Friday, February 27, 2009

First colors of spring

Spring is around the corner! Charlie and I had a great walk to the mailbox today; he practiced "stay" while I took pictures. I love and appreciate evergreens because they really get me through gray winter but there is nothing like spring.

It gives me a feeling of excitement about what will be. There are buds on trees that will be beautiful red bud flowers or dogwood blooms. All around you can see little plants coming up and getting ready for the big show.
I can hardly wait.

Looking down the road
and by the creek are the first blooms we have around here - buttercups.

Oh, the cows next door say helloooo.

Have a great and blessed weekend,,,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yes, deer...

Sunday afternoon I looked out our front bedroom window and counted fourteen deer grazing in our front yard. I was afraid that if I tried to sneak outside with my camera they would spook and run off into the woods, so I just snapped a couple of photos from the window.

I spotted the deer before any of our dogs did, but when they noticed me looking out the window, it didn't take long before they were all barking at the deer. The deer didn't seem to mind. They have figured out that the dogs movements are limited to the dog yard, for the most part.

Some folks don't understand why we love living so far out in the country and having such a long drive to work (46 miles each way) or to do anything, and there may be a few minor drawbacks, like not being able to get a pizza delivered, but we don't even notice those things. It is such a blessing to look out your window and see sights like this. Besides, we've learned to make our own pizza.

We see a lot of wild turkey in the holler as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Please don't take my sunshine away...

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray, you'll never know dear how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away!

That song was my Grandma's favorite song so it has a very special place in my heart. I think of it when I see our gang loving the sunny spots in their day.

The sunny spots are premium spots in our house, during the winter especially. Corrie even likes to soak up the sun in the summer. Her little black coat just soaks in the heat. I think she has memories of when she was a puppy and it was so cold out in the world for her and Violet before they found their home.

Scrappy loves to be warm and gets so sleepy laying in the sun. Isn't it great to live in the moment as they do? Find a sunny spot, park it, and take a nap! Gotta love it.

Happy days and blessings from the holler.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Note to the Dogs.....

I got the following in an e-mail and it brought to mind some of the activity we have in our home. A couple of things in our defense - we are trying to phase out the dogs sleeping on the bed, I don't volunteer for any kisses (I know where their mouths have been), and we dearly love our son, daughter-in-love and grand kids!

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


  1. They live here. You don't.

  2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.

  3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.

  4. To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they (1) eat less, (2) don't ask for money all the time, (3) are easier to train, (4) normally come when called, (5) never ask to drive the car, (6) don't hang out with drug-using people; (7) don't smoke or drink, (8) don't want to wear your clothes, (9) don't have to buy the latest fashions, (10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and (11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ..

Monday, February 9, 2009

Down Memory Lane.....

Do you want to come down memory lane with me? Wow,,I don't know who these people are in this picture from 1980 something but those are our dogs!! Susie is the doberman and Fea is the little boston terrier mix. When JP and I got married he already had Fea and she was queen of the castle so I took my place beside her. She and I became true napping companions. She and I would follow the sun across our waterbed until it went away (we'd start on one side of the bed and as the sun moved we'd scoot right over with it.) This is the only dog I've ever put clothes on but this dog loved her little Christmas sweater and would just melt when we put it on her.

We got Susie as a puppy from my dad. There was no way I was gonna clip her ears so they stayed as God made them. Susie was such a sweet dog and fiercely protective of our son. When discipline was in order for our son the door had to be closed because that was her buddy in there. But one of the funniest things was to send our son off running and she would run and tackle him. Man, he fell for that every time. We really didn't abuse him - he turned out fine!
We "dog sat" Andy for my friend while she "found him a home" because she could not keep him. Does this sound familiar? Anyway, we ended up keeping him. He was an escape artist. He would jump or climb our fence, go around the neighborhood and flip the gates open and let all the neighborhood dogs out and they'd go off on an adventure. We really didn't have many friends after Andy moved in. But Andy was one-of-a-kind, he loved to go to the local pound. They'd pull up and open the back of their truck up and Andy would jump right in. It's really not a good sign when you walk in to the animal shelter and the receptionist calls to the back "Andy's mom is here." They only charged me bail for Andy once, after that it was kind of a game. He had a lot of friends down there!
Next you meet my sweetie, Dutchess Sugar Bandit, our Keeshound. Somehow I got into a pet store and the next thing I know JP and I are in one of those little "meet me" rooms with this little ball of fur spinning in circles at my feet. Then we took a walk through the mall while I plead my case and figure out a way that I don't have to leave her there. As you see, she came home with us. One of her interesting traits was when I fed her she would spin clockwise until I put down the bowl. We couldn't make her go counter clockwise! Huh, right? It's hard to have a favorite when they all bring such different personalities to the party but Sugar was definitely one of my loves.
It's great to look back and see the good old days and great companions we've had once in a while. I'm glad you came with me! Blessings from the holler.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thank you for loving me...

When I was younger and less learned, I used to view God as a somber, harsh taskmaster who required a certain behavior and was quick to punish any mistake on our part. I was quick to blame Him for everything that went wrong in my days, and never gave Him credit or thanks when those wrong things led to positive results, nor when good things happened; for those things I gave the credit to myself or to good fortune. At the time, it seemed to me that God took a special pleasure in angering me, disappointing me or depressing me. How really stupid I was, and yet I thought I knew it all.

After I finally received the atonement God had provided for me in Christ, understood how Jesus had made peace between sinners and God and began to accept that peace with God, I started to realize how much God loved me and how wrong I had been about Him. I learned of His love for me from the writings of His faithful prophets, who recorded it for me to be able to read. I learned from the firsthand writings of eye witnesses to His gift of His only Son, Who had been with Him at creation, to become a man, teach men about the true God and to become a sacrifice for the sins of all those throughout time who would be reconciled to God. I learned through personal experience and answered prayer how great His love for me was and how ever present and faithful He was in my life. I could look back at my life and see His patient, guiding hand in so many things that should have worked out for the worse, but had instead worked out for the better. I began to understand that He loved me and He wanted me to love Him. But in my heart, I just really didn't.

We have to understand that our hearts are truly treacherous. Men who follow their heart's desires without much questioning inevitably live a life that leads from one dissappointment to another, chasing their heart's desires only to be let down when the moment of attainment passes and the heart grows quickly cold for the thing it desired so powerfully before it was attained. If we are not careful, our hearts can grow cold even to the people that are most dear to us. We have to take control of our hearts and help to remind and rekindle the love that should be there in the first place. Perhaps we do that by regularly telling our loved ones that we love them, by watching them when they don't realize they are being watched and considering the little things about them that made us love them in the first place, by taking time to hug and kiss them, by lingering and looking at them as they sleep so peacefully, and by doing the little things every day that make our lives together better. Our minds have to become the "pack leader", so to speak, of our treacherous heart and keep them aimed at what is good and pure and longlasting.

A few weeks back I was at work, and I was instant messaging with my wife about some trivial matter like the grocery list or some such thing. At the end of our IM communication sessions, we always send each other little "xoxoxoxo"s, little virtual hugs and kisses. Well, when I sent my series of x's and o's, she replied that she wanted real ones. Later that night I asked her what she meant and she pointed out that she wanted some real, unhurried, face-to-face hugs, and kisses on the lips. You see, it's easy for me to get in a rut, to rush out the door on my way to work and just give her a quick hug and peck on the forehead, to come home, tell her supper was good, watch a little TV, go to bed and just before falling asleep, just say "I love you". But that's not enough for her, nor for my heart. She needs to be reminded about my love for her, and it's not hard to do, it's in the little things like an unhurried hug and a kiss. Likewise, my heart needs to be reminded that she is beloved to me, by me taking the time to remind myself why I love her and by telling her and everybody else that I love her, that she is dear to me, and all of those little things I mentioned above. And I have to make sure I keep her on a pedestal in my heart, unsullied by any past bad memories or perceived wrongs, special and dearly beloved.

It's similar with God. There again, our heart is treacherous. We know how much He loves us, and if we are honest with ourselves, we know how poor and insufficient our love for Him is. Sometime last year I was listening to this guy on the radio talking about this. He, like me, had grown to understand and appreciate how immeasurable God's love is for him, and he, like me, was ashamed and disappointed that his own heart did not respond with more love toward God. He said he began to tell God at least one reason he loved God in his prayers, so that his heart would hear and the love would be kindled. "Dear Lord, I love you for your mercy." "Dear Lord, I love you for the beautiful day this morning." And so on. The man reported that after doing that consistently for a while, his heart began to awaken with more love toward God, because he began to realize in detail how thankful he was for God. He testified that it had worked for him, so I decided to try his tip.

Dear Lord, I love you for patiently leading me to trust in You.
Dear Lord, I love for for guiding all things in my life for good.
Dear Lord, I love you for giving me a good wife.
Dear Lord, I love you for my son.
Dear Lord, I love you for giving my son a good wife.
Dear Lord, I love you for giving me such loving grandchildren.

And you know what, I'm discovering that I really do love God. A lot!

Dear Lord, I love you because You first loved me...

I waited patiently for the Lord;
and He inclined to me,
and heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a Rock,
and established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth -
Praise to our God;

Psalm 40:1-3

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hero Dog Story

Warning - You might want to screen this before you let youngsters see this - the ending is worth it trust me.