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            I believe I have a somewhat unique perspective when it comes to the racial protests and rioting occurring currently. Peaceful protest is a right and privilege given to us by our ancestors and protected by our constitution. The violence is not. However, I feel like I’ve been here before.

            I didn’t understand in the 1960s, when race riots were occurring. Being from an all-white community, I never had any relations with non-white individuals. All I knew was that everyone was supposed to be equal. After all, it had been 100 years since all of that had been solved. I didn’t understand when I heard Dr. King and others speak. He seemed so passionate, but why? When friends, who also had never been with non-whites used the N word or other racial slurs, I didn’t get it. I suppose they were parroting their parents. My parents, being German, and my father also of Jewish decent, knew a little bit about prejudice. I was raised to consider each individual separately.  To this day I am very grateful.

            If you are still reading, consider this. What is the most important commandment? Jesus believed it was to Love God with all you are. The second is to Love you neighbor as yourself. Who is your neighbor?

            When I went to college I was exposed, for the first time, to a variety of cultures. While in the seventies, there was still some tension, it never got bad on campus. I made an amazing discovery. Every person of another race or ethnicity, who I interacted with, through classes, the dorms, socially or sports was unique. Almost everyone with whom I spent significant time, I got along with, and found mutual interests. They were just people, fellow students, trying to better themselves.

            When I got out of college, my first job, as a chemist, was on the south side of Chicago, in a not so nice area. Stores were in cages; fast food was handed through carousels in bullet proofed glass. Murders, street violence, and drugs were not uncommon. Most of our plant was black as was the neighborhood.

I was lucky to find some really great people working there. Some became close friends. They cared about me and I them. We often ate together, went to parties, played sports, and watched games together. They also told me who I could trust, and people and areas I needed to avoid.

People in the neighborhood also treated us well. One day, when another chemist and I hit a few tennis balls at lunch, in a nearby park, a nice older lady brought out some lemonade and talked to us for a while. Another time, when I accidentally plowed my car into a snow drift, a group of kids who were off for a snow day, grabbed shovels and dug me out.

The point is simple; people are people. Some are good, and as my mother-in-law used to say, ‘some must have had a rough life’ (her excuse when people acted badly).

My skin is a little darker than Crystal’s, but I don’t think she holds that against me. Jesus was probably much darker skinned than most pictures depict him. We are all God’s creations. We are all the neighbors we were instructed to love.

No, I didn’t get it fifty years ago, but now I do. Sadly, not enough has changed. But I am ever hopeful. The answer is not in violence or vengeance, but in change of hearts and acceptance. So, continue to peacefully protest injustice, advocate for right and justice, and be tolerant of those who are different but peaceful. Be the good Samaritan. Live and let live.

We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black. Robert Kennedy

A nation divided against itself can not stand.        Abraham Lincoln quoting Jesus

June 6th 2020 Coshocton Ohio Courthouse square – There is hope.
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            It has been almost one year since my father passed away, at the age of 98. Today, on Memorial Day, I can’t help but think of him. He was a good father. He taught me a lot about life. I learned about the importance of hard work and responsibility, about taking care of family, and commitment (in marriage and life in general).

            In writing our memoir, I also learned about all he had to overcome in his life, through war and peace. On this day especially, I consider him a hero. When I was privileged to interview him for the book, I realized his unique perspective. While I always knew he was extremely proud to be an American, I had never before realized his pride in growing up in Germany, and in the German people. To be clear, he had no pride in anything related to the Nazis, but in his heritage. He loved growing up in a family with deep German roots. He loved the traditions, freedoms, and close family ties, dating back for hundreds of years.

            When he came to America at thirteen, while he was excited for his new life, he already feared what Germany was becoming. When he returned as part of the 83rd infantry I believe he was really fighting for two countries; America, of course, but also for the Germany of his youth and family.

            His reward came after the war, when after rounding up many Nazi criminals, he hired the young German woman, to cook and clean. That woman would eventually become his wife of sixty-four years, and my mom.

            As I get ready to grill some foods for our family, I fondly remember my parents, and appreciate all they did: their lives, their sacrifices, and their combined heritages. Afterall, today is a day to remember and appreciate all that have come before us, so that we might enjoy our freedoms, grill for our families, and continue to thrive.

            May God bless you, your family, remembered veterans, and your country.

Remembering my parents. Shown here with their great granddaughter Jazmyn
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Lessons to Learn from Ella

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By Crystal

            Ella, our two-year-old cat, has taught both Ron and me many lessons.  One of them is that you can play with anything.

            I save the green plastic tops from the orange juice bottles so that Ella can push them around the house like a hockey puck.  She’s so cute and funny when she does this.  She stole a pair of my fuzzy socks folded together from my room and drags them all over the house carrying it in her mouth.  Ella will bring them wherever we are and then meow to tell us.  We are now calling them Fred.  She has a stuffed white bunny she also takes around as well as a cloth snowman.

            When I was a child, I liked to use bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, cardboard, etc. to make things.  The silver bottle caps that came off of milk bottles I made into pots and pans for my Barbie doll.  I used my Dad’s pipe cleaners, after they came out in color, to make a whole zoo full of animals – giraffes, elephants, lions or tigers and more.

            My adopted grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma Kampman sent us small magazines with directions on making things using materials we had in our house – felt, glue, cardboard, paper, buttons and just odds and ends in the house.  Jeannette and I really enjoyed reading them and creating toys and decorations.

            Today I use all kinds of paper including origami paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and cardboard, to make altered books and 3D cards, mobiles, and other crafts. I use felt, fabric, lace, thread, empty spools (which Ella also plays with), buttons, beads, trims, and paper clips to make dolls, doll clothing and accessories, jewelry and other projects.

            Ella finds all of my craft making fascinating and she tries to take my thread, papers, buttons, etc. to play with and push under the TV stand and the couch and even the refrigerator.  From time to time I take a ruler to get her toys out from under places.  She is so surprised to see them.  I think she believes there is a cat on the other side who is taking her toys and playing with them.

            Being empty nesters, Ron and I miss the girls, but having Ella to play with, and pet, helps.  Ella is also very friendly to all of our girls and grandchildren, neighbors, and friends who come to our house.  She has to watch the cable guy when he fixes the computer and the TV, and the plumber, and the gas company guy.  We cherish her and her entertaining ways.

            I think the biggest lesson we have learned from Ella is to live in the moment and be happy.  Worrying about tomorrow (especially these days) doesn’t help anything, and regretting what happened in the past won’t change anything.  Watching the news can make you really depressed, but watching Ella with Fred, or her bunny, or the plastic top makes us laugh.

Ron’s Corner:

            Ella is a daddy’s girl. Oh, she loves Crystal plenty, but she reminds me of our girls when they were young. Then, as now, I am the one always leaving. Somehow, she seems to know when I am ready to leave the house. She plops down on my lap and tries to weigh me down. When I get up, she will out race me to the door and block it with her sturdy eight-pound body. This ploy never works, but I give her props for her persistence.

I let her out of the back room in the morning and she follows me wherever I go. If I don’t periodically pay attention to her, she will try to trip me. In the evening, when I go upstairs to work on the computer, she will follow with Fred and try to distract me. Eventually, she will get bored and lie down on a bed, until I am done, or go back down to Crystal. When I do get back into the living room, Crystal is usually working on some craft project with Ella close by. As soon as I sit down, she (Ella not Crystal) will jump onto my lap and watch TV with me. That’s right she likes TV, especially nature specials.

            Over the years I’ve had several jobs, which required me to be out of town; sometimes for months at a time. When I would come home for weekend visits, the girls would be all over me. They never knew, that I missed them as much as they missed me. When I come home and Ella comes racing from whatever she was playing with, it just reminds me of those times, and the love we still share with our daughters.

            Crystal and I agree, as silly as it might seem, that this is just another example of how God knows what we need. When Ella stuck her head out from the raspberry bushes a couple of summers ago, the last thing we thought we needed, was another cat. I guess we were wrong.

Ella with Fred
Ella watching TV with me
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What Ya Gonna do When Corona Got You

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            Like many churches, ours (Burt Avenue Wesleyan Church) has Sunday services on line. They are also starting a Tuesday Bile study (details on their Facebook page). With this current virus situation, we need all of the encouragement we can get. That is why I thought, this post might come in handy.

            I don’t know about you, but I am not one to be stuck inside day after day. Honestly, I think there was one day when I didn’t get outside. Others, my wife, Crystal, and daughter, Lisa in particular could probably live in the house for weeks at a time, with no ill effects.

            I am just not that kind of homebody. On good weather days I golf, walk, shop, garden, or visit a neighbor (at a safe distance). Others are out as well. I see very few who seem downtrodden or sad. In fact, many people I come across seem positive, even happy. Most seem to know that, like many things in life, this is just something we will have to get through and do the best we can.

            Never underestimate the human spirit or ingenuity. That is the point of this blog. As you pull out your few remaining hairs, or cry about what to do with your kids at home, I have a few suggestions. First, with your kids, be creative. Plan non-school activities every day. Walk, drive for ice cream, play catch, or even have them help in the kitchen. Use this opportunity to teach them some life skills. I saw a picture of my three-year-old granddaughter walking their dog (supervised of course). When we homeschooled, some years ago, I bought a science project kit with over one hundred experiments. It was a big help, and a lot less boring that regular school work. For physical education I made an obstacle course, with things around the house, and some playground equipment.

            Finally, take this opportunity for me time, and personal growth. Remember what they tell you on the plane. Put the mask over your own mouth first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. So, get enough rest, stay active, plan and achieve goals, and in general realize and take care of your needs.

            I have taken this time to finish editing our book and write a few extra posts for this site. I also am taking some on line courses, which I thought I would pass on. One of my weaknesses has always been learning language. I am currently working a little every day to learn German. I still have a few relatives over there, and if anything I’m learning sticks, and we ever have an opportunity to visit, it could only help. The free course I am taking is through Duolingo. You can learn any language for free. You can spend as little or as much time as you wish, doing simple exercises, on a daily basis.

            I am also taking some inexpensive courses to become better at photography and social media book promotion through a company called Udemy. When on sale (wait for their sales), you can take a course on numerous subjects for less than fifteen dollars. Of course, you can also learn a lot on YouTube for free. There are home projects, friends to connect with, cooking projects, exercise programs, job skills, virtual book clubs, organize your photos (coin, stamp, card, etc. collection), pod casts, etc. The list goes on and on. Also, believe it or not, there are still people less fortunate than you. Is there someone you can help? Can you be a blessing to someone?

            The point is, and this is a life lesson, every problem is also an opportunity. This type may never come again. What you focus on only gets bigger. So, focus on the opportunities, and let God take care of the rest.

For many years this goose graced Crystal’s parent’s home. Now it’s in our back yard. As life goes on, so should we.

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Happy Weird Easter

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            So, Easter was a little different this year…Right? But kind of like the first Easter, when they put Jesus in the tomb and rolled a rock in front. That was the ultimate social distancing. Hopefully, none of us have gone to those extremes. But like Jesus, our solitude will also be temporary. This too shall pass.

            Did you know that Corona means crown in Latin? You would if you read our last blog. Somehow that seems appropriate for this season.

            This morning I got up early, as usual. Crystal and Lisa slept late, as usual. Lisa is visiting, by the way, for the duration. One of the many blessings of this time, if you choose to see it, is families coming closer together. I put a new battery in the smoke alarm, which was chirping all night. I did the dishes and made crescent rolls for breakfast, fed and petted the cat (she requires a lot of petting).

            Once joined by the girls, we watched a church service at Lisa’s church, and took communion (supplied by our church). Later, we will partake in a traditional ham dinner, with all the fixings, followed by a nice cherry crumb pie and vanilla ice cream.

            Yesterday one of our very nice neighbors gave us some very delicious sweets (pictured below). Unfortunately, they didn’t make it to Easter. All in all, we are doing very well. I hope all of you can say the same.

            One thing which might help, is something when under stress, I do frequently. Remember the other times you were under stress, and how, with God’s help, you got through.

            For me, and Crystal reminded me the other day, I had a horrible job. You know, one of those with a lot of responsibilities, and no appreciation. I was in charge of a waste water treatment plant for an OEM automotive equipment manufacturer. It was Easter Sunday, and we were visiting Crystal’s parents in Cincinnati. Since my boss had been reassigned, I was running the facility by myself. There was no one else who understood the complicated system of piping, valves, or chemical processes involved.

            So, even though I had a rare day off; we were working 10 hr. days six to seven days a week, I had to go to the plant. So, I got up early that Easter morning, drove the ninety miles back to Greenburg, Indiana, and switched the collecting tanks.

            Fortunately, that job didn’t last forever, but it made an excellent story for my interview at my next job, supervising an industrial plant. My new boss was very impressed.

            I’m not bragging. The point is that a lot of the things we go through, both negative and positive can work for the good. So while you meet today’s challenges, do you best to hold you head high, seek the good, and try to be a blessing. Remember, there is always someone who could use some help, a smile, or even some Good News.

Happy Easter 

Brownies with rose frosting from a loving neighbor

An Easter Message noticed during a walk at Lake Park in Coshocton, Ohio

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Fear Not!

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            You can’t spell pandemic without panic. And that’s just what we can’t do. Admittedly, life has changed in 2020. It has been slowed, almost to halt for many, by a particle so small even a bacterium would have to ask ‘What was that?’. The spiky little virus named Corona (or crown from the Latin) is all anyone is talking about. I figured I would too. We were about to post a nice article about the recent activities of our cat Ella; but this may be slightly more relevant. I know that everyone is upset. These are tough times. THE TOILET PAPER IS MISSING! A large number of Americans have been ordered to stay home. We are now relegated to elbow bumping our loved ones instead of the hugs we are all used to. Schools, businesses, and even churches are closed. People are without jobs. Worst of all…. many of us are stuck at home with the kids all day. Oh, the horror! But let’s all take a step back and chill.

            What are you really afraid of? Are you afraid of dying? I’m sorry you’ll have to pick another fear. In the US, as of today there have been less than 30,000 diagnosed cases .009% of the population (by my calculation). Of that, 2 to 3%, according to current estimates (assuming no further advances) will die. Many of those are older or immune compromised. I just had a wellness check with my doctor. He told me that I have a 13% chance of having a heart attack in the next ten years. I’ve never felt better. I guess I’m an optimist. So that means there’s an 87% chance I’ll be fine. When I used to play basketball, I was about a 67% free throw shooter. I would have killed to shoot 87%.

FYI – The number one factor the Dr. used to determine that number, is age….I didn’t need a doctor to tell me I’m getting old…I’ve got my knees and my back for that!

            Are you afraid that this disease will kill an extreme number of people including friends and relatives? Please understand, I value human life very highly. And I’m not saying we are overreacting to this highly virulent stain of flu. However, some steps we are taking, such as social distancing, we probably should have all along. Maybe Howie Mandel has had it right. Just so you know, during the 2018-2019 flu season an estimated 61,200 Americans died of flu related diseases. So far, in this country, this strain has caused around 400. That number will grow. We are, however, taking unprecedented precautions. This will have a positive effect.

            Are you afraid that this is the beginning of the Apocalypse or other end times scenario? Of course, I can’t speak for God, but my guess is, he could do better. From a Biblical point of view, picking us off a couple hundred at a time just isn’t His style. When the dead start coming back to life in search of brains, I may rethink this one.

            Are you afraid we will run out of the essentials of life? Yes, toilet paper is included. Outside of medical supplies, for the most part, the supply chains are intact. Once the hoarders are done, things will slowly return to normal. Aldi was a lot calmer yesterday than a week ago. 

For me, the economic and social hardships are by far the greatest threat, and cause for concern. But we shouldn’t just assume things will continue to get worse. Just like sars (the last big corona virus), Ebola, The Great Flu Epidemic of 1918, or even the Black Plague these things have their season. “This too shall pass.” If fear isn’t dominating your life right now, you have to know that we will survive this. Franklin D. Roosevelt had it right “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

The truth is some good will come out of this. Focus on the good. Pull yourself away or at least limit watching the news. It will probably just depress you. Focus instead on what you can do. If you are going to the store, is there someone in the neighborhood who can’t get out or might need essentials? Maybe they just need to know they are not alone. You could help. Of course, be respectful of personal space and cleanliness. But try to be part of the solution. On a macro scale, realize that, as a country we were woefully unprepared. But because of our current fight, maybe we will adjust our preparations and be better prepared in the future.

Also, take advantage of this time. Aren’t there some chores around the house that you have been putting off forever. Read that book you’ve wanted to finish. Write something. If it ever stops raining it is gardening time. The plants don’t know about corona. I was walking today, and enjoying the budding trees and new spring flowers. Social distancing aside, stay in contact with friends and loved ones. If you are stuck at home with the kids, play some games. Maybe you can end the argument about who is the best at Monopoly once and for all (fat chance). Yesterday, as I walked around Warsaw, and talked to a few people (at a safe distance), they seemed to be doing alright, and were enjoying the outdoors. Even if you are living in a restricted area, like New York or California, there is always the phone or skype. The bottom line is focus on what you can do, and not what you can’t. As for that other thing, do not waste time on fear. Did you know that the Bible say ‘Fear not’ 365 times? That’s one for every day of the year. I think God’s onto something there!

God willing, our next post will be an update about Ella (our cat). She’s not worried. In fact, I think she’s just happy I’m home more these days. Keep your spirits up. Things will get better. I guarantee it.

From Crystal’s Corner

            I agree with Ron that we can’t have the spirit of fear.  We need to have the spirit of faith.  As Ron and I watched the minister and praise team of our church, on the Facebook page today, I felt connected to all the people who were watching this service.  More people were watching than attend our regular services.  We, as Christians, are a church family, and we are together in spirit even if we can’t be together in person.

            When the President and the doctors said on TV that we shouldn’t have more than 10 people together at one time in one place, I thought about the early Christians.  At the time when Christians were being persecuted, they would secretly meet at houses in small groups.  Also, they would put symbols like the drawing of a fish in places, to tell other Christians that they weren’t alone. 

            We are in contact with family and friends, through the Internet, phone calls and sending out cards, letters and through this blog.  If you know someone who is anxious and upset about this challenge, feel free to send them this blog.

            When things were difficult during my childhood, my mom would tell us two things: “This too shall pass. And keep looking up.” I am working on a baby quilt for our newest granddaughter and doing some writing and reading magazines and books.  I am not a statistical person who knows all the numbers, like Ron and other scientists.  I watch the birds at our bird feeder, talk and play with Ella our cat, and thank God every day for His Blessings, which are many. I believe that God will answer our prayers to end this virus.

From my walk yesterday. Assurance that there is still life and beauty in the world.
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I Think I’m Grieving Wrong

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            It’s now been 9 months since my dad’s passing. He had a wonderful Hospice group (Capital City Hospice). I almost can’t say enough good things about them. They always treated dad with such respect and great care. They explained things to us, which his doctor didn’t know. Today, nine months after dad’s death, they continue to send me information about dealing with grief. All of their advice seems to have one basic theme. Grieving is normal, and will pass. It’s not like they are trying to rush you through the five or seven (depends on who you talk to) stages. They just emphasize that you need to continue to take care of yourself: rest, talk about it, go easy on yourself, avoid negative habits, etc. They even made the Christian point that, it is kind of like the Easer journey, between death and resurrection.

            This latest flyer suggested that journaling might be helpful in expressing and working through grief feelings. But I have this web site, and know this is a helpful topic for all of us. Sadly, loss is a part of life. Dealing with it is a necessary ability.

            I learned about dealing a little with grief in nursing school. But it’s different when it’s your turn. It’s great to know about the classic stages: Shock/Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression/Detachment, and finally Acceptance. But what if you are doing it wrong?

            I very much hate to admit this, but when dad passed my overwhelming feeling was relief. He hadn’t been himself for years. He just couldn’t deal with his losses. He was a shell of his former self, physically and mentally. I did whatever I could, but it was never enough. I visited and took him out more than anyone where he stayed. I actually felt sorry for many of other residents who seemed forgotten. Still, I felt guilty, because I couldn’t make things better for him. I tried to keep him safe, but he always tested the limits. He fell so often one nurse called him the rubber man. Except he wasn’t always rubber. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to every hospital in Columbus, Ohio with him at some time. He missed mom like I missed mom. We had that in common.

            My grief for her was more of the classic variety. With dad my stages were relief followed, in no particular order, guilt, and anger. I still somewhat wrestle with what I might have done differently (guilt). And while I’m not angry during the day, my dad has shown up in occasional dreams. One of my most frequent dreams is with him driving and me sitting helplessly beside him. He drove way longer than he should have. And I couldn’t get the keys from him. Crystal was (as usual) smarter than me. She wouldn’t get into the car unless I was driving. In another dream he was walking without his cane, trying to cross a busy street. I can’t get to him. Sometimes my dreams do turn funny (sort of). One time, I don’t know how, he was driving and we wound up in the middle of a shopping mall. I’m screaming, and people are darting around. That’s usually when I wake up.

            I have talked to a councilor about this. She helped me realize who got me to realize that everyone’s grief is unique. Part of my grieving took place while dad was still alive. I’m empathetic, and I suffered along with him. I felt bad when I couldn’t give him the answers he wanted or tell him he would get better.

            Lately, and this is why I am writing this, I am transitioning to an acceptance phase. Lately, at least some of my dreams turned happier. Mom and dad are together the way they used to be. With the exception of their last days they both lived good long lives. They were always good to me. They were two of the best parents I could have had. I am lucky to have had them. That’s what I will remember.

            If you are ever in a position of grieving, just remember, it is part of life. Help is available. People have been where you are. You are doing it right. There is no wrong way. It may seem difficult, but reach out to loved ones and professionals. Take your pain to God. He understands your loss and promises peace.

Dad and me in 2012 in front of his Oak Lawn IL. house of 60 years, preparing to move him to Ohio
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Happy New Decade

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            It wasn’t until after Christmas that I realized, not only are we looking at a new year, but a brand new decade. As usual, the New Year is a time of reflection. What occurred in the previous twelve months and what do we resolve to make the next twelve better. Admit it, it’s February and many of you have at least compromised your resolutions. I just resolved to live healthier. I figure, the more nebulous the resolution, the easier to keep. P.S. I’m doing fine.

            However, when I look back at the last ten years, a lot has changed. Sadly, in that time we have lost the last of our parents. Three (my mom and dad, and Jim Carlson) died over the last decade. My dad died was the last, at the age of 98, just last May. We still think of and miss our parents often. As our book nears completion, it gives Crystal and me comfort that their stories will live on.

            Ten years ago, Lisa was a high school senior and I was working as an RN. Since then Michelle and Alex were married. Between them and Liz and Brad we have been blessed with four more grandchildren. That gives us seven all together. To paraphrase the movie “Jaws”, ‘We are going to need a bigger table’.

            While no future is predictable, we will continue to make plans. In what was hopefully the first of many, Crystal and I have just returned from a vacation. It was a nice getaway to central Florida. Future trips are already planned. Crystal wants to add book tours and lecturing to our future. It goes without saying, staying involved with our family will continue to be a priority.

            Of course, only God knows for sure what the next ten years will bring. We just need to live each day the best we can, and continue to seek His will.

            Hopefully, you will do the same.

Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Decade

Ron & Crystal

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

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Taking Down Christmas: by Crystal

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I don’t know about you, but taking down the Christmas decorations is not a happy task.  Putting up the decorations can be stressful, especially because before Christmas we have so much to do.  I tried this year to enjoy all of my Christmas activities, like writing our names in the cards, and making the newsletter, fluffing the tree up (Ron assembles and I’m the designated fluffer) and my quilted wall hangings, etc.  My daughter, Lisa, and I made candy and cookies together.  We only burned one tray, which happens pretty much every year.

I tend to put it off taking down the decorations in January (I usually don’t do it on New Year’s Day like a lot of people I know.) as much as possible.  I have several decorations, mostly from Hallmark, that are snowmen that sing and move.  I love those decorations. I am sure Ron is tired of hearing the music from them.  This year I got a Snoopy that dances, and a Gnome that sings “There’s no place like Gnome for the holidays”.  It dances in a circle and is so funny.  I will have real trouble stuffing that in a box to put in our garage.  Sometimes I wonder if the ornaments that are stuffed animals, or dolls, or the snowmen that sing, or teddy bears actually communicate with each other in the garage during the long time between January and December.  What would they say?

Our snowman with snow boy sings a song about the cutting down the Christmas tree. He might say:  “Gee are we back in the garage again?  It was such fun being out on the coffee table for a month.  We could see the beautiful tree with all the lights and toys on it.”

Snowman playing the piano:  “I know.  But didn’t that cat knock you off and pull on you onto the floor a few times?”

First Snowman:  “Yes; that happened, but the lady rescued me and had me sing again.  By the way why didn’t the cat knock you off?”

Piano Snowman:  “She tried and she has mitten paws and teeth, you know, but the lady stopped her in time; and I think she just gave up and pulled a little red stocking off the tree and ran off with it.”

A Teddy bear comments:  “Are you two complaining again?  I just take a long nap in between Christmases.  It works for me.”

Of course this probably isn’t really happening in the garage, but I can imagine that it could.  Well, I am going to stop writing now and make Snoopy and the Gnome dance and sing.  I hope you are having a good day and are enjoying January.  I do leave a few winter decorations up like my quilted wall hanging with the deer, and my snowman wall hanging in the bathroom.   I made both of those; and I like to see them on the cold winter days.  Our cat Ella, denies everything. She doesn’t know anything about those snowmen toys, or the missing red stocking.  She is telling me this while she runs off with one of my white socks in her mouth.


While I love my wife’s imagination, I really doubt the decorations are sentient. However, they did cause a disagreement. The Snowman and snow boy could only get through about a quarter of their song. Then they stopped. Crystal continued to try over and over again. It drove me nuts. I suggested we get rid of it. Crystal would have none of that. She hates to throw anything out. It’s still a wonderful decoration, she said. I thought, ‘it could decorate the garbage can.’ Eventually, I gave up. OK…the mechanism was completely inaccessible. I used all of my mechanical knowhow. I purposely and forcefully dropped it on the floor. Crystal was amazed when she came down the next morning and the device worked like new. She asked what I did. I told her, just a little engineering trick…….Please don’t tell her.

Ella attacking one of her favorite ornaments while the snowman and snowboy watch.
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Ella’s Christmas Letter

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Hi again, I’m Ella Meinstein. It’s been over a year since I found mom and dad (Crystal and Ron) picking raspberries in my back yard. They are very good to me. I get lots of good food. I have all sorts of toys like empty spools, my stuffed bunny and stuffed snowman; and there is always a nice warm lap to sit on.

            Recently they gave me a new game, which they love to play with me. One day Dad went to the garage and got a whole bunch of boxes and bags. Then he assembled this big green triangular thing which kind of looks like a tree. I’ll call it a tree. It doesn’t smell like a tree, more like the shower curtain. But that’s not the best part. After Dad put it up, Mom put gloves on and fluffed out the tree to make is look bigger, covered it with lights and little stuffed animals like Peter Rabbit and Woodstock, red balls, wooden stars, beaded candy canes and more toys. I didn’t tell mom, but I see really well and don’t need the lights. I love the toys though and jumping into the boxes that Dad brought in the house.

The super best part is that the game comes with the toys. The rules are simple. I just wait until no-one is looking and I steal one of the toys especially the soft ones and carry it off. When Mom sees me she chases me and yells. Dad usually, just sits in his chair and laughs. I would laugh too, but it’s hard with a toy in my mouth.

            I also think this game has levels of difficulty. Lately the toys have been getting higher in the tree. It makes them harder to get. Pretty soon I’m just going to have to jump or climb the tree to get them. I can’t wait. I love to jump and climb. And won’t Dad laugh then.

            And then there’s the mail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many letters.  I watch mom write on cards and put bright red and green stickers on the envelopes. I sit on the cards, push the pen around and knock some of them on the floor until Mom pushes me away.  And when one “accidentally” gets dropped behind the couch, that’s when the fun really starts.  Mom has to push the couch out and reach over the back to retrieve the card.  She looks so funny but she makes the mad face so I run under the dining room table and wait until she forgets all about it.

            Mom and Dad talk about this fellow Jesus. I think he may be coming to play with me. They said if you let him, he could maybe come to your house too. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Well until next time, be good (whatever that means), and maybe you will get some toys too. Merry Plastic Toy Tree Day to All and to All a Good Night!

Isn’t this the best time of the year?

Love and Peace and Cats Rule


I love the soft ones.
Got It!
Who Me?
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