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

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!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Survival Tactics For Humans


Sometimes the best revenge when someone has hurt you is to simply live a good life. Sometimes if the hurts cut too deeply, you must live your good life without them. Sometimes if you find yourself surrounded by unsafe people (please read Safe People by Townsend and Cloud if you want information on this subject), you must assess why that is so, what your part in those issues is, and you must make changes to make your environment safe. Lashing out accomplishes nothing and damages everyone concerned. Even if your own words don’t “come back to bite you in the butt,” as the saying goes, your own words can still hurt you in lost time, lost happiness, lost relationships.

It is best to turn the other cheek. Jesus is the perfect example of turning the other cheek. But this does not mean that He allowed the offenders to strike another blow. He chose to surround Himself with safe people and He chose to live His life as an example for others.

Turning the other cheek means you move on without taking revenge. Without charging an eye for your own swollen and blackened eye. Having such a negative attitude only leads to more hurt, more strife, more pain. Therefore, it is best to lead a good life without sinking low.

Whether those who have offended you ever know of your new-found freedom through living your own good life is inconsequential. Just as forgiveness is for your own heart and not for the benefit of the person you are forgiving, happiness is for your own sake. I have given myself the grace to live my life as best I can, though sometimes my depression still rears its ugly head. I am only human.

I strive always for forgiveness, goodness, and mercy in my heart. I surround myself with good people, loved ones who build me up rather than tear me down. I strive to give and do for others whenever I can, though my illness tends to hold me back from all I want to do. God has forgiven me my inabilities and my failings in my darkest hours, in my weakest moments, in my illness. I strive to give myself enough grace to heal my heart, soul, and body instead of hating myself for all that I am not and cannot do.

I am a survivor. I survive. I am alive. And God loves me even though, or maybe because, I am human.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Best Anti-Depressant


. . . is being proactive.

For years, I have suffered at the hands of my depression and anxiety. For years, I have let those evils run my life. For years, I have wallowed in self-pity, allowing my past to continue to haunt me. For years, I have contemplated suicide, knowing in my messed-up brain that the world would be better off without me.
For years, I was stupid. Allowing my past and my emotions to rule my present and my future is stupid.

Sometimes I hate myself for allowing this waste of my life. It is worse than suicide because I have to be here and still know how much of my life is gone, wasted. But I cannot hate myself forever. I am only human, after all, and if I allow others their mistakes and I forgive them, why not myself?

A couple years ago, I hit rock bottom. I thought I had already been there several times before, but this time was the worst. I found myself newly diagnosed with a devastating illness. I lost my job because of that illness. I was thrust into motherlessness when my mother suddenly passed away from a pulmonary embolism. I further became an orphan when my entire birth family shunned me because they could not accept my illness. They preferred to call me a hypochondriac and lazy. I lost my home because of my illness, medical bills, and joblessness. If it weren’t for the love of my dear husband, I would have been destitute, alone, and dead on the street.

I came to a decision in the wake of all that tragedy.

I had to love myself as much as Ken loves me. As much as Jesus loves me. I had to fight for myself as much as Ken was willing to fight for me. As much as Jesus fought and died for me.

I came to the decision that, even with the love and support of Ken and Jesus and my son, I was ultimately the one who had to save me.

I had to be proactive.

But I did not know how. I did not know what to do.

I took a few classes at church. At first, my life crumbled further into the abyss as my searchings opened old wounds. I was forced into reliving my past every night in my nightmares.

Then things started to even out. My emotional life started to improve even though I still suffered greatly in my physical life.

I would like to share that turning point with you. This painting and poem came about because of an assignment in one of the church classes I took. Because of my new guiding attitude and the reminders of this artwork, I know I must fight and scratch and claw my way out of the pit of depression.  Sometimes I must still fight every day. Just as I must be proactive in regaining my physical health, I must be proactive in my mental and emotional health.

Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you. Thank you, Renew and Mountain View Christian Church, for helping me know what I must do. Thank you, Pastor Dave, for listening to my broken heart, even when sometimes I just seemed to blubber and rant.

And thank you, Angie, most of all for starting me on my healing journey. Your insights into grief and your compassion for others are immeasurable. I love you, my dearest friend.

I am renewed
I am out of the woods
On top of the mountain
The dove of peace
Has left the olive branch
And taken away the spirochetes
I reach for Jesus
His warmth beckoning
My heart is already there
His gifts rain down around me
Like wildflowers in a field
So many go unnoticed
His greatest worldly gifts
My life, my mind, my body
These renew so that I may
Give my gifts to you.
Jennifer Lynn Servantes
October 15, 2009

Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter Blues Come Early


PA150649Ken and I returned home a few days ago. We will be home for the entire winter, my worst season. We talked briefly about getting the Raven winterized, and my depression escalated even more than in the few days before we came home, as I dreaded returning home.

One of the fulltimers we met in Neskowin asked when we would be back. I wanted to say, “real soon,” but I know differently. She said that they were staying the winter in Neskowin, and I so longed to just hunker down, even though it was bracingly chilly, and the only thing I fear worse than drowning is the wind—and being so close to the ocean that you can hear the waves means you will get quite a bit of wind. I did not want to go home. I do not want to be home.

There is too much to do here. Too much stuff left undone, stuff left un-gone-through. There are too many bad memories here. Too much pain, emotional pain, family pain. It is too cold here. Too dark. This is not my home.

This is no longer my home, though my stuff is here. The Raven is my home. I know that now. I feel safe there. I feel welcome there. I feel happy there.

I entered in the front door of our duplex, and my only source of solace, other than my bed, is the light coming in the front door’s etched window. It beckons me to leave again, but I cannot.

I must deal with all that is left to do before Spring arrives.

But I must first deal with this nagging depression. I must find a way to make it through the winter with my sanity intact. I must find a way to continue to be me even though I cannot be free.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Life is Not a Race


DSC00367Today I was not feeling well, but I had promised Ken that we would go sightseeing. He is a sweetheart and he usually understands when I am too tired or in too much pain to fulfill my promises. Even so, I hate to disappoint him. Instead, I tend to get grumpy, even though it doesn’t make much sense for me to grump at him. It would really make more sense for me to just say how I feel. Go try to figure that one out. So today I grumped my way into the Jeep, and we headed for Neskowin in search of beach access.

Grump grump grump . . . wait a minute. What was that? A photo op? Needless to say, I took control of the show and asked Ken to turn around and go back to the entrance to this quirky little neighborhood we had just stumbled into.

Everywhere we looked there were signs reminding us to slow down. Take life easy. Watch the flowers grow. And it looks like they got the kids involved in the sign making. Way cool.

I immediately decided that I loved this town of Neskowin. They know how to live. They travel in the slow lane. I want to be there, too.

So, here is a compilation of cool signs, compliments of the citizens of Neskowin, the coolest little town in Oregon. (We never did make it to the beach.)