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Life can get in the way – so does procrastination

snow Today is the 3rd time in a week that we have had measurable snow and we are only at November 6th!  I actually love snow days and rainy days because I can justify reading, a cozy fire, a time to think and just sit and be.

Long time ago, I had a purpose and reason to do a blog.  That purpose and reason has changed over time.  This summer got crazy with real people and real things to do and doing a blog took a back seat.  I didn’t realize how “back of a seat” it took until I went to do this post today.

I have had ideas and photos.  I have even outlined some things to do but…… I never did.  I have taken time to work on my Bullet Journal/Calendar.  I have taken time for “me” to do things for meditation and relaxation.  Yet I don’t know where the days have gone nor why by “to do” list has gotten longer.

One of my seminary teacher, DJ Furnish, said if you have what she called a big “guilt quotient” – the difference between what you THINK you need to do and what you are actually DOING – you need to reassess what you think you need to do or step up on the doing part.

There are lots of things on my list that are really neat to do.  The problem is that the list doesn’t make it to the calendar to schedule to really get done.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not just sitting and doing nothing.  We are gone, we are busy, we do fun things like going to Broadway musicals and we do things together and separately.

I remember when I went to a new church, I would have all this time and I would get into groups and events.  As time went on, I became busier and didn’t have time.  We retired to this home in 2014.  It is hard to believe that 5 years have flown past.  We both find our calendars full again.  We are going back to life of calendaring with each other each week.  It is just like when we were working.  When I retired I sort of chucked my calendar.  IF I am to get things done, I need my calendar for structure which allows me to set goals and be realistic about what I say YES and NO to.  I didn’t think being retired I would have to say the NO word again but it has come up more and more frequently as I commit to different things.

Share what you find helpful in getting goals done and getting the to do list accomplished.  Do you not take on as much, do you work harder and faster, or do you just feel guilty about not being able to get everything done?  Good Luck on your schedules, calendars, to do lists, and wish lists.  May you reach and do the 20% important things and let the other 80% take care of itself.




What would you do in this situation?

In Baraboo Wisconsin, the Circuit World Museum put on a parade like no other.  You can find out more about the Circus World Museum at  There were 7 Ringling Brothers that grew up in Baraboo and this museum shares their circus history of the past but also lives in the present.  There is a “big top” tent where there are shows.  There are animals and exhibits.

They house and care for and make sure that 260 circus wagons run and they refurbish them.  You can thank Harold “Heavy” Burdick and his crew for maintaining and restoring the wagons.  Each wheel is 400 pounds and needs to be removed and greased and put back on.The wagons are from small, medium, to large circus wagons. Our family was excited that for the first time in years the Beck Family Calliope was going to be pulled in the parade. Last year it was in the parade, but it wasn’t pulled by animals.


Circus luminary Lance “Brownie” Beck had the hand-carved calliope wagon built for his wife Juanita in the 1940s, and they performed with it at festivals across the Midwest and Canada.  Juanita Beck taught piano to all of us sisters.  One summer when I was in high school, I was on the Circus grounds for the Schlitz Circus parade in Milwaukee mucking out the pygmy mules that pulled the Calliope.


There were 16 wagons in the parade.  Some, like the Beck calliope were pulled by miniature horses.  There were 2 team, 3 team, 4 team and 6 team hitches of draft horses that pulled these wagons.  Some like the Beck wagon are light and some that need the 6-horse hitch are very heavy.  There were 11 bands and then other marching organizations.

Behind the elephants were the “Pooper scoopers”.  In some parades they are also behind the horse pulled wagons.  That didn’t happen in this year’s parade and guess what did happen after a wagon went by?  You got it – poop.

The wagons go right down the middle of the road and right in the middle of the road was the poop.  True to form there was the Baraboo band right after the wagon and then another marching group.  They all “smooshed” over to one side of the road to miss the poop.

Everyone sat there.  Everyone saw the poop.  Everyone saw that it was just a disaster waiting to happen.  As it happens every year, the parade route is right in front of the First United Methodist Church.   Jim Cotter is the pastor’s husband.  He is the kind of person who sees something that needs to be done and just does it.  He went and got a big box and a dustpan and went out to scoop up the poop.  My sister, Sue Page, saw him having trouble and jumped up and helped hold the box.  They barely got done before the next marching group came by.

I had been sitting next to my sister.  I had been talking about in years past there were pooper scooper behind all the wagons or at least before the marching groups after the wagons.  But I just sat there.   The city does clean the streets after the whole parade is done.  I saw the problem, but I couldn’t think of a solution that would alleviate the immediate poop problem.


What would you do in that situation?  There were plenty of people that lined both sides of the road.  There were plenty of people that held their breath and made noises as to warn the people not to step in it anything squishy.  Yet only one person went to actually do something about it and only 1 person went to help him.

I thought about life and other situations.  There are many situations that you see a problem but feel helpless in doing something anything that would fix or help it.  From the time of chariot races to car races, part of what some people wait for are the crashes.  There is the saying about a train wreck – you don’t want to stare but you just can’t look away.  There are sometimes just little things that can be done that can make a big difference.  You must be creative.  You must be willing to put yourself out.  You must be willing to be seen out there and have what you are doing maybe not a success.

What would you have done as you sat and watched the parade? What do you do as you live your life and see people in crisis or things happening in the world?  Nike has a slogan “just do it”.  Make any effort to try to make a difference. Sometimes if you just go out, others will come and follow and help you.   You never know whom you are helping or what difference you make.  Helping isn’t about getting credit but making the situation smoother for travel so people don’t step in crap as they are on their journey.



Sometimes when things come tumbling down, we just need to make do until they are fixed.

I submit photos to the United Methodist Churches Upper Room Sight Psalms.  Today (May, 28, 2019) is my photo.


We live in the country.  For a while there a number of Stop Signs were being knocked down on a regular basis.  It can be a concern for safety but on top of the Stop Sign is the street name.  Not having that indication can be disaster.

If you have lived in the area for a while, there is no concern because you know the name of the street/road and many of the people that live on it.  It becomes an issue when people who haven’t been there are to show up for a party or meeting or gathering.

The stop sign had been down on this particular day and there was a little kids birthday party.  People were coming that didn’t know where the road was.  I have had people say “Turn where there is just 2 horses in the field” or “Turn where the Angus bull is in the field” or “Where the Winter wheat has been changed to Rye”.

I have had a friend lost and I asked “Where are you?”.  The response was “By a red barn with a silo”.  In the country that can be almost anywhere.  Regular people can’t put the stop sign up, but someone took the time to do a make shift sign that would work for the day when it was needed.  It rained right after this and the sign didn’t stay up long but it was there when it was needed.

I used a phrase for this photo “Sometimes when things come tumbling down, we just need to make do until they are fixed.”  We can’t control many of the things around us.  We can’t fix everything.  We can do one small thing that will make an immediate need met.  I saw a sign once “Do what you can, don’t worry about what you can’t do.”

This photo still makes me laugh.  Just do what you can and then go on with life.

I didn’t think we would ever get it done.

How many of you on cold snowy days get puzzles out to work?  Well if anyone wants this puzzle – you may have it for the price of postage.


It is really cute and with all the colors one would think it was easy.  They would be sooooo wrong!

Let me digress.  We had our family gather January 19, 2019 and our adult kids started a puzzle.

puzzle start

Since it was on the table we finished it.  It was tough.  It took about a week.  The colors were the same for many parts of the puzzle and so we organized by shape and just kept trying to put the pieces in.  We finished it – there were many snow days that we weren’t going anywhere anyway.

1st puzzle

Because it still kept snowing, we got out another puzzle which went rather quickly.

2nd puzzle done



The sky was a bit tricky  because part of the ocean was the same shade and color but we really thought we were “good” at this puzzle thing – it was still snowing- so we went to look for another puzzle in the basement.  We moved in 2014 and got rid of many of our puzzles and only kept the challenging puzzles and ones we still wanted to see when done.

On February 19, 2019 we had gotten most of the outside edge of the horse and what we were learning was the easiest part of the puzzle was already to put together.


It is now March 27, 2019 and we just finished it today! This only happened because we made a concerted effort yesterday and today to get it done!  There were times that we just sat – from 15 – 30 minutes and never found a piece to add the the puzzle.  We found pieces that went together but they were still far away from sides.

You would think that it would be obvious what piece went in where!

missing pieces

What was maddening is that the colors shifted – sometimes at the edge of a piece or though a piece.  Because it was dragging on and on, we were getting discouraged, there were papers and other things that migrated back to the table.  Yesterday when “spring cleaning” hit me, I took the papers off the table and about 10 or so pieces fell out of the newspapers.  These 2 missing pieces were among them.  That is why we couldn’t find them among the pieces on the table – they weren’t on the table to be found.

I (Barb) belong to a Centering Prayer group and we did Visio Divina (like Lectio Divina but with photos).  The conversation had turned to God working in our lives and helping up put the pieces together.  One person commented that there might be some “missing pieces”.  This was just a few weeks ago and I hadn’t realized that there were actually pieces missing but I was so invested in trying to get the puzzle together, I listened with “concrete thinking” ears and not “metaphorical thinking” ears.  I had said “No, no, there are no pieces missing because we opened the bag new when we started.”

Now that the angst of getting the puzzle done is over, I can step back and take off my “concrete” thinking cap and realize life is really like this puzzle.  We know there are pieces in our lives that need to fit to make our lives feel calm and put together.  Our lives are like they are being put together and yet we get so anxious when we can’t work it or see or get it done sometimes we get frustrated.  Even with someone helping us, we can get frazzled and just want to quit.  There were times that I was ready to just call it quits on this puzzle and put the puzzle in the garbage but my husband David and I persevered and plugged onward.

We cheered each other for finding just 1 piece.  Both of us in the last few days took time to work and sometimes worked alone and got some sections done which gave both of us a boost that we could really continue and maybe get it done before summer.  The last piece we put in together and after giving ourselves a “high 5” did a “high 10”.

When you look at the photo of the finished horse, you can see the horse has a smirk on it’s face – yeah the horse has almost seemed like a living being that thwarted our every move.  At times I teased that I was going to get some scissors and cut the pieces to fit.  I could see my husband trying the same shapes over and over in a spot and I knew that they wouldn’t fit because I had tried those same pieces there and knew for certain they wouldn’t fit …..but I kept my mouth shut and smiled.  When those pieces were finally found we both cheered no matter who found it!

The snow is melted.  Our daffodils are starting to pop up from the ground.  The yard work and other things will keep us busy now.  I really don’t know if we are going to get the other puzzles out that are left.  One is a circular puzzle of grass and it says if you get the puzzle done, you take a photo and they will send you a t-shirt commemorating your finish of the puzzle.  The other is a round one of nothing but No. 2 Pencils.  We have done the round one that is nothing but different fishing lures.  When our oldest daughter was in High School, she decided to give up TV for Lent and so she got a 5,000 piece puzzle of nothing but “red” coca cola products.  We never got that one done but we left huge pieces that were put together into the box as a pre-starter if we ever did try it again.

This horse is only 1,000 pieces and says for age 12 on up.  I wish they ranked puzzles by their hardness except I know that for some people puzzles are easier than for others.  I really credit my husband for sticking in there because he is color blind in both colors.  He really does remarkably well especially on shapes.

barb [uzz;e

david puzzle

Until now I couldn’t laugh about this puzzle.  There were some days I never even went around to that side of the table because I got so exasperated with getting nowhere day after day.

What have I learned?  Persistence and patience does pay off – with puzzles and with life. God does help put the puzzle pieces of our lives together and sometimes they are being put together even without us knowing work is being done.  On really hard things good partners can help each other through hard times – with puzzles and with life.

I really enjoy doing puzzles with my husband.  I really enjoy each day as I journey though life with him as well.  Good friends and companions make all the difference in the world on how you travel and where your journey leads.  When you can laugh in the face of hardship, when you can encourage each other through hardship, the journey is as important as the destination.

Really, does anyone want a puzzle?






What marks you in life?


Our family Christmas time (in January) saw a number of us getting Jagua tattoos.  It is like Henna but has a blueish tint.  It is interesting.  When you start out it is dark and then when it dries and you first wash things off, there is nothing there.  After 24 hours, Voila! A wonderful tattoo is there. It isn’t permanent and will disappear.

my tattoo

A long time ago, I got a chest x-ray and the technician said, “I need a second opinion because I think you have cancer spots in your lungs.”  You hear those words and you freak out!  The next person came in, looked at the x-ray and asked, “Did you grow up on the Mississippi River?”  I said Yes.  He said “You are fine.  You have a fungus from when you grew up.  Our bodies are marked by where we live and by what we have done.”

I have thought about that line “Our bodies are marked by where we live and by what we have done.”  Many of the marks that we carry are not seen by others.  Those people that have PTSD know all too well the things that mark our lives.  We all carry with us things that cannot be seen – even by x-rays.

The tattoos came with patience in the drawing and drying.  It was fun to see the image emerge the next day.  It was fun to see others getting their tattoos done.  We are marked not only by the negative but also by the positive.  Our family gathering was a great positive and was fun.  We have to be aware that not all things in life that mark us are positive and fun.

Kristen Vincent taught me about prayer beads.  She has some great books out and a great website “Prayerworks Studio”.  She has been doing a ministry lately with people (soldiers included) with PTSD.  She has a book almost a year old: Beads of Healing: Prayer, Trauma, and Spiritual Wholeness. This is one way that healing and wholeness can come to us and that our lives continue to be lived out in wholeness.

We are all marked by the day’s events.  Sometimes with help of friends and professionals, we can take the negative and make them at least neutral in harming our lives if not move our lives to positive gain. One friend said, “It isn’t that the glass is half full or half empty but that it is a glass that can be filled and drained as you wish.”

We need to find “filling” people and events in our lives and stay if not run away from things that drain us and harm us.  Prayer beads – centering prayer – for me have been helpful in calming me, helping me look at things in a new perspective and seeing ways that God is nudging me to do.  Jagua marks us temporarily. Centering Prayer and Prayer beads marks me as well.  They mark me in ways not seen but that are effective in my life.

What marks your life?  What is helpful or harmful?  Find the people/events/places that bring you wholeness and healing and do those things and focus on those people/events/places.   Find a community or at least one person/event/place and move in that direction this year.  Be aware of what marks you temporarily and permanently.  Go for the markings that bring wholeness and healing.





Hello? Hello?


This summer as we were coming up from the lake, our son looked at this lonely tree and asked the question as if he were the tree, “Hello?  Hello?”.  When we bought the land, the top half had been pasture and the bottom half almost forest.  The drought in the 1980’s took the cedar trees.  Later we removed their stumps.  The tall elm that had our tire swing for so many years got Dutch Elm disease.  One by one the Poplar, and Mulberry trees have toppled until there is one lone tree standing in the middle of what was once forest-like.


With the leaves gone it looks even lonelier.  You can see one of 2 of the same size woodpiles made from the trees that have fallen.

This fall, we took out the dock but the boat lift was still in the water.  My husband asked, “Hello? Hello?”


The dock was gone, the boat was put away and all that was left was the life – alone in the water.  There are times during rainy days and snowy days, I am thrilled to be alone.  I can read.  I can get my projects done.  I don’t feel obligated to go anywhere.  Yet there are times that being alone can be lonely.  During my lifetime, being alone has been as exhilarating as being with others.  Being alone, in a small group or being in a large group each has advantages and disadvantages.

I know that there are Christmas decorations up and Halloween hadn’t even been here yet.  Now that Thanksgiving is near, the Christmas rush is almost on in full swing.  People are doing “Black Friday” things earlier and earlier.  I know from being a pastor and the counseling I have done with others that the closer the time comes to Christmas, the harder it is for some people.

  1. People they love have died and this is the first year they won’t celebrate with them.
  2. People they loved have died a while ago but each Christmas the feelings come back as fresh as if it were yesterday.
  3. People put so much stock into Christmas family get together that it isn’t humanly possible to come close to expectations.
  4. This might be the first Christmas they are alone or it is the season they they feel alone and coping gets harder and harder.

I have tried to share how being alone feels to me and how I feel it is full rather than empty but maybe because I like being alone, I haven’t really understood the angst nor the depth of loneliness that they feel.

When I look at the lone tree, I can hear the tree calling “Hello?” “Where are you?” “Where have you gone?”.  We have planted trees over the years and they are growing but it will take a while for them to get to be as tall as the trees that have fallen.  The trees are also not planted as close together as the other trees were so even when the trees get bigger, they won’t be close to this lone tree.  It will probably be gone by the time the others are as big.

I guess I would ask you to look at these photos and then look around at those you love and who are near to you.  Are they calling out “Hello?” silently or out loud?  If you are the one feeling that way – reach out – and you may help someone else and in doing so you won’t be alone.  If you are hearing even faint whispers, reach out in their direction and see who needs your smile and presence.

Sometimes we fear that people will cling to us. Maybe we need to get over that fear and just be present to ourselves and those near to us.  Ask for help.  If people say they are too busy, then find those who aren’t.  If people are afraid to get close, take a step back but stay in their proximity and show you aren’t afraid.

Take some deep breaths and pray.  Take some to be alone.  Take some time to be with others.  Share carefully and listen with confidentiality.  Who knows, the ones you help may be those you need help from in the future.

Got it – almost


The other day I wrote “Missed it”. I had missed a photographic opportunity of leaves falling like rain.  Our fall leaves are the yellows and oranges this year but not the reds and purples. Monday I saw some great leaves but it was almost nightfall.  Tuesday we were gone all day and it rained and the wind blew and Wednesday it rained and the wind blew.  I was sitting working on something on Thursday when all of a sudden the sun came out!  I yelled to my husband “The sun is out!  Do you want to go for a drive and see the leaves?”. By the time we took off the sun had gone under a cloud but we thought like the day of the Eclipse, we might be able to follow the sun and see the brilliance of the colors – even if the sun wasn’t out long enough to get photos.


Where the sun was shining, the sun brought out the brilliance of the leaves but it almost washed out the whole photo.  When the sun went under the leaves didn’t seem to have such brilliance.   I was able to see and receive some great images.  The frustrating things was the sun coming out and by the time we stopped – just a few seconds – the sun would go under a cloud again.  Yet I needed to try because the rain and winds have been so fierce, I feared that if I waited until the rain and wind stopped, there would be no leaves left on the trees.


The leaves were great but I did miss the sun letting the leaves show all their brilliance.

The best part of the day was the stop by our road and the county road.  Several years this was the gathering place for lots of sandhill cranes.  Today there were geese but they are a little more skittish about a car stopping.


Then the most amazing thing happened.  Sandhill cranes in groups of 3 and 4 keep coming in for a landing.  They just kept coming and coming and coming.

I have enjoyed seeing the trees.  Somehow it never captures digitally as brilliant or as wonderful as you see it.  I enjoy the cranes and geese and just watching them – in the wild or at the International Crane Foundation.  What is your wonder in nature?  What of each season draws you into creation?  Where do you stand in awe of what is around us?


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