Monthly Archives: July 2013

Finishing the race…


I’ve been avoiding this story, but this is the time that I need to tell it.  This is about the time that my wonderful God, saved my life and whispered in my ear. The turn of events, could not be ever considered random, only something that could have been orchestrated by my heavenly father who loves me like I am the only one on the planet.  And to think that he loves everyone on the planet like he loves me.  It is incomprehensible…staggering.

Four years ago we were up in our family cabin for a few short days over the 4th of July.  It was bittersweet because none of our children were with us on this quick trip and it really didn’t seem right.  Our lives were changing …our daughter was getting married, out-of-state in two weeks.  Our son was with friends as always and our daughter Kelly had moved out a year earlier.  We left the day after the fireworks and I remember Dave remarking as we left that I looked so forlorn, like I’d never see the place again.  I think I might have said something like, it will never be the same again.  He, like me, was already missing our daughter who had been our roomie again for two years after college, teaching in the same school district as both of us.  I really didn’t want to leave,  but I had a class to teach the next day.

We got back home and I taught class the next day.  Dave asked if he could take me out to lunch at an outdoor cafe and then he wanted to go window shopping at Home Depot.  Usually I love looking at tools and lumber all stacked up neatly.  But today I felt really pretty sick to my stomach.  We got home and I started lesson planning and the pain increased through my chest.  I thought maybe I should take a walk and it would go away.  So I walked to Jewel and back.  I started lesson planning again.  Dave was playing in the garage.  I finally went out to see what he was doing.  He told me he was making a new work bench.  “Oh,” I said and then walked back in the house.  I felt mad inside, and I didn’t know why.

I went back outside and said, “Why are you doing that….don’t you remember my dad said, he wanted you to take his workbench that my Grandpa made so long ago?” I stormed back in the house, thinking about what I had just said, my dad had probably said that to me five years earlier and probably had never said anything to Dave…  The pain at this point was extremely intense.  I started thinking about  my blue-eyed Grandpa, he had five heart attacks in his life before he died of throat cancer.  I thought…I wonder if …

I walked out into the garage and said to Dave calmly.  I am having a heart attack.  Bring me to the hospital.  He must have seen determination in my eyes.  He got in the car.  I got in the car.

We got to the ER and all you have to say in line is….I think I’m having a heart attack and you are immediately in front.  I never saw a team work together so effectively.  I was hooked up, questioned, given nitro.  My blood pressure was sky-high.  They keep saying that my EKG looked good.  I started feeling better.  I started feeling like myself.  My pressure was still high when the Dr. came in with the lab results.  She said, I have some good and bad news.  You will have to stay overnight.  You have had a heart attack.  It looks like it was minor.  “What? Where was the good news?”  I’m thinking she thought it was the minor part.  I was scared.

It was at that exact moment I heard an audible whisper in my left ear.  “Don’t worry, Nancy, I’m not finished with you on earth yet.”  Some  of you may scoff and say it was really me saying it to myself.  But I know my voice and it was not my voice and Dave was sitting on the right side and it wasn’t his voice.  And it wasn’t the Dr.’s voice who had just given me this startling news.  It was God.


The next day I had a stress test that read funny for some reason.  Then did an angiogram to see if my heart had been damaged.  There was absolutely no damage.  I had things left to do.  I had a wedding to go to.  I had a class to finish teaching.  I had guests to serve at our care center.  I had four more years of Buddy Days to do.  I had a son to encourage in grad school .  I had a foster daughter that needed to become my ‘for real daughter’.  I had a husband to love  and care for longer.  I had a grand-daughter to meet.  I had even a different continent to see.  My race was not finished.

Many of you who read my blog know that my sweet mother-in-law passed away in June.  In the hospital with her I had a flash back to this scene four years ago.  At one point, I knew she was so scared…I felt it in my bones.  I looked at her and said, “Remember your verses…he is with you.”  Our sweet children were all there.  Kelly put a cross in her hands.  I felt her physically relax with this kind act.  While we were in the hospital room, I kept hoping her prognosis would get better, but in that moment of her peace I chose to believe that God whispered to her…”today you will with me in our heavenly home.”  

2 Timothy 4:7

New International Version (NIV)

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

the gardener


he sows his ideas when snows blanket,image

he plants tenderly,

loving variety, but usually in threes,

he mulches to keep the weeds at bay,

but of course he still needs to grab

that pesky weed,

that looms… despite

the care .

he inspects the view

and then drives

the worn shovel

when the flower doesn’t make sense,image

or doesn’t thrive.

the gardener searches for a new

place for his precious friend.

he never rests,

he always is scheming,

dreaming of new beds,

new vistas for growth,

brand new ways to love, nurture and care.

….dedicated to my gardener of 36 years, thank you for the color and joy you bring to my life…


how my writing rolls


Lately, I’ve been saying to myself, “just write short…this is July…it is kind of a vacation…even Ruth and Stacy have taken a break from the every day writing…your friends, your family…they think you are goofy about this thing, this dream you have…writers don’t become writers at 57”  The voice in my head fights with my fingers and sometimes they feel confused and slack.

I vaguely remember last year when we were presenting our new rubrics that one teacher raises her hand and says what is the format?  Where are the organizers?  My kids need to write with an outline.  Murmurs of agreement, head nodding begins in the crowd of primary teachers.  “No, my co-presenter says, we have not provided organizers that students must use.” I look at her smiling and say, “Not everyone does pre-planning and students brainstorm in different ways.”  We are however, encourage notebook use to gather seeds, or ideas.”  I’m not seeing any head nods.  I move forward and look at the ‘organized teacher’, the disdain creasing her face and say, “We know that many work better when they are pre-planned and of course you can help a student see what works best for them.”

Last night I am talking about my middle age novel that I’ve been working on for a season or so.  I mentioned to Dave that I was going to try to just finish it in the next four weeks before school and then start having people I trust read and comment.  Then without waiting for a response I started talking about the character motivation, historical context, main theme and events transpiring.  When I sit down to write, I feel most of the time it just comes out without any pre-planning.  Dave is an avid reader and poet who just happens to love digging in the dirt and creating his poetry in a different fashion these days.

He looks over at me and says,

“hmm, it sounds like you have lots of things going on up there (meaning my head), maybe you should get a bulletin board and sticky it with different colors for the characters and then list things that you want to happen with them.  Wouldn’t you like to have a line somewhere so you can decide about the climax and events leading up to and then coming after?   Don’t you even want somewhere where you can store some of the brain matter? If it was me, I’d want something concrete to give me guidance.”

I say, “I really do like the idea of colors for the characters and it does make sense to write down ideas as I think of them.  Maybe I could have a wad of stickies… put them in my pocket, stick some in the bathroom and by my hairdryer (I always get the best ideas there), down by the nordic track, in my Bible, near the granola, out by the purple chair and in the glove compartment.  Then I would just have to have a new purple purse strapped on my shoulder so I could collect and organize them for my new bulletin board.”  In my mind I see colorful stickies and ideas flying all over my neighborhood like pesky mosquitoes.

He says,”Maybe you are more of an ‘everything notebook’ type of person.

I smile and nod my head.

Today’s mission:   plot line

PS  So…  How does your writing roll?  Do you plan or do you roll? I’m really pretty curious.

2013’s weakest link


If you’ve read my musings for over a year, you may recall that Dave last year was the ‘weakest link’ on one hike in Costa Rica.  The humidity and soaring temperatures in the rainforest created this weak- in-the knees person that I have never experienced before.  On the first hike of our trip last week, I reclaimed my title as 2013’s weakest link.  I will tell you the facts that led up to me winning the title.

We have loved the Rocky mountains all of our lives together.  We have spent just about every year visiting for 37 years now.  We have back- packed, car camped, camper camped and this year condo camped (that means at night we came back to a room with a bed a shower and WiFi).  It is still kind of hard for me to admit that we didn’t sleep out near a small stream or cooked on the Coleman stove., but this year we flew to Denver, rented a car and got up to the mountains…fast!

The second day I wanted to go back to Maroon Bells, a mountain chain that we had spent time at when our kids were small.  The access back then was a small curvy road  making its way through the national forest to the Bells.  This small campground was near Maroon Creek and located outside of Aspen.  I loved the quiet, the out house bathrooms of the forest back then.  It was so different from the wealthy town of Aspen where movie stars walk the streets.  No one was even in the small campground with us.  It was like our own personal mountain resort, and I loved it.

So last week we woke up early in Avon and make our way down south to Maroon Bells.  My first shock was the traffic jam heading into the Bells.  For about 5 miles we were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.  Finally, on the west side of Aspen we saw Maroon Creek Road.  We head north on a two lane road, I expect it to be bumpy , it wasn’t.  It was smooth as molasses and there were at least 4 cars ahead of us and 4 cars behind.

About 2 miles in to the left of us I gaze at this gorgeous-three -block long, log cabin. It was an immense structure.  I knew it wasn’t a national forest head quarters, that’s for sure.  It was this  a 5 star resort with ski stores, bike stores, many restaurants and busses standing in wait in front of it.  A sign told us that we needed to take a bus up for the mountain view.  We were told, after purchasing of round trip tickets that cars were ruining the mountain flora, so now there is a shuttle system.   We joined a happy bus load up to the mountain.  I wasn’t really that happy.  What happened to my pristine memory?  It  had aged, just…like…me.

We went up and then were told that we could take two hikes.  One sounded like a granny hike, which I should have taken, because I am a granny and then the other hike went up to another lake for a different, closer view of the mountain.  Dave, loving the mountain air and crisp temperatures started walking quickly to the ‘moderate’ hike.  My husband really hates crowds and was really determined that we could maybe take the less traveled hike.  Well, that wasn’t exactly the case…we passed many people coming down as we made the steady up climb.  Many a teenaged hiker passed us on the left hysterically laughing at the ease of the hike.  I even noticed one wearing flip-flops over the rocky terrain.  

“I hope he falls…right on his face; it would serve him right,”  I muttered to myself.

During the up of the hike, Dave moved steadily and would stop every so often to allow me to catch up a bit.  He definitely didn’t wait for and I was glad that he was doing okay with the altitude change.  I was not.  I cannot breathe through my nose because of my deviated septum and knew I sounded like I was hyper-ventilating.  One kind gentleman told us that we only had about ten minutes more…need I say it…the hardest ten minutes of the last year, were those ten minutes.

We finally got to the pristine lake littered with exhausted bodies around it.  Dave, of course, has to get out from all the bodies, so we end up hiking about another thirty minutes to be alone.  We relaxed, I started breathing right, ate some jerky  and then started back.  Dave has short legs, I have long.  He is like a mountain goat on the down hill-side.  He is sure-footed and very fast.  My knees hurt and I don’t have a great center of gravity.  In other words, I’m clumsy.  It is not good to be clumsy on the down.  The end is in sight.  There are two paths near the end of the hike that fork….a lower by the lake and an upper looking down.  We take the upper, because again….less people.  The upper finally links to the lower by a small path which Dave takes.

It is less rocky, so smooth I decide to jog it.  Big mistake.  I feel my legs going faster than my upper body.

I skid, I say to myself….”I’m going down, literally down.”

I spy some grass, determined to land there instead of smack dab in front of the other hikers to the right of me on the other path.

I land on the grass okay, but after all, they don’t call it the ‘Rocky Mountains’ for no reason.

I fall, not face first, but chest first.

I do a back bend with my arms up, my legs up and my right chest down.  I have never had the wind knocked out of me this way before.

Dave comes back.

I look at him and breathlessly say, “weakest link.”

“What hurts?” he inquires.

“Pride,” I think.  I say, “I landed on Hermie (code for right boob).”

He didn’t say anything to that, but I know that he was thinking, now that’s some nice padding!

PS  There were no more big hikes on our trip because I felt like I was run over by a truck.  However, one week later I am breathing easy in the flat lands again…so I guess the moral of this story is don’t run down  a steep path in order to catch up with a husband that always is going to be the fastest….or you too will become the ‘weakest link’.

PSS Next week a pic of the never changing Maroon Bells, I promise.

a sweatshirt tale

love to write, love to think, love to SLICE... please join our community

love to write, love to think, love to SLICE… please join our community

I stared at my side of our walk in closet .  My husband’s, orderly side just was so pleasing to me, colors were coordinating in a long hue, the pants hung correctly so the creases would remain creased, laundry in the basket, even the shoes lined up  shining, in a mocking sort of way, at my disaster on the other side.  So I sat down and decided that I would give my side at least fifteen minutes of straightening time.

I started at the bottom where the shoes really should be.  I started to pull out things that weren’t supposed to be on the floor of the closet.  I pulled on the cuff of a blue soccer sweatshirt that is unraveling.  I really should toss it, I know, but it reminds me of my favorite old Breck sweatshirt that had cuffs exactly in the same disrepair.  I briefly thought about Jeff’s puppy because she was the one that ruined the cuffs on both of the sweatshirts. Niia puppy was the craziest girl I’ve ever raised, well almost the craziest.  This led to picturing my curly-haired, almost grown up girl, who lives in her own place now in the city.

oh…back to the cleaning…back to the deciding whether I should toss the blue sweatshirt…why do my thoughts turn to my first love…my old grey sweatshirt?

I used to wear my favorite sweatshirt every night after school, unless I had to go somewhere.  It was a heavy sweatshirt with a five inch banded hem .  It didn’t gather up or bunch like most sweatshirts, it was flat and smooth down to the hips. The front lettering said Breckenridge on it. You should know, Colorado is my favorite state, out of the fifty.   I  should also mention that I  loved the large, peeling letters that reminded me of camping- of family love.  Oh how I loved this sweatshirt.  I would never retire it.

Every once in a while, when Kelly was home from college, I’d be out and about and would come home to see Kelly wearing my Breck sweatshirt.  One thing you need to know is, Kelly is about half my size and really looked good in my favorite article of clothing.  I am not a person who minds when people wear my clothes and almost would share anything with anyone at any time,  but when I would see her borrowing my Breck, I felt selfish inside, which isn’t exactly like me.  I didn’t really analyze it deeply, because after all, to anyone else, this was just my ratty old sweatshirt.

But maybe it was because it reminded me of all those vacations out west before Kelly was a member of our family, maybe it was jealousy that she was getting to wear it and then I couldn’t… but one thing was for sure… she was growing to love it as much as I did.  I noticed that every time she would wear it, she would wash it and fold it nicely for me.  She cared about it, she cared about me.  One day, as she was getting ready for another apartment move in Chicago, she was home wearing it,  I suddenly told her that she could take it back with her to her new place.  The words just popped out so quickly.  I didn’t ponder losing it at all.

“Really? she cried,  you just love it so much, I can’t believe it!”  It was like I gave her gold, a gift from one pack rat to another.

I know that, after reflection, my grey, old sweatshirt represented much more than an article of clothing to my precious Kelly, it represented love… and we both knew it.  Funny how one ratty, old, unraveling sweatshirt knit our hearts that day.

My thoughts turned to my present mission.  I stuffed the blue sweatshirt back with the rest of the clutter; my fifteen minutes were done.  The important job of the day wasn’t exactly accomplished, but I closed the door quickly and decided to check in on Kelly instead.