Parts Unknown

As a rule, vacations are rest and recreation. Ours became a spontaneous plan. The summer was fast disappearing. Crunch time was a now or never reality. We wanted to get away from it all before Dave’s work schedule resumes.

Usually, we get in the car and go, stopping wherever something of interest catches our fancy. We made a point of going to parts of the country we have not visited before.

The problem is there are too many places we have never been.

Planning was a prerequisite. We are fresh out of danger of COVID and ready to break loose from the restrictions made necessary last year. Along with the rest of the country. Better to have reservations made with assurance of a bed to fall into at night.

This dear man of mine planned the entire trip single-handed, thinking of where and what I would most enjoy. Dave did such a good job. Our final destination was somewhere west, so we dubbed the trip to ‘Parts unknown.’

I prepared for other aspects of the trip. Like leaving the house in a state you are okay with walking into when returning home. Naturally, washing and packing clothes too.

We are cramming too many miles in our allotted time. It’s one of those situations that, ‘Since we have come this far, we may as well go to…’

The Wyoming State Museum was one of our stops. It provides more history of the state than this head can hold. As we travel, I learn too

Question: As you bake, and note a recipe calling for baking soda, have you wondered where it comes from? Strolling through the displays, I came across this tidbit of information that I share with you. Baking soda comes from Trona rock! Who would have thought?

© jb katke www.wyomingstatemuseum.com

So many thoughts drift in and out of my mind as we travel. Dave’s main concern was me. Just like all that Jesus has done, just for me. Both are good men. We are not home yet, but thus far, we have had safe travel.

An unexpected perk too, was finding money in the washing machine at the laundromat. Provisions come, whether we ask for them or not. All we need do is look. Sometimes we find ourselves in parts unknown, but Jesus is there, excited to astound us.

Wise Words

 © jb katke

Mom’s words come back to me., “If you know what your problem is, you’ve got it half solved.” As an adolescent I hated that she knew me so well. Even more, I resented that she was right. Hard as it is to give ear to what we need to hear, it’s tougher yet to put myself into action.

Probably you have heard the definition of a fool. Do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Necessary changes are in direct conflict with what I am accustomed to doing.

It seems there was am animated movie for children that put it well, “Life is tough.”

What is my problem? It’s so trivial, something we all cope with on a regular basis. Time management and priorities, and the struggle is real. Throw in old age mixed with a lack of energy and I have a recipe for frustration. I’m not cooking this up. Sorry I had to throw that in.

What I need to do is return to my previous pattern of getting into the Good Book and allow its truth to marinate in me. (What is all this cooking lingo about? It’s not my thing!)

I am well aware not everyone is into Jesus. They have their reasons. But I happen to know what a positive difference he makes in life…if I let him in. Due to the tyranny of the urgent, I have set my Bible aside. Today I suffer the consequences. I can’t think of anything more disruptive than unrest. A lot of that is going on in our world today.

I have been blessed with just the right amount of pain. It’s keeping me from sleep and driving me to my Good Book. When all else fails, go do what I knew was missing all along. I dug out my Bible to play catch up with the reading program I had started.

I read about this guy; I’ll call him Neil. He was high up in a military position that lived in a wealthy part of town. Neil received access to spiritual truth. He took it to heart and was directed to seek out a particular person, Pete, that was going around teaching of Jesus. Normally Pete would not have given Neil the time of day. But he too was directed to do something out of the norm. The two men eventually met.

I have left a bunch of crucial details out. Neil was of a different nationality and religion than Pete. The teacher was focused on one people group only. Period. . Translation, the two men would probably never have crossed paths. The word ‘direct’ I used, is actually an angel and a vision. The end result was a whole other group of people got to hear about Jesus that under normal circumstances would not have been privy to. How Jesus came from heaven, healed sick folks, was nailed and left hanging on a cross until he died, and came back to life, ultimately returning to heaven. I know, it sounds unbelievable. You can fact check it in Acts 10.

But here is the deal. The Good Book is the only book I have read that includes, real life  characters, history, romance, wars, dysfunctional families, futuristic events, drama, and more than I can think of right now. Literally, there is something for everyone.

Even though the Good Book doesn’t need anything additional, many writers have produced books that in their own way direct readers to Jesus. I’m telling you this in what I refer to as my take away.

To me it means: A persons status or location in life doesn’t meet inner needs. Jesus’s dad uses all manner of things to communicate with us. And about those aforementioned writers, by all appearances I am one of them.

I’m just a regular person that usually only talks about Jesus with folks close to me. However, in many of my blogs I aim to point others to Jesus. Folks  from all parts of the world have read some of my writing and I am genuinely humbled. Pete got to see the skin and bones Jesus, I have seen Jesus work more subtly, through circumstances and people, that only he could do.

I enjoy hearing from those who read my words. If you have questions; there are things I don’t understand too.  I can’t guarantee wise answers, but I can point you to someone who does…if you ask him.

A Labor of Love

 © jb katke

Too bad I didn’t get a before picture. You can see the after here. What you can’t see is all the between. This is a pie safe.

Back in the day before kitchen pantries were a thing, women had a pie safe. Probably it was before bakeries and air conditioning, when more windows were open for air circulation. Women baked breads and pies. In order to keep flies off the baked goods, they put them in a pie safe. It wasn’t intended to be airtight, hence the punched tin.

Today antique buffs like to utilize them, mostly for the quaint appearance they give to country décor. That is where I am at.

As my husband constructed my current computer desk, it became apparent I was going to need some storage. We contemplated a wall unit with a cabinet base and shelving above. Some shelves open, others behind closed doors to hide stuff. We all have our stuff don’t we?

He being a builder, it would have been impressive, and more than meet my needs. Probably his first choice too, because it would fit in with what we have in the rest of the house. He likes stylish well-built furniture.

But me, nooo.

I was going through his woodworking magazines, destined for our garage sale. Oh look! A pie safe. You know I’ve always wanted one of those.  The rest is history.

My pie safe started out in life as pallets, used to deliver all manner of lumber for the new homes built nearby. They sat out in the weather for quite some time as we mulled over all the potential they held. Finally, I inquired if they would be used again. Their days were numbered as they were headed to the dump. We rescued them before that happened.

Now for the in between. Dave lugged them home to dry out. He then took them apart, sorting them by the size of the boards. After that, he de-nailed them. The next step was running them through the planer down to a smooth board.

To give the finished product more character, he glued the boards together, then cut them to the specified ¾ inches. Yes, he built boards! At long last he was able to construct what you see here, complete with his hand punched tin. Truly, it was a labor of love. It was his desire to please me.

Our Creator did likewise. Designing human-kind was a labor of love, specifically made in his image. Our capacity to love, anger, forgiveness, laugh, cry; all come from him. Mind boggling, yes? It was a labor of love.

More than anything, he wants a relationship with us, and to please us. The trick is for us to want for ourselves what he knows is best for us. Like any loving parent would.

Just for the record, the pie safe is well built and blends nicely with the house too, because we have a fair share of antiques. Likewise, with our Creator. He fits things into our lives that blend perfectly with our character.

Just An Ordinary Day

© jb katke 

         Not so fast. May 21st is special to me. Until I told her, my granddaughter, Liz, had no idea.

            Long ago, in a faraway place, my fiancé and I set the above date to be married.  Only, with further thought, we decided we didn’t want to wait that long. We upped it to January.

We decided to get married at Greenfield Village, in the Martha Mary chapel Henry Ford had built for his mother. We were informed all of January was already booked.  We settled for a December wedding, which at the time was perfectly acceptable because it was sooner yet.

Alas! May 21st has remained in my heart all these years. It’s beyond explanation and irrational; I have no regret over the man I married. After all, we are talking a date, for goodness sake.

The year of COVID-19 we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. Thankfully for us, life went on. I am aware that was not the case for everyone. With the restrictions set world-wide, our celebration has been detained. 

With that in mind, I decided to ask Liz, to take some pictures of us in June. She has a budding business in photography and that would be fifty and a half years.

We learned of a May wedding for her extended family requesting she take a few pictures. Coming from Nebraska, we had the opportunity for her to pull an overnight at our house. With her camera.  

Pictures were taken of my husband and I…on May 21st!  Snapping away Liz was concerned about the lack of good lighting. Nevertheless, we did a bunch of poses and comical shots,

 Later, an upset Liz confirmed the pictures didn’t come out as we hoped. She didn’t know the full story. Fifty years ago, my folks hired a friend employed at a camera shop to take our wedding pictures.  It wasn’t until the day after he realized there was no film in the camera. It only seems right that this unfortunate occurrence happened again.

Best laid plans don’t always come to be, Our photo shoot was unplanned, just a fun and convenient opportunity. A coincidence? Not in my world. I don’t believe in it. Nothing under the sun just ‘happens.’ It’s all part of a plan, a divine one. We will have other opportunities, when the light is better.

My telling you this saga has an ulterior motive. I wish for you to know Jesus and what life can look like with his friendship.  I’m not saying it will always be a bed of roses, but he never disappoints and he gives endless opportunities. His friendship makes the difficult things bearable.  And sometimes, really good perks like an unexpected overnighter comes along.

Cooking 201

© jb katke

            Must I really have to learn how to cook all over again?

            A year before I was married, my fiancé gifted me with a cookbook. Had I realized he was concerned about my cooking, I might have tried a few recipes in it before the wedding. No, I probably wouldn’t.

            After our marriage, I removed the cellophane wrapper off the book. Inside was a foreign language; words like parboil, sear, scald with many others, just to name a few. It was enlightening in ways I never wanted to learn.

            Ahh, learn. That must be where the crux of my problem lies. I do not speak kitchen-nese.  In our last house-hunt I desperately sought a residence that had no kitchen.  To no avail, they all have one.

            The frustration doubled with this most recent home we now live in. Allow me to clarify my husband desires me to have good tools to work with.  I do, He selected a lovely range with a double oven.

            However, there seems to be an awful lot of operator error. I didn’t realize until I put the range use that it’s a convection oven. He knew that but somehow I missed reading that little detail.  Do I lower the temperature in baking, or shorten the minutes? Each time I must decide which to do.

            Translated, that means I learn how to cook all over again. It took me two years to learn how to fry an egg to his liking.  Fifty plus years later, I now must master this newfangled oven.  

© jb katke

            But it doesn’t end there. One visit at my daughter, Cindy’s house, we began cooking the evening meal. She pointed out a plastic gadget to use in frying up hamburger. “I don’t know how I ever got along without this.” She was right, it was a delight to use. If you can find any delight in the kitchen, I mean.

            Upon returning home, and frying up hamburger for spaghetti, I thought of Cindys’ kitchen tool. Using a fork, the handle isn’t quite long enough without my feeling the heat. It didn’t do nearly as good a job as hers chopping up the meat.

            That settles it, I’ll get one. It kinda grinds me to get this new utensil when I got along without it for so long. Not to mention its an addition to a room I try to avoid going into in the first place,

            Odd, I never seemed to have qualms adding a quilting tool to my collection. The Good Book says there is nothing new under the sun. I wonder what cooks used way back when before this thingy hit the market? I might not want to know.

Garage Sale revisited

            Sitting and waiting for foot traffic stirs the mind to wonder. Is disposing of excess baggage trendy? We had some perfectly good junk that no one wanted.

            After years of failed effort to have a profitable garage sale, I’ve finally pinpointed our issue. My husband and I are specialized individuals. Specialties reign in todays’ world, however…

            Dave, being a woodworker, and I, being a quilter, we have learned those two skillsets are not what is trending.  Not to say those qualities are not appreciated; just not hot button items that the general public is seeking.

            For those who make a habit of hitting the garage sale circuit; looking for wood or quilt related items. We have a deal for you! Alas, it’s not to be.

            What, exactly, is the general public looking to find?

            Clothes.  Possibly toys. I guess I don’t know.

            Not books, which is a shame, as we have close to a bazillion.

            For sure, not antiques. Too bad, because we have lots of them too. While the old furniture might be appreciated, it needs updating. As I mentioned in my previous Garage Sale blog, most folks would prefer someone else do the refurbishing. Only then do they make the purchase and put the item to use immediately.

            Immediate use must be the key. Do people have no vision of what could be? Or lack the elbow grease to tackle projects on their own? We live in a drive-up society oozing with convenience.

            Creating takes more than know-how, it requires patience. Not losing sight of the goal is crucial. I’ll bet Jesus hung his hat on what could be. That’s why he invested so much of himself in people. He knows what we are made of; the kind of impact each of us could make on each other for the betterment of all.

            He could see our shortcomings, but knew with a little honing we could become more than mere creations. We could be a dynamic force pointing others in the way to live.

            How? By learning from our mistakes.

            I wish there was a better way. Experience teaches. Jesus experienced a perfect life in heaven. That must be why he spoke of it so much. It’s his home. Home is where we get a handle on relationships, and by golly, Jesus mastered that.

            Do you find that as astounding as I do? That Jesus thinks highly enough of us to want to spend eternity together with him? Eternity is a long time. Give it some thought, because it never loses its appeal…and always trendy.

Garage Sale

            Why do I do subject myself to this?                    

            Garage sale season has arrived and I’ll try hanging my sign out again. Repeat try anyway. Ever since we moved into our downsized home, I have been trying to unload excess baggage. Unsuccessfully for the most part.

             It seems no one wants my stuff. Gwen, a former neighbor of mine was uncannily good at it. I will never forget the year ago, we went in on one together.  As we sat in the hot sun, a van pulled over; as the driver strolled towards us, she turned to me. “The bikes are not for sale.”

            “How ‘do, Ma’am? Fine day for a sale. Are you selling these bikes?”

            How did she know he would ask about them!

            I can’t say her stuff was any better than mine, she just knew what was in demand. Now that I give it thought, our kids were young so there were a certain number of toys and outgrown children’s’ clothes. That makes a difference. Those days are long past

            Today I have big stuff, area rugs, exercise equipment, and excess furniture to dispose of. Ok, so my furnishings are not the latest and greatest. Heck, all kinds of people shop at the Salvation Army and come out with purchases I would never consider. With recycling and refurbishing items trending now, one would think people would love to grab these

            I know. If that is the idea, they would happily prefer for us to do the refurbishing making items look new again. Few people want to invest the elbow grease it takes, I don’t either.

            Even my kids have let me down. I distinctly told all three of them to buy large enough homes so they could take my unwanted stuff. Did they cooperate? Nope. Probably what they do want are the things I’m still using and enjoying myself. Of course, with so many miles between us, doesn’t help in getting anything to them either.

            Several quilt books and sewing supplies will be available to buy. Hopefully, the kids will appreciate that. I’m not the quilter I used to be, or maybe never was. Anyway, if all goes well, my quilt room should look neater. Should, being the key word. Stay tuned.

            I eagerly look forward to my forever home, where there will be no excess baggage. Did you know a place is being prepared just for those who be living in heaven? I’m not sure what all to expect, but I know it will be perfect. All I need will be there, Jesus, waiting for my arrival.  No fuss, no muss, no garage sales.

Mom’s Day

 © jb katke

            Coming soon to a home near you.

Mom: “Mother’s Day is coming soon.”

Child/me: “Again? We just had one last year. When are we gonna have a kid’s day?”

            How I wish I could have Mom back. A long time ago she was promoted to her eternal home. For too many years I didn’t appreciate her. I do now.

            The Good Book says there is a cloud of witnesses watching over us. That gives me hope and encouragement that she knows how I feel about her now. People always have reasons for their words and actions. I never asked about her childhood. Our conversation would be different today.

            A couple times she mentioned things of the past. One from her childhood pertained to her artwork. Mom was a tremendous artist. She particularly enjoyed drawing the human body. Back in the day, they could be mistaken for promiscuous pictures. She shared her fathers’ words with me, “Just remember, there is always someone better than you.”.

            If Grandpa Andrews were with me today, I would have more than a few words to rail against him. Couldn’t you see how gifted your daughter was at such a young age? Would it have been so terrible to give her some encouraging words? Encouragement wasn’t our family motto.

            Note to self: Grandpa came from a different era, children were seen, not heard. Perhaps intended to be family helpers too, what value can a family gain with some pencil drawings?

            In another conversation, Mom told me, not of herself, but of a friend. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this friend was out living on her own at a young age. She was intending to rent a room in a boarding house. Her boyfriend was adamant that he see this place and make some inquiries.

            “When I come visit my girl, how far inside can I go?”

            “Right where you are now, young man, no further than this living room.”

            Thankfully, he was a guy of good character and cared for the well-being of his future wife. Men of evil desires have been around since the beginning of time. I never had given that thought.

            Mom knew, that is probably why she & Dad were so protective of me. When my girls were young, that was my concern too.

            What disappoints me now, is of moms’ pictures I have, she signed none of them. I would love to boast of them, and the talent she had.

            As for Kids’ Day, I understand there is one now. The second Sunday in June. Here I am, all grown up. Go figure!

Oh No!

©jb katke

How could such a thing happen?

Recently, I and my table members had our picture taken at our last meeting of the season. Wonderful women, all of them. But do you ever wish when having your picture taken, that someone else could stand in for you?

After seeing the pic, I realized that somehow, it was my aunts’ image that showed up unannounced.  Pretty tricky, seeing how she is deceased.  The horror of it all indicates that I look just like her. Here I was, worried about looking like my mother! Now this…

Upon showing the picture to my husband, he snickered, “You can’t deny family heritage.” I can if I want, until stuff like this happens. You don’t have to scold me for focusing too much on myself, I’m aware.

I realize there is a benefit to having your picture taken. At the risk of sounding morbid, go to any funeral and you will see what I mean. Pictures of the deceased are posted on a big screen. That is beneficial for others to see you in better, happier times. It leaves a vivid memory of a life well lived.

That very thing is what made my husband a believer of photos. When his father passed away, there were few pictures of him. Reason being, his dad was the one taking pictures of everyone else. While my husband is not a fan of standing in front of the camera, he is far more tolerant of it so the rest of us can enjoy images of him in the future. Gratitude abounds here.

I go so far as to agree with him, therefore allowing others to take my picture. Unfortunately, I have protested so many shots of myself, I’ve frightened others, It’s just easier to not take my picture. All I ask is for them to pass my approval. I take horrible pictures.

 Half-jokingly I request showing my good side, and turn my back to the camera. “Oh no, they say, it looks just like you!” My heart and self-image take a beating.

Because I love words, I would rather others described me by word instead of image.  That’s what Jesus did you know? From cover to cover, his book is of words describing himself without any pictures.

But, speaking of images, he took them on. He came to earth looking like his creation, so that we could relate to him.  While here, he took the image of God, for all to see his dad’s holiness. Finally, he took on our wrongs, so that we could have free access to eternity with perfection.

Imagine, an eternity of looking perfect!

Midnight Lessons

 

Midnight
© jb katke

Our doorbell rang. Midnight barked her announcement that we had a visitor. My husband headed for the door telling her to settle down.  Midnight barked quieter.

“Shush girl, I’m right here.”

“Woof.” Quieter yet.

“That’s enough!”

Midnight stalked away with disgust written on her snout, mumbling “mwmwm.” After all she was only doing her job!

Pets do have personalities.  As far as Midnight was concerned, the door belonged to her, likewise the sidewalk.  Naturally she would sound the alarm when someone who didn’t belong used them. Midnight included in her fold Grandma, and her dog Puddin.  Grandma adored Midnight and Puddin adored coming to our house to watch the fish swim in the fish tank. It appeared to be canine MTV.

Midnight considered us family, but not everyone was thrilled by that.   My husband and I both grew up with pets, but my husband was done with them.  Our son had other ideas though.  I vividly recall the day my husband called me upstairs where he was working.

“I’m getting weak,” he said. “I’m thinking of getting Jamie a dog. Can you think of any reason we shouldn’t?  Please, any reason at all?”

His petition took me by surprise because nothing had been said recently. At the moment I could not come up with a reason why our boy should not have his dog.  Later I was able to pinpoint an issue with pet ownership.  Hair. Everywhere. Which should not have come as a surprise because we already had a cat.  Adding another pet to the mix just meant twice the hair.

After we brought our pup home, the family gathered around the table for the serious discussion of a name for this new family member.  Because she was all black, I leaned towards Licorice.  But that was quickly squashed due to my tendency to go by nicknames.  Standing at the door calling for Licker didn’t seem appropriate. We settled on Midnight but called her by many names, Pup, Poochkie, Mid, Mutney.  She responded to all, lapping up the love and attention most of us gave her.

At about the same time Midnight joined our family, some friends of ours added a pup to their family as well.  Their experience with a new puppy wasn’t altogether good.

“Are you folks having problems at night with your puppy whining and crying after being put to bed?”

“No, not at all,” I said, perplexed as to why they were experiencing this.  All the kids welcomed her with open arms, our son especially.  Because the puppy was too small to jump onto his bed, our boy lined the floor with newspapers and slept on it with Mid.  Our friend, on the other hand, put their pup in a kennel far from any family members.  Clearly, he didn’t grasp that dogs shouldn’t be treated like animals.

Midnight was happiest when she was included in family activities. She especially enjoyed going camping with us.  Most of the time we were outdoors with her, so she had ample attention.  One vacation in particular she tried to befriend another black critter that had a really neat white streak running down its back. Thankfully I managed to squelch that doomed friendship before any bad memory took place.

It amazes me the how and what lessons God will bring into my life to learn. Living with our new family member, I became a student of valuable lessons that Midnight had for me. Take for instance the aforementioned visitor at the door.  Immediately Midnight determined whether our visitor was friend or foe.  Her policy was to like everyone.  Then had a friend for life

Other lessons I learned from Midnight:

When a person is hurting, stay close by, with a  listening ear available to them. Midnight lived that out making herself available to any one of the kids during those tough adolescent years.

Even the few times we reprimanded her, Mutney always forgave us.

Little people were some of Mid’s favorite humans.  I guess because they knew how to have fun.  If they tended to be a little clumsy she exercised patience.

Mid could read people and take joy in another person’s happiness. Understanding wasn’t a prerequisite for her to join in the celebration.

Our girl loved car rides. She made it a practice to never pass up an opportunity for a road trip, however small it might be.  Ditto for red wagons.  Don’t postpone joy.

When outdoors, she always took the opportunity to go to the bathroom.  Who knows when the next opportunity would be?

You don’t have to finish all the food in your bowl. If her snout was dry and she felt a little under the weather, it was ok.

In theory, Mid was not to be on furniture.  It was my way of controlling some of the shed hair.  When we were gone, it was another story. The furniture was at her disposal. When taking a nap, she would find the softest pillow in the house.

Be a kitchen-helper. There just isn’t an easy way to conduct floor patrol without getting underfoot. At least the cook shouldn’t feel lonely in there by herself.

Adapt to the changes in your world. As long as you have family, you have all the support and protection you need.

Lastly, always have the last word.

While my husband might not completely agree, our lives would not have been complete without this four-legged family member. As long as Midnight gave her master the lead dog position, all was well with the world. We miss you girl and always remain your faithful family.