Monday, December 31, 2007

Our Little Christmas on the Prairie

We had Eggs Benedict for breakfast, right after we opened up our presents. (I got a new Chinese cookbook, among other things).

One of our favorite cookbooks is called “The Little House Cookbook” and it contains recipes based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘Little House on the Prairie’ book series. Emily likes to challenge me with something new from this around Christmas time each year. Here’s what we had for Christmas dinner this year:

Codfish Balls
Creamed Carrots
Fried Apples & Onions

I’ll put the recipes up over at Nellis.

For the Codfish Balls (which, by the way, Emeril Lagasse called “Fritters” and featured on his show a few days ago), we had to mail order salt cod from a store on the East Coast that features foods imported from Spain. In Spain they call it bacalao, but now that I’ve made it I think you could substitute fresh cod from the local market and skip the 48 hour soaking process.

We had oyster stew for supper. I’ve been very disappointed with the oysters I’ve been getting here the last few years. They taste good, but they shrivel up into teeny little bites. I guess that’s the drawback with living in a landlocked state.

Make plans, NOT Resolutions

I just finished reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and one of the things he says is, “If you don’t tell your money what to do, it goes away.” And I guess I’ve been living the truth of that for the past half century or so. He recommends making a spending plan each month that accounts for every penny of income you have. So we’re working on that for this year. But the sermon at CBC last Sunday made me think that Ramsey’s statement is also true of my time; if I don’t plan what I’m going to do with it, it goes away. Our Pastor challenged us to try and envision what we want to have accomplished in 2008 when we look back on it, and then make plans to achieve that. He says we should ask ourselves every morning; “What do I need to do today, so that when ‘I lay me down to sleep’ tonight, I can declare this to have been a successful day.” And then plan out your day accordingly. (I’m paraphrasing, obviously. I can’t write down everything he said during his 40 minute sermon).
So, in an attempt to apply these principles to my meager little existence, here is what I want to look back on as successes when I reach December 31, 2008:
I want to have memorized 52 more Bible verses.
I want to be able to look at the pages of my personal journal and see at least 120 new entries.
I want to finish the short stories I started last year.
I have five quilt projects in mind to get finished.
I want to be able to ride Lucy – fearlessly.
I want to have added a certain amount of money to our savings account.
I want to weigh 20 pounds less than I do right now.
With all of these things in mind, I will plan my days accordingly.
Now that I’ve gone public with this stuff, feel free to hold me accountable and bring them up every once in a while for a progress check.

Hey, Joe!
Is it still snowing in Chicago?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Computer problems

Greetings, friends! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

I have been unable to blog, leave comments or answer emails due to home computer problems. I’ve been off work all week, will return Monday.

Hopefully, the computer problems will be corrected before then.

Friday, December 21, 2007

One last laugh

My sisters and I stood at the front of the church after the services Wednesday, admiring the floral arrangements and reading the accompanying cards. Curiously, we didn’t find the one that I had ordered on behalf of Shirley, our brother and I, but there was an extra Peace Lily, so we assumed that was it and the card had been lost.

However, the next day, I called the florist and asked about it and it turns out the flowers I ordered had been delivered to a funeral service at the wrong church! The young man I spoke to was very apologetic, refunded my money and groveled quite satisfactorily, so I forgave him and hung up as quickly as I could to avoid laughing in his ear.

I had suddenly gotten an image of another grieving family, standing around admiring the flowers sent in memory of their departed loved one, and then one of them reads a card and asks, “Who in the heck are these people? I didn’t know we had an Uncle Mick.”

And then in my imagination, I thought I heard George chuckling somewhere in the background.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chicago, Buenos Aires, Chicago, London, the beach, Houston, India, Chicago, Brazil, Cleveland, Miami, Chicago….

Hello everyone, have you noticed my disappearance from OSM? I am sorry I haven’t been around, but I have good reason. I have so much stuff to share with you, but almost need a ghost write to get it on OSM. But here is a feeble attempt. I saw a great Bud Light commercial where the news casters cut a half hour news cast to 9 seconds so they can go get a beer. In that spirit, here I go. I actually shared a slide with my boss to summarize my activities and it went a little like this.

Barabas’ first 90 days [in the new global director role].
Miles Flown – 51,000+
Nights in a hotel – 22
Nights on a airplane – 12
Where did I go and what I did (Leaving work stuff out for OSM Readers). All travel is from Miami by the way.

Chicago – Met the boss for the first face to face meeting
Buenos Aires – had to conduct a strategy session, took a day off went touring. Great steak and wine in BA and one my favorite places (By the way, I did a littel tango while there...
Chicago – Went house hunting with the family, and worked. We looked a forty houses and put an offer on one and got it!

Dolpins - Bills Football Game - Went there with a friend, great seats. Dolpins lost of course. Was actually home for a week! (I am on the left)
London – What’s the point of saying anything about work, my highlight was clearly dinner with LaDawn and Marc and getting her mom’s pissed off about my ballet comments. But I also worked a lot there.
Thanksgiving at the beach – Again, home with the fam. Lovin life, we took little joe to the beach and dinner on the patio. High was 83!

Houston – This trip sucked, I had to go to Houston at the last minute to get my visa for India. I took a 6 am flight from Miami and came back the same night. Houston is great. The airport is of course George H.W. Bush International. That was a warm welcome to me. I also had lunch at the hardrock café and did a little sight seeing. But most of the day was spent working and doing conference calls from a starbucks while waiting for my visa. By the end of the day, I was getting free coffee! Rest assured, I sent Leah a pic of the GWB statue!

New Dehli – Wow. 8 hr flight to Frankfurt to Mia, 8 hr layover in Frankfurt – I hopped on a train and went downtown Frankfurt to get a bratwurst and beer of course, then back to the airport for an 8 hr flight to Dehli. The Market is unbelievable, the poverty is almost indescribable and the contrast is very stark. Every spoiled American (even the Americans who think they are poor but have cell phones, cable tv’s and cars) should spend a day there and appreciate the homeland
Chicago – had a global meeting, for the first two days. On the third day I had to close on the new house. My wife stayed in Mia. I had power of attorney so I had to sign everything three time!! Flew into and out of a ice storm
Brazil – Went to Sao Paulo on Sunday night (12/14). My 9:00 flight was canceled, I had the 11:45 which took off 2 hrs late. I landed, went straight to the office.. Off to dinner after a revised agenda. Checked into hotel and went back out with the team. Trafic in SP Sucks! Has to be worst on planet (actually India is worse). Flew home Tuesday night and home by Wed 5:45 am. I met another blogger at the airport and we exchanged (maybe she’s reading now?).
Cleveland (12/19) – I landed this morning, slept an hour kissed the baby who I miss. Got up around 7. Got ready, took my wife and son to the airport. I am at work now to take care of some responsibilities. Have to go home, finish packing and back to the airport I go to spend Christmas in Cleveland.
Miami – Back to Miami on Dec 28th
Chicago – Movers come to pack our house up on Jan. 8th and load on the 9th. On Jan 10th, I am no longer a Floridian and back to a Chicagoan.

Its gottent to a point where I actually am beginning to recognize flight attends, customs agents and most scary other passengers. So OSM friends and family, forgive me for my absence. I warned Janelle that I do this from time to time. But I miss you all dearly and Merry Christmas!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I want to share a brief memory from last summer:
We had a big family reunion in June. Near the end of the day, my two grand-nieces, Jaydee and Kendra, were being shuttled off to a week of summer camp. The pre-teen daughters each took their turn giving kisses and hugs (enough to last a whole week) to their dad, George. I happened to be sitting across the table from George during this family ritual. I saw Kendra, in her NY Yankees baseball cap, as she threw her arms around his neck and covered his face with kisses. Then she put her head against his chest and rubbed with all her might.
“HEY!” George reprimanded, “Get that Yankee stuff away from me!” (I guess he was a Red Sox fan). Kendra giggled and George laughed out loud, and she skipped away to camp.
I feel blessed to have witnessed this loving moment between father and daughter.

I have faith that no one – not even George at age 44 – lives one second less than God intended them to live. His work here was done.

Even though our hearts are breaking, we trust George is home for Christmas.

(George’s wife blogs at
His mother-in-law, my sister is on )
Dear friends;

Due to a death in the family, blogging has been put on hold.
While I have not lost the Eternal Joy that is rooted in my relationship with God through His Son Jesus, it is necessrayto process the grief that is a part of this life “on the green side of the sod.”

Please keep Cindy, Jaydee and Kendra in your prayers.

I’ll be back.

Monday, December 10, 2007

During the last ice storm, we discovered that our satellites become unreliable, especially the internet receiver. Since all available sources are predicting ice and snow for approximately the next 24 hours, I thought I’d check in with a short joke so everyone would know I’m (probably) still alive and kickin’.

A guy gets in a terrible car accident and is taken by ambulance to a nearby Catholic Hospital. In the emergency room, the admitting nurse is a Nun. She asks him if he has any way to pay for his treatment.

“No,” he replies, “I’ve been out of work for six months and I’m broke.”

She asks him, “Well, do you have any family members who could help pay?”

He shakes his head again, “No, I only have one old maid sister and she’s a Nun.”

The nurse indignantly says to him, “Nuns are NOT old maids, sir, we are married to God.”

“In that case,” the man says, “You can send the bill to my brother-in-law.”

(Well, I thought it was funny.)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

If you are praying person, please visit here and be ready to pray on Monday.
If you enjoy reading biographies, you should go here: and read Apr 24, Apr 27, Jun 14 and Dec 14 in that order. Terriffic writing about a great man.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Copy it and fill in your own answers, either here or on your blog.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? No. Mom once told me she combined the first half of Dad’s name (JAck) with the last half of her own (RachEL) and stuck the ‘n’ in so it would work. I believed her until the first time I met a girl with the same name as mine – and discovered I am one of two people in the US who spells it without the “e” on the end.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Wednesday afternoon, 12/5. (I was at a funeral.)



5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? 1 Son, 1 Daughter


7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I try to, but I’m not very good at it.






13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Vanilla swimming in hot fudges and caramel.


15. RED OR PINK? Red


17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? I don’t know if I miss him the most, but I’ve missed Dad the longest.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black pants, grey & white New Balance walkers


20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Sod field trucks, tractors, graders & machinery rumbling around and getting put away for the winter.




24. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes. (I wonder if anyone every says no?)

25. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Thoroughbred horse racing; Nebraska football

26. HAIR COLOR? Brown with streaks of grey. (I like my grey hair – I worked hard for it)

27. EYE COLOR? Brown


29. FAVORITE FOOD? Mexican


31. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Can’t remember the title!? (It was on satellite; starred Diane Keaton as the ‘old maid’ who is dying of leukemia. She is the estranged sister of Meryl Streep who was the mother of Leo DiCaprio… Best line to come out of Hollywood in years, when Keaton’s character is talking about how good her life has been in the area of love and Streep says, “Yes, a lot of people love you.” Keaton’s answers, “That’s not what I meant. I have been so blessed to have such people in my life to love.” I should also point out that Keaton’s character is the caregiver to her invalid father and his elderly, eccentric sister.)

32. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Black sweater under a red sweatshirt.



35. FAVORITE DESSERT? The next one.

36. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

37. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? An art deco coffee cup and the words “Le Café.”


39. FAVORITE SOUND? Four-part a capella harmony

40. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Neither: Martina McBride




Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Working in the hog barn

There will be a special place in Heaven for my husband, Randy. For 17 years, he supported our family by working 7 days a week for a farrow to finish hog operation. For you city folk, a farrow to finish operation means we raised pigs from birth to market weight.

If I recall correctly, Randy’s main areas of responsibility included the farrowing house, the nursery and two other buildings that held feeder pigs. There was another guy who was in charge of the boar yard and getting the sows pregnant, but that is another story entirely. I went to work with Randy in about ’93, helping him in his buildings. As I did my work, I often wondered how the business of hog-raising might change in the future. I don’t know that it has very much, but this is how we did it in the 1990s.

A sow is one of the most predictable mothers in the animal kingdom. She will go into heat 33 days after being weaned and she will give birth – or farrow – exactly 3 months and 3 days after she gets pregnant. A few days before her litter was due to be born, we loaded her onto a cart, I gave her a bath with the power washer and she was moved into the farrowing house and settled into her own private farrowing crate. Pregnant and nursing sows are kept separated from each other to prevent them from killing each other’s babies.

The farrowing crate is also designed to prevent a sow from savaging her own young, which sometimes happens (and it has been happening since long before hogs were domesticated) for reasons yet to be determined. The sow has room to lie down and stand up, but she can’t turn around. In order to eat or drink or poop or pee, all she had to do was stand up. The crate is designed so that the waste falls through the cracks in the floor into a pit, where it drained into a cesspool outside the building. Part of my job was to go around behind the crates with a shovel and scrape out all the poop. Every day. They can really generate a lot of poop.

Anyway, after the litter was born, I helped give them each a shot of iron and a shot of penicillin, to prevent any infection from the umbilical chord. They also had to have their teeth clipped – they are born with four “fangs” (I think they are actually called ‘wolf teeth?’) two on top and two on bottom, that had to be clipped so they wouldn’t hurt each other.

As soon a pig is able to breathe, the first thing it starts to do is look for something to eat. They are a little shakey when they first stand up, but they get over that in a matter of minutes. The second thing they start to do within minutes of being born (actually, I think the struggle probably begins in the womb) is fight their siblings for the best nipple. This created a fatal disadvantage to the ‘runts.’ Since we usually herded in about 10 sows at time, who all farrowed within a few days of each other, Randy was able sort the piglets and foster them between the mothers so that each sow had about 8 babies of all the same size to nurse. Within a couple of weeks, the male piglets were castrated, both genders got their tails clipped off and Randy would examine each gilt (girl) to see if she might be kept for breeding stock. If so, she got her ears notched so that she was numbered. I can’t remember how to read the notches – it’s been too long. Randy probably does, though. He has a much better memory.

Within a few weeks, the piglets were weaned from the sows and moved into the nursery, where their job for the rest of their lives was to eat and grow. Most of them undertook this career with gusto. Meanwhile, the sows were moved back out into the boar yard to eat and get pregnant. At that point, my job was to wash out each of the vacated farrowing crates with a power washer and then disinfect each one. If you ever find yourself in a position where you have to clean up hog poop with a power washer, I have only one piece of advice: never, ever under any circumstances whatsoever should you ever lick your lips. Ever. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Our farrowing house had 40 crates and we had about 120 sows in the breeding herd who rotated in and out all year round. The nursery had 6 rooms with four pens each that held 8-10 piglets each. As the weanlings grew into feeder pigs, they were moved into larger and larger pens in other buildings around the farm. After they were moved out, it was my job to wash each of the vacated nursery rooms with the power washer. I don’t know how many hogs we would have had at one time on the place.

One thing I remember about the farrowing house was that, even though we didn’t have a furnace, it was hardly ever cold in there. We used heat lamps over the crates that the babies could sleep under, but the rest of the heat must have come from the animals. In the summer we ran fans and had exhaust fans on the roof to help pull the heat out.

Each of the buildings had a waste pit underneath it that had to be drained regularly. I would go around the buildings and pull plugs and run scrapers in order to make that happen. Like I said before, they can really generate a lot of poop. (And Ralph can vouch for me on that.)

That’s all I can remember about that for now. If more comes to me, I’ll post it as I think of it.

(Sue will probably be able to add some memories to this procedure. She and Jerry did this for several years.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

If you feel like being inspired, go to and do a search on "Iris Doolittle." This is one of the better stories I've read about her. (I'm showing our age, but I've known Iris since about 1964.)
Take the time to listen to the video of her playing at the end the interview.
I deeply regret that I wasn't able to attend the concert she was playing last Saturday.
‘Tis the Season

It started coming down around 1 Saturday morning. I heard it hitting the window. Sleet sounds just like somebody’s standing outside aiming a sandblaster at your house, only colder.
So the first weekend in December, when we had three events planned: a family dinner at noon on Saturday, Community theatre production Saturday evening and a church supper Sunday evening, begins with an ice storm.

And so it goes…

Sue, the sis who was hosting the family dinner, had the good sense to postpone the gathering for a week, so we were spared the hitonius 70 mile drive through the sleet in the morning.

But everyone knows that “The show must go on.” Like the postal service, “Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night” nor even the threatened lack of audience can cancel a small town community theatre production. So we went on. I thought it a good decision, considering the number of people and their schedules involved, it would have been nearly impossible to reschedule and keep everyone in the show. It was a bit of a white-knuckle drive to town from where I live, but slow and easy does it. One conversation concluded with, “No matter how many or how few people we get, we’ll just do our best and have a good time with it.” The little old city auditorium was set for 60 people and, by golly, we had over a hundred! Silver Creek Vineyards provided a selection of wines for our attendees and the Right Next Door Coffee Bar offered concessions of decaf, hot cocoa, teas, etc. By some miracle, the sleet had switched over to rain at some point in the late afternoon, so the drive home was a lot less treacherous than the one in and the whole day ended with a big PHEW!! (Note to Beverly - thanks for getting me involved. I enjoyed it tremendously! Note to Cliff: You're the best.)

Early Sunday morning, I awoke to a thin powdery snow falling on the place. So after morning chores, I just snuggled down with hot coffee and went to blog church, which requires no driving, instead of church in town.

We spent the evening at the church supper, which was not your ordinary potluck. Randy is serving on the Elder board and a small group of people puts on an appreciation dinner for elders, Pastors and church staff. But the great thing is that they make a gourmet prime rib dinner. I’m telling you, one of the cooks is an amateur chef and what he can do with a prime rib roast is absolutely DIVINE!

All in all, not a bad weekend, considering the icy start.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If you haven't seen it, please go to my friend Cliff's blog and take a look at the picture of him and his lovely wife Marilyn. It's on his post for Tuesday, 11/27.

Really - go see this picture. I mean it, stop reading this right now and go look at the picture!

Okay, now we're just being silly. You must click on the link to Cliff's blog and see the pic.

Then come back and leave your comment here.
A rerun post (slightly edited) from April:

Monday, April 23, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

I read it, as promised, and once I got past the first several pages of Mr. Gore giving himself credit for advances in environmental issues and placing blame on President Bush for a variety of ills, I now see that global warming is happening. I am not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination (neither is Al Gore) however, I have some questions. I found the two most convincing evidences of global warming he presents are the melting glaciers and the evaporation of Lake Chad in Africa. If humans and their machines are causing global warming, why do glaciers melt when they exist in areas where human population is sparse? And science has been declaring for centuries that without interference, naturally occurring phenomena tend toward decay, so why wouldn’t glaciers melt anyway? Glaciers are ice and ice melts. Maybe we are in the midst of a cosmic hot flash. Watch an ice cube - the smaller it gets, the quicker it melts. The same would apply to glaciers. How did CO2 cause the evaporation of Lake Chad when the auto-human ratio in that area is something like 20 people to every car, while in the US, where the auto-human ratio is pretty much 1-1, most of our naturally occurring bodies of water remain at a constant level? Mr. Gore quotes his college professor’s findings of rising CO2 levels which he tracked through several years over Hawaii, but why wouldn’t the CO2 levels be on the rise over Hawaii since the entire collection of islands is made up of volcanoes in various stages of activity?If you hold to Evolutionary theory, the earth is millions of years old. If you are a Creationist, the earth is about 6,000 years old. Climatology has only been around for the past 400 years or so and accurate records of climate changes and meteorological phenomena are even younger. Ice cores and tree rings (dendroclimatology) can give clues as to what climate changes have taken place, but can not give us the reasons for those climate fluctuations. Given the large scale studies needed and the long time periods required to scientifically prove cause and effect in climatology, it is at best, a stochastic process and should be studied as such. The late Dr. D. James Kennedy (who held nine PhD.’s) said that only about 3% of the scientists in the world have the skills, knowledge and experience to fully study and understand the issue. They need to examine all the possible causes in order to determine the truth. Studies of Galactic Cosmic Rays hold some interest in the effects of sunspot activities on climate fluctuations. In the meantime, the “what you can do to help” section is old news. I’ve been doing most of it since the 1980s, except for the curly-que light bulbs, which are new. I will continue to do so. And I close this rant with Haggai 2:4-5 “And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So DO NOT BE AFRAID.” (Emphasis mine.) And Genesis 8:22 - "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
I choose to believe the Word of God over Mr. Gore's book.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Here are a couple of interesting blogging ideas that I stumbled on to from my new Blogspherian pal, Paul: Check out the George Ella Lyons link in this one.
Happy birthday BROOKE!!!!
I hope you're having a GREAT day!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On a lighter note:

Let all Blogospherians come together and help make "hitonius" a word! The definition is 'worse than horrible.' For example, getting bucked off a horse is horrible. Getting bucked off a horse and winding up in traction is hitonius. For more, go to

Friday, November 23, 2007

Global Warming Advances Abortion....
I'll keep this one short and sweet. I was just browsing my usualy rightwing hate sites and found this article (that was sarcasm, for some that didn't understand ballet humor). The title says it all, from the Daily Mail. "Meet the woman who won't have babies - because they're not eco-friendly". Read it, but if you like kids or have them, you may not like what you read.

This woman not only had her self sterilized because she believes humans are a burden on the planet and she is helping to save it, but she aborted her pregnancy for the same Global Warming / Environmental reasons.

As another blogerspherian put it, maybe its not a bad thing some people don't re-produce. But what I really dislike here, is that eventually she or someone like her will tell me or my children they can't re-produce or will have to pay a tax or limit re-producton because of the burden. Maybe we'll all have to buy carbon credits from Al-Gore to have a baby?

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving..and Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2007

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed;
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost.
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done….”

I’ve been humming that old hymn since I read Cindy’s post the other day! Here are my top five:

#1. My Salvation: I am forgiven and I have received eternal life in Christ.
This is probably an oversimplification and no doubt, full of holes, but here it is.
We have laws to abide by, which have been established by our founders and legislators. For instance, we have a speed limit. We have a police force that is charged with enforcing those laws. Everyone at one time or another has inadvertently gone over the speed limit, but as soon as the traffic cop pulls you over, you know exactly what you did wrong and will be held accountable. If you go to traffic court, you will come before the judge, who is responsible for convicting you or finding you not guilty. You know you will be found guilty based on the evidence given by the arresting officer and you will pay the penalty.
As Creator, God established 10 laws that He expected us to follow. Only 10. Five of them deal specifically with our relationship with God and the other five deal with our relationships with each other. We couldn’t keep only 10. Near the end of the Old Testament, it had been whittled down to 3: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8. We couldn’t keep those either. What’s more, we didn’t even care that we weren’t keeping them. Since God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” 2 Peter 3:9, he provided His Son to come to earth and receive the punishment we deserved. He then provided us with access to the Holy Spirit, so that we would have discernment in knowing the difference between right and wrong.
It’s as if I had committed a murder, even though I knew that taking a life is a capital crime. I stand trial in defiance, having no defense to offer on my own behalf. I’m found guilty and sentenced to die for my crime. Then the Judge volunteers to be executed in my place. And so the choice is mine: do I accept the Judge’s offer and go free? Or do I choose to die in my own defiance?

“When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.”

#2. Randy, James, Jack & Emily and my extended family
I am thankful that I am married to the nicest, most generous and kindest man on the planet.
I am thankful for the lessons I learned through the sorrow of losing James in 1981.
I am thankful for Jack and the good son he is. He’s working his way through college, he is pursuing worthwhile goals and he is getting to be a great cook!
I am thankful that Emily still has eight toes and no other ill effects from her accident. She, too, is working her way through college and has devoted herself to a righteous life and developing her craft, setting her own standards high and working to achieve them.
My extended family: what can I say? I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I think I drive them all nuts, but what the heck – they have to love me anyway.

“Are you ever burdened with a load of care”
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessing every doubt will fly.
And you will keep singing as the days go by.”

#3. Friends, old & new
I have two friends in my life right now (Mary and Joani) and I can not remember a time when I did not have them in my life. I’ve often joked that we’ve been friends since “in utero”, which is true. Our families lived in the same rural neighborhood during the years the three of us were born. I can’t imagine what a hole there would be in my life without them. My new friends include people I have never met from all over the world who are from walks of life I can only imagine. An executive IT in England; another in Florida; a forest ranger in Colorado; and this list will continue to grow. And I have friends who share my passion for horses and trail riding. Most of these I have known for only a few short years, but they are just as precious to me as Mary and Joani.

“So amid the conflict whether great or small
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”

#4. Music
I’m thankful that God filled the world with music and then gave us ears to hear.

#5. Books
Especially Genesis through Revelation. But I have a passion for the written word that defies description. If only I never had to sleep, I could get so much more reading done!

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

PS – If you want to hear the tune for this hymn, go to

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Everyone who lives within 20 miles of Tekamah: please mark your calendars for Saturday December 1 at 7:30 PM. My writing partner, Beverly Lydick and I have teamed up with Cliff Morrow and Emily Carson to write and produce a community theatre production for the Diamond Willow Regional Theatre.
It’s entitled the “DWRT Radio Show” and it’s filled with silliness in the first half and lots of great music in the second half. Tickets are only $5.00. Where else can you get a deal like that for LIVE theatre. And this is filled with original material! I’m tellin’ ya’ it’s worth every penny!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Casa Herrera Alert!!! Casa Herrera Alert!!!
For those of you keeping track, and still actually reading Casa Herrera (which is practically no one...) I received a call from Adrian last night. All is well in Casa Herrera, it was great to hear from him. However, I get the sense that the blog is pretty much dead...

He was shocked to hear that I have a tentative dinner / breakfast appointment with LaDawn. I think Leah will be jealous.

This post / public service announcement was not in anyway sponsored by Casa Herrera. For those of you that deleted the link, its
Casa Herrera Alert!!! Casa Herrera Alert!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

‘Twas in November of ‘55
All my siblings were already alive.
With Shirley’s birthday on Saturday
And Dad’s on Monday
I squeezed in between them, and was born on a Sunday.

For every birthday until she ceased to bake
Mom made her traditional Angel food cake.
So white and tender with a crispy crust,
A drizzle of frosting was always a must.

No matter the hardship that it might create,
A card with $5 accompanied the cake.
It may not sound like very much,
But it came from her heart, with her Mother’s touch.

So today is number 52
And there’s so much that I wanted to do
Before I reached this time of my life…
Where did the time go? I tried to keep track
I’d do a lot differently if I could go back.

I was planning on accomplishing wonderful things
That would gain the respect of statesmen and kings.
I should solve global warming and make world peace lasting,
But somehow the answers have slipped right on past me.

But now that I’ve had some time to reflect
On what’s most important, on what counts for the best;
Sometimes it’s a smile and the time it would take
To deliver a card, a five, and an Angel food cake.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Should the Government Bailout Foreclosures "Victims"...
Recently I was watching a news segment which featured a New York family on the verge of losing their home. The premise of the story was they were fighting the bank and the "system" (whatever that is) to save their home. I felt bad for them for about a second.

What's interesting to me is that the hosts were eager to sympathize with the family and really made it out to be a terrible problem in this country. It turns out that Mom and Dad were both working and had good jobs, but seemed to bite off a bit more than they could chew and couldn't afford their mortgage payments because their interest rates increased.

Wow!! Who could do such a thing and force this poor family out, somebody should help them.. I mean, how can "Big Banking" suddenly increase rates and their cost of home ownership! This "poor" family bit off more than they can chew, and simply made a poor financial decision. So Uncle Sam should step in and lend a helping hand, right? Wrong!!

To some politicians, biting off more than you can chew is no longer a personal responsibility thing, its all of our problem.

In an early August appearence CNBC Hillary Clinton was touting how she would help...Unsurprisingly, she’s demonizing lenders and brokers like she does "Big Oil."
She also said..“I think a lot of the lenders have really taken advantage of what is a really tough economic situation for many Americans,” and to top it off proposed a $1 billion federal fund for local and state programs that help at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosures. She said those programs could help the “unsuspecting families” linked to unfair mortgages.

In my opinion, people need to be fiscally smarter and think for themselves. Borrowers should NOT be rewarded with taxpayer money for over-extending themselves. Sort of like financial Darwinism...

Forgetting the fact that most people freely took out loans well beyond their means, politicians on both sides of the aisle say they are entitled to keep their homes. So they plan to take other people’s hard-earned money and give it away…not because these individuals did anything to deserve it, but simply because they need it.

Jonathan Hoenig at Smart Money could not have put it any better...

...Those who advocate for such measures tend to think with their hearts instead of their heads. When challenged about the morality of such schemes, they usually present a tragic example about a down-on-their-luck Rust Belt family who are in danger of being evicted from their home. Dad lost his job at the plant, mom is on dialysis and takes care of the kids, all of whom desperately need braces and new books for school. The argument is always an emotional one: “Don’t you want to help poor people in need?”

But a government bailout is not charity — it’s coercion. Americans are incredibly charitable people, last year donating a record $295 billion. But when you donate to Habitat for Humanity, for example, you do so voluntarily, deciding how much you’d like to give and to what particular cause. When Hillary pledges $1 billion in financial aid for homeowners, however, it’s not her money; it’s the taxpayers’, many of whom would undoubtedly prefer to give to any number of other deserving recipients....

There was a foreclosure a couple of streets down from me here...May be a good buying opportunity.. hmmmm

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A good laugh.

La Dawn’s recent posting reminded me of this; I used to be on a women’s bowling team and one day we were talking about pulling on a clean pair of pants or shirt and discovering a dryer sheet in the leg or sleeve. We chuckled over it mildly and then a little later, Donna discovered something lumpy in her pants pocket. She reached in and found it wasn’t in the pocket at all, but underneath the pocket. While we watched and giggled, expecting it to be a dryer sheet, she pushed it down the leg, squirming and wiggling until it fell out at the bottom. It wasn’t a dryer sheet, but a pair of pantyhose. She said, “I wondered where those went!” and the four of us all laughed so loud and long everyone stopped bowling and looked over to see what was so funny. That’s a pretty good laugh, when you can make a bowling alley fall silent!

Maybe you had to be there.

31 years.
If I had to do it all over again I'd do it with you! Happy Anniversary, Hon! I love you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hello OSM Faithful! I'm Joe B. First of all, I'd like to thank Janell Carson for loaning me the prestigious One-Square-Mile platform to share my thoughts and opinions. I'll be "fair and balanced" and use data to back up almost everything I say, assert, or spew (depends on your point of view). In the spirit of fun, Janell (my political, conservative, neo-conn soulmate) provided me with a list of topic questions I missed during my August Hiatus. What a great way to get started.

Q: When you were 18, what did you imagine your future would look like? How close is your reality to your vision?
My reality is no where close to my original vision...At 18, I was still in 11th grade. I was a year behind because I flunked. Despite the early setback I always wanted to make a better life for myself and whoever my family was to be. 16 years later, I could never have imagined the life I have today. I have a beautiful wife, great son and job with global responsibility. I've lived in 3 cities and visited 13 countries including Panama, Paris and Buenos Aires.
Q: What is one piece of advice you wish you'd been given as a young person? Have: Self Reliance, Self Accountability and Self Respect, don't ever ever give up on anything you want...
Q: What is the best money you ever spent? 17 Days in Europe with my wife, Time share in Cancun (Went 6 times)
Q: What was your biggest financial mistake-the complete waste of money that haunts you to this day? I sold 500 shares of ORCL 6 months before it went up 50 points in 1999 that may change as I try to sell my house in South Florida.
Q: What has been the best surprise of married life? And the worst?
My wife is my soul mate... First year is the hardest.
Q: What is the best thing about being a woman? And the worst?
Best thing - Not being accountable for anything and relatively little ability to reason... Worst.. having to do dishes (you feminists should have loved that one...hopefully you know I am kidding)
Q: At this point of your life, is there a dream which you will never fulfill? What is it and what makes you so sure it's out of reach? I nearly joined the Marines out of HS, I regret not going. I let friends (who are no longer friends) talk me out of it...I am very happy with the way my life turned out, and would have made the best of it regardless of the path I chose but I regret not answering the call. My overall dream, to serve my country in some capacity, is not out of reach. I will fulfill it... politically perhaps?
Q: What else do you want to share?
I believe compromise is a good thing in business and in marriage, but not on core beliefs. I don't let anyone or anything shake what I believe (some people may consider that close minded)...I believe the USA is the greatest country on the planet and give her the benefit of the doubt as all Americans should

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jack and I went to the Henry Doorly Zoo yesterday, but the most fascinating creatures we observed were the PEOPLE!

The grocery store Jack works for was taking part in the zoo’s annual “Spooktacular” something or other, where the zoo invites local businesses to set up stations throughout the zoo and then they invite the public to come in costume and trick or treat at the stations. Admission to the zoo was free for volunteers and Jack loves the zoo, so he immediately volunteered to participate and I got to go along as an invited family member.

One company had set up a small tent and called it a ‘haunted house.’ Another was giving away popsicles. Someone else was giving away single serving boxes of cereal. We were giving away those little bite-sized candy bars at our station. We were located in Bear Canyon and at one point, the line of trick or treaters stretched clear back to the waterfall by the petting zoo! (I’m not sure how far that would be – maybe 2 city blocks?) They are not kidding when they say the word “FREE” gets the biggest response of any other word in the English language, but watching these people as they moved through our line was a classic study in human behavior. I’m not really sure what I learned. I’ll just tell you what happened and somebody else can analyze the data.

A word about our set-up: six of us stood behind two six-foot long tables, ready to hand out treats as the children started coming through. We must have given the wrong impression, because the idea was that six people at once would be able to approach the table, each one receiving one little candy bar. But that wasn’t how it went. The trick or treaters started at one end and didn’t stop until they had gotten a treat from every person standing at the two tables! After a while, we separated the two tables, hoping they would form two lines, but then they just went through the table on one side, turned around and went through the table on the other!

Bewildered infants dressed as plush toys such as teddy bears or as Elmo, sprawled or bawled in strollers while their parents held the open bag out for the treats. Children barely big enough to be able to hold their bags looked up at us with everything from terrified distrust to hopeful optimism, as they toddled through our line; their parents pushing them from behind coaching, “Say ‘Trick or treat!’” Most of them didn’t. or “Tell them ‘thank you,’” even fewer said that. Primary school-aged children walked by with their bag open, staring straight ahead, eyes glazed over with boredom or looking ahead to the next station hoping for something bigger and better. Jr. High-ers and older said nothing, but looked in to see what we dropped into their bags. Several of these came through more than once.

And there were the adults. I have no objection to adults dressing up for Halloween. It’s kind of fun to pretend to be someone you’re not for a few hours, but most of the adults who came through my line, holding out a bag, weren’t even in costume. And even fewer grownups than children said, “thank you.” I’m almost certain they were there to collect the stuff they plan to give away at their own front doors on Wednesday night.

Jack and I worked at our station from 10-1:30 and then we strolled the zoo. The waiting lines at all the stations we saw were just as long as the one at ours. I’m told that nearly 50,000 people were in attendance at the zoo yesterday. I’m not sure if that’s an accurate stat, but it surely could be from what I saw.

I should add that a few of the kids did indeed joyfully call out “Trick or treat” and the ones who did also said, “Thank you!” And a lot of them looked really cute in their costumes. All the little cowgirls that came through my line got two candy bars from me.

Your thoughts, please.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thinking outside the box... or stall?
No, this isn't Bubba. The pic came to me in an email entitled "New style fly mask."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I misquoted a quote about Karen Cooper. I suggested one of her influences was Pablo Picasso and I should have said Vincent Van Gogh.
Anyway, Vincent would be proud to know that, too.
Sorry, Karen.
Mistress of Disaster

The office I work in is situated in a corner of a large, steel framed machine shed. To get to my little corner of it, you have to zig-zag up two short (4-5 steps) flights of stairs, then you open the first door and step into a 6 foot hallway that leads you to the office door. Well, this little hallway, since it opens to the workshop, where they do all kinds of work on the machinery, tends to get pretty dirty. Ash from welders, CO2 dust from when they let something idle a long time, and dust that blows in from everywhere through the two main doors and so on. One day last week, I decided to really get it cleaned up good and borrowed the shop-vac to use on it instead of my little household Hoover that I use in the office. So I dragged the shop-vac up the two sets of stairs and sat the tank of it right inside the office door, fired it up and vacuumed away. I was very pleased with how well all the grime and dust and stuff was getting sucked up and when I stepped back to admire my handiwork, I reached up to turn off the switch. The sight inside the office was absolutely mortifying! Okay, maybe not mortifying, but if I had just looked up ONE time while I was vacuuming, I could have prevented the whole thing. Unbeknownst to me, the men had removed the bag from the vac and it was blowing everything I had just vacuumed out of the hallway into the office! A thick cloud of dust and grime was hanging in the air, and slowly settling down over everything everywhere.
It took me the rest of the afternoon and part of the next morning to get everything wiped off and cleaned up.
Joani stopped in the next day and complimented me with, “The office looks really nice.” I was just going to say “thanks,” but repented and confessed that my shop-vac adventure had necessitated the thorough cleaning.
But, hey, the entry hall is still clean as a whistle!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I had to drive out to the sod field last week and this HUGE flock of birds greeted me. The ground was absolutely black with them until I came along and sent them into the sky. I con't know what kind they are, but when the kids were little, we used called them "Tornado Birds" because of the the way the went swirling and spiraling into the air when they took off. (That's the sod field over on the righthand side of the road.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Come to Jesus

So simple, yet, so profound

What a DIRTY trick!

Someone broke into our church some time between Friday evening and Saturday morning and stole several computers and some other electronics out of the staff offices. How low can you get; to be stealing from a church?
The financial losses will probably be covered by insurance, but the biggest loss (in my opinion), is that Pastor Chuck was working on his Ph.D. Dissertation and it’s all gone – even the back up.
Of course, the burglary was discovered on Sunday morning, when everyone was showing up for services, so we had a Sheriff’s Deputy and detective roaming around dusting for fingerprints and trying their best to be inconspicuous. I haven’t heard anything more about it since Sunday.
And if, somehow, the burglar had found his/her way to this blog, I want you to know that we all prayed for you on Sunday morning.
We would have anyway – all you had to do was ask.

And in the sports world: the Rockies are in, the Sox lost 1 and the contest between the Sox & the Indians continues tonight. I tried to stay up for the end of the Rockies game. I left at the top of the sixth because it looked like they had things pretty well under control at 6-1. I was surprised this morning to get up and see that the D-Backs actually scored 3 more, because they had that “whipped pup” look in the dugout. I must have missed a rally.

And Steve P. is OUT!
Say it with me, now “WE WANT TOM! WE WANT TOM!”
And now do the wave… WAH!
Okay, so the wave isn’t as impressive in writing as it is in a stadium.
Work with me here, people, use your imagination a little.

And just in case you didn’t notice it before, let me call your attention to the link over at the left labeled “Karen Cooper” and “Karen’s Blog.” There is some pretty impressive artwork coming from the paintbrush of a homemaker in Spencer, Iowa. She is claiming Pablo Picasso as one of her influences and I think he would be proud to know that, if he saw her work.

And yet another recommendation: if you go to “Real Life Petticoat Ranch” (also at left) and scroll down a few postings, you’ll find a link to an article by Mary’s brother, Don Moore, which was published on Helium. Don makes an extremely intelligent comment on self directed health care.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How long before rigor mortis sets in?

I had such fine plans for the weekend.

Saturday late afternoon and evening was supposed to be spent with my saddle club in a riverside trail ride followed by a potluck and campfire. It got rained out.

Sunday afternoon, we were supposed to go to the annual church picnic at a place called “Grampa’s Farm.” It got rained out.

Computer repairs are still in progress, so I had no way to log on and surf, blog or email. With the computer gone, I couldn’t even work on stories and skits & stuff I’ve been doing. So what’s left?

The satellite TV, of course. We started the day with a biography of Dolly Parton (who, in my opinion, would have been a better choice for the Nobel prize for BOTH literature and peace. She’s written more relevant poetry than Lessing, made better movies than Gore AND she can SING!) Then I switched back and forth between the Food Network and the top 20 countdown of music videos, which, I discovered gets repeated on both CMT and GAC throughout the morning. Okay, time for the History channel, which was featuring “Lost Civilizations” starting with the Hittites. That kept me in the chair until it was time to switch to the radio for the Nebraska Cornhusker football fiasco.

Okay, time to abandon the tv & radio and go out to my little workshop to sew. Finished up a back for a quilt, which ate up the rest of the afternoon, but it’s still raining and there’s not really time to start a new sewing project, so it’s back to the house, the chair and where’s the remote?

Now it’s Monday, back to work. Still no computer.

And it’s still raining.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I've been trying to post a music video here today, but it keeps failing. So you'll have to get to it this way;
Got to: It's an awesome video of Big & Rich doing Lost in This Moment.
This is for Marc & LaDawn, Stephanie & Anthony and Bob & Shirley - keep celebrating those Wedding Anniversaries!

Here’s a cowboy joke to get your weekend off with a good chuckle:

Two cowboys walk into a roadhouse to wash the trail dust from their throats. They stand at the bar, dinking their beers and talking quietly about cattle prices.
Suddenly a woman at the table behind them begins to cough weakly. After a minute or so it becomes apparent that she’s in real distress, and the cowboys turn to look at her.
“Kin ya swaller?” asks one of the cowboys. She shakes her head.
“Kin ya breathe?” asks the other. The woman, turning a bit blue, shakes her head again.
The first cowboy walks over to her, lifts up the back of her skirt, yanks down her panties and slowly runs his tongue from the back of her thigh up to the small of her back. This shocks the woman into a violent spasm and the obstruction flies out of her mouth, and she begins to breathe again.
The cowboy returns to the bar and takes a drink of his beer. His partner says, “Ya know, I’d heard of that there Hind Lick Maneuver, but I never seen anybody do it.”

See you on the trail!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just when you think you have it all figured out…

…something goes haywire. I’ve hit another SNAFU – in case you didn’t know SNAFU is a military term. Stands for “Situation Normal: All Fouled Up” (edited for profanity).
While my satellite sits obediently in the front yard receiving and sending signals galore, the computer in the house decided to corrupt itself and refuses to boot up, so I’m back to having access only at work again for a couple days. Anyway, the friend I bought the computer from also happens to be the CEO of a computer systems company (Can I pick’em or what?) so he’s going to have one of his people get it up and running again. Bless his heart.

I think if you click on my profile (at left), you’ll be able to send me an email with your address and whatever else you want your id to include. Thanks for coming aboard! This blog should get a lot more interesting with your input. And seeing as to how L Rushbo is already too busy, you would be my next pick for 'conservative soulmate, who is more outspoken than I am.'

Monday, October 08, 2007

Autumn Morning Mists

Friday, October 05, 2007

Joani's "Walking Flowers." A/K/A Chickens.

I think they look delicioius - muhuhahahaha!
For a great series of photos of Josie & Matt's wedding, click on Real Life Petticoat Ranch.

Here is a “Commuter Sighting” that I see every day. This US Flag with its big Cornhusker “N” base sits in the exact middle of an intersection in Nickerson, Nebraska. If you think it’s in your way when you’re driving down the street;
too bad.
Go around.
And salute while you’re at it.
Believing the worst

Last week, a woman disappeared and was found several days later the victim of a car accident, miraculously still alive. Police suspected her husband was somehow involved in the disappearance. The frantic man, in hopes they would stop looking at him and continue the search for his wife, cooperated fully with detectives: allowing them to search his home, his car, his property. At the time he was taking a lie detector test, his wife was found trapped in her car at the bottom of a ravine.

The question was raised, “Why are we so willing to believe the worst in people?”

Reference Scott & Lacey Peterson. Several years ago, Scott Peterson of California murdered his wife Lacey and their unborn child and disposed of their bodies in the Pacific Ocean. Scott Peterson also appeared to cooperate fully with Police; allowing them to search his home, his car, his property, all the while asking them to please leave him alone and continue the search for his missing wife. He even had the support of his in-laws until the bodies were discovered.

Reference the Krumwiedes: There is an unsolved case right now in my hometown of Lyons of a wife who disappeared and to this day has not been found. Her husband was an immediate suspect (due to a history of suspected abuse) but this guy was apparently better at destroying evidence than Scott Peterson was, because they never found enough of anything to convict him. He has since died of a heart attack, so it is assumed the case will never really be solved.

I was told by a friend of mine, who is a police detective, the husband or boyfriend is almost always an immediate suspect in the disappearance of a wife/girlfriend. This is based on a long history of cases such as the Petersons and the case in Lyons. My heart goes out to the innocent husband whose wife was trapped in a car for 8 days, but I believe the law enforcement agency involved was following SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to the best of their training and abilities.

I’m just glad I’m not a policeman.

Monday, October 01, 2007

First jobs

My first paying job was babysitting for the ‘tribe’ next door. There were 4 kids: two of each gender. I thought the youngest one hated me because she would burst into tears whenever I walked into the door. Now I know that she didn’t really hate me, she just hated to see her mother leave. For the most part, we all got along pretty good. Some of what I learned about cooking I learned from their mom, because she left very good instructions whenever I had to cook for them. If I recall, I started at .25 an hour and worked my way up to .75 before it was all done.
But every teenager in Nebraska knows the good money is in agriculture. I walked beans every summer with my friends for as many of their fathers who would tolerate me. This paid a whopping $1 an hour at first and I think by the time I retired from bean walking, it was paying $2, maybe? Most days, we started at sunup and could only work until noon when it got too hot. For you city folk, “walking beans” means you walk from one end of the bean field to the other, cutting or pulling weeds from the 2-4 rows on each side of you. In a weedy field, you could usually only watch 4 rows (2 on each side) without missing any weeds. In a clean field you could take up to 5 on each side. With the new “Roundup Ready” strains of beans and herbicides on the market now, I never see any bean crews out walking anymore.
I spent a few summers detassling corn for the DeKalb company. The hourly wage was good, though I don’t recall the exact figure, but the job was usually fewer than 6 weeks long. The crew would gather outside the Lyons Bakery at 5:00 AM and load into cattle trucks to be hauled to the cornfields. We walked up and down the rows of corn and removed the tassles (silks) from the female stalks. If I think about it long enough I might remember how you could tell the difference between male and female stalks, but it’s escaping me now.
The summers I spent in the bean and corn fields made me appreciate rain a lot more because rain meant a day off!

For awhile, I worked at the local Dairy Queen and fell in love with soft serve ice cream. Next, I waitressed at some local cafes. The truck stop I worked at is still there, but all the others are gone. I usually reported for work after school and worked until 9 or 10. I’m sure there was some sort of legal restriction on how late I could stay on a school night. I remember the smell of coffee and the heavenly aroma of steaks on the grill and fried onion rings. The truckstop owner had her own method for making the most glorious platter of home made onion rings on the planet! Those smells would follow me home on my clothes. Truckers are good tippers, but I remember one lady I worked with a couple of evenings. I thought she was being nice, because she offered to clear my tables for me. It wasn’t until after she went home I realized I’d been duped and she’d stolen all my tips! She must have done it to others as well, because she was fired after a few weeks.
Saturdays at Fern’s Café kept me in tip money for awhile. Fern always had a daily special plus hot beef sandwiches. A hot beef is roast beef on white bread, cut into two triangles with a big scoop of mashed potatoes in between them. The whole plate full of food is then covered over in brown gravy. Fern never used powdered potatoes and her roast was always melt in your mouth tender. Her gravy was hot, smooth and rich and I have to stop telling about it now because I’m drooling all over the keyboard!

Then, I moved into the medical field and took a job as nurse’s aide at the brand new (in the 70’s) nursing home in town. My shift was 3:30-8:00 and my job was to give baths to the infirm people who couldn’t do it for themselves. They didn’t all appreciate it, either. My experiences with stroke and Dementia (before they identified Alzheimers) patients include every emotion you can think of: funny, incredulity, pity, deep sorrow, compassion, etc. And that was all in the same person in one evening! I sometimes wonder if medical science has done us any favors by helping our bodies live longer. I don’t think the body is supposed to outlive the Spirit.

That pretty much covers my first job experiences. I think many of them may have overlapped: walk beans in the morning, waitress at noon and nursing home at night, but I probably didn’t keep that schedule up for very long. I learned something new about being a good employee with each job.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Okay, everybody - check this out. This is my new blog:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Best wishes to Mary & Ivan today!

Josie (their oldest) gets married at 3:30.
We'll be there!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Is there a better place to live in Autumn than the Midwest US?
I don’t think so.
Every color God ever invented is showing up in the countryside.
Lawns are still deep green. Trees are showing variations of red, gold, yellow, orange. My roses and zinnias (Mom would appreciate this) are still blooming, so their blooms add white, coral, red, etc. Sunflowers contribute great showers of deep yellow to the roadsides. The tomato, pepper and egg plants in my garden are adding yet more shades of red, green and purple to the landscape. (Gosh, I’m going to miss my fresh eggplant.)
Today was one of those perfect days. Warm and sunny.
Some Autumn days are weird – like when it’s cold in the shade and hot in the sun? That’s what I call ‘jacket losing weather.’ I lost a great flannel lined denim jacket about 10 years ago and I still miss it. I had to wear it in the cool morning, but then it warmed up. I left it where ever I went that day. It was several days before I needed it again, so I don’t remember where I left it. So sad.
Some days I run the heater in the pickup on the drive to work in the morning and the air conditioner in the afternoon on the way home.
We try to leave the house thermostat alone until it’s unbearably cold (below 55 F in the house) in the mornings.
A cool kitchen can really get one moving in the morning.
Did I mention we’ve had a most beautiful harvest Moon shining this week? When I got up in the morning for the past 3-4 days, it was as bright and clear as daylight. As the moon was setting in the west, the sun was coming up in the east. I’m not sure that happens at any other time of year in this area. I’ll be watching.
Happily, I’ll be able to check in tomorrow – Saturday – which I wasn’t able to do until we got our satellite. I still find it miraculous that they let ordinary citizens own satellites! And now we have two!
Then again on the other hand, why shouldn’t we?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Welcome back Joe!
I posted the following back in August in answer to your question, and then you disappeared. Thought I might put it up again for you now that you're back. Also, please give us your thoughts on the question "Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?"

It’s all relative – for Joe

LaDawn and Stephanie are the daughters of my husband’s first cousin, Smitty. I was not very well-acquainted with these two cousins-in-law of mine until I got hooked on blogging. Their Grandmother, whom I call Aunt Joyce, was my late father-in-law’s sister.
Brooke is the daughter of another one of my husband’s first cousins. Brooke is close in age to my daughter, Emily, and they were in dance class together for a while.

My grandfather, TW Gatewood, was a thoroughbred race horse owner/trainer and Smitty rode (and won) for him numerous times back in the 60s. Of course, none of us knew each other back then, especially since LDCP & Stephanie had not been born yet and I didn’t meet my husband until 1976.

Myrna, Sue, Shirley and I are sisters. We share a blog: The Gatewood Family News – and they each have one as well. We also have a brother, but he does not have a computer at the moment. We lost our other brother to a heart attack in ’91.
Tammie and Cindy – “cdroses” – are my nieces. BTW, they have a brother named Joe, but he doesn't blog that I know of. They are Sue’s daughters.
Mary Connealy, who visits here once in a while, is an old friend of mine from way back BK (before kindergarten). We graduated high school together. She blogs at Real Life Petticoat Ranch. Coincidentally, the high school sweetheart she married is my cousin.
Iris, who checks in occasionally, is also a fellow high school classmate of Mary’s and mine.
Did I leave anyone out?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You can see pictures of the scenes I described if you go to Click on "Museum" and start at "Journey 1" over on the left.
Springfield, Illinois

Since we had traveled about 500 miles to get to the wedding, we decided to play tourist for a day before we headed home. Sunday, we drove down to Springfield, Illinois and visited some of the Abraham Lincoln historical sites. Since it was Sunday, several of them were closed, but we got to take a tour of his home and we spent the afternoon going through the Presidential Museum. It took almost 3 hours to get through it all, but what a great experience that was! They’ve done a beautiful job with setting up life-size figures of the president and his wife, Mary and their three boys and posing them in dioramas that represent pivotal moments in their lives and his Presidency. They used a great variety of other media: videos, murals, newspaper clippings, posters, etc. to tell the stories of his life and political career. One video that stands out is of the Civil War in four minutes. It is shown on a map of the US and traces the sequence of the battles, beginning with Bull Run and ending at Appomattox. A daily casualty count – both Confederate and Union – is running in the lower right hand corner. I wish I had written down the count, but I think it was over 1.3 million total by the end. The casualty count was something that President Lincoln looked at several times each day during the duration of the war via a ticker tape readout in the War Room. He kept himself informed of the high cost of preserving the Union.
One of the most touching dioramas is of the President and Mrs. Lincoln at the deathbed of their son, Tad, who died of TB during Lincoln’s first term as President. As you stand and view the scene, you can hear music floating in through the door, coming from a ballroom down the “hall” in the White House and a clock ticking on the mantle. Abe & Mary are both dressed to the nines for whatever official event was taking place, but they stole away several times during the evening to sit with Tad. He died a few days later.
The other diorama I’ll never forget is situated in Ford’s theater: The figure of John Wilkes Booth is peeking in through the curtain behind the President’s box and he is reaching into the front of his jacket. The vicious look of hatred on his face sent chills down my spine. President Lincoln and Mary are watching the play (“Our American Cousin”) and she is holding onto his arm and leaning against him, smiling affectionately. Dialogue from the play, audience laughter and applause is playing in the background. As I walked through that portion, I wanted to yell, “GET DOWN, MR. PRESIDENT!” (Well, the figures are VERY lifelike and I do have a vivid imagination!)
One of the last rooms of the tour is an exact replica of the Illinois State House as it looked while President Lincoln was lying in state, although the casket, surrounded by white mums and sitting on a stage beneath a black velvet canopy, is closed. It’s very quiet in this room, very somber.
We took so long in the museum, we didn’t have time to visit the Presidential Library. We found Oak Ridge Cemetery on the edge of town and President Lincoln’s tomb, but the tomb was closed by the time we got there and it was being worked on so it was cordoned off so that we couldn’t walk all the way around it. Apparently, visitors can go inside it, but like I said, we were too late. We thought maybe we might like to go back there and see the sites we missed by having the misfortune of being there on a Sunday.
Sadly, there are no descendants of President Lincoln alive today. Three of their sons died in childhood (Eddie, Willie and Tad). Robert grew up, married and became a successful lawyer, but had only one daughter. She had one son who never had any children of his own. He died in 1986.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

And speaking of books…

….a subject from several other blogs – I just finished reading Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards. I picked it up at Borders one day and read the first page and decided I needed to finish it.

The story begins when the author provides a foster home for a horse and her foal who were rescued, along with 30 other abused and neglected horses, by the ASPCA. Already an owner of three horses, Ms. Richards surprised herself by stepping in to help the pair. The mare – named Lay Me Down – is sickly and emaciated, though her 2-3 month old foal is healthy. As Ms. Richards narrates the horse’s recovery to full weight and good health, pieces of her own troubled background begin to surface. When a day comes that she has to relinquish the foal to the previous owner’s creditors, we learn that Ms. Richards lost her own mother at the age of 4. She spent the rest of her growing up years first with a harsh grandmother and then with uncaring uncles, aunts, cousins and assorted relatives who never really attempt to accept her as a member of their families.
Ms. Richards shares that she anesthetized herself by descending first into alcoholism and then into an abusive marriage. At the time she is bonding with Lay Me Down, she is sober and divorced, but still unsure of her own future. As she reflects on the parallels between her own life and the rescued horse’s situation, she finds herself amazed and incredulous that, while her own response to the cruelties of her life caused her to withdraw, the horse is more than willing to reach out in quiet friendship (as much as a horse can) and put her trust in Susan Richards.
As the new friendship blossoms, Ms. Richards draws strength and courage from it, coming to terms with her troubled past, her losses and tentatively begins to look forward to the future. And then Lay Me Down is diagnosed with cancer. The life lessons don’t stop there – Ms. Richards discovers more strength, and sometimes more sorrow, than she ever knew she had as she nurses the horse through the next several months.
I should stop here because I’m sure you can guess the ending, but the end is also a beginning, filled with hope and new-found courage to overcome broken hearts and a broken life.

A couple weeks ago I finished Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He is a masterful storyteller, but both books make me extremely thankful to have been born in the USA. Every American Christian and every American woman need to read both of these novels.

This week, I’m into Tolstoy’s The Master and the Man. Just a few pages into it, but so far, so good. Lots of references to Christianity that most people now wouldn’t see. I need to keep a list.

Still can’t figure out why I ordered satellite tv?

Friday, September 14, 2007


I'm off to Cook for Cowgirl Camp - see you Monday!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9 11

As I look out my window at the landscape and the weather today, I can’t help noting that today’s weather is almost exactly the same as it was 6 years ago. The sky is so blue and bright it nearly hurts to look at it. When the sun broke the horizon this morning, it was behind a small cloud that only served to give the sky a splash of color for a while before the sun rose above it and became brilliant. The temperature is mild – in the upper 50s, and there is no breeze disturbing the curtains on my window.

Six years ago I had my radio on, as usual and the announcer interrupted the song that was playing to break the news that “…there has been some sort of accident at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Thick, black smoke is just billowing out into the sky over Manhattan…” I looked at the clock in my kitchen. It was 10 minutes to 8 CDT.

We watched in disbelief and horror as the morning and its violence unfolded. The second plane hit and the Twin Towers crumbled before our eyes an hour or so later. The scene at the Pentagon was no less devastating, only smaller. And speculation was rampant regarding Flight 93 over Pennsylvania until the farewell answering machine and voice mail messages started to surface.

Slowly, over the following hours, days and weeks, information came out and we came to understand that we had been attacked. And for what? Did they want Manhattan? Did they want to assume control of the seaport on our east coast? Was it an act of retaliation? If so, for what? And whose warriors were they? And what kind of warfare is this where civilians – and only civilians - are targeted, “bushwhacked”, murdered in their own offices? And where do we go to fight back? How do we defend ourselves, our citizens, our freedoms from an enemy who hides and only comes out to blow up busses, airplanes and buildings to kill more civilians?

We have some of the answers, but not all. We were attacked by people who don’t like what we believe and who disapprove of the way we live. They don’t want our geography; they aren’t interested in assuming control of our economy. They don’t want anything other than our hearts and minds and if we won’t give them up, they’ll kill us.

This is a war we didn’t start, but we can not afford to stop until we have won.

Monday, September 10, 2007


In typical Midwestern fashion, it took us one night to switch from air conditioning to furnace! I didn’t really turn on my furnace, yet, but I sure wanted to! Cold and rainy this morning, but the sun finally came back out this afternoon.

My weekend: Saturday I packed up Bubba & myself and drove to Rock Creek Station for an overnight trail ride with my saddle club. It was about a 3 hour drive – 3.5 if you count the stop at WalMart to buy the stuff I’d forgotten to pack!
Rock Creek Station is a sate park just west of Beatrice – I had never been to Beatrice before that I remember. Saturday’s weather was very rider-friendly – just the right amount of sunshine and a mild breeze. A dozen of us spent a fine afternoon riding the trails through the trees and rolling prairies of the other areas of the park. At one point, they have a replica of log cabins that represent a bunkhouse, a blacksmith shop, a barn, and a Pony Express Station, which is located on the site of an actual Pony Express Station. There were also several covered wagon replicas. There were also several sections of split rail fencing. Wandering through that little spot on horseback gives a person pause as to the hopes and dreams of the long ago people who settled the area.

Saturday evening, we shared a supper of grilled steaks and salads and such. At about the time the sun went down, the wind picked up. I crawled into my sleeping bag and settled down for the night. The wind kept up a steady stream all night – so much so that the family of 3 who were my neighbors for the night, abandoned their tent, fearing it was going to be blown down, and spent the remainder of the night in the cab of their pickup. I didn’t notice the temperature drop until it was time for the dawn to break- which it didn’t because the wind had brought in a grey cloud cover, so the sun came up and immediately hid behind the clouds. It was the first time this year that I’ve felt the need for a sweatshirt.

Our group was reduced to eight by the time we saddled up for Sunday’s ride and we went out for about 3 hours and then our trail boss – the only guy with a trail map – decided he and three others wanted to take the long way back to camp. Four of us elected to take the short way (only 5 miles) back. “Just stay on this path,” the man said “and it’ll take you right back to the Visitor Center. You can’t miss it.” Do those sound like ‘famous last words,’ or what?

All went well until we came to a fence line and had to choose to go either left or right. With the sun hidden, we had no way to tell which way was north, so we made our best guess and - well, the rest of our trail time was spent wandering the draws and hills, trying to keep the Visitor Center in sight and wondering where we’d gone wrong. It was then I came to realize that, if any of our pioneers had a sense of direction comparable to mine, all immigrants to this country would have wound up back in Europe or maybe at the North Pole. It’s hard to say which. Fortunately, my companions had a better memory of Saturday’s ride than I did and a better sense of direction, so I soon found it best to keep quiet and bring up the rear.

In our wanderings, we had to cross a small creek several times – I’m not sure you could actually call it a creek, since it was only a couple feet wide in most places. Bubba decided he’d rather leap it than step in it, so I got my fill of jumping practice. My friend Julie’s horse did the same, only her horse made the leaps in a much bigger way – in fact, she looked for all the world like a Lippizanner! She (the horse) is even white with grey points. After about the 7th leap, Julie and I had both had our back bones jarred enough to turn the muscles around it into jelly. I can only imagine how the horses’ backs must have felt.

At long last, we located a trail that the other 3 ladies recognized from the day before and we finally wandered back through the Rock Creek Station log cabin area; where we encountered two Charolais cows and their calves. And we thought WE were lost!

My complete lack of an internal compass was proven again on the drive home through Beatrice. I came to the intersection of Highways 77 and 136 and if it had not been CLEARLY marked which was north and which was south, I would have turned south onto 77 and would probably be Oklahoma City by now!

What an adventure! I am definitely requesting a compass for my birthday.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I’m getting ready to duck out of here and go pack for an overnighter at Rock Creek Station with my saddle club. I’ve never been to this particular park, but I’ve heard they have some good riding trails. Next weekend I’ll be cooking for another cowgirl camp. That will be the last CC for this year. There’s one more weekend ride I usually go to in October. Fall is the best time to go. I won’t make it to River City Roundup this year because I have a wedding in Illinois on the 22nd and another one here on the 29th. I will get to visit with the riders when they stay overnight in Arlington. I can drop in on them and say “hi.”

It’s been kind of a quiet week around here as well as a short one with Monday being a holiday. The heat wave seems to be over – it was ushered out by yet another thunderstorm last night, so we are all relieved. We had .20 in our gauge this morning.

Emily is still on crutches, but will see the doctor on Thursday, so maybe she’ll be able to start walking on it soon. It’s still pretty sore, but she can touch it now without wincing.

I’ve noticed a few trees just starting to put on their golds and yellows. I drove past a cornfield a couple days ago that is completely brown and looks ready to pick. Most of the landscape is still green, though. Even greener than usual with all the rain of late.

Pretty boring, huh? I don’t even have any good puns today!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Satellite TV:
We now have 185 channels to watch and a couple dozen new radio stations to listen to.
I have become a remote control button pushing junkie. I hit the numbers for the Food Network and find a show (Emeril Live) that looks good. I think, “I’ll come back to that in a minute. I’ll just go see what’s on RFD.” On RFD, I see a show on a woman who is studying the Alaska Wilderness and wildlife. “Okay, maybe I’ll watch this instead. Let’s just see who is preaching on the Church Channel first.” It’s Adrian Rogers. “Well, I can’t just go off and not listen to Adrian Rogers! I’ll come back here right after I see who is being featured on the CMTV.” It’s Martina McBride and she’s doing Anyway! Now what?
This goes on for a long time and then I decide that I can’t decide, so I turn it off and go back to my radio - the regular one that's tuned to my favorite station already.

And now on a realted subject. In a previous posting, I asked if life imitates art or if art imitates life. My sister said, “It’s all admen.” Looking at the way our culture absorbs “catch phrases” I have to agree. Except for one thing – advertising isn’t art – usually. Certainly, the creativity of some of it attains a certain level of respectability, but most of it couldn’t be classified as art. An advertising jingle is not on the same level as a full length composition, but it can have equal influence.
But that does raise another observation – we are SO susceptible to the influences of the media, both electronic and paper. Ads are proof that if you tell a lie often enough and loud enough, eventually it will be accepted as truth.
Proof: I have always bought whole wheat bread. Jack & Emily never had a piece of toast or a sandwich at home on anything other than whole wheat in all their preschool and grade school years. It never crossed their minds to ask for anything else or to complain about it in any way, shape, or form. Then along comes Wonder Bread with a commercial showing children turning up their noses, scowling, saying “Yuck!” and offering other such negative opinions on whole wheat bread. All of a sudden, Jack and Emily decided they didn’t like whole wheat bread and they wanted white bread and only white bread. At that point, I almost threw the TV out the window. I didn’t switch from whole wheat to white bread, but I began to see other ways ads and children’s programming were “selling” not only products, but ideas to children. Not all of it is bad, but not all of it is good, either. Very little of it is in line with the core values that we want our family to hold.
I might have to go and have my head examined for inviting – not just inviting, but paying for - 185 channels of it into my living room. WHAT was I thinking!?
A belated Happy Birthday!

To Carson & Creighton! I hope you guys had a GREAT day!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The Husker volleyball players are REALLY tall. We were part of a record crowd attendance for a regular season game: 13,081.

And Emily did it all on crutches. She was pretty well wiped out by the time we got back to the vehicle. We had tickets on the main floor of the arena; 4 rows from the court. We even had to duck a few times from a stray ball. But, since the ticket takers at the Qwest Center send you UP to the second floor to take the stairs DOWN to the main floor of the arena, that meant she had many, many stairs to negotiate. But we had fun joining in all the cheers for Sara Paven (6’5”), Jordan Larsen (Her mom was a classmate of Randy’s) and Kori Cooper (COO-O-O-O-O-O-OOper) as well as GO BIG RED! at every opportunity. Football may never be the same. Those carnivorous VB players are giving Bill Callahan a run for his money! Of course, it was a three game sweep over the Penn State Nittany Lions.

I also noticed some new artwork outside the Qwest Center that looks like it was done by the same artist who developed the “Monument to Labor” that I posted pics of a while back. I’ll head back down there with my camera for a future posting.

And speaking of computers… (last time)
Mary, I remember when you used to watch me at my sewing machine and you’d say, “I’ll buy one as soon as they start making them where you can feed the pattern and fabric in at one end the finished garment comes out the other…” Well, get out your checkbook, it’s almost there! Pfaff makes a computerized quilting machine (long arm) that remembers the pattern you quilt on the first row and automatically repeats it until you tell it to do something different. And the embroidery machines they have out now… I would never have to pick up a needle and floss again! Okay, it’s not quite what you described back in the old days, but how far away can it be?

And LDCP, I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future, so I’m not worried - just awed (or perhaps odd?)

And just one more little pun for the day – I heard a man on the radio today say, “I am not deterred…” I guess he won’t be needing de toilet paper, will he?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Well we did it.

We have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th Century. Yes, I know this is the 21st Century – it’s taking us a while to get caught up.
We now have satellite TV in our home. My assessment so far? We have just begun paying for more commercials.
In a couple weeks, we’ll have internet access from home as well.
I remember when I was really young and started becoming aware of man made things in outer space, like satellites and rockets and manned flights to the moon. I cheered each step of progress that was made, but I never dreamed I might be able to understand the equipment involved; such as satellites and computers. If you had told me then that I would someday have a device in my very own front yard that receives a signal from a satellite in space, I would not have believed you. Furthermore, if you had tried to convince me that the ONLY reason I have this device is for entertainment purposes, I would have asked, “Why? Are they going to stop printing books?”
When the two young men (Jordan and Michael) who installed and activated the receiver left yesterday, I just stood there and looked at it for a while. I thought about these two young men, who were very polite and efficient, but each of them had only a high school education and company training to do the job. Yet, they knew exactly what to do so that my receiver was getting the correct signal from the correct satellite somewhere out there in space beyond the southern sky. Didn’t it used to take a rocket scientist to know how to do this stuff?
And if you had told me that I would have not one, but THREE computers in my home and that I would know how to operate them as easily as I can operate an electric mixer, I would have laughed at you, hopped on my bike and pedaled away to my friend’s house to share the laugh with her. And then, to hear of the computer in my home having access to information on computers all over the world through something called an internet? I would have looked down the street at the telephone and electrical poles and wondered where in the heck they were going to string up all the wiring it would require to get that done. I thought radio signals were only for farm reports, weather outlooks and big band music.
I used to marvel at the advances in transportation made in the past 100 years, but that progress, as impressive as it is – is dwarfed by the advances in information technology over the past ten years.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I got the artist AND the title wrong - it wasn't Taylor Swift, it's Kellie Pickler. The title is simply "I Wonder." I did find it on YouTube.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Social Evolution of Women and Country Music – an historical perspective

So… does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

I’m focusing on the art of Country music for now, because the topic is too broad otherwise. In the songs of the 50s and 60s, women were the ones getting their hearts broken. Kitty Wells (“Am I that Easy to Forget”), Brenda Lee (“Break it to me Gently”) Nobody – then or now – could croon a sorrowful tune like Patsy Cline (“Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces”).

While the sad songs never did (and never will) go out completely, things start to change in the 70s with Barbara Mandrell (“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”), Shelly West (“Jose Cuervo”), Dolly Parton (“Coat of Many Colors”), and Loretta Lynn (“Coal Miner’s Daughter)” Their music tended to demonstrate that while men were still out there breaking hearts, women had other interests as well.

Then came the 80s & 90s and the ladies started to fight back. Gretchen Wilson (“I’m Here for the Party,” “Redneck Woman” and “All Jacked Up”) Shania Twain (“Whose Bed Have your Boots been Under”, “If You’re not in it For Love I’m Outta Here” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”) and Jessica Andrews (“Bye Bye”) taught the world that women could drink and fight just as hard as a man could. And she could look good and break hearts while she was doing it. And the Dixie Chicks, before their fall from redneck grace, got downright mean with their song about feminine vengeance “Earl.”

Then we were reminded that women had fathers, too, with Heartland’s “I Loved Her First” and George Strait’s “My Little Girl.”

There are a couple of songs out right now that lament the role of the bad mom. The absentee mom in Taylor Swift’s “What You’d think of Me” and the neurotic mom: Reba McEntire’s duet with Kelly Clarkson “Because of You.”

This is a long way from being a comprehensive study of women’s social issues as reflected in music: just something I’ve observed. All of this is just meaningless rambling on my part, but the postings on my sisters’ blogs of late got me thinking more about this. It seems to me that the music of the times emphasizes the differences between the two who reached adulthood in the 50s and 60s and the two of us who came of age in the 70s.

And now back to my first question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?
Did the songs come about because of the changes taking place or were the changes inspired by the music?