Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What day is it?

With the big upset in the normal flow of my world, I'm a little bit at sea as to time and days and what I should be doing.

I was in the midst of some urgent and important projects, and was completely derailed by sorrow.

Please understand that I am in no way equating my sorrow over the loss of my pet with the kind of sorrow so many others are suffering. I can get another pet, not another Daisie, but another pet and pursue the happiness that comes with that. I know, I know, I know that others can't get back a dad, a son, a husband, a mom, a daughter, a wife. Oh, how my heart hurts for you!

I'm just trying to keep it real for what my life is, and I confess, I have not the strength I see in others.

So I've been floundering this week. Kind friends have encouraged me that it's okay to back off on my expectations of myself for a few days, so I have. But I realized that I had moved the essentials of my desk to the dining room table because it was too hard to be in the room where Daisie had her crate. She would doze and snore while I worked (and wasted time) on the computer.

It's too quiet, and empty -- and kind of sad to move that crate out and admit we are a family without need of one.

But life is going on, so today I took myself by the lapels and propelled me out into the garage to organize and make room for the things that need to get out of the house...all those dishes and treats and food and medicines and beds.

The harder part is not getting derailed by the holes in my routine: the first-thing-in-the-morning duty run, and breakfast. The walk and treat after. Remembering the meds at the proper time (my phone kept reminding me). The urge to holler an alert for Daisie to join me when I was going outside. Keeping track of her dinner time; that was her most demanding point of the day -- if you could call her demanding.Checking to see if she was on her bed, in her chair, or in her crate.

In the first days of her painful absence, I was aware of every thing I didn't have to do...but now, as I start to pick up with everyday life, I forget and start to act in the habit of the past. And then it hurts again.

As the days pass, it is easier to remember the happy memories and forget the heart-wrenching last moments, and that is a mercy.

Also, I have found myself pondering why I don't express how much I appreciate people more readily, and why do I wait to do things I want to do, finding reasons and excuses that seem like obstacles. Life is short, and full of imperfections. The best thing we can do is love, even if imperfectly. Waiting around for it to all be just right is a waste of time.

Because someday you'll wake up and find that the opportunity to love someone is finite, and there's little you can regret more than that.

Monday, April 24, 2017

This wasn't what I was thinking was going to happen...

So I had all these plans to write about my trip after sharing my anticipation.

Then my laptop died while we were gone, and I couldn't blog on the go.

And then it took a couple of weeks to get it replaced and the files moved over.

And then I was going to finally write, and catch up, and get blogging again.

Then -- our Daisie died this weekend, and I'm a big weepy mess. My heart is bruised, and I am full of anxiety that I will never be as happy again as I was when she was here. I'm tortured by "if only" thoughts, and regrets. I bounce between distraction, denial and back to despair.

Then last night, I heard that two iconic leaders of our community passed...and this after weeks where we have lost others too soon and too young. And more are suffering with dire illnesses.

It's too much. Today, I am feeling like one big open wound, bleeding at every touch...Sorrows overwhelm. So much pain for so many.

It's hard to look forward and think that we will one day be so naively happy again. Life is full of hurts.

But in the midst of the sorrow, I realize that my gratitude for all the good that has gone before is heightened. Weighed in the balance, there was more joy than there is now pain. I want my joy to have no cost, but that is not reality. To continue in this sorrowful world, I can only go forward in faith that God will give us courage, and strengthen us, to pay the price of loving deeply in a world that waits to be redeemed, a world where we will suffer separations, and physical pain, and broken hearts. I will choose faith that loving deeply is worth the pain, and that not loving, is not living. I will open my heart to joy, without reservation.

And for a few days (only, I hope), I'll probably cry while I'm doing that...but He knows I am but dust.

Someday soon, I will write a tribute to our wonderful Daisie. She was the best dog in the world, and after loving and serving us for nearly 12 years, she deserves to be remembered well. Right now, it's just too hard... I remain amazed and thankful that God made these creatures to love us.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


I'm going to visit here!

So – I’m going on a trip later this month. Yep – I am actually going to leave my home, fly on a jet plane, and spend a week far from my comfort zone.

I was the kid who mostly had to call my mom to pick me up from the slumber parties. I made it all night a couple of times. But mostly, not – and mostly, I avoided accepting such invitations. I was so attached to my family that I would torture myself thinking of my empty place at the table and how much they must miss me. (Ha! I’m pretty sure I was the only one suffering over that image!) I did not learn how to be secure away from my safe zone.

And I still struggle with that. But I have made great strides, and even have found myself enjoying my forays into the wider world.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed that it’s been easier and easier to abandon any plans for travel. It was time, once again, to push myself out of my comfort zone.

The Farmer has meetings in Knoxville, TN – a place I have been once before, and wanted to return to. We had contemplated extending his trip so I could join and we could explore. However, since the meetings were late in March, it was uncertain whether The Farmer could take the time away from the work of the growing season. His doubt caused me to quickly demur and encourage him to go for a short trip without me.

Secretly, I felt relief along with my disappointment.

The Farmer, graciously and wisely, decided we should make the most of the opportunity, growing season or not. And so, we are going.

Despite my previous reluctance to plan to travel, I am finding myself quite delighted to go!

And I am currently obsessed with finding the perfect luggage and travel accessories for the trip. I realize that my obsession with this is likely an outgrowth of desiring to create a traveling safe zone that has everything I need with me at all times…But I am having so much fun with it!

I can only hope that the trip is as much fun as the anticipation!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Farming Friday...

What a difference warmth, wind and lots of rain can make in the volume of snow piled around the place!
A week ago, most of my backyard had about a foot of snow over most of it…Today, it’s mainly gone!

And it’s a good thing. Behind our berry field is an open field that will have potatoes planted in it this spring. The NE wind carried the snow right over that open field, and it spiraled out in the first 16 rows of our berry field. The drift was long and deep, encasing the canes in snow up 3-4 feet.

These pictures were taken a few days after the end of the storm as I couldn't easily get out there until then. If you look down the row, you can see how high up the canes the snow still is.

Not good for those little buds that are sleeping on the canes. It just might have killed them. Only time will tell on that…or on any of the other weather injury opportunities we have enjoyed.

In my estimation, which is not nearly as valuable as The Farmer’s, we have had 3 hazards this year:
1.   It was warm too long into November. When the frosty weather came, it was too big a change in temperature and too abrupt. This tends to kill the buds at the tops of the canes.
2.    We had quite a few days of very cold wind, which eventually desiccates the canes, and frozen ground, which keeps water from being available for them to take up. Usually, whole canes die with this kind of injury.
3.    Some of the canes were encased in snow for some days, or ice for a day, which breaks the canes, and freezes the buds.

Broken posts from the snow load.

So much less snow...but you can see below all the canes that are broken.

The dairy farmers have much greater work challenges than we do in the midst of winter storms, and their cows usually give less milk, or may get sick more easily when they are under weather stress. Barns have collapsed, and costs for feed and energy are definitely higher in those circumstances. I would say that all farmers take a financial hit in a storm as strong and long-lived as we had.

Some farmers know already the cost of their damages, but some of us will have to wait until the buds come out in Spring.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Finale of The Perfect Winter...

I have to admit that I had given up on a big snowstorm for the year. Usually, throughout December and January, I am hoping that any little prediction of snow will surprisingly turn into a nice big blizzard.

But this year, as February rolled around, I had quit hoping.

In fact, I had declared to The Farmer that I considered it a good winter…As if it was over…Lots of cold, some snow – real winter weather! I did mention that had we had more snow, and just a little bit of blizzard, I would proclaim it a perfect winter.

Well, I guess I can say it now: We’ve had a PERFECT winter!

The prediction of snow, followed quickly by warm rain was interesting to me, but not exciting. I had a little hope for a couple more days of cold weather when they predicted more snow on the following Monday and Tuesday. Nonetheless, I put away my winter d├ęcor and didn’t keep the food stocks up for stormy weather.

Caitlin and I had planned a big cooking day on Friday, and though it was snowing in the morning, we continued as planned. By the time we were done cooking for the freezer (19 meals! 10 different recipes!), we noticed that it might not be a nice drive home for Caitlin. Jon came to drive her home, leaving his truck to pick up the next day when the rain came.

But it didn’t! It was snowing heavily Saturday morning at our house, a little bit of snow in Lynden, and just south of town, freezing rain. It didn’t warm up all day, and the roads became challenging. Dillon, Tiffany & Emma came by and were surprised at the difference in conditions between our house and theirs. As the day went on, we decided that Dillon better help Jon get his truck home because the promised warming was not going to come. Instead, it just kept snowing. It looked like the prediction of snow for Monday was going to be a sure thing as the temp kept dropping.

It took Dillon and Jon a couple of hours to get his work truck home. Dillon had been posting information and updates for the radio station all day, and didn’t mind getting some on-the-scene reporting done along the way as he helped get Jon’s heavy, but two-wheel drive truck home.

Sunday, we woke to more snow and more wind. In anticipation of the need for Dillon to be out on the road reporting about conditions, he, Tiffany, Emma, and even Macy the Dog, moved in to our house that night. None of us wanted to think about Tiffany and Emma stuck at home alone, and Dillon stuck somewhere else.

It was good that we did, because by 2:30 am Dillon was on the road, picking up and delivering employees who couldn’t get to work or get home. He spent the entire day, until the evening news, reporting from all over the county. It was getting very bad out there!

For the next 3 days, his routine was much the same, although he could sleep in until 4am on subsequent days! At home, we settled into a nice cozy routine, enjoying Emma’s enthusiastic morning greetings, and getting plenty of exercise as we tag-teamed chasing her around the house. Though the wind was blowing quite strongly, we never lost power and could enjoy hot food and plenty of coffee, and even TV…and didn’t need to think about going anywhere. Two or three times a day, I ventured out to make sure the goats were cozy and had warm water and plenty of food. My 15 minutes of chores, only made me enjoy the coziness inside more. No suffering going on here…It’s a good time of the year to be a berry farmer. The only way it could have been better is if Caitlin and Kit could also spend the day...But we couldn't accommodate 3 horses and 3 more dogs, so Cait had to stay on her farmstead. Fortunately, she never lost power and was cozy and warm, if a bit sick with cabin fever.

On Tuesday morning, roads were drifted shut but the snow stopped for a while and the sun came out -- so plows and farmers on tractors made headway clearing the roads. By Wednesday morning, more roads were open, but very slippery as the snow was compacted. The Farmer and I dug out our old pick-up and headed into town, as we were almost out of milk…and the warning was out that we could expect freezing rain for some hours as the weather began to warm up. That’s when things get really ugly! Usually the power goes out, and roofs are in danger as the piles of snow get glazed with ice, or soaked with heavy rain, and can’t handle the load. We wanted to augment supplies before that happened.

Yes – we and about half the town of Lynden decided this was urgent, so we all waited in long lines at the grocery store. We headed out, fully resupplied, into increasing snow and wind, and sometimes couldn’t see the roadway on our way home. We could see above the blowing snow, but had no idea, some of the time, what was clear road, and what was drift.

Fortunately, The Farmer is a great driver, and we made it home just fine – despite my vehement disagreement with his choice of taking the Boundary Road, which I assumed to be untouched for maintenance. Infuriatingly, it’s condition was the best of any roads we traveled that day, and we avoided a number of challenges because of The Farmer’s route choice.

That’ll learn me!

By late Wednesday evening, we could hear rain hitting the windows. The freezing rain had begun. Most of the night, the tree on the southeast corner of our bedroom was clashing and crashing against the house as it became ice-coated and bent over.

By morning, three-quarters of an inch covered the bent-over trees, and everything else. The temperature was still just under freezing at our house, though south of here melting was beginning to take place. We were amazed that we still had power, as we heard that many did not. Our relief was short-lived when the power went out around 9am. Shortly after, we heard a loud bang like an explosion and looked out the window to see half of one our maple trees had fallen to the ground, split right down the middle of the tree! When you stepped outside you could hear the crackle of branches breaking in the continuing NE wind. The roads were once again, treacherous, and traffic that passed was creeping along. We began to hear reports that barn roofs were collapsing, trees were down, and power lines as well. This is the part of the snowstorm that I don’t like. Freezing rain after a snowstorm is, to me, the most dangerous, and when it comes, all the fun is over for me.

I was grateful when our power came back on, and the temperature moved above freezing, the ice on the road started breaking through, and the wind finally died down.

But for several days – more than I would hope for – we had a lovely winter storm…Lots of snow, cold, wind – but not as terrible as it can be – and an actual snowed-in excuse to go nowhere… Perfect, just perfect!

Oh yes – I know that my rejoicing is quite selfish, as there are consequences ongoing… We’re not sure how the berries are going to handle being encased in ice and snow drifts for days. And kiddos will be going to school far longer than they wish after a week of snow days. Some farms have immediate costs of collapsed roofs and buildings.

Already, in the midst of the storm, our generous and capable citizens stepped in to help others, whether by pulling out stuck cars, clearing driveways and roads, delivering needed supplies, moving animals and equipment under weakened roofs, helping homeowners struggling with ice dams before their house sustained damage…I know that help and generosity will continue as the needs continue.

And that’s another reason I like snowstorms and frightful weather. Adversity brings out the best in good people, and it is heartening to see them in action, and to be part of the solution wherever we can.
Current events have many complaining and bemoaning the state of our nation. It serves us well to remember that when immediate adversity threatens, we are there for each other.

And now I am completely satisfied with winter…Bring on Spring!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Keepin' It Real...

So I did finally get Christmas cards out...after Christmas. And then I was going to post my Summary of  2016 here on the blog...and now that it is January 11 (Kit is one month old today!!!) I should get around to doing that too.

In case you had the mistaken idea that I am organized and successfully proactive with my plans for holiday fun, I thought I would give you the back story on my Christmas cards. I knew that my cards would likely be late, or become New Year cards (like last year) because we had another grandbaby on the way, and not due to arrive until after Christmas. But when Kit arrived on the 11th, I thought I could make it on time.

Of course, life conspired to make it difficult to have time to get online and look for a design, and then get the right pictures. I thought I had it all worked out when I got the word that pictures from the hospital were not acceptable. Of course, I thought my daughter looked beautiful in her hospital gown holding her newborn, but I could understand her point. So then it was a couple more days until all 3 were at the same location that I was to take the picture.

Once acquired, I put the picture in the design and sent it off. The cards were scheduled to arrive 3 days before Christmas. I bought stamps so I was ready to pop them in the mail the day after they arrived.  

The cards arrived on time, and I excitedly opened the box to find the Biggest Christmas Cards Ever! Apparently, in my rush to create a card, I did not realize that the design I had chosen was akin in size to a quarter page newspaper ad. And the entire back was a picture of Randy & myself with Kit. It was HUGE...So now I had a card, that I was a bit embarrassed to send out, but it was what it was, and it was going in the mail!

I readied my addresses and went to print my labels...and found out I had none. Just like toilet paper, it seems I either have more than I can fit in storage, or zero.

And then the weather and the road were not so nice, and Emma's momma got sick. Then Kit's momma got sick. Then Emma burned her little hand on the gas stove. (She now emphatically informs everyone that any heating appliance with flame is now "HOT!" and "NO!NO!NO!" -- said with fish lips.So cute!) So we were too busy to go anywhere, and Lynden town had no address labels anywhere.

If I had ordered labels on line, I would have already had them delivered to my home, but I was certain I could get them faster because I would just run into Bellingham.

By now, Christmas had passed, and one goal was moot. But I was certain that I would go Bellingham Monday morning, get the labels and get the cards in the mail. But first I stopped at Grandiflora to check for after Christmas deals. It was snowing lightly and so pretty, and on the way back to my car I found out there was ice under that snow, and ended up lying on my side on the ground. I had taken one sliding step, caught myself, and exclaimed out loud, "Wow! That was close!" and with the next step found myself laid out on the ice. Yeah, even closer... No cuts, minimal bruises (mostly my pride), just a really sore neck and shoulder for a few days -- but my desire to travel to Bellingham was killed. 

So I went home and ordered labels online, wishing I had done that several days before. Two days later, they arrived. I printed them and they looked like this:

Just in case you didn't know, Laser labels cannot be used in an inkjet printer, as the ink runs together, making the print illegible. It's quite important to check whether you are buying laser or inkjet labels.


Doggone it, I was going to get those cards out without further delay! So, I printed the addresses on paper, cut them out, and put the clear labels (without print) over the paper cut outs. Not exactly convenient, or efficient, but faster than going to Bellingham, or waiting two more days for Prime Shipping. So finally, the cards were done, and they went in the mail just before New Year's Day.

And two days ago, I found the spot where I had stashed my address labels...and they are Inkjet labels...and barring an addition of someone to our family in 2017, I think that I will take a sabbatical on Christmas Cards for a year.

December 27, 2016

Well, we’ve had quite the December. An abundance of winter weather, which I love, and an abundance of joy with Emma’s first birthday, and the arrival of Kit Cassidy Tuben! In between, Randy was so busy traveling to conferences and meetings, he was home for only one day each week from the last week of November to the middle of December. Fortunately, one of those days was the Sunday that Kit was born.
For a little while, we thought that Emma and Kit would be sharing a birthday. Caitlin and Jon went into the hospital on December 10, but Kit did not arrive until 28 hours later, on Dec. 11. So our grandgirls arrived one year and one day apart…which has made for two of the best Christmases ever!

We have had a full year of enjoying Emma and her cheerful personality. She loves to discover things, and enjoy life! She sings, and babbles a lot, and now knows a smattering of words that she pronounces with enthusiasm and sincerity. And she loves us! Oh, how we love her!

Now we have a new little girl to get to know. So far Miss Kit seems to have inherited a stubborn streak…How could she not?! J She’s a snuggler, such a tiny bundle! She is doing great with eating, and sleeping, and growing. She’s adorable in an almost opposite way from Emma in that Emma was bald and blonde; Kit is dark and has a full head of auburn hair. Oh, how we love her too! We are loving the grandparenting life.

Dillon continues at the radio station; Jon continues to fabricate, fix and upgrade off-road vehicles. Tiffany and Caitlin are making the adjustment to being moms. Jess continues in Olympia as a PIO, doing communications for 5 State Senators. He also helped with policy and debate coaching for the Republican gubernatorial candidate this year. Every time he helps with a campaign, he vows it will be the last. Too bad he is good at it, and always seems to be asked to participate.

We had a good harvest this year, though the earliest we’ve ever had! We started picking on June 9, and finished on July 15! This was about a month earlier than usual, and seemed very odd. Randy took advantage of the early finish to take out 12 acres of plants that were needing to be replaced. This project wasn’t complete until mid-October. So there wasn’t much respite before Meeting/Conference Season began, but he was very satisfied with all he accomplished.

My goat hobby grew by leaps and bounds, pun intended, when Imogene gave birth to FOUR kids in May. It was a rough birth and we had to go to the vet to get 3 of the 4 unstuck, but all survived and thrived, and delighted me not a little. They are so much fun. Best of all, a dear friend bought 2 of the boys. She and her human kids love them as much as I do and I have visitation. It was a fun learning experience for me! We will be having goat babies here again, but not next Spring. When you increase your herd 200% in one year, you realize that things could get out of hand fast! Randy is relieved. ;)

So that’s a brief synopsis of what’s been important to us this year…Life is busy, but good, and once again, we are thankful for God’s grace, and are doing our best to enjoy the journey. Our hope is that you are finding the same, and had a wonderfully merry Christmas, with a Blessed New Year ahead!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Miss Kit Cassidy...

Once again, I hardly know what to say on the birth of our grandchild…A year ago, I had this to say:Miss Emma Pearl

And it’s still true today. The wonder of it leaves me speechless. Now we have had a year of enjoying Emma, so we are more aware of the joys ahead of us; yet already we see that Miss Kit Cassidy is a different little girl, and will have her own particular set of wonders.

How blessed is that?!

Kit arrived 18 days before her due date, and though I expected that Cait would deliver early, I didn’t think it would be THAT early! So when she texted me to say that they would be missing Emma’s birthday party Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, I didn’t suspect she was in labor. She had been having contractions off and on for the last few weeks, so I did wonder if she was having some more. What I didn’t know was that she and Jon were already at the hospital when she texted her cancellation.

It was snowing and the roads were pretty slick, so Emma’s party got postponed. Dillon, Tiffany and Emma ventured out to our house and Emma opened our presents for her because… FIRST BIRTHDAY! Who can wait?! While they were still there, Jon called, and confessed that they were at the hospital; had been since 6am, and now asked if we would go take care of their animals.

Of course, we were pretty excited, and amazed that the new baby might be sharing a birthday with Emma! What are the chances?! But, as Jon and Caitlin desired privacy, we could say nothing to anyone. Being able to talk with Tiffany and Dillon was certainly helpful to that end! I needed the pressure relief. Oh the anticipation!!

The rest of the evening, we waited on the edge of our seats, but heard nothing until late when Jon called to say things were going better (after a failed first epidural) but that progress was slow. I did wake a few times during the night, mostly because Olive and Angus were now in residence with us; and by that, I mean sleeping in our bed. I would take the opportunity to check the phone in case I had missed the alert but nothing… By morning, I surmised that baby had been born during the night, and they had just decided to wait until people were awake to send out the news.

Alas, when the anticipated text finally arrived, the report was that things were going well, but very slowly.

It was now Sunday morning, and the day that Emma was to be dedicated at Dillon & Tiffany’s church in Canada…What to do, what to do?? A final consult with Jon, who said there were likely a couple of hours to go, we dared to proceed out of cell phone range, and enjoyed the lovely service where our sweet Emma was dedicated. So glad we did not miss this.

On our way home, I kept checking my phone for service…And halfway there, I caught a few bars and saw that there was a voicemail from Jon! As I went to download it, we moved out of reception, and the rest of the way home I had to look at that alert, knowing that the answer was in; the unknown was known and I couldn’t hear it.

Oh, the humanity!

Thankfully, the border officer didn’t require much info and I could call Jon as soon as we were through the gate. On speaker phone, Jon and Cait told us that we had another granddaughter, and her name was Kit Cassidy. Seven pounds, 3 ounces and a full head of hair! Thirty hours of work for momma, and patience for dad… Apparently, they handled it all well as the nurse was sure to tell me how well they had done, and how much she had enjoyed helping them. I’m so proud of them!

And little Kit?! She is beautiful, and in an opposite way from her cousin…Kit is not fair, and has dark auburn hair, in contrast to Emma who was blonde and fair and mostly bald. What a pair they will be!
Kit has been a good little eater, and is doing well with sleeping. She has her fussy times, but they are occasional. She seems SO tiny, and it seems like Emma grew a bunch in one day after we got to hold a newborn again! I love her name, and it suits her. She seems to already exhibit a tiny little stubborn streak, and expresses her displeasure with great flailing of tiny limbs and high pitched squeals. It’s so adorable!! (Though I expect it seems less so in the middle of the night…) One afternoon when I was there to help, Kit was having a hard time settling after I had given her the bottle. When I finally handed her back to her momma, she visibly relaxed, and settled in to sleep sweetly. Yep, she knows what she wants.

Once again, it is a joy to see our child become a parent. Jon and Caitlin are doing well, and it is plainly fun to see them so smitten by their little cowgirl! So much joy has come to our lives with this precious little girl!

And so much more ahead…God is so gracious and generous! We are full of joy again!
Great Grandpa and Grandma Likkel

Great Grandma and Grandpa Honcoop

Our sweet Christmas elf!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (