Monday, June 28, 2010


I drove 320 miles with a dear friend, and we talked and laughed the whole time.  Our destination was to a HOPE retreat for breast cancer survivors in Springfield, MO.


Having been to Springfield many times, imagine my surprise when we arrived at Elfindale Mansion, a place I did not know existed, and yet is was only several blocks from Bass Pro Shop – a place I have been many times. 

The Mansion has an interesting history.  You can read about it here.  It has traded hands from a private residence, to a Catholic order of nuns, to a Catholic Academy for girls, to a safe house for the Shah of Iran, to a Christian Church property and bed and breakfast. 

Gathered together were six breast cancer survivors and four facilitators.  We quickly adopted the credo, “what happens at the Mansion, stays at the Mansion”. 


Private rooms and baths for all in very large suites. 



My friend, Dorothy, is sassy and sweet.  I want to be like HER when I’m 80!

004The lookout tower was the perfect place to go for writing and reflecting.  The windows looked down on the lake below.

013   Our early morning strolls took us by this cottage that I would give my eye teeth to get my hands on.  Breathing new life into it would be such a joy.  Does Hansel and Gretel come to mind to you too?


We also strolled by this peaceful creek, as we talked and shared.


The retreat originated as a dream of a breast cancer survivor from Colorado.  She passed away shortly after hosting the first retreat in 2004.  Her family are continuing her legacy through Sisters HOPE.  It is a nonprofit organization that, after this wonderful experience, I intend to get involved with.  To read more about Sisters HOPE, click here.


This was the first time that I had shared my cancer story with other survivors.  It was amazing how much the same and yet how different our stories are.  We talked, laughed, and cried together.  We looked at where we were and where we are today – and how the experience of cancer has changed each and every one of us.  We mourned the losses and celebrated our successes.  We came together as strangers and left 3 1/2 days later as sisters.  Sisters with a plan for the future.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Will I Ever Learn Wednesday 6-23-10

From the fish stories I was told, hubby and his buddy caught many fish.  Hubby sent them home with buddy (or so he says).  That’s ok by me.  I'm just glad they had a good time.  It is so hot here that neither cooking or eating is very appealing, unless maybe it is ice cream.   I fixed loaded baked potatoes for supper.  Loaded with bacon, broccoli, butter, sour cream, cheese.  They definitely hit the spot.

Tomorrow I am leaving for Springfield, MO with a friend.  We are attending a retreat at The Mansion At Elfindale.  It is a three day retreat for cancer survivors.  I’ll have to admit that never in a million years would I have thought to sign up for this, but Dorothy wanted to go.  Dorothy is an older lady who I admire very much.  I trust we will have a wonderful time and return home renewed and refreshed.  More on that next week.

And here we go with a short Wednesday moment…


Several weeks ago I spent some time with my brother at his apartment on the East End of Jefferson City, helping him with his computer.  Having grown up in that area, I know my way around very well.  However, they have recently done a lot of road work, improving the highways, putting in an over pass, re-routing roads.  All of this because Wal Mart came to that end of the city.  Are you surprised that Wal Mart can cause such change in an otherwise quiet area?  Me neither. 
Anyway, with all of the changes, they put in a number of round-abouts.  I’m happy to report that round-abouts no longer make me shake and sweat profusely when I come to one.  I have them figured out and breeze right through them. 
Leaving brother’s apartment, I was distracted and thinking about everything else left to do in the already disappearing day.  I breezed through the first round-about that leads almost immediately into another.  I breezed right through that one too and headed down the highway.
About 15 miles later I noticed a sign pointing to a little town.  The sign said Westphalia.  I shook my head and blinked a couple of times.  Westphalia? 
I was heading the wrong direction!  Why didn’t I notice the sign to Taos?  That would have given me my first clue.  But Westphalia?  15 or more miles the wrong way on a stretch of highway that I know like the fingers I’m typing with. 
Yes, my friends, I was that distracted and befuddled.  I forgot to mention that I have no sense of direction.  But Westphalia?
I wonder if Dorothy knows what she’s getting into letting me navigate to Springfield….  At least Buggy is tripping along in good shape now.  I think I’ll let Emmy Lou (my GPS) lead the way.
Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday it is

How is it that it is Tuesday already?  Where did Monday go?

Summer is here in full force.  The humidity isn't the "slap you in the face" kind today yet, but it has the potential to get there.  Jim and a buddy just headed out for a fishing hole.  He likes to go to a little town not toO faR from here, Frankenstein.  No, I've never seen any monsters there.  But they do have a fishing spot that is wonderful.  It is known by the locals as Stieferman's Bluff.  The scenery is beautiful.  The water is clear and shallow in some places - making it a great place to take young kids.  Then as you meander down the stream, there are some awesome fishing holes.  I'm hoping for some more tasty fish tonight.

My bathroom project is at a standstill once again.  My frustration level is over the top.  I don't get frazzled easily, but this project has tried my patience beyond grinning and bearing it.  Everything has taken so much longer than I ever thought possible.  My house has been torn up with everything out of place for such a long time that it seems normal.  We finally got the ceiling in, all of the painting, trim boards, etc. done, the tub in place and have been waiting for the plumber to come back out to finish the plumbing.  Now, this is the guy who has already been here.  He knows the scope of the project.  Has done the initial plumbing, and just needed to hook everything up:  tub, stool, sink.  Easy peasy.  Right?  Wrong.

The tub, being the kind of tub it is, takes a special fitting.  Ok.  They knew the type of tub it is.  That is why we hired professionals in the first place.  That is why we already had them out here.  He also didn't have a fitting for the sink.  What?  What is the world did he think he was coming to my house for?  A tea party?

Ok.  I just had to get that off my chest.  Whew.

I'm heading into town to pick up some things I need, go to the bank, go to work, go to the grocery store and then home.  I hope inspiration knocks me in the head with an idea for a tasty supper between now and the grocery store - just in case they bring home fish stories rather than fish.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This morning at church Fr. Greg asked that all Fathers and Grandfathers stand and be recognized in prayer. As the musicians at Mass today, we had a birds eye view of the congregation. There sure are a lot of dads!

Since our parish has grown in leaps and bounds over the past five years, I no longer know all of the families - and dads. Yet, I do. They tell a story by their looks and actions.

I saw a young father affectionately ruffle his toddler's hair, while holding in his arms a baby.
I saw another dad look sternly at his little girl as she prepared to trot across the church bench in search of the unknown.
I saw a grandpa holding the hands of the two grandchildren he and his wife are raising.
I saw a dad standing all alone, his wife already in heaven, and children long gone to other pastures.
I saw a father glance proudly sideways at his teen towering over him.
I saw one dad kiss his baby's cheek as he handed the child to his own dad for safekeeping.
I saw our spiritual dad stand at the altar, leading us in prayer, and then encouraging everyone, especially the dads, to stick around after Mass for yummy donuts iced with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
And in all of these dads I saw the hand of our ultimate dad, God - guiding them, encouraging them, helping them along the way.

My own dad is no longer with me. Jim's dad died many years ago. I miss them both. But as I looked around me today, I felt encouraged that there are many wonderful dads in this world. I want to thank each and every one of them for their roles in the lives of our future.

My daughter, Julie, blogged a tribute to her daddy the other day. Not because it was Father's Day, but just because she felt like it. Her timing was perfect though. You can read about what a wonderful daddy she has here

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How is it possible?


We got married on June 17, 1972 – Jim and Deanna009

We’ve always been called Jim and Deanna – never Deanna and Jim.  Strange how that works.  If I say something about friends, it is always Rita and Leon, or Patti and Gerard.  Anyway, we are known as Jim and Deanna.

38 years, 3 kids, and 10 grandkids later, we are still going strong.

Oh, I’m not going to pretend we didn’t have our ups and downs.  Little things, like him giving me a broom for one of our anniversaries, tend to cause a ruckus.  In his defense, I did mention the day before that I needed a new broom.

I think I tested the “for worse” part of our vows when I dumped a glass of wine over his head.  For the life of me I can no longer remember the words that caused such anger.  But I do remember he calmly got up and cleaned himself up and then cleaned the mess up too.  Fortunately, we laugh about it today.

The fact that he is sensitive helps a lot.  He makes me cry almost every Christmas.   It’s always a good cry.  Like the time I had lost the diamond in my wedding ring.  Rather than replace it, I was wearing a gold band.  He made me cry when he replaced the diamond as my Christmas present.  That is just one of many good cries.


He sorely tested my patience when I asked him to go on a business trip to San Jose with me.  He whined and worried like an old mother hen.  Finally, on our way to the KC airport,  I threatened to leave him on the side of the road.  That finally hushed him up.  And now… we both adore traveling.

He likes to shop as much as I hate it.  If I really need an outfit for something, I take him with me – otherwise, I am likely to come home empty handed.

And building this house.  Oh my gosh!  We moved into the basement before the upstairs was even properly closed in.  The second morning after we moved in, I discovered Julie, barely one at the time, on the “storage side” of the basement, ready to pick up a little green garter snake. 

Then there was this little gotcha called breast cancer.  He was by my side every step of the way.  He held my head when I was puking.  He sat in the waiting room, during my many operations, waiting to hear that I was once again going to be ok.  He made me laugh when I wanted to cry.  And he never once expressed doubt that God was walking along with us on this crazy journey we were on. 

We are stronger because of everything we’ve been through together.

Hey Jim, when you read this, just know that I love you very much!  Happy Anniversary.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Will I Ever Learn Wednesday Pre-empted by an important message


greg 1 year (2)

On June 16, 34 years ago, we welcomed our son, Greg, into the world. Happy Birthday Gregory!

Hubby had promised me that we would celebrate our anniversary on the 17th with a dinner out. We had my mom and dad lined up to watch our two year old daughter, Tessa.

We didn’t count on the fact that our dinner out would be in the hospital. But we sure didn’t mind.

Greg. There is not a sweeter, more generous, caring, son on earth. It is not possible.

I will do a “Will I Ever Learn” on Jim, though. You see, he tried to make up for the fact that I was in the hospital, eating hospital food, on our anniversary. Now, keep in mind I just had a child. Women who have just given birth are just like all other animal – our boobs fill with milk and relief from the fullness and pain is difficult, even when nursing, which I was.

Any guesses on what Jim brought me for an anniversary treat?

Did anybody guess a milk shake? A CHOCOLATE milk shake! Babies cannot have chocolate – even after processed through mom’s system. And the last thing a new mother needs to drink is a milk shake! The pain of those swollen breasts is still vivid in my mind.


Our son-in-law, Bill, was also born on this date - I believe 37 years ago (please let me be right…) I really need to do a Bill post one of these days. Bill is a wonderful son-in-law and I cannot think of anyone better suited for oldest daughter, Tessa. Happy Birthday Bill!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Something fishy’s going on here…

After taking Dakota and Travis to the dentist this morning, I brought Travis home with me so he could help Jim around here.  They told me they were going to continue the tree limb clean up project.

Can anyone explain to me how these fishies came out of the woods?  Anyone?  I am really trying to understand….

Travis holding up a small and large fish with Jim looking on

Travis holding a 21 inch Bass

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It’s a small world!


We've been spending a lot of time at ball fields lately, cheering on the grandkids.  And that is exactly where we were last night.  At a ball game.

Jim is one of those guys who knows everyone, and everyone seems to know him.  So it is not at all unusual for him to disappear to visit with others.  And that is exactly what he was doing every time I turned around.  I finally shook my head and said to Travis, "There he goes again.  I wonder who he's visiting with now".  The next thing I knew, he was motioning for me to come over. 

Then it hit me.  He was visiting with Osage Bluff Quilter and her hubby, Osage Bluff Blacksmith  Patti and I have been following each other’s blogs for some time.  They just happened to be there for a ball game with their grandkids! 

It was like we had known each other forever.  And in a way, we did.  It turns out Patti and I grew up only a few miles from each other.  We are the same age and knew many of the same people.  The conversation was fast and furious.  I can't wait to visit with them, letting the guys do the guy things, while we tackle a serging job facing her.  What a wonderful new friend!

The evening happened to be one of those yucky, muggy Missouri nights.  One of those nights where makeup is useless and hair gets pulled back off the face.  And that's when she said it - "I have a camera..."  My hands immediately flew to my hair.  Oh what the heck.  I cheated and crawled behind her.  She said "no fair" but I'm not too good at listening.

patty and deanna

Here is a slide show of three of Austin, Dakota and Travis playing ball.  I’m a bad grandma and don’t have photos of the other grandkids yet.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Play Ball

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Donations anyone?

The total cost (so far) to fix Buggy is $1,950...

Yea, I'm not so happy.

But it's still cheaper than a car payment. I have 96,000 miles on her and this is the first real repair cost we've had, so I'm going to suck it up and shell out the money (as if I had any other choice...)

There goes this year's vacation!!!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Will I Ever Learn Wednesday 6-9-10

This is the day of the week that I am supposed to put all of my silly ways out there for everybody to see.

However, today turned into the day of the week that NOTHING went right. My "VW Bug" has had a bug for some time now. We took her to her GP car Dr. and his diagnostics showed nothing wrong. So I've kept driving it - and the problem has gotten progressively worse. As the days heat up and if I am doing the city driving thingy, Buggy begins to shift through the lower gears really hard - giving me a lurch here and there and everywhere.

So early this morning we took my baby to a transmission shop and left her. A couple of hours later, the specialist called to let us know that VW had hidden her intestines behind such a shroud of secrecy, that they could not diagnose the problm. She had to go to a specialist in St. Louis (the closest VW dealer to my little part of Missouri). After a call to VW, we decided to take the already shot day and finish it off by driving the 2 hour drive to St. Louis and check baby bug into the VW Hospital.

Already resigned to the fact that this is going to be an expensive visit, I'm just hoping they figure out the problem and fix it. As I told Jim, Buggy is still in great shape, I still like her, and if we take care of her, she should be able to easily give me another 100,000 miles of fun. It sure beats a car payment!

I feel compelled to reach into the recesses of my mind and come up with some crazy thinking from the past.

We used to have a good size strawberry patch. In case you don't know, where there are strawberry plants, there are usually snakes. In our case, they were usually big black snakes. Like many of you, I have an irrrational fear of snakes. Crazy scared type fear. But being a resourceful kind of gal, I figured out a way to protect myself from scary snakes.

Here is where I introduce our beautiful faithful companion, our Golden Retriever, Dolly. I'm bummed right now, because I couldn't find a picture of her. I'm sure once I post this, one will jump out and bite me. You will just have to trust me that she was beautiful. And she was my protector.

Day after day Dolly and I would head down to pick strawberries in the early morning hours, before I headed for work. She stayed by my side and I knew if ever there was a snake, she would warn me.

My Jim had the audacity to laugh at me when I told him what I had been doing. It wasn't long after that a black snake showed up in our driveway. The laughing spouse called me to come watch. Walking to the other side of the snake, he called Dolly to him. I knew I had him now. That dog was going to go crazy barking!

Dolly jumped right over that snake without giving it a second thought! She wasn't going to ever protect me - she couldn't care less about snakes! Dolly was never again forced to help me pick strawberries. She was always welcome to come with me, though, and even though she had proven herself totally worthless, we remained the very best of friends.

I believe that was the year that I let the strawberry patch go to weeds...

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to bend a cast iron tub

The bathroom saga continues.


I shamefully neglected to take a picture of the 29 year old, outdated bathroom before we started this project. But here is a shot with the doors removed from the narrow, can’t get anything in there and find it back, linen closet. The vanity to the left was also outdated, with the formica being the original.


It was time to gut this room and start over! And that is exactly what we did.


We even removed the stained glass window. Now that the linen closet was gone, we could center it on the wall and frame it properly.


Did you know that cast iron tubs are dated? Me neither. But they are – and this particular one will be 100 years old next August.


Jim spent countless hours sanding the tub down to bare metal. I think he put 4 coats of paint on it. The claw feet now sport a touch of artistic talent.


Out of the garage and into the truck bed.

081Out of the truck bed and down the brick walkway into the front door. All hands on deck.


Alioop and bend around the step railing, into the hallway.


Back down ya go. Breathe boys. Now, down the hallway.


Alioop again! Bend it right through the bathroom doorway.


And that, my friends, is how to bend a cast iron bath tub.

Now for the finishing touches. You know, minor things like stool, sink, lights, etc.

I can’t wait to post a “project complete” picture!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A classic reading the classics

Are the "classics" still required reading in High School English class?

I was an ok student, disliking any subject that included a mathematical equation and loving any subject that allowed me to feed my reading fetish. I devoured the required reading list of Catcher In The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath... the list is endless. And since I've always loved to write, the inevitable book report was usually a piece of cake.

Flash forward 40 years.

I happened onto a Reader's Digest article about To Kill A Mockingbird and what the book was really about. It got me to thinking. I've read all of these books, but I don't remember much about them. So I picked up a copy of Mockingbird for my reading pleasure. I was amazed to discover that other than snipets here and there, I didn't remember the story. It wasn't until the trial towards the end of the book that things started coming back to me.

I can see many more reruns of the classics in my near future.

Do you remember what you read 40 years ago?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Will I Ever Learn Wednesday – 6/2/10

It’s raining!  THEY predicted 30% chance of rain, which means there is a 70% chance that it won’t, which means that it will.  Right?  Right.

Up until 5:30 last night, I had finally made it through the week without any new ditzo moments.  It was a great feeling.

Then it happened – the IT that I never thought could happen to me.
I stopped to get gas.  Like any normal person, I swiped my credit/debit card, chose the gas, and got the pump going.  That’s when my mind wandered.

I looked off to a corner of the parking lot, and couldn’t believe my eyes.


There were ORBS and OCHAS everywhere.  Those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about are missing out.  You can learn more by following Intenseguy's blog.  They tend to make appearances there on a regular basis.  But I digress…

Obviously I had to get some photos.  So while the gas was pumping, I wandered across the lot.  Walking back to my car, I couldn’t help but smile at myself getting the perfect pictures.
I hopped back into my little Bug and took off.

That’s right.  I hopped back into my little Bug and took off… Imagine my horror when I heard the gas hose pop out of my tank.  It was too late when I slammed on my brakes.  There it was laying on the concrete.
I ran inside and said something like “I just pulled a major dummy – I forgot to remove that thing before I drove off!”  Oh how I knew this was going to cause a ruckus and I was going to be in deep doo doo.  Apparently there is a world of ditzo’s running around, because she just rolled her eyes and said, “never mind – I’ll take care of it…” 

I was too shook up to even remember to take a picture!  Besides, some things just don’t need to be documented for posterity.

My only consolation is that I wasn’t one of those idiots driving around town with the hose hanging out of the tank.  Come on folks, fess up – has anyone else ever done this? 


Here’s what happens when you commune with nature.  You already know the birds ate all my cherries.  I didn’t even bother to mention that the squirrels ate every single strawberry.  And now my poor flowers are paying the price.  They are the perfect snack for our deer.  I guess it is a small price to pay for the beauty that surrounds us.


At least the deer share – they only ate half the plant.

That’s it for today.  Have a wonderful rest of the week!  Cheers, peace, and all that good stuff.