(Think big-voiced Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof here) Tradition . . . TRADITION!
Thanksgiving kicks off a season of Tradition at the Butterfield abode. It all starts with a big Thanksgiving breakfast, then the breaking of the dried bread and the making of the stuffing, the cleaning of the bird, the stuffing of the bird, and the cooking of the bird. And while the bird cooks, we watch football. If we have company (which is rare), we have snacks around all day, a puzzle to work on, games to play, and always football on TV. If we are company-less (which is the norm), in the early afternoon we begin the task of outdoor decorating for the holiday season. This process will take at least two days (we rather cover the house, yard - front, back, and sides - and fences with holiday glitz). And after the outside is done, it's time to unload the myriad of boxes containing the indoor decorations from under the stairs, and I will spend the next few days, as my DH so aptly puts it, making "Christmas blow up all over the house." Our halls will be decked from stem to stern, inside and out.
And it all starts with...TRADITION! And for that, I am extremely thankful.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with the traditions and goodness you love, little ones, and may you pause to give thanks...for TRADITION!
If you read my blog with any sort of regularity, you know I am totally nuts about Christmas...the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day is my FAVORITE time of the year. In deference to my husband's wishes, I put off decorating inside for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. But I needed SOMETHING of Christmas in the house now...just to tide me over. So I got myself a Christmas clock...it's got a pretty Thomas Kinkade picture on the face and it plays a different Christmas song on the hour (12 different songs). It plays softly so it's not overpowering, and it's got a light sensor so it doesn't play when it's dark.
Let just a little bit of Christmas in early, little ones....prepare your heart for the holiday season!
This week the book club I belong to will be discussing "The Shack" by William P. Young. If you want an interesting read, give that one a go. Keep in mind it is a fiction book, so if you're a literalist don't get your panties in a knot over it. Just open your mind and give it a go. I thought it was a good story....
Over the years, our book club has delved into some pretty awesome literary work, and some fluffy fun stuff. You can see what we've read, and what we plan to read, at Chadron Reading Group.
Whatever your favorite literary flavor, little ones, feed your mind with a good book now and again....
It's been snowing here for two days...that gorgeous kind of big-flakes-floating-to-the-ground snow, followed by that horizontal snow (gotta love the wind). It looks like things won't wind down for at least another 12 hours or so.....but that's OK, cuz I *love* snow!
Go outside, little ones, and enjoy whatever weather Mother Nature is sharing with you right now!
This week two semi-truckloads of wildlife trophies (head and full-body mounts) arrived at Burkhiser on the Chadron State College campus. They are a donation from that Nebraska stalwart of outdoor stores, Cabela's. They will be used for teaching purposes by the professors in the Rangeland and Wildlife Management programs, and will be displayed in classrooms and hallways through Burkhiser (and possibly at other locations on campus). The 65 or so trophies include a lot of animals native to North America, as well as several native to Africa.
You can see photos here. Eventually, everything that is sitting in the shop area will be placed somewhere on campus (mostly in Burkhiser, I would guess).
So, little ones, if you're ever in the neighborhood, pop in to Burkhiser and see the wildlife. And should you ever be at Cablea's in Sidney, tell 'em to tell the corporate folk down the street THANK YOU! for the wonderful donation!
Our National Parks are the last best part of what is these United States. The wilderness and wildlife preserved by our National Parks and Monuments, and the history kept safe by our Historic Sites give us all a link to pure beauty, a way to reconnect to our Mother Earth, and the ability to experience our own history firsthand. This past week the immensely talented Ken Burns' documentary on our National Parks was shown for six consecutive nights on PBS. If you didn't watch it, little ones, you missed the best TV to come along in a hellofa long time.
I grew up in Cody, WY, 50 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone Park. I remember going to the park in the family car back in the days that the bears were near the highway, begging for food from the cars. One glaring omission in Ken Burns' documentary was the roll the Craigheads played in getting the backcountry dumps closed so the bears could revert to their natural foraging ways...the Craigheads fought hard for that to happen, and it took a few generations for the bears to relearn what nature had hardwired into them, but eventually revert they did, and the days of "feeding the bears" ended once and for all. So, a huge thank you to the Craigheads for giving a damn and fighting the good fight to keep the bears wild.
I have been able to experience Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks several times so far in my life, and I know I will have the honor and privilege to do so again, and to add to the list, in the years to come.
If you read this blog often, you know my heart sings and my soul is at home in the mountains...the National Parks I have experienced bring symphonies to my life. If you have not yet visited any of our National Parks/Monuments/Historic Sites, little ones, put that on the agenda soon. They are, indeed, America's Best Idea.
This past week my one and only child turned 21 years old. If you'd have told me on that wild day 21 years ago that 21 years later this journey would lead me to be a mother-in-law and grandmother by now, I'd have told you that you were nuts. But that's what I am...the world's happiest mother-in-law and grandmother, at that.
On that oh-so-eventful day 21 years ago, 39 babies were in the hospital nursey (must have been a very cold winter 9 months earlier...), and the cutest, most perfect little baby was, of course, mine (there's something to be said for C-section births, but I would highly discourage emergency C-section as an alternative to natural birth when at all possible).
My son has grown into a wonderful young man...one of the best husbands/fathers/sons I am blessed to know and love. Perhaps his father and I did something right.....
Anyway, here's to the next 21 years! May the continuing journey be as fun, educational, challenging, and eventful as the past 21 years. ;)
As for you, little ones, take some time to reflect on the passage of time...and always pay attention to the journey...
We are having an awesome summer....hot days and cool nights (well, it's been a little too humid, but that's for another post).
I went out this evening to toss some garden leftovers into the compost, and as I walked across the cool, damp grass in my bare feet, listening to some of the neighborhood kids playing in the distance, I was transported back to a simpler time...a time when nearly every summer night was spent playing "kick the can" with at least half of the neighborhood kids, and the boundaries of where we could hide were two to three full blocks. The games would last for hours, ending only when more than one parent started hollering for their kid(s) to come in for the night.
And sometimes we would beg our folks to let us sleep outside...either under the stars or, more often than not, in a tent we'd build over the clothesline in the back yard. The nights tended to be a bit chilly, so we'd put on our winter jammies and bundle into sleeping bags set on cots (otherwise you'd wake up on the wet, dewey grass in the morning). We'd tell stories by flashlight until we were too tired to keep our eyes open, then we'd sleep like rocks until morning. Gosh, was that ever fun....
I still love spending time under the stars, but not so much in a sleeping bag on a cot...more like in a hot tub on the deck (*sigh*...if I only actually had a hot tub on my deck...).
Enjoy your summer nights, little ones. *Singing (in a bad falsetto)* "But oh, oh, those summ-umm-errrr nnniiiiiiightttsssss!"
Later this week AA&T will come back, spend a day, then we will all head to Cody to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday. My niece from South Carolina is flying to Cody on the 1st. This will be the first time ever that all of us have been in Cody at the same time. In fact, it will be the first time my niece has met Allison and Torsten. I have no doubt this will be one hella memorable birthday for my mother, and for the rest of us.
AA&T coming here is "going home" for them, but for me, going to Cody is truly "going home." The town has changed and grown in the decades since I graduated from high school and left, but the sense of "home" has not. As soon as I see the mountains of "home" my heart sighs a contented sigh and sings just a little.
I have always equated mountains with "home"...any part of the Rocky Mountains will do. But the mountains around Cody are my favorite...probably because they were a constant in my growing-up years. Once I had my driver's license, driving up South Fork or North Fork just to "be" in the mountains was my favorite thing to do. Oh, the gas that was wasted on such drives.....
Here's to "home," little ones; wherever and whatever it may be for you...don't ever lose your sense of "home."
One year ago today, A&A got married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Chadron State Park. It was a gorgeous (albeit a tich hot) day, the ceremony was lovely, the reception/dinner/dance was wonderful, and a good time was had by all.
The first wedding anniversary is a big deal. The young couple was weathered the storm of finding a rhythm for sharing a life together...not an easy accomplishment, if you ask me.
Marriage is a bit like dancing. The lead, the tempo, the music may change, but ya just keep on dancin'.....
Well, the deed is done. *sigh* Austin, Allison, and Torsten are now officially residents of Lincoln, NE. And I am officially missing them a LOT.
The move was a lot of work, but uneventful (thank heavens). It will take them a while to unpack and settle in, but they are there. We will see them a lot in the next month, so I'll (hopefully) be able to adjust....
They have been through so much in the past two years...it's truly amazing to see how much they've grown and how far they've come. They have had to grow up FAST, facing many challenges and joys in life at an early age. I am so damn proud of them!
But boy, am I ever missin' my angel-baby grandson....
A deeply heartfelt "Thank you!" to all the men and women who serve, and who have served, in our armed forces. You have all made a difference in our lives and our freedoms, and we are forever in your debt.
Take some time, little ones, to reflect on the importance of the sacrifices made so you can enjoy this day.
Well, we survived the caravan and the week in Lincoln closing on the house and getting it ready for the big move. I had a LOT of awesome one-on-one time with Torsten (I was head "Torsten wrangler" while everyone else worked on the house). He and Grandma had a really great time together!
Unfortunately, on the way back to Chadron Austin's truck broke down and is currently at the Kearney Chevy dealer awaiting repair. A minor set back with a major price tag...Murphy's law strikes again!
In another week or so, we will load the UHaul and head back to Lincoln on the final leg of this move. My heart is already a bit sad at the thought.....
Later this week you might see a small caravan, 1 car and 2 trucks, traveling from northwest Nebraska to southeast Nebraska. Chuck and I, and Austin, Allison and Torsten are all heading to Lincoln to finalize the purchase of A&A's house and get it all ready for them to move in to.
As A&A approach their first wedding anniversary, they are taking that first big step toward their future...moving into their own home in Lincoln and moving forward with their educational careers.
I know in my head that it's time for them to leave the stilted confines of this little backwater, to venture forth on their own and begin forging their own paths without the constant presence of parents, siblings, etc. But my heart hasn't yet fully received the message...and it's gonna break a little when this move is complete and they are no longer stopping by every now and then or bringing Torsten over for me to watch 3 mornings a week. I will miss A&A, but boy will my heart ache for my little angel-baby grandson. Thanks heavens for cell phones, texting, Facebook, and Skype.
We'll see them all a few times this summer, and I have a feeling I will be making semi-regular trips to Lincoln, but still....they are about to fly from this nest, and I'll be the momma bird you see wandering around looking lost for a while.....
Recently I created a Facebook page for myself as a way to keep in touch with my kids and my niece. I was happily surprised to find all sorts of old friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I am now in contact with a few of my old high school and college cohorts. And I am amazed at the paths our lives have taken. Dr. Seuss was right: "Oh, the places you'll go!"
One old high school friend is currently in Africa with her daughter...they went to get the sweet little guy who is now her grandson and are awaiting all the papers from the US Embassy that will make the adoption legal and allow them all to return to the States.
One of my old college roommates has created her own consulting firm, and just finished moving her mother into assisted living and getting her childhood home ready for sale. Talk about major life changes....
Another of my old high school acquaintances works as a trainer with bears and wolves for all sorts of entertainment media, and he takes photos of his charges that are jaw-dropping!
All of this previously-unknown-to-me information came about because of Facebook....making the world a little smaller and more accessible for everyone, every day.
The other day a good friend of mine called to tell me she is fighting breast cancer. I was saddened by her news, but she and I share a life philosophy that will help her (and those of us who care about her) in this: "It is what it is."
Yes, the C word tends to instill fear in one, but you are much better off not giving in to the fear. You can't change it, but you can deal...it is what it is.
Resolve to fight it with all you've got, keep positive thoughts in your head, and move forward through your days just like always...it is what it is.
Leave the "if onlys" and "what ifs" out of your realm. Let others dwell there if they feel they must, but don't go there yourself. It will make no difference whatsoever anyway...it is what it is.
No matter what cards you are dealt in this life, little ones, it all boils down to "it is what it is." So take the cards you get, and deal....
Twenty-five years ago today, Chuck and I played the best practical joke of all by getting married. Here's to another 25!!!!!!
(Photo by Paula Ensz, taken at A&A's wedding last summer)
We are celebrating tonight by attending an Elton John concert with our son and daughter-in-law. So, in honor of our special day little ones, break out the Sir Elton and boogie down to a little "Take Me To The Pilot."
UPDATE 4/3/09: The concert was absolute perfection! Nearly three hours of just Sir Elton John and his piano. I sang along with every song, reveled in the obscure instrumentals he played with such talent and panache, and enjoyed a few visits down memory lane. Best. Anniversary. Ever.
Is there a child anywhere that doesn't love to play with pans? I have all sorts of toys and books for Torsten at my house, but his favorite things to play with are my pots, pans, and lids. He makes a bee-line for the pan cupboard whenever he's here for a while. And he has so danged much fun...a pan lid is a car that gets pushed all around the floor, a pot is something to put other toys in, and a colander is the best hat around.
This darling little boy is teaching me to find wonder and fun in the everyday things around me. The imagination and joy of a child at play is infectious. So, little ones, become infected with the mind of a child...find joy and fun in the pan lids....
I have been a fan of Elton John's for 40 years. As a young girl, I would save up my allowance to buy his albums...his albums and candy were all I ever wanted to spend my money on.
Forty years...Elton John's music has been there a large portion of my life, provided the backdrop to my teenage years (I still consider "The Bitch Is Back" to be my theme song), filled the background of many a late night of study in my college years, provided the soundtrack for more road trips than I can count, and now fills my home office with music while I toil away.
Forty years, and I have never had the opportunity to see him perform in person...until now. For some reason, all the stars aligned perfectly at this moment in time...Elton John is appearing in Rapid City, SD, on April 1. The perfect April Fool's Day...on April 1, 2009, my husband and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, and we'll do it by attending the Elton John concert with our son and daughter-in-law.
Whatever you do, little ones, do it to music...and be a fan.
The $787 billion stimulus package has passed and been signed into law. Now, bet you're all wondering where the heck all that money is going. Well, a group of industrious volunteers has set up a great website, www.StimulusWatch.org, where you can check out what projects are being funded by the stimulus package. You can search by State, by City, or by the level of "critical-ness" of projects.
From a cursory look at the website, most of the money is going to infrastructure work and renewal energy projects, which are things we should all be able to get behind. Contrary to what a woman insisted to me this evening, none of the money is going to "pay off Hollywood for all the money they gave to Obama for his campaign." Where in the world do people come up with such ridiculous ideas?!
Will this stimulus plan help us to begin our climb out of the deep, deep hole we all find ourselves in? No, not alone it won't. It will, hopefully, create more opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of us without jobs to find employment, but that's just one step of many needed.
I fear we are becoming the architects of this deep hole, as the less we spend and the more we try to save/cut back/etc., the more we keep the hole going in the downward direction. Silly and contradictive as it may sound, if we don't at least spend a little bit of money, we won't see much change in things. Because the less we buy, the less "they" (whoever the heck "they" may be) make, and the less "they" make the fewer jobs there are for those who make the things that make up what we could be buying. Confused much?
So, little ones, do your part...buy something. And do your duty by keeping tabs on how the stimulus plan money is being spent by bookmarking the StimulusWatch.org website and checking things out now and then. One day we WILL see a light at the end of the tunnel, and with a little bit of luck, it won't be a damn train comin' at us.
Today is my angel-baby grandson Torsten's 1st birthday. As has been documented in this blog, Torsten was a bit of a surprise. His parents are young and were not planning on becoming parents so soon, but life had other plans for them. Torsten has proven to be the best thing that ever happened to any of us. He has taught us to be open to the unpredictableness of life, to accept the gifts we are given (whether we realize they are gifts or not), and to welcome the joy that is ours for the taking.
I have said over and over that Torsten is the best.gift.ever for me. He reminds me daily to live in the moment. Yes, we need to always be thinking of and planning for the future, but if we do that to the exclusion of living in the NOW, we miss the point. The NOW, this one moment, only exists for a nanosecond...if you keep looking to the future, you will miss the present. I cherish the time I am blessed to spend with Torsten...we play together, we explore the world, and we find joy in everything.
The gifts Torsten has brought into my life are immeasurable. I have learned not to stress too much about things, which is a very good skill to have in these difficult economic times. I have learned that a ton of money is not necessary, but love and the ability to live a joyful life is priceless. I have learned the neatness and order are not the normal, or required, state of living. I have learned that the best way to live life is to dive in with total and utter abandon.
On this most special day, little ones, take the time to live in and love the moment...to dive into life with abandon...to not just taste of life, but to immerse yourselves in it completely...don't just eat the cake, BE the cake. And, most of all, to give thanks for the unexpected joys life tosses your way.
Oh for heavens sake, would the US media just back off and chill a bit, please?! President Obama has only been in office 3 days and the talking heads are already griping about him "not keeping his campaign promises" and "moving too slow." 3 days!?! Are you f'ing kidding me?!? 3 DAYS?!? What the h*ll could YOU do to change the world in 3 days?! Well, what?!?!?!?
I say we give him at least a year to work some small sort of magic...you know, it took 8+ years to get us in this mess, so what makes you think we can climb out of it in less time than that?
I do wish the US media would get just a tiny bit of common sense....
So I ask you, little ones, to be patient. Don't expect overnight miracles, and don't believe everything you hear on TV / radio or read in newspapers / magazines because right now, the media whores aren't bein' too terribly intelligent.
No other nation on this earth has the peaceful transition of power we have here in the United States. Today we watched as four former Presidents witnessed the swearing in of the 44th President of the United States. Would that all the nations of the world take notice....
We do it up right with glorious, historical tradition in the seat of free-world democracy. And today, we did it with the largest in-person and around-the-world crowds ever to witness an inauguration. For one shining moment, we were all one. Let us carry that forward, march together into our collective future as we work together to face our challenges and to forge a positive, prospering future for our children and our children's children.
Pomp and circumstance aside, it is time....time for each and every one of us to step up and take responsibility for our future. We can and we will overcome the challenges that face us as a country. But we can only do it if we ALL take action. It is time to stop sitting in our armchairs and complaining about things....it is time to get off our butts and get to work. We CAN and we WILL work our way into a successful future.
It is time, little ones, to grow up. Time to become a part of the solution instead of a part of the tragic chorus. Time to take responsibility for your future, for our future, and take action. Time to become involved in your community through volunteerism, politics, education, employment, church...whatever means you can. It is time, little ones...it is time.....
OK, all the politicos have their dumb ass ideas, so now it's my turn. You want to turn this economy around? Well, here's my short list of things to do to that end:
1. Give us back the tax deduction for interest paid on credit cards and major purchases. Heaven knows the credit debt of the citizens of this fair country is staggering...it will take us all more than a day or two to dig out of the holes we are in. Giving us back that tax deduction is one very small way to help us move toward financial health again. Let our credit debt help us just a little.
2. Make it worth our while to save - Part I. The current rate of return on savings accounts nationwide is less than 1%. Do you really think that gives us any incentive whatsoever to save our money?! The rate on certificates of deposit isn't all that much better, either. The financial institutions of this country need to understand that not giving us a decent rate of return on savings keeps us from putting money in their institutions, which in turn means they don't have as much money to loan back out. Essentially, keeping the savings interest rate so ridiculously depressed winds up shooting our financial institutions in the foot, so to speak.
3. Make it worth our while to save - Part 2. Give us a tax break on all money we do put into savings. If the financial institutions won't give us a decent rate of return, maybe a good tax break on all money in savings will provide some incentive for us to become savers again.
4. Don't give us any more "stimulus payments." The last one went almost exclusively to paying bills and buying gas and groceries. We are all in bad enough shape that we are not going to be using such stimulus payments for buying cars or boats or taking vacations. The only economic stimulus such payments are going to lead to is keeping gas stations, grocery stores, utility companies, and possibly a few mortgage companies in business.
5. Loosen up the flow of credit, especially to companies wanting to expand and/or stay afloat, and to companies involved in alternative energy creation. And, in addition....
6. Give tax breaks to all new companies, all companies that expand, and all companies involved in alternative energy creation. You don't have to give away the farm, as it were, but make it worthwhile for companies to try to grow.
7. Find out what the hell happened to that $700 billion bailout package. Leave it to our government to toss ungodly amounts of money at the financial institutions and not bother to track it. All of that money needs to be accounted for, and if any of it is misused (as we KNOW it has been), I want people held accountable. The pervasive culture of unaccountability and overt excess we constantly witness in our financial institutions and markets MUST come to an end once and for all.
8. Re-regulate! The deregulation that began in the Reagan era and continued until now has to come to an end. It is painfully apparent that deregulation doesn't work. We've had decades of no one watching the shop and rampant looting happening...end it NOW. Put tight regulation and oversight on all our financial markets and institutions, for a start. Then we can talk about re-regulating utilities, etc. But let's get some oversight going on the financial world ASAP, please.
9. End obscenely excessive salaries, bonuses, and golden parachutes for all CEOs. The culture of greed that has been created in the past two decades is unacceptable and must end now. For all companies that continue this practice, there should be huge tax penalties for the company and for the folks on the receiving end. All those greedy, unethical CEOs should have to pay up.
10. For the immediate future, freeze all senator and representative salaries. Many companies, institutions, and governments in this country are having to freeze salaries and hiring in efforts to stay afloat in this crisis. Having our elected officials get raises on a regular basis during this economic crisis sure as hell sends the wrong message (sorta like the old "do as I say, not as I do" nugget). All you folks in Washington DC need to man up and take in the bank account just like the rest of us.
We can and will get through this mess, little ones, but not without a whole lot of change happening. It'll be painful in the short term, but will work itself out in the long run. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to suffer through the pain to help ensure a solid future for my children and grandchildren.
We all need to remember that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one."