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.