Tag Archives: Christian

What Is On My Mind Today? I Have Climbed the Mountain…The Trip to Montana

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Yellowstone Mountains

I remember the call from my oncologist so very clearly.  After months of battling brittle bones and being injected daily with bone hardening drugs into my stomach, just as I thought I had begun to make progress, he called me to tell me that my bone marrow biopsy was positive for multiple myeloma…a bone marrow cancer.

My first thought was thank God they finally know what’s slowly killing me.  My second thought was like the words of the song says, “Lord, this time you gave me a mountain. A mountain that I may never climb.  It isn’t a hill any longer. You gave me a mountain this time.”

It isn’t surprising that my first thoughts were of God and mountains. Throughout the four years that I battled multiple myeloma, at first just to survive, then to get mobility back, I would often mentally picture walking in the mountains of Montana.  Mountains have always been where I have felt closest to God and found peace.

Multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, destroyed my bones.  They became so brittle that all of my thoracic and lumbar vertebra sustained compression fractures.  I once had six new fractures in my back at one time. I also endured several cracked ribs.

I would break my back doing the simplest of tasks including flossing my teeth, lifting a toilet lid and trying to pick a shirt up off of the floor.  For over 18 months I was imprisoned in a chin to hip hard body cast.  I spent over two and a half years confined to a hospital bed in my living room staring out of my living room window at a small oak tree in my front yard.  I was unable to stand or walk without using a walker for over three years. So, being able to hike in the mountains of Montana was a pretty far-fetched goal.

If in reality I couldn’t get to mountains, I could in my mind. I dreamed, I was in those mountains, often.  I was there when I was encased in that body cast. I spent time in them when imprisoned in the hospital bed in my living room. I was climbing those mountains the day they put the Hickman chemo port into my chest.  I visited those snow covered peaks each time they bored holes into my bones using only local anesthesia before they used a massive syringe to suck out bone marrow samples.

Those mountains were in my nursing home, rehab and hospital rooms. They were there the day I watched, “the nuclear bomb” of chemo for my stem cell plant slowly enter my body.

There were times during those years of battling cancer, fear, depression, chemo therapy and stem cell transplant side effects, mobility loss, and pain when my only contact with the great outdoors, for this outside farm girl, was dreaming of mountains and their meadows.

To beat my cancer I did everything the doctors asked me to do, except for one thing. I refused to use a wheelchair.  I had no intention of being trapped in one of those. For, I had decided, like Winston Churchill stated in his greatest and shortest speech to  “Never, never, never give up.”  In fact, I bought a silver dog tag engraved with those words to always wear around my neck on a necklace that included my cross, a silver family tree given to me by my grandson on a Mother’s Day long ago and the first ring my husband ever gave me.

After making the decision to fight on, no matter how sick I was, whenever someone helped me out of bed, I would push my walker around my kitchen island until I was too tired to go any further. First one, then five, 10, 20 and eventually a 100 laps a day.  I wore a trail into my hardwood floors.

During the long months that stretched into years when I was too sick and weak to leave my home, occupational and physical therapists would come to bathe me, and help me relearn the simplest of tasks.  First, I had to learn how to get out of bed without breaking more bones.  As I would sit up I could feel my weak spine bend sideways just like a willow branch and would pray that it would not snap and paralyze me.  It didn’t.

Eventually, I re-learned how to do stairs. Then, after months of being totally house bound, with two therapists, one on each side, I was allowed to go outside and push my walker to the end of my driveway and back.

There were many trips to the end of my driveway.   I can still remember the sheer terror of trying to step down from the driveway to the street for the first time without jarring my spine.  I did it, though, and my world began to grow. First just to the edge of our property line, next came the end of our street and eventually laps around the block pushing a walker with tennis balls on the bottom.  As I grew stronger, I mastered using a walker with wheels, next came two canes and eventually just one cane.

I walked and walked. I walked with shuffling feet, bent over, with a broken back.  I walked sick and exhausted from chemo. I walked bald.  I walked masked.  I walked on flat streets, inclines and hills.  I wore out many tennis balls.  I have worn out many rubber stoppers on the bottom of my canes. I climbed stairs many times a day just to strengthen my bones and leg muscles. Each step I took was me telling my cancer to go to blazes.

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Pushing my walker on a hiking trail at William O’Brien State Park

After such a hard and long cancer battle, you cannot imagine the joy of traveling out of state for the first time in almost six years; being in Great Falls, Montana, to visit and hug my dear Aunt Margaret who faithfully called me weekly throughout all of those years to lead me in Bible study; and to at last stand on a hiking trail in Montana and see a horizon filled with snow and wild flower covered mountains.

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Uncle Klynn and Aunt Margie

As I stood beneath a snow-capped footstool of God, the bible verse that I clung to throughout my cancer battle was again prayed.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

It did not matter whether I could only lift my eyes to the top of a small oak tree in my front yard, or the summit of a great mountain, my help always came from the Lord….who never left me or forsook me.

With baby steps, a bit a grit and by the grace of God, I climbed the mountain!!!

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I hope you enjoy these vacation pictures!


Lots of Wild Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

 

Beautiful Wild Flowers

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Animals galore! Bear, wolf, elk and antelope too! 

 

Geyser basins.

Waterfalls 

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Mountains!

Doug!

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Me!

It was a great trip. We hiked from sun up to sundown and I never even got sore muscles….Bully!!!!!

RECIPES: Church Ladies Critique and Chewy Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Yesterday my parents came down for a visit and I made them lunch.  The menu included sauced pulled beef, Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns, potato salad and cherry pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

There is just no way to serve pie and ice cream without remembering the many ice cream pie socials I attended in my youth.  I have baked a lot of pies.  The pies shared at a community events were always special.

Baked goods delivered to our church pie socials were as expertly critiqued as any work of art ever entered into a juried art show.  I have many fond memories of watching the faces of the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and neighbors as they assessed each newly delivered donated baked item.   So many of these dear ladies are now gone and live with the Lord.

These gals could convey a complete critique of  your pie baking performance with a single look or a gesture.  The silent language used by church ladies for bake good assessment had been passed down from generation to generation and mastered by each. So it paid to pay attention and learn to read faces.

However, unless you wanted to live in a state of perpetual self-disappointment, it was best, at a very young age,  to acquire the skill of recognizing people who never have anything good to say about anything or anyone.  I have always felt sorry for folks like that. It must be awful to always live in darkness and never see sunshine.

Once you have learned to “dust off your feet and move on” to people who actually have good intentions in mind, being judged by others, while not always fun, is a great opportunity for self-reflection, personal and professional growth.

Our church ladies could judge the quality of your pie and render a verdict without uttering so much as a word. I can still picture the sad shake of bent curly heads sporting raised eyebrows with a lone dimple appearing in a cheek above tightly compress lips when improvement was required.  And, remember the proud sense of mature accomplishment when you finally received the coveted in unison nod, slight grin and and saw that quick wink from behind bespectacled eyes.

As a Lutheran Swedish farmer’s child growing up in rural Minnesota, understanding nonverbal communications was a necessary skill.  To actually confront or praise someone in person was just not done. Outrageousness such as that would have been terrifying for entire congregation, sent some poor old soul into instant menopause, and probably would have lead to the cancellation of any future church activities that included the word social.

Church ladies taught life lessons. Such as, there is always room for improvement, and to get used to being judged, because its going to happen. They taught me that people are a lot like pie pastry production.  Oh, sure there are times when I want to just flatten an ornery one with my rolling pin. However, I know that only leads to a tougher crust.  So, when you are the object of judgement, fair or unfair, its best to think of the butter in pie crust. The total excellence and success of the pastry depends on the butter’s temperature which, like a person’s temperament, needs to remain a cool as possible.

choc choc cookies

Chewy, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have become my husband’s new favorite.  The trick to getting them chewy is the baking time.  Since you cannot see if a chocolate cookie is browning, you cannot see when they are getting done.  You must rely on baking time.  These cookies do not look done when you remove them from the oven and are quite soft.  They need to remain on the hot cookie sheet for about a minute before you remove them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two cookie sheets.

1 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
3 cups of chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Blend in cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix until completely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping teaspoon-sized pieces of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet for one minute.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cookies will flatten and firm up as they cool.

These cookies are great alone, but with a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies, they become a fantastic quick ice cream sandwich dessert.

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Matthew 7: 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? …

Recipes: Here Comes the Kittens, Graduates, Brides and Heavenly Lemon Torte

 

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The other day, my father stopped by my nephew’s farm to say hello to his great granddaughter.  This young preschooler is quite the little farm girl.  She helps her mom and dad with all aspects of farm work and has since the day she was born.

I am convinced that this youngster knew the difference between a plant and a weed before she could walk. There were many naps taken inside tractor or combine cabs when she was a baby and toddler. This preschooler has mastered farm tool identification, fishing, hunting, eating fish and wild game, taking eggs away from old hens, unflinching helping her dad rid the farm of unwanted critters and, if need be, steering a stuck vehicle out of its muddy prison.

She can be seen traipsing around wearing the farm kid uniform of a dirty face, hands and clothes smartly accented with boots or shoes glistening with sticky slimy blue-black Minnesota mud. Yup, she is pretty much the average farm kid.

One of her greatest loves is her farm cats. She loves those cats and they reciprocate the sentiment. Which is as it should be as both are adorable. The arrival of spring on her farm means the arrival of new kittens.  So, each spring she is inundated with same question over and over again, “Got any new baby kittens, yet?”

When my dad got to her farm, he found her sitting on the house’s front porch step holding and gently petting one of her beloved cats.  So, he asked her the standard question, “Got any new baby kittens, yet?”  She shouted back, “Not yet!.”  Then, with a flourish worthy of a great circus showman, she hoisted the cat high into the air and with great joy exclaimed, “But, this one is plump full!.”

Just like as new kittens arrive each and every spring on the farm, so too, do the special celebrations life such as graduations, confirmations, and bridal showers.  For those of you who are host or hosting one of these traditional springtime events check out my blog posts called, “Salad, Bar and Cookie Recipes for Graduation Celebrations” and “Graduation Party Recipes for Meats, Beans, Appetizers and a Couple of Punches.” These posts provide a variety of excellent recipe options.

However, Heavenly Lemon Torte is the recipe you are looking for if you want to serve a light, tasty, elegant dessert at a Bridal Shower.

Heavenly Lemon Torte

You must use a table top mixer to make this torte.  Hand mixers do cannot whip the egg whites stiff enough. 

Meringue Crust:
7 egg whites
1/2 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of sugar

In a a large stainless steel or glass mixing bowl mix the egg whites, vinegar, vanilla and sugar together.  Then beat on high speed for about 15 minutes until mixture becomes very stiff.  Pour into an ungreased 9 X 13 cake pan.  Bake for one hour in a 300 degree oven. Turn oven off, after one hour, and leave crust in the oven for another 20 minutes. Remove and cool.

Lemon Filling:
7 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
6 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 lemon rind

In a double boiler cooking pot, mix ingredients together. Cook until mixture becomes thick.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Whipping Cream Topping: 
Whip one pint of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Cover cooled torte with one half of whipped cream.  Cover with lemon filling.  Top with remaining whipped cream.

Refrigerate.

Bloggers note: This recipe comes from the home of Karen Peterson and can be found in the cookbook, Trinity’s Book of Heritage and Recipes, Trinity Lutheran Church, Grove City, Minnesota.  

My great-grandfathers helped build this church and served on its first church council.  I was baptized, confirmed, bridal showered and was married here, almost 39 years ago, when Trinity Lutheran was still known as First Lutheran Church. It became Trinity Lutheran when all of the Lutheran churches in my small hometown of Grove City, MN, came together and united. 

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? What Kind of a Wondrous Love is that? Happy Easter!

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While I have taught Christian Education and read the scriptures for most of my life.  I had never actually read the entire Bible cover to cover. I decided last winter that if anyone asked me, if I had read the entire Bible, I wanted to answer in the affirmative. For the past several months, I have been reading the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse.

The New Testament went fast, but the Old Testament is a much slower read.  At least for me.  I am over half way through and am now about midway through the chapter of Psalms.

I have been a very good reader of the New Testament, but whenever I read the Old Testament, I get overwhelmed and a bit freaked out. Parts of the Old Testament truly test me.   One of the stories that has always troubled me was the story of Abraham and Isaac.
That story is about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to test Abraham’s faith.

The very idea of sacrificing a child is repulsive and terrifying.  As the scriptures tell us, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.”  My treasures are my children and I cannot imagine how horrible it would be to lose a child, let alone be party to their death.

That is now thinking, not then thinking.

For much of ancient human history child sacrifice was considered the ultimate offering to appease or please an angry God.  At the time that the Old Testament was written many cultures practiced child sacrifice both in the old and new worlds.

The Bible sites many examples of this practice.

2 Kings 17:31 
the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.

Psalm 106: 38 

They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.

Personally, I will never forget a trip to the Papago Indian Reservation, with a member of that tribe, to visit a site where four small children had lost their lives during a ritual human sacrifice.  As the legend was told, there had been an big badger who had dug a hole so deep that it had tapped into a natural spring.  Water was gushing out of the spring into the dry desert.  Fearful of their world being flooded, it was decided to sacrifice four small children to save the tribe.  The children’s small bodies were shoved into the hole, the water stopped, and the tribe saved and therefore, the sacrifice had worked.

Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice Isaac would not have been considered unusual. What is unusual is the strength of Abraham’s faith.  Abraham had been promised by God that he would be the leader of a great nation, have more descendants than there were stars in the heavens and that these descendants would be the result of his union with his very elderly wife Sarah who was past menopause.  Isaac’s birth and life was a promise fulfilled by God.

Genesis 17:19

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Genesis 17:21

But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”

Genesis 21: 12 

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

Genesis 22: 2  

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

After reading this Biblical passage more than once, it occurred to me, that Abraham told his servants that “we will come back to you”.  Regardless, of what Abraham had been asked by God to do on that mountain, he believed that both he and Isaac would be returning.  His faith in the promise made to him by God was so strong, that even if Isaac had been sacrificed, he believed that the boy would be returning with him.  God would not break his promise that through Isaac there would be an everlasting covenant, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead.

God providing the ram for a sacrifice instead of Isaac, certainly symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ.  However, while God was making an example of the unfailing faith of Abraham, God was also setting an example of ending human child sacrifice. In fact, God abhorred child sacrifice and has a history of destroying  nations who practiced it.

2 Kings 17:17 

They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.


2 Kings 16:3

He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.


2 Kings 17:31 

the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.


2 Kings 21: 6

He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritualists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.


Ezekiel 23:37

for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.

Not only did God abhor child sacrifice, he preferred obedience to sacrifice period.


1 Samuel 15:22 

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Isaiah 1:11

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

Psalm 40:6
 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
  but my ears you have opened
  burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

Psalm 51:16

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hebrews 10:8
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with
the law.

Mark 12:23

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Even after being raised in a Christian faith that believes in the trinity of God….Father, Son and Holy Ghost…in my mind God the Father was a much tougher guy and quite different in temperament than God the Son.  Christ’s description of his heavenly Father, I must admit had fallen on deaf ears.

John 8:19 

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

Luke 10:22 

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

John 14: 7 

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

These past few months as I have read through the Old Testament, it has become very apparent to me that the God of the Old Testament, is not nearly as angry and blood thirsty as I had believed.  He is, in fact, just as loving and tender as his son Jesus.
The violence of the Old Testament was never the wish or will of a just and loving God, but the result of humankind’s transgressions.  We are the angry, blood thirsty, immoral and vengeful.  Not God. Never God.

The Old Testament clearly demonstrates time and time again that having free-will and the ability to defy God and commit acts of rebellion (sin) has consequences.  As the very first couple learned in the Garden of Eden.

Isaiah 50: 1 

This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.

So, it seems to me that Isaac on that mountain is us asking,  “Father?”

“Yes, my child?” 

“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my child.”

God did provide a sacrificial lamb for Abraham.  Just like he provided the sacrificial lamb who gave up his life on the top of another hill, shaped like a skull-cap, called Golgotha. There, God kept his covenant with humankind when he provided his own son as the sacrifice to wipe away the sins of the world. Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice.

Jesus always knew that his destiny was to die on that cross.

John 10:15 

just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the greatest expression of love.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

When I think about the Trinity, Jesus was not the only one on that cross at Calvary.  God the Father was right there with him.  It was a combination of child sacrifice and self-sacrifice.

John 3:16 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is awe inspiring to know that God, who abhorred child sacrifice, sacrificed his only son, because of his great love for me, to forgive my transgressions and rebellion.  Really, what kind of a wondrous love is that?

Hymn: “What Wondrous Love Is This” 

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

3 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM –
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme, I will sing.

4 And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

Tomorrow morning is Easter.  A day to celebrate the risen Lord, and his victory over death and the grave.  He has risen!  He has risen indeed!

Happy Easter!

RECIPES: Easy Rhubarb Pudding Cake and Rhubarb Recipes Galore

rhubarbplantsPurdue

I have been reading the diaries of two sisters who were born in Michigan, during the 1880’s.  These two young women were filled with spunk and high jink.  Their work, school and social calendars are exhausting to just read about.

There are so many similarities between their childhood experiences and my memories of growing up on a farm in pre-television Minnesota.  Work came first.  Chores had to be done.  Cows don’t milk themselves, chickens don’t pick eggs, pigs never clean their own pens and rocks cannot migrate themselves out of a field.

School began bright and early by today’s standards.  By the time we were off to school, the morning chores had already been completed, breakfast made, eaten and cleaned up after.  Heck, the day was practically half over by the time classes began. No one would have ever thought to start school times later to accommodate a student’s personal sleep requirements. Such an idea would have been considered utter nonsense resulting in sloth, general laziness, eventually abject poverty and probably beer.  “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person happy, healthy, wealthy and wise,” that was our motto.

Then, there was attending a one-room school house. Except for pictures of presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the school house walls were lined with large black chalk boards. Memory work was required, lessons were recited in front of the entire student body, older boys teased younger students unmercifully, everybody had a pocket knife and playground gopher holes were routinely flooded.  The bathrooms were outside and well ventilated….especially in the winter.

Our lunches were packed at home and were filled with processed meat, red meat, white meat, Miracle Whip and meat, cheese, butter, jelly, peanut butter, white bread and as many homemade baked sugary treats as a brown paper sack or small lunchbox could hold. Only the rich kids got potato chips. They were a luxury item.  Fruit was included when in season, which meant apples.  In those days apples were regarded as a danger to both man and beast. An apple, good aim and a strong pitching arm could be used as a defensive or offensive weapon.  When carved into chunks with your pocket knife, an apple was great bait to lure unsuspecting gophers out of their holes.  Many an apple ended up on the teacher’s desk.

Sunday school was more important than regular school and rightly so. School lessons were only meant to last a lifetime, Sunday school lessons were to last for an eternity.

In addition to chores and school experiences being similar, so, too, was the entertainment.  No televisions, computers or access to any social media. Your entire social circle consisted of relatives, neighbors, school and Sunday school classmates.  And, if you wanted to take a trip without ever leaving the farm, and your family was no longer growing hemp to support the war effort, you read a book and used your imagination.

This was a time when relationships were personal and more important than hypnotically staring at electronic gadgets. Communications were face to face or handwritten. What you said or did mattered.  There was no refuge behind a detached tweet or email for the communication coward.  If your words hurt someone, you saw the hurt, and it affected you. Unless of course you suffered from total lack of empathy or were actually soulless and very quick at ducking.

In many ways those were indeed the good old days.  For there was a different type of self. It was a time of selflessness, self-control, self-responsibility, self-discipline, self-determination, self-motivation and self-reflection.  Selfishness and self-esteem had not yet run amok.

It was quaint time where going to pick pie-plant (rhubarb) was cause for organizing a social outing that the local paper reported, “as a doing enjoyed by all!”

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This recipe for Easy Rhubarb Pudding Cake comes from the kitchen of my mother-in-law Lois Turgeon.  It is simple to make and so very, very good. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

1 (2 layer) yellow cake mix
4 cups of chopped rhubarb
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 pint unwhipped heavy cream

Mix cake as directed on the package.  Pour into a lightly greased 9 X 13 cake pan. Spread evenly. Mix rhubarb with sugar and spoon over the cake batter.  Pour unwhipped cream over the unbaked cake batter and rhubarb.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Refrigerate leftovers

Other rhubarb recipes on this blog:

Recipe: Good Neighbors, Great Rhubarb Cheesecake
Recipe: Grandmother Esther’s Rhubarb Torte and Poison Ivy Cure
Recipe: Two for a Penny Candy and a Dime a Dozen Rhubarb
Recipe: Playhouse in the Lilacs and Pies: Mud and Rhubarb
Recipe: Country School, Hot Potato Fridays and Rhubarb Bread
Recipe: Cure for Spring Fever: Songbirds, Sunshine and Rhubarb Crunch
Recipe: Slow Down and Break for Rhubarb

Children’s Rhubarb Story: Thor’s Stories: The Midnight Dinosaur Rhubarb Rampage. 

 

What Is On My Mind Today: Blindness, Blood and Blessings

Just over a week ago my husband and I finally made plans to go on vacation this summer. For the first time in years, we plan to hike in the mountains of Montana.

So, last week was an eventful week. It all began on Monday morning when my husband called me from work to say the he had made an emergency eye doctor appointment. Driving to work that morning he noticed his vision was distorted. When he closed one eye, then the other, it was immediately apparent that he had lost vision in his left eye.

He came home from his doctor appointment with a severe headache, a diagnoses of a macular hole and an announcement that he will need surgery.

This is what his vision looks like now out of that eye.
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Normal vision                                               Distorted vision

Learning that he would not be able to drive home after his appointment with the surgeon was a bit unsettling….for my husband.  You see, I have not driven on a freeway in over five years. I have not driven, because I could not turn my head.  However, after my trip into the oncologist the Friday past and the physical therapist breaking down the scar tissue that had grown onto my skull,  I could move my head quite well. I was good to go.

The night before our expedition, I had the weirdest dream, which is not uncommon on my Chemo.  This dream, however, repeated itself over and over again.  It was of me driving. As I shoot down the on ramp my car ends up right in front of a big blue semi truck.  I guess it must have been on my mind some after all.

When I woke up, I said a prayer for God to watch over my husband and myself, got dressed and we were out the door.

The surgeon’s office was in a neighboring city and was not the easiest place to find. Eventually we were successful. We both chuckled as it was right next door to the animal emergency hospital.  With multiple resources readily available, our situation was obviously well under control. The surgeon checked my husband out and scheduled his surgery for April 9.

After meeting with the surgeon, my husband explained the good news is the surgery will be outpatient.  The procedure can restore between 40 and 90 percent of his vision.  The initial recovery should be a couple of days, followed by several weeks or months of restrictions.  Honestly, all I heard was he was going to get an eye patch!  I have asked him for almost 40 years to dress up like a pirate.

As my owl-eyed, severely pupil dilated husband headed for the car, he again asked if he could drive.  I showed him, that I had my own keys.  At that point, he got into the passenger seat. It took me forever to adjust the driver’s seat in our car.  My husband is six feet, four inches tall.  On a good day, I might be five feet, three inches tall.  I adjusted all the mirrors, put on my seat belt and proceeded to drive out of the parking lot.

I never even made it out of the parking lot before my husband provided advice on safe car length distances. Which he is an expert on.  It has been noted that at times he uses the age-old and well-practiced rational that the distance you are behind a car can help motivate the driver of the car in front of you to increase their speed.  The optimal distance required to perform this motivational maneuver is easily discerned. It is when you can read the bumper stickers on the car in front of your without using the glasses to correct your severely near-sighted eyes required by your drivers license.

After safely exiting the parking lot, it was time for the big test….entering the freeway.  The entrance to this freeway is at the end of a circular blind ramp.  As I accelerated to merge, I looked over my shoulder, which I had only been able to do for three days, and there he was…that big blue semi truck!

As the truck did not move over, I had to drive on the shoulder for a short way until the lane was safe to enter. Thank goodness by the time this baptism by fire occurred, my husband’s driving coaching skills had been rendered impotent by widely dilated eyes and a blinding headache.

We arrived home safely and the rest of the week was uneventful until Friday.  I woke up feeling seasick that morning and spent the majority of the day taking care of myself.  I was so proud of our pup Oliver.  Normally, he is Mr. Energy, but he had spent the whole day just resting with me.  German Shepherd’s are like that, they are great caregivers.

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Oliver

He was pretty excited to see my husband come home from work. It was so cute to see him standing at the gate with his tail wagging, tongue hanging out, just waiting for dad.  My husband stepped into the yard and threw Oliver a stick to catch. That is where it all went so very horribly wrong.

Oliver caught the stick at a strange angle, as he came down with it, the end of the stick went into the ground.  The other end of the stick impaled Oliver in his mouth and became lodged.  HE NEVER EVEN YIPPED!   Both, the pup and my husband were sitting together in the backyard looking positively stunned.

In the Bible it says that a child will not depart from the way it is raised and I was raised on a farm with animals.  Animals on a farm get injured, sick and sometimes die.  Now, when our animals needed help the old doc would come out.  Most farm veterinarians are laid back, but this guy could have sat and smoked his cigar in a tornado and not batted an eye. He also firmly believed that all veterinary procedures were performance art and a spectator sport.  Being a girl did not get you a pass from the old doc when there was neutering, wound draining, shot giving or dissecting to be done.

Oliver came into the house on his own.  It became quickly apparent that he was going into shock.  No sooner did I notice the changes in the pupils of his eyes, than Truman, our other German Shepherd, began to nudge the pup. Oliver came back.

By then, the bleeding had commenced in earnest.  The first thing I looked for was whether or not the blood had bubbles in it, was pinkish and foamy or was spurting.  Oliver passed that threshold, but there was just so very much blood. We could not see the injury.

If anyone has ever seen the mouth wound of a small child who has fallen, you know how how awful mouth wounds can look and much they can bleed. After the bleeding stops often there is just a small cut.  We waited for a few minutes to see if the bleeding would slow, but it did not. Soon, he was passing huge blood clots.

By God’s grace and my husband’s blind eye, we knew exactly where the closest animal hospital was.  Oliver went with us willingly and on his own steam.  Truman, our old white German Shepherd, for the first time in his life, fought with with my husband to stay with his puppy.  He was so shook up.

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Truman

By the time we got to the animal hospital, it looked like we had butchered a chicken in our car.  Blood everywhere. As Oliver pranced into the clinic like nothing was wrong, with blood dripping all over the floor, one tech took the dog and another one offered Doug and I scrubs, should we want to change out of our bloody clothes.

We quickly learned that Oliver wasn’t in danger from the blood loss, but would need emergency surgery.  Since he was stable there were several other pets in critical condition who would be taken in first.  By the time of his surgery, at about 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the bleeding had pretty much stopped on its own. The surgeon found that he had a “massive” puncture wound under his tongue.  He was sent home with two weeks of restrictions, antibiotics and other medication.

When we went to pick Oliver up the next morning, Truman howled the whole time we were gone.  My husband acknowledged, “There goes my new big screen TV” as he paid the bill. We got to meet the dog who had been attacked by a muskrat.  Then, we took a very groggy pup home.

As we were driving back, my husband made a comment about bad luck and things going wrong.  That man and I certainly have had some challenges. For so very many years he had to be the one who stayed positive and strong, it was my turn. So,  I told him that except for my cancer diagnoses and all of those years I was an invalid and sick, we really haven’t had that much go wrong. Besides what’s so bad? My cancer is in remission, the semi truck missed us, your eye will be fixed, the pup didn’t skewer himself in the windpipe, jugular or artery, by God’s grace we knew where to take him because of your faulty eye, we already own three T.V.’s and we are now officially the blind leading the lame.

Boy, did I get a look, and then, slowly a lopsided grin appeared.

My husband took Oliver right into the back yard when we got home. The first thing that pup did was pick up that very same bloodied stick and sit down to wait for it to be thrown. There is something admirable about getting right back on the horse…but, too soon, Oliver, too soon!

Moral of Story:  There will be many times when the only thing in life that you will be able to control is your attitude. Look for the blessings and count them instead of your troubles. And always remember that there is a fine line between bravery and foolishness.

WARNING FOR DOG OWNERS!!!!   It is not uncommon for veterinarians to see dogs come in with severe injuries from playing fetch with sticks.  DO NOT throw sticks for your dog!  They should never be used as a toy.  Oliver was lucky.