Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Springtime in Arkansas

The drive between Hot Springs and Fort Smith takes me about 2 1/2 hours....unless I stop to take pictures. And there are so many places I want to stop that I find myself getting frustrated because there are other drivers on the road who, for some reason, aren't very patient with the "Sunday Driver" I've become! Spring in Arkansas is just one of the reasons I love living here. You don't have to drive very far out of any town to see these beautiful scenes. I'm constantly reminded of times gone by when, because he sold farm equipment, Daddy would take us on a Sunday ride to see the crops and the cattle. Then I found it boring and hot since our car wasn't air conditioned, but not going wasn't an option. After all, you never knew when you might stop at someone's farm and they would offer you a watermelon when they were still on the vine, sweet and juicy. :) I was able to sit for a few minutes and watch these cows, who seemed to watch me with as much interest as I showed in them. Don't you wonder what they're thinking as they stand there chewing their cud and watching the cars go by? I bet they're wondering why all those people seem to be in such a hurry!
Right now the red clover is blooming everywhere and mixed in are white daisys and pink primroses. Just look at this barn framed with the beautiful colors God created - stunning! I wonder how long this barn has stood there and how many times the farmer has been in and out of it, working for his family, taking care of his fields and his cattle, and just being a part of nature. I'd love to lay a quilt right in the middle of this and have a picnic. Of course, I wouldn't last long since I'm sure that there are millions of ticks and other nasty creatures, but I can dream!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Despite My Protests.....

My husband left this morning for a week long mission trip to Mexico. He's just across the border from McAllen, Texas at Rio Bravo. This is not an area that has been hit with Swine Flu yet but it's still scary to me. His comment was, "This is God's work...whatever happens will be in God's will." This is a picture of him counting medicine on a recent trip there. Please add he and his group to your prayer list this week.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Just look at this sweet face. Smiles like this are what make babysitting worthwhile. You all know I'm living in my camper right now in a town 2 hours away from my home so I can stay with this beautiful boy until school is out. I can tell you that at 62 I know that God's plan for young women to have babies is very wise. Andrew is almost 4 months old and a very healthy baby - meaning he weighs a lot and is about to bust out the toes on the 3-6 month size sleepers. He still eats every couple of hours all day but, thank goodness, he sleeps great at night. Last night he went to bed at 9:00 and got up at 4:30 for a quick bottle, then back to bed till the older children woke him up about 7:00 as they got ready for school. When afternoon arrives and it's time for me to go back to the camper I'm definitely ready for a rest!

This week my cousin, Carol, came to stay with me in my camper for a couple of days. We hadn't seen each other in 5 years and before that we hadn't seen each other since we were
children. When we were little, like 3
years old, my family lived in an upstairs apartment and hers in the downstairs apartment so we were constant playmates. Her family moved to California when we were 7 and we stayed in Arkansas. But
summers when we went to California
to visit family we still played together every chance we got. She has my mother eyes so visiting with her is like watching Mother - I loved that. I think we look alike...don't you? She's a lot taller than me but that white hair is a strong gene our family has!
She brought my sister and I a start of a Rain Lily that was my grandmother's. I'm thrilled to have it and sure hope I can make it live. I love having starts of plants from family and friends - they are a daily reminder of the wonderful ties that bring us such joy. I even have on plant from a blogging friend - it's a rickrack cactus and it's doing great even after it was sent through the mail! I have shamrocks that were my mother-in-laws and a begonia from a long time friend and forsythia from another friend. I have a gardenia that belonged to the parents of a teen that was in my youth group back about 1970! (I got the gardenia about 3 years ago when her father was sick). I believe that flowers are gifts from God because He knows how we love their beauty. And the ones we get from family and friends are heart-strings that connect us all. Anybody have a flower you think I need?

Monday, April 20, 2009

I've Gone Techy

I am so proud of myself!

I not only changed cell phone providers, I also changed phones. I looked and looked and looked, and compared and compared and compared. I went in thinking I would get an I Phone but changed my mind and endeded up with this Blackberry Bold. There were several reasons I made this decision but the main one is that I can "tether" this phone to my computer and get internet, through the phone, onto my computer even when we're off somewhere camping without access to the internet. So today I downloaded the software, tethered the phone and the computer, and actually got to the internet - all by myself! Well, one of the sales personnel told me where to go to get the software but the rest I did by myself. So now I can get my e-mail (both accounts) on my phone, I can look something up on the internet on my phone, I can have my calendar on my phone, and I can get internet on my computer through my phone. And I love it! Now don't misunderstand, I still don't comprehend all those words like RAM (which is a male sheep isn't it?) or gigs (which is something my husband used to use to kill frogs) that my grandchildren use like I use everyday English, but I don't need to understand the terms. I just need to know how to use the services that are there on my phone and computer, and I do. Mostly. I might be white headed, and I might be a senior citizen, but I have taken a giant step into the future. :) Instead of Grandma Marlene I will now be known as Techy Marlene.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Letter 4

For those of you who don't read my blog regularly: This is my memory letter #4. I'm writing these so that my children and grandchildren will have a record of some of the things I remember about my childhood, and to remind those of you who lived during that time of some of the things we did. Let me know if these bring back memories for you!

Dear Family and Friends,
We’ve had the strangest weather in Arkansas this spring. It got warm, really warm, and then cold, really cold. Warm, cold, warm, cold, back and forth several times. And rain – we’ve had lots and lots of rain, with hail and high winds that sent us to the patio doors to watch the trees sway and bend. One night when tornados hit in neighboring counties it sent my husband (I wasn’t home) to sit in the bathtub for a while, something he’s never ever done! But all is well. We always worry about trees coming down but so far only a few branches have hit the ground. And every day we get closer and closer to warm weather so this week Jerry will be cleaning up the boat and putting it in the water. I can hardly wait to go for a ride!
I’m living in my camper right now in Fort Smith where my son and his family live so that I can keep their newest baby, Andrew, while his parents work. I will stay until school is out and his mother is home for the summer. By the time school starts again he’ll be 8 months old and I’ll feel better about him going to day care. Staying in the camper has reminded me of our camping days when we were children. Oh how fun that was!
Since money was nearly nonexistent at our house camping was done in the most basic of ways. We went from Pine Bluff south to near Rison on the Saline River. My mother sewed up a “mosquito bar” which was where we slept and ate. She used some kind of netting to make a portable room that had a roof and 4 sides. On one side was a long zipper that made our doorway. Daddy had long poles that he somehow hooked it to with one in the middle to hold up the roof. We put a table of some kind in there with all our food, used an ice chest for the cold stuff, and slept on pallets on the bare dirt or on a tarp laid on the dirt. What cooking we did was on an open fire outside the mosquito bar but mostly I remember sandwiches. We had Coleman lanterns to hang from the trees for light at night. I remember long lazy days playing in the river – that was the only bath we got! Once I stepped in a hole in the river bed and nearly drowned. L My older brother, Freddie, hauled me out, thank goodness. But that little episode made me afraid of water over my head for the rest of my life! I’ve taken swimming lessons as an adult at least six times now. The last time I had lessons I jumped in the deep end, swam across the pool, treaded water for one minute and swam back. And it didn’t matter one bit because I’m still scared of the water.
It was on one of those camping trips that I got my first kiss. I was about 12 years old I guess and the boy involved in that little landmark is still a good friend. He and his wife have been friends of ours since college days and we still see them as often as possible.
In those days, whether or not we were camping, there was no air conditioning anywhere we went. At home we had a great big water cooler in the window. You wet down the outside and turned it on. It was just a giant fan that blew air over water so it felt cool when the temperature was in the nineties or hundreds. At night we turned on the attic fan and actually got cold even on the hottest summer days. When we were camping the days were long and hot but we could always go jump in the river to cool off. We played hard in the mornings, laid around in the afternoons, and played hard again after supper. Sleep came easily because by the time bedtime rolled around we were exhausted! I don’t remember our parents trying to keep up with us at all. We swam in an unsupervised river, and we played in the woods, and we might not see our parents for hours. They didn’t worry and neither did we. It was a different time and a different way of life than now.
We camped with other families who also had children. Our parents fished together in the daytime and played cards at night. And the children just played. If we fought we also settled it among ourselves. We didn’t go whining to the adults because they would have just told us to hush up and act nice. I remember the packing up to go and how excited we got because usually we were going for several days and it was a great vacation. And I remember the packing up to come home. There was dirt on everything, including us, the food was gone, we were brown as berries and we didn’t want to leave.
Now when I see parents taking their kids on vacation, whether it’s camping or to Disney World, I see the children being entertained every minute. That’s too bad. Imagination only develops if it’s exercised, and not if everything is shown to us or given to us. If we had a cigar box and some string they became a treasure chest tied up and buried and then dug up again, or a doll bed, or we glued sticks and rocks on it to decorate it and used it for a jewelry box. We could entertain ourselves with very little and we had to because there were very few store bought toys.
It’s getting late and I must go. I’ll write again soon.
Peace and Blessings,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Day

When I woke up this morning at 6:30 it was just beginning to get light outside. I opened the blinds and watched the lake as the shadows began to dissipate. I couldn't see the sun at all but it's light began to spread over the water and the trees and the azaleas and the dogwoods. It changed the world. It took the world from dark to light. Where once I couldn't see anything at all now I could see the beauty surrounding me. The colors were vivid; the green of the grass and the trees were a stark contrast to the white and pink blossoms of the dogwoods and the red of the azaleas.

And that's exactly what Jesus did on this resurrection morning so long ago. He rose from the dead and His light began to spread. It covered the world and did away with the shadows. His life and His death and His resurrection showed us how beautiful our world can be. What a gift! What a marvelous, life-giving gift!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Roughin' It

When my husband and I first got married we used to go camping in a tent. We slept in sleeping bags on the ground, or on an air mattress. Granted I weighed a lot less then but these days if I had to sleep on the floor I wouldn't be able to get up again in the morning! One weekend my mother-in-law offered to keep the kids so we could go camping with a group of friends. They were all couples like us with small children thrilled to have a weekend away. In those days I might have had a glass or two of wine coolers (really cheap Mogan David grape wine mixed with Fresca) as we sat around the campfire. That night after we went to bed a storm blew in. A bad storm. It rained so hard that it sank a couple of the boats. It rained so hard that the force of the rain made the drops come through the tent. Now you may not know this but if you've had a glass or two of wine, or in my case wine coolers, you can't make it through the night without going to the bathroom. The bathroom in this campground was up at the top of the hill above us. I waited as long as I could but then finally there was no more waiting. I braved the rain in my nylon nightgown with a parka over it and immediately lost my shoes in the mud. Out of the tent I was completely soaked in less than 2 minutes. Picture me trying to climb a hill, barefooted, rain soaked, nylon nightgown (do you know what a wet nylon nightgown looks like plastered to your body?) and falling down not once but twice. It was 2:00 a.m. and my flashlight wasn't helping more than a foot or two in front of me. I gave up, did what I had to do where I stood, and went dripping back into the tent. A few minutes later a park ranger came driving up and yelling that a tornado had been spotted a few miles up the road. The next morning I told my husband I was done with tent camping. And I was.

A few years later we came up in the world...we bought a pop up camper! It had 2 big beds on each side with a hard roof and tent sides. It had a stove to cook on and a booth where we could sit and eat. Still no bathroom but hey, this was Heaven compared to the tent so we were happy. Even after the third child was born we could manage because the booth folded down and made a bed. And if you took the table part of it out a play pen fit right in there. See...perfect! One week my husband's parents took their camper and we took ours and we went camping with all the children. My husband and his parents loved to trout fish so we camped beside a beautiful river and they fished. They fished all day. And it rained all day. Every day. No one ever offered to watch the children so I could get out. Except for the day we had to go to the laundrymat. In those days we were still using lard and I accidentally left the can of lard on the counter where my 18 month old son could reach it. Before I knew it he had lard all over him and the play pen and anything else he could reach. That's when I nearly lost it. And that's also when I told my husband he could sell the pop up camper because I would never be camping in it again. He waited two years for me to change my mind and then he sold it. I'm a woman of my word.

Recently I mentioned that I was living in my camper while I babysit with my newest grandbaby and that my camper is very, very, very nice. With my history you can bet that this time around roughing it was not going to be in my vocabulary. I wanted a couch and recliners. I wanted a kitchen with a refrigerator and cabinets, lots of cabinets. I wanted a king sized bed and closets and a shower and a toilet. I got them all. :)

I never thought I'd want matching recliners. Ever. But I love these. I sit and rock and stitch or I lay back and watch television or play a movie on the DVD player. And I just smile. See my little "coffee table?" My husband put rollers on the bottom of this basket we found and converted into a coffee table. It holds my Featherweight sewing machine perfectly. I have a bedspread that matches the curtains and lots of throw pillows but I took those out because the spread kept slipping onto the floor and the pillows were in my way and my grandchildren needed a bed they could crawl on and not worry about getting dirty. I put this picture in so you could see I have not one closet but two! And besides that's me in the mirror and through some trickery of the camera I look slim!

I have a sink and a medicine cabinet and hot water. I have a big shower and a private toilet area. Now I ask you, could a girl ask for anything more?
Now I realize that some of you out there reading this might have one of those huge bus type recreational vehicles that are probably nicer than my house. Some of them have satellite television, a wet bar, a washer/dryer, etc. We looked at some and thought about buying one. Of course, we would have had to sell our house, our cars, our dog and two of our children to pay for it. But if you're coming from a tent or a pop up camper you'll know what I mean when I say I have a very, very, very nice camper. :) :) :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Few Random Items

1. April 11 my contract is up with my current cell phone provider and I'm switching companies. I've been with this one a looooooong time but all my kids, grandkids, and friends are on another so I can save money if I switch. Of course, my plan is to buy an I Phone. Yes, I know that's going to cost me a lot of money but I'm going to have to use it for 2 years so I want it to do everything but mow the grass. Does anybody out there have one? If so, what do you love about it? What do you hate? What "apps" do you have and think I can't live without? And if I buy one am I going to be labeled as whatever they are calling the current now generation? Because I never joined the flower children of the hippie era, or got caught up in the me generation stuff, I don't think I've had a label. Except senior citizen. I got that as soon as I could so I could get a cut rate at the movies. Where I go once every three years. Without fail. Even if there's nothing good on. Just so I can get the discount.

2. I'm a southern woman born and bred. I don't wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. Ever. I always buy a new dress for Easter. Except this year (and maybe one or two other years when we were raising children and I could buy their new dresses or mine and you know who I picked). This year I bought pants. I looked in my closet and I have zero dresses and two skirts for summer. I just don't wear them any more. I wear pants for everything because even in the summer they keep the air conditioning down so low that I have icicles hanging off my nose in church. But now I'm doubly glad I bought pants because it's supposed to rain and be cold Easter Sunday. I'm thinking about wearing warmups to the sunrise service. I don't think there are any southern rules covering that. Except I know that it would be ok to wear white shoes with them. I'd love to have a hat because I just love hats but nobody wears them any more and I don't think a hat would look good with warmups.

3. Yesterday my grandson, Andrew, and I had a wonderful day. He is now 3 1/2 months old. It was beautiful, sunny and warm (unlike today when it is cloudy, rainy, and cool). We made a trip to WalMart, strolled around the neighborhood, and even went to the camper for a few hours. He loved camping. He slept 2 hours and 45 minutes there! My baby is better than your baby. And prettier too. :) Sorry, that just slipped right out.

4. Today I'm making homemade soup. Doesn't that sound good?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Theres Cold, and Then Theres Cold

Has anyone seen that advertisement on television, I forget what they're advertising, but some guy is trying to use the last drop of anything and everything before he buys another? The one I really remember is the toothpaste tube on the vise...."see honey, enough for one more brushing!" This guy is conservative. Ultra conservative. Uber conservative. Enter my husband. Honey, if you're reading this you better run for cover!

Most of you know I'm temporarily living in a town 2+ hours from my home babysitting with my newest grandbaby until school is out. We have a very, very, very nice camper (no tent camping for me) and I love staying in it. It has a king sized bed and a full shower and recliners. :) What can I say...I'm spoiled. We even found this nice little mobile home park out in the country and there's a pasture behind my camper. Quiet, nice, perfect for this little grandmother. Well, not so little but that's another story.

Spring came and spring went. Winter revisited us. Last night it got down to 28°! About 8:00, after my shower was done and my pajamas were on and I was settling down to watch Twilight (the movie) I realized the heat had gone off. And stayed off. So I turned up the thermostat. Nothing. Up another notch. Nothing. That's when I realized that I had run out of butane. Which makes heat. Not to worry...we have two bottles. Except one was empty and one was almost empty. So empty it was breathing it's last. My husband wanted to wait till they ran completely out until he refilled them. Of course, I had the "heat strip" which is electric and designed to take the chill off. It did. I could have gone to my son's house at 10:00 in my pajamas in the cold but who wants to do that? This morning when I got up it was 52° inside the camper. There was just enough butane to get it up to 61° before I left. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I bet he feels really bad. He should!

**Edited to note that it's not butane in my camper, it's propane. What do I know? Just that my tank is empty and it needs to be filled. But according to the man at the camper place, it's propane that it needs to be filled with. :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I didn't have many goals in March but at least I was a little more realistic about what I could do - it's about time I was more realistic and it's all about time that I don't seem to have! This is the Botanika block I've been trying to finish for the last three months. Those little circles nearly did me in! This is hand appliqued and is the 4th block in a series. This is one of those "it might take me a lifetime" quilts. I love applique but some of the pieces are just so small that I get frustrated.

You may remember this quilt from an earlier post. I was given these triangles, some already made into blocks, to make into a quilt for Children's hospital. I put together the blocks and it was the ugliest quilt I've ever seen. After I added the stars it was better, but still not good. A fellow blogger suggested I add a face so in came the mouth and eyes for the largest star. This is a lot better than it was! It's gone to be machine quilted and when it comes back I could still add some embellishments if anyone has any ideas. And I sure wish someone has some ideas because it still doesn't look like something a child would jump up and down about getting.

This wasn't on my March goals list but I made it this month so you get to see it today. It's wool on suede cloth and is hand appliqued. When I bought the pattern I was thinking spring because of the bluebird. When I got it home I realized it had acorns on it. Guess that means it's autumn?

This is the quilt I made last week at Quiltmania, our guild's quilt retreat. I'm calling it "A Rose By Any Other Name." I took it to the quilter today and I'm anxious to see it when she finishes. Several months ago I redecorated my sister's guest room and I posted about it. If I could remember when I went to see my sister then I could remember when I posted that and I could show you but since I can't remember any of that I'll just say I did it in vintage roses. This will be perfect in that room. Oh dear, since I can't remember when I did the redecoration does that mean I also don't remember the roses right? Could it have been sunflowers? Just was roses. Really it was.
Another goal was reading Kim Edwards' book The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I'm counting this as compleated but at the same time confessing I skimmed a lot of it. It was not my favorite even though I know that those of you who read it think it is awesome. I'm not sure why I didn't like it so if you haven't read it you should try it. Most everybody else loves it.
And last, but not least, I managed to lose 5 more pounds! That's 10 since December 26. While I have certainly cut back on food I also have been working out at the physical therapist's. Since I won't be going there any more I'm going to try pushing the baby stroller a lot while I'm babysitting to make up for it. Hope that works!