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.

Significant Other

 © jb katke

It is not what you think.

Today I feature a friend from long ago. Artie, old enough to be my mother, was my mentor in all things quilting.  She was all knowing in my sewing world. I would like to think we were good for each other.

I was new in the community and a novice in the quilt guild. She befriended me as I tried to fit in with so many gifted women. They didn’t know my skill level; I knew how to run a sewing machine. That didn’t matter to Artie, she determined to like me anyway. She had a saying that I still hold dear today, “From the back of a galloping horse, who is going to see the mistake?”

Wednesdays were set aside for us to quilt together. We met at her house, as her husband, Bill, was in poor health. I think the big event for her though, was not the quilting, but going out to lunch. During Bill’s days of employment, he had lunch out and wanted nothing more than a home cooked meal every evening.  Being home, with the kids, she wanted nothing more than to go out.

This photo I share with you, is what I was working on at that time. A handkerchief quilt. In my quilt room I have three handkerchief boxes overflowing with hankies from my mom, grandmother, and aunt. My guess is back in the day, they were as essential as underwear.

Rather than get rid of these handkerchiefs that bring memories of these women, a quilt seemed like a good way to use them. It may have touched Artie’s heart too, appreciating bygone days. I had used fifty of them, putting some around the edges, bed skirt style. Today those handkerchief boxes are still brimming over.

Back in the days of quilting bees, women would gather together bringing their completed quilt tops and attach batting and backing. They could whip out several in a day as they all worked together. From what I have read, they also talked. A lot. Because women have concerns.

That hasn’t changed. Women of today do too. Artie and I would talk. We need a safe place to say things with a person you know will not share it with the world. That was the way in a pre-Facebook era.

My quilting days today don’t look the same. It was a season in my life, when I think the good Lord knew these two women each had something to share with the other.  I began taking my Bible memory verses to Arties for her to help me learn them.

Artie shared she and Bill attended church when they were child-raising. Those days were over. Its difficult to stay focused on a spirit lead life when you don’t get refueled on a regular basis.

 I will never know this side of heaven, but hope those shared times renewed Arties faith. The people in our life are an influence and there for a divine purpose. God bless you all in spending time with me.

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.

Why Do You Do This?

© jb katke

What prompts a person to do what they do?

That question could apply to any bazillion topics. Mine, today, is directed to those unsung hero’s that write for a living.

The last few days, I have lived at my keyboard. Not writing, but listening to those that do. I am fresh from an online conference for authors. What am I doing hanging with them when I’ve yet to produce a book?

Good question. I ask myself that on a regular basis. The answer may not make sense, sometimes not even to me. A voice led me here, where it came from doesn’t matter because it was real to me.

As I sit under the tutelage of educated folks, I am learning new words.  Like Scrivener, Trope, enneagrams. Don’t ask me for definitions, as I haven’t wrapped my head around them yet. I fear there are more lurking about, yet to surface. One of the speakers I heard mentioned we never stop learning.  I have grasped I am in over my head and writers are introverts.

My dear husband disagrees with me being introverted. He thinks because I can carry on a conversation I am an extrovert. Not so. This conference has proved my point. All I did is sit and listen, barely responding to questions or comments and I am exhausted! Interacting with people, and apparently just listening wear me out.

The caveat is how much a writer must do to get their words not only published, but then sell themselves. They must be their own advertising agent, convincing others why they need to purchase this book. Let me assure you, this is no easy task for someone who prefers not to call attention to themselves.

Why do they put themselves through this? Because they have a message. It is an inner voice that says their words are of value. That others could learn from a writers experience or wisdom. That’s what Jesus’ dad did. He chose to write a book, sharing his life and all kinds of other stuff that are helpful for living. He included people that set examples, both good and bad for us to learn from.

There is so much more to absorb. Same as reading the words of the Good Book-we never stop learning.        

The Cottage Cheese Caper

© jb katke

If a school teacher did this today, I bet she could lose her job. Oh, it had all the wrappings of being a good, wholesome thing to do. But I thought I was going to die.

This awful event took place in my early elementary years. The deed? Every so often my teacher would bring in her electric fry pan to class. That alone, was a risky thing. One of us students could have gotten burned if we got too close. It never happened…but it could have.

Her logic was to bring in foods that might be out of the norm and prepared them for us to try. I can’t recall anyone balking at the items she brought in. That is until me. Some of the foods she introduced to us were lima beans, asparagus, brussal sprouts, and much more. I had no issue with that because those were foods we ate at home and liked them just fine.

My undoing was the day no electric frypan was needed. She brought cottage cheese. Up until this day, our teacher brought in normal spoons. On cottage cheese day, the spoon looked more like a huge stirring spoon some cook would use in preparing a dish for one hundred people. I repeat, thought I was going to die.

What makes people like this stuff? It’s snow white, lumpy, and tastes awful. Looking at my description, you could imagine vanilla ice cream with some added cookies or something. While its not my favorite, vanilla ice cream at least tastes good. Not so, for cottage cheese.

Speaking of ice cream, reminds me of the debate my husband and I have from time to time. Soft serve is what is trending now. Likewise, with frozen custard. You know, the stuff that melts all over the place if you don’t eat it fast enough. Give me ice cold, solid, ice cream, thank you. Dave will enunciate it, “It’s ice creeaamm that is so good.”  I come back with no “It’s iiicce cream.” Around we go trying to convince the other one how wrong they are. It never ends; a first world issue with no relevance.

At any rate, back to the cottage cheese thing. No doubt some of you will be giving me all kinds of feedback on how you most enjoy cottage cheese. that’s fine as long as you realize I’m not changing my mind.

The good Lord has created all kinds of food for all kinds of taste buds. We can at least be grateful and agree on that.

In Good Hands

© jb katke

            Today I take a break from the norm. Usually I’m writing to tell you of my past. Today is today.

            The most mundane, ordinary things speak loudest to me. Past blogs have shared how life with Midnight, our dog, spoke to me. Another was Gods’ sense of humor in how he orchestrated a job for our son. Today it is my dish drainer. Well, sort of.

            It is one of the newer of kitchen items I own. When I washed dishes, I was setting them on the bottom of the sink, where sometimes it may not have been freshly cleaned. Oh, TMI-sorry!

            I spied a collapsible number in the home improvement center my husband and I frequent. First, I must think on it. I am, not good at instant decisions. Recently, I took the plunge and purchased one. It works well except for one tiny detail. It does not drain well. Not good since that is what it is designed to do.

            Casually mentioning this to my man, he set about drilling out bigger holes for drainage. I am telling you; I do not think there is anything he would not do to make my life better. Not all men are this way and I know it.

            Do not think I am attempting to rub it in  your face that mine does and yours does not. My point  is, it can be hard to put faith or any kind of trust in this guy, Jesus. A man you have never laid eyes on. In light of family and personalities, it may not be your husband, but the upbringing you experienced with a father.

Understood. If you are in an unfortunate relationship, what now?

Currently, I am reading a memoir of a famous personality and her road to knowing Jesus. It was not an easy one. Much of her life made sense, until after she formed this friendship with him. Then things started getting sticky.

Popular opinion says life gets better knowing Jesus. I wish to rephrase that and say life gets bearable knowing Jesus. The problem lies in the fact we are too human for our own good. Making a poor decision is too easy, and can take a nasty downward spiral.

This is the very reason why a friendship with him is vital. Jesus directs steps. He brings people into our life for one of two reasons. Either to better identify who we should avoid, or, to recognize his direction and follow it. Getting to know him through his Good Book is a great start. Focus on it, instead of our wishes.

Wishes are a good thing, but a tad too human. Speaking for myself, they have not always been of a godly nature. I want what I want.

What Jesus wants might take us places we would never initiate on our own. Even those difficult times in life can serve a purpose in honing in on how Jesus sees us. He has designed you for a specific task. Others might be able to accomplish it, but then you would not see the growth in yourself. That is what it is all about. Growth. With his help, I might add.

Confession time; I do not know what his help looks like. Just as there are no two identical snowflakes, neither are there set in stone ways Jesus works. With assurance, I can tell you this, if your heart is in seeking him, he makes the way known. You will see it and be able to identify it.

It is only fair to say, his way is not always the easiest way. The potential for pain is there. I hate pain! However, experiencing it, we can make certain not set ourselves up for a repeat performance. Wisdom moves in. So does strength to do the hard stuff. Supplied by none other than you know Who.

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

            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.

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!