Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This Just Made My Day - Help Me Make Someone Else's

The Book of Barkley is #9 in genre at Amazon.  Right next to James Herriot's work - which I absolutely adored reading as I grew up. This was the best thing all week!

Through Midnight Thursday - ALL proceeds from the book are going to Lab Rescue Illinois and Wisconin  (LEARN)) for Operation Peanut's Promise--to help that large group of poorly neglected Labrador Retrievers they got from a "breeder" (I have another term for that "breeder" but this is a family blog.) 

Please take a moment and click on these words:   Peanut's Promise.

I'm also matching funds for sales from Christmas Day to New Years to:

If you haven't bought a paperback Book of Barkley, please consider picking one up from Amazon to help in those fundraising efforts or consider a donation directly to LEARN or Help #OldDogsShine this Holiday season in Barkley's Memory.Click on the book cover on the sidebar for ordering information.

Thanks for your friendship and continued support of something I hold very close to my heart.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Elephants, Enchiladas and Gunfight at the Better than OK Corral - Saturday Fun

The day started sunny, windy and surprisingly warm for December.  Off to check out the Brookfield (Chicago) Zoo, then an afternoon with friends.
He has that "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" expression.

It's always a good time, there on the West Side of Chicago and a short drive for ourselves and a number of our friends that make their homes in Northern Illinois or Indiana so we go once or twice a year.

Then we met the Og family at a local restaurant.  We searched places  near the zoo, and found this small Mexican place in Lyons (no pun intended) that got great reviews on yelp.  

By the time we met up -- I was as hungry as an elephant.

Tony's Mexican Grill.  They have a family restaurant as well, down the road on Ogden that was absolutely packed  from the looks of the parking lot as we drove past it on the way out.
 Chicken Enchiladas

The place was small, you might drive right past, but it was spotlessly clean, and given the amount of food that came out in big boxes for takeout orders that were streaming out the door by smiling people - they have an efficient and organized kitchen.  We could hear the cooks working away, and not a single ding of a microwave to be heard.
Today's special with carne asada

We dined in  and our smiling and friendly waitress had the food to us quickly, but not before bringing some chips and guacamole out. This generated some laughter as apparently Og  misplaced an avocado he got at the store for a recent meal, and after much searching of kitchen, where he unpacked it from the bag,  it could not be found.  There were a number of jokes about avocado bandits, free range avocados and worm holes snatching up unsuspecting fruit as it could not be found anywhere.
This was my order.  A taco, single beef fajita and tostada. I saw a burrito go by on a plate.  It was the size of a racoon.

Mrs. Og and the Oglette had chicken Quesadillas.  The tortillas were homemade by the looks and taste.  So good.
The staff was so friendly, and the food very good, and reasonably priced, We will make it a point to stop back in some day soon.

Since our Village is on their way home, back to the Range.  Og had a box of really cool books for us, from cleaning out his library and finding some duplicates.  We will have some fun looking through these and adding them to our shelves. 
Then it was just time to sit back and visit--hearing about the oglette's fencing team at college (she's the only woman on it) as well as stories of the past and present - some of them told in such a way, our sides would hurt from laughing. Abby just went from person to person, so happy to see her new friends again.
You can't even see Abby's tail in this picture it was wagging so fast.

Later - as the sky was darkening, a run was made to a local store for some adult beverages and Partner came back with a 50% off ( $7) Christmas toys and games find. Infrared cowboy action shooting!

And the next thing you know, a gun fight  broke out.

Thanks, my friends - it was a fun day.

New Beginnings - Last Chapters

Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption has about 20 chapters written--about 1/3 done, not edited yet, but written.  I had shared an excerpt which was originally going to be the first chapter - but as the story developed, it seemed more fitting as the ending, and I wished to further flesh it out--in closure. So it turned into two new chapters to conclude the story. There is a new first chapter which I will share another day. 

Second to Last Chapter 

The veil between this world and the next is a thin one they say.  I don't consciously think of it all the time but there are moments when all is falling apart around me, tears getting the best of me and my mind goes upwards.  In those moments, I wonder if Mom, Big Bro and  my old black lab Barkley are looking down on me. In those moments, the veil is rendered with one cutting edge of a scalpel, a clean bloodless cut, as if the blade severed not flesh, but a sob, restoring to this small place, this moment, to peace.

Sometimes it takes a while after a loss to get to that quiet spot.  For it is not just the battlefield that has to be conquered but the silence that remains when the field is cleared--that silence in which the person left alone has time to remember and in that mute aftermath, make the decision to move forward, knowing their only guide may be a heavenly one.

I'd like to think that it's that heavenly presence  watching from above that restores me, not the thought of a long hot bath when I get home, or the Midol kicking in.  On such occasions I say a quiet prayer of thanks, and hope that Mom didn't see what mayhem erupted when I attempted to make her cereal/pretzel/nut party mix  recipe in a 70 year old gas oven after three glasses of wine.

As kids we figured Mom always  had eyes in the back of her head; and there wasn't much we got away with, always feeling that vast weight of her watching. Though Big Bro is probably glad she never got wind of the "live possum in the girls bathroom at school" incident.  The possum wasn't harmed, but several teachers armed with metal garbage pails to capture it were LESS than pleased.

We tried to behave, for we learned early that the punishment was often swift and appropriate, none of this "oh, you're having a tantrum, let me buy you that toy" that seems to pass for parenting today for too many people.But we were kids.  I still recall the story where Big Bro, three years or so old, dropped dirt in the open can of paint for the new house, as he apparently didn't like the original color, preferring brown. And if you open the bathroom drawer at Dad's you can still see the swirls of Mom's red lipstick where I decided to do a little "drawing". Still, in our adventures and misadventures, he was my best friend.
I remember him letting me tag along his paper route, not being ashamed of his little sister as most of his friends would have been, but teaching me the perfect curve ball of paper onto a porch. I remember road trips where we would playfully bicker and play with toy soldiers in the back of the car, mine in my chubby little hands, his, more grown and nimble, moving on to my side of the station wagon seat with his troops, setting camp until I yelled "MOM". And we'd be told to be quiet, for at least 15 minutes, and we'd sit, in perfect stoic silence, shooting looks back and forth to each other, as if dueling with foils, plotting, planning, waiting for the laughter to burst out because we just couldn't hold it in.

I remember evenings in a 1960's kitchen, Mom washing the dishes as Big Bro brings that last platter in from the dining room.  Dad is having a cup of coffee after dinner, then he will make sure the knives are sharpened and put away, the dishes dried. Dinner was steelhead trout, caught with Dad's own hands, there in a tireless morning of gossamer threads and mist.

There is much talking, the sound a steady hum, interspersed with the metallic clink of utensils together, like small machinery working away.  Outside it is dark; there is a war ongoing somewhere, there is crime, there is evil. It's all out there somewhere, as is the darkness, pressing against the house, like water does a dam, not with obvious movement, just that steady pressure that is the desire to break through. But inside, as children, we do not sense it, for us, there is only the light that seeps outward through the cracks between the curtains, so much of it here, it can be shared with the darkness.

I remember all the Sundays we went to Church, even those earliest memories of Service on Easter Sunday. I'm sitting as still and as tall as I can, but I can only see the backs of heads. When I was really little, Mom would give me a tiny little bag of cheerios, so if I got hungry and fidgety I could eat a few, one at a time.  My feet hurt and my new dress itches but I know mostly to behave, acting up only earning a brisk march outside for a swat on the bottom, as even Jesus looked down from the wall in the vestibule with an expression that said "you shouldn't lob a Cheerio at your brother".

Easter Sunday, the traditions rarely varied, we'd get up to find a small basket outside our bedroom door containing jelly beans and candy, and for me, one early Easter, a stuffed bunny. Oh how I loved that bunny, dragging it around everywhere, Mom occasionally having to wash it and hang it up on the clothesline by its ears to dry.  Over time, most of his fur was worn away, he lost his plastic eyes, his nose fell off and his ears were beyond floppy.  But I still loved him, keeping him even into adulthood, even if I couldn't always keep him safe from harm.

 I didn't much like the early hour or wearing a dress on those Easter Sundays.  But even to a child, there was something magical about the music, the organ straining with the sonorous tone of a parent, while the choir, voices freed from parental caution to play quietly, rose up in in a flurry of joy, heartfelt in their gathering volume, assuming the shapes of angels to my small form below. I'd actually  sit still for that, as the their voices faded away into the still air, as clear and delicate as struck glass.

After that it was Sunday as usual. Normally our folks made Sunday a family day of board games and books and music, but hyped up on Easter candy sugar, Mom was willing to forgo that to let us run off a little steam, so we donned our cowboy holsters and six shooters and headed out.  Big Bro gets out the door first and point his firearm at me with a stern  "you'd best get out here you lily livered coward" to which I simply stuck my tongue out at him through the screen.  It tasted like dirt.

He didn't look at all scared.

But somehow the play always evolved into us being on the same side even if all we had to be the "bad guy" was the neighbor's cat or a menacing shrub. I took more than one "bullet" for my big brother, even if I could barely keep up with him on my little legs. More than one knee was bloodied in my battle to save him. the scabs a Bactine infused mark of my sacrifice.

But it's hard for kids as they grow up, to keep the cohesion we had living in the same house. We are bound together by family, but often scattered by distance, dealing with our own tragedies, things much worse than a failed model contest, keeping it in and not saying much. But, as it is inevitable, we did grow up, he leaving for Submarine Service when I was still in school

I missed him. I remember walking in the woods with compass and pocket knife and seeing an elk crash into flight from a stand of small  off in the distance,  the sound curving around the whole earth it seemed. I couldn't move, frozen by the sound. I simply stood, open mouthed, incredulous as to how big he really was close up and all the thoughts flowing through my head, turning to follow his now invisible running. For lack of any other response to his leaving, I picked up a rock and threw it hard and deep into the forest in which he ran, the stone, glinting like a knife, disappearing into the last copper ray of sun before it dipped behind the trees.

"I don't want you to go" was all I could say, as I stood there in the fading light, sounding very small and alone.

But Big Bro came back; he always came back. And he'd call me when he could and I'd tell him about school and my misadventures in physics, both in and out of the classroom, and we'd laugh. We always both laughed, easily and well. We didn't worry about politics, or budgets, or deadlines or knowing that sometimes keeping your mouth shut had to be the better part of valor.  Even as I entered adulthood, we could still laugh and say "it's five o clock somewhere" as I raised my first glass of amber liquid in a toast to endless oceans and skies. It was a golden time, one in which we hadn't fully learned to look at everything in a critical eye of war or loss.

When he got married I was there at his wedding near the Naval base in California, wearing a lime green bridesmaid dress with a tutleneck that I would not have worn for the Pope, The Queen of England or Marshall Dillon (though given how Miss Kitty dressed, Marshall Dillon would have liked it). But I wore it for him.

Soon, he and I were both grown, no longer to have imaginary gun battles with toy pistols.   But he knew as did I, that either of us would give our life for the other.

Though those early gun battles among siblings and friends were only child's play, they will be played out years later for many of us. For there will come times of fighting, of blood and prayer, of plunges into the deepest waters and ascents into unknown skies.  Moments where we approach nearest of all to God, just as on Sunday we drew nearer to Him, there in the peace and the fury that is both the promise and end of all faith.

With my Big Bro no longer living under the same roof, but always looking out after me,  we charged ahead, mindful only of our duty, to protect, to uphold, minds and hearts purged  then of sins that lay behind, summed and absolved by the formal fury of a ministers intonation from the pulpit, moving forward, sacrificing ourselves as need be, so that somewhere, someone can live for a little while beneath the safe, warm exhalation of faith and trust.

But overall, I don't think we gave our parents too much grief, even as they worried about us, Big Bro under the seas, myself  up in the skies somewhere.

Then as our parents age, the tides are turned.  Be it my step mom's Alzheimer's or simply nearing a hundred years on this planet, there was a lot on our plates the last few years in taking care of Dad.  After my step mom passed, Dad on the mend from a minor stroke, it got a little easier, but there was still a lot to do to assist him  But I always had my Big Bro to carry a big part of that load.  When Big Bro was forced into early retirement and moved in with Dad after chemo and radiation for esophageal cancer, all he wanted to do was make our 94 year old Dad's life easier, telling me he hoped Dad would live to be 115.  Though quietly, he just wanted to outlive Dad, to lessen that burden of grief on the man who was his hero and his family. Unfortunately, Big Bro lost that bet, leaving Dad alone, his keeping the fact that his cancer was Stage IV when first diagnosed from Dad, though I knew, the treatment only buying some time, not a cure.

I flew back and forth as often as I could during that time, on vacation and long weekends to see them, my budget no longer "can I get a new car this year? " but rather "is there enough in checking for another airline ticket and rental car on top of the nursing assistance".  Married only months, my husband would travel with  me when he can, to make the repairs and such to keep the house functioning. My Dad loves him and is happy I married an engineer, not that long haired kid with the red Mustang  and electric guitar he would NOT let me date in high school. When I couldn't be there, Big Bro and his grown children would take Dad on little outings, wrapping up as many memories they could in those short weekends.

Dad was welcome to live with any of us in the family, but he refused, not willing to leave that house in which he outlived two beloved wives and his first born daughter. I understand, I was raised in that house after they adopted both Big Bro and I, not to replace that child that they lost, but simply to find an outlet for the love they held so deeply.

The house hasn't changed much, fresh paint, new flowers. The marks of children raised here after they left Montana, a small playhouse out back, the marks on a door where we grew and grew. On the table in the dining room where he and my brother last held hands to say grace, a photo, of a pair of blue eyes in which his whole world achieved its value by the response he could draw from them. This was a woman who was completely necessary to him, and will remain so even as her actual presence is but the sheen of an old sewing machine forever stilled, the rose petals in her garden, long since gone to dust.

What I remember the most from those trips, is some little scraps of blue paper. For on the door to Dad's house, after Big Bro got that death sentence he held in like breath until the end, there was a little clipboard, on which he wrote a day's thoughts.  Some of the things written would make sense only to us.  Others were simply smiles, made with the little smiley "Bull" face, as "Bull" was his nickname--he with the red hair and the seemingly unstoppable build. Fridays were always remembered, often with a big T.G.I.F. and exclamation points, for Big Bro lived for Fridays when he could leave his job as a Navy Contractor and drive down to visit his best friend  from childhood while spending time with Dad.

When I'd go home to visit, there would be a note for me.  Some were notes for friends. He might mention the rain, or remind his country what is right, as if they could read, but each day was an affirmation that life was being lived, and hearts were being cared for.  He never said anything about the cancer coming back in force, hiding the truth from Dad, though he couldn't from me.  For he was dying and his days were dwindling. Still, each day, there was that smiley bull face and a little note, for whomever came to the door.
He had a long career in submarine service, he had risked so much and so very quietly, yet his whole life was summed up in those small little moments in which he could care for the man that didn't have to be his Dad.  It was as if he was honing his life down to one moment, just as the mighty Chinook Salmon concentrates its whole life down to that one last journey, that one last leap, before relinquishing it

Though he denied there was anything wrong, I knew, and I went and took another visit, just to spend some time with him.  There was little resemblance to the photos of the handsome redheaded man in the Naval Uniform. His once red hair was gone, the beard, the round rosy cheeks that I might have suggested would have made for a good Santa Claus if he didn't have dirt on me about the Arc Welder incident, were sunken. Only his eyes looked the same, those light blue orbs which neither the defeat of years or this battle could dim. Picturing his gaunt form as he slept, it was as if all if him were evaporating, muscle, flesh, like water vanishing, til little remained but those deep blue pools. But what remained still saw with what pride upholds when the body fails, a frail hand held up briefly as he drifts to sleep, a not forgotten flag above a ravaged citadel.

We stayed up late on that last night, raising a glass of amber liquid and talking until he nodded off in the easy chair. Each time, I didn't know if I'd hear his voice again, quietly saying as his eyes closed,."I don't want you to go", as I had uttered silently to someone else not long ago. Words quietly released in that quiet tone of slow amazement, as if I had not known, until I uttered them, the depths from which those words came.

Last Chapter

The last note was April 4, 2014.   It was a Friday, his favorite day of the week as evidenced by all of these little notes. But this one contained another note at the bottom and another little smile, a message from his daughter, who he would not see again. He died without warning exactly two weeks later, collapsing in the driveway after bringing Dad's trash bins up from the curb. It was Good Friday. He had to be carried into the house, 100 pounds gone from his large frame, held up like a child, his feet remembering the earth, even as they no longer touched it.

As I desperately tried to get to the airport to get a flight West to see him, I physically felt him leave me. We'd been through foster care, adoption, the whole "mom caught us taking the TV apart", to an adult life spent serving our country, still as bonded as we were as small children, flung out to the wolves together before being saved. Minutes after I felt his leaving, a trembling in my chest like a released harp string, there and gone, the phone rang.  It was Dad's next door neighbor and friend, letting me know he had passed, there in that minute I felt him. I could only lift one hand up from the steering wheel for a moment towards the sky, a toast in tears.

No regrets, no anger.  From the very beginning we left it in His hands, one way or the other. That time comes for all of us where we cease to be, where "is" becomes "was", where those we love must weigh our empty body down under stone, as what we "are" is lifted up to Heaven. That wooden box that calls for all of us is too small to catch all of the memory of courage and love and so it spills out upon the ground to be gathered up like golden leaves. But that box is still big enough to be a shadow over what remains if we let it. As I looked at those little scrape of paper, to be gathered up and brought home from Dad's, I remember a man who refused to stand under that shadow, even as I struggled to feel him watching over me.

It wasn't until I brought this little clipboard back home last week that I felt him so close. I had not felt that, even as we collected up his things, a uniform, a little toy submarine that held office supplies, and the live flare gun found in his nightstand (I do NOT want to know why that was there).  The sense of distance between us was profound.
After I placed it in my carry on bag to come with me, I sat down by a side table where the piano once stood,the one he played first and then I, my always wanting to do what he did.  As I sat, I  tapped music upon it with my fingers as if it could respond. Things will change, as much as we wish them to remain I think, as I played a tune upon soundless wood, of ambered wine, the fall of autumn leaves, and goodbyes that are like sharpened knives.

That last night there was a quiet one, preparing a meal for Dad, getting trounced at cribbage, then doing the dishes as he fell asleep watching football.

Outside, the darkness lapped at the house, but it is not truly dark, here on the river, a bright light bobs somewhere out on the water. It was more than a light for the river pilot, it was a beacon of safe harbor itself and all that remained to him of a difficult journey is the shortening space between that brilliant light and his own motion forward.

As I finished up the dishes, I kept my movements quiet, so Dad could sleep undisturbed. In his dreams, he is still a young man, setting up a home post WWII  with Mom, his high school sweetheart. It was a town full of music and dreams and tall hills covered with ceaseless timber, the rain, not a grey blanket but a sound, a rising and swelling with the gusts of emotion, and passion that was worth waiting for. That place is still alive for him, threads of silken light unwinding from whirring spools, the sound of his children laughing in an old house near the water, in dreams of steelhead trout that never grow old, never tire.

We said our goodbyes the next day, never knowing if we'd see each other again,  After landing back home, driving back with that little clipboard with the scraps of blue paper upon it, I finally felt my brother near me, over me, watching, a sailor never actually leaving his watch.  It was a sad, but comforting feeling, and I talked to him as I drove, as if he could hear. I talked through the chartless latitude of my loss, and even in silence, he comforted, with a muted murmuring that was as comforting as the roar of an enduring sea.
When I pulled into the driveway, my face was wet with tears, but I was remembering, so much to remember, my brother my daughter, those small pieces of them I had, those pieces I can still hold onto, even if I do not possess them..

From inside my house, comes the clatter of the toenails of a newly adopted rescue dog on the hardwood floors, as my husband opens the door. On the wall is calender my daughter made me, with pictures of two beautiful grandchildren to share--children that would not exist but one scared, lonely teenager, and one choice so many years ago. That choice, one that could only be made by one person, meant she had a chance at a childhood like I did, with two parents who loved her and had the means to provide for her, a warm home, and grace around a family table--the everlasting blessing of family.

From within my bag I draw out a small clipboard on which rests some scraps of blue paper.  I hold it up as I get out of the vehicle, as an orchestra conductor holds up that slender baton that conveys within its weightless gleam all of the fierce fire and yearning and heartache that can be contained in one moment of history.

My husband takes it from me and holds me close, as the music starts

Friday, December 26, 2014


The Compute-inator written about the past couple of nights --works.  Woot!
After passing rigorous safety testing.
And establishing a quality control program.

After a day of  tidying up Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc., we are going to spend tomorrow with the Og Family. The oglette has not meet Abby Normal, the rescue lab, as she has been off at college.  She asked about the name--not ever hearing about the movie from  which it came.  I got an email last night from Og that she has now been introduced to Young Frankenstein. Tomorrow should be a hoot, then.

Hopefully we won't get thrown out of anywhere for being politically incorrect.  It was a close one at the quiet, dignified, wine tasting place when the ladies, several glasses of wine in, starting quoting dialogue from some of the classics of our early adulthood Airplane, Young Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles--I about snorted Chardonnay when Mrs. Og and Midwest Chick first started in on some of it.
Dad - can I have some Ovaltine?

Oh, come on, all of you know THAT one.

Frau Blücher: Would the doctor care for a... brandy before retiring?
Dr. Frankenstein: No. Thank you.
Frau Blücher: Some varm milk... perhaps?
Dr. Frankenstein: No... thank you very much. No thanks.
Frau Blücher: Ovaltine?
Dr. Frankenstein: NOTHING! Thank you! I'm a little - tired!
Frau Blücher: Then I vill say... goodnight, Herr Doctor.
Dr. Frankenstein: Goodnight, Frau Blücher.
[horses whinny]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Range Christmas - Redheads and Mad Science

We were both actually home this Christmas. Dad is with the Sierra's clan enjoying a white Christmas with dogs, cousin Liz making lots of good food. Tonight she'll get on her mobile device and let him share in this day, with this post here.   He can't read the small print, but he loves the photos. Then, I can do the same when her photos come up later. Weather up in the mountains can turn nasty this time of year, sometimes impeding travel for days, so I always visit him right BEFORE the Christmas/early January storms.  Dad has happily been snowed in from Thanksgiving to New Years with Liz before.

Christmas Eve was perfect, our fourth one together, and second since we got married. What to make for a light supper? Hmm. How about eggnog pancakes (recipe in the recipe roundup on the right sidebar).  They are tall and fluffy and almost pastry-like in consistency.

Then down to the shop to work on a Christmas present. With the expenses this year with a lot of travel back and forth to the West Coast, and Dad's care, Partner and I decided not to use money normally going to savings for gifts for each other, just sending something to the parents/grandparent. For ourselves, we were just going to get each other some silly stocking stuffers and something for the house. Partner bought a new hard drive for the computer and other bits and pieces so he could upgrade the Windows operating system. But Santa's Favorite Mad Scientist had another idea to add to that.

Look, anyone can buy a necktie or bottle of cologne. But wouldn't we rather have the new components he bought housed inside a vintage analytical balance, with a big on/off KNOB.   I hope it's done in time for the tree. Once it leaves the evil laboratory, Partner in Grime will handle the transfer of data from the old computer to get it running.  For now -we'll have to finish it up tomorrow.
Christmas Eve Morning we were up at first light to have a quick breakfast of sweet rolls from the Polish bakery before worship. Santa Paws (also known as Abby's 3 dog walkers, who all work for the same dog walking service) had even left a bag under the tree full of dog toys.
Look Abby - homemade dog treats that look just like real Christmas cookies!
We know they are dog treats, because Partner and I, thinking they were put in there for us with the dog toys each nibbled on one. There was no sugar.They were quite crunchy. Can't say I'll repeat that experience anytime soon. Thanks Santa Paws! (spit spit) Abby LOVED them though and they were so beautifully decorated!

The stocking stuffers were lots of fun.
Partner said "it's a lot smaller caliber than what Santa brought you last year" (which was a new 1911). Ha! With the plastic toy pellet shooter and the Little "Book of Secrets" which has all sorts of geeky science and James Bond stuff in it, we can play later tonight.
So many little inexpensive and fun things, plus U.K. Marmalades, biscuits and candy. The Caffeinate Tishirt is a Dalek wearing a coffee barrista apron.

Science experiments for the bathtub (I'm big on long soaks before bed).

And the best one of all - Partner can't wait for his next meeting now that he has the Shark with Frickin' Laser Pointer!  (I got one for my team at work as well).

Abby was happily playing with her new stuffed plushie toys we got her while Dinner was put together.
Our family always had an English style meal on Christmas as my Dad's grandparents were from England, and the tradition came on down through the years. Often it was roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, or Steak and Ale Pies, roasted garlic potatoes, minted peas and fresh bread.

We bowed our heads, so much to be thankful for, even in a world of loss.  God is good, something I remind myself of every day in the little gifts He brings to me.

The dessert  was baked ahead of time (chocolate cake roll with cream cheese/raspberry filling) and frozen til ready to serve. (Several were made so the next door neighbors could have a whole one, as could Partner's team at work).
If we want a snack tonight there's sliced ham and flatbread but I don't think we will be hungry.

There's still a little bit of plastic trim work to finish and an adjustment to the voltmeter  but the new household computer is done.
Holidays are special and the giving of gifts always fun, but sometimes the best sorts of days, simply involve Love and a Little Mad Science.

Merry Christmas Everyone.   I hope you had as much fun this Christmas as I did. - Brigid

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a . . .

Wishing all of you who have made HOTR a part of their lives, the most blessed and most wonderful of Christmas Days.  We will do the same-- with a toast in memory to Barkley, my big brother, and Terry, my daughter's wonderful, adoptive Dad.

The Johnson Family