Westward HO!


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Strangely enough, the very first thing that came to mind was “Circle the Wagons!”  Now, I haven’t watched an old-fashioned cowboy show in a very long time, so I’m not sure where this thought came from.  I do know that it’s still used as a sort of call to battle, or to be prepared for whatever is coming.

I also know that many in the younger generation would just give me a blank look, having no idea what the origin of this saying is.

Picture this:

As those long wagon trains crept westward, they were sometimes attacked by the Indians–sorry, Native Americans–who saw them as exactly what they were; a threat to the way of life enjoyed by those same Native Americans.  I won’t point out the revisionist history involved. Suffice it to say that the people who traveled westward didn’t do it for the sole purpose of pushing the Indians off their lands. Uh-oh, I did it again.

Anyway, circling the wagons gave a fairly effective protection to the travelers, who could shoot from  behind the wheels and the wooden bodies of the wagons. It must have been terrifying for those within the circle, though, if the enemy force was much larger.  We’ve tended to romanticize these events, but they were terrifying, bloody, and often didn’t end well at all.

Who were the people who piled all their belongings into these “ships of the desert” to find new homes far away from family and friends?  Oh, my.  All kinds.  Some were criminals escaping from the law, going to a lawless land where they felt safe from  punishment. Others were simply people who longed for wide open spaces, no near neighbors, excitement, land of their own.  Some were speculators, profiteers.  Some were missionaries, teachers,  women who were mail-order brides, with eager men waiting to marry them and relieve the loneliness of living in isolation. Men looking for gold, looking for land, looking for a way of life that seemed like Utopia.

“Westward, HO!” had become like a clarion call to many who were unhappy with the way-too-civilized life along the East Coast.

When I was a kid, westerns on TV were as numerous as cop shows and CSI’s are today. My word, so many.  Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Sugarfoot, Wyatt Earp, Big Valley, Laramie, Palladin–I can’t even remember them all.  My dad loved them, because they took him back to his own growing up years in the Utah desert, where I imagine he dreamed himself the hero of every Zane Grey novel he had ever read.

All this, from the word circle. And I didn’t even mention Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel within a wheel 🙂




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Because I’m feeling quite lazy this morning, I’m going to share some of Mark Twain’s witticisms with you to make you smile:






3. “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.” – Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940) edited by Bernard DeVoto

4. “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.” –  Mark Twain and I by Opie Read

5. “He was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie.” – “Brief Biographical Sketch of George Washington,” (1867)

6. “The only reason why God created man is because he was disappointed with the monkey.” – Autobiographical Dictation (1906)

7. “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.” – Speech (23 September 1907).


8. “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” – Draft manuscript (c.1881), quoted by Albert Bigelow Paine in Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


It’s a Wonderful Life!


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I’m at the stage of life in which retrospect takes on a different feeling, a different aura, if you will.

There have been so many launch-points in the course of my life. I’m not unique. We all experience the launches, but mine are unique to me.

My memories race through my launching into the world of learning. School was, for the most part, a joy to me. I don’t understand “hating” school.  It opened so many doors, and I’m thankful for all the good teachers I had from kindergarten through high school.  Sure, some of it was dull, some of it beyond my brain’s natural abilities and interests. But so much was enlightening, exciting, opening new doors of learning and possibilities.

College was  it’s own launch, with lots of bumpy rides through first loves, first failures, first coping with being on my own. Some courses I loved.  Others, not so much because the professors didn’t seem to love what-or whom-they taught.  But it did set my feet in a path I have never regretted.


Marriage, the biggest launch-point of all. A young man who’s very posture showed his character; whose honesty was refreshing, and whose faith was new and exciting to see. If we had known what the course of our lives would be, would we have hesitated?  I don’t think so.  The first baby, a matter of wonder indeed to my husband, who had very little experience with pregnant women or newborn babies. The second, third, and fourth. Each precious life given into our  keeping. Laughter, tears, hopes, disappointments, accomplishments; sickness, fear, relief and the humdrum of every-day life. How we loved them all, and still do.

Then their launches into adulthood, education, work, marriage, and babies of their own, and Terry and I were empty-nesters–and loving it.  New challenges, though, came in the guise of pain, accidents, older bodies beginning to wear out and create the necessity of recognizing we were no longer able to do what we had done only a few years earlier.

Now, he is 74 and I am 70.  Young old age, they say.  Sometimes I look at him and see his mom or his dad as they were when we last saw them. The facial lines, the posture,  the determination to keep on going in spite of pain and discomfort.  Then I look at myself and see both my own parents, and I can’t believe how quickly the years have passed. We’re the grandparents of nine, the oldest of whom will be 20 next month. Good grief, there may be GREATgrands in our near future!

The absolute that has always stayed the same through all the years, for me and then for Terry and me, has been our faith in the God Who created us, and Who has blessed our lives as we have done our best to serve Him.  Failures?  Sure.  We’re human. Forgiveness? Yes, and always hope for the future.

There’s one more launch ahead of us. One of us will be widowed one of these days, and that’s something I try to prepare for.  I know, however, that grief is a dark valley that neither of us will enjoy, but that will be yet another instrument of growth,  The knowledge that we both love God, that we will be reunited someday in heaven, is already a comfort.

Well, Terry just took off to cut 17 acres of grass down at our church, and in an hour I’ll be in my counseling office.  I have four people to see today.  Both of us still able and willing to work, to be of service, to reach out when and where we can to help others.


You’re Kidding!


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Was it just a coincidence that four other women besides me bought the exact same dress for Easter Sunday?


Image result for five women wearing the same dress

Nope. There was only one decent store in town that carried women’s dresses.  No coincidence–just limited choice.

And I had no idea there was a play about us 🙂

Was it a coincidence that my son and I met up in London with people my parents had known  years and years earlier when the men were both students in a Bible college in the Midwest?  Well, that one’s not so easy to explain away. Over the years, the couples had lost contact. Dad became a pastor, the other man, Ray became a missionary in South America. The only reason we made contact is that my son was wearing a sweatshirt with a Minnesota logo, and the couple opened a conversation with him.

What makes this so surprising is that I lived in Pennsylvania; my son was in college in South Carolina; Ray and his wife were on a world tour to celebrate their retirement, the tour being funded by their children.  We just happened to decide to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace on the same morning.

Yes, I think that was a coincidence.  Some might call it a Divine Appointment, and I’m not going to argue with that 🙂

We all have stories of unexpected happenings, meetings, and so on. They’re usually fun stories, with happy endings.  Something to tuck away in one’s memory, or take pictures and put them in a scrapbook.

The Factory

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Bleak. Desolate. Even under a pretty blue sky sprinkled with clouds, the old “factory” cast a pall over the surrounding town. More a village, really. The young people moved away as soon as they could, giving the broken-down building a last shuddering glance as they caught the train to anywhere else.

The chimney didn’t belch foul-smelling smoke anymore. There were no armed guards, no lines of hopeless prisoners filing in, but never out. No one, not even curious children, tried to sneak in to see what was inside.

The building gave off its own warning.




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As a teacher, I’d worked with several students who had ADD.  The experts have done away with the ADHD diagnosis now, just adding the word “hyperactive” to ADD with a code number.  Yeah, I know, why fix what isn’t broken?  Anyway, I’d learned to identify certain traits of this condition, and tried my best to help students who had a hard time, for instance, if there was too much writing or typing on a page. We call this, in the trade, figure-ground. The white paper is the ground; the print is the figure. If there’s too much figure, a kid’s  mind just scrambles everything up. I learned to write tests with lots of white space; with short matching sections, short true/false lists, and so on

One thing, however, that I’ve never been able to figure out, is how to help someone who easily loses focus. I’m married to that. Of course, when Terry was a kid in school. no one knew about ADD.  Chances are, if they had, they still would have tossed it off as “he’s just lazy and won’t pay attention. He just needs to be disciplined!”

Until you’ve lived with it, had a child with it, marry it, you really don’t get it.  Terry is one of the most disciplined people I know. It’s just that his brain is wired in such a way that he can be listening intently, but just one word acts like a taser gun to his brain cells and he’s mentally off and running, following that one word.  I can tell when I’ve lost him.  His eyes change. I know he hasn’t heard the last ten words, and I call him back. He always looks startled.

We make jokes about ADD:

But honestly?  It’s not funny.  It’s frustrating, and a lot of kids in my husband’s age group went through school hating every minute, believing they were stupid, and certainly not living up to their intellectual capacity.  Don’t look down your nose at these folks. Most of them are a lot smarter than you think they are. Their brains are just wired differently than yours.

Focus?  Terry can focus on something he’s doing to the point that there could be an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, and hurricane all at one time and he’d be oblivious. On the other hand, asking him to stay focused on something he finds uninteresting is just not very smart. He tries.  Most people with ADD really, really try hard.

What about medication?  Well, sure.  It often works very well, especially with hyperactivity. Terry uses his Adderal if he has to drive any distance, or if there’s a project that involves a lot of detailed calculating and measuring.  It helps him focus and not go chasing after squirrels.

Not all people who lose their focus have ADD.  Sometimes they just don’t care about what they’re doing, and they let their minds wander the globe.  I think people who MUST control the remote, and who channel surf during every commercial, don’t have ADD. They just like to be in charge, and they’re always looking for something more interesting. And almost anything is more interesting than what YOU want to watch, so it’s probably better if you have your own TV somewhere else in the house.

That last paragraph, by the way, was a perfect example of ADD and would have earned me some red ink if I were writing this as a high school composition 🙂


The Blue Earth


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Image result for Earth from outer space

I’ve been fascinated  with photos of our planet ever since the first satellites and space rockets began taking pictures. So a beautiful home God has provided for us. So many wonders in this world that I would love to see. But I have to scale down my bucket list, because there isn’t enough time for me to see all the sights. So I’m learning to enjoy the micro-creation instead.

Like this little green guy:

Image result for Praying mantis

I’ve seen three of them up close a personal in the past week, which seems like some kind of record for me.  I can’t say that I’m a great fan of bugs and spiders, but this one does hold my interest. Capable of looking like a leaf, especially if you’re an uneducated insect who doesn’t know he’s about to be lunch, this creature can hold totally still for long periods of time. And sometimes, he folds those goofy- looking front legs to look as if he’s praying.

Did you know this guy is related to the cockroach?  Hmm.  Maybe I’m not so fascinated with him after all!




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Remember this guy?



A sort of answer to Mickey Mouse, I guess, this character never hit the big time like Mickey did. The series ran from 1942 to 1961, and I do vaguely remember seeing the cartoons sometimes. There must have been something else on ABC or NBC that we liked better, though, because I just don’t remember Mighty Mouse very well.

And remember when there were three channels? ABC, CBS, NBC. That was it. Boy, have things changed!

And that’s about all I have for you today.  Tired. Thursday is my Friday at work, but I don’t have the day off tomorrow.  I’ll be teaching at our church’s homeschool co-op, That’s not work, though. It’s fun, a pleasure to have a group of kids who really want to learn. They’re a joy to be around.

So now, as the seven dwarfs sang, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go!”




What We Say


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Remember back in the 50s and maybe into the 60s when we all said,”Oh, crumb!”  when we were surprised, unhappy, caught unprepared, or whatever. Hadn’t thought about that in years.  Exclamations like that do tend to come and go, and they change from generation to generation.

Image result for Oh, crumb!

I remember getting into all kinds of trouble with my dad when I mentioned a couple in my high school class who were making out all the time. I thought he was going to have a coronary.  For me, in the 60s, it just meant they kissed a lot. For him, coming from the 30s and 40s, it meant they were having premarital sex. I guess it pays to  be careful about the words we use 🙂  Oh, by the way, sex was NOT universally approved and normal for high school kids back then. Those were good days.

There is a word that seems to have maintained its popularity.  When I was a teen, something or someone interesting, enjoyable, up with all the latest, was cool.  Nobody was a cool cat any more.  That was dated, old-fashioned.  But it was fine to use cool as a term of approval. Still is.  I hear it from kids and adults alike.

And then there are the words–I guess they’re words–that pop up and then disappear just as quickly.  Some of it comes from the rapper genre, some comes from the latest hit movie or TV show. Some comes from gangs, who popularize a lot of things I would not be pleased to hear my kids or grandkids repeating.

The unbelievable overuse of the F-Bomb is a relatively new thing.  I mean, of course I know it’s been around for donkey’s years (there’s an old-fashioned expression!)  but decent, self-respecting people never used it publicly or anywhere else, for that matter.  I was talking with a friend the other day who has a son who has a band. They rehearse in her basement. She told them, after just a few minutes into their first meeting in her home, that they were not to use the F-Bomb.  At all. Ever.  Or they would not be welcome in her home. No exceptions.  If  I hear it again, you’re done here.

They were shocked. Appalled. Confused. Lost. How could they sing their “music” without the F-Bomb?  How could anyone do that?  Weird, man.  They even appealed to her husband, but he told them, “Sorry, guys.  My basement, my electricity, my rules. Learn new words. Expand your vocabulary.”

The last I heard, they were looking for a new place to rehearse. My friend hopes they find something soon. She’s tired of the screaming and the decibels.

And how on earth did I get all the way from crumb to crude, ugly vulgarity?

I don’t know.