Approach life gently. Treat life kindly. Live life fully and with enthusiasm.
Respect life--always.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Where’s The Love?

85550019I ended the 2011th year of our Lord wondering about the state of humanity. Where is the peace, love, and compassion that we all desire, that we all confess to reach for? Where is the basic decency, even?

What kind of a world do we live in, where someone deems it okay to solve a barking dog dispute by poisoning the dogs? Those yappy little dogs drive me crazy, too, from time to time, but it is not okay to kill. A dog does what it is allowed to do. The solution needs to be taken up with the owner, not from killing the innocent animals. It is said in dog training classes that it is actually the handler that is being trained, and I believe that is true. Dogs are very receptive to their owner’s behavior. They are eager to please. Why can’t people learn something from dogs, in that respect?

A friend tried to kill himself recently, over a young woman. When asked why she had been so cruel to him, that girl showed her true colors, “Maybe next time he will do it right.” We cannot stop ourselves from falling in love with the wrong people sometimes. We cannot help our overwhelming desire to love them despite themselves. We cannot help but want to fix them, once we do wake up and realize that they are no good for us. But why do people have to be so cruel in the first place? Weren’t we all given the ability to love and care, to show compassion and empathy, to learn and grow from our own mistakes and misgivings?

The newspapers and TV news programs are full of the evildoings of humans. Rape. Murder. Assault. Robbery. Arson. Embezzlement. Bombings. But why must evilness be so prolific? Do the evildoers not feel that twinge in their chest, that gnawing in their gut that tells them they are crossing the line?

Where is the love?

It took a while to search my brain for examples of God’s love, worked through people. It took too long because of all the negative influences we typically surround ourselves with on a daily basis. Those news sources I mentioned earlier. Reality TV, where backstabbing and fighting are glorified. The internet, where there is an overabundance of lies, scams, and other negativities. Information overload.

The love is in the simpler things of life. A smile from a stranger. A shared laugh with a friend over a cup of coffee. A homemade pot of caldo de rez from the neighbor, when I am at my worst. The nurse at the hospital, who spends that extra time to make sure you understand what is to happen next, so that you don’t feel lost and alone at a very scary time.

The compassion and empathy are in the gentle, knowing pat on my hand, when the other person simply has to look at me to know how much I am hurting. It is in the offer to help a friend, before she even contemplates asking. It is in the “just being there” actions we often forget to “do” because we are so busy trying to fill each minute with action, noise, and clutter. Silence is golden, after all.

The decency and humanity are in all of us. It can be nurtured. It can blossom, even from the worst conditions. Despite all the negativity around us, I believe we all deserve love. I believe in the goodness of the human race. Deep down, we all have good in us.

May you be blessed in this New Year. May you find the peace that seems so elusive. May you know the joy of true love and friendship. May you feel the compassion of others. And may you be all these things for someone else.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Resolve or Not Resolve


85480013As we near the end of another year, the same old question arises: Should I make New Year’s Resolutions?

For the past (at least) five years, I have refused to put my inadequacies and my hope-inspired solutions on paper just to fulfill a silly ritual. And yet, somewhere around the beginning of each year, even though they aren’t written down, I start a new diet and I attempt a new exercise program and I make all sorts of promises to improve my life that I cannot seem to keep.

But is that not the standard? We all make grand resolutions and promises, and very few of us actually carry them through.

So, to resolve or not resolve? Maybe if my list is simpler than usual. And maybe it should be on paper this year. Maybe if I strive only for those things I know are doable, at this moment. The things that will make me happy. Maybe my list should be thus:

1.  I will love myself more this year.

2.  I will be kind to myself this year.

3.  I will smell the roses more often.

4.  I will smile more often.

5.  I will forgive myself when I make mistakes.

6.  I will forgive others their mistakes.

May your life blossom in this coming year, and may you know peace, if even just in your tiny corner of the world.

Blessings and love,

Jenni Lynn




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And Now For the Fun Part


PC200092And now for the fun part. That is what I kept saying, as my son looked over my shoulder day after day as I diligently worked on Ken’s Christmas present. My son is very much the creative type ( just like his mama), and I am enjoying watching his creativity bloom. He definitely has an eye for colors, style, and design. I imagine, if he had the inclination and with his amazing computer skills, he would make an awesome graphic designer or even a game designer.

There are many, many steps in the quilt-making process, especially when one is designing as she goes, as with a free-form T-shirt quilt. For one, I greatly underestimated how many T-shirts I would need. Even though Ken has a huge collection of shirts, he was rather stingy in which he was willing to sacrifice. I tried my best to make them stretch (no pun intended), but I finally had to go back to him and ask for more T-shirts. Since he could now see the beautiful thing I was creating for him, he was slightly more generous. He even gave me the shirt of his back. Of course, I had to wash it before cutting it up, though.


I also got him to give up a pair of Valentine’s boxers. No comment . . .


I had plenty of creative help, though some “helpers” were more insistent about getting their own way than others.


But where I really needed the help was with hand-washing the batting.


I chose an all-natural 100% cotton batting for this project, and if I did not pre-wash, I would have lost 3% in size with the first washing-that’s almost 3 inches in length alone. It is worth it, though, being all-natural and made in the USA.


I discovered something while working on this quilt. My work table is in front of the armoire, which my friend has yet to take even though she has paid for it. The colors in the quilt look great up against the dark cherry of my old bedroom set. Again, I regret selling it, but it had to be done.


The armoire will not fit in the RV, no matter how hard I try, and I would hate for it to be damaged from sitting in storage for years, not to mention the storage costs to keep a bedroom set so large. Ken will have enough stuff he is unwilling to part with that we will have to pay for, again and again, in storage fees.

Here, my guys are modeling the front side, when it is almost completed. It just needed the border, and then I could slap it all together. That’s Suzie in the bottom, right corner.


It took a lot of finessing, and more safety pins than one could imagine, to get the two sides and the batting to cooperate, but I finally got this quilt finished, and just in the nick of time, with Christmas right around the corner. I bet it will look absolutely beautiful in the Raven—if ever we get her back from the shop.



I just had to show off the boxers. They made it onto the quilt, whole and intact.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



PC140063Oh, fiddle sticks. It has been an interesting month that I have been away from my writing. Life. Yes, it is a sentence. Life has been frustrating to say the least these past several weeks.

My mom always said that things happen in threes, though she was usually talking about deaths, and in particular, the deaths of celebrities. This past month’s three had to do not with death but with illness. My hubby was in the ICU with complications of his diabetes and a medicine that should never have been prescribed to a diabetic. Don’t even get me started on that subject. And the other two of the three were two friends who have also been in the hospital recently. I have had my hands and my heart full just trying to keep up in my prayers lately.

Well, (“that’s a very deep subject,” as Ken would say), crisis averted. Life is settling down now, just in time for Christmas. And me without my Christmas projects finished. Oh, my! I see a few all-nighters in my future. Lucky me.

My biggest Christmas project is a T-shirt quilt for my husband. It has only taken me at least a year to convince him to give me part of his massive T-shirt collection for this project. I have tried reassuring him that he will love the end result. He knows I can sew like nobody’s business. After all, I learned at the knees of my grandmother, who was a master seamstress, and my mother.


The quilt is coming along beautifully, though I may have to steal a few more T-shirts, and I am amazed at how quickly I am putting it together. I haven’t made a quilt since I was pregnant with my son, and it seems to me that that particular quilt took forever. But then again, I was working full time and I had a very active four-year-old too. I am just amazed at the stuff I used to be able to accomplish back then. For one, I made a good portion of my daughter’s clothes myself, that is, until she was about eight and discovered that her clothing was “different” than what the other girls were wearing. Go figure—a child not appreciating hand-made items. What is the world coming to?


So, (sew buttons) wish me luck on getting the quilt finished by Christmas. And then maybe after Christmas, I will be able to get back to the Roman shades, though we still don’t have the Raven home. The new roof is taking much longer than anticipated. Not that I begrudge Trent his family time, but did he have to choose now to go to Disneyland, when my future home is in dire straits? Actually, Trent works very hard all year long, and I am happy for him winning the vacation lottery at work, so to speak, by getting time off right before Christmas.

So, (sew buttons) here’s to all of us spending quality time with loved ones and finding peace and joy in unexpected experiences.

By the way, how do you sew buttons on eggs?


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Patience . . .


007_3ASo, patience seems to be a virtue needed in every walk (or roll) of life, and my patience is wearing thin. When Ken took the Raven to be repaired, I was feeling too ill to go with him. Big mistake number one. I also assumed it would not take seemingly forever to fix her. That was big mistake number two.

Normally, I can be a rather patient person.

I prefer my meals home cooked instead of micro-zapped.

I actually like the chilliness on winter mornings, when the furnace is turned way down and a fire has yet to be built. Then, I like to slowly thaw out in front of a blazing fire and later feel that robust warmth as it penetrates the entire house. (Unfortunately, we don’t have a woodstove any longer.)

I like the scratchy feel of graphite on paper. It is a tactile thing, an almost earthy sensation and an ever so slow process that typing at break-neck speeds cannot give the writer. It allows me to think about each word choice as I form my thoughts.

But then, I also like drawing with graphite. All that smudging and the emotional nuances one can add with deliberate fingers that she cannot get with keystrokes and CGI.

I prefer making things myself, rather than buying mass-produced junk. But if I do need to purchase something, I can be patient enough to wait for just the right one.

Surprises make me anxious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. I prefer to give rather than receive, but if I do receive, I like it to be on Christmas Morning, not on the Eve. And I enjoy watching others open their gifts before I even touch mine. That is where the joy is, in seeing the excitement of others.

Even though I can be patient in many aspects of my life, not having the Raven home is driving me crazy. I feel naked, or rather, the driveway looks naked without her. But the worst part is big mistake number three. I forgot to get some very important things out of the Raven before she left to be repaired. It seems every day I am saying, “oops, it’s in the RV,” about one thing or another.

My good fabric scissors are in the RV so I cannot finish the Roman shades. Besides, I forgot one vital measurement, so I cannot get any farther anyway.

A few weeks ago, I had a cup of hot tea explode on my belly. Unfortunately both the aloe gel and the big first aid kit were in the RV. Luckily the neighbor was there to help out.

On Thanksgiving, we were short a few of our usual serving bowls because I had needed them on our last trip and they never came back inside.

The list goes on and on.

And so does this waiting game.

Patience, darling, is all Ken can say for now. The Raven will be home soon.


Friday, November 25, 2011

We Thank Thee



We thank Thee for giving us the strength and stamina to prepare for this celebration.


We thank Thee for the talents we have been blessed with.


We thank Thee for the beauty of this and every season.


We thank Thee for providing the bountiful feast for our table.


We thank Thee for being our guiding light.


We thank Thee for giving us our family and friends.

For all of these gifts, these blessings, we thank our Lord and Savior.

This weekend marks the beginning of the “holiday season.” In humbleness, I pray that this year, and every year, we can remember the true reason for the season.

I wish you all the blessings our Lord has in store for you. May these blessing be all you have dreamt for yourself and your family. And remember that even a life full of trials and pain, can be equally and overwhelmingly full of joy.

I wish you this joy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mmmmmm Pie

69890017“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” Jim Davis

Well, today was pre-Thanksgiving-pie-making day. And boy, did we go overboard. Ken and I worked our fingers to the bone. We made two pumpkin pies, two marionberry pies, three vegetarian mince pies, and three mashed sweet potato and pear casseroles.
Now, with all of those pies, can you believe that there will probably only be four of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year? I am really not insane, though it may seem so. I have a method to my madness, and it includes my love of making pies. Besides, it is customary for me to make extra pies (or other baked goods) because it is my belief that goodness needs to be shared.
It is something like the tradition that some people have of putting an extra setting on the table during the holidays, just in case someone should stop by and be hungry. I may not go through the motions of having an empty chair ready, but our door is always open and there is always plenty of food, and there have been many holidays when we have found out at the last minute that someone would be alone instead of with family. As one friend of ours said to a stranger at our table one year, “They like to adopt people.” It is true. Anyone hungry, either for food or love or just some company, is welcome. (Even this guy.)
This is something I will definitely miss when we are traveling. Who will I share my pies with? Will I even be making pies while we are on the road? I will miss the closeness of my friends, being able to just give a call and set up a coffee date, for no other reason than because I miss her. We will have to work on solving this problem.
In honor of this, my tenth year of making vegetarian mince pies, I would like to share the recipe with you. It is amazing, with all the tantalizing tastes and smells of winter, those earthy spices of cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg. Besides, it is an awesome use for all those green tomatoes left hanging on the vines long after our sunny weather disappeared.
To Make two pies:
  • 4 cups green tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups apples, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • two 9-inch pie shells
The easiest way to chop all the ingredients is to run them through the food processor. Mix all the ingredients together in a non-reactive kettle and boil gently over medium heat for half an hour. Allow to cool a while before filling the crusts. Fill the crusts, put strips of more crust across the top in a lattice, and bake in a 350 degree oven for half an hour or until the crust is golden brown. Serve chilled or warm out of the oven, with a dollop of fresh whipped cream—the real stuff, no Cool Whip allowed.
P.S. During the writing of this post, two more people have been added to our celebration. See how that works?
Hey! How did she get up there? I guess the wonderful aromas were just too much for her.
Who can resist pie crust cookies, made with the leftover pie dough and sprinkled with sugar and love?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Not Meant To Be?


85650007Seriously, folks. How difficult is it to get satellite service for an RV? You would think I am asking for a miracle, and all I want is to be able to watch a little TV once in a while when we are on the road.

A while back, I called one of our local satellite providers and discussed exactly what I wanted with the gentleman on the other end of the line. I told him that we would be traveling full time in our rig and that we already had a rooftop system installed. I made sure he understood both of those points. I had been told when we bought the Raven that it was a piece of cake, getting a provider to come out and simply hook up to our existing satellite.

Well, when the technician came out a few days later, he took one look at the rig in our driveway and said that he could not hook us up and that his company did not hook up RVs unless they were “up on blocks.” I told him that that defeats the purpose when one wants to travel. I also told him what the sales person had said over the phone. He was rather rude about it, and the company also kept my thirty bucks. I won’t be dealing with them again any time soon.

Next, when we were at the RV show in Portland, we talked, in person, to a technician who said that he installs all the time for full-timers. We had a very long discussion about the ins and outs of the different providers and what we needed to check on before having him come out.

Okay! I actually thought we were getting somewhere. As he instructed, we had our regular service tech check out the satellite on our roof. As we feared, it was an older model that did not have a dip switch to toggle between the two major companies. It was permanently set for the company I already said I wouldn’t deal with anymore. So, we decided to abandon the thought of using that satellite system and opted to go the tail-gator route, which is basically a dish mounted on a tripod. It is about as cheap as it gets—even at $350. Once again, I was on the phone, calling this gentleman who had been so helpful at the RV show. And, of course, he passed us off to someone whom he said was more knowledgeable about RV installs. Neither one of them seemed to understand that we would be traveling full time all over the country and that we wanted to be able to watch TV wherever we landed. Guy number two kept talking about how we would not have local channels and that there was a bunch of logistics and red tape to deal with if we wanted to travel more than 100 miles from home. What? He said he would put us together a price quote and call us back. He never did.

Now, I am pretty well perturbed about this whole mess, and I am mere seconds away from telling Ken that he won’t be able to ever watch TV again. Of course, that is nonsense because RV parks usually have cable service, but I was rather upset, and my all-or-nothing mentality was showing.

In the meantime, the Raven needed some servicing. We had to winterize it because we don’t plan on traveling again until spring, and the roof had also developed a leak, to my dismay. While at a “cheaper” RV service place, Ken started asking about installing a new satellite system on the roof, since they had to be up there fixing the leak anyway. He is more than determined to have TV, it seems at any cost. This repair and service place, which is not our normal provider, told us that the leak is much worse than expected and that we need a whole new roof.

So, of course, another part of my ugly side started to show—I started grumping about how he shouldn’t have changed the status quo, how he should not have went to someone else, when we trust Trent explicitly with the Raven. And so, now we have at least a $3500 bill staring us in the face. Plus, when Ken picked up the Raven from the other guys to take it to Trent for the needed repairs, he discovered that it is now running very rough, and it was running beautifully before they got their mitts on it.

This has not been a good week for the Raven.

And Ken is still determined to have his satellite TV.

Please tell me why it is so darned difficult to give my loving husband this one small luxury. Because I am beginning to believe it just isn’t meant to be.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Such Is Life


DSC00426My back has been up in a tizzy this week. I haven’t a clue what I did to deserve this, other than, maybe just maybe, I was starting to feel better, putting my episode of depression behind me, and so my body decided that I just could not have a moment of peace. Either that or it was our two-day shopping spree to find our Roman shade supplies. Of course it was that and not my body conspiring against me. That would just be silly. But when you wake up in severe pain, you have to ask, “what did I do to deserve this?” In Lyme, most of the time the answer is, “not a damn thing.” It just happens. I try to look at these times as God telling me to slow down and be patient and appreciate what I can do even when in pain, like breathe.

I really wanted to get my bedroom furniture to it’s new owner. I hated selling my armoire. I dreamt about having a cherry-stained armoire for years before Ken bought it for me. I struggled with whether to sell my set or store it. In the end, I decided that I could always buy another one. And so now, my friend has finished paying for it, and I have yet to get it to her. I feel guilty, but she understands. My desire had been to gut our bedroom, and being me, it would have been with or without help. So, maybe this back pain is God’s way of also telling me that I need others. I am not meant to be a one-woman show, no matter what I have had to do in the past, or what I was able to do in the past. We all need people, good people in our lives. And life is a give and take. So many times I gave until it hurt in the past. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed giving all that help and love. I still do enjoy giving more than receiving, but as life would have it, I now have to receive more often than give these days.

Such is life.

So, as the pain killers began to kick in today, I decided the best use of my time would be recovering the now naked box valances. The leather had already been measured and cut. The large table was already crowding the living room (an obvious deterrent to moving the bedroom furniture, anyway). So why not just jump in? Simple answer: No staples.

DSC00442I grabbed the glue instead and set to recovering the fabric buttons, those silly little things that will cover the screws, which hold the door casing in place. You wouldn’t think that nine little buttons would take so long, but they did.

DSC00428In the meantime, Ken stopped by the store to pick up some staples and arrived home to me getting frustrated with my sticky fingers. He doesn’t like me being cranky very much. I really don’t blame him, but I detest sticky fingers. Don’t you? Here, I think he is pondering whether to leave again or whether to help me.

I switched tasks and tried stapling, but the staple gun takes more hand strength than I currently possess. I think I managed two staples before giving up. Luckily my hero forgave me and took over the box valance job, and he did a beautiful job at that. Thanks again, honey. I don’t know what I would do without you.






My girl Suzie. Tink was suppose to be beside her in this picture, but she was too excited by all the camera flashes and would not hold still. Oh well. Its not like we don’t have plenty of pictures of Tink on this blog already . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roman Thoughts


DSCN0117The Romans were notorious for their ingenuity. Even though Rome was not built in a day, it was built magnificently. Some of the architecture from the time of Christ is still standing today, though a little worse for wear. Do you believe that anything we create today will still be standing 2000 years from now?

My brain is always questioning, always dreaming. There is always another tangent I must explore, another question to ask. Today’s tangent came about because we are making Roman shades for the Raven. All these Roman facts are wandering through my brain.

We spent several days this past week as soldiers on a mission to find the perfect fabric and other materials to make the perfect shades. Our mission led us to several local merchants. The first was The Mill End Store where we searched out bolt ends and other bargain fabrics. And of course, we found the absolute perfect remnant just big enough to create spectacular shades.


We also found the perfect fabric for the bedroom, but that will be revealed at a later date. Isn’t it funny how, sometimes if you are patient enough, the perfect item will just jump right out at you? Ken kept suggesting this and that and the other, but I kept saying, “nope, I will know the right one when I see it.” And then it was there. Perfect colors. Perfect pattern. I love when that happens. Oh, heck. I am so excited about it, I might as well show you now.


Our second stop was at The Oregon Leather Company where we dug through their scrap bins and found some rather large, beautiful pieces. Perfect. And of course, I bought too much. I teased Tinker Belle that I might just have to make her a red leather bustier. Can you imagine that for next Halloween? A Pug in a bustier? Too funny. Maybe I will just have to make all the dogs new harnesses and leashes. That is a more realistic use for the leftover leather. Oh, by the way, the bustier idea really came from a friend. I showed her my leather finds and suggested I might make myself a purse out of the red leather, and she said that it would make an awesome bustier. (Though I think she was thinking about for herself and not for the dog!)

And then on to what should have been our last stop: Scrap. It is a great store with loads of recycled items which can be used for art projects. I had hoped to find either wooden dowels or plastic ones to use as battens in the Roman shades. No such luck, but my creative fingers were definitely itching because of all those raw materials. Ceramic tiles. Carpet tiles. Wood. Magnets. Fabric. Yarn. Cardboard tubes. And little bits of just about anything you could think of. It is a great little shop, but it just didn’t have what I was looking for. I guess the best approach is to go there with an open mind. Boy, howdy, could a girl have fun there! I am thinking birthday party. Hint. Hint. Number 44 is just around the corner, girls.

Yikes. We had to make yet another stop, but that is okay because it is one of my all-time favorite recycling centers. If you want unique building supplies, you have to check out The Rebuilding Center. It is huger than huge and always has a surprise or two tucked away if you are willing to dig a little. But isn’t that the fun of treasure hunts, the digging?

With all these finds now in hand, it is a good thing that I have two slaves (sorry for slipping back into Roman times again) to help me. My guys are great to carry on when my hands or my back give out, which is all too soon and all too often as far as I am concerned. Alas, I have had to learn to sit back and appreciate what others are willing to do for me. That is not as easy as it sounds for a do-it-yourself girl, though. Most of the time, I would much rather be doing it myself, rather than just giving creative input. My guys are good to me and I love them and appreciate them more than I could ever express to either of them. I love you. Thank you for lending you fingers and your muscles to strip the old fabric off the box valances. You are awesome!




I even managed to get our neighbor involved, but he made me promise not to have his face in the pictures. That’s him on the left. Thank you, too!