Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday notes

I'm sorry I haven't been much of a faithful writer. I've just not felt inspired, it seems. Another thing is that I only have a window of opportunity of about an hour a day to get things done, and during that hour is the time I will start some little project, or clean house, or try to do some things in the yard. After that, I'm pretty beat.

However, today was a really good day. It was warm and lovely outside, the daffodils and tulips and grape hyacinths putting on a big show, though the tulips are far from the peak of their extravaganza!

I went out this morning, after watching through the kitchen window the young deer in the woods above our house, and actually was able to putter in the yard for about an hour and a half. The yard is looking so pretty. My husband mowed the grass and helped me with a few things. We put compost on three trees...I plugged in the electric weedeater and did a patch in about ten minutes that makes me so proud! The weedeater is light. In fact, the hardest part is getting the extension cords out.

Then, I wrapped up in a blanket and sat in the back in an Adirondack, feet up on a stool, facing the snow-covered Simcoe Mountains immediately north of us. A cool breeze from off the snow kept the air chilly, but wrapped in a light cover, it was wonderful. I read some...and I napped some. I love napping outside and think I'd love to get a hammock.

Most of my life, I saw myself this way: I'd put up a hammock every spring, but, always the workaholic, never take the time to lie in it. And this is the truth. But now, I know I'd enjoy one! On the hill behind our house between two whispering pines....ah!

While sitting out back, I watched the courting of two little birds, are they Starlings? It's spring indeed. The young deer feed on the hill on new little grasses...the birds are mating and later from
our living room window, we watched one start building a nest in a birdhouse I just put in an oak out there.

I came inside and made lunch and then fell asleep in the recliner. Upon waking, I decided to take Quincy for a walk up to the top of the property. Quincy and I watched three turkey buzzards silently checking us out from above.

Such a view from up there! I'd love to have a bench there, too. Maybe I can talk my husband into taking one up tomorrow. He'd need to load it into the wagon towed behind the little lawn tractor.

He will be going for foot surgery in Portland on May 16. We are both so glad this is progressing, he's needed this fixed for years.

I'm leaving in four days (next Wed) for New York and my follow up consult with my surgeon at TCI. I have SOOO many questions, as I've noted before. I need to type those up, maybe tomorrow. I'll be back May 3 and will report as to anything new I've learned.

Tonight was the PBR, one of my favorite shows that comes on almost every weekend. Professional Bull Riders. I'm such a big fan of this sport and have been since the PBR started in the mid-90's. So many of the riders are Christians and give thanks to the Lord each time they are done a ride, whether they make it to the whistle or not. My favorite for several years has been Mike Lee. He's a past world champion and a great witness for the Lord.

So, that's my day in a nutshell. This is the time of year when there is much to be done in the yard. I can only do it in fits and starts, but I've found that this mode of working is successful. I can keep things going, I just can't create anything new to take care of.

My neighbor came over yesterday offering me a jar of pollywogs. She said I'd have to keep them in the house for awhile b/c she'd had them long enough, they were used to warmth inside. And that I needed to feed them shredded lettuce. I declined her offer, I didn't want anything else to care for. One day, I would so love to have a couple of sheep, maybe a mini horse or donkey, some chickens and a couple of rabbits. Have a little mini farm. But I guess I better postpone that plan if I can't commit to pollywogs! ha...

I made an apple crisp this morning and when I cleaned up the parings and cores from the apples, I had the instinctual thought of taking them out to Shadow, my old horse I left behind in California. It's been over a year since I've seen him, or even petted a horse.

Old habits die hard.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Being content where you are...

My Dad was a real do-er! He never had much money, so he did whatever needed done. He also made sure his family and the "old folks" were assisted in all of their needs. And he played hard.

A Renaissance man perhaps? If so, then in a very simple, country way. He scythed hay for my horses from along the road. He sewed on a treadle sewing machine the leathers he'd wear while riding his Honda street bike. Even after his first stroke, I have pictures he sent me of very big logs that he had fallen and then decked on his property.

Square-dancing; traveling all across the United States with my stepmother in their motorhome; making homemade root beer and dandelion wine; happily visiting with his friends and playing cards.

In much later years, he sent me photos taken inside their single-wide trailer situated in a senior park. If photos were taken outside of flowers or the latest used car, they'd be framed by the window through which they were shot. I remember, even then, my sad wistfulness for my once-active father, how he used to send me photos of Laramie, Wyoming or Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Suddenly, his photos were of the trailer-house hallway; the hydrangea outside the bedroom window; the framed photos on the wall above the dining room hutch.

And I recall noticing how much his world had shrunk.

Today, I was searching for batteries for my ever-hungry digital camera in order to take a shot of an incredible tulip center which has opened wide on my windowsill. And it hit me: I'm where my Dad was at (though he was much older than I at the time). My world has decreased in size.

We never know how broad our worlds are until they are gone. We go about each day doing this, doing that, following routines and our lives are filled with so much, though we may not think so. Walking to the post office; driving to the grocery store; meeting friends for lunch.

In my case, I worked physically very hard on a ranch for about 10 hours each day; I kept my house reasonably clean; I was a part of an active band which involved weekly rehearsals; I toured about the country performing cowboy poetry; I attended weekly jam sessions and then met occasionally with girlfriends for lunch or dinner and a movie. I hauled my horse up into the mountains for long forays.

I would not have described my life as broad or eclectic. Somehow, I was able to do these things with gusto and do them pretty well. And still enjoy multi-dimensional events with my family: airshows, car shows, melodramas, hikes.

Today, I made one foray from the house, 30 feet out to the bird feeder to offer pieces of pancake left over from the breakfast my husband had made. But I kept busy on little things, flitting slowly from this to that, but within a smaller perimeter. And I am content.

I'm reminded of a Scripture which always held meaning for me, but then, it was easy to be content with the life I had! Yet, today, I'm also content. It's just taken me some years to reach that point.

Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (12) I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

New Message Board

Our new message board, Healing Friends, is doing wonderfully. The program has a statistics page and we've had 530 page loads today alone! God is so good. Come on out and join us!

Today, we've had a little sleet, a little sun, clouds, woke up to a dusting of snow, typical mountain weather. Though, Caroline, certainly not as bad as you over on Vancouver Island! One foot of snow this morning, yikes!!

I've been feeling about the same. Had an awful lot of pain this morning for several hours, after I took a little walk yesterday. Quincy and I saw ducks and a deer running through the woods. No, the ducks weren't running! They were flying and quacking as we scared them off of their paddling place on the shrinking creek. Cold nights these days means the snowmelt-fed creek is slowing down, but is still a pretty little stream.

Not much to relate or tell. I will have to dig out some more from my journals of the days after my injury.

Thanks for dropping by. Those of you who might be reading this because you found it while Googling about a Jefferson Fracture of C1 fracture, come join us on Healing Friends and click on the topic Jefferson Fracture! Be the first JFer to join! There is so much we can share.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Springtime in the Cascades

I mentioned before that I'd started some nasturtium seeds in an old egg carton, so here's a photo of how they are doing, along with a jar of lovely daffodils and tulips from my yard...and then another photo of cream and orange daffies!

Patriotic Deer

This is a pic from this morning, our little band of misfits. The one facing the camera has a very dark, shaggy coat. There is one off to the left, not on camera, who will shed out almost white. The third one doesn't look all that healthy. I think they had a rough winter. They were eating acorns under our little oak grove out front. I thought you might like to see them too, so I snapped a photo!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Writings from a Sickbed

I am looking through some notes I wrote down back in April 2004 after I came home from the hospital. Suffering from head/brain injury and not understanding what was happening to me, I remember feeling like I had to write things down, in order to recall them later on.

Here is a note from April 16, a week after my accident:
"Eventually taken to Sierra Vista Hospital by ambulance, I stayed there thru Monday. Yes, I have a lot of pain, yes, I have a lot of confusion and loneliness and emotions, yet, I rejoice--for I know that I will come thru this on the other side a far better person--filled with more compassion for others and more appreciation. God will pull me through for I feel His angels and I see them. Hints of movements of light across an open doorway..."

The Fingerprint
Lying in bed this morning, my white down comforter across my knees, I felt, then saw, a single depression into the comforter, thru to my leg, a definite "touch" -- warm to the feel, gentle, one soft poke, no, nothing quick, more slow, deliberate, and then the finger was taken away. God? An angel? Dad? A message? Like a skittish horse, I'm trying to calm my thought patterns -- no, not about a touch from God, but against the silence, and inner screams of madness that slices my perception on what is real or true.

[note, I have edited this a bit for spelling and comprehension. Many words were misspelled]

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Day in the Life...

Waking to a sunny, yet breezy morning, we decided to make an errand run to our shopping town. As always, the scenery was inspirational. We noticed seven deer traversing a cliff face single-file, the way they were traveling making us double check to see if they were actually mountain goats. A single, colorful pheasant ducked into the taller, brown grasses alongside the road further toward town. I wished him well and prayed he'd not run into the path of a car or truck.

On the way home, I started feeling very sleepy and did fall into a painful sleep. I know this is from my skull settling back onto something it shouldn't. By the time I got home, I felt so bad that if I didn't live with this so much of the time, I would surely have gone to the ER. I came inside, took a Percocet and just being home seemed to help a lot.

An old friend called and the visit saddened me. She told me of the successes and praises her band is experiencing. It's a band I helped to found. I'm not jealous and I'm happy as all get-out for her to see these rewards, but I still wish I could be there, be a part of it, see those people and play music again. Be on stage again. It's a big part of my life that I also had to give up. It's just the way things are.

I decided to go for a walk with Quincy, so bundling up against the cold wind, I grabbed my new walking stick to give it a try. A few days ago, I noticed one of our old livestock prods standing in the corner of our shop. We'll never work stock again, so I cut the fiberglass end off to a more appropriate height, wrapped that end with electrical tape and my husband put a rubber tip on the end of it. The prod has a great, rubber handle at the top for me to hold onto. It beats the heck out of my splitting bamboo stick.

With a granola bar in my pocket for training treats, we headed out. I admit I was a bit teary-eyed, and I immediately started a dialogue with God, asking for forgiveness for my reaction to my friend's phone call. Then I felt insight coming into my heart: I had committed no sin. I had been happy for my friend and encouraged her. It is not wrong to grieve what was lost.

I was only going to stay on the flatter part of the forest, but then remembered a little side hill deer trail I had not taken in awhile. I was happy to see that the trail looked like a whitetail freeway from all the cloven-hoofed traffic it had seen lately. I'd walked this little trail a lot this winter, rolling stones from the trail with my toes and stepping to the side to avoid muddy spots.

Quincy bounded along and I worked with him coming back to me at my shout of "Hey!" I thought, as I always do, of my friend who I had hoped would come visit me by now since I'd moved here over a year ago, and how I'd take her down these little natural pathways. I broke a few branches along the way and found more rocks to roll out of the way.

At my usual rest point, I stopped and sat on the moss-covered rock under the scraggly pine. Quincy jumped up and searched my pocket for treats. We shared, me not worrying about doggie-mouth on my fingers as I nibbled a few, small bits of the granola bar.

I thought about going back the way I had come, for the trail is quite short and I wasn't done yet enjoying the woods. Starting back, after a few steps I remembered that there was a steepish climb further along and I didn't have the strength for that. I turned back toward home.

Quincy was in front me, about 30 feet, stopping as he always does to check back with me. I snapped a branch from the trail, looked up and he was gone. I called "Hey" and "Here" and Quincy, but nothing. No dog! He had not done this to me before. I started the climb up toward home, calling and pleading with my little black-haired friend to come back to me and assuage my fears that he would be hit by a car when he crossed the road to get home. Nothing.

I walked faster, fast as I could, knowing it wasn't good for me, but frantic worry pressed me on. When I got to the road, there was Quincy in the driveway, sitting and waiting for me. When I crossed and stood in our gate, I called to him with a treat and he came running to me with such exuberance, relieved that I still loved him and he had done nothing wrong.

What a puzzlement this little dog is! He was abused and surely beaten before we rescued him 3 years ago, and he can't seem to shake the fear that someone is mad at him. Even after three years of almost-excessive love and protection. I realise now that he saw me grimace as I tried to break the stubborn branch, thought I was mad at him and made a bee-line for home.

There isn't much I can do more than I have already done. Just keep loving him and not really expecting him to change. When I next walk him, I'll have him on the retractable leash, and for several trips more, to be sure that experience is out of his mind.

Nurturing nature

On our new chat board, I post a new Scripture every day. So far, it's been edifying for me. Today's verse was:

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV

These words popped into my mind as I looked at my kitchen windowsill. Some time ago, I had taken a used egg carton and also a dishlike thing that some cookies came in, filled them with potting soil and pressed a single nasturtium seed, collected from my flowers last Fall, into the mix. I've been watering them every day for two weeks.

A few days ago, I dug one out with my finger and it looked hard, impenetrable, unlikely to sprout. I was about to toss them all out onto the bank behind the house, 'til three days ago, when I noticed the pale-yellow neck of a sprout bending up through the soil.

In only three days, that little tyke is about three inches tall. And another brother or sister is standing tall in the egg cup alongside it and I can see identical bent stalks pushing up the dark potting soil in all of the remaining cups.

And tonight the thought came to my mind that it was important to me to remember to keep them watered, not too much, not too little. I don't want to look at them and see leaves turning yellow. I don't want to transplant them out into the oak planter barrels too soon, exposing them to hot sun or cold nights prematurely. They are so fragile and will take nurturing and nourishing in order to bring them to the point of being strong, blossom-producing plants.

How alike this must be to the way our Lord feels about us. Like a well-watered garden, he will help us survive the sun-scorched earth.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Four years ago today, I broke my neck.

I never would have believed that I'd still be having such problems.
I remember the neurosurgeon (who handled my care but did not operate) leaning over my hospital bed and saying, "You'll go through a rough time of recovery, but you'll be fine."

I'm at a loss of what else to say.

Four years ago. It was Good Friday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No bending/stooping/kneeling, okay?

I have to get after myself and no more of the above activities, at least for a few months!
I am such a mess right now. I wake up in horrid pain every night from the waist down, including calf spasms in both legs, burning hips and lower back, very painful feet.

This was all caused by me abandoning my reacher-grabber tool and leaning over carefully to pick up things from the floor, thinking it was good for me...and also from a small project I did last week, where I had to kneel on the floor about five times for about 2 minutes each. No can do!

I'm on the ol' pain meds and making lists of low-impact things I can do. I've decided I want a small, portable sewing machine for Mother's Day. I saw one advertised in a Kmart flyer for $29 last week on sale. I think I could also make another whirly gig.

I'm hanging in there, but moving slow and not taking any inspirational walks, either. Trying
to get these legs less spastic. I go to see Dr. B in NY on May 2, got word yesterday that work comp authorized the trip for a follow up appointment. I have a huge list of questions, I'm sure he'll LOVE that, ha!

Message/chat board for Jefferson Fracture folks

Also for those of you with skull base fractures including atlanto-occipital dislocation!
As far as I know, there is no other place for you to chat that is exactly for these
trauma-related conditions. It's brand new, so come and post and let's learn about
each other. It's a lonely world out there? Don't go through it alone like I did!

See you there...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reading the Forest

Today was one of those days when I felt very weak, very pained. I know it's because I did too much a couple of days ago, and when I do that, it takes a day or two for it to demand payback. My mind would have liked to have done a few things around the house, but I knew my body wouldn't stand for it.

However, my little dog Quincy has been so patient and it has been maybe a week since I've taken him across the road for a walk. I could have stayed home in bed and read my book, but I decided to read the forest instead.

As we first crossed the road (Quincy is learning to sit at my heels beside the road while I wait and check the traffic before we cross), we headed down an old woods road, the neighbor's dog barked and a wild turkey hidden in the trees gobbled. We continued down the road, me whistling several times, notes that go from high to low, something I learned about 30 years ago which will cause a turkey, wild or otherwise, to gobble a reply.

I got to hear about 8 return calls and each one brought a smile to my face. We continued on a bit, me with my ever-present walking stick, an old piece of bamboo.

As I've written before, I have to walk very slowly and stop a lot but eventually, we made it into the stand of oaks and Ponderosa. I glimpsed something off to my right, and saw that four lovely deer stood about 80 ft. away. Quincy was great: he didn't bark or try to chase the deer, he just looked at them and stood very still. This looks like the same four that hang out in our back yard, one is a full-grown female and the other three are youngsters, one much smaller than the rest.

Eventually, they tired of me and took off at a slow trot.

And I continued on in the opposite direction, toward the creek which I could now hear as it gurgled over little water falls.
I spent a lot of time standing still, resting, looking up the hill on the other side of the creek (perhaps for that mountain lion we saw last week?) and out into the hayfield and just praising God for this incredible place so close to home.

I ambled upstream and noticed several willow branches along the trail that had been recently rubbed, the bark gone in spots revealing reddish patches of under-skin wood. Bucks have been rubbing the itchy velvet from their antlers here.

I broke a few face-high twigs away from the trail, figuring I might be helping the deer who trod here, as well. Up the creek a bit, I found a large Ponderosa pine toppled neatly across the stream. With few branches, it made the perfect bridge for someone or something other than shaky me.

It didn't take much for me to realise this was the perfect resting spot and thus I sat and enjoyed the water below me, looking for tracks (all deer) as evidence of what was crossing and drinking here. Quincy bravely crossed over on the log and scouted out the other side. He is now trained to come back quickly when I say "Hey!" so I yelped him back and he figured out how to get back over. Quite the smart, one-time city dog.

Beside me were the roots of the toppled tree and I noticed deep holes down in and around those roots, so I explored them with the end of my bamboo walking stick, wondering what I'd do if some animal leaped out of there into my lap. Nothing happened, and soon, I knew I needed to tackle the hill climb toward home.

Inching up the obscure deer trail, stepping over the barbed wire fence which had been collapsed by another fallen tree, watching always up ahead for Quincy and keeping him within hearing distance, I made my way up to my next resting point, a boulder next to the trail, situated under the turkey roost tree. I know it's a roost because of the droppings on the pine needles at the base of the tree. I always wait 'til the trail has led me above the tree a bit and then look back and up into the branches to scan for turkeys. I do this because I cannot look straight up into a tree anymore. I haven't seen any birds up there, though, and I know that's because they roost at night.

A crow winged silently overhead while I, in intense pain and weakness, trudged in little steps up and up. Not really steep, but any incline is steep to whatever is wrong with my legs. As we approached the side of the road again, I asked Quincy to sit at my feet. He didn't understand, so I pressed his backside a bit, he sat and waited while I, the wise human, checked again for traffic.

When I hear no cars or pickups approaching, I always tell him, "Okay, go home!" and he races across the road and through our front gate and up the hill to our house, stopping in his kennel to lap from his water dish. I give him the remainder of the granola bar, pieces of which are the omnipresent training-treats for our walks.

I stop by the shop to say hi to my husband and he lets me know he was a bit worried when I'd been gone longer than usual. This is surely because of the cougar sighting. I told him that I'd had to stop and rest a lot. But it pleases me he's watching out for me.

Down by the riverside

Here's a photo taken about a month ago of me and little Quincy, on the banks of the Columbia River.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The creak of rocking chairs

What a lovely day today. Sunny and starting to warm up. Outside, there are many little bulbs which are beginning to bloom, many I do not know the name of. Daffodils (jonquils) and grape hyacinths, snowdrops and little tiny yellow crocuses. Spring is indeed here.

I sat outside, in the back, and visited with my Mom on the cell phone, my chair pointed north to where I could keep my eyes on the snow-clad mountains. These are not the high, high mountains around here, they are smaller ones, covered to the top, with pine and fir. I love living where I can watch them.

When we told our neighbor about the mountain lion we saw the other day, he said that a couple of weeks ago, he was standing on his front porch looking across the road (where I walk) and saw something brown streak through the trees. He said it was not a deer, as it was not bounding. It ran fast and low to the ground.

Today, I thought of the creaking of rocking chairs. When I sit in an old chair and hear that sound, it takes me back to when I was a child, living alone with my dad. Almost every weekend, Dad would drive us to see the "old folks," which meant Aunt Hazel and Uncle Amos, or Grampa, or Aunt Bea and Uncle Harold.

They'd sit in the living room at Aunt Hazel's and I can see it yet. Uncle Amos is lounging on what we'd call today a "daybed," but it was simply a broken-down twin bed in the living room for the dogs to lie on. The hounds would be there, too, stretched out and oblivious to the old folk's neighborly chats.

Aunt Hazel is sitting in one rocker by the picture window and Dad occupies another rocker facing her, also near the window. As they talk, there are also long pauses of silence. No TV or radio in the background, no playing children babbling away. And no need to feel awkward in those quiet pauses. Just rocking, rocking, creaking, creaking. Behind Dad is an old, out-of-tune, upright piano and on top of that is a mantle clock, its ticking punctuates the creaking.

Dad's name was Larry and thus he was known to everyone. But Aunt Hazel would call him Lawrence, with a strong emphasis on the LAW....LAW-rence.....

I might be playing with toys that Aunt Hazel had in boxes and baskets in the corner, next to an old decorative Christmas fireplace...nothing fancy here, these were very poor folks. The fireplace was for kids and was made of corrugated cardboard. And it stayed up in that corner of the living room all year long.

In the winter, and if my older sister and brother were with me, we might go sliding on the hill across the road. Sometimes we slid down on an old car hood which was always thrilling and dangerous.

In the summer, I couldn't wait to get to Aunt Hazel's, when, as soon as we arrived, I'd run out to the decrepit barn in the back. The delapidated barn was filled with old harness hanging from pegs, old buggies down the center aisle, musty hay and straw in long-unused stalls. Someone boarded her horse in that barn, and horse-crazy kid that I was, I'd hang out with the fat mare and dream about riding her (but I never did). I'd also play around in the loft of the barn and search for the barn kittens. Trying to catch them, I'd always get bitten and scratched by the wild furballs.

Even a horselover can get tired of mooning over a horse she doesn't own and can't ride, so eventually, I'd tire of the barn and then, there wasn't a whole lot to do. So I'd end up behind my Dad's rocker and when his chair would rock back close to me, I'd whisper in his ear, "When are we going home?"

He'd ignore me, or say, "Soon." But it was never soon enough once boredom had set in. I had no interest in whatever they were talking about.

My great-grandmother, Grammie, used to live there. She had diabetes very badly and I can remember her legs up on a footstool and her toenails were very black. Eventually, she was placed into a nursing home because the doctors kept cutting off her legs until she only had a torso. On the day she died, my Dad took me with him to the nursing home and while he sat and watched at her bedside (my Dad loved and honored his grandmother very much), I ran and jumped and played on the rocks in the fields out back, not realizing the morbidity of the day.

My grampa also used to live there, not in the house, but in a little "camp" across the road. Grampa was dirt poor. His camp was so small, it had room for just an ancient, iron, double bed and a wood cookstove and a table to sit at. The sheets were so dirty, I wondered if anyone ever washed them for him. Grampa smoked a pipe and I can still smell that wonderful odor in his camp, and hear the ticking of the clock. Always, the ticking of the clock.

One day, Grampa went out and chopped a lot of firewood, and had a cerebral hemmorage. They took him to the hospital and Dad went to there to be with his father. I was about ten years old and stayed home. Looking for something to do, and very upset about what was happening with my dear Grampa, I took to sliding on my sled from off the snowbanks into the road. One time, I almost was run over by a car for I wasn't paying attention, I was crying over Grampa.

Grampa was something special. He trained horses and he never had any money. He didn't ride horses, he trained them for pulling wagons and sleds. He was very good at it. He had a great sense of humor, too and loved to play tricks on me. How I loved that old guy! When he came to our house for dinner, my sister and I would sit up straight and keep our hands folded in front of us, on the table, until it was time to eat. That was considered good Yankee manners.

Did you ever hear the phrase: "Go to bed when it's dark under the table?" That was how I was raised, as a small child, being told to go to bed when it was dark under the table. In the winter, this was very early!

We were pretty poor growing up, too, and had an outhouse way out back. I was afraid of the dark at that time and hated going out there to do nature's calling. I don't remember that we kept any pots in the house, either, so you either went way out there or you didn't go. When I was about 12, my Dad added a real bathroom onto the little house, and I nailed the seat shut on the outhouse and made it a clubhouse for me and the kids up the road, for our "Horse Club."

How thankful am I to have the sort of childhood I had. Oh, there were some sad moments, like when my folks broke up and divorced and I had to split each holiday in half, spending the mornings of Christmas with my Dad, then feeling guilty about leaving him alone as I went to my Mom's for the rest of the day. But, by and large, I had mostly happy times and good memories and found strong principles instilled in me to this day. I grew up cherishing the old ways and country life.

And that's just fine by me!