Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Last night my husband sat me down to tell me something I did not want to hear. He was worried and needed me to know his concerns.

His whole career - Ron has carefully and sacrificially worked two jobs to make sure that when he retired we would have a livable monthly income. Due to changes in economy - we lost quite a bit in stock - but his retirement and leftover investments make it possible for us to do good enough.....we thought.

Ron has been listening and reading carefully about the government's new health care program that will probably go through. It might be good for those with little income and no insurance. For us it is a disaster. According to government-based estimates on the current health bill's delineations, the health care plan will require one fifth of people's incomes over $40,000. That means one of us will have to work - or we will have to forgo the vacation, education, or ministry plans we have had.

I did not want Ron to spell this out to me because I knew if I REALLY listened I would be mad. I WAS mad, angry, FURIOUS! that after ALL of Ron's hard work so that we could be free during this time of our life to travel and see our grand kids - we will have to keep a tight budget and probably have to work.

I had been studying the same issues. Ron wondered why I had not been more concerned. I told him I counted on the American public - to revolt when they realized how much money the government was going to take out of their income - WITH NO CHOICE! and with a penalty if they choose something different -- EVEN JAIL! I can't believe that Americans who work hard for their income would sit listlessly by while the government experimented with our income. This is a program for which we have to pay taxes for several years before we reap the benefit of ANY health care - I just don't see how Americans would tolerate that.

Most of us feel helpless. Congress is not listening to us and doesn't care what we want or what is important to us. Health care reform is needed - but this is health care suicide! I would like to encourage each of you Americans to listen carefully to both sides and check the facts. If the fury I experienced last night is ANY indicator of the fury Americans will have once they understand what congress has signed us into - I believe the energy needed to stop this insanity will be generated.

I pray for God's mercy and wisdom - and that Americans will see and understand and act before it is too late.

The following confirms the high costs involved:

Meet the Press. December 20, 2009
DEAN: "The Senate bill says you can charge three times as much for somebody who is older than who's younger, now, the House says twice as much. In Vermont, it's 20% more. It's 1.2 times what an 'ordinary' person pays. That's clearly not... there is going to be insurance that's unaffordable. Suppose you make $70,000-80,000 a year, you could end up paying $20,000 for your insurance under the Senate bill. So, there are some big, big problems."

Liberty Counsel: Next, the Congressional Budget Office admitted that it had miscalculated the cost of the bill, noting that it would cost more and save less than they had previously predicted. On Sunday, the CBO's Director felt compelled to admit that, "The imprecision of these calculations reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends them."

Because details of current health care reform bills are hidden by congress, it is difficult to make accurate estimations. However, it is a consensus that health care reform will be costly - and the most costly for small businesses and seniors.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GRIEF: "You may have a combination of anger, depression, irritability, frustration, annoyance, or intolerance."

Yes....we got 'em all. Makes for an interesting home life.

At least when we exhibit these qualities - we can laugh about that quote and use it as an excuse for our bad behavior. Of course, we always think that the OTHER ONE is exhibiting most of the negative characteristics. I only "confess" to make Ron feel better ;-)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I stole the quote below from a blog of a friend's blog of a friend's blog. It seems so perfect. I want to go there...later. However, to be that still...makes me jumpy just thinking about it. Nervous. There is comfort in this jumble I know. I SO feel like Scarlet O'Hara. I want to rest in that place...LATER.

When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life or what my children’s lives might be– I go a lie down by where the wood drake rests in the beauty of the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- (the great) Wendell Berry

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keepin the brain ALIVE! with Spanish

The two most effective ways of keeping those neurons in good shape is to learn an instrument or a language. It is moving those neurons enough from short term to long term memory that has my neurons panting.

Julio gives me a kiss.
Julio me da un beso.

This is harder than it looks. Oh English grammar neurons, where are you? You COULD help with my Spanish Grammar. Indirect object, Direct object, Indirect object pronouns (me, te, le, nos, os, les), Direct object pronouns (mi, lo, la, te, les, las,...? )

Monday, September 14, 2009


is so very odd. The sweet memories come in such unexpected places. A Bible verse in Deuteronomy for Ron today. A song at church for me. This part is not odd. This is the part of mourning that I expected.

What I didn't expect is this place I am in--which is no place at all. I had a wonderful 24 hour camping time with Arcie, and I am exhausted. The exhaustion is odd. A verse in Deuteronomy encourages parents to tell children about God all through the day. I did that with Arcie. In a way she is my spiritual child. She knows so little. I am teaching her little bit by little bit. It was wonderful -- but I am exhausted.

Little things exhaust me. I have an aversion to all kinds of things -- mostly commitments. Cody is exhausting. And yet, Cody keeps us going. There is nothing like a young animal or person that NEEDS you.

I need to be spoiled - to do what I want when I want. And I need to be pushed to do things. So Cody and Spanish class push me. But every once in awhile, like today -- I just sit down and do NOT. Today I am NOT doing anything until I want to. I've spent two lovely hours sorting photos in MY PICTURES. Nonsensical - yet good. Nobody needed me to do this - I just wanted to.

Mourning is odd because mourning touches every facet of my life but is just beyond knowing. "Why am I doing this? thinking this? rebelling against that?" I don't really know. My universe has made a major shift - and the rest of me is trying to catch up.

I used to think of mourning and grieving as being sad. Mourning is mostly quizzical, "How come she is not here?" How can someone who was such an integral part of my life all of a sudden NOT be part of my life?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I recently finished this book for my granddaughter Gweny. Click on the words at bthe bottom to view larger photo book. Then at the top right, you will see in yellow, "Full Screen". That will give you the biggest picture. Have fun. I did. :-)

Click here to view this photo book larger

Thursday, September 03, 2009

for my granddaughter

When Gweny comes to visit we make popsicles. Sometimes I cut pieces of watermelon or cantaloupe and put a popsicle stick in it and freeze them. This time we had leftover strawberry and banana smoothie, so we made popsicles. They are always healthy and Gweny lvoes them. They are a snack that isn't very filling - so she can have one whenever she wants. Happy Gweny. Happy Grandma.

for my, Ron's dog

We bought a Kong for Cody when he was pretty young. A Kong is a hollow toy to be lined with sticky stuff like peanut butter or honey. Thought it was a great idea, but honestly - in a few minutes Cody had licked out the peanut butter and I couldn't figure what was so wonderful about Kongs? THEN Cody's trainer said she fills them and FREEZES them. Now it takes a LONG time for Cody to finish his popsicle. Keeps him busy.

What do I fill them with? Well, I googled "Kong recipes" - and there are some great ones that basically got me going. They mentioned mixing stuff with canned pumpkin because it is thick and easily flavored. Tonight Cody enjoyed his peanut butter and bacon flavored pumpkin-sicle. YUM! Two days ago I soaked his dry dog food in water until mushy and added oatmeal, yogurt, and a little bacon fat. Both Cody and Phoenix LOVE their treats.

Kong Recipes:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Training Cody...but not. Helping Ron get well...but letting him be in charge. Tiptoeing through the minefields of my own inadequacies and the tendency to concentrate on the splinter in someone else's eye. Needing to speak up AND be quiet.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I love/hate taking photos. When I can't take a walk in a pretty place without a camera I wonder if I am being robbed of the actual experience by moving myself behind the lense. Instead of laughing WITH Gweny I want to catch her laughter. Instead of smelling and enjoying the flower as I walk by - I stop and try to get the perfect angle for a photo.

On the other hand, isn't the photo experience evidence of my love and respect for something beautiful and artistic? Ambivalent. That's OK.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today is a big day. We, (mostly Ron) get trained to be Cody's pack leader and continue the service training Cody has been learning since May. Exciting, scary, challenging. Ron's next big step to a dream come true.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Drove to Arroye Grande today to see Cody. He's bigger and redder and was very glad to see us.

All the dogs were in a big pen practicing "Down" "Stay." Their leash was attached to the fence, so they were not going anywhere.

There were a few dogs that were really having trouble with the whole idea. They would whine, or get up, or bark. None of these behaviors was acceptable. There were two dogs in particular that caught our attention: Marilyn and Lola.

Marilyn was the tiniest of all the dogs, probably a toy chihuahua. "MARILYN BE QUIET!" "MARILYN DOWN." "NO! MARILYN"

Lola was a black and white chihuahua of a little bigger stature - but she got the same corrections, "Lola! Be quiet. Lola DOWN. No Lola."

Somehow every time we heard those names, we couldn't help but giggle - especially with "Marilyn".

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I put together this book for Gweny for her birthday in July using So much fun!

Click here to view this photo book larger

This morning I created a photo book for Gweny's birthday titled Gweny's Day with Thomas the Train. The best photo of the family with Thomas has a man standing in front of it with a straw hat. I wished I could take that guy out - because then the photo would be great. I remembered I have Retouch on my photo editing tool and I wondered if....? Using the process (a bit labor intensive) I made that guy disappear. Seriously -- that is the SAME photo.



Saturday, May 23, 2009

I picked a bag of berries from my berry bush, and had a dream of berry pie. I trotted [OK drove] to my mom's house with a request. "Here's some berries mom, would you please bake me a pie?"

And she did. The first item baked in her new oven! I am loved.
"Kids spend more time immersed with electronics than ever before. This is the way life is. But it carries some very serious psychological risks. Even though girls think they're using electronics to connect, when they use a computer, a cell phone, or an iPod, they're really alone. They're not face-to-face with anyone..."

"You might find that after a while your daughter will have difficulty talking with you in a car, room, or restaurant, because being face-to-face is powerful and frightening, and she's too used to the anonymity of electronics." pgs 223-224. Meg Meeker, M.D. in Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

..."too used to the anonymity of electronics"...This quote gave ME pause. Do I hide? escape? in the anonymity of electronics? Is face-to-face too powerful and frightening? The author labeled these kids as lonely. Everyone is busy. Everyone has these responsibilities and time commitments INCLUDING me. I rather like being alone. Electronics seems to fill the lonely times.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Full Time Ministry

I wouldn't want to be in full time Christian ministry - because - when do you ever get to just say "Forget it! I'm not being spiritual now." It stops being about following Jesus and starts just being a religious act - and how does one know the difference. "Hi, I'm play acting today." - or, "Today my faith is real."

I think sometimes when your JOB is spiritual in nature - a person says what they say...because that's their job. Too cynical? Maybe I'm talking about who am I kidding? I often think more highly of myself than I ought -- even when it comes to cynicism.

What do they call it when there is no wind for the sails? The big sailboats would sit in the ocean for days waiting for a wind. Where is the wind?

Of course you COULD ask the question, "So, are you a part time Christian or a full time Christian?" Really. How is part time even possible? Isn't it either or? Isn't a full commitment to Jesus a full time ministry?

Friday, May 15, 2009


These are songs we sang in our public schools, all the way through the 60's. Little prayers. Songs of blessing and praise to God Almighty. Some of them we sang every day. Our children don't sing them anymore. I don't think we knew what we were doing when we sang them. I don't think we knew what we were doing when we stopped.


Words and music by Irving Berlin
© Copyright 1938, 1939 by Irving Berlin
© Copyright Renewed 1965, 1966 by Irving Berlin
© Copyright Assigned to the Trustees of the God Bless America Fund
International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.
Used by Permission

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. "

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Commonly referred to as America
by Rev. Samuel F. Smith

My country, 'tis of Thee,
Sweet Land of Liberty
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountain side
Let Freedom ring.
Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To thee we sing,
Long may our land be bright
With Freedom's holy light,
Protect us by thy might
Great God, our King.

Holy and gracious Father, forgive us for we did not know what we were doing when we removed those songs. Renew those songs of blessing in our hearts and mouths today. Let our children once more give you praise for the beautiful land you have given us. Help us once again to value all the blessings you have made possible. God, bless America. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


When Kelsey was here - I was never sure what it was she was doing all the time - but I was pretty sure it was spiritual. All kinds of God-activity going on around her all the time.

Now that Kelsey is not here - I am never sure what it is she is doing all the time - but I am pretty sure it is spiritual.

It feels so odd not to be able to kiss her face when I want to. The memory of touch is still clear. Touch is what she and I knew.

Death is so odd. Kelsey is here but she is not. That was true most of her life.

Ron and I sometimes wish for just one or two days with our 2 year old Julie or Andy. There is that same sort of wistful wish with Kelsey. Just a day would be nice.

My children are artists. REALLY. Wow! Not only that, they are GOOD. Double wow. How did that happen? It was yesterday wasn't it that Julie was crying because she couldn't draw a space ship? and Andy was throwing down his remote control because the video game was "NO GOOD!"? Writers, graphic artists, musicians, painters, photographers, cuisine artists, worship crafter, web designer,...My kids think they can do anything...and evidently they can! Isn't that awesome?

Autopilot going. Just like my car is sometimes on autopilot and takes me where it usually goes - even though that is NOT where I am going...My body/mind keeps taking me back to things I did because I needed to be home with Kelsey - even though that is NOT where I am going.

My daughter is a lady. My son is a man. When did that happen? And how did they do that without me? For so long they were so dependent on me - couldn't function without me - and now---WOW! they do very well :-) I am so grateful. So full. So relieved to no longer be in charge :-)

Monday, May 04, 2009




I am having so much fun copying and sorting photos - and I'm learning to retouch photos, ergo the BEFORE and AFTER. This is my great Aunt Fan, one of my grandma's many sisters.

Aunt Fan raised my mom for a year or so. She was fun, imaginative, energetic, and creative. My mom loved being with her. Below is a picture of some of my grandma's sisters. Aunt Fan is on the left. Grandma is in the middle. Aunt Pearl is on the right. Can't you tell these ladies are lots of fun?

In 1958 Mom and Dad took Aunt Fan and the family on a drive. In one day we saw Greenhorn Mountain (and snow), Red Rock Canyon, and Mojave Desert. This is a picture with us standing in front of blooming Joshua trees.

Aunt Fan was my favorite great aunt.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Miss Annie Burdette and Miss Julie McCraw

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Grandma Skeen

We went to my grandma's house for dinners and birthdays and family occasions. We picked apricots from her tree, smelled her roses, and jumped in her piles of leaves.

But what I remember her most for - is her meals --her cooking.

She baked and roasted and whipped. Her cooking was not fancy - but wonderful home cooked food. I remember roast beef, turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, home made dinner rolls, and german chocolate cake--oh and of course lime jello with pears and a little ball of cream cheese inside the half pear. Her kitchen was her domain. While things were steaming and baking and cooling, we set the table and played. We were told, "Stay OUT of the kitchen!"

Here we are in her covered sun room. Her best friend Aunt Frances is standing beside her. This is where we had our meals for our big family. She had a huge table made that I think seated as many as 16 people. I just remember it being very big. On the side you see a bird cage. Grandma always had a singing yellow canary.

Below is Grandma Skeen holding newborn Julie Ann Burdette - 1950. There is a photo of her holding EVERY baby from the time my sister Lynn was born (1946)

until she held this one in 1984...great granddaughter Julie McCraw

Sunday, April 26, 2009

TWO REALLY NICE GUYS - Our son Andy and our new little guy Cody

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Because! Everybody thinks I am always serious, spiritual, always seeking answers to life, health, etc. This picture is a reminder - that there is another Marti that LOVES to wear costumes, have fun, dance, and be ridiculous. Meet Marti the GYPSY.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Grandpa gave Gweny "Arthur" which she is showing you with Grandpa

Gweny took face painting VERY seriously. Posing so you could see Thomas the Train on her cheek. And then her James the Train Tatoo!

Beauty is a very serious activity.

Squeezing in to see.....

A Model Train.

All in all - the day was wonderful - interrupted by a few grouchy unhappy times that didn't last very long. Thomas the Train was GREAT! He looked just like any child (or adult) would imagine. Adults might think this day was a bit hoaky. But just look at Gweny's face and see if SHE thought it was hoaky...NOT! (never tried to spell hoaky that right?)

The qualities of a good photographer is to have your camera handy at opportune moments. I call this one, The Man in the Pan. Really. All I did was throw in some water on a pan.

Monday, March 23, 2009


First well-puppy visit to the doctor.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The "Neighborhood"

I was going to post pictures, but then decided I better not. Shaved heads, blank studied stares, tattoos, plucked eyebrows, and low blouses. Once in awhile, behind those stares a person would ask, "Could you pray for me?"

Tonight we watched NCIS which is a Navy Crime Investigation show relating to murder-related crimes of armed services people. This story dealt with a street gang and a few soldiers who intersected with violence and death. NCIS walked the "neighborhood" to ask questions. NCIS people were clearly out of their element - IN gang country.

I know that neighborhood. I know those faces. Jesus took me there for three years. I'm finished for awhile - but it AMAZES me that this 60 year old white lady listened to Jesus and walked into the festering world of drugs, wife abuse, fights, shootings, cockroaches, hunger, and bed bugs. Hurting, neglected children -- asked me to pray for their father to get out of jail (and when he does come home, he beats up their mother, or starts dealing drugs and gets re-arrested)

Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, asks his clients (and their dogs) to walk calmly and fearlessly into his pack of 20 dogs. Sometimes these people are trying to overcome fear of dogs from some bad experience in the past. Cesar Milan helps them to be grounded and confident - and off they go into a pack of pit bulls. Somehow Jesus was my Cesar Milan - and he helped me to walk fearlessly into these packs of people and into their hearts. And they walked into mine.

I'm tired now. Depleted from earthquakes and aftershocks in my life. Lord, I am ready for the green pastures and cool water. Restore my soul - so when you are ready to take me out again into the shadows of death I will fear no evil.

How did I know I was safe? and how did I know I was too tired? Thank you Holy Spirit for whispering your wisdom in my ear. Help me always to listen and hear. I serve an amazing God.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


For my daughter Julie.

"There has been no time to grieve. No space. Sometimes I'm barely holding myself together... I need out of the city for a moment. I need an expanse. Perhaps a road trip, and a stop in the middle of the Utah desert." Julie Oldroyd

"I need out of the city for a moment."

"... an expanse."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

by Marti McCraw

Doesn’t the whole earth tremble when a person finishes well?
Doesn't the sky open up and receive?
And how do we...
still here...
Absorb the aftershocks and unexpected tsunamis
that go on underneath the seemingly calm waves?
When everything appears fine.
When normal IS.
When life keeps pressing through an opening too small like dough.

Go through these tax forms
Load these moving vans
Read these assignments
Survive this virus
Write these papers

STOP! I want to STOP!
Why doesn’t everyone stop and honor this major shift in the universe?

Instead jostling crowds only push to their self-absorbed destinations.

Haven’t these two walked with us along the road and tapped us on the shoulder?
“Hello Ron”
“Graduated with honors”
“Hand in hand on a grassy knoll”
“Buy a valentine for my sweetheart”

With such a major shift in the universe is it any wonder
That computers broke
Unexpected expenses mounted
Spiders bit
Viruses attacked
Midterms stacked?

Go to the upper room and wait.
That place where I last
Touched you
Ate with you
Loved you

Go there and wait
Do not leave Jerusalem,
But wait.
The gift is coming
Anointed presence
that witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Wait for the gift in Jerusalem.

Acts 1, Isaiah 45.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

For me, blogging requires space. The inside world needs to be more expansive than my outside world. Right now my outside world is huge - and my inside world is trying to catch up. So many major shifts in my life right now: My daughter and dad shifted their living quarters to heaven, my H Street ministry is wrapping up, my husband is getting ready to retire, and we will be adding a new puppy to our family soon. Each one of these things requires a shift and myriads of little changes and things to attend to. So, pardon me if blogging doesn't appear here very often.

I am looking for those places where I don't have to do or think, but can and breathe. It feels like I am on a carousel that won't slow down long enough for me to get off. As soon as I figure out how to work the controls, I'm off to the beach or something. :-) Cya!

Monday, January 26, 2009

You are the best, funniest, hardest working, most helpful, sweetest daughter. We love you! Mom and Dad

Here's laughing with you!

"Mother, I can't believe you posted these pictures!"