Unexpected Treasure

Life can be, and more often than not is amazing. I love the quirky little twists that catch me off guard in a delightful way. I experienced such a twist this morning.

I have a tendency to be clumsy, often spilling drinks, tripping over my own feet or dropping things. Today I dropped my keys. They bounced off the porch and behind a scrub that grows against the house. When I retrieved them I discovered a small hole in the foundation that is hidden by the bush. It’s an old house so I suppose some crumbling of concrete isn’t unusual but is worrisome.

Next to the visible part of the foundation damage was an unremarkable dull gray rock. I turned it over to see if it was hiding a bigger hole. That’s when it’s secret treasure was revealed. Embedded in that lumpy unattractive stone was a perfect fossil of a white shell, about the size of my palm. As I touched it gently I imagined the valley I live in filled with blue sea water as it was many, many ages ago. I pictured the creatures that would have swam in the depths of the water and wondered if ancient people would have cast primitive nets upon the surface to catch silvery fish to feed their families. I looked heaven ward at the scattered white clouds, knowing similar ones would have been reflected on the waters’ face on spring days. This sense of continuity is not only comforting on some deep human level but strengthens and confirms my faith in God who created it all and has watched over it for so, so long.

I placed the rock back, for sure enough it was hiding a bigger gap in the footing of my little cottage. When I get the repair done I will find a safe place for this unexpected treasure.


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51 Weeks And No Valentine Days To Go

There are many ways we measure time. Moments and hours, days, weeks, months and years. I usually find myself using what ever method sounds the shortest when I’m waiting for a happily anticipated event. I now have a calendar with big X’s marking off each day, beginning on Feb.7th of this year. This morning I realized one week has passed since the first X that marks the count down to the day Sunshine girl will be home. You can read her story in an earlier post titled ” A Detour In Her Life”.

There is now fifty-one weeks to go. It is a paradox, this passing of time. In some ways it has been so slow, as if measured by each tick of a clock whose main spring needs to be oiled and in other ways as fast as the image of flipping pages of a calendar often used in old movies to indicate the passing of time.

Sunshine recently pointed out that there is just one of each Holiday and special occasion left until she’ll be home to share them with us all. Tonight I’ll mark off the last Valentines Day before her return. I find this concept to be a very satisfying way to measure her remaining time. Looking ahead on my calendar, I see next Monday is the last Presidents Day, but I don’t want to get to far ahead and spoil the happiness that this way of marking the time brings to my heart.

There is and always will be the bitter sweetness in each of our days because of the deep sorrow of the loss Sunshine’s friend. Somethings can not be measured by any method devised by mankind. There are questions in our minds and hearts we will never find an answer to on this earth and the best we can hope for is the faith to endure, knowing we have God’s love and promises to rely on. The mother of the young man who died that tragic day is one of the most remarkable people I know and she and Sunshine’s mom, against all odds, have become very close friends. So while I await my grand-daughter’s return home with joy, I am ever mindful of his loss and marked the ninth of Feb. off the calendar with tears in my eyes. We all miss you R.J. and strive to honor your memory by being kind and loving to one another.

Sorry dear reader if this post is a bit disjointed. Mixed emotions of the strongest sort and the fullest spectrum play havoc on my limited skills as a writer but I must write what is in my heart at times.

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February 14, 2013 · 8:33 pm

Bats In My Belfry

I once had bats in my belfry. Certain members of my family will declare I still do, but that’s an entirely different matter. The time I’m speaking of I literally had bats, well not in my belfry, for sadly my home had no belfry, but the nasty little critters took up residence in the walls of my house. The exterior wall next to my bed to be precise!

I was first alerted by a rustling sound coming from the wall next to my bed while snuggled under my comforter awaiting sleep to overtake me. I felt little concern that night, thinking it was a field mouse, as this happens occasionally when one lives in the country and there are several easy ways to deal with them. I learned the error of my thinking the next evening when I was waiting on my front porch for my dog to come in for his supper and saw first one and then several bats emerge from above the frame of my bedroom window. My disbelief was swiftly followed by a whirl of horrified thoughts. My mind was swooping rapidly, much like the small flying rodents. Yikes!

Being recently widowed I didn’t have my knight in shining armour who had kept me safe from such scary things for so many years and I felt panic building in my chest. Taking deep calming breaths I called the dog in and convinced myself there had to be a reasonable solution and I would find it come morning. My logic didn’t help during that long sleepless night as I listened for the soft scrambling sounds in the wall. Oh how I would have welcomed a family of field mice, with their bright little eyes and twitchy whiskers instead of the visual of nasty sharp toothed, rabies carry bats.

The next morning, in spite of little rest I approached the dilemma with firm resolve. I called a local exterminator. Perfect answer, right? Nope, I was told bats are a protected species so they can not dispose of them. So I politely thanked the woman on the phone and hung up. Okay on to step two. After much consideration I looked up the number for the local government office of Wildlife Management. I smiled as I dialed it, feeling proud of myself for having the idea of going straight to the top of the “bat protection bureau”. A pleasant voiced young  woman answered and I explain my problem with the naive expectation of hearing they will send someone to the rescue A.S.A.P. Superbatman!! Here he comes to save the day! Well no, she explains it doesn’t work that way. But they are your protected bats, I reply. No we are mandated by law to protect them for the people of the state as all wild life is a resource of the state and thus of the people. I absorb this info. Okay I say slowly, but what if I don’t want to share my house with my share of this valuable resource is my next question. She cheerfully informs me she has some suggestions that I might find very helpful. First don’t leave any water outside because it attracts insects which are bats food source. I gaze out my window at the sun sparkled river that runs about two hundred yards from my back door as I start a list. I put a large question mark after “no water”. Suggestion number two, don’t leave lights on at night as this also attracts insects. I list “live in the dark” with another question mark. The last item is, soak clothe, (she suggests bed sheets) in vinegar and hang them from the eaves of the house because bats don’t like the smell. I’m getting a mental picture of my house draped in bed linen as I jot this down. She wishes me good luck and says she is happy she could be of service. I think I may have mumbled some sort of thank you but am not sure as things get a bit fuzzy about this time. I allowed myself to shed a few tears that soon turned into soft laughter, that threatened to become hysterical.

I know we’ve all had those times when running away is such a tempting thought. I fantasized about white sand beaches and palm huts for a brief few minutes, but unless I could teleport magically I was out of luck. So I got a ladder and went to investigate the bats entrance/exit above the window. The width of the crack they were using was minimal. The tip of my pinkie barely fit in the space. Okay I thought it could be sealed up with caulking but would have to be done after dark when hopefully all the bats were out feeding on flying insects. As I stood weak kneed on the ladder, gripping the window ledge with one hand I faced reality. I was kidding myself if I thought for one second that I could get the job done in the dark and what if one of those devil rats flew out in my face!

Back in the house I alternated between pacing and sitting. I even looked at the list of hints from my friendly tax payer supported managers of all things wild. I tried to calculate how many sheets it would take to go round the eaves of my house and how many gallons of vinegar to soak them all. I felt bubbles of hysterical laughter building deep in my core once again. Then it happened, that almost magical function the human brain is capable of at the most unexpected times. It is like the light bulb of comics coming on over ones head  but on a dimmer switch. The light gradually grew brighter  as an old bit of conversation struggled to surface. Someones kid brother worked for a guy humanely trapping pesky varmints from populated areas and relocating them to safer places. Could bats be caught and moved? Who had told me about their brother? More pacing ensued as I struggled to remember the person’s name. Then my eyes fell on the phone book I had left on the table. Simple ideas are often the best, so I let my fingers do the walking through the yellow pages and found a heading for pest trapping.

“Yes ma’am we can take care of bat infestations”, was the beautiful  answer to my inquiry. Then he explained his wizardry, gave me a cost estimate (not cheap this ridding of bats) and we agreed on a time. So there is a Superbatman who rides in to save the day in a brown Ford pick-up with a spray bottle of magic potion, PEPPERMINT OIL. He sprayed it in the small crevice and bravely dodged the bats as they flew out to escape the pungent liquid. He inspected the whole exterior and sprayed any areas he felt could be a problem then sealed every small space were they possibly could enter again. Aww, my hero!!!!

An extra benefit, the house had a fresh peppermint aroma for the next two or three months.



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Christmas Oranges

The grove was so fragrant with the trees all in bloom

Thought I might take home a bough to enjoy in my room

But I was stopped by a thought that was rather shocking

What if some child awoke Christmas morning to find no orange in his stocking.

C.Y. 1973…

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and love.



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Let’s Talk About Butterflies And Socks

Tonight I am plagued with some very puzzling questions. There is one that has bounced in and out of my mind for a very long time. In fact I included it in a poem I penned way back in the seventies.

~ During summer rains, where do butterflies hid ?~

I first began to contemplate this when working in my flower garden one August afternoon.  As is common in our valley several varieties of butterflies fluttered around, unmindful of me, they danced from flower to flower in the warm muggy air. We were in full monsoon season and huge thunderheads were building on the horizon. The wind was soon gusting and the clouds roiled ever higher in the sky. The first roll of thunder had barely faded when followed by a louder clap. Gathering garden tools and kids I retreated indoors. Lightening crackled and the thunder rattled the windows as the sky opened up. The rain came in a torrent, no gentle sprinkle building up to harder and harder, it poured as if the clouds were impatient to get rid of their load of liquid. In less than an hour the storm was gone just as quickly as it had arrived, moving south along the valley.

The kids were anxious to get back out, for there was large puddles calling to them that needed to be jumped in. They laughed with delight , splashing and romping with our Elk Hound pup, who loved rolling in the water. I first noticed the full rainbow arching across the mountains to the east, then the butterflies. They had resumed their darting ballet among the flowers, That was when the question hit me. Where did they hide during the storm?

~ Where are all the missing socks?~

Now I’m quite aware this is an often asked question. And is probably one that will never be solved to everyone’s satisfaction, but I have a couple of theories. But first a sub question; why just socks and less frequently gloves? Notice a pattern? Things that come in pairs. I don’t have missing undies, towels, shirts or pants. My pillow cases are all accounted for and dish clothes are staying put in their drawer. But socks are gone, never to be seen again, just vanished! As mentioned in an earlier post I love colorful socks so I have given this a lot of thought and have two possible explanations. First one may be scoffed at, well both may, especially by the scientific community.

I offer for your consideration my first theory. One legged gremlins. They steal one sock at a time, being single footed and non-greedy they never take a pair. My second idea is actually a mental picture that occurred after seeing an illustration of what our Earth would look like if sliced in half. It showed the different layers that make up our planet down to the most inner core. It was interesting and somewhat complex but what popped into my head was socks. What if the Earth’s core is made up of all the millions of missing socks? And new ones go missing everyday all across the globe because the core must be constantly replenished to keep the Earth from flying out of orbit. Mother Earth is just as ungreedy as gremlins would be, so again just one sock is taken from each pair. This theory has become my favored one because I am less upset by sacrificing my socks for the good of our planet than to a bunch of gremlins even if the poor things are handicapped. Hope that isn’t too unkind of me.

Hope you will offer your answers or theories to these questions. Also share any puzzles that rattle around in you mind.



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Saturday Night Ramblings

It is dark thirty here in Arizona. After two days of steady soft kitten feet rain the clouds have moved on and a Cheshire Cat  moon is showing through the bare tree limbs. For reasons unknown it made me think of Mr. Bo Jingles and that lead to Irish jigs. My knees are a bit stiff from the damp cold so I shelved that idea but my brain is whirling like a kid on a merry-go-round so I’m going to just ramble along with tidbits of this and that.

I love snickerdoodles, peach colored nail polish and humming birds…. Fishing is a great way to find peace and restore my energy. I always catch and release. I can spend hours looking through a Pro-Bass catalog, also like the gift catalogs that come in the mail this time of year…. I dyed my white gym shoes hot pink in high school, this was back when tennies came in black or white only.P.E. teacher was not impressed, but rules for dress didn’t mention anything about shoe color..(they did the next year, heehee). In P.E. we learned a modern dance routine to the theme music of the old t.v. show, Peter Gunn. Don’t remember the name of the jazz piece, maybe one of you can help me with that…. Christmas songs and I share the same name, Carol. When I was little I thought they were named after me. Ever notice how most songs either make you really happy or really sad? Or is that just me?…My grandma made the best spiced peaches I ever tasted. She always had chickens, even when she lived in the city…. I love nesting dolls, candles, jig saw puzzles, bright-colored socks, and hand-made quilts. Oops maybe I’m sounding a bit too much like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music….Spanish donkeys are cute and fuzzy and as loyal as dogs. For some reason all the cats I had in the country liked to hang out with the horses, seemed unlikely friendships….You can color Easter eggs by wrapping them in yellow or purple onion skins tied on with string then boiling them . Other natural dyes are beet, tomato and carrot juice, just use a spoon of vinegar to set color…

Well dear reader thank you for perusing my ramblings, feel free to comment and send some of your ramblings my way.  🙂




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Gifts To Remember

Children are our greatest gifts. This has been said so many times it has become somewhat like a worn out cliche, but that does not negate the truth of the words. I love having conversations with little ones. They impart so much wisdom, often in a humorous way, and always with blunt guileless honesty. I advise anyone engaging in an exchange with a child to put aside their personal egos and just set back and enjoy the new perspective you are going to gain.

We all have “Kids say the darndest things” storeys. They are cute and amusing; for example one of my nieces replied to the comment that she had her shoes on the wrong feet with a puzzled look “But these are the only feet I have”. Then was farther confused when we could not hide our laughter.

However some of the most interesting conversation I’ve had with children were with kids I didn’t know. In today’s climate this doesn’t happen often because one has to be careful, not just for our own sake but mostly for the children, I would never want to undo the lessons they are taught at home and school about not talking to strangers.

Recently I was privileged to have two such encounters with two remarkable little boys. My grandson attends Tae Kown Do lessons and I transport him and sat in the area provided for parents while he goes through his exercise. There is a class of younger children right before his,and as the children from that class were gathering their belongings before leaving one boy, who was waiting for his parent, stood in front of me staring intently. I smiled and this was apparently the only opening he needed.

“Are you a Jew?” he asked in a firm voice.

Wow, what a question, I was surprised to say the least. I answered no, and waited with held breath to see where this was going. He then informed me that he was Jewish and that there weren’t many Jews in our town so he just wondered…adding because of my necklace. Aw I thought, it began  to make perfect sense. You see I wear a Cross and a Star of David on the same chain, both for personal reasons, I’m Christian and feel a close spiritual connection with Jewish people and their history and beliefs. I have worn it for so long it’s a part of me and I didn’t think of it in connection with his question. I explained briefly why I wear both the Christian and Jewish symbols. He was evidently satisfied, for he then chatted away about King David, the synagogue, his rabbi and favorite Holidays. Without me adding my opinion he decided my not being a Jew was alright because there is “only one God”. This sharing ended too soon because his ride arrived.

My other talk was with an even younger boy whose Mom and sister are both in my grandsons’ class at the same martial arts school. Mom seated him next to me and told him to play quietly as she handed him a small bag of toys. Without encouragement on my part he immediately showed me all his Hot Wheel cars. Regaling me with stories of how fast they were. Then with a sudden switch of subject he touched my hand and said,

“My skin is slick but yours is all loose and has lines. How’d you get those lines?”

I suppressed my amusement and matched his serious manner while telling him it was because of my age. He enquired about my age after telling me he was four years old. He then discussed the lines on my face and declared that they were neat and he wanted to have lines of his own when he got old, elevating my wrinkles to a badge of honor. Before I could respond another quick silver switch of topics took place.

“Do you like lizards? Have you ever caught a lizard? I caught three lizards.” he rattled off in his rapid cadence, not waiting for me to answer.

This is one of the best part of children’s conversations, takes very little effort to hold up my end, just the art of listening. So he told me about the lizards, explaining the best technique for catching them because “they are super fast”. He explained how he put them in a box and took them into his room, but that later his mom said he needed to let them go outdoors so they could find bugs to eat.

“Bugs are their favorite food.” he informed me. Then proceeded to list his favorites,” My favorite is hamburgers, oh and mac and cheese and ….etc.etc.” he rambled on until he had listed at least fifteen of his “very most favorite of all”.

Then his cherub face turned serious, “If I tell you a secret, you promise not to tell anybody?” he asked while making a cross your heart sign on his small chest.

Oh no, my mind swirls. Choosing my words with care I tell him only if the secret is safe to keep. He contemplates this for a few seconds, then nods and with wisdom beyond his four years says, “Yeah some things can’t be secrets, but this ones o.k.” he brightens,and leaning towards me whispers, “When I let the lizards go there were only two in the box,” looking around, he giggles, “That means there is one in the house somewhere.”

The class ended before I had to reply.

The tragedy in Connecticut today stirred these memories of two special little boys who shared their thoughts with me so freely and in so doing gave me a gift of delight. The world was robbed today of wonders that will never be shared. Most of all the parents, families and friends were robbed of the future gifts these children had to give. My hope is that some day those who have to suffer such a great lose will one day be able to talk and smile about the memories that will always live in their hearts. Prayers for the rough journey they all have to go through. May peace and love bring some comfort.




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….It’s Cold Outside

There are chills running up my spine. Goosebumps cover my skin. Gazing out my window it seems the whole world is weeping. No I am not experiencing some emotional upheaval; the first winter storm has arrived in Arizona. We have received only rain in the valley but the mountains that rim the bowl I live in are covered with snow. There is a brisk breeze stirring around so we actually have a wind chill factor. Our high sixties temps of yesterday have dropped to the high thirties range and this old thin blooded desert rat has trouble adjusting to such a quick change. Aw but it does add to the spirit of the season of Christmas. Hot chocolate tastes a little sweeter, the warmth from the oven as cookies bake feels more welcome, and soft sweaters are cozier. We can use mittens, mufflers and stocking caps for more than fashion. I love the comfortable fit of my fur-lined Bear Paws, and today I can wear them without my feet sweating. My friends in the far north may chuckle at thirty something degrees being wintry, but I’m delighted.
We rarely have snow in our valley and usually only a light dusting at that. But there has been those special mornings when we awake to a picture perfect Winter Wonderland so I will continue to dream and wish for a White Christmas.
I have added to my bucket list. I want to acquire the knowledge needed to post pics on my blog. Will have to pin down some kind soul with enough patience to teach me how this is done, just in case our Christmas is a snow covered-one. Most likely we will be tracking mud into the house, not snow, not sure if I would want pics of that :).
No matter if you are looking forward to a snowy holiday or sunny warm one on the beach I send wishes your way that yours will be perfect for you.

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We all have heroes in our lives. People who have inspired us to reach higher, run faster and to have the courage to step out of our comfort zones. One such man for me lived in the first century A.D. He was called Saul in the early years of his life until he changed the direction of his journey, and then became known as Paul. As Saul he was an important man in his community, a man of money and prestige. After years of dedication and study he had achieved a position of authority in the prevailing belief system of his country and people. He was present at the first execution of a member of a new religious sect that was considered blasphemous. Although he didn’t throw any of the stones that killed the accused himself, it is reported that he held the cloaks of those that did. This act is in holding with his position of hierarchy. He then was convinced his mission should be to track down others of this sect and turn them over to those who would set in judgement and handed down what they considered just sentences. So Saul became a bounty hunter of sorts, not for coins but because of his sence of duty. He traveled throughout Israel in pursuit of this quest until on one of his journeys he had a life changing experience.

Now no matter your spiritual beliefs or what religion you subscribe to or if you reject all such beliefs, imagine the courage of this man who put aside his old life and embraced the teachings of the very people he had been arresting and imprisoning. He faced complete rejection of all those he knew, family, friends and colleagues. Now he would be considered an enemy of his very countrymen, and would not be easily accepted by those he now wished to join in their cause. He had been pursuing them with intention of harm. How hard it would have been to win even a small bit of trust from them. Saul even put aside the most basic of his identity his name, not in an effort to conceal his past but because he believed the directive he was given, and took the new name of Paul.

Paul is described as being small in size, not very attractive and had some chronic health problems. He was haunted by the authorities, both Israeli and Roman . He was imprisoned, put on trail and threatened with execution more than once. He suffered through being ship wreaked and difficult travel conditions we will never experience. We think a delayed flight or traffic jams are a hardship, they are nothing compared to touring a big part of the known world at the time of Paul’s’ life.

Paul wrote letters to the people he visited in his travels as he went to other places and when he was under house arrest in Rome to encourage them and to advise them of solutions to problems they were encountering. One such epistle is the book of Romans in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. I have just finished a thirteen week study class of this book with a wonderful group of women. Now again regardless of ones belief there are some valuable truths to inspire us in Paul’s’ writings. He expresses the need for kindness, generosity, non-judgement, patience, humility, respect for authority and most of all love. Love not only for our family and friends and those of like minds but love for those who have hurt us, to those we might describe as enemies. Given the life he lived I find this teaching not only inspirational but remarkable. That a man could endure the hardships he went through and come out on the other side not only without bitterness but with love truly in his heart and then with real humility, giving all the credit for his virtues to the Savior he worshipped. So Paul is one of my greatest heroes.

All your commits will be welcomed with love.


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Sweet Memories

This time of year always finds my mind constantly drifting into the past. Much advice is given us to look forward, to move on and embrace the future. I know this is sound advice and some things we do need to let go of if we are to achieve our dreams and realize our full potential. However memories of the sweet type can help us to understand who we are, how we got to the point in our journey we are at now.

My first paying job, other than babysitting for fifty cents an hour, was working at a Christmas tree lot when I was fifteen. It had great appeal for me because of being outside, surrounded by the heady smell of the fresh trees and being my first experience  serving the public, it was fun because the customers were filled with holiday cheer. Families with excited young children who ask me if I worked for Santa, an older couple who was so eager for Christmas because it would be the first one in a while that all their family would be together. They took a lot of time choosing a tree because it had to be just perfect and after narrowing their selection to two ask me to pick because they weren’t sure which was best. All the shoppers’ enthusiasm was contagious so in spite of being very shy I soon was having little problem helping strangers with their purchases. I also discovered that a big smile and bright greeting on my part, generated more tips.

This awesome job came about because of my Dads older sister, my Aunt Hope. She was an enterprising single lady, who worked for a truck supply business. When a customer with a load of trees found himself delayed from his destination because of major break down of his rig, Aunt Hope went to work finding a lot she could rent for a short-term, had temporary electric service installed and went into partnership with the truck driver to sell the trees. And I was hired as a helper. Some years later I began to understand what a valuable gift she had given me. As I mentioned earlier I was very shy and prone to avoid challenges because of a lack of self-confidence, but I found the success I had selling the Christmas trees was something I could draw on when faced with new situations. I never ask her but I wonder if that was partly why, out of all her nieces and nephews, I was the one she offered the job to.

So this time of year brings memories of , keeping warm by a  fire in a fifty gallon drum in the early morning chill, hot chocolate poured from a stainless steel thermos, gloves sticky with pine sap, laughter over the needles in our hair, the truck driver declaring it was the best lay-over he had ever had, and the feeling a young girl took away with her from being a part of something important. Thank you Aunt Hope.


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