Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I have so much to be thankful for.  God’s good grace is the first on my list.  He has given me my family and my health and they're always in my prayers of thankfulness. I thank Him for all that I am, all that I do, and all that I have. With that said, the following list is a little more light-hearted.  Enjoy!

1 I am thankful for my sense of humor.  I like silly things that play on words.

2. I am thankful for music... including disco.

3. I am thankful for science fiction - and thanks to my book club girls, the opportunity to read any and every genre.

4.  I am thankful for nature and for every time I have the privilege of walking along an ocean.

5.  I am thankful for arts and crafts, even though I'm pretty bad at it, I enjoy the camaraderie of my artsy friends and the creative process.

6.  This year, and every year, I am thankful for The United States of America, the  greatest country on earth.

7. I am thankful for abundance.

Give thanks for all you have.
Ask for strength when you're in need.
Help others.
Be kind to yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tree Love

Tree Love

We lost a tree this weekend.  Last week we had high winds that blew everything that was not nailed down, far and wide.  Our tree was one of them, although, technically, it was “nailed down.”
The ornamental pear tree in our backyard was small in tree standards, but rather big for an ornamental tree. About a quarter of the tree broke off and landed neatly in our yard between the house and the fence. Thankfully, no damage was done to either structure.  After we cleaned up the downed part of our tree, it was obvious that the rest would have to be taken down as well.  I didn’t want to admit it. We planted that little tree ourselves. I so wanted to keep that tree, but even I could see that in the next big wind event we probably wouldn’t be so lucky.  The house and the fence were likely targets for airborne logs. So, this past weekend, my husband and his buddy (is that the right word? buddy?) took the rest of the tree out with the help of our son-in-law and his buddy (dude friend?).

Sad me looking out at our tree.
Nothing left but a sad stump and some saw dust.

Last week I could look right into the middle branches of that tree from my office window on the second story of our home.  For many, many years I looked out this window at the top of that tree.  Then, in just the blink of an eye, it seems, it suddenly towered over our house!
Today the space behind our house looks so naked.  It’s just stark.  A couple of summers ago we put a swing in that tree for our eldest granddaughter.  (Both granddaughters are waiting for Papa to fix the tree swing, however we don’t have another tree that could support it.) That tree provided great shade for our deck, a home for birds and, much to our dog’s indignation, a jungle gym for squirrels.
Funny how attached you can get to a tree. I don’t think there is any other plant that elicits people’s emotions quite like trees do.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honoring My Vets this Veteran’s Day

I come from a long line of veterans.  I’m proud of that fact.

My grandfather, Wesley V. Hill, as a young man, served as a medic in World War I.  He was a father of four and 35 years old when he enlisted in the Army during World War II. His job was to run supplies to troops through Iran and other areas of the Middle East. 

To say that every American served in WWII would be an understatement. The home-front did more than its fair share.
My Grandfather, W.V. Hill, directly behind the sign.

My dad, Donald J. Hill enlisted in the Air Force and served in the Korean War.  He was a radar man and an electronics genius. 
My dad, Donald J. Hill, at his post.
Written, in his own hand, on the back of this photo:
"Do I look worried?"
My dad has (had) four brothers. They all served in the military.  William Hill, Robert Hill, Vernon Hill.
My uncle Bill (William) Hill on the left, having a beer with his cousin.
And dad’s youngest brother, Terry Hill, was drafted and sent to Viet Nam. My mom’s youngest brother, Jerry Bacon, was also drafted and served in the Viet Nam War.  As a child, I remember sending cassette tapes of our family’s everyday conversations and of us singing songs and telling stories to my uncles.  We wrote letters and sent pictures to them.  We did everything we could to help them know they were always in our minds and hearts.

After the Viet Nam War, we had a short span of “peace.”  Babies born between say, 1969 and 1979ish were free from The Draft and Selective Service Enrollment.  But that “Peace Time” was profoundly short-lived.

August 1990.  I watched the president’s speech on TV as the Gulf War was declared.  I realized then that our sunny life in American was about to change.  It was feasible that my then four-year-old son could possibly, more than likely, have to go to war when he grew up.  Remember, I grew up during the Viet Nam war. It was a twenty year war. I was distraught over this declaration of war. I cried and held tight to my baby boy.

September 11, 2001.  Al-Qaeda. Taliban. Osama BinLadin. War on Terror. The Taliban.

Our daughter was in her third year of college when she brought home a young man.  Ma’am and Sir were frequently used words in his world. Phil, ROTC at the University of Iowa; he was THE ONE.  When he graduated from college he would be a commissioned Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He was (and is) a proud American serving his county.  Shortly after he and my daughter were married, he was called up to serve in Afghanistan.  We all breathed easier when he got back home. 
My daughter and her Lt.

My nephew, Jacob served on the front lines Afghanistan.  Our family rallied to make sure he and his family knew they were in our thoughts and prayers the whole time he was deployed. Again, we all breathed easier when he got back home. 
Jacob saying good bye to his wife.

I thank God for my veterans.  I thank my veterans for my county.  God Bless America.
The Bill of Rights
Our legacy. Our fight. Our power.

Below you will find several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation. 



·         Freedom to express yourself.

·         Freedom to worship as you wish.

·         Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.

·         Right to vote in elections for public officials.

·         Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.

·         Right to run for elected office.

·         Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

·         Support and defend the Constitution.

·         Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.

·         Participate in the democratic process.

·         Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.

·         Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.

·         Participate in your local community.

·         Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.

·         Serve on a jury when called upon.

·         Defend the country if the need should arise.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Making Curtains- Making Mistakes- Life’s “Do Overs”


This past couple of weeks I have updating my fifteen year old bathroom d├ęcor.  I’ve been stripping wall paper, washing walls, light fixtures, and switch plates.  I painted everything with two coats of  a soothing foggy gray. (I think it gives the room a spa-ish feel.)  On Saturday, I sat down to make curtains. Yes, you read that correctly.  Me… making curtains.   I’m no Becky Home-Ecky by a long shot.  (No offense to my Becky friends, or my home-ecky ones, either.)  I don’t even own a sewing machine.  I had to borrow one from my daughter, who has two of them.  (I don’t know where she gets her home  ec. talents.)

On a side, but related note, I had planned to do this project last winter.  I went out shopping for new curtains to help me make my paint color decisions.  If you have a bathroom with windows, and you've shopped for curtains, you know how this tale ends.  Bathroom.Curtains.No.Longer.Exist!  So I asked my Facebook friends for advice.  The resounding answer was: “Make your own curtains.”  YIKES!  And that’s how this project didn’t happen last winter…

Anyhow, I am not without skills.  I took the required home economics in seventh grade, so I know some sewing basics.  Also, over the years, I have created a few projects with the use of a sewing machine. This project was not hard, just not my cup of tea.

So, knowing I had to make my own curtains, I went shopping for just the right material. I found a shower curtain that I liked so I purchased two of them for my curtain fabric.  The shower curtain fabric had a horizontal stripe, but I wanted a vertical stripe, so I turned it sideways and got to work. I finished the curtains for the first window; two panels and one valance in just a few hours. 

When I put them on a rod and held them up to the window, I realized that the panels were an inch or two shorter than what I wanted.  Maybe I could just move the curtain rod down a little? Also, I chose to use the “factory hem” instead of doing my own.  That was not the best decision because the factory hem didn’t always follow the grain of the fabric and I had to cheat a little to make it all work. My final problem was that my stripes didn’t match up.  The gray stripe on the valance was on my left, and because I had turned the shower curtain to use its side seam as my hem, the panels had the gray stripe on my right.  This would not do at all!

Life is like making curtains.  Sometimes you screw up.  Sometimes without even realizing it until it’s too late. I thought about running to the store to get another shower curtain so that I could re-make the curtains better.  How much easier would life be if we could have ‘do-overs’?   Like when I’ve said something hurtful, or made a bad decision, or didn’t pay attention when I should have.  But would our lives really be better? Would our relationships stronger? Would we be thoughtful problem solvers?

Would we be less humble and more reckless with our thoughts, our actions, our words?

We’ve all had moments when we wished we could just have a do over.  For the most part we can’t.  And really, as much as it may burn, this is one way we grow and learn and become a better person. Right?

As for the curtains, well.  They’re just going to be a little too short. And, because I learned from my mistakes, I made sure the curtains I made for the second window flip-flopped in pattern.  Now the valance of the first set of curtains match the panels of the second set of curtains and vice versa.  I’ve created matching sets – although not matching curtains. Such is life. Now it’s time to hang  ‘em up and move on.