Farrah Fawn?

April 13, 2009 | My Jottings

When I was almost seventeen years old, I got engaged. It was a very unwise thing to do, but that is another blog post for another time. So then I got married when I was eighteen, in a little mining town called Rough and Ready, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I really thought I knew what I was doing back then. Today at age fifty-one, I look back on the common sense I was obviously lacking and all I can say is “Oh brother. What was I thinking?”

As most young women do when they’re daydreaming about marriage and the ruffled kitchen curtains and strawberries and cream for breakfast and sunbeams waking them each morning to (gasp!) yet another day of love, I dreamed of someday having children. And I even thought ahead to the beautiful names we would choose for our offspring.

For a whole year, even though we didn’t have plans to start a family right away, I was certain that if my first child was a girl I would name her Farrah Fawn. Yes, you heard it here first. Farrah. Farrah Fawn. While living in a three-room trailer on the banks of the winding Yuba River in Smartville, California, I doodled the name Farrah Fawn L____, Farrah Fawn L____. Apparently the famous Farrah was at the height of her famousness during this time, and the name had crept into my brain as a good choice for my first daughter. I was never a fan of “Charlie’s Angels” nor of deer. I repeat, what was I thinking? Today they say the adult brain isn’t fully developed until the age of twenty-five, and I think my little foray into weirdness with the name Farrah Fawn is good evidence of that.

During that first year of marriage I was far away from my home town and from the family and friends I had taken for granted, and I had a lot of time on my hands. It certainly didn’t take long to clean three small rooms in a trailer that measured eight feet wide by forty-eight feet long. And panning for gold on the Yuba lost its luster when the few flecks we found were smaller than DNA. We had two dogs that kept me company while my military husband went to his military job each day. One pooch was a stout-bodied little Schnauzer named Prissy; the other was a massive and tangled canine mop — an Old English Sheepdog named Amy. I learned to cook Pepper Steak and Rice — something I’d never eaten in my life, but a dish my husband loved. I read John Steinbeck. I got my first sewing machine and started making my clothes. I listened to Fleetwood Mac on our stereo. And I doodled the name Farrah Fawn on sheets of notebook paper, picturing how absolutely perfect that name would be for our first daughter, if we should ever be so blessed.

Well, we were so blessed. And thank God for small miracles, because I came to my senses and abandoned the harebrained idea of naming my first child (who did turn out to be a beautiful daughter) Farrah Fawn. Instead we opted for something less trendy, less alliterative. Something a little old-fashioned, something classic and feminine, easy to spell and pronounce, but not too common. We named our first child Sharon Lindsay.

Today she is a thirty-something young woman with a great husband we love, and three precious children under the age of seven. She’s over six feet tall, is an LFW, and thankfully doesn’t look like a coy and mane-tossing Farrah Fawn at all. She is lovely, and she looks like a Sharon. She used to teach high school, then started her own business which is doing well. She calls me almost every day and we have to exchange the minutiae of our lives or it just doesn’t seem right. She knows she can tell me something off-the-wall that made her laugh, and that I will get it. We are alike in many ways, and also so very different.

Sharon and Mr. McBoy

       Sharon and Mr. McBoy

I was not blessed with only one daughter, however. I am a rich woman with three beautiful grown daughters – you can see each of them represented at the top of this page in the three hangings on the wall. I will be writing about each daughter more than once in coming months.

But I was just thinking today about how thankful I am that I didn’t name my first child Farrah Fawn. My first child is probably pretty pleased about that too.

I’m glad I named her Sharon. And I’m so happy and proud that she’s my daughter.

“Nisky” of Chincoteague

April 10, 2009 | My Jottings

When I was a little girl, I read most of Marguerite Henry’s books, and my favorite was Misty of Chincoteague.

Little did I know that I would have grandchildren that would someday live close to Chincoteague Island (off the coast of Virginia) and that I would be posting pictures of their recent visit to that island on my blog.

First, here’s an older cover of the book I loved:


And here’s a sweet photo of two of my beautiful grandchildren taken last weekend on Chincoteague Island — almost-seven year-old Mr. McBoy and almost-five year-old Mrs. Nisky. Now you know where the title of this blog post comes from – I just couldn’t resist.


And I was tickled to learn from my daughter Sharon that Mr. McBoy and Mrs. Nisky were able to see some of the wild ponies that still live on the island, like the ones that inspired Ms. Henry to write her beloved horse stories many years ago. Here are some of the ponies my sweethearts saw on Chincoteague:


So now I think the Marguerite Henry books might mean something to them, and I’m ordering some today and having them sent to my grandbabies in the east.

I haven’t seen these dear little ones for almost one year. I’m counting the days until they come to visit us this summer. There are no wild ponies nor tall wind-blown ocean grasses in my part of the country, but we might just be able to spy a cardinal or two, and I can guarantee that we’ll see a small herd of white-tail deer in our backyard. And a few squirrels. And a murder of raucous crows in the white, peeling birches. And a couple of chipmunks. And some chickadees at the feeder. And moonlit bunnies in the flower garden. And a pileated woodpecker in the pines. And countless sparrows. And some juncos on the deck. And robins waiting for worms in the yard. And two pesky Schnauzers in the house.

After Mr. McBoy and Mrs. Nisky have been fortunate enough to see the wild ponies of Chincoteague Island, do you think our Minnesota critters will do?

The icing on the Lake

April 9, 2009 | My Jottings

Since the winter-like weather always seems to dominate news and conversation here in Northern Minnesota, I thought I’d share a couple of photos that were taken recently. We live a hop, skip and a jump from enormous Lake Superior, and it’s not unusual to see people walking on its frozen surface during our many winter months. Even in April!




Apparently if you were in the right place at the right time, you could also see a couple of timber wolves taking a Sunday stroll on the icy surface of Superior.







And I wonder if the wolf couple eventually met up with this trio of cyclists, also using Lake Superior for their bike trail?

We have had temperatures in the high forties of late, so the wolves and the bikers have had to seek alternate paths.

Waiting for spring,

And last but not least…

April 8, 2009 | My Jottings

I love to read and to talk about books with people. For a decade I was a part of a wonderful book club called The Long Winter Book Club, and I miss getting together monthly with all the smart and funny women, our lively discussions, the creative treats, and the journeys via books that we took together.

In previous posts I’ve written about four of my very favorite books, and now I’ll share about the fifth one/s in my top five. It’s so difficult to choose. Other contenders were Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy by Marie Chapian, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Expecting Adam by Martha Beck, When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada, The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock, The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas, Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John and about eighty-seven others.

I settled on this series, because of the repeated enjoyment I’ve gotten out of them. My husband Michael and I have read these books aloud countless times over the years and have never failed to laugh until we’re both wiping tears. The author was a truly gifted writer whose sense of timing and grasp of language are awe-inspiring. These are books I go back to again and again, and even though they don’t rank up there in literary reputation with Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina, they never disappoint. People who haven’t read them because they seem to be only about animals and possibly too light a read, are missing out on some of the best books ever.

It all started with this book:


This book made me want to visit Yorkshire. Two years ago Michael and I took an unforgettable trip to England, Scotland and Ireland, and we visited the English Yorkshire town in which James Herriot (real name Alf Wight) practiced veterinary medicine. We toured his home and office, walked the streets of his quaint village – click to see the town square of Thirsk (he called it Darrowby in the books) and stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast in a nearby village called Pickhill. We thrilled to be able to wake in the mornings and open the windows to the serene views of the Yorkshire Dales…click here. We bought crusty bread, sharp cheese and fresh fruit in a little Thirsk market, and savored that simple meal while almost pinching ourselves to make certain it was all real.

After you read the first Herriot book, you want to go on to the rest of the series right away. Have any of you read these? If not, I encourage you to visit the library and get started. Each chapter is usually a short story itself. You will close the last cover of the last book and never forget what a rich reading experience you just had. As a matter of fact, it’s been a few years since I’ve read these myself. I think I know what my 2009 Summer Read will be: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All and Every Living Thing.

Michael and I enjoyed reading these so much, we then acquired all the DVDs from the British television shows made in the seventies and eighties from these books.

And here’s a photo of Michael, sitting in the actual car that was driven by the actor who played James Herriot in the TV series All Creatures Great and Small.


We were so smitten with Yorkshire we hope to go back someday and spend more than two days there. Until that happens, the next best thing will be to reread this wonderfully written series.

What book have you read recently that you could recommend? Why did you like it? Is there a book you’ve read multiple times already yet plan to read again?

Many book blessings on you,

April Winners!

April 7, 2009 | My Jottings

I found it interesting what some of you are buying at the grocery store. I learned a lot! I found out from Jessica that I should try eating hominy because it’s so yummy. And I have a mental picture of those of you who commented, either sitting on your back deck overlooking the lake and drinking a big glass of red grapefruit juice, or hauling in gallon after gallon of milk to your kitchens, and of whipping up delicious peanut butter shakes in the blender.

I’m in a giving mood today, so instead of choosing just one winner for the April bloggy giveaway, I think all four people who commented should win!

Carolyn wins a large frozen bag of chicken necks and gizzards. (Please hold your applause until we finish announcing the other winners and prizes…)

Kay wins a year’s supply of Parkay and a bag of mangoes.

Jessica wins one dozen mushy cylinders of Liverwurst (my husband craves this)

And Dorothy‘s prize is a $100 gift certificate for Oscar Mayer Bologna, which might make her cry for more reasons than just the obvious one of what a fantastic gift that is to receive.

Actually you know I’m just kidding. Everyone wins a gift certificate to Target. I’ll mail them to you all shortly.

Thank you for entering and reading.

Have a very blessed Easter as you ponder the Real Gift that matters most.  🙂

Our groceries and yours

April 4, 2009 | My Jottings

It’s time for the April giveaway here on the blog! What are the items that you buy almost every time you go to the grocery store? Those things that you reach for so automatically, you don’t even have to write them down on your list?  Some of the things we always buy are:

Greenish bananas

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Arrowhead 1% cottage cheese

Spinach pasta nests

Real peanut butter

Brown rice

Canned, diced tomatoes

New England bread

Puffs tissues

Baby carrots

String cheese

Baby red potatoes

Raw almonds

Land O’Lakes 1% milk

Cruz corn tortillas

Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apples

ERA laundry detergent


And at the checkout line, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 🙂

And here are some things I have never, ever purchased at the grocery store:

Beef liver

Swiss chard

Fresh apricots

Cinnamon raisin bread


Fava beans

Wonder white bread

Mountain Dew

Cat litter


Charmin’ toilet paper


Chocolate covered raisins

Gum drops

Cream of Wheat

Seven-bean salad

Fruit Loops

Now it’s your turn – you could be the winner of this month’s bloggy giveaway!

Tell us a few things you always buy at the grocery store, and a few things you have never bought at the grocery store.

You have until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7th to leave your comments – good luck!

Yesterday’s yawns…

April 1, 2009 | My Jottings

Aside from the handful of blogs I like to visit fairly often because I know the people who write them, there are also a couple I read because, well, I’m not sure why I read them. I don’t know the bloggers personally. I guess it’s interesting to have a peek into someone else’s life and thoughts once in a while. It’s funny, because there are people out there who use their blogs as a place to publicly chronicle their days, in a play by play format, and in spite of how boring that might sound, I don’t usually find those blogs boring at all. If I posted similarly on this blog, it might read something like this.

Yesterday, on the last day of March when heartening signs of spring are supposed to be popping up everywhere, we sat at home in yet another blizzard. The snow fell from the sky horizontally all day, and the dry patches of grass that had begun to show in the yard are now all covered by at least six inches of newly fallen snow. It’s magical and beautiful in November, and enough to make you groan and pull your hair out on the first of April.

I have been battling a sinus infection for weeks now, and woke feeling blechy, and did not go to Community Bible Study, which is such an important and beloved part of my life. But I didn’t feel sick enough to stay in bed, which I haven’t done for years anyway. After Michael and I made breakfasts, visited with and administered medications for the women we care for, I put the dogs outside. Mildred leaps through the snow all over the back yard like a curious and happy gazelle. Edith takes two tentative steps into the white stuff and then turns back to the door and wants back in, looking tragic. We have to go outside and close the door behind us and yell, “Get out there Edith! Go potty! Now!” And she will eventually comply, but never without our verbal encouragement.

Then Michael and I went upstairs to our comfy chairs in our bedroom, and sipped hot, brisk tea and had two shortbread cookies each while we read aloud from our Bibles. We are reading through the whole Bible together, slowly, and independent from our own reading. We’ve almost made it through each book. Yesterday we read a chapter each from Leviticus, 1 Samuel, and Acts. And we read Psalm 31 aloud. Even though Leviticus can be hard reading, I ended up crying when I realized that I am not required to offer a drink, grain or wave offering to the Lord as His people were before Christ – but that of my own accord I can offer Him something each day. I am not compelled in the way the Israelites were, thousands of years ago, yet I am still compelled, by my heart, to offer gifts to Him today. Yesterday I wanted to give Him a sacrifice of praise, because to do so was harder for me than usual, and it cost me something. I wanted to give Him my attention and obedience, out of a free and willing heart, because He is worthy of that and so much more. It’s pretty amazing how reading through Leviticus can touch my life. It doesn’t always happen that way, but even if lightning doesn’t flash when I read His Word, I know I’m being fed. I don’t remember what I had for lunch sixteen days ago, but whatever it was nourished me. I read and meditate on the Bible for much the same reasons, spiritually speaking. Sometimes I have wow and aha moments as I read, but if I don’t, I know something nourishing and powerful is happening anyway.

Then we went downstairs and I did some laundry and then we cleaned the kitchen, and I got a huge pot of chili started. Then I got out my kitchen step-stool and pulled out my automatic bread maker from the back of a top cupboard, and started a loaf of sour dough bread baking. I looked forward to the aromas that simmering chili and baking bread would bring, especially on a stormy day, but because of my infection, my sense of smell is completely gone. I’ve never had this happen before, and it seems sort of serious to me. I can put my face right up to the fresh ground coffee I’m getting ready to spoon into the pot in the morning, and can’t smell one thing. I can’t smell perfume, bleach, soap, nothing. I know there are problems so much bigger than that (like Parkinson’s Disease and unemployment and family heartaches) but I’m starting to wonder if my ability to smell is gone for good. I can’t taste food correctly, either. I can discern if something is sweet or bitter or salty, but there are no flavors for me. But I digress from the important details of yesterday.

Michael decided since the roads were bad and numerous accidents were being reported, he wasn’t going anywhere either. I thought I would quit procrastinating and start working on a pile of paperwork in my office at least one foot high. I asked Michael if he would keep me company while I worked, to help me just do it. Pathetic, I know. But he agreed, and I carried the pile into the den and began.

I began separating the huge pile into four smaller piles, one for each woman we care for. That took a long time and the den floor was covered. Then I punched three holes in all of those piles, because each paper goes in a specific place in a ridiculously thick notebook, which will be scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb by an agent of the State of Minnesota every other year, and if one thing is missing or out of place a citation will be issued. I am serious.

In between all of this, I kept the laundry going, stirred the chili, let the dogs out and in, out and in, answered phone calls, visited with patient and gracious Michael, blew my nose every few minutes, occasionally glanced at whatever cable cooking or remodeling show was on to keep us company, and watched the snow fall from the grey sky and pile up outside.

I worked on the paperwork for five and a half hours, straight, and then exhaled and called it a paperwork day. I estimate that I was able to complete 3/4 of one person’s paperwork (out of four). Today I hope to finish that one person’s paperwork and start on a second. That’s how much there is. I’ve said it before – my piles look like the Alps to me. I think I’ve learned a lesson about procrastinating though. I don’t ever want to face these mountains again.

Michael commented on the savory smells off and on all day, and I smelled nothing. I am taking Amoxicillin (ten days’ worth!) for my infection, and I can tell it’s not knocking it out. A friend at church asked me what I was taking and said “Oh, that’s the weakest antibiotic there is! It doesn’t help for sinus infections – you need to go back and get _____.”  And now I’m wondering if she’s right. And wondering if my sense of smell will ever return. I used to be able to smell if there was a mouse outside my back door, and a dirty sock near the bed. Now I can’t smell anything. But I think I said that already.

So then I visited with the women we live with, and their conversation was pretty much all about how sick and tired they are of living in a place where it can snow a foot in spring, while other places in the country have cherry blossoms and daffodils. “I hate this snow, I want summer!” one gal kept saying, and I couldn’t have said it any better.

We all enjoyed a hearty dinner, I finished the laundry, chatted some more with our gals, tended to medications, answered e-mails and marveled at how funny and interesting other peoples’ blogs are, and as the darkness of night began to fall, I started to yawn, which is the norm for me. I always turn into a pumpkin as soon as the sun goes down, so in winter I often head upstairs before 8:00 p.m.

Michael was watching the Timberwolves on TV, and I sat with him for a few minutes while he scratched the ridges in my ankles made by my SmartWool socks, and I sipped my necessary nightly concoction, a “Cappuccino Cooler” I could make in my sleep. It has caffeine yet I can fall asleep in no time after drinking it.

Then the snowplow guys came and I put on shoes and went out to move Michael’s truck out of the driveway so they could plow it unhindered. I drove around the block and sat and pondered the day and the ways of God (and the seeming slowness of His timing) while I watched the two guys clear our large driveway with a truck and blade, and shovel a path to our front porch. Our back yard, full of tall trees and a small winding creek, looked like Narnia to me. I’ve asked my grandchildren what they would think if we walked back into those snowy woods someday and found a lamppost. We always smile at the thought of that.

When the snow guys were done, I parked the truck in its now snow-free spot, went back inside, said goodnight to Michael. I read a wonderful book in bed on my new Kindle. It’s a book on prayer, so while I read I prayed and cried, prayed and cried. And I asked God to teach me to pray – so much differently than I do.

Michael came to bed just as I was finishing the book, and the dogs took their places – Edith curled in a tight canine circle in my black plaid bedroom chair, and Millie stretched out on her side on the bed in between Michael and me.

The snow was still falling, but not as heavily. I thought about the next day, which is today, April 1st, and knew I would try to say Rabbit to all my family members first thing, hopefully beating them to it. I thought about how Michael will be 60 years old on April 2nd, and how grateful I am for his love and steadfastness. I thought about how much I want God to bring Ginger the lost cat home to my daughter and her family. I thought about how I will pick up my granddaughter Clara from school on Wednesday and take her to her dance class, and how sweet my time will be with her. I thought about how much I long for my daughters to have peace and joy and purpose and wholeness. And how I want those very things for myself.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m making any difference at all.

And in no time, I slept.