Monday, March 31, 2008

Prayer requests

It seems as though some days there are a ton of things I could write about, others I simply draw a blank. Today was one of those days when I must be feeling creative (as creative as I can be at 630 in the morning anyway) and I had many options of what to choose from. But I think this time, I will keep it simple and important. This weekend, several things either happened or were brought to my attention again that reminded me of the importance of prayer. Many of you will know who I'm talking about with each of these, but for the privacy of my friends, no names will be mentioned.

Yesterday a girl that I've gone to church with for years had an emergency C-section at 26 weeks. Last night, no one was sure whether mother or baby were going to make it.

One of my closest friend's little sister has a cancerous tumor on her hip, that isn't responding to the treatments as well as it was at first. They were hoping to shrink it to where they could surgically remove it without having to do a hip replacement. She is 24.

A friend from church had a baby this week. Everything went well, but just starting out I'm sure they could use all the prayers they can get.

Three of my cousins (and me) are expecting babies over the next few months.

A close friend of mine lost her mother to cancer in January. She is handling everything magnificently but there are still days its hard for her.

I'm sure everyone could add many more requests or even praises to this list. The thing we have to remember is that no matter what happens God is in control. If we only have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains.

In writing this, I began thinking about Casting Crown's song, "Prayer for a Friend" in which it talks about the bad things that happen in our lives or our friends and choices they make that are beyond our control but that are never too big for God. It goes on to ask God for the wisdom to have the right thing to say, and to know when nothing should be said.

So today, take a few minutes from your busy life, talk to God, cherish the relationship that He has given us the privilege of having with him.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Made of towels

If you've ever been on a cruise ship, you know about the fascinating creatures that are awaiting you in your room every evening. I decided this time around I would take pictures of each of them for whatever reason. Have you ever tried to make a towel animal yourself? I haven't, I dont hardly even have time to fold towels lately, let alone make them into cute little critters! But it could be fun. So, today, imagine you are returning from an evening out and about on the cruise ship (dinner, mini-golf, etc) to your room.
Day 1
A puppy dog. Curled up on the bed with all the next day's information.
Day 2
A swan was on our bed. The critters always had mints (I still have lots of those mints actually!)
Day 3
A bat flew into the room....Most of the critters wore sunglasses. Maybe that is why they make the critters in the evenings, no one is actually wearing their sunglasses after dark.
Day 4
We kept wondering when the monkey would appear. It had a mint in its mouth, but it looked more like it had a mint up its nose.
Day 5
The elephant. We were able to move him to the counter and he stayed with us the rest of the cruise. Most of the others fell apart.
Day 6
After all the wonderful critters, the stingray on the final day was a little disappointing. I know I could make that one, it was just a towel folded square with a tail that was a rolled up washcloth.
I hope you have enjoyed the evening suprises on the cruise ship. Have a great weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Great Dinner Debate

There is one conversation I can almost guarantee that my husband and I will have daily. As soon as I get home from work he asks, "What's for dinner?" My response, "I don't know, what do you want?" He replies, "What are my choices?" I give him the same list night after night, adding or taking away depending on how desperately I am needing to make a trip to the store, "Spaghetti, chili, tacos, chicken, ham, steak..." Seriously, it never changes. I cook the same things week after week. Usually after the list his response is something like, "Just whatever you want" or "Could you make____?" Something that wasn't even on my list like potato soup. Luckily when he says that, it is usually because he is hungry and has figured out which meals can be made in 30 minutes or less (wouldn't Rachel Ray be proud).

And then there are those days when I dont have to work and we get what I call a "real" meal, complete with something that takes longer than 15 minutes to cook, veggies, the works. I usually have no trouble deciding on a meal on those days because I spend the entire week thinking, I wish I had time to make roast (or lasagna or ham and beans) and am all ready for what I can cook.

Ok, so I know there are several of you that read this, either that or the same person just keeps clicking on it making the counter go up, so if any of you have any great 30 minute meals, I would love to know about them to expand our dinner time options! After all, there is only so much spaghetti one family can eat!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hobbies

Do you ever wonder how exactly you ended up with so many hobbies...hobbies that you rarely have time to participate in? There are many things I absolutely love doing, kayaking (just had a dream about that as a matter of fact), hiking, backpacking, target shooting, four-wheelin, none of which do I ever do based from my house. Then there are those little hobbies I around the house that I really enjoy if I can ever find the time to do them that take much less time than the others. I enjoy sewing, quilting, candlemaking, soapmaking, embroidery, cooking and gardening. I do actually use my stove once per day to make dinner, but to actually get out a recipe and cook, that doesnt happen too often. I'm not real sure what I fill my free time with. I'm not at all a TV addict, and I haven't read a book since we were on our cruise. But of course, I'm sure I have more free time now than I will in a few months, so I'm going to just sit back, and enjoy whatever hobbies I can before I have to rearrange my entire house, moving my crafting stuff all out of the central location to make room for the baby.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Everything has a purpose

They say that everything in nature has a purpose and for most of the critters, it is easy to figure out. They take care of a smaller animal that may be considered a pest and/or they provide food for a larger animal. Earthworms keep the soil aerated so that things can grow. Squirrels help by planting acorns and then forgetting about them, resulting in new growth of trees. And then there are the animals we wonder, do they really do any good? Chiggers for instance. What good does a chigger do? Sure there is probably some small bug or bird that eats them, but there are millions of less itchy little bugs out there to fill that spot. I've always wondered exactly what good is a chigger. (please let me know if you have the answer to this.)


Snakes however, are one that many people despise but that I kinda like. I don't care much for mice, and snakes can eat a lot of mice. Snakes can also provide a lot of laughs. How many times have you gotten a chuckle after scaring someone with a rubber snake. Or had a UPS man back quickly up to the door when he realized that thing in your hand is actually a live snake? Or maybe you have seen my families infamous "Snake Video" when a long black snake got in the house in 1997. To make a long story short, the snake ended up leaving by the way it came in with my father standing on the washing machine singing, "The hills are alive..." So snakes are good creatures, just don't pick up a venemous one!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Room

This past weekend we went to visit my parents for Easter. We loaded the four-wheeler in the back of the truck, all of our stuff, including the dog and cat, in the back seat. It was pretty much full. So the dillema will begin around November, when we travel, where are we going to put the baby? And supposedly (although since I've never had one I don't know) babies require a lot of stuff for themselves.... So we are trying to figure out exactly what we should do. If the weather is decent we can always put stuff in the back of the truck, and sometimes we take the car. Of course there is always the option of simply taking less stuff.

We do have a room for the baby at home, although it will have to be cleaned out because it is currently my craft room. And then there are some things in there that I have not used in the year since we moved here, and we have several things in storage that could easily disappear, so I am considering a late spring garage sale. Getting paid even small amounts to get rid of stuff I never use sounds like a wonderful idea!

Sorry, no pictures again today...more coming soon!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Easter Chicken

Everyone has heard of the Easter bunny, but just how many have heard of the Easter Chicken? Yesterday, my nephews told me that was where they got their new shirts from was the Easter Chicken. I guess if you think about it, it actually makes sense. Chickens lay eggs, not bunnies. Peeps are shaped like chickens. So who knew, but all along it was really the Easter Chicken bringing all those eggs!

Hope you all had fun with those Easter eggs, but didn't let the real meaning of Easter get overshadowed. After all, if it werent for the cross, life as we know it could not exist.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

experiment

videoJust wanted to try this to see if it actually works. You all know how I love playing with pictures. I had done this a while ago, but it was too big to email. Bonus for today....but I'm out of town for the weekend so I dont know if I will actually take the time to post or not. Let me know if this works. The video is a little over 4 minutes long I think, at least that is how long the song is. (How You Live, Point of Grace)

Be Careful What You Wish For...

I was thinking about Christmas 2002. It was my first Christmas on my own and I was 200 miles from home, but I would be off work for Christmas, with enough of a break to go home. I spent most of December wishing for a white Christmas. On my way home, the snow was getting so deep I ended up spending the 23rd of December in a little hotel just outside of St Joe Arkansas. The heat in the room was a little window air condition unit that also had heat, although not good heat. So stuck somewhere between home where my family was and home where I was living at the time, I watched the one tv station that was coming in, completely blue. The snow was forecast to continue. I slept fulling clothed, including my coat and to say I slept I guess is actually not true. I laid in bed that night, and about 4 am i started hearing water dripping from the roof. The temp had raised enough snow was melting. Then I looked outside and saw that the road looked clear, so I continued north. I made it almost to Branson before I was once again forced to drive in near-blizzard conditions. My little Ford Contour was not made for this! My dad ended up picking me up at Walmart 20 miles from their house because that was as far as my car could make it. When I arrived at their house it was almost 24 hours since I had begun my four hour trip home for Christmas. Since then, I've only wished for a heavy frost on Christmas!


Ok, so if you've been reading my blog you will remember a week or so ago I said maybe it would rain on the rivers so that there would be ample water for kayaking when I was visiting my parents this weekend. Did I state that I wanted to kayak rivers, not main roads through towns?? My hometown received 11 1/2 inches of rain in about a 24 hour period. The nearby river set records for high levels. My favorite kayaking river, the Buffalo, was at 37 feet at Tyler Bend....flood stage is 12 feet! Trailer houses went floating down the James River. Banks flooded. All I wanted was a little water for kayaking, not a flood that makes you wonder if you should have built an ark!


So be careful what you wish for......

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Things Kids Say

My mother recently made a skunk costume for me for work. She showed it to each of my nephews and at different times, without hearing the other's response, she asked them what it looked like. The six year old responded, a skunk. The three year old's answer...a costume.

While visiting us last year we took the boys to the zoo. The oldest, five at the time, goes excitedly up to the meercats in their exhibit and excalims, Hey, I've seen your movie!

That same trip the five year old and my husband had been playing a war game on the computer that morning. When a black-hawk helicopter flew over, he innocently asked, "Is it one of ours?" In the absolute middle of the country, I sure hope so!

When the oldest was 4, he went to the park with me and the dog, Kendall. After being there a while, he asks, "Why is her name Kendall Come?"

When playing my husband was joking with my oldest nephew, who had just finished telling him a windy story. My husband says, "You're lying." The kids response, "I'm not a lion, I'm a bear!"

Recently the husband of the three year olds day care teacher passed away. A couple days ago when it was storming the three year old asks his mom, "Do you think God is letting Mrs. Christy's husband play the drums?"

Over the years, those two have said some pretty funny and cute things. Too many to write all of them down in one short post. I kinda felt like I was writing for Country Woman magazine in the section about what kids say:)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rain and Waterfalls

Yesterday was an incredibly dreary Monday. It rained all day, but at least it was rain and not snow. Rain is spring-like, even if it was a little on the chilly side. Rain makes waterfalls run with lots of water, however there aren't too many waterfalls around here so I have to go looking in other places for them. One of my favorite waterfalls is Cedar Falls.
It could be because that was my park for 4 years. It could be that it is just a really neat waterfall. It is approximately 95 feet high, although I dont think anyone has officially measured it. The hike to the bottom is only 2 miles round trip, so although it is a little steep, it is doable, even for little guys. My oldest nephew was on trails from the time he could walk.

Hiking wore the little guy out...it was time for a nap when he returned!

And he did most of the walking. Since we were in places where there were cliffs that could be dangerous for little feet, we put him on a leash.
He thought it was great because the only time the "leash" ever came out was when he was going to do something fun, like hike to a waterfall. So for those of you in areas with abundant waterfalls, get out, take some pictures and send them to me...I love waterfalls. (Rain also makes rivers like the Buffalo flow well where I love to go kayaking!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pet inventions

I woke up after having a strange dream about litter boxes which started me thinking. I'm amazed sometimes when I search online just to see what kind of new and interesting pet products are available these days. Of course, every kind of toy imaginable for cats, dogs, ferrets, and hamsters. Deluxe bed accomodations that in reality are probably every bit as comfortable as the bed where you sleep every night. Playthings that could fill up an entire room of the house. And you can even buy a system that will teach your cat to use the toilet, eliminating the need for the litter box. Remember the movie, "Meet the Parents"? On that movie the cat was toilet trained, but I haven't ever met a real cat that has succeeded in using the toilet. If only the training system didn't cost $100! Think of the money and time one could save without having to purchase litter and clean a litter box! But if you think your cat is not going to go for the toilet training, then they also make self-cleaning litter boxes, an investment I have definitely considered. But since BootsKitty is 20 pounds, I'm pretty sure I would have to go up to the mega, just so he would actually potty INSIDE it. I dont think the litter box reaches into the floor and scoops up messes. And then he's diabetic which makes him go potty more than an average cat, so I would need the one that is designed for multiple cats, all in all a $150 litter box. My question is, I know what the advertisements say, but I've never met a REAL cat that has used the self-cleaning litter box either. Do they really work or do you still have to go in and manually clean it all the time to keep it functioning properly. So if you have used one let me know....I'm interested in the results! I can't laugh at people that spend a lot of money on their pets, I have an incredibly spoiled dog and a cat that is equally as spoiled that requires the purchase of special food, insulin, and insulin syringes. Oh the things we do for our pets.....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Verse of the Week

For this child I prayed and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. I Samuel 1:29

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Warmer Weather

The weather teased us this week with a couple nice days. But this morning, it is snowing, again. So I'm letting my mind wander back to the Caribbean where it is nice and warm while I plan out what to do with the 25 redbud trees I have in my car. (Anyone close by need a redbud tree? They were free and I have a SMALL yard!) Anyway, it is much to nasty outside to plant them today so I'm thinking of warmer times in the Caribbean. When we went on our cruise in January, it was great! The first day was windy and many of the decks were closed because of the wind. But the rest of the trip was great. While on the ship, I climbed the rock wall. We played miniature golf. We relaxed. And while on shore we saw some really neat things. Our first stop was at San Juan, Puerto Rico where we visited the old fort there. We would have liked to have had more time there was so much to see and not enough time to see it. When we returned to Florida we had time to watch the manatee before we had to fly back. Today, enjoy pictures of warmer weather, while I hope that spring will arrive soon and I can get my trees in the ground!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Frogs

Yesterday the frogs were really loud. I was excited, because that meant they were welcoming spring. Until last year, I was happy to hear the frogs, and then last year I became a part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Project which required me to learn the calls of 22 different toads and frogs. It was very frustrating, but I finally figured it out. I haven't listened to them since last summer, so now, before we begin monitoring again, I have to practice learning frog calls. I still remember some, like the spring peepers and chorus frogs, which are the only ones currently singing. The project was created to see where numbers of frogs are decreasing which is one of the first indicators of pollution. It also helps us when we are doing programs! So what kind of frogs do you hear in your backyard?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Curious Schnauzers

Do you ever wonder what your pets do when you aren't around? Sometimes we really wonder about ours, particularly Kendall, the miniature schnauzer. We know that she is very curious. (they always say curiosity killed the cat, but what did it do to the shnauzer?) She has figured out how to get onto the table, she can even unwrap Ho-Hos. And she has managed to pull EVERYTHING out of my bag I carry my work calendar and other stuff in, in hopes that there might be something tasty lurking in the bottom of the bag. She has opened a package of hamburger buns and taken a bite out of each and every one. They must not have been that good and she was hoping the next would be better. Trying to rationalize her, that could be a full time job. But we always know if she's gotten into something when we get home before we even get upstairs. She comes slowly down the stairs with her ears down like she is apologizing. A normal greeting at the door has her running as hard as she can and wiggling all over. There have been a couple times that we knew she did something but we still don't know just what it was. Maybe someday we will hide a camera and figure out just exactly what does go on when we aren't home!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another interesting visitor

I had forgotten about it, but Mom reminded me the other day about another interesting visitor to their house. I must explain first however that my parents house is a basement house which basically means the back is underground. So the windows at the back are small, perfect for the family cat to go in and out of. So this one particular day I was talking to my Mom on the phone. She squealed, evidently dropped the phone and all I hear is, "Drop it! Drop it! Drop the duck!" Ok, the first two drop its had me a little concerned. Who was in the house and what did they have? The final statement drop the duck, just simply left me confused. By this time Dad had come into the room. He was laughing and retrieved the phone my mother had discarded as she yelled for the duck to be dropped. My first question was, "Did she just say drop the duck, as in quack, quack?" He assured me that in fact, that was exactly what Mom had just said. A simple explanation to what had happened. The cat, not an exceptionally large cat, just a cat, had returned to the house via the window he always used, except he was not alone. In his mouth he carried a full-grown, very much alive, green-winged teal. She was able to get the cat to let it go, then she had to catch it, then she took it down to the pond and it flew off. How the cat caught the duck, no one has ever figured out.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Raccoon Saga Continues

The raccoons getting in the house was only the beginning of the raccoon adventures that week. While we were camping in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, we were getting ready to have s'mores. We'd eaten dinner a while earlier when Mom stood up and said, "I think its time." The raccoons must have been listening because right as she said it four raccoons came around the tent right up to our campsite.
Raccoon enjoying a piece of chocolate
They ate the chocolate I dropped on the ground. They scratched on the back of the chair when only Daddy was up. They were definitely campground coons and used to people. While we were camped there a couple of days, we saw these raccoons making their rounds through the campground. Then we went on to a state park just outside of Lake Charles, Louisianna. We had mixed up cornbread for dinner that evening with a wooden spoon. We hadn't gotten it rinsed off yet when a raccoon appeared. He jumped right up on that table and grabbed that spoon. Dad tried to get it away from him, so the raccoon ran up the tree. He sat on a branch and continued to lick off the spoon while Dad tried to reason with him to give the spoon back.
Look at the right side, you'll see the spoon we got back!
This went on until the raccoon had licked all of the cornbread off the spoon and then he threw it at Dad. He missed, but it was still incredibly funny. It's those little unpredictable things that keep life exciting:)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Raccoon Visitors

Have you ever had a closeup encounter with a raccoon? Growing up, it usually wasn't a shock to find some wild animal had made it into the house, it was more of an adventure to discover WHAT wild animal had made it in that time. I only remember raccoons making a visit after I had moved out on my own, but yet was still a part of it all. My parents had gone on a pre-vacation camping trip to the lake for one night. My sister was supposed to go feed the cat and get the mail. I was 200 miles away, working my last couple days before vacation with my parents. To make sense of the story I must tell you that for our vacation we were going to Ocean Springs, Mississippi and then across to Lake Charles, Louisianna. We were going to camp and cook our food at the campsite, so preparing for this trip had taken some time and when I'd been at my mom's the weekend before I had helped to get things like our food ready. Our menu included all the spices in a baggy to make baked beans, the dry ingredients for pancakes in another baggy, and marshmallows, hershey's bars and graham crackers. Now picture in your mind a pile of tents, sleeping bags, dutch ovens, and all the ingredients for a week of food. A nice, neat pile. That's the way my parents left it. Ok, so about four in the afternoon my sister gets home, and goes to check on the cat. She walks in the house. I can only imagine the look on her face... The pile was not nice and neat, there was flour everywhere! So she calls me. I answer my phone and as soon as she explains I basically start laughing. Sounded like coons had been in the house. So I sent her looking to see if they were still there. For what she could find, it seemed that the coons had left. She straightened a little, but thought Mom and Dad really needed to see this. The next day when they returned home, they repacked all our food. An entire bag of marshmallows had been consumed, the pancake and baked beans ingredients were scattered. When Mom started looking she found little marshmallowy raccoon footprints on the mirror, marshmallows in all the beds, and she finally discovered that they had pushed a screen out to find their way back to the great outdoors after their big party. Most people know to raccoon proof the food WHILE they are camping, but at least for my parents, they need to raccoon proof before camping too!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Who Needs A Water Bowl?

Kendall, our miniature schnauzer, has a very nice water bowl that is kept full of water, however much of the time you wouldn't know it because she prefers to drink water from other sources. When she is out in the backyard, one of the first things she does (except for those really cold days) is go straight for the bird bath to see if there is any water in it. If there is, she helps herself to a drink. Another habit she developed last fall was as soon as anyone gets out of the shower or bathtub she goes and gets in and drinks the water that didnt completely drain out. As she's going to get in the tub, she will watch you, peeking over her shoulder until she thinks no one is watching and then ching-ching, she jumps in. At least I've never discovered her drinking out of the toilet!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring is Coming, Isn't It?




I am so tired of winter. My husband stated back in November he hoped we had a lot of snow that he could plow this year. He meant a lot of snow at one time. God didn't. He meant a little snow, many times! So this winter has been long. I now understand why people go south for the winter when they retire. But I'm looking forward to spring. It really will come. I love the flowers, the greening of everything, the nice weather! and most importantly all of the fun activities that can be done in the spring. We like to take our fourwheeler out to play. I love backpacking, and my kayak misses me, and hiking in general is great in the spring. And then a wonderful activity I've actually only done once, but rock climbing is incredible! Waterfalls, even seasonal ones are usually beautiful. For those of you with beautiful flowers blooming already, I'm jealous! But within a month we should have our own flowers. I did notice the dogwoods the other day. The buds were swelling like they are also preparing for spring and will bloom soon.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

From Enemies to Best Friends



For anyone that has many conversations with me, you know about our miniature schnauzer, Kendall. I just can't help but bring her up in conversation. Kendall was my husband's dog before we ever met. The first time her and BootsKitty met, it wasn't a pretty sight. Actually they didn't like each other the entire time we dated. Remember Boots is a diabetic cat, and where I go, he goes, and Kendall is a dog so where my husband went, she went. Which meant that every time we saw each other we each had a pet in tow. Right after we returned to my parents to retrieve the cat after our honeymoon, we left them alone while we went to church. At that time they wanted nothing to do with each other...or should I say Boots wanted nothing to do with Kendall. She thought everyone should be her friend, even the cat that striped her nose. So, we went to church and returned to find them sitting side by side. It was as if they were saying, ok, since this is obviously permanent I guess we will have to deal with it. We've come to a truce. Now, nearly two years later, they are best buddies. They love to wrestle and chase each other. And sometimes I think they team up to get into things although that is when no one is looking so I'm not real sure. Who would have ever thought that one curious, energetic, silly schnauzer and a cat could be best friends? But I'm glad they are, it makes it much nicer when I have happy pets!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Yellowstone




While typing yesterday, I started thinking about all of the fun trips I have been able to take. The first trip I have any memories at all of is a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas when I was three or four. The main memory...I got stung by a jellyfish. It was several years before we were able to take another trip, and we went to Colorado. The following year it was Colorado and Yellowstone, two years later, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, and two years after that it was Yellowstone and Glacier. Yes, when we visited Yellowstone we fell in love with it. So upon starting college I was fortunate enough to have my dream come true. I was hired to work in Yellowstone the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I was serving pizza at the Lake House, overlooking Yellowstone Lake. I got there in mid-May. The lake was still frozen, snow drifts were higher than my head. I was at work the day the lake cracked. It was all frozen, then rather quickly the ice cracked and sank to the bottom with a windchime like sound. That summer was incredible. I never did see a grizzly bear although one was frequently seen between my dorm and work. I missed the moose that swam across the lake right in front of the restaurant. But the memories are unforgettable. I hiked 125 miles that summer, while working 40-48 hours per week. I remember hiking to Heart Lake and returning for evening Bible study. We were discussing how we knew God existed that night and I remember Holly (my roommate and hiking buddy) and I looked at each other. I think she's the one that said what we were both thinking. We had hiked sixteen miles that day, barely saw another person, saw spectacular hot pools, mountains reflecting off the lake, and a beautiful scene. We had also seen the effects of the fires of 88 and how much the trees had grown back. Her statement "Being here with all of this beauty and diversity, how could you not believe in God? Things this wonderful aren't just by chance." I've remembered that as I've seen some of the greatest places in this country and even in the Caribbean. God's hand is in all we see, all we are, and all we do. We just have to trust him. He created magical places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, but that isn't all he does. He created us too. So no matter what is going on in your lives right now, just remember God is there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Breathing Underwater Submersible Scooters


Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas



There are many fun things in life a person can experience, but one I never dreamed I would be doing would be riding around on a scooter underwater with my head in an oxygen filled bubble, but this past January, that is exactly what I was doing. We were on a cruise, at St. Thomas, when we signued up to do the Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter shore exursion. It was a lot of fun as we got to see coral, the crystal clear water, and all sorts of interesting fish. According to the person that owns them there were only about 200 of these ever made, so St. Thomas is one of the few places where you can ride a scooter underwater. The first thing we did was we were taken out to a little cove where we were given instruction in how to get onto the submersible scooter. Then one by one we jumped in the water, going to the designated scooter number. I jumped in and swam over to my scooter and was one of the first to be submersed. While they dropped us 8-10 feet underwater our only job was to keep popping our ears so the pressure didn't affect us. That was easy enough. Then they let us putter around while everyone else got underwater and then we posed for our picture. I was glad we had thought to bring waterproof cameras because I paid $7 for ours back in Missouri, but they would have sold them to us for $20! Then we went around for a while looking at things, making a small circle over a boat that had sunk. It seemed like we had just gotten started when our turn was up and they brought us back to the surface. After we had ridden the scooter we were also able to snorkel and while snorkeling we saw a sea turtle swimming around. Unfortunately I had already used all the film on my underwater camera before the little guy swam right underneath us. We saw fish of every color of the rainbow, which made our bass and crappie, and even a rainbow trout look a little boring. The colors were so amazing and we had so much fun that I actually have considered getting a saltwater aquarium so that I could look at it everyday and be reminded of our underwater experiences, but then I rationalize that the cat would probably try to eat the fish, the dog would probably try to play with them, and I'd have to figure out how to keep a saltwater tank clean! Guess I'll just have to visit places that have the aquariums in order to see the fish and coral. Or maybe I'll just have to go back to the Caribbean and go snorkeling again!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Meet BootsKitty, One Lucky Cat



From the start, Boots has been a very lucky kitty cat. You see, the way his life started out was with a mamma that nobody wanted and had dumped at a State Park in Northeast Arkansas. So of course, no one wanted the kittens to love either. These cats ran wild through the park and the story goes that Boots was just a little wilder than the others. One day a visitor to the park asked if they could try to trap the cats so she could take them home and let them be barn cats to eat the mice out of her barn. The park thought that was a great idea so they set out to capture the cats. They caught them all, except for one really wild one. A couple days later the park superintendent's mother was sitting on her back porch in the park when one "wild" black and white cat came and jumped up on her lap. It turns out that Boots wasn't really that wild, he was just going for a life of luxury instead of a barn cat's life. So since the superintendent already had two dogs and two cats and no room to really keep another cat, my phone rang. I had just gotten a full time job and moved into my first house. Since I was all alone I was going to get a pet anyway, so when I got a call saying there was a little kitten needing a home, I adopted him. For the first couple months that Boots and I lived together it required adjustment. He wanted to sleep in my bed, which was fine, but when he would wake up in the middle of the night he would crawl up around my head and chew on my hair, right at the roots. Not a very fun way to be woken up night after night, so Boots was banished from the bedroom. Then I had to be gone for a week and felt bad cause he'd been lonely and let him back in and he's not tried that again. So time passed and BootsKitty became very important to me. If I cried he'd lay beside me and soak up my tears. We played all the time. And he grew. Then one day I about 3 years ago I came home from a weekend camping and found my kitty so sick he couldnt even lift his head. I rushed him to the vet as fast as I could get there, crying the whole way. When I got him there, the prognosis was not good. He had a major urinary tract blockage, which they didnt know if they'd be able to clear or not. I had to leave him overnight with the vet and when I called the next morning he was doing better but was still pretty sick. They let me visit him and I think it was two days later I got to bring him home, with a new diet plan. He was to eat only this food for urinary tract problems. So we made it through that, he returned to being a healthy cat. Then two years ago, about a year after the urinary problems, BootsKitty wasn't acting quite right so it was back to the vet. He was diabetic. Severely. His blood sugar was in the 580 range, when it should have been right around 100. So after 6 weeks of trying to regulate his blood sugar, we got it under control, but now, my cat has to have insulin shots two times every day. No more leaving the cat behind, he goes too, wherever we go, or otherwise we have to get a babysitter. And yes, he has his own "tent" for camping. I guess maybe God knew Boots would need that extra bit of love and that's why he was never captured for a barn cat.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pictures



Here is that rest area where I first saw the mountains! Of course my sister and I had to pose for a picture. The scary thing is that picture was taken in 1992 and I still have those shorts, although I only wear them for sleeping now and my husband doesnt like them:) But they are the most comfortable pair of shorts I've ever owned.
Florence during one of her rare indoor performances during a Senior American Special. You might think this sounds like a kids program but these adults loved it!

A closer look at Florence and a friend after the program.












Tomorrow is Sunday, which since I have to work I probably won't post (I dont get up as early on work sundays:) So Enjoy the pictures tonight and since I've learned how todo them, I will try to add more frequently!

A Monumental, Unexpected Visit from a Flying Squirrel

So you may be wondering why my name is Flying Squirrel Fan. It's a simple story really, and one that all of my friends are probably well aware of. Back in 2002 I was living and working at the best state park in the world (ok, so maybe I'm biased:). It took me 30 minutes to get to town, and that was where I went to church. After working on a Sunday, I went to town for the evening service at church. Meanwhile back at the house, events were unfolding. I returned home to a cat (at the time he was too much overweight) staring into a pile of walmart bags. For those of you that visit Walmart regularly, you will know that this was not a small 5 or 6 bag pile, but a monstrous, completely filled up large nook full of walmart bags. Having never seen my cat just sit and stare at a pile of bags, I asked him what he was doing. He wouldn't tell me...or maybe I just didnt speak cat, I'm not sure. Anyway, I fed him and he left the bags. I had sat down on the couch in the living room getting ready to read whatever book I was currently engrossed in when I saw it. There was a little flying squirrel running as fast through the house as his little legs would carry him. There was a large cat in pursuit. That put me in pursuit. So around the house we went, flying squirrel, cat, me. This lasted for a good five minutes and many trips through the house before I decided I needed to find advice, so I called up our friendly park ranger (he had previously lived in the house, I thought he might have experienced this before). He told me to open up the door and herd it out. Hmmm....herding flying squirrels works about as well as herding cats. By this time the chace has gone over every bit of furniture I owned, I almost lost a cat in a toilet, and I wasn't sure how it would all end. Eventually the flying squirrel ran into a folded up quilt. I grabbed the quilt and took it outside and tried to shake the flying squirrel out. He wouldnt turn loose. So....I laid the quilt down and after I had gone back inside, I saw little beady eyes peak out, look around and then glide to a nearby tree. When he landed he ran around the tree.

So, that's not the only wild animal that has ever been in my house. But for some reason that flying squirrel inspired me. I am an interpreter, and what I do is find fun ways to interpret nature. So that night, while trying to sleep an idea began forming in my head. People don't know anything about flying squirrels. They need to understand them. A program, but not any program would do. I wanted to become that flying squirrel. A phone call to my mom, who sounded like she thought I'd lost my mind, produced the groundwork for a flying squirrel costume. A few months later after learning all I could about flying squirrels, and my mother figuring out how to make a costume, Florence the Flying Squirrel became a reality. My favorite interpreter program I have ever done in nearly seven years of interpreting. I became known as the flying squirrel person and this past year even got to take Florence to the National Association Of Interpretation conference. And yes, my trademark began with just one little flying squirrel running through my living room. (Pictures to come whenever I figure out how to do that).