Archive for the ‘Encouraging Words’ Category





Monday, March 17th, 2014







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Some Thoughts

and Roast or Pulled Pork

Nachos




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These last several months in boots, on crutches and a cane (I’m still dependent on those last two lovely pieces of equipment, much to my chagrin) have given me a deeper insight into a truth that I think we already know but don’t consider very often: While it is true that “if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” it is much more true that “To him whose feet hurt, everything hurts.” (That’s ol’ Socrates, by the way).


Have you ever noticed that when your feet hurt, your back hurts too, along with your knees, your neck and worst of all, your mood? You may be able to get through a day and sort of get things done, but when your feet hurt, you do not do your best job. With sore feet, the bulk of your intelligent thought tends to center around what you can do to alleviate the pain and get off of your feet. You can’t concentrate on what you are supposed to be doing and your responsibilities have a way of flying out of the window in favor of soothing those throbbing tootsies.


Such is my life at this moment, and while I have thrown myself into the research of new and wonderful all-natural and holistic methods to attack pain and broken limbs so that I can be a know-it-all at the doctor’s office to all of the patients unfortunate enough to be sitting in my general vicinity, – “You DO know that frankincense essential oil could help relax that tight muscle, right?” – the fact is, short of giving up all semblance of reality to the likes of morphine, hurt feet hurt.


It has been with this earth-shattering revelation that I have also discovered a coinciding truth: If the foundation isn’t strong, while what is built upon it may work, it will not work well or as it was intended to work. This applies to businesses, to governments and to individuals. There must be a strong foundational basis for existence or any of those entities will function in less than an optimum manner. And what is that foundation? It is God.


Any entity, whether public or private or individual never functions well without a Godly foundation. They may exist and they may function, but they will never enjoy the full potential or optimum purpose for which they were intended. Many will argue with me and swear that they are doing just fine and dandy without any focus on God, but if brutal honesty came into play, there would be an admission of struggle, dissatisfaction, pain and uncertainty. I know. I’ve been there and I’ve done that.


Making God the foundation simply requires the acceptance of His power and authority over all things. Human beings will always fall short of living out a perfect/Godly life, but the first step has to come in the admission that only God is in control – not man – and that He is the authority over the individual, the family, the city, the state and the nation. Without that foundation, nothing works as it should. There is only the constant focus on the pain that ensues and a desperate attempt to alleviate it. And so, on a serious note, I recognize my need to release everything to God’s authority (including my aching lower extremities) and I ask all of those in my nation to do the same, as One Nation Under God. Until we do that, nothing will work as it was intended to work.


And speaking of foundations, I have an idea here for the foundation on which to use that leftover pork from the last recipe. Starting with a base of tortilla chips, you can build a meal that IS everything it is intended to be!


Roast Pork Nachos



Ingredients:

  • Tortilla chips
  • 1/4 lb roast pork per person (leftover pulled pork works great too)
  • Shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses
  • Chopped onion
  • 1 tsp smoked barbeque sauce per person
  • Pickled Jalopeno peppers
  • Sour Cream
  • Taco Sauce
  • Leaf lettuces


  • Printable Recipe



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    Chop pork into small 1/2″ pieces or pull into shreds. Toss with barbecue sauce until the sauce is totally incorporated. Arrange tortilla chips onto a plate and top with pork.


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    Sprinkle with fresh, chopped sweet onions and the two cheeses. Microwave until the cheeses are nicely melted over the meat and chips – just about 20 to 30 seconds.


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    Add pickled jalopeno peppers and then top with lettuces, a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of taco sauce. Enjoy!










    Happy Leftovers!



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    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Wednesday, November 27th, 2013







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    We are all up and running at last. All the code is in its place and I have a happy face! :-)


    Its a beautiful, crisp and sunny day before Thanksgiving Day and I am just overwhelmed with joy. I will be spending tomorrow with family and friends – 25 all total – and with lots of food. You know me! Food is good!! We will be having our traditional dishes and, I’m sure, some new ones and half the clan will be bringing guitars, mandolins or banjos for an afternoon of picking and grinning. This is a time to just kick back and recognize that even with problems, difficulties, concerns and even heartaches, we can be grateful for our God – our provider (the reason for the FIRST Thanksgiving!), for our loved ones, for our friends and for our country> I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!


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    Happy Eating!


    And Many Blessings!!



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    Freedom, Safety and The Royal Berkey

    Tuesday, July 9th, 2013







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    True Freedom





    I have so much to say and don’t know where to begin. So much has happened over the last couple of months in our state and in our family that it gets just a little bit overwhelming. I’ll do my best to make sense and make my 1971 High School English teacher, Mrs. Carter, proud. But I have some pretty deep thoughts to share. This is going to be a little different from my other posts.


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    You know that my community and others around me were devastated by three tornadoes that were so huge and powerful that very little stood up against them. Families have experienced the loss of homes, cars, personal belongings, pets and even loved ones. The immediate aftermath was a call for better safety measures….mandatory shelters in schools and homes, better warning systems and stronger homes. All across the land, “safety” has become the new “in” word. And I have to admit that sitting in our storm shelter on the night of May 19th, I felt snug, safe and strangely calm in the midst of the wind storm above me.


    Then, yesterday, a video was sent to me. It had gone viral on the internet and was of a young student from my alma mater in Murfreesboro, TN who had been stopped at a DUI checkpoint, not because he was drunk, but because he was young. I think that he must have been a law student because he knew the legal terminology and the Constitution backwards and forwards. With his cell phone camera turned on and laying in the front seat, the young man recorded a most horrible and astounding episode of police intimidation, corruption and just plain meanness. At one point, one patrolman announced to the kid that the Constitution can be suspended in the name of safety. The very ones who have been charged with the duty to “keep us safe” had become people FROM whom one would want to be kept safe!


    Last week was our country’s celebration of July 4th – Independence Day – the day that we set aside to remind ourselves of our escape from tyranny, of the blessed freedoms that we enjoy in this land and to think on those of the past who stood up for those freedoms. Many people, including myself, feel that a lot of those freedoms are being eroded away, but still, all-in-all, we are a people in a nation that enjoys the most freedoms of any other country in the world. Unfortunately, however, we keep giving up freedoms in the name of ‘safety’.


    Ironically, in the same week as our Independence celebration, just two days prior to that day, my family experienced something that made us all feel that our freedom AND safety had been snatched right out from under us and it is taking some time to overcome that feeling. On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after 1:00 pm, in the middle of the day, my daughter, Mrs. Dance-A-Lot, drove into the driveway of her new home. She and her hubby (Mr. Guitar Guy) had moved into this house just weeks before and, though it is new and wonderful, the house isn’t quite home yet. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had been on a special lunch date with Mr. Guitar Guy, taking a moment together while their little Miss Snicklefritz, was visiting the other grandmother and recovering from the very contagious Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had only been gone from her house for 45 minutes. As she pulled into the driveway, she noticed that her garage door was open and that a car was sitting in the drive. The door from the garage to the house was open as well and in just a matter of milliseconds she was asking herself why everything was open, whose car was in the drive and if the new pest control man was back without calling her. But then, how could he get into the house without her there? She pulled up next to the strange car to exit hers as a very large man came toward her car, carrying her laptop, with two more men attempting to carry her big screen television behind him. Of course, she and the men all jumped out of their skins at the same time and as Mrs. Dance-A-Lot slammed her car door to back out of the driveway as fast as she could, the men carrying the television dropped it behind the man with the laptop and ran to their car . My daughter was on the phone with 911 as she vamoosed out of there, heart pounding and feeling like she was in some kind of alternate universe. All she could think was, “I have to get away.”


    A home full of police, fingerprint dusting and providing their own fingerprints later, my loved ones had to face a ransacked house covered in clingy, fine, black fingerprint dust, a front door that had not only been kicked in but had taken the door frame with it, some missing personal items including jewelry and electronics and a feeling that everything in their “space” had been violated. Of course, the anger set in and pretty soon, the paranoia and fear – and that affected ALL of us. All kinds of things run through your mind like, “What if they come back?” “They know what I/she looks like.” “They know what they left.” “They know that I/she can identify them and their car.” An unsettling lack of peace followed. It wasn’t helped by the fact that on July the 4th Mrs. Dance-A-Lot’s Netflix account showed that someone was watching pornography on her computer!! Just one more violation.


    For a week now, many in our family and even close friends have been running through plans of what can be done to avoid this type of situation again. Alarm system companies are loving us as they are getting new orders, doors have been made more secure using the EZ ARMOR door security systems from Lowe’s (they cost $68), video cameras are being considered and discussions on what can be learned from the incident are underway. The issue of “safety” has come up again and a feeling of freedoms lost permeates conversations. And as usual, I’m looking on the bright side in the hopes that these sorry individuals are in agony with high fevers and blisters because they were exposed, in my daughter’s house, to the numerous. stuck on everything and highly contagious germs of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease!! Would that not be sweet justice?!


    Laying aside that vengeful part of my personality, it has occurred to me that all of us need to recognize something about freedom and safety that often gets overlooked. In the Declaration of Independence, those great men who wrote that great document stated that our freedoms are ordained by God. We forget that our safety is in His hands as well. Yes, bad things happen but that does not negate the fact that ultimately, our great God who is the authority over all things is our protection and our safety when push comes to shove. We can plan until doom’s day, but all the plans in the world are just man’s efforts to stop something that is totally out of his control. We can monitor every phone call from overseas and still have some nuts blow up the innocence of a marathon race. We can install burglar alarms and fire alarms only to have them irritatingly announce that our home is burning down or that burglars were quick enough to grab and run before the police could get there. We can store up food for a crisis only to have it tossed over the countryside by a tornado or burned up in a fire or spoiled by varmints of some type. We can live in the country with farm animals, gardens and fruit trees to provide our sustenance, only to have drought, bugs, accident or disease wipe out every ounce of that provision. We can use wind power, solar power and generators to offset the loss of electricity only to have God’s electricity – lightning – destroy it all. “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.” (Robert Burns) The fact is, using man’s schemes, we are never truly “safe”. If any person promises to keep you “safe” from anything, he is a liar. And if he promises you safety in exchange for your freedom, he is a tyrant.


    Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” And what is wisdom? “The reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:7 What kind of safety is scripture talking about? It can be physical safety, but more important, it is about spiritual safety. It is a safety from fear, unease, depression, discouragement, dread and all of the other negatives that cloud our joy and steal our peace. I have experienced moments when God has given me wisdom and warning that if I had just listened, I would have avoided a lot of physical heartache. But more important is that if I had just listened to His promise that He is my safety and salvation, I would have avoided a lot of spiritual turmoil as well.


    God truly does have our best interests at heart. He is our calm in the midst of calamity, peace in the midst of chaos and joy in the midst of pain. Even when bad things happen to us, if we let Him, He keeps us “safe” from ourselves. He is the tornado shelter for our hearts that shields us from the winds of our fear and anger, the surveillance for our minds that keeps us safe from thinking we are in control and the burglar alarm for our souls that warns us of stolen joy or pilfered peace. It’s pretty amazing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to your life.” Mathew 6:33


    As I said, a lot has happened in our state and family that has messed with our perception of “safe”. And now that it has been a week since a first experience with the nature of people who don’t understand the concept of “this ain’t yours”, it has been hammered into my brain that when all is said and done, God is in control, God is the actual Justice and God is our protection from our own worst reactions. But I have to admit, in the dark recesses of my heart, I still catch myself hoping that those three men contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and are scared to death that they have the Black Plague or something!


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    But speaking of steps that you can take to better care for your family, I want to show you our wonderful, stainless steel Berkey water filter that I absolutey love. Isn’t it pretty?


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    When ordering a Berkey water filter, you have a choice of charcoal or ceramic filters, as well as special ones for arsenic and flouride. We’ve had this Royal Berkey, which holds a total of 3.25 gallons of water, for three years, and the spigot makes it so handy to just keep on the counter for a quick drink. We pour new water from our well into the top half with the filters once a day and enjoy the clearest, sweetest water you can imagine. They are a little pricey, but the filters last for years if cared for properly. We did the math and determined that in the long run, the Berkey was the better deal for water filters.


    So there’s my sales pitch. We don’t sell Berkeys or get a commission or even know anyone who sells the systems, so I can truthfully say that our endorsement is unbiased and for real!



    Happy Filtering!

    And Stay Safe!



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    Diary of A Tornado

    Wednesday, June 12th, 2013







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    Americans At Work





    It’s been three weeks since the mile wide, F4 tornado that swept through our community. It feels like it has been a year. Shockingly, in this short time, we’ve had so much help that some homes have been completely bulldozed off of foundations for new building to begin, roofs have been repaired on other homes along with all kinds of repairs, and piles and piles of debris have been neatly stacked in front of homes and properties for county pickup.


    The Sunday had started out hot and muggy. The wind had been blowing for two, straight days and it was so hard and so brisk that people looked around nervously and commented to each other, “I don’t like this. It doesn’t feel right out here.” The sky was clear and blue with big, puffy, cumulus clouds off in the distance.


    That afternoon, I was on the phone with a friend and Mr. Fix-It came in and said, “Grab your camera! Those weird kind of clouds are covering the sky!” I told my friend that I was going to take pictures of some clouds and she said, “Oh! Mike Morgan (the weatherman) is talking about those clouds right now!” I didn’t take the time to turn on the weather to see what kind of clouds these were for fear of losing a picture.


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    The whole sky was covered with what looked like a huge cluster of grapes. They gave an ominous feeling. Mr. Fix-It said, “This isn’t good. The last time we saw clouds like this was before a front that spawned tornadoes.” I felt weird inside. Something was nagging me that this day was going to be the day that we finally came face-to-face with the brutal force of a tornado. I had never experienced one of these twisters but had seen the aftermath of their devastation in the neighborhoods of friends. Somehow, our area had always been spared. In May of 1999, when the then largest tornado in history chugged its way through Moore, Oklahoma, I had been just south, in Norman, trying to make a getaway to get home, not knowing that two tornadoes were behind me. We made it to the cellar and those tornadoes lifted right over our area to set back down several miles behind us. We felt like we were blessed with protection. But this day…this day was different. There was a foreboding in the air.


    Our neighbors must have felt it too because my cell phone rang in the early afternoon and my neighbor, The Horse Lady, said in a timid and questioning voice, “I think it could be bad this evening. Can we come share your shelter?” She and her husband have two little girls. I told her to come if the sirens went off.


    At around 5 pm, our astute weathermen began warning that bad stuff was coming. We always keep our televisions tuned to the local stations when impending bad weather is possible. With their droned warnings in the background, I gathered up my laptop, a bag of goodies and water, my purse and a cloth bag with valuables that we would not want gone if the house was hit. All of these things went to the shelter where there is always a couple of lanterns, a battery operated fan, a battery operated radio and a backpack packed with a change of clothes for each of us, some jerky, dried fruit, copies of important papers, a first aid kit with bottles of our medications and toiletry items. The backpack would come in handy if we lost everything. Mr. Fix-It had cleaned the shelter, also known as a “fraidy hole” in Oklahoma, the month before, making sure that there were no spiders or other crawly things with which we’d have to share our space! We placed cat carriers at the back door, ready for Sway and Callie and little Ellie dog got dressed with a purple harness for a quick attachment of a leash. We continued our evening while keeping an eye on the television.


    At around 6:00 pm, Mike Morgan, the channel 4 weatherman, declared breathlessly that a storm with a tornado was headed our way. He showed a timeline of communities in the path and just then my phone rang and a friend asked frantically if I was watching the weather. She said, “You could be a direct hit.” I assured her that we were aware. I called The Horse Lady and told her to get her family over to the shelter. Mr. Fix-It and I loaded the cats into their carriers and put a leash on Ellie and got the animals situated in their temporary surroundings. At 6:15, sirens could be heard in the distance. I wondered where The Horse Lady and her family were. It was starting to rain.


    The Horse Lady and her husband and two girls suddenly appeared and came running through what was starting as quarter-sized hail. We helped them down into the shelter, little girls crying in fear, and got the door closed and bolted with the two, spring-loaded sliding bolts that slip into the concrete wall of the doorframe. It wasn’t long before texts on my cell phone started coming fast and furiously. We had lost all cell connection for voice, but for some reason, we could still get texts. My two dear friends were giving us blow-by-blow descriptions of what was happening outside our cozy, underground storm shelter and our children were wondering if we had made it to the shelter. I have never felt so at home in that place in my life!! I was ready to hang curtains! One friend managed to get through one last time by voice and I could tell she was upset. She lives in El Reno, Oklahoma, quite a distance away and she said she was trying hard to keep from crying because she could see what was headed our way. We could hear on the radio what she was seeing on the television.


    Suddenly, it got very quiet and then the wind started picking up. It felt heavy in the shelter and the wind began a low moan. The moan rose in pitch and became louder and higher and a strange whistle like a tea kettle whistling could be heard over the loud chugging of the wind. I can’t describe it any other way than it sounded like demons howling outside. And it just kept blowing and getting louder and louder. Mr. Fix-It and I glanced at each other as the two little girls sobbed in absolute terror. We exchanged an understanding look which indicated that we fully expected for there to be nothing left standing when we opened the door to our underground safe room. It seemed like the wind blew forever.


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    When it was obvious that the storm had passed, Mr. Fix-It unbolted the shelter door and peered out. I could see the back of our house. I was astonished. He came back down and whispered to me that all of our big trees were twisted messes and that the fence had been taken out. “Is that ALL??” I thought.


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    A piece of twisted tin lay in the side yard and another was wrapped high up in a tree – the remnants of somebody’s tin roof. Debris was scattered across the acreage, but it wasn’t debris from our buildings!! All were standing as pretty as you please. Later, we would find out that our roof was totaled, as was the guttering, and the garage door was damaged along with most of the window screens. But we thought at the time that the tornado must have missed our area after all. We were not prepared for what we would see of our neighbors.


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    This is the house and property directly behind us. It’s just a pile of rubble.



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    This is the next house to the east. The stick hanging in the foreground is what is left of a power pole.



    Everyone crawled out of the shelter and we could hear a woman behind us crying for help. She was trapped in the rubble of her home. People were already there to help get her out. Mr. Fix-It and I moved toward the main road where we saw neighbors gathering. All have acreages and so some were walking from a distance. The Horse Lady and her family saw that there was a hole in their roof and our neighbor across the road showed us that the entire back portion of his roof had been lifted of its shingles to the decking. The neighbor to our south had a big tree in the middle of their house. But it was directly behind us that stunned us. Not a single home was left standing along a two mile stretch beyond our home to the east and for a mile to our south. Everything was either gone or exploded. Miraculously, nobody was hurt or killed. Just a few miles from us, though, two people were not so lucky. They died as their mobile homes were swept up by the tornado and hurled into little heaps of crumpled metal.


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    This brand new home was finished just a few months ago. It was totally destroyed and has since been completely bulldozed off of the foundation.



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    Power lines were cut, poles were toppled or snapped in half and there was no electricity for miles.


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    But not to worry at our place. Mr. Fix-It in all his wisdom had installed a whole house generator this past Fall. It isn’t a huge one, but runs the well pump so that we have water, some lights, the little heat pump at the back of the house, as well as two window units that we have in the attic for emergencies. It also runs the refrigerator and freezer and washing machine. The generator runs on propane and uses very little of the stuff to operate. We have a wonderful Camp Chef propane cook stove and oven that Mr. Fix-It set up in the sun room for me to turn into my temporary kitchen. That home canned bacon, hamburger, chicken and soups sure came in handy!!


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    The sunroom can be shut off from the rest of the house by French doors and then the side panels of the back door and the windows can be opened to ventilate the carbon dioxide.


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    Devon Energy, the oil company, sent a semi load of supplies that arrived the next morning after the tornado.



    In the midst of all of this devastation, a blessing came in the most unexpected way. All of us in this area rubbed shoulders with the American spirit of neighbor helping neighbor from both near and far. I have truly never seen anything like it. Within 24 hours of our disaster, semi-truck loads of supplies, tools, tents, blankets, food, water, gatoraid and all kinds of necessities from private donors came rolling in to the little church that is just to our south. This tiny church became a hub of disaster relief activity without even planning! People just showed up! Trucks of supplies from all over the country brought their donations to that little house of God and the members and neighbors jumped in to work night and day to get things organized for victims.


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    U-Hauls, commercial trucks, pickups pulling trailers, flatbeds loaded with heavy equipment and even vans of workers waited in line to either unload their goods or to be assigned to a particular area to help with cleanup. On one day, there were volunteer vehicles from 37 different states!!


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    The first morning, canopies were set up in the church parking lot to cover tables where people in the area could register for help, supplies and anything else they might need. This was all privately organized!!


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    By day two, the church was overwhelmed with the generosity of Americans across the land. It was something to behold. A system was set up to provide meals for all of the people in the community who were trying to salvage what they could from their homes and Mr. Fix-It and I, as well as my friend and her daughter, jumped in with other teams to deliver those meals house to house. Mr. Fix-It and my friends and I averaged 130 meals a day for dinner or lunch. We also distributed paper towels, toilet paper, fruit, snacks, diapers, wipes, water and gatoraid. We saw other groups simply showing up at each location where homes were either gone or partially standing, just diving in to help with cleanup, tree cutting and stacking and sorting through belongings.


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    This particular neighborhood was especially hard hit. We delivered meals here and were amazed at the number of people from the east coast who had immediately loaded up, made the trip to Oklahoma and were already in place with bulldozers, backhoes and tractors, volunteering their time, money and equipment to help these people who had lost so much. We gave lunches to these workers and they were very grateful.


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    The church also provided three, hot meals a day for anyone who was able to make it to the church. However, much of our community was stranded at their homes because cars had been totally destroyed or swept away in the winds. The church is continuing to provide meals now, three weeks later.


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    And in the middle of it all, the sound of chainsaws, the crackling fires, smell of smoke and the roar of heavy equipment has been our night and day experience. I even heard a chainsaw on our property and was surprised to find my brother-in-law, who had come all the way from Earlsboro, without asking, cutting up our twisted and destroyed trees so that Mr. Fix-It wouldn’t have to do it all himself. You gotta love everyday, plain folk Americans!!! When things need doing, they “gitter done!”



    This was shot just over from our place, pointed toward our place, just as the tornado was passing over. It is because storm chasers, like this person, risk their lives that we get these images and information on how better to respond to tornadoes.




    Yay America!



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    Quoth The Raven Part II

    Saturday, April 6th, 2013







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    Note:

    Don’t forget to leave comment to enter this month’s giveaway. This set of canning utensils is going to somebody’s home!! Better sign up before April 15th or you will miss out on your chance!


    As you remember in part one, we had arrived at a log cabin from the late 1700′s, where we were to stay, and I was not a happy camper.


    We unloaded the car, put Ellie in her crate and found our way to the retirement community to see my parents. Their home is lovely and the community is amazing. We were shocked to see this jewel in such a tiny town and I understood why my mom and dad had chosen this place to put down new roots. But this knowledge did not erase the heaviness that I was feeling.


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    I dreaded heading back to the cabin, however, we finally did and I fell, exhausted into the twin bed nearest the floor lamp. The only way that we could turn that light off, was to unscrew the light bulbs, however, the rest of the lights and the lighted Christmas tree stayed on all night. I was too tired to care.


    At one o’clock in the morning, Mr. Fix-It was frantically calling my name and I groggily asked what was wrong. “You have to get out of here and into the parlor. Take Ellie with you. We have wasps.” Finally awake, I could see wasps pinging back and forth against the ceiling, like in a pinball machine, and diving into the lighted table lamp across from my bed. Now, I must insert here that I am extremely allergic to wasps. I don’t just swell up like a balloon. No. My throat and tongue become alien objects, my hair tries to crawl off of my head, my ears and throat feel like I’m the fire eater on the circus side show and never mind the crazy heartbeat, the hives on hives have me imitating Job from the Bible. And I had no epi-pen. So, I vamoosed, in my PJs, to the parlor, fully aware that the people upstairs might come down at any moment to see what was going on.


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    I could hear Mr. Fix-It slamming the wall with what turned out to be a 1991 copy of Better Homes and Gardens (yep – 1991) that was lying on the dresser. He killed a number of wasps and declared the coast was clear. I crawled back into bed. The next morning, Mr. Fix-It had me out of the room again and attacked another round of wasps with a vengeance. They were coming from a gap between the ceiling and the log wall next to my bed and seemed attracted by the heat (evidently the heat had not been turned on for awhile) as well as the light of the table lamp. My hubby decided that we would trade beds to put me on the far side of the room. He admitted that the mattress on his bed had a tendency to slide due to the unlevel bed and the slope of the floor and that he had nearly rolled off a couple of times during the night. Oh well. At least I would not be so close to all of the wasps. I could see that it was raining cats and dogs outside. It was Sunday and we were to go to church with my parents – in the pouring rain – and after getting little sleep. I was NOT in a good mood.


    I had to fully dress in order to head to the bathroom to take a shower (didn’t want to embarrass our upstairs neighbors if they decided to appear). I turned on the little space heater and shivered as I started the water in the big, extra tall, clawfoot tub. It was then that I discovered that the door to the bathroom did not lock nor did it shut very well. I leaned against it and got it to close and then contemplated how I was going to crawl over the sides of that tub without killing myself or spraying water all over the room. It was one of those moments where you turn one way, then another, start to lift one foot, then the other and come close to freaking out in a feeling of total helplessness. I finally sat on the narrow, curved side and slid down into the tub, butt first, crawled to a kneeling position and then carefully pulled up to a standing position. The nice, warm, strong stream of water was a relief and I had a moment of bliss. That is…until I opened the curtain to a steamy room, reached for my towel, stepped out of the tub and suddenly realized that the door was standing wide open with a view of my glorious, dripping, gray headed body for all to see in the entry way! I dove to shut shut the door, grasping my towel with one hand and sat on the closed commode, laughing myself silly. I could hear Mr. Fix-It swatting more wasps. Our situation seemed utterly ridiculous. I figured that I would call the manager after church.


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    And then we got to the church in the pouring rain. It was one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. Sparkling white siding with stained glass windows, a bell steeple and gabled roof – the scene was like a picture back from 1800’s Kentucky – with cars. Inside was bright and cheerful on that dreary day and everyone was so friendly. In one, short year, these people – and this church had people of all ages: children, young people, young marrieds, elderly – had embraced my parents and were excited to meet the daughter.


    I was amazed at the quiet reverence of the sanctuary. People were not visiting. They were very quiet, reading scripture, praying perhaps, but all was very respectful. The minister gave the most amazing sermon and the music…oh the music…it was absolutely gorgeous. There was a tiny brass section, an organ, a piano and handbells. The instruments simply graced the singing with musical undertones while the voices of the congregation nearly blew the roof off of the building. At one point, the music minister stopped the instruments and the congregation sang, in parts mind you, a cappella, to a beautiful hymn. I had goosebumps. I have not heard that kind of singing in a very long time and teared up because it was so wonderful and moving. Two young people did a piece on the handbells and I was worn out just watching them. The whole experience was so worshipful that I realized that God had taken my focus off of myself and my feelings and had planted it squarely back on Him and His blessings. It was a turn around moment.


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    Notice the wasp spray on the dresser?



    After a grand lunch at my parents’, spent with them, my sister, and a cousin and her family whom I had not seen in years, I reported the wasp dilemma to the manager and she called the owner to remedy the situation. He showed up at our cabin room door and introduced himself. I was delighted to find him to be a fellow artist who was eager to share his craft with me and the history of the cabin with the two of us. We got a complete tour and he left us with a can of Hot Shot wasp spray and a fly swatter. Yep. He did. There was no other room available.


    The next morning, I got up and made another stab at the shower, only this time I put my toiletry case in front of the door to hold it closed. I was grateful for the space heater because it was exceedingly cold and I even felt a little at home as I dressed for the day in that little room.


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    When I trundled back to the bedroom, through the old parlor, Mr. Fix-It was grinning and told me to look out of the window. A heavy layer of snow covered the ground and the whole farm was a white wonderland. The cabins, with the Christmas candle lights in the windows, stood out against the glistening snow and I knew that I had to grab my camera. It snowed all day and night and all day the next day. It was beautiful. The cabin seemed warm and cozy when we returned from my parents’ home, in spite of the difficult front door and the wasps appearing every so often to be stunned with bug spray and then swatted. I felt transported back to Daniel Boone’s “Old Kaintuck”. We curled up with hot tea to watch a movie and then drifted off to sleep.


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    We left that snowy, quiet little town around 1 pm the following day, a tearful good-bye to my parents who live so very far away from Oklahoma. But I came away with a peace that God has them in His right hand and that they are where they are happy, healthy, active and welcome. We met many lovely people, including the manager and the owner of the bed and breakfast, and I no longer feel like I will be visiting my parents in a strange place.


    And I kind of miss that cabin!!



    Happy Traveling!



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    Quoth The Raven

    Friday, April 5th, 2013







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    Adventures In Traveling


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    Note:

    Don’t forget to leave comment to enter this month’s giveaway. This set of canning utensils is going to somebody’s home!! Better sign up before April 15th or you will miss out on your chance!


    ~~~



    I figure that since most people are too busy for soap operas on tv anymore, but almost everybody sits at a computer, I would offer an Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ soap opera for your enjoyment. It’s too long a story to put into one post and so you will get two installments – one today and one tomorrow. Will there be a happy endng? Stay tuned for…da da da (that’s organ chords)…The Old And The Feckless!


    Isn’t it funny how we get it into our heads how something is supposed to be, get all bent out of shape when it isn’t that way at all and then God provides a whole new direction that puts us all back together in contentment? I had that experience last week and I thought that I would share the adventure.


    Mr. Fix-It and I took a trip – a long trip! It started out heading to Georgia where Mr. Fix-It did some training to remind him that computers, his life’s chosen vocation, never work the way that they were intended. He’s just not as technologically savvy as I am. I know that the squirrels running the machine are simply out looking for nuts. Anyway, I took the opportunity to visit my uncle for the first time since my aunt’s death in December. It was a wonderful visit with much laughter and ample reminiscing.


    And then we went north to Kentucky. Now, Kentucky is beautiful and it is a wonderful state, but I was a little bummed about the trip to the place because we had to go through the mountainous part of East Tennessee where my parents had lived up until a year ago and where I grew up…and we didn’t stop…because my parents aren’t there anymore. I was sad. My mom and dad sold their house and had moved to a retirement community in a town in Kentucky that I had never heard of before and which was not ‘home’. When we got off of I-75 to wind our way to the town on narrow roads carved into the sides of huge bluffs (with no guard rails) and which narrowed down to one lane bridges in a number of places, I felt heavier and heavier. We were in the middle of nowhere and I was looking for the dueling banjos. “What were they thinking?” I asked myself.


    It was nearly dark when we arrived in their tiny town…and I do mean tiny. There are no fast food restaurants, only one gas station, a Dollar General Store (nope – no WalMart) and one grocery store. I had made reservations at a bed and breakfast (one of several) where the manager was kind enough to allow our little Ellie dog to join us in our room. The manager had informed me over the phone that we would be staying in a log cabin where the owner had a cat and so a little, long-haired dachshund would be no problem. We stopped at the main home of the two-part B&B, met the manager and found out that the cabin, we would call home for several days, was outside of town. We were to follow her car to the location.


    It felt like we drove forever, but that is always the case when one does not know where one is going. Off of a main highway, we came to a drive that led a long way down into a “holler” to a picture perfect sight of two, big, authentic Kentucky log cabins. I calculated their ages as it was revealed to us that they were built before Kentucky became a state. 1792 was that year – George Washington was president and Daniel Boone was a resident of the state! Wow.


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    But my heart sank as we carefully navigated the flagstone walkway that just begged me to be my usual, accident-prone self and climbed the stairs to an uneven porch and to an old, front door. “Now you have to work really fast to get the front door to unlock,” we were told as the manager unlocked a single knob with no deadbolt lock. “Just shove the key in and turn quickly. If you are timid about it, you won’t get it to unlock. Oh, and be sure that you really jam the door shut and double check that it has closed.” There was a note taped to a door pane that ordered, “Please make sure the door is closed.” The obstinate door creaked open and we stepped into a dark entry way, lighted only by an old, opaque globe with a light inside, showing off the various countries of long ago.


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    First, we were shown our bathroom. The door to the bathroom opened out into the dark entrance where any other guest would walk right past. I was relieved to find out that it was our personal bathroom, but the privacy was definitely wanting. Inside the bathroom was an old claw foot bathtub with circular curtain and old shower assembly. A tiny space heater provided the only heat. We then went into the parlor to the left of the bathroom and I felt like I had walked into an Edgar Allen Poe story. The boards of the floor (original) creaked and sank under the weight of our steps and ancient furniture, books and multiple stuffed animals were strategically placed around an old fireplace on a wall that was obviously uneven, old, painted plaster. Electric Christmas candles in the windows and a floor lamp in the corner offered dim lighting, and a large collection of crucifixes adorned the mantel and hearth. I was looking for the raven quoting, “Nevermore.” A narrow door of vertical boards, held together by a couple of cross boards and painted with enamel paint opened to a narrow set of stairs that led to the rooms upstairs which were occupied by another couple of visitors.


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    The door to our room was the same type of door, but wider. It was a little lopsided so that there was a gap between the door frame and the top of the door when closed. The doorknob was the old, metal enamel type with no lock. When opened, the door revealed a large room with three chinked log walls and one plaster one, a set of twin beds on a floor that sloped enough to mess with your equilibrium and a very large, lighted Christmas tree in the corner.


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    That tree, along with a floor lamp, a set of electric Christmas candles in the window, a dim table lamp and a collection of strange, lighted plaster art on the mantel of a huge fireplace, served as the lighting for the room. In other words, it felt like we would be living by kerosene lantern light. The bed that would be Mr. Fix-It’s had one leg leveled by a wooden block. There was a television. And there was a light switch on the wall, but we were cautioned that the light switch would turn off everything, including the space heater and it was cold!


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    Because there were no electrical outlets, a maze of extension cords and spike bars crisscrossed the corners of the room and over the mantle. A large extension cord dangled from the mantel to be used for a space heater on the hearth. Mr. Fix-It surveyed the electrical nightmare with horror. I just looked around in dismay at the very weird room. By this point, I was really depressed…(and with that, I will leave this to be continued tomorrow!!)



    Happy Traveling??!!



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    Celebrating A Life

    Wednesday, November 28th, 2012







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    A Life To Celebrate


    I’m listening to saved messages on my cell phone. Do you ever save the voice messages of the ones you love? I do. I don’t know why. I just do. And so, I just pulled up the latest message that I have from my dear Aunt Lois. I listened and laughed, through tears. “Heh girl. It’s your little old aunt, who lives in a little old house on a little old lot (my uncle’s voice says something in the background) – with a little old man he says! Well, you’re SUPPOSED to be available when I call. I’m not sure what to do with this!”


    Yesterday was the funeral for my precious Aunt Lois Wyrick. On Saturday, she died suddenly while having breakfast with the love of her life, my uncle, at their regular Saturday restaurant. The news was a shock to us all. Nobody is ever prepared for that kind of suddeness. She was 88 years young with a sharp wit, crystal clear memory and the will to go square dancing, though her body said, “I don’t THINK so”.


    Aunt Lois was an inspiration, an encourager, a teacher – the epitome of the strong, southern woman. She mentored many a young woman, always ready with a scripture and a life lesson. I was one of those women. She and I spent hours on the phone, and cheek to cheek when Mr. Fix-It and I would make the long trek to Georgia, discussing faith and life always with humor and laughter. She embraced our little Ellie dog and always asked if we were bringing her to entertain her. Ellie would lay at her feet, or at the feet of my uncle, and wait for a word from either one of them so she could pound her tail in appreciation.


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    Aunt Lois, Uncle Ed and Me



    Aunt Lois walked with me at a very tough time in my life and held counseling sessions with me from 850 miles away. She encouraged me to start my business and had not a few brilliant ideas. She gave me my first huge order and gushed over the presentation of the packaging. She always made me feel like I could do anything and that whatever I did and do is important. She let me know that she was proud of me and of the older woman I have become.


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    My aunt and I were partners in crime at antiquing. My poor uncle followed meekly behind us, clutching his wallet in fear. My aunt fostered my love of antique, cobalt blue glassware and had a collection that she proudly displayed in front of a window, so that it cast beams of blue across the room in the morning sun. Our personal contest was to proudly find the best bargain of the century and then convince each other that life would never be the same if one or the other did not purchase the item and carry it home, to the chagrin of our husbands. I would talk her into pieces of crystal that she would purchase for her crystal collection from which she always gifted many brides who were fortunate to benefit from Aunt Lois’ good taste. I also talked her into a dining room suite that was purchased for her granddaughter’s new home. That furniture wasn’t much to look at, but when the granddaughter got hold of it and plied the hereditary artistic eye of her mom and grandmother, that suite took on a new appearance which graced the dining room with beauty. Aunt Lois talked me into a set of hand cut stemware that I have treasured for years.


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    Of course, she – with her sense of humor – most recently talked me into another set of stemware which I’m thinking is a source of laughter for her now. I am at a loss at what to do with these things.


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    A prolific writer, Aunt Lois shared my love of writing and I have posted some of her writing here, as well as our experiences shared on our many trips to their home. She wrote for a Georgia publication and included some of my writing and experiences in her pieces. Between my aunt and my dad, who also has a gift of the word, I feel that I have been left a legacy of family history that assures that generations will always know the roots, the heritage, the stories and the humor of our varied and colorful family tree. There is no greater gift than written memories passed on from generation to generation.


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    I could write so much more, but suffice it to say that my aunt was well-loved and most admired. As I wrote on Facebook , “She accepted me lock, stock and barrel, warts and all. She loved me and encouraged me to not be afraid to make a leap of faith. She lovingly supported me in my walk with Christ, creating a bond of faith between us that gives me no doubt that she is having those discussions with Christ right now!!…Though I rejoice that Aunt Lois is at peace with God, is whole and not infirm anymore and knows the true peace and joy that we, as Christians, look forward to with yearning, I am still heartbroken and sad for her family, especially Uncle Ed, and for me, because a vibrant part of our lives is now missing.”


    Aunt Lois’ message on my phone ends with this: “Hope things are well. I love you much, honey. Bye”…..I love you too, Aunt Lois. Bye for now.



    Live Life Well



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    On This Day, Remember

    Tuesday, September 11th, 2012







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    My Thoughts On

    The Matter



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    September 11, 2001 is a day which none of us, as Americans, will ever forget. And the main thing with which we must come away is that our faith is in God – not in our government, not in our security systems, not in our first responders, not in anything except God, for without Him, all of the rest is just flawed human effort. There is a scripture that has been used on this day in speeches by politicians and is even engraved on the beam at the NYC memorial. It is Isaiah 9:10 which states: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the sycamore trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” as a defiant statement to the world that we will not be crushed. Unfortunately, those who quote this scripture have not read what precedes this verse, especially the line just prior: “…who say with PRIDE and ARROGANCE OF HEART, ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild…etc’ ” This scripture is God’s word against the nation that turns from Him toward their own strength and resolve without Him. Today is the day that we must kneel before God, thank Him for His power and glory, repent and seek His guidance and mercy instead of showing the world steely resolve in our own strength. Isaiah 8:13 seems more appropriate: “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to respect; he is the one you are to dread and he will be a sanctuary.”



    Pray For Our Nation



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    The Reality of Fire

    Wednesday, August 8th, 2012







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    Fires Continue


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    First off, don’t forget to comment to enter our newest giveaway for this heavy, heavy, marble and wooden rolling pin and package of a Made In Oklahoma mix to roll out! Winner will be announced Labor Day weekend.


    As many of you have experienced yourselves, or have heard on television, Oklahoma, and its neighboring states, is experiencing severe drought. Our food prices are going to go up, I assure you. The corn crop is steadily worsening and that means higher meat prices this winter. We got a teasing of rain yesterday, but it was only just enough to remind us that we do have windshield wipers on the cars and that multiple 110º – 113º days basically disentegrates them to flopping, rubber, uselessness for rain.


    Here, at the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ acreage, the drought has reminded us that crops can be the least of our worries. With dying cedar trees, grass that crunches and a lack of water, some traveler’s cigarette butt or heat from a car muffler can turn this land into a horror movie. Such was the case this last week. A little over six miles from us, on Thursday, a fire started that became a three day inferno of Hollywood proportions. Over 100 homes and buildings were burned and, tragically, one person was unable to leave their house in time to avoid the flames. Ash rained down on our area and smoke filled the air. Everyone held their breath that no ash was hot enough to travel and start a new fire this direction.


    Firefighters from many Oklahoma towns converged on the Cleveland county fire, while battling other fires across the state as well. There have been plenty. Things like this have to remind us of what is important. It doesn’t matter how well you have planned and saved, it can all be gone in the blink of an eye. We have no guarantees that life will be smooth. But hearing the people talk who have lost their homes here is just such an inspiration. One man and his son had to make a dive into their pond to avoid being caught in the flames. Their home and buildings were destroyed. With a huge grin, showing sparkling, white teeth, the father simply thanked God and chuckled. He was grateful to be alive and felt that everything else could be replaced. Below, I just thought I’d give you a picture of what it looks like here right now. Not really all that pretty.


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    This is some of our pastureland two weeks ago. You can imagine what the weeks of triple digit temps have done to it now!!


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    The grass is dying and leaving bare spots. Very little green is left.


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    The sumac trees that make for amazing Fall foliage are wilted and dying. I don’t think that they will make it to Fall.


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    Even with Mr. Fix-It trying to keep everything watered, we are losing precious trees. This gargantuan Silver Maple is curling up. Mr. Fix-It is working hard to try to save it.


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    Photo from News Channel 4 at KFOR.com



    This is a picture of the fire nearest to the OPC™ digs.


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    From KFOR.com



    Another fired burned at the same time, north.


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    From KROR.com



    While other fires rage on in other parts of the state.


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    I have discovered something in this hot-as-the-Sahara summer. Even with drought and all, periwinkles are miracle plants for the flower garden. I am now in love with periwinkles. It doesn’t matter if it’s 109º for a week in a row with just the bit of water that Mr. Fix-It can offer them to drink every so many days, the periwinkles seem to say, “Bring it on!! We’ll show you!!” and not only continue to bloom, but spread their foliage and blossoms in the meantime. I’m calling them my “drought flowers.” God has a way of giving us color and beauty within the desert to remind us that He is still in control!!!


    If you would like to donate to help victims of these fires, you can do so at the Central Oklahoma Red Cross website.



    Stay Safe!



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    The Final Episode

    Thursday, June 21st, 2012





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    A Soap Opera

    Part III?


    For the past two days, I have been posting about my experiences with the medical community and autoimmune diseases. I am hoping that it reaches one person who can use it in their search for answers. Today is the last post on this subject and I will get back to normal stuff!!


    If you will remember, I ended the last post on a good note, thinking that all was cured and life was going to go back to normal. One might think that would have been the end of it. But no – there was much more to come. Within three months, my heart was racing, I was nervous, I chattered like a Magpie (I only chatter like a Mockingbird, normally) and I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, without the cape! I was hyperthyroid and getting more and more hyper by the day. A second endocrinologist took one look and said, “I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t know that much about Hashimoto’s, but I’ve never seen anything like this!” That gave me great confidence in how my dollars were being spent and I opted for a third opinion. Endo number three determined that Endo number one had misdiagnosed me and that I actually had Graves Disease and not Hashimoto’s. I asked if one could have both. I have to admit here that I had done enough internet research to know that in rare cases, it is possible. This doctor declared, “Impossible!! They are mutually exclusive!!” He never called me to set up tests and never returned my calls to attempt to set up tests and so I figured that was another copay down the drain and that I didn’t want him either!


    It was at this point that I suppose I needed abuse to go on top of everything because I made an appointment with my cardiologist, in hopes that he would refer me to a young woman at OU Medical Center whose research on hyperthyroidism had intrigued me. I found her on the internet. Yes I did. In big, blue letters next to her name, the website indicated that she had only been in practice for 8 YEARS, like a warning to run from this sweet, young doctor wannabe. I was not deterred.


    My visit with the cardiologist began with the normal salutations and he asked me to give a synopsis of my concerns. I synopted and then made the mistake of saying, “I have been doing some of my own research on the internet and have read the book, “Hope For Hashimoto’s” when he looked at the ceiling and said – I kid you not – “Oh God help us!!” He lit into me like the Tasmanian Devil on Bugs Bunny only with gray hair and a stethoscope. Evidently, according to him, I am the kind of patient who wants to treat myself and looks things up on the internet to tell doctors what they need to be doing instead of just trusting them to take care of everything. According to him, I am a doctor hopper who doesn’t get the diagnosis I want and just goes to the next one because I have already determined my treatment. So what if the doctor is inappropriate, or admits ignorance or doesn’t even bother to set up tests? I should have just been satisfied to accept things as they are. He ended his tirade with, “STAY OFF THE INTERNET!!!”


    I reacted in the way that most women react. I’d like to tell you that I stood up, put my hands on my hips and told him that he was a jerk. I’d like to say that I grabbed my belongings and told him to take a flying leap. But I didn’t. I did what so many women do when they are mad – I cried. And I didn’t just cry. I hiccup cried. I sobbed. I told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about and that sometimes patients have really good reasons for seeking multiple opinions. He blew me off. He told me my heart would be fine, in spite of the high thyroid numbers, that I have Hashimoto’s Disease and that it is not possible to have both Hashi’s and Graves. He assumed that I was wanting a new endocrinologist and hinted that his desire was for me to see his friend of 30 years. I requested the sweet, young thing at OU and he balked. He explained that she had not been a doctor very long. I said that was fine. He said that his friend had been a doctor for very long. I said I didn’t care. He sighed and made the appointment. Then he walked out the door with a last, “Stay off the internet” admonition. I might add here that a few days later I wound up at the ER with Afib and a heart rate of 165 beats per minute, requiring Cardioversion which is basically shocking your heart back into reality. So he was wrong on that count too. I was sorely tempted for the ER doctor to add a note at the bottom of the charts to my cardiologist that said, “She checked on the internet and determined that her heart rate was too fast!!” But that would have been disrespectful…..


    I have now seen the young doctorette. She is awesome. She is kind, soft-spoken, well-educated and decisive in her observations. She explains in detail and lays out a plan. And she follows through! She even called me at home one morning to give me an update. Her diagnosis? That I have the autoimmune disease that presents itself as BOTH Hashimoto’s and Graves Diseases with both types of antibodies. I’m not nuts after all!!! So, bam, bam, bam, she has set up a million tests that have been taken, meds have been prescribed and I will also be doing a 10 day radiation treatment on my eyes for Thyroid Eye Disease in hopes of nipping that in the bud. It has been a long, long trip, but I feel like I’ve reached a destination point. This will be a life-long battle with my body, but I feel like I now have an advocate who will join with me in the fight.


    So don’t be afraid to take responsibility for your own health. Nobody cares about you as much as you do – except for God and He has given you the tools to make good decisions that lead you to better care. A great doctor is amazing, but, as in every profession, there are some not so great ones and you don’t have to be satisfied with not so great. I hope that you can gain something from my experiences. It will have been well worth it, then!!


    And I promise to do a demonstration post next!!



    Blessed Healing!



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