Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Big Bad Wolf and the Gullible Sheep

The flock of sheep stood within the enclosed pen surrounded by tall fencing, peacefully enjoying the sweet green grass and the safety from evil forces lurking outside. Because the sheep were trusting they welcomed the new black sheep into their fold even though they were different; actually, because while the flock all had white wool, and to the naked eye someone might mistake them for being identical, they each had unique personalities.
All of the sheep--black and white-- frolicked and played happily within a set of boundaries that was flexible enough to allow for changes and fresh pastures as the enclosure was moved to fresh fields. However, although everything appeared serene and calm, lurking among them was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so cleverly disguised that not even the shepherd knew a danger lurked within arm’s reach.

Methodically, systematically, meticulously, precisely, whichever word you choose to use, the wolf began to plot his moves. One day the wolf was standing inside the enclosure with all the other sheep and the next day he was on the outside looking in. He was hungry for more than grass but until his trap was set he could only pretend as he tried to forget about his hunger pains.

Even though the black sheep had been accepted into the fold, because of their own insecurities they began to stir and want all the other sheep to try to become like them. They forgot that they chose to ask for recognition and admission into the flock; they weren't recruited to be part of the flock.

Restless in not being able to change white sheep into black sheep grew among the black sheep and the wolf watched as he circled the pen in his sheep’s clothing. He encouraged the black sheep to rebel, to jump the fence and join him in freedom and greener pastures. The black sheep were fearful of the unknown but defiant in wanting their own ways, and this led them to being easily swayed by the hypnotic words of the wolf as he whispered promises of a great future in their ears.

After jumping back and forth over the fence several times and seeing no immediate danger, the black sheep did not return to the enclosure at night but still stayed close to the fence until morning light. Each day they strayed a little farther away from the safety of the flock and safety of the structure the shepherds had provided, getting drunk on the clover, alfalfa, and forbs until their eyes were glazed over and a fog clouded reality.

The wolf continued to wait. He was starved by now but why settle for one of the sheep that had strayed when he could if he waited patiently, savor a feast for weeks and months to come. The black sheep would baa in taunting sounds to the other sheep who watched from the safety of the fencing and under the shepherds' care. Baa…baa…baa!

A frequent alcoholic stupor and the black sheeps' own stupidity in thinking they were invincible, led them farther astray until one day they could no longer see the safety of the enclosure or even find their way back to safety if they had tried. The wolf had managed to cleverly erase all paths back to the safety of the pen and slowly led the black sheep into the wilderness and his own pen with cleverly hidden brambles that would prevent the black sheep from leaving once they were herded inside.

This was not a quick process but eventually the Big Bad Wolf succeeded in luring the self-satisfied, but weak, black sheep into his holding pen. He fed the smug black sheep (they were so proud of themselves--after all, they could defy tradition and order) fattening them up with food and especially drink, knowing that when he relished his first banquet of braised mutton, lamb chops, shanks, flanks, and racks, that he would be victorious over the weaker of breed, those who would normally be culled out of herd because they couldn't play nice with all the other sheep.

Even better than anticipating the feast, the Big Bad Wolf was excited about the day he could throw off the disgusting deceitful disguise that he had endured for so long in order to accomplish what he considered his Pièce de résistance.

The original flock continued on with a long life, cared for by the shepherds, and they were praised not only for their loyalty but they produced the finest wool in all the world; the white sheep were more far more valuable to the shepherds alive than just being fattened up to serve on someone’s dinner plate and inflated ego.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Layer of Dust....

My friend Marina sent me this today.  It has been around a while but sometimes we need to revisit things like this to put perspective back into our lives. 

Remember...a layer of dust protects the wood beneath it.

'A house becomes a home when you can write 'I love you' on the furniture.'

I used to spend at least 8 hours every weekend making sure things were just perfect - 'in case someone came over. Finally I realized one day that no-one came over; they were all out living life and having fun!

NOW, when people visit, I don't have to explain the 'condition' of my home

They are more interested in hearing about the things I've been doing while I was away living life and having fun.

If you haven't figured this out yet, please heed this advice.

Life is short. Enjoy it!

Dust if you must .......

But wouldn't it be better to paint a picture or write a letter, bake cookies or a cake and lick the spoon or plant a seed, ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time . . . .

With shrimp to eat, rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music, to hear and books to read, friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must,

But the world's out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must , but bear in mind, old age will come and it's not kind. . .

And when you go - and go you must - you, yourself will make more dust!

Share this with all the wonderful people in your life.


It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

author:  Anonymous

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kyler - altered photo

Christmas 2009

Kyle, Kelly, & Kyler Christmas 2009

Dec. Scrapbook page for Baby Kyler

Paper, felt tree, paper ornaments, glitter glue,

Nov. Scrapbook page for Baby Kyler

Pieced paper turkey, vinyl leaves, glitter glue, chipboard trees.


Oct. Scrapbook Page for Baby Kyler

Paper banner, ribbons, acetate, velvet paper, felt letters.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Camo Quilt Project

The Camo Quilt Project is an amazing effort to provide a compact individual, handmade quilt sent to troops serving in the middle east.  If you would like to find out more information to request a quilt for a military family member or would like to contribute, please clik on this link to find more information:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Mayonnaise Jar and Coffee Cup of Life

A friend sent me this and it was the first thing I read when I opened my email today.  Thanks Dave L.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things- your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions-things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else-the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with God. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal."

Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Great Christmas Adventure Part II


Packed, dressed, and ready to go; Well…not ready, exactly. We drove to NAFB to see the kids one more time. Kyle was cooking breakfast for us when we arrived. What a treat. We spent the morning visiting before we needed to leave for the airport. It is so hard to say good-bye. My heart is torn.

Haley and my mom met us at the Santa Rosa airport and we s topped for dinner at Applebee’s. We had a nice ride back to Concord. Haley knows this road well as she commutes to work four days a week in Santa Rosa.


Larry and I attended church with mom and then we fixed sandwiches for lunch. Larry helped mom fix orange/pineapple/carrot salad for family Christmas at Mary’s tonight, and I ran a few quick errands.

Yvette, Ethan, Dennis, Midge, Stacy, Mary, Poncho, Mom, Patty, Jerome, James, Michael C, Haley, Melissa,, Richard, Larry, and I enjoyed chicken enchilada casserole, green salad, mom and Larry’s salad, rolls, mom’s iced tea, lots of desserts including Yvette’s homemade banana pudding.

The Gift Exchange: I am sure everyone has played the game where you pick a gift and the next person may steal it away from you. Pick a package, open it, fall in love with it, and someone takes it away from you. Lots of fun, laughs, and in the end I think everyone had a gift they were happy with. Yvette had Richards’s birdhouse, Patty stole Michael’s black and pink scrapbook tote, Haley had a travel mug that plugs in the cigarette lighter, and Jerome had a room diffuser set.

My job, when I am there to attend family Christmas, is to sort the gifts into bags for each person. I was sequestered away in Mary’s bedroom. Easy you say. 18 bags, stuffed to over flowing, and boxes of items leftover. I had to think about each person as I picked what went into their bag. Some of the bags you almost couldn’t lift. Mary really out does herself on this night spoiling the family and friends. Two hours later, I emerged from the bedroom, tired, but my task had been completed.

After the gift exchange Mary and I gave each person their bag of presents and the fun began. Over whelmed!!! So much fun! Originally this was called stocking night but nothing fits into a stocking anymore so we have moved onto gift bags,--and some really big gift bags.

Soon everyone was gone and we went back to mom’s after trying to clean and straighten Mary’s kitchen the best we could.


Monday was a quiet day. Football, football, football, reading for Larry, a quick errand for me in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and visiting with mom. Mary came for dinner and Larry fixed hamburgers and chips.


A lazy morning sleeping in for Larry and me. Coffee! Kelly called to tell us that Kyler had his doctor appointment and is now 10 pounds 4 ounces. Jim called and he will be down tomorrow afternoon for dinner.

Mom and Larry fixed leftovers and had homemade chocolate cream pie that mom whipped up this morning. I went out with Mary in the afternoon to deliver toys to low income neighborhoods in Pittsburg and Concord.

This was the first time I had ever gone with Mary. We layered on the clothes because it would be late when we returned. We had one Ford F350 truck with a full size tilt trailer, another full size truck with a trailer, and a smaller truck. Each of these was filled with toys. We would pull into a neighborhood that Mary, one of the pastors at the church, and her friends had already determined could use a little extra cheer, and Santa would hop out of the truck and start trying to find parents and children. At first there would be no one, then one child, then a few more, and then the truck would be surrounded. We kept the back of the truck filled with toys for Santa’s helpers to hand out.

One young man walking across a dark grassy area in a gated low income housing project stopped when I asked him if he had children. He was dressed in baggy clothes, oversized, parka, looked more like a teenager on his way out somewhere. He told me he had two kids and would be right back. He returned with about a six year old boy and a five year old girl. When each child had two toys and they were leaving, the young father stopped, turned around and said “God bless you”. That made my night. A young father who was acknowledging that God had sent these toys.

One little girl ran up to Santa and hugged him. Another little girl called out to her family, “Santa is at the door” when he knocked to see if anyone could use some toys. Santa walked up and down, the sidewalks letting children and their parents know his sleigh and elves had gifts for them. The surprised looks on parents’ faces and the anticipation on children’s faces were memories to be treasured.

There were also coats, hats, and scarves to hand out. Blankets, teddy bears, beanie babies, and transformers. The remaining items were taken Thursday morning to Antioch to be distributed to families in that community. It was an amazing journey that began at 3:00 PM at the church and we arrived back at the church at 11:00 PM.

We stopped to have dinner about half way through the night, rest, and get ready to finish up.


I did the Costco run for groceries. Jim requested pork chops, gravy, and rolls and that was what I was going to feed him. We opened presents and enjoyed Christmas again. The kids gave Larry a gift certificate for his Kindle book reader and I have a beautiful frame filled with photos from of my children at all different ages. It almost made me cry to look at some of the photos I have not seen in years. It was getting late and Jim has to work tomorrow, his last night in his sector before changing to his new one. Jim did however leave with jelly, leftovers for lunch the next day, and pie. I hate saying good-bye to my kids!


Larry cooked steaks, baked potatoes, rolls, and salad for New Years Eve dinner. We had a bottle of sparkling cranberry to toast the New Year and Mary came for dinner. We watched the ball drop in NYC three times and welcomed in 2010 with a toast, then it was bed time.


A quiet day reading, eating leftovers, talking, watching T.V. (football), the Rose parade, even a short nap. Mom and I played canasta later in the evening. Billie – 0, mom 2. Mom said I needed to win a game before I went home but she won all three in the end.


Jerry and Laura arrived just hours before Larry and I left for the airport. A short visit but it has been so long since we have been together. Mary drove us to Santa Rosa with a Starbucks stop in route. We kissed her good-bye and checked in.

We had time for a late lunch and then it was time for TSA security screening. Not! We were told our flight was cancelled. Seems the pilots were too tired to fly.

The airline rebooked our flight for the next morning and paid for us to stay at the Fountain Grove Inn in Santa Rosa. We had an early dinner at the Equus Restaurant which is part of the hotel. $8.00 for a meal in the airport is a joke, much less out of the airport, but that is the food allowance Alaska Airlines gives you. Crab cakes and a salad with Hazelnuts and Havarti cheese for me, ribs and turkey soup for Larry. SF sourdough French bread! I could have eaten a whole loaf. This was off the appetizer/small bites menu.

Okay it’s not so bad, right? A nice hotel, dinner, a quiet evening just the two of us.

Before bed I did our web check in for our morning flight and found out the Alaska Airline agent had not booked us to Bellingham. Santa Rosa to Portland to Seattle! This must be a mistake!

No mistake. The flights to Bellingham were full and the agent had just decided not to tell us. If I hadn’t checked we would have arrived in Seattle with no flight and another night in a hotel and more $8.00 meal vouchers.

We can’t get home. They won’t pay for a rental car. No shuttle service available. It’s a hotel and fly on the next available flight, not necessarily Monday, the next available flight, no guarantees. I have a house sitter, cat sitter, and dog sitter.

I was told I picked a busy weekend to fly! Yes, I said, and that is why I booked months in advance. Larry said be calm, I said, just let me take care of it. I was calm, but I was determined. I told Alaska Airlines to just get me home. They said they can’t overbook a flight, but the webpage tells you they do it all the time and that is why you should get to the airport early.

Finally after being told twice, talking with a supervisor, then two supervisors with Alaska Airlines, I mentioned the “passenger’s bill of rights” and we were booked on a flight from Seattle to Bellingham. Surprise, surprise, surprise! Thank you Shelly at AA you got authorization to overbook the flight and we had tickets home. I am hopeful but reserved. I’ll wait to see what happens tomorrow.

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.


Check-in. Ericka the ticket agent who screwed up and didn’t tell me she didn’t book us into Bellingham all the way home and assured me she would be there in the morning to help us if we had any problems, was nowhere to be found. No surprise.

What we then discovered is that we could have also been booked from Santa Rosa to Seattle and skipped the Portland stop, but now it was too late because that flight was booked. Then Ericka arrived, late, and tried to charge me for our bags that I paid for online for my flight yesterday. I explained I was not going to pay for our bags again and she agreed. I also informed her that she didn’t book our flight home yesterday and I was not happy with her. “Oh I’m sorry” she said in a voice I am sure she uses all day long to cover up her mistakes.

On board, on our way home!

When you have a “special flight” I guess there is no regular spot for the plane when it arrives in Portland, so it parks at the end of a distant concourse. This had to be one of the longest walks from the plane to the terminal I have ever done. First order of business: check in and make sure we are on the flight to Seattle. Done; so now we can have lunch before it is time to board.

Again we arrived in Seattle and checked in first thing. We were not going to miss this flight, especially since it had been overbooked. Three hours later and we were on our last leg of the trip home.

Michael arrived minutes after we landed and after we picked up or luggage we were home by 7:00 PM.

A wonderful vacation and memorable visits with lots of family!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Great Christmas Adventure Part I


The packages were mailed last week--Kelly’s to a secret location in Las Vegas so she can’t peek. Larry vacuumed the house, I emptied the dishwasher, the refrigerator is stocked with food, and the cat and dog also have a supply of food, litter, and treats. The dog is looking forlorn, the cat is fretting, and we are on our way. Grandma and grandpa are going to spend Christmas with Kelly, Kyle and baby Kyler. Michael is staying home to take care of the animals--our babies.

It’s been 2 ½ months since I have seen Kyler and he is no longer a tiny fragile baby in the hospital NICU unit. He is thriving, growing, gaining weight, very precious and his pictures don’t do him justice. We are hours away from Las Vegas--Christmas lights like only Vegas can do.

Trying to think healthy as we begin our two week vacation, I bought sandwiches to eat on the plane and avoided all the snacks and candy. Arriving days before Christmas will mean more than enough of eating out, over-eating, or both. Larry read one of his book he downloaded on his Kindle and I cat napped for most of the airplane ride. I couldn’t really drop off to sleep because I was so excited to see my daughter, my son-in-law, and grandbaby. Kelly is such a good mom and has become an expert on what a preemie needs to stay healthy. Kyle is working 12 hour days so having him get us through the security gate at the Nellis Air Force Base may be the extent of visiting with him until Christmas.

We were on the tarmac, taxing to the terminal, luggage, and rental car: we had reserved a full size but they gave us an upgrade to a Mercury grand marquis. This is a huge car, but so much space for the luggage in the trunk and a baby seat if we needed to use it. Next stop the Stratosphere to check in, drop off our luggage and head north. We have a room with a view of the strip, well sort of, with all the building going on, new condo tower blocks the old view, but it is a nice room.

Kelly met us at the gate to sign for our passes and then back to the house. Kyle was asleep but got up to give us hugs and kisses before we sent him back to bed. Baby Kyler had been sleeping with dad so he was drowsy so I held him for the very first time, gave him a kiss, and then we went back to our hotel.


Kelly called about 8:00 AM to say she was on her way to the hotel. Kelly and baby Kyler arrived with everything Larry and I would need to care of Kyler while Kelly went to her hair appointment. Larry went to get Starbucks coffee downstairs and the moment Kelly closed the door to our hotel room, Kyler snuggled up on my shoulder, closed his eyes, and went to sleep. I propped myself up on the bed with lots of pillows behind me and pulled up a blanket and enjoyed holding my grandson. Larry returned and we drank coffee, talked, and watched the news all the while baby Kyler slept on. Kelly came back about 11:00 AM to find Kyler still asleep. We packed up a few things and headed to NAFB.

Larry and I spent the afternoon at Kelly and Kyle’s home. Kelly fixed lunch and Kyle came home to join us on his break. Then it was back to work for Kyle and Kelly took a nap. I fed Kyler and then he napped on my shoulder. This was a luxury for Kelly and something we could do for her. Larry and I spent the afternoon reading, talking, watching T.V. as we took turns holding a sleeping baby.

Kelly fixed dinner and I held Kyler. Someone needed to hold him, and it should be me! Kyle was off duty and arrived home to visit before Kelly took us back to the hotel. The base is on drill and tonight there was only one way in and one way out. The puzzle was to figure out what maze of streets we needed to maneuver around to find that entrance and exit.

For most of the day I held a baby, my grandson, on my shoulder, or in my arms. Sleeping peacefully and loved more than he will ever know. So tiny and yet almost 6 pounds bigger than the last time I saw him in the hospital 2 ½ months ago. From 2 pounds 15 ½ pound on 9-1-09 to almost 10 pounds today.


7:30 AM wide awake and ready to go. Breakfast: Starbucks coffee, scones, oatmeal, and bananas. I am the room service delivery person for Larry.

Off to Bass Pro for Santa pictures with Kelly, Kyle, and Kyler. We went through the Silverton Lodge, watched the divers feed the fish in the floor to ceiling aquarium. We got our time slot for pictures with Santa and then Kelly, Kyle and Larry had a little competition at the shooting gallery. We did some window shopping and then it was time for pictures. Kelly and Kyle also sat on Santa and Mrs. Clauses lap.

Back to the house where we left baby Kyler with Kyle and we went grocery shopping. This was one very full shopping cart when we finally checked out. Good thing we had the oversized trunk to put it all in.

Kelly and Kyle went out for dinner and Larry and I babysat while the kids had date night. Kyler slept on.


7:30 AM wake up call. Kelly is sick and needs to go to the doctor so I left Larry asleep and went to take care of Kyler.

 Baby asleep

 Laundry started

 Dishwasher started

 Laundry folded

 Baby awake

 Baby changed

Kelly came home and she napped with baby Kyler while I went back to get Larry to do some shopping. Larry and I stopped at Sunrise Hospital NICU to leave a thank you card from us and the kids, and a box of chocolates as a thank you for caring for baby Kyler and helping his parents through a very stressful three months.

We stopped in at H-D Vegas to do a little shopping, more grocery shopping, and then back to Kelly’s. I snuck over to Marissa’s house to pick up the Christmas Eve presents. Larry fixed prime rib, salad, shrimp, and French bread; Marissa and Brian joined us for dinner. While Larry cooked, I held Kyler and the bigger kids decorated Christmas cookies that I had previously made and shipped.

With dinner done, Kelly and Marissa had a surprise planned for us. We took two cars to go and see the Christmas lights in the North West part of the city. We tuned the radio to 94.9, backed in the vehicles and listened to the music and watched the light show on a very well decorated house. This was an unexpected treat and I am glad Kelly knew about it.

Back to the house to open Christmas Eve presents. What could they be? Pajamas! Surprise!

Time for Larry and me to go home to our hotel.


9:00 AM Kelly called and by 9:30 AM we were on our way. First we made a stop at Marissa and Brian’s house to pick up the rest of the packages where they had been stored for a week without Kelly knowing. Sorry Marissa, I’ll find a new place next year so Kelly won’t bug you. It was fun to spoil Kyle, Kelly, and Kyler. There were some personal items, things for the house, lots of clothes for Mr. Kyler, and books, board games, and things for the “man cave”.

The kids gave Larry and me a frame filled with photos of baby Kyler. There could not have been a more perfect present.

Kelly had bought a ham and Larry had the cooking duties. The menu was ham, biscuits, yams, green bean casserole, shrimp, salad, olives, Boston cream pie, Banana cream pie (when you are told you are buying Boston and find out when you get home it is Banana, we have to buy the right one, even if you have way too much desert for 7 people), and a birthday cake for Jesus, since this is the reason for the season to celebrate.

Kelly and Kyle took a mid-afternoon nap while Larry worked in the kitchen and I held Kyler. Okay I didn’t hold him all day because he was no longer sleeping at night because he wanted someone to hold him. I put Kyler in his bouncy seat and did laundry.

Marissa, Brian, and another friend of Kyle’s from work, Thise, joined us for dinner. There was so much food leftover! Split pea soup with ham, broccoli and ham casserole, egg and ham omelets, they may have to freeze some. The boys retired to the “man cave” to play poker, the girls played monopoly in the dining room, and I snuggled up on the sofa with Kyler.

It’s a wonderful life!

Michael called this morning and opened his last present while we talked on the speaker phone. It was the black bowler hat he had wanted and he seemed pleased. Michael was going to spend the day and have dinner with friends.

Jim called and we had a nice visit; he will drive down to my moms and spend a day with us when we get to California. Christmas again!
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