Entries to Win Afghan

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Sunday, December 31, 2023

New Year's Eve Standard

  I post this every year, just changing the date. It's the point of my life, not just my blog. Sure, not-so-quality things happen to me. Am I being dishonest by not sharing those? Maybe in a sense, but I'm sure you have enough not-so-quality events of your own. I know how I feel about the people who are forever lamenting their difficulties. You may care, but it just gets tiresome. I'd rather be uplifting than tiresome.

So here's my standard plan for the next year.
new year's resolution

And I'll also reiterate the blessing I found online and shared at the end of my big hike in June. This is just perfect as far as I'm concerned.

I hunkered down and worked really hard on a volunteer project that I need to get done. Not quite there, but I worked until my eyes started to cross.

See The Final Steps

Saturday, December 30, 2023

More Christmas Week Fun

 Our gifts from Loretta came today. What fun! Mine is...
Christmas gift

OK, I could tell from the sound when I shook it. But that just increased the anticipation. It's a puzzle!. 1000 pieces.
Charles Wysocki puzzle Budzen's

Om got this for me earlier in the season. He said he couldn't resist. We don't need more of this kind of thing, but it has been fun to press the button and see the campfire light up and the Christmas lights blink. Yes, it makes me smile.
camper trailer decoration

Cathy and I did a hike today on the NCT. The weather was gorgeous. We did an easy three miles. Actually, the same as the very beginning of my big hike, which she also did with me. That was just over 2 years ago!
two hikers

And, I seem to be on a serious puzzle jag. I redid this one called "Loveable Pets." I last did this 3 years ago. It's 550 pieces and a little harder than it looks. Just hard enough to be interesting.
Loveable Pets jigsaw puzzle

Then, I found this one in my stash. It had never been opened. It's a high quality puzzle by Audubon, but the pictures are very dark. I was thinking it was going to be quite hard. 500 pieces, non-standard cut. Ha. Easy peasy. I had it done in about an hour and a half. The odd shapes helped because when the colors were muted or muddy, I could just go by the shapes. It's called "It Was for Ripeness." I'm not entirely sure how that relates to the photos, but I guess most of the plants were forming seeds, or had frost on them. Not sure how the waterfalls fit in. Anyway. It's now been done.

I did some volunteer stuff today and cleaned up the kitchen yet again.

North Country Trail, US 10 to Wingleton Rd and back. 3 miles

See Loveable Pets in 2021
See the last time I hiked this section

Friday, December 29, 2023

Revised Cover Sneak Peek

 You may have noticed that not much writing has happened over the holidays. I had a big editing job to finish, and even a low-key Christmas required various things that took up time.

However, I've been thinking a lot about Vacation from Dead Mule Swamp. For one thing, I changed the picture on the cover. It's way to early to do a "cover reveal," but for some reason, having the cover designed helps me focus and inspires me to keep writing. How about a bit more of a sneak peek?

I have come up with some ways to remediate some of the "problems" with the early chapters. This book does not follow a standard story arc. Personally, I prefer it when an author varies their plots. But the story still needs to make you want to read on. I worked a little bit on those fixes today.

And I have the next three scenes (maybe 4-5 chapters) planned in my head. I just have to get them written.

Here's a brief tease from Chapter 21:
With a tiny smile, I wondered if we could prosecute him in civil court if he took the whole ten-thousand when we were the ones who’d done all the work. But then, we hadn’t even paid to participate in the game. The legal waters seemed murky.

Emerging from our room, there was loud laughter, and the smells of pizza and beer drifted down the passage. Apparently the firefighters were partying. I wondered if they’d be up late in case we needed them. Maybe they’d all be drunk and passed out.

I spent the morning editing, and most of the rest of the day doing kitchen stuff.

See Back in Harness for the previous cover peek- you can definitely see I've changed the color pallete

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Did You Guess Marmalade?

  Here's the result. Old-fashioned marmalade cooked down to the jelly stage with no commercial pectin added. Easy but time consuming. And I boiled it over onto the stove. So that's a mess, but I have the burner pan soaking.

Other than that, I worked on miscellaneous stuff to get ready for my trip. That included getting a burned-out taillight replaced. I'm surpisingly tired for a day that wasn't too demanding. But some days are like that.

See Beginning the Marmalade

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Puzzles- Two for Me, One for You

Here was my Christmas puzzle. 750 pieces, called "Kitten Diversion." I didn't finish it on the 25th because I ended up spending more time on family stuff, but that was fine. I completed it last night.
jigsaw puzzle kittens and fish tank

Also, Om had ordered this one for me, but it didn't arrive until today. It has nice wood pieces with very intricate cuts. If you look closely, you'll see pieces shaped like bees, fish, a dragonfly, and an octopus.
wood jigsaw puzzle pieces

Some of these actually had faces cut into the converse.
jigsaw puzzle pieces in animal shapes

This was supposed to be a very difficult puzzle. Um, well, Om said, "At least it took you longer than five minutes." No matter. It was a lot of fun just because it's so different. The swirly colors were intriguing, and I loved seeing how the animal shapes fit into the overall picture. Most of the interlocking places were little spirals. This has to be lasar cut, and although they look very much alike, of course, like almost any puzzle, there is only one match between a spiral and its spiral cutout. And what does it end up as? A beautiful psychedelic rabbit! The fact that it's a shaped puzzle was also interesting.
rabbit jigsaw puzzle

Also, just before Christmas, I did the one that Marie and I did at her friend Ellen's house. She gave that one to me. It was fun, but I'd done it too recently. I remembered where everything went, and that made it too easy. That one is linked below if you want to see it.

I seem to really be on a puzzle jag. How I'd really like to spend the evening is to go get out another puzzle!

Now, here's the puzzle for you. How did I spend the meaningful part of my day? (Apart from grocery shopping, errands, cleaning the kitchen from yesterday, blah, blah.) Here's your clue.
making marmalade

Puzzle or work? That's the next puzzle for the evening.

See Small Seasonal Joys
See Having a Blast with Ellen

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Trail Work Day

 I really wanted to get out to the trail to finish the clean-up on my section before I leave on my upcoming trip. The weather cooperated today. (Yesterday was even nicer, but it was too busy.)

Most of what I was doing was just clipping small branches that were growing into the trail. However, there were some other obstacles. The first tree down I easily pulled off to the side. The lighter stripe is dry, where the tree was lying across the trail before I moved it.
trail work

I wasn't so lucky on the second one. I couldn't budge this.
fallen tree on trail

I had the bow saw with me, and with one cut, then I could pull it to the side. It was oak and it was wet. Cutting that was not so easy, but I got 'er done. Had to jam another log under it, so the saw wouldn't bind. After it was cut through, then I could pull that piece off to the side.
trail work

The third one was a no-go. I trimmed things up enough so a hiker can get past it a little easier, but it's lengthwise in the trail with messy branches. I've notified the chain-saw crew.
messy tree in trail

Logs 4 and 5, I was able to again pull off to the side. Finished my section!

This evening, Om and I went to see The Boys in the Boat. You may remember it was on my list of best books read for last year. They've done an excellent job with the movie. Recommended.

North Country Trail near Tyndall Rd, and spur to Bear Track Campground. 4.2 miles

See P-P-P-P-Play Day

Monday, December 25, 2023

Family Time Christmas

 Contrary to the opinion that one should get off their phones for Christmas, we are much in the same situation as people separated from family in the early 1900s. That phone line is the much desired connection.
phone in center of room

Steve called while we were opening gifts. We had a really nice chat with him, which is special because he really doesn't like to talk on the phone very often.

Omer played Santa as always (since the boys grew up and were no longer enamored of being the one to hand out the gifts).
man with santa hat

Josh takes a turn opening a gift.
man opening christmas gift

We had a nice dinner. It was great to not be cooking 17 different things. Very simple with ham, plain sweet potatoes (we don't like them with that marshmallow ick), asparagus, and orange sauce (a new, easy, recipe that Om says is a true keeper). Joshua brought some fruit and the pineapple was ripe, so I cut that up too. You've seen the cookies before.
Christmas buffet

After we ate, we watched a movie. Santa brought some used DVDs, and Josh picked Scully to watch. I'd seen it before, but had forgotten how good it is.

Then Josh went home, and I started another puzzle. Very relaxing day. The only work I did was the cooking and part of the cleanup.

See Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve

We went to the Methodist Christmas Eve service. The handbell choir played all four of our songs for this season. You'll eventually see the other two, but not tonight.

As you can see, we are all set for tomorrow. Josh is coming over. We have a few presents and then we have a ham and sweet potatoes. Very simple. Perfect.
Christmas Tree

There were two large nativity sets on display at the church.
traditional nativiyt set

We have a small white one that is similar. But someone made the modern stable to go with this large set.
white nativity set

One of my favorite parts of Christmas Eve services is singing Silent Night by candlelight.
singing by candlelight

I worked hard today to finish one editing project I had. I am all set to take a couple of days "off." Merry Christmas!

See Christmas Arrives

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Thinking about Adoption

A former President of Youth for Christ, Dan Wolgemuth, writes an essay every Friday that is always thoughtful and interesting. His father was President when we were with YFC, and I went to college with most of his siblings. His mother and I were good friends.

Yesterday, Dan wrote about Joseph. Joseph of the Christmas story. He points out that we are told very little about Joseph. The lineage of Joseph back to King David is given. Even though Joseph was the adoptive father, that heritage was important enough to include in Scripture. In these days of easy DNA testing, perhaps we focus too much on the biological.

Dan makes some interesting statements. He points out that Joseph was the "non-biological father to the son of the most high. He was the bread winner to the bread of life." These statements echo the mystical thoughts in the song "Mary Did You Know?" For example, "This child that you've delivered will soon deliver you." (Also resonating in my thoughts is C.S. Lewis' stable scene in The Last Battle. It's a bunny trail here, but it's in Chapter 13 "How the Dwarves Refused to be Taken In" if you are curious.)

I have no idea about legal documentation in the Roman Empire, but Joseph functionally adopted Jesus. I'm sure the baby was counted in the census which they went to Bethlehem to fulfill. Adoption has a good reputation in the Bible. In fact, there are five times in the New Testament when we are told that we have the status of being adopted by God. In context, these adoptions are contrasted to being slaves and to being "stuck" in physical bodies (perhaps a reference to the fact that as children of God we are spiritual not physical beings). Also, the Jews are promised that they will be redeemed from the law and be adopted. The most general reference is Ephesians 1:5 where we are told that before the foundation of the world we were chosen to be adopted!

I think adoption is one of the ultimate ways in which we are given the opportunity to live in the image of God. God does things that are counter to our human nature. He forgives. He loves with genuine altruism (our love is usually tainted with a least partially selfish motives). He adopts. He elevates us to sons and daughters the second we agree to accept that arrangement. Of course, we can also reject that offer.

I'm not in any way attempting to elevate our family's journey to the same plane as God's adoption. But yet, chosing to become a functional parent, to love a child who does not carry my DNA is one of the ways I've learned so much more about how God loves me.

Before baby Steve joined us, we had this glimpse.

Two years later, we received one bad Polariod picture of Joshua (and his cat) to see what our middle son would look like.

We later received a few pictures of Josh taken in Vietnam.

Dan points out that Joseph was called to live in humility, to be courageous and offer selfless support. Not the role we often desire.

But Dan's phrase that will stick with me the longest is, "None of us will be like Mary. But we can all be like Joseph."

See My Little Squirt is 39
See Joshua Turns 40

Friday, December 22, 2023

Small Seasonal Joys

  I wasn't sure I would have time to play, but I got in some good work time, so I met up with Loren late afternoon and we took a decent walk around the Ludington School Forest.
hikers in the woods

I've managed to do two smallish jigsaw puzzles in the past week. This one is called Nantucket Breeze. Quite easy, but the pictures are so much fun that they are enjoyable.
Nantucket Breeze jigsaw puzzle

Then I wanted another, so I got out a favorite. This is only 300 pieces, but it's a little harder than some puzzles of that size. This is the third or fourth time I've done it. It's called Berry Sweet Bunny. I think I got it for under a dollar at a rummage sale.
Berry Sweet Bunny jigsaw puzzle

A little bit of crafting makes me happy. This was my second attempt at a cardboard roll snowflake.
making a snowflake from a cardboard roll

It turned out OK. Not great. I thought I was going to like these more than I do. Maybe I need to do a few more to improve my techniques. You may remember I made a different one last week. I think they would be fine on a large tree from a distance.
cardboard roll snowflake

And, I've had a tiny Christmas mystery here. At night, out the east windows, there has been a tower of light that I couldn't identify. The only thing I could think of was lights on the Scottville water tower stem, but it didn't seem in quite the right place. In the daytime, I couldn't see anything where this tower is.
lighted tower

So, coming home from my walk today, I stopped at the store for the last of the Christmas groceries and then went in search of this tower. By then it was dusk and it was lit. Ha! Turns out it's a "new" tower behind the internet provider that went in about a half mile from us. And it has a star!
tower with lights and a star

I edited hard today. We are all set for a laid-back Christmas. Maybe Josh will come over, maybe not. I have stuff for a meal, and I plan to do another puzzle. So there!

Various trails in Ludington School Forest. About 3 miles

See It's Been a Lotta Years Since...

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Reality Times Three

How did those bowls of cookie dough turn out, you ask?

Pretty darn good! Finishing these was my project for today. (This is only part of them- to show all the different ones) Now it's back to work on other things.
Christmas cookies

See Anticipation Times Three

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Perfect Hiking Weather

There was just a little snow on the ground, but not enough to hamper walking. The woods was beautiful! The temperature was just above freezing, and it was really nice for walking.
trail in snowy woods

I don't have the group photo yet. There were 10 people and two dogs. Some people walked less, but many of us walked 6 miles total. Here are three on a bridge over an unnamed creek that flows into the South Branch of the Pere Marquette River.
hikers on a small footbridge in winter

I'm a total sucker for snow on winter branches.
snow on winter branches

For about three-quarters of a mile, the trail follows the berm of a spur of the Flint and Pere Marquette railroad. This was Eber Brock Ward's railroad, the same man for whom Ward Hills is named. He was a lumber, railroad and iron baron of the late 19th Century.
grade of the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad

Before the hike, I made soup. After the hike, I finished baking the cookies. Tomorrow I'll finish decorating them. Needless to say, I'm beat. I'm not even going to clean up the kitchen tonight.

North Country Trail, 76th St north for 3 miles and back. Total 6 miles

See Loren Gets Her 100 Miles