference of Christ in the December holiday, but I'm not getting on my soap box about it. I guess I see it as a sign of the last days in which we live. I don't care what you call it, Christmas or Santa's Big Day, a label will not change the hearts of men. As long as we focus on buying gifts, being merry, and yes, even the birth of the Christ Child, the sinful wicked hearts of men and women will remain unbroken and unchanged. Only when we see and admit our sinful condition, realize the real cost of true and everlasting peace, then accept the sacrificial love of our Creator and Lord will Christ be welcomed in our culture.

So, is it that big of a deal? I heard a pastor once say during a children's sermon, "Just because someone calls you stupid, does that make you stupid?" Just because we call the day "Christmas," does that make Christ our focus? Or if we call the entire period of time between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year "Holidays," does that mean that we do not acknowledge Christ as our savior? Each must examine for himself the condition of his heart and decide how he wants to label the season of gift giving, festive parties, and twinkling lights.

I am comforted by Philippians 2:9-11. "Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and thing on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (ASV) No matter what you call it, Jesus is still Lord, and some day EVERY tongue will confess that fact, like it or not. So in the end... we win! Merry Christmas and happy holidays. May all your days be filled with charity, hope and peace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Favorite Thanksgiving Food

Okay. It's not like I have a huge group of readers, so my polls are quite pointless except for my own fascination and fun. I found it interesting that all but one of you wonderful people that took time to participate in my poll picked "other" as your favorite Thanksgiving food. I'm guessing that my youngest daughter was the one that picked pumpkin pie as her favorite. So what does that say about us and our traditional holiday meal? Do we all gather around a table to feast on foods that we are not that crazy about? And if so, why do we put so much time, effort, and money into a meal that no one likes? Or did I just list the wrong foods for you to choose from? Maybe I should have included cranberry sauce? I'm dying to know what your favorite traditional food is!

Tradition is a wonderful thing. It is a type of base we can touch as we play life's game of chase. When we don't know where else to run and it is about to catch us, tradition is a place of safety, security, and rest. Tradition my not be our favorite thing, but we find ourselves coming back to it time and time again. Tradition is a good thing to have, even though we often crave other things.

Here's hoping you have and enjoy traditions and favorites this Thanksgiving. May we all remember to be thankful for both!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Something to Laugh About

Rick is working "clean up" now, and from what we can tell, he is one of few if not the only adjuster in this area working for his company taking care of "cleaning up" wind claims. Unlike his original claims which where were all located in the same zip code, these claims are scattered all the way from the San Diego area to the Los Angeles/San Bernadino area. So Saturday we spent most of the day driving through the mountains northeast of San Diego.

We saw a lot of burned area. I was intrigued by the selective nature of the fires -- low growing vegetation gone but trees only scorched, everything gone except for the boulders and they were black, one area left untouched inside a ring of blackened earth and ash. Mostly I was impressed by the obvious work of the firefighters. Though homes were lost to the flames, many homes were unharmed because of the efforts of those brave folks who fought the fires. Hand painted signs hung on fences expressed the gratitude of the residents living in the area. In the midst of this catastrophic event, there is reason to give thanks.

The day was pleasant, the drive was long and filled with hundreds of hairpin curves, and God provided some tickling of my funny bone alone the way. When one insured found out that we have legal residence in Texas but travel about the country living in an RV, he instantly assumed that we were semi-retired and just doing this work for the fun of it. If only he knew... Climbing ladders, walking around on roofs, making phone calls, working through mountains of paperwork, going to meetings, fifteen hour work days, being away from family on holidays -- if that is semi-retirement, may we continue to work! It would be easier. This poor man wanted to know how we "got into" insurance adjusting because he was looking for a way he also could be semi-retired and still make some money. I laughed at his innocent ignorance.

My second belly laugh for the day came when we stopped for fuel. This the Mini __rt where we stopped.
This is what we had to pay for fuel.

I went inside for a "rest stop" while Rick pumped the diesel. I looked around, saw no restroom sign, so I asked the clerk if the place had a restroom. With a look and a tone that said, "Lady, are you blind or just stupid," he replied, "Yes we do. Three of them." Then he pointed out the window.

I don't know why I found this so funny, but there sat three little green huts on the corner. I hoped one would be marked Ladies, one Gentlemen, and the third... maybe Confused? But no such luck. You just had to take your chances if you needed to go bad enough. That's the first time I had seen such "conveniences" at a corner convenient store.

After the stop and a few more miles down the road, we passed a sign that almost made me hysterical. Keep in mind that the hills were covered with sage, yucca, prickly pear, cactus, scrub cedars, and sand. Tons and tons of very dry sand. The sign I found so funny marked a road that apparently led to a naval training area. Now I might be confused, but I thought the Navy was all about anchors away, submarines, and the sea. We both found it funny that the Navy would have a training area in the middle of the desert. If anyone can tell me why this is true, please let me know. We laughed at the absurdity of the thought.

Misconceptions, portable toilets, and highway signs are not usually that funny. I thank the good Lord that he brought laughter to our lives and joy to our hearts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boys and Girls, These are Pinecones!

We found these pinecones while in Running Springs. I've never seen anything like them.

Scoping A House

Yesterday we had to look at a claim in Running Springs. (Near Arrowhead Lake.) This house is built on the side of the mountain. Rick was able to walk on to the roof from the back of the house. The front door is at least one TALL story off the ground.

There were some really big rocks and some really cool trees behind the house.

New Address

On the street where we live.

We made the move to Hemet today. We are packed in but I have a concrete patio and I can use my bathroom and there are almost no flies!!!! We've got a heated pool, an exercise room, pool tables, and clean laundry facilities!

Check out Where In The World Am I? for a map.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good News

We found a different place to stay. It is in Hemet, CA. Hemet and San Jacinto are very close, kind of like Ying and Yang. It is in a busier part of town (-) but it is right across the street from a DHL drop. (+) The campers are packed in like sardines, (-) but it is farther from any of the dairies so the flies are not as bad (+) and the air does not smell like a feedlot. (+) Unless the duck and goose eggs hatch in the next day or two, we won't be here to see the babies. (-) But this morning the gander and both his lady friends were outside my door honking for something to eat. I fed them the last heel of the bread and they wanted more. As I turned to go back into the camper for some crackers, the gander bit me on the leg. Then later one of them pooped right at the bottom of the steps of the camper. The new campground has no fishy smelling lake and no biting pooping geese. (+++) The new place actually has sewer hook ups (+) -- we don't have sewer here -- and they have 50 amp electricity hook ups. (+) I will be able to run the AC and the microwave at the same time! And we don't have to be seniors to stay there. (+). We hope to make the move later in the week.

Needed A New Do

I really need a hair cut, and some highlights would do wonders for my mood. I know there has got to be a good salon around here somewhere, but I've not seen one. The last time I got my hair done at Wal-Mart I had a less than pleasant experience. It was not as bad as the time I had a toe nail removed, but it was close. So, I guess I'll remain shaggy a while longer. I had to do something for my mood, so I gave my blog a new do instead.

I added some fun stuff and a counter so I can count all three of you that visit me here! I hope you like it. Let me know.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Is It Segregation?

Segregation -- the state or position of somebody or something kept separate from others.

Now let me ask you how you would feel if you were told you could not live in a certain neighborhood because your skin was not white or black or brown. What if you were not allowed to take vacation where you wanted because you were not a male, or not a female?

As a society we group ourselves, do we not? We are constantly choosing sides in politics, religion, moral issues of the day, etc., and this is acceptable. When we want to segregate ourselves it is a good thing. It is acceptable. We are “embracing” or “supporting” a group or an issue or a belief or a way of life. But when we are on the outside looking in, wanting to be where we are not, then segregation takes on a negative connotation. For the people on the inside of the group, life is good. For those excluded, there is an injustice, a wrong to be righted!

So, here we are on the outside, and I think it just is not right! The campground where we are staying is not the worst I have ever seen, but it is not the loveliest either. We have looked around for a better place to stay, and to our dismay we have found some nice places but can’t stay there because we are not 55 years old or older. When Rick was out here a few years ago, there were campgrounds that would not let him stay there because his camper was older than 10 years old. We have come to the conclusion that to live in southern California, you have to be old and rich.

As we have driven around the towns of Hemet and San Jacinto we have seen countless fenced or walled neighborhoods whose entrances are posted with the name of the neighborhood and the words “55 and older.” I guess the folks living inside the walls like it that way. But I just have to wonder why that kind of neighborhood is perfectly acceptable, but a neighborhood boasting “whites only” or “men and boys” would be attacked in a minute by the ACLU and most of mainstream America. This girl never wanted to join the Boy Scouts, but I would like to stay in a nice, clean, quiet, safe campground.

I think it is a little strange to find these types of campgrounds and neighborhoods here in California because I thought the whole idea of “acceptance” and “tolerance” was born here. I’m thankful that as my children were growing up we lived in a place so narrow minded that young families were allowed to live next door to senior citizens. My girls loved lunging through snow drifts in our neighbor’s driveway in order to get their mail for them when they were not able to get out and get it for themselves. And believe it or not, I believe that those 55 and older neighbors enjoyed watching us teach the girls to ride their bikes. I believe our lives are much richer, our minds much wiser, and our memories more pleasant because of the “desegregated” street where we lived.

I am still a little more than a decade away from 55 and I may change my point of view when I get there, but I can’t imagine that I would enjoy living in a neighborhood where I couldn't hear children laugh everyday or where all my friends and neighbors had the same aches and pains and complaints as I. Who would I depart my many years of experiential wisdom to if everyone around me were as old and wise as I? And if I can’t get through a snow drift to get to my mail box, I hope and pray there will be a young person around and willing to lend a helping hand.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An Accent? Who Me?

Alright now, do y'all think I talk funny? More than one uv these folks out here have commented on my accent. One feller even said he thought my accent wuz "delightful." That's nice. I like to think I'ma delightful conversationalist, but whut I don't git is they never say nuthin' 'bout Rick's accent. Oh well, I'ma Texan and proud uv it. Love me, love my drawl I guess. Too bad I didn't bring my boots with me.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Scenic Route

We had some claims in Beaumont, CA. We took the scenic route over the mountains as we returned to San Jacinto.

We are on our way up the mountain, looking back down onto Beaumont.

As we wound our way up the
mountain we began to see some trees.

At about 5000 feet there were a lot of trees. This is the San Bernardino National Forest. All of the park areas were closed because the fire danger is so high.

Coming down back into the desert valley... there is always a haze in the air, so it is hard to see the mountains in the distance.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Second Glance

Okay, I've given the town of San Jacinto a second look -- this time with a little more knowledge than first impressions allow. The smoke has cleared so the mountains that we could not see when we first arrived are now visible.
From chatting with the locals, we have learned that this last spring, fire swept across the mountains you see here. Even before the fire they were not like the mountains you see in Colorado or New Mexico which are covered with pine and aspen trees. The best these hills could hope for is desert brush, and by the looks of things, tumble weeds. But now they are bare. This area gets very little rain on an "average" year, but one of Rick's insureds told him that they have not had any significant rain at all in the past twelve months. Add desert sand and 90 to 100 mile winds and you've got, well, a "catastrophic event." Thus, we are here.
A large part of the population are folks 55 and over. The neighborhood you see here is one of several retirement parks. Yards are small and homes were once mobile. Roof damage is plentiful and many trees uprooted, some fallen on carports and homes.
As we drive through other neighborhoods we see sand drifted in back yards three and four feet high. Today I saw a man vacuuming his front yard with a shop vac. (That was a first for me.)What looked like a sandlot was actually a green, well watered and manicured lawn buried beneath inches of sand. The man vacuumed until his canister was full, then he dumped it in the gutter. The city has front end loaders that go around and scoop up the sand, then they haul it away in trucks. In the same neighborhood, one house had a sand drift on the roof at least 8 inches deep.
Homes and cars have inches of sand inside, and because there are so many dairies in the area, a lot of that sand has manure and hay mixed with it. I talked to one insured on the phone who said he had 4 inches of mud in the bottom of his swimming pool. One lady told me she had about an inch of manure/sand in her kitchen cabinet drawers.
So now I wonder, upon second glance, what this town might look like if it weren't for the drought, the fire, and the wind storm. It might not be so ugly after all.
It makes me think about some folks I know. You know some too. Those folks that are less than beautiful, unlovable, different. What would they be like if not for the drought, fire and storms in their lives?
Maybe they deserve a second glance too.

Out In The Field, Just Another Day On The Job

Look Ma, Ricky's on the roof again!
After nine months in a "cubi" Rick is back up on roof tops every day. You know what they say about variety. Guess we're gettin' spiced up!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Duck Duck Goose

I know the difference, really I do! This masked beauty is a DUCK! She would not look at me before, and from the back end I just thought she was a goose. This is the one in the hollowed stump.

This defensive dame is a GOOSE! She has at least 13 eggs and she is hardly big enough to keep them covered.

And this is a watchman, a warrior. He stays near to chase away anything or anybody that gets too close to his "lady." All she has to do is sound a distress call and he comes running with head lowered, ready to attack!

In Mobile we had two cats that adopted us, and each of them had a littler of kittens while we were there. Here we have a duck and a goose, each ready to be mothers. Humm. Are we starting a trend?

Friday, October 26, 2007

First Impressions

We're here!

About a year ago we were in Minneapolis. Some of you were keeping up with us then and you might remember the beautiful pictures we sent out of the view from our "office" window. Remember how those beautifully adorned trees reflected off the crystal clear water of the Mississippi River? Fall at its best! That place captured our hearts.

Well, this year here we are in San Jacinto, California, and if there were an award for the most ugly town, this place might just be on the list of candidates. Now before I get any comments, let me qualify my unflattering remark. This area missed the fires but was hit with some bad wind. Bad wind can always mess a place up, but I don't really think this place was any more appealing before the wind storm.

San Jacinto is located on the opposite side of the mountains from Palm Springs. My first impression is dry, brown, and dirty. Sand, sand, and more sand. The average annual rainfall is about 13 inches. When we arrived, the smoke from all the fires was so thick that you could see very little. The sky was a grayish brown, the ground is brown, and the majority of the houses are brown stucco. The most color I saw as we drove through town was the black and white dairy cows. Yep, hundreds of them. And the town is built and growing around the cow lots. Newer looking homes are directly across the street from a dairy. I don't know how many cow lots are in town, but we saw a bunch and we didn't drive all over the whole town! As we drove around discussing our "first impressions" of our current home-away-from-home, Rick suggested that maybe things will look better after all the smoke blows away and the sun can shine on the town again. At least we can hope.

The campground where we are staying has a couple of little lakes. It's not Mobile Bay, but at least it's not a sand pit. We are camped on dirt though, so for the next month or so I'll be fighting sand and dirt in the camper. The nice concrete patio I had in Mobile spoiled me! Drab and discouraging our surrounding seem to be right now, but we found a gift from God that give us something to anticipate with smiles. Just a few feet from our camper are two "sitting geese." One has her downy nest inside a hollowed stump and the other has her nest in the center of a tight cluster of trees. We are enjoying watching them turn and tend the eggs. I hope I'm around to see them hatch.

I know first impressions can be misleading. I'm sure that as the fires are contained, the smoke clears, and the dust and dirt settles, things will look a little better around here. And I am holding my breath... as much as I can... Combine the smell of smoke, dust, and cow piles and you'll know my life is no bed of roses!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On The Road Again

It is like one of those horrible word problems you had in seventh grade math class.
If Mr. and Mrs. P left home at 8:30 a.m. and drove 11 hours traveling west 615 miles before stopping for the night at 5:30 p.m. but still had 442 more miles to drive the next day, what will be their final destination. What time will they arrive if they left at 9:30 a.m. and only stopped twice for fuel?

No, we're not there yet!

Go ahead and try to figure it out... Right now we are about 102 miles from the Arizona/California border traveling I-40, and I can smell smoke in the air. We are headed into the "Inferno" that is consuming a large portion of southern California. Rick has to be at his first meeting Thursday morning near Los Angeles. (Diamond Bar to be exact) We don't know at this point where he will be working, so we will spend tonight in San Dimas and go from there to the area where he will be working. (Provided we can find a campground open and operational.)

The drive has been good so far. No engine problems or tire problems. The weather has been good and the scenery is beautiful. We got a good night's sleep last night in Flagstaff, so we are in a good frame of mind as we try to prepare ourselves for the days ahead.

It is hard to put into words what goes through our minds on days like today. We try to stay focused on the task at hand, the trip, the miles and miles of pavement that seems to have no end. We hurt and pray for the people and community we will come in contact with in the weeks to come. We hope for "good claims" so that our time spent so far from home and family will be "profitable." We wonder where we will be deployed and hope to find a place to stay so our expenses will be as low as possible. We pray for and miss our kids. And then I wonder how far it is to the next rest stop!!!

This is the first time I have been able to go out with Rick from the first day he is deployed. It is a good thing that men have tunnel vision and can think about only one thing at a time. If I were in charge of this trip, we would have had to stop and see the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon on the way. He, on the other hand, knows one thing and that is that we have to be in California Thursday morning. From the time he was called to go to the time we have to be there, driving 1000+ miles allows stopping for fuel only when necessary. Bathroom breaks and meals have to be taken care of wherever you can buy diesel. Truck stop fast food takes care of the first two meals of the day. We usually are able to have a "sit down" dinner in the evenings. We should have a big bumper sticker on the back of the fifth wheel that says, "This Rig Stops at Cracker Barrels!" It's not your "normal" life...good thing I'm not "normal."

Oh praise The Lord... an unexpected pit stop! I'll catch you down the road!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Birthdays Make Me OLD!

So how do you know when you are "old?" I celebrated a birthday this week, so old age is one step closer to being a reality for me. Rick and I were together on my birthday and I didn't have to fly a thousand miles for us to make it happen. That was a nice treat. We spent a good part of the day doing some "pricing" in Home Depot and Lowes. Nothing note worthy happened. That's the way I like my birthdays. We had dinner with some of the kids and Patricia made me a cheese cake that we shared.

It was an overall good day... except for some "old age" reminders. My dry eye was really bothering me. The doctor tells me I have dry eye because of my age. My eye doctor is much younger than I, and she was not very sympathetic when she blurted out her diagnosis several months ago. I want to be a fly on the wall some day when a doctor reminds her that her ill conditions are due to the fact that she is over forty. And why, on the day I turned, well, over forty again, did the employees at Home Depot turn the heat up on high while I was shopping? It was a nice warm day, they didn't need to have the heater on at all. My husband never noticed how hot it got in the store. While I felt as if I might just faint, and little beads of moisture started to form on my forehead, he walked around as cool as a cucumber. He is a smart man though. Not once did he say anything about my personal heatwave being because of my "age." I love him.

I felt old this morning when I got up. We spent the night away from home and the mattress we slept on was as hard as a rock. Before I turned forty, I never complained that a mattress was not "like mine at home," but this morning I felt like someone beat me with a bat while I slept. So am I "old?" Well, I'm not young anymore, but I can still remember when I looked forward to birthdays. I can't remember the name of a person I met five minutes ago, but I can remember how good it felt to be young.

The passing of time and the aging our minds and bodies are things over which we have no control. We can take good care of ourselves, but "old age" is gunning for all of us, and we just can't hide from it. There are some positive aspects of aging I'm sure. I just can't remember any of them at the moment!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Who Am I?

One day a couple of years ago I had a conversation with a woman with whom I had been acquainted about twenty years earlier. We had never been friends, but we had lived in the same small town and our kids were about the same age. Past that we had little in common. During our brief encounter, we chatted about where our family members were now living, working, etc., and somehow we got onto the subject of our plans for the near future. When I told her that I had plans to quit my current job and "help" my husband in his career, she got a look on her face that said, "I can't believe my ears!"

She asked me if I was going to retire. Suddenly at that moment I remember why I never thought of this woman as a friend. I was barely past forty and she knew it! Of all the... Anyway, I tried to explain how I intended to benefit my husband and myself by changing my focus, my priorities, and how I spent my days. She listened, but I don't think she heard a word of my explanations. When I was done rambling, she looked at me with a pathetic gaze and said, "Well, just don't lose your identity." Then she turned, tossing her head in the air, (reason #2 why we were not friends hit me) and walked away.

I pondered her comment the rest of the day, and still today it echos in the empty corners of my mind, "Don't lose your identity." I laughed then and I still laugh because you would have thought that by quitting my job as a library clerk, I would be running the risk of making my face fall off and my fingerprints disappear. I would no longer be the same person if I didn't stand behind a chest high counter every day and tell people when their library books were due. Well, I did resign my position behind the counter, and I don't think my dental X-rays changed a bit. (I did gain a few pounds though, so she might not have been ALL wrong.)

I believe that there are divine appointments, encounters planned by God and carried out by His Holy Spirit, and they are not always with angels. This was truly a divine appointment. God uses it often to remind me to examine myself and ask myself, "Who am I?" Will I be known and identified by what I do for a living? If I receive a regular paycheck or not? What people think of me? What IS my identity? I think I will spend some time trying to figure it out and I'll get back to you.
By the way, who are you?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Poll

I'm glad that some of you are participating in my poll. I find it interesting that so far all of you have picked the same choice, especially since failure is not my number one choice. I thought I would make a post so if you would like to comment on your reasons for your choice, you would have a place to do that. You will be required to let me know who you are, but if you would like to make a comment and not have it published, that is possible. Just let me know in you comment that you don't want it published and I'll honor your wishes. I'm just interested in what you think.
I guess I must be the odd bird, but I find the fear of rejection much more overpowering for me. If I fail at something, well, at least I tried and and can try again. I can work at improving myself or my skills -- whatever it takes to try again and eventually succeed. But to be rejected, tossed aside, ignored, no use to anybody... That bothers me. I know I will be rejected by this world because I have chosen to follow Christ. He was rejected. Rejection in that light doesn't bother me so much, but to be rejected by family or friends, fellow believers, people I look up to or admire hits a tender nerve.
Now, let me know what you are thinking.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fall Is In The Air

It is crisp this morning. That is what is nice about the Texas Panhandle -- we have all four seasons. Sometimes we experience weather conditions typical of all four season all in the same day, but still, we do have seasons.
Rick and I have enjoyed the sporadic time we have spent on the Gulf Coast the last few years, but the folks living in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana don't know what they are missing when it comes to fall on the High Plains of Texas. Warm days, cool nights and mornings, one day in the 70s and the next almost 90. Variety....
God's artistic nature is evident here in the fall. Most all our trees are planted and pampered and prayed over because we do not get enough rain to support "natural woods," so we enjoy only a little color in the leave. But take a drive away from the city and see the beautiful prairie grasses and maze and corn fields. I live near Palo Duro Canyon so you don't have to go far to see drastic changes in the soil colors as well.
Fall always stirs in me anxious anticipation of change. I can't explain it and can't really even understand it, but deep inside I feel "all stirred up." Fall brings a time of rest to recoup and recoil from the "rush-about" of long summer days filled with hard labor and activity. Yet somehow as I look forward to the restfulness of short winter days ahead, I am uneasy, a little fretful, almost fearful as I anticipate the future, the unknown. And I feel this way every fall...
You wouldn't think that fall is my favorite time of year considering the inner turmoil it causes me, but it is. I guess it might be because I know that my future is secure in Christ even when change and uncertainty are in the air. Fall reminds me that I must trust in the God who knows my future, the God who has planned every day of my life, and who will work out all things concerning me, to His glory.

Friday, October 5, 2007

One Spare Moment

The last couple of days have been very busy. My daughter from Houston is home for the weekend. She brought her fiancee with her as well. It is good to have all of the girls around the house for a few days, and Natalie keeps us all smiling and laughing.

Today after I prepared breakfast for everyone that wanted to eat, I helped my husband load up some old junk that needed to go to the dump. After that, Patricia and I went shopping for a wedding gift we needed to buy. After lunch I watched some Veggie Tales with Natalie. She was supposed to take a nap, but Grammy was the one that got sleepy. We enjoyed rocking and cuddling even though the nap never happened, for either of us.

Now, just for the moment, all is quiet. Natalie's dog, Zoie, is eating our cat's food. Patricia and Natalie are in the guest room trying for the nap again, Rebecca is in her room watching TV, and Rick is out installing a new garage door opener. Kaleena and Clint went to town for the evening, and I am surveying the house. Twas once clutter free and clean, now... well... not so much.

The love, fellowship, good food and fun we've all enjoyed have left their marks. Life sometimes gets a little messy. Always when things seem to not go the way we would like, life feels like a mess, but even when things are good, clutter, chaos and confusion can start to pile up. It is wise to take just one spare moment and survey the situation. We usually need to take time to clean up and get organized, or set priorities. But for now, I think I will just be thankful for the mess, for it is evidence of a close family who likes each other's company and who knows how to have a good time.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

New to Blogging

I'm new to this "blogging" thing. I won't hesitate to say that I don't have a clue what I'm doing, but it all looks like it could be fun. I like to learn new things, so here goes. I will get my wonderful son-in-law to coach me. He knows all about web pages and computers and such.

May all who glance at this blog be blessed and may you "surf" away more hungry for the Lord Christ Jesus.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A little about myself

Am I the only one that hates being put on the spot? You know, when you are the visitor in a Sunday school class or find yourself in a break-out session at some convention, and someone says, "Okay, tell us a little about yourself." I usually end up telling more about my husband, kids, and grand-kids than I do myself. I think they are more interesting.

A few years ago when someone wanted to know a little about me, I'd start by saying, "I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of three wonderful children." But now that my children are all legal adults and none of them need mothering (or at least that's what they think), I'm a stay-at-home...


Okay, so I don't do much except stay at home. I don't qualify exactly as an empty nester because the youngest of my legal age children is still in the nest, but "mom" isn't my primary job description any more. It's a good thing my baby is feeling more independent every day because sometimes hubby and I fly off, or rather drive away, and live and work far from home. We call our fifth wheel trailer home and put out all effort to be happy and content where ever it is parked.

No, we are not retired or independently wealthy travelers. Hubby's career as an insurance adjuster takes us coast to coast and boarder to boarder of this great nation--only as long as storms damage roofs and blow down fences. Too much fair weather sends us back to the nest unemployed. Everything about my day-to-day life is temporary and can change in an instant. There's no such thing as tenure. Is there any wonder I have security issues? One thing I've decided--this life style is not for the fainthearted.

I have known for a long time, but in recent years have rediscovered, that what I do is not necessarily who I am. Not an easy lesson to learn, I'm tellin' ya!

I've had at least a dozen different jobs in my life, and I've been a lot of things to a lot of people. I have stayed busy and contributed everything I could to every situation. Now, as the life season is changing, the reasons and opportunities for doing are drifting away. I'm forced to look more closely at who I am rather than what I do.

Who am I? I'm still in the discovery process. It's a journey. I don't think it's going to be a quick trip, but I'm sure it will be an adventure. Already I can tell you that all the self-examination stops along the way are, again, not for the fainthearted.

This is not to say that I'm courageous. Not at all! I haul around more fear, hang-ups, and insecurities than you can imagine. All that weight cuts my mileage and slows my progress. Nothing but God's grace gives me the power and strength to continue on. I have to fill my grace tank often.

So, there ya go--a little bit about me. I'm a middle aged woman in a state of constant change and uncertainty, trying to figure out who I am, why I'm here, and what my later life's purpose might be. Anything else you want to know, you're going to have to learn along the way as we journey together.  Please feel free to leave comments here telling me who you are, and I hope you enjoy the trip.