Monthly Archives: September 2012

‘these boots weren’t made for walkin’


When my daughter left the country she left us behind and pretty much all her worldly goods, that they didn’t want to sell, at our house and her in-laws house.  I cried the day she told me that she’d have to let us have my great-aunts chairs from the cottage that she painstakingly restored as her first set of kitchen chairs.  We had to buy her brand new place settings from Crate and Barrel, after all, she said,

“We’ve just been married two years.”

“Okay,” I plunked out for the pricey dishes, hoping that some day she would be back home.

She gave me three different sets of boots:  her UGGS, black suede short boots, and her beloved cowboy boots that she had begged for one birthday, before college.  I remember the day we found them at an outlet store after pricing them at Nordstroms.  They were such a find!  I secretly wanted them myself.  I do have a boot fascination, but I can just never give way to the prices especially if they soar over one-hundred dollars.  When she gave them to me, I remember trying them on, but I just couldn’t get my right foot in near the heel, my feet are different sizes.  Well, that was last January.

This weekend we were having a Tex-Mex night at church and the organizer wanted us to wear something to fit the occasion.  I thought about the boots, stuck under my bed.  I got out a pair of slippery nylon socks.  Maybe this will work, I have lost a bit of weight.  I wonder,

“Can a person lose weight in a foot?”

Dave was out-of-town visiting my son in Denver.  I decide to try it.  Left foot good, right foot….hmmm….I’m pulling and pulling on the top of the boot.  I start stomping.  The Cinderella shoe miraculously fit!  Success.  I was so happy that I looked somewhat authentic for the night.

I got to church and made my way across our huge parking lot to my seat in church.  It was in the middle of our string of worship songs when I started feeling dizzy from the pain in my right foot.  It was cramping.  I sat down but the pain remained.  Making my way after the service down to the room where my friends were gathered was an ordeal.  I sat down next to a person I didn’t know and started talking about these horrible boots that I should have never forced over my feet. Then it dawned on me, and I said out loud,

“What if I can’t get this boot off tonight?  Dave isn’t getting home until one in the morning.”

I limped to the parking lot after the chile cook-off, earlier than the rest of my friends.  I raced home;  I just had to get the boot off.  The left foot came off easily.  I started trying to pull the tight one off.  After about  thirty minutes of pulling, and I admit it, cursing. I set the alarm, laid down with my pointed boot facing toward the north star.  When Dave came home this is how he found me… snoring away on top of the comforter.

“Hey pardner, do ya need a hand with your boot?” he inquired.

“Yep,” I responded, “these boots weren’t made for walkin.”

Snip, snap, snout…this country tale is all told out.




another book that saved a life


This past weekend my husband and I were invited to attend an induction dinner for former student athletes and coaches into our local High School’s Hall of Fame.  One of our friends of many year was being honored for his successful years coaching cross-country, basketball and track.   This night was dedicated to honoring one of our best friends, a swimming coach, three former students athletes and old-timers from the class of 1946 who brought happiness to the lives of many, grabbing a 3rd place state basketball trophy.

I spent all night seeing former students and dabbing my eyes as each special person was announced.  Every recipient gave a speech telling a few funny stories and thanking those who  helped them on their journeys.  The last student speaker, however, held my full and undivided attention.  His former high school coach introduced him, telling all of us of his skill and the accolades that he had acquired in high school…then pausing, he gulped and said,

“but the moment I remember most was going to see this wonderful young man in the hospital after his first surgery.  Patrick had cancer, the spring of his senior year…he was  just at the beginning of his new life, college plans all decided…swimming in the mix at a Division I school.  I expected to see a depressed young man in a hospital room, instead I saw a person ready to fight, full of optimism, hope.  I knew that he would win the battle.”

When Patrick got up to speak he thanked all his parents, coaches, his friends in high school and college and his wife who is an English teacher.  He also thanked Jesus Christ his Savior and Lord and then started joking about it was hard when he was a freshman, trying to  find his niche, and of taking grief from the football players and wrestlers who didn’t even know that swimming was a sport at our high school (our swimmers have to borrow pools to practice and have meets in).

Towards the end of his speech he grew fairly quiet.  He said that there are many others in his life that made a profound impact and they don’t often receive any  recognition for all their hard work. Patrick said,

“Teachers matter; one actually saved my life.’

He closed with a story of a reading teacher that he had in one of his high school years.  He sheepishly admitted that this teacher hadn’t even been a favorite.  However,   this man had literally saved his life with a book.  A book?  I sat up in my chair and leaned in, waiting for title.

Knowing that Patrick was an athlete, he gave him this book to read, It’s Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, written by Lance Armstrong.  Patrick proceeded forward in his talk.

“I hope someone will share this story with my former teacher because I have never thanked him.”

I read the opening chapter of this very powerful biography today.  In it Lance details his symptoms of testicular cancer and how he almost went to the Dr. too late.  The cancer had already moved to his lungs and his brain.   Patrick had similar symptoms, recognized them and acted.   What a tribute to teachers…what a tribute to books! It was an unexpected moment for all of us, one that I will cherish.



I love reading dedications in books…dedications children write are especially write, but I am always curious when the President of the United States writes a dedication to his first picture book, of THEE I SING.  He writes,

” To Michelle– whose fierce love and daily good sense have nourished such wonderful daughters.  – B.O. “

I absolutely love this picture book penned by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long.  The first page pictures his lovely daughters passionately marching into the pages of the book followed by their pup.  I love the visual picture his words paint.

“Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?

How the sound of your feet

running from afar

brings dancing rhythms to my day?

How you laugh

and sunshine spills into the room?

The President of the United States then launches into his repeated refrain ,

“Have I told you that you are creative?”

On every page spread a new  virtue and a new American is highlighted.  My personal favorite is the late Helen Keller.

“Have I told you that you are strong?

A woman named Helen Keller fought her way through long silent darkness.

Though she could not see or hear,

she taught us to look at and listen to each other.

Never waiting for life to get easier,

she gave others courage to face their challenges.

This non-fiction picture books is perfect for launching a reading and writing unit on biographies.  Of course, keeping with the format of the new ‘non-fiction’ with voice, this book of mini-biographies has more information at the end of the book on each person mentioned in the book.  It is a fantastic mentor text to use with children, the use of a repeated question.  He also sprinkles metaphors , similes and alliteration throughout the informative text!

Yesterday, I was angered yet again, as I was sitting at the stop light in our town.  A man by the road was holding up a picture of our president.  He had drawn in a moustache on our president to give the appearance of Hitler.  The poster said, “Obama is a prick”.  Again, I was sickened as well as  saddened.  I looked at the man who had evil in his eyes.  He smiled at me, hoping for a supporter.  I just shook my head at him and sighed.  I wanted to shout at him, to scream expletives in his face, but somehow I knew that my President, who wrote this beautiful book, and dedicated this book to his wife, would also just shake his head and march forward, like he is teaching his own children and the other children of the world through this book.  Regardless of your politics, I know you would do the same, my friends. xo nanc

The Weakest Link – Costa Rica Part 2


We traveled to the popular Arenal volcano the second weekend of our trip to Costa Rica.  We all were happy to be  finally out of the city and felt like we were in our element traveling down rocky roads with the lush Costa Rican landscape surrounding us at every turn of the camera lens.

The first day the volcano wasn’t visible because of cloud cover.  I knew that when people travel to Alaska their chance of seeing Denali outside of the cloud cover was minimal, but I didn’t know that this particular volcano also had the same reputation.  So on the second day, when the glorious sun came out, the volcano wasn’t shrouded.  It was spectacular and it put us all in the mood for some exploring… not heavy duty…the kind of exploring that you do with a 1-year-old.

Sammie likes riding in  her sturdy backpack and is really interested in toucan’s tails and baby geckos crawling up trees.  My sweet Samantha loves everything, but fights sleeping.  So basically we all needed to stay flexible and knew that that we wouldn’t be doing the ‘major’ hiking scene. We decided to look around for a hike that seemed reasonable and found a waterfall that you started up at the top, traveled down about a bunch (about a million)  stairs and landed at the base of the falls.  Of course, we knew that if we went down the stairs, we would eventually have to come up and that isn’t so much of a problem for us, usually.  We were just grateful for the waffle looking stairs and the chains in place so we wouldn’t tumble over into the rainforest.   This definitely was a tourist attraction and we knew that we could handle it with the baby.

The first part was a swinging suspension type of bridge. Exotic plants, moss, flowers and birds climbed everywhere.  The very moist, very warm air enveloped us every step of the way.  I felt like I was drinking the air and I was under water swimming.  Before we started the descent I saw a small sign.  In English it said,

If you have high blood pressure, you are at risk.”

I blinked at the sign and the couple ahead of us stopped near the muddy stairs, turned and said that they were thinking about turning around.  I judged them to be maybe ten years older than us, and after all, I thought,

” I’ve been doing the elliptical all summer and I felt like I did a decent job keeping up with Jeff when I was in Denver.  And we may have high blood pressure, both of us, but we take medicine.”

Looking down at my feet I was worried only a moment because I had my flip-flops on- no boots.  Dave was carrying the day pack with our camera…that was the important thing.  We had just had our lunch, so no need for snacks even though Em always had something for Sam.  We were off.

I just determined I would go slow and hang on to the chains on the opposite side of the narrow walkway.  We got down easily to the base of the fall.  People were jumping in and swimming…kids having the time of their lives.  We clicked a few pics and were ready for the return up.  Sam was sleeping in the pack and all of us wanted her to stay that way.  I asked Dave if he was ready, I noticed that his shirt was sopping wet, not from swimming but from sweat.  He looked at me and said, “More than ready…let’s go”.

He started out behind me because I guess he is always expecting me to slip, break a wrist, break a leg, have 10 million blisters littering my feet, or maybe getting hypothermia- less likely in this blazing hot and humid climate, but nevertheless,   he is always my protector, my encourager, my -go to – in disaster.

So when he said, “uh, Nanc”. I turned around.

His ashen face was staring at me, “I don’t feel so great.”

Now Em, John and Sam had quickly left the old folks in the dust, ambling up the cliff at a twenty something pace.  I felt a wee bit panicky, but calmly said to Dave,

“I’ll take the pack, you go ahead of me….I need to take this slow too.  Let’s just set a goal and then rest.”

Well after about only ten stairs , before our goal, Dave stopped.  When I looked at him, I was so upset inside…no water…no asprin…I’m a fool in flip-flops !  What could I have been thinking?

We rested, set a new goal and started off.  We made it to the next goal. Dave turned to me and said,

“I’m not used to being the weakest link, I don’t like being the weakest link.”

It wasn’t a hard stretch to make the inference…he was referring to our many trips together where I always was that weakest link.  I wasn’t irritated with him, but it made me determined to be there for him just has he always has been for me.

After the next goal and the resting, Dave started telling me that his neck was hurting and he was having difficulty focusing.  He said,

“If I start to go down, bend your knees, put your heels together to form a ‘V’, whatever you do, don’t let go of the chains…I’ll try to go backwards…that way you’ll be able to break my fall.”

He didn’t pass out, thank goodness.  I thought to myself and started praying that the kids, long at the top by now, would be getting worried.

John miraculously appeared suddenly, coming down the stairs.  He looked at me and said, “Did you fall?”

“No,I pointed to Dave and said, could you go back up and try to find anything to drink and maybe an aspirin and then bring it back?” Since my heart attack, aspirin has always been my best friend, but, on this trip, I was woefully unprepared.

He came back with two Gatorade bottles.  Dave started sipping.  Joyfully, I thought,

“He is going to make it, and so would I, as the strongest link in the chain, for the first time ever!”

PS  Some of you may be wondering what happened next.  We didn’t talk much about that scary episode until we were in the airport waiting for the return flight.  Dave wondered if the episode was a reaction to some medications.  I thought it probably was heat stroke and after reading ‘Elsie’s (LC) scary post about passing out on her trip’ I was more certain.  However, when we got home our Doc did order a stress test.  Everything was okay….thank God, because I need the strongest link in my life for as long as possible.  I guess come to think of it we need each other.

the ‘fall’