Still here!

I’ve been a bit distracted from blogging lately…

We’re on our second round of chicken pox currently. Unless Andrew ends up getting them in a third round, we will have lifetime immunity for seven out of eight Blessings. It’s been a doozey, and we were gifted with a stomach bug in the midst of it, but I think we’re going to pull through. Do please pray for Katie, though. She’s just getting started on her case, and I’m thinking there was some basis to the article I read that said that kids with eczema and other skin problems are likely to have thousands of pox as opposed to hundreds. She’s not up yet today, but from the way she looked last night, my mama-heart is very concerned for her.

I started dreaming last year of making available an Advent Wreath resource that folks could download for free, and that project is almost done! I hope to have it available in the next few days. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, so I’m a bit down to the wire. If you would like to try using an Advent Wreath as a tool for worship this year, consider going ahead and picking up the needed candles while you’re out this week. You’ll need a white candle for the center (I like to use a pillar for this), and four candles for the outer ring (I usually use tapers) – three purple or blue, and one pink or red. What a solemn and estatic joy it is to celebrate His coming!

Our dearly loved dog Juilin died last week. He ran out in the road one too many times, and he did not make it. It was an honor to have him breathe his last with his head resting on my leg. We will miss him. I enjoyed going through our family pictures and picking out some of Juilin. If you like pictures of sweet adorable dogs, you might enjoy looking at them.

Our apples are all canned. I don’t have a final count yet, but hope to post more on our appling with some numbers and pictures. We did six bushels this year and tried some new stuff. I think we all enjoyed it.

And now, I must work on finishing that Advent Wreath book!

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Wonderful Merciful Savior

We’ve been busy this week with the chicken pox. Four out of eight of the Blessings have them this round, and we’re hoping there won’t be too many more rounds to finish off the business of building lifetime immunity. We’re doing lots of cuddling around here.

These two don’t have the pox, but they sure look sweet cuddling!

I’m not feeling very wordy, but I’ve found these words to this song resonating this week.

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh you rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Listen here if you’d like

Apple day

We’ve been busy today taking care of various projects around the house. It’s the first weekday the Blessings have had off school since mid-September, and they’ve been a big help.

We worked on getting the venison we were given earlier this week in the freezer at last. We were given one rear haunch and two front haunches, mostly clean. Jonathan boned and cleaned it up some more, then we roasted it. The boys and I got a good bit of it trimmed and pulled/shredded this morning, and when I realized I was wearing out with quite a bit of meat left and other projects still to do, we went ahead and got it all in the freezer… some ready to pull and some still in need of trimming. Whew.

The Blessings put the winter squash we gathered last night onto a shelf in the basement, and did some cleaning around the house in preparation for the arrival of our apples. Because today is apple pickup! I headed out at lunchtime to pick up the six bushels we’d ordered, and threw in an extra 1/4 bushel of a type we hadn’t tried before while I was there. We will get serious about putting them up next week, as we have chiropractic appointments this afternoon and a busy day tomorrow. I’m so excited about canned apples, applesauce, and applebutter, and I think we’ll try dehydrating some as well. Any favorite recipes you’d like to share??

We listened to the Statler brothers through a good bit of the day as we worked (that 30 years 3 CD collection lasts through a lot of projects!). Love the Statlers! My friends the Youngs introduced me to them when I was in high school, and I was thrilled that I got the bonus of marrying into a family that appreciated them as well.

I love to listen to the Statlers sing How Great Thou Art. I got all thrilled and throat-catchy today thinking on
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
and there proclaim (for eternity!!), my God, how great Thou art!

So, here’s a treat for you (you’ll have to follow the links because WP is not letting me embed them, for some reason)…
The Statlers singing How Great Thou Art in 1971 on a Johnny Cash special
And a more recent version (looks like it’s from The Statler Brothers Show)
Enjoy!

The garden is almost done for the year. Last week we gathered a large harvest before the first freeze of the year.

The Blessings and I also spent about an hour covering tomato and pepper plants with sheets before that first freeze to try to protect them and give them a bit more time to mature the fruit they’ve been working so hard to produce since the intense heat cooled. What you see on that plate was the extent of our tomato harvest to the date of the picture, less three tomatoes. Impressive for the almost 50 tomato plants we planted in the spring, eh? Hot hot summer makes gardening interesting, anyway!

The long skinny peppers are Holy Moles (holey moleys). This is the second year we’ve grown them. They are prolific producers with varying degrees of heat. The first year, they were quite mild, while this year they packed a bit of a punch. I found this out after I’d taken them to fellowship lunch along with miscellaneus bell/banana peppers and assured everyone that I had only brought sweet peppers. Or not…
I canned five pints of Holy Moles (sliced) and a couple pints of banana peppers (a portion of this batch), but I haven’t gotten a picture of their loveliness yet.

Tonight after we got home from town, we did another pre-frost harvest, as it’s supposed to get down to 31. Here’s what Jonathan and the older Blessings gathered while I got Andrew ready for bed:

The tomatoes made a bit of progress in the mild week+ after the first freeze; hopefully these will ripen nicely inside.
The pitiful watermelons didn’t have time to mature, yet this is the best success we’ve had yet with watermelons. Maybe next year we’ll grow some that we, instead of the chickens, eat.

A couple of the little butternuts broke off at the stem and were cooked tonight… gorgeous, aren’t they?

What a Weekend!

Friday afternoon found us at the home of some new friends, for an enjoyable visit and (hopefully) an intake of the chicken pox. Our older Blessings have been exposed multiple times and have not yet broken out in the pox, but I keep trying whenever the opportunity arises. That doesn’t seem to be very often; Stephen had not been exposed previously in his four+ years. We shall see what the next few weeks bring.

Saturday afternoon, we had a wind turbine raising, complete with chili supper. Dad and Mom Smith joined us, as did James, Wendy, and Shay. We’re thankful for family help! I took scads of pictures:

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We were gifted with some venison on Sunday evening, so Jonathan left our weekly pancake night to go pick it up, then spent quite a while removing the meat from the bones. I roasted the bones and have had bone broth simmering all day, about which I’m excited. I’m not certain yet how we will be processing the meat, but we are thrilled to have about thirty-five pounds of venison to deal with!

State Fair Reflections – Through the Years

Our camera went kaput at the end of August and revived a few weeks later, so we were without it during the State Fair. Though I missed having the camera, I can see how its absence allowed me to relish our Fair experience in a different way. I wonder if I could paint pictures for you with words instead…

But first some memories, because the Kansas State Fair has seemed a magical place to me for as long as I can remember attending.

When I was in Jr. High and High School, the Kansas Bible Camp board meeting was often held during a Fair weekend and I have memories of exploring it various times with my brother Eric, playing carnival games, buying trinkets and Fair Food. For years, my front license plate was one from an airbrush booth at the Fair… adorned with a pig and my name.

A highlight from a later board meeting weekend was one of the “older” guys at the chapel taking a couple of us youngsters to the fair one evening. It was me and this guy from camp that often irritated me, but we had a fun time with Jase that night. The lights, sounds, and smells of the Fair that night still stick with me. We discovered we were both taking French in school and enjoyed comparing vocabulary. Little did I know it was my first visit to the Fair with the love of my life.

My fourth year of college, I came home in September just to share the Fair with my friends, especially this certain fellow who still could get under my skin, but who seemed to have become much nicer over the years. We weren’t “official” yet, but the magic of the Fair was extra special that year.


(Bob, Jo, and that guy, Sept. 94)

And by the time the next Fair rolled around, we were weeks away from our wedding!

Time’s up…

Anniversary Getaway

Jonathan and I enjoyed camping out at Kanopolis last weekend for our anniversary.

The view from our tent Saturday morning – gorgeous!

After breakfast, we drove around the lake and checked out campgrounds and various areas, scouting for future trips with the family. We saw quite a few horsebackriders, as there was a judged trailride in progress (we had never heard of such a thing).

Then we headed to the Horsethief Canyon area and hiked for a couple of hours. I was (as you will see) thrilled that our camera has started working again.

Some “boring” Kansas topography:



(Note: I have a strong affinity for the areas of Kansas in which you can see for miles over field after field, but when I venture out of the immediate area in which we live, I often find myself amused by the plethora of comments I have heard over the years about how boring Kansas is.)

My love:

An interesting obstruction on the trail:


We noticed a dam on the way back; the beavers are certainly at work at Lake Kanopolis:

Fall is starting to make itself known:




With end-of-summer loveliness still hanging on:

A couple of interesting critters (I’m skipping the shot of the colony of ants swarming a beetle… aren’t I nice?):

At one point, we went off the trail in an effort to avoid poison ivy, and spent about 30 minutes walking up and down hills through yucca, berry thorns, etc. It definitely made it more of an adventure!


After returning to the trail, we climbed up into a little cave, near the base of which I found someone had carved our initials for us:

There were a surprising number of lightening-struck trees, but this was the most unique looking:

Almost back to the trailhead:

After our hike, we had a lovely lunch overlooking the lake, which is lower than usual, but not nearly as dry as areas closer to home:

It was a very nice time being together. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

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