~~~~~~~~~ "We are here for only a moment, wanderers and sojourners in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace." I Chron. 29:15 NLT

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where are we going?

I'm reading an interesting book from our church library:  Making Life Rich Without Any Money, by Phil Callaway.  Not any money??  That takes me back to childhood when everything I needed was provided by my parents, and the only money I thought I had to have went for candy and trinkets.  I guess it's good to get my thinking straight and realize that Callaway is trying to convince me that my happiness or peace of mind doesn't depend on money.

I can't resist titles like this.  I'm usually living on the edge of my budget because it seems as if there's never enough money to last the month.  Yet, there are people who are living off of less than what I and my hubby make together.  I'm not sure I could live on my social security alone--I'd have to be boarding at some kind relative's house.  My net social security wouldn't pay the rent on a one-bedroom apartment in most places, and after prescriptions and some necessary personal stuff, I would barely have enough to eat to stay alive.  Now there's a weight-loss diet that would insure success.

Back to Callaway and the book.  I like the way he mixes humor with an edge of seriousness instead of the other way around.  Here are some of the titles from the short chapters in Part One, Rich People Know the Speed Limit:  Speechless in Seattle, Fiddler On the Sly, The Smarties Guide to Finances. 

In the chapter titled, "Fiddler On the Sly," Callaway tells the story of the famous violinist, Joshua Bell, who plays a million-dollar Stradivarius. He normally draws packed-out concerts and earns $1,000 a minute. In the interest of observing human behavior Washington Post asked Bell to stand, in jeans and baseball cap, at Washington's L'Enfant Plaza Station near a shoe-shine stand and busy newsstand.  He plays some of the "most elegant music ever written" for 45 minutes as 1,097 people hurry by. 

Callawy writes, "The results are painful to watch....In the 43 minutes that Joshua Bell plays, seven people pause for at least a minute to hear the virtuoso play.  Twenty-seven give money. One thousand seventy speed by.  Many have cell phones to their ears.  Some nurse coffee.  Hardly a soul bothers to look....Only one of the 1097 recognized Bell. His total take was $32.17,"  which included a twenty from the one who recognized him.  Bell later said with a laugh, "'That's not so bad, considering.  That's 40 bucks an hour.  I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn't have to pay an agent.'"

I'm wondering, what would I do?  I love music, yet how much time would I actually take, while hurrying to an appointment, to stop and listen to a street musician?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Tomorrow and Sunday I'm going on a mini-vacation at my friend's house.  I'll revisit some of the old abandoned farmhouses in between here and there. 

It may be hot, but I'll be refreshed when I step onto her shaded deck and enjoy the south vista where her husband takes off and lands his ultra light.

We'll sip an iced drink beside her Koi pond and take a walk down memory lane--over 45 years of memories since we met at business school in Salina, Kansas.  Our empty nests have been a big plus for us, because now we can meet more often than only once or twice a year!

Moi on the left, Joan, aka Red, on the right.
Sisters in Christ

"There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24

A true friend is one who thinks you're a good egg
even though you're slightly cracked.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We had to say Goodbye to Koko

How do you feel about mourning a family pet when it dies?  What's the big deal?  How does the death change your life; the life of other pets in the home?  Given the choice to treat the pet at all costs or to euthanize it would you be able to decide what's best for the pet, or would you try to keep them alive as long as possible? 

Our dear Himalayan cat had been in frail health since February.  But this week she started showing signs of increased ill health and stress.  She started wheezing several days ago which gradually kept getting worse.  Monday night she was very restless and obviously distressed from breathing problems.  She was still drinking water and eating soft food, but appeared weak and listless.  I spent several hours through the night observing and comforting her.

Tuesday morning we decided to take her to the vet who confirmed that Koko was seriously ill.  She suggested several things that could be causing Koko's symptoms, including cancer of the lungs.  Would that have explained why Koko lost her meow a month ago?  But she could still purr just fine even in the vet's office.  Sometimes purring seems to be a coping mechanism.

Cats are very stoical, withdrawing into themselves without complaint until they're too sick to hide their suffering.  I hate watching a cat, or any animal, suffer and increasing their suffering by putting them through a barrage of tests and treatments that only add to their stress.  Now if she had been only two, or even ten years old, we may have consented to some tests and treatment if healing was a possibility.  But how much time could we have borrowed for a fifteen-to-twenty year old cat?  And what quality of life would she have had?  Why would we put a pet we love through that?  Just because we couldn't let her go?  I believe we're being selfish, not loving, when we can't let go. 

The vet said it isn't at all cruel to euthanize.  We were prepared to hear the worst when we took Koko to the vet and had pretty well decided that euthanizing her might be necessary.  It was hard.  We stayed to comfort and pet Koko till she was gone.  The struggle for each breath was gone.  We brought her home and buried her beside Tabby in the backyard.

I cried off and on throughout the afternoon.   When we have a pet as many years as we had Koko they become a part of the family.  There are so many things in life that are uncertain.  A pet becomes the one constant that's always there to share in our worry and stress.  I frequently hug my cats who always seem to know when I need their warm and unconditional presence to comfort me. 

Because of our pets consistent presence in our lives along with the routine of caring for them, they are greatly missed when they're gone.  Who will be there to greet me at the door when I come home?  What will I do to fill that time I spent feeding, playing, grooming, and, well, talking to them?  What will be the "glue" that helps hold our family reunions together at holiday gatherings?

Bunny, our remaining cat, appears to be grieving.  When we lost Tabby a couple of years ago, Bunny went around the house looking for her former playmate.  If I remember right, it took her about three months before she was back to her playful self. 

Yesterday I decided to let her see Koko lying inert and unresponsive in the box.  She sniffed and watched Koko for a few minutes.  The rest of the afternoon she was solemn as she followed me around the house.  Even though Koko and Bunny didn't play together, when we were gone for a few hours or longer, they were there for each other.  It will be interesting to observe Bunny's behavior in the weeks ahead.

Koko is on my mind constantly during this time of getting used to her being gone.  I look for her in all the usual places: on one of the couches, behind the rocker, in the bathroom getting a drink, or at her dish grabbing a snack.  The last few days I would find her in unusual places like under the grandfather clock;  I sensed she was looking for a place to die, a natural behavior of dying animals.

Finally the realization hits me, that I will never see Koko again in this life.  But I do expect to see her in the next life.  On what do I base the belief that we will see our pets in heaven?  Romans 8:21-22 reads, "All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."   Isaiah 11:6-9 depicts a new earth where Christ's perfect peace will dwell.  I look forward to it with anticipation.    

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Pets We Keep or That Keep Us

Our calico, Bunny, in a pensive mood.

I love all kinds of animals but will tolerate only three kinds to live in our home: cats, fish, and birds.  I love cats because I grew up on a farm with many cats and kittens.  As a child, I played with them everyday.  However, our mother didn't allow animals inside our home--except in winter when dad had to warm up a newborn calf. 

It was fun to play with kittens in the sweet-smelling hay in the barn loft, or among the hay bales.  The kittens would play hide and seek through tunnels between the stacks of hay bales.  In Spring or Summer we would sit on the swing or in the soft green grass holding one cat or several soft cuddly kittens, watching cloud pictures in the sky, or dropping cracker crumbs near an anthill.  Watching the ants scramble to move pieces of cracker five times their size into their underground home gave me more pleasure than playing a game on the cell phone or computer.  That was the real deal.

We knew it was time to let the cows into the barn for milking, when the cats all gathered in or around the barn door where several old bowls or small discarded cooking pans would soon be filled with warm, frothy milk.  My brothers practiced hitting cat's mouths with a stream of milk straight from the cow's udder.  Then the cats would sit for awhile and, using their front paws, groom the last drops of milk from their face and whiskers.  That was, and still is, the ultimate picture of contentment.
Bunny is about to eat this flower--not if I see it!  I believe it's the nature of a calico to stay ornery all of their lives.  At least that's true of many of the ones I've known.  Bunny is a teen in cat years.  Maybe that explains her erratic behavior, like trying to take a bite of this beautiful red geranium bloom.  Because the screened-in back porch is the closest our cats will ever get to experiencing the outdoors, we have a pet-door which Bunny uses everyday.  KoKo doesn't know, or isn't humble enough, to push her way out, but she'll wait for me to prop it open when all she needs to do is hop out or in.

Another of Bunny's tricks is to attack my feet by trying to wrap her paws around my ankles, or nipping at my heals.  She's sneaky about it and surprises me when I least expect it.  When my feet are particularly painful I'd better wear my shoes or slippers around Bunny!   
KoKo is about 19 years old and retired, although on occasion she will keep newspapers from flying away.  When our daughter adopted her as a half-grown kitten she hid under the bed for several days.  She's never tolerated other cats very well, rejecting any attempts other cats have made to play with her, fixing a haughty stare on them.  Then when they get frustrated and start bullying her she becomes the hurt victim.  Her eyes look gold in this picture, but are actually a beautiful deep blue.  I've not been able to capture their real color on camera.

Because of her martyr complex Koko's health began to fail when another kitten (Bunny) came to join our home where we also had a mature neutered male tabby.  The kitten and tabby got along famously and joined forces to taunt KoKo for being too uppity to play with them.  By the time our daughter moved to an apartment I encouraged her to take KoKo with her.  Once KoKo was by herself and queen of the house she gained weight and thrived, exhibiting a gentle and loving personality.  When I took her back the tabby had died and she and Bunny have worked out an uneasy truce between them.  Ongoing tension is created when they vie for their mistress's  (that would be me) attention.

KoKo (named after one of the cat's in Lillian Brown's books) always had the typical Siamese or Himalayan meow, but last winter she began yowling--loudly--anytime of the day or night.  We took her to the vet because we thought she might be in pain--which was how she sounded.  But the vet couldn't pick up on anything immediate and wanted $150 or more to do some tests.  She seemed to settle down, or maybe I was unaware that she was losing her voice.  Now, she can only whisper except when she purrs.  I'm hoping I'll know when it's time to put her to sleep.  It's unusual, I understand, for a Himalayan to live beyond 15 years. 
My sister's cat, Candi, lives near K.C.  She's sassy and it takes her awhile to warm up to me 'cause she doesn't see me often enough.  When my other sister, our sister-in-law, and I went to visit, I slept in this bed which was her usual spot.  I was hoping she would sleep with me overnight, but no, she slept on the other bed with my sis.  I felt miffed.  She was rather aloof towards me that whole visit.  That's the way of a cat.  I saw a behavior in her that I've never seen before.  Before lapping a drink she dips her paw into the water and licks it off her paw several times.  I wonder what my sister gave her to drink one time to earn that kind of distrust from Candi?   
Farm dog, Earl, wraps his leg around those he loves or nails them down with his paw.  He's very protective of his family, threatening strangers (to him) with a bared-teeth growl and a stance that says, "Don't cross that line."  He wandered onto the road when he was a youngster and got sideswiped by a car which has left him with a back-leg disability.  Earl used to follow the farmer's implements with his unique limping run for many miles.  He wouldn't ride in the truckbed when it was offered to him.  He's given going to the fields to hunt game, and looks longingly and sadly after the tractor as it disappears from sight.  The family may have to think about getting a puppy soon. 
Above is one of the 15, or plus, cats our daughter has on the farm.  They are all named, just as mine were, but I have to ask our 5-year old granddaughter to remind me who they are.  Farm cats live a naturally short life except for a few hardy ones that survive the hot summers, cold winters and stalking habits of larger wild animals such as coyotes and hawks.  Most of the kittens that survive are the ones the mothers keep hidden until they're too old to be tamed.  Farm life certainly isn't kind to pets, a lesson I learned as a child, and which our grandchildren are learning; the lessons of life and death are real in the school of farm-life. 

My daughter's favorite cat??  No, this is not a favored cat.  Shadow was a kitten who was found as a stray in another small town.  She may also have been a pampered housecat.  How was this spoiled kitten supposed to associate with a gang of hardened farm cats?  First, she ignored them and kept herself busy trying to squirm her way into the house through the back door everytime it opened.  But her suppressed anger at the trials life has handed her, doesn't surface until she gets pregnant.  Then she initiates an attack by swatting and hissing at whatever unaware cat ventures too close to her and her space.  She has also attacked some of us, biting me on the ankle and going after our daughter a couple of times.  Thankfully, she's left the children alone.

I believe Shadow may have been abandoned at too young of an age by her mother, because she was a lousy mother with her first couple of litters, leaving them to fend for themselves before they were ready.  Her mothering has improved but her kittens seem to have short lives.  Perhaps her neglect keeps them from developing a survival instinct. 

I took pity several years ago on one of Shadow's abandoned kittens, which was a tiny black, orange, and white calico that ran around the farmyard with the bravado of a little lioness.  Something in her spirit cried out to be rescued and given a chance to grow up.  I told my sis (who had just lost her husband) that if she didn't take this kitten home with her it would never survive.  The rest is history.  Tiera, that scrawny little kitten, is a beautiful calico with a playful and charming personality.  She has satisfied my expectations about her potential to fufill a purpose with her indominitable spirit.  She is a perfect fit as a companion to my widowed sister.

I grew up with pet birds.  Our mother usually had a canary in a cage that hung in the south living room window above her indoor garden of house plants.  The canary's lilting songs chased away any gloom that might try to reside in the house.  But canaries are delicate and short-lived. 

When our mother discovered from a sister that parakeets are hardier and playful, she had to have one.  We had several parakeets that we tamed. They would ride around the house on our shoulders, or heads (less tolerated), as well as sit on the table by the warm toaster to tuck their little head under their wing and take a nap.  Sometimes we would let them nibble on some food between our lips, including gum, of all things.  We lost a couple of parakeets when someone forgot they had it on their shoulder and walked out the door.  One of them was rescued by our brother who spotted it high up in an old elm tree.  He, along with our sister who followed with the cage, climbed up and coaxed it onto his finger and into the cage.  What we don't do for our beloved pets.

Those two little characters in the above picture are B.C., on the left, and Buddy.  They are kept by our son's girlfriend.  I kept B.C., Precious, and Sweetie for three years because Tammy couldn't have them where she lived.  I had to keep their cage safe from predators in the house, our cats.  That safe place was on top of the refrigerator.  Precious died of a broken heart when B.C. rejected his love for that of Sweetie.   Sweetie eventually died and was replaced by Buddy.   When we go visit our son and Tammy, B.C. remembers me and reaches for my finger between the cage bars to give me a love bite.  Nobody knows for sure how old B.C. is, but we're guessing around eight or nine years.  That's a pretty ripe old age for a domesticated parakeet!

Somedays we get tired of cleaning up after the cats, removing their fur from furniture and clothes, and taking care of the litter boxes.  Yet, we're grateful for the companionship and the comic relief that our cats provide when life gets tense.  God knows we need them.  Thank God for pets whatever and however, they are.  I pray that all of us will respect the pets and animals God has entrusted into our care. 

Genesis 1:31  "Then God saw everything that He had made and indeed it was very good."

Friday, August 06, 2010


I've been tweeking my blogspot the last few days. Take a look around, visit some of my favorite-other blogs and websites. I try to have some fun while I'm online.

I was surprised, when I did Yahoo and Google searches with the title of my blog, that it didn't pop up. It seems there are a lot of folks out there who have the same wanderlust, using wonder and wander interchangeably in all kinds of combinations. I'm beginning to wonder if I have entitled my blog correctly, even though I still like it, especially with it prefacing the Bible verse from I Chronicles. Perhaps I need to stay true to the title though; do a little less wandering and more wondering.

I've liked the word "wandering" since I was a youngster and heard my sister's high school glee glub sing the song, "The Happy Wanderer, " by Frank Weir, for the first time. All these years I've looked for a way to memorialize the happy associations with this word, which is why I decided to use it on the blog.

Here are the words for those who want to remember: (http://www.lyricfinder.org/)

I love to go a-wandering, Along the mountain track,

And as I go, I love to sing, My knapsack on my back.

Chorus: Val-deri, val-dera, Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
Val-dera, My knapsack on my back

I love to wander by the stream, That dances in the sun
So joyously it calls to me, Come join my happy song.

I wave my hat to all I meet, And They wave back to me
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet, From ev'ry green wood tree.

Oh may I go a-wandering, Until the day I die
Oh, may I always laugh and sing, Beneath God's clear blue sky.

Val-deri, val-dera, Val-edri, val-dera Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Val-dera
Beneath the clear blue sky, Beneath the clear blue sky.

I still get happy chills when I sing it. I loved it because I had never been anywhere outside of Kansas, but I always wanted to sit beside a gurgling stream in the cool mountains. Thank goodness we've vacationed in Colorado numerous times and wandered happily beside a mountain stream.

Did today's blog title pique your curiosity? If you comment or give feedback on blogs than you're familiar with the verification words that need to be mimicked before you can post your comment. I've been having fun making definitions for some of these words and thought I would share some of them with you.
For instance: cardeer is what you get when you cross your car with a deer. Here are a few more:

Locat: cat under the couch;
Menni: plural for Mennonite;
Fentist: professional fence builder;
Moperst: a street where mopers go to live;
Culters: people living around cul de sacs;
Witales: stories about Wi experiences;
Weecider: a tiny drink of cider.

You get the idea. I think I need a life!

Speaking of happy wandering, here are a few things our grandkids love to do as they wander/wonder through childhood.

Every kid has got to do the stretchy smile to get it on camera. I hope I'm around to show it to her boyfriends.
What would childhood be like without a swing set.?
This is what to do when you're bored.....

Anyone up for a game of Leapfrog?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

About Being Offline

It's so great to be back online. I've spent the last couple of days catching up on my blogger friends. If I didn't have time to comment on each one I visited I'll try to do that the next time I stop by. You all are my online community and I've missed you.

What did I do the last three months I was offline? Luckily it was Spring and Summer which are always busy since our daughter married a farmer and is Mom to three lovely, active, children. I'll share some pictures below so you can get an idea of just how beautiful they are. Of course, I could be prejudiced since I'm their Nana!

Being offline was not as ugly as I had always imagined it might be. I wish I could say I started that book I've always threatened everyone I would write someday, telling our family secrets through imaginary characters or some other disguise. However, everyone is safe as not one sentence has been uttered on paper.

With all that time on my hands I wanted to get rid of the clutter and unnecessary stuff around our home to reach my goal of living the simple life of a minimalist. But, alas, much of it is still staring me in the face when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. I keep wondering where I found the time to write a blog, check on friends and family in Facebook, and do research on the internet.

I could have made a dent in some of the books I've been intending to read, but I kept checking more out from the library and buying one or two from the thrift shops. Now I have to decide if I'm ever really going to read my collection and, if not, whether they're just clutter too. How dare I call my books clutter! Every book feels like a close friend whether I've read it or not. I fall in love with the cover or the subject, or the artwork and pictures inside. I find it excruciatingly hard to part with these dear friends. I guess that makes me a hopeless bibliophile. There, maybe I've finally accepted it, even though I may get teased and upbraided for all my books--I won't name any one of my loved ones who might do that; or who, when I'm in a shopping mall with them will vigorously steer me away from the bookstore. If I have to choose, I'd rather buy a book than eat.

Quite a bit of the time I was offline, I enjoyed studying the Bible. Our church pastoral team has been giving a sermon series on Romans 8, my favorite chapter in the whole Bible. When I'm having a difficult time in my life Paul's message of Christ loving me and redeeming me from sin, and then giving me His Spirit to be my comforter is what I cling to for keeping my faith intact. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (v. 26) And then that joyful 28th verse: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." God doesn't make junk (I borrowed that from somewhere), which is good to remember when I'm in the dumps. No matter how dirty and difficult life gets, I am right where God wants me to be. Looking back through the years, I can now see that He has made something good out of what happened. I'm so thankful to be reminded of God's incomparable love!

Enough dialogue for now. Here are those pictures I promised.
A couple of days in July, our daughter with her three came over to visit us and a friend of hers in Newton while husband and father went to St. Louis for a farm conference. It was hot enough to enjoy lots of water play.

Our oldest granddaughter, who will be in Kindergarten this year, came to spend a night with us. She came on Wednesday night and right away she said she was going to stay till Saturday. Those two and one-half days were some of the best Papa and I have had this summer. The first morning we ate breakfast at McDonalds. We stopped and bought fresh roasting ears from the Gaeddert Farm stand. But first we had to clean up our "messy driveway." Then we shucked the corn. I let her watch a movie she likes, "The Girl and the Fox." We went to the library and checked out several books to read and a triple rocker to share with brother and sis when she went home.
The next afternoon we went to the water park where our social butterfly had lots of fun with other children who also came to cool off. I know I need to write down more of the clever things she says, but they all come so fast and by then we've moved on to other things. We had to go back to the water park "one more time" on Saturday morning before I took her home.

The baby is trying to fill Daddy's shoes because she loves her daddy. Everytime the back door opens, no matter where she is, she yells, "Dada?"

Father's day we went to see our son and his girlfriend. Our son grilled the most delicious hamburgers and hotdogs. We brought the ice cream freezer and froze vanilla ice cream. Yum! They had just moved from their apartment to a roomy house.
Little brother has to wait his turn while Papa swings big sissy and little sis. It's hard being in the middle

Here is Little Miss Fancy Fanny chattering to whatever is out there.

Once upon a time there was a cute, furry bunny named Oreo. And then there wasn't. It's a sad story we won't go into right now.  Perhaps Old Earl, the farm dog, could offer a clue.  That's life on the farm.

Our lovely, sweet (most of the time) grandchildren.

If you get all three to sit still and smile at the same time, it's something of a miracle. It only happened with two-thirds of them this time. But you can see how they're all members of the same family. I wonder where they all got those blue eyes and blonde hair?