Sunday, November 19, 2017

365 Thanksgivings

Philippians 4:6, 7
In church this morning the sermon was, of course, about being thankful...after all, this week we celebrate the national Thanksgiving holiday. The preacher began his talk with a story. It started me thinking, which meant that about half the rest of his message flowed over me without penetrating my brain.

That's okay. The point in a sermon is to stir the congregation to thought and meditation upon the Word.

The story that opened the message was (and I summarize) this:

A woman who was married to a good man and had two children she dearly loved had, nonetheless, fallen into a state of mild, but pervasive, discontent. Her life seemed lacking in excitement and romance. Her days seemed to have become dreary. Seeking help, she visited a nun for advice. The kindly advice was that she should meditate each day upon one thing she was thankful for.

The woman began to follow this advice, whether or not she felt much like it. Her hobby was photography, so she took a photo each day to symbolize the thing she was thankful for that day. Gradually, her mood began to lighten. Then, one evening after dinner her husband, who was the cook in the family, set her dessert before her. She grabbed her camera to take a photo of the slice of pie and noticed that her slice was the largest. Something clicked in her mind. Her servings were always a little larger than that given to the rest of the family and her husband always presented them with a little smile. That was his way of showing his love for her. He was not the unromantic man she had labeled him.

Of course, the point of the story is that an awareness of the blessings all around us is awakened by stirring up our sense of thankfulness. And stirring up our sense of thankfulness awakens our awareness of the blessings all around us.

Today I am thankful for the message delivered in church this morning that stirred my thoughts toward living with thankfulness.

Monday, May 8, 2017


A few days ago I noted on Facebook that my son-in-law, Chad, was participating in a long cross-country bicycle race. In the past two years the weather on race day was cold, raining, and muddy. This year the weather was lovely and warm. I thought he was going to have a much more pleasant race experience. (He is, however, accustomed to biking in all kinds of weather. He is only deterred from outdoor biking or running by nasty winter weather. Then he does indoor biking or the treadmill.)

The race was Saturday. On Sunday the kids (well, they are kids to me) headed home. When Anne Marie called to tell me they were on the road, I asked how Chad's race went. Well. . . .

At least he came home alive.

Lest you think I am being overly dramatic, I am not.

The race course is not prepped to make biking easy. And this year a tractor had been along the course, leaving deep tire ridges in the drying mud from all the rain and snow we've had lately. Coming down a steep hill, Chad's front tire caught one of those ridges just wrong. Chad was thrown head-first over the handlebars. Coming down he was caught on the side of his neck by one of those big wooden wire-spools. There were also ends of rebar sticking out.  His trajectory ended in a drainage ditch full of water and he was completely submerged.

He is covered with various cuts, scratches, bruises, road rash, and very sore muscles.

But. . .

He did not break his neck.

He missed the rebar, has scratches from the wood, but his jugular was not pierced.

He did not drown.

He did have a long, slow trip back to base. There was some damage to his bike.

But we are more thankful than I can express that he is alive and well. He says that next year he may do the running of this cross-country race rather than the biking!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Old Photos, Old Memories

For the past few years I have been working on creating new albums for some of the old family photos. Some of these photos were handed down in our family, some were from an old album of our Mother's, some I even found on line, where they had been posted on Ancestry by other descendants of some of my ancestors.

A.G. "Red" McLaughlin, mid-1960s. He would have been in
his 50s. This is a pose very familiar to me.
Many of these photos were very small, had some flaws, or just needed a little brightening or other touch ups to bring out the picture more clearly. I scan these types of photos, work on them a little, and make prints for my new albums. I try to include as much information as I can about each photo, so this family history is preserved. Often dates are missing. Then I give it my best guess--and it has certainly taught me to date my own photos as I go along! I used to think I would always remember the occasions when I took photos; as I got older, I realized that I should have been dating things and I am careful to do that now.

When our Mother died, my eldest sister, Terry, undertook the job of going through Mother's collection of photos and separating out those that applied to each family (plus some that were more general) so that we each would have some of the originals. Others she scanned and has posted online so we each have access to them.

The two photos I am sharing today were in my packet of photos from Mother's albums. They were not dated, so by "internal evidence" my best guess is that these are from between 1964 and 1967. These two photos match in the type of paper they are printed on and other details, and I am sure they were taken the same day. If one of my sisters can date them more closely that would be great.

This was the companion photo to the one of Daddy. Obviously, we did not know we were being photographed. Mother (Rose) is about to take a sip of her coffee, Kathleen has her eyes down or closed, and I am gazing off to the side. But this photo helped in figuring out the approximate date of the pictures.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Goodbye, Big Jack

My daughter and son-in-law, Anne Marie and Chad, introduced a new member to the family approximately five years ago. His name was Jack and he was a mixed-breed rescue dog. They had been on a short trip to Rapid City, made a visit to the mall, and there he was. He was up for adoption, needing a new home after his former family had given him away.

Chad saw him and immediately bonded. They did not need another dog, because they had four already. But they just couldn't leave him there. He was a big older dog, severely overweight, and unlikely to find a forever home.

For the past five years Jack has had a happy home. He has been loved, been seen regularly by a vet, and had proper feeding so that his weight problems were brought under control. When he developed several health problems over the past year or so, Anne Marie and Chad took care that he had all the medical help available. This involved daily medications, as well as his vet visits.

Jack in 2012, not too long after he came to his forever home. He was still
a little overweight, but looking better than when they adopted him. Wish I
had a better photo showing his face.
Jack was a happy dog.

 In the summer Jack loved to spend the day outdoors. Even when he developed arthritis and stairs were a problem, he would laboriously climb all those stairs to my deck to visit when he heard me up there. Of course, he would then stand at the door to my house and wait expectantly for me to let him in, whether I was ready to go in or not. He would head straight for the living room where he knew there was a chew bone (kept for visits from the kids' dogs). He would stretch out on the floor (taking up a lot of space), perhaps nap a little. When it was time for him to go home he once again labored down the stairs. It was hard to watch that, but he was determined.

When I go down to Anne Marie's house, their young dog, Trixie, always runs to give me an enthusiastic greeting. Jack was usually stretched out on the floor resting, but would struggle up and come to me, patiently waiting for me to settle Trixie down, and give him some recognition and pets. He was a quiet dog, but determined.

His family loved him.

Yesterday Jack came to the end of his life, aged almost 13 years. Lots of tears have been shed.

Goodbye, Big Jack.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Those Memory Keys

This morning I was comfortably ensconced on my sofa reading a book, with the TV set to a Christmas music station for background ambiance. My attention was primarily on my book, but I suddenly had a mental snapshot from 1945.

White Christmas was playing, and it was one of those memory keys for me. You know what a memory key is--it could be a sound, a piece of music, a smell, a phrase in a book, a bit of scenery, or a photo. Whatever it is, it immediately keys into a memory and pops it into your mind.

That's what happened to me with White Christmas. Even though I was scarcely paying attention to the background music, a scene from the Christmas season of 1945 popped into my head.

Now for most of you 1945 is practically the Dark Ages. For me it was the year I turned four years old, WWII was winding down at last, our father was in the Army and overseas in the Philippines, and our mother had taken a teaching job in a little one-room country school (which I have previously written about). My sister Terry was in the 3rd grade, my sister Grace was in the 2nd grade, and, having nothing else to do with me during school hours, Mother was teaching me first grade. There were three other students in the school that year, whose regular homes were in the country.

Of course, this is not exactly the model we had,
but it is similar.
For people of this electronic age, it may be difficult to understand our excitement over a mail-order piece of equipment Mother got from Montgomery Ward shortly before Christmas. It was a wind-up portable phonograph (record player)! With it, she also got an album of records. Now records of that time were large disks with one song on each side. An album was a collection of several such disks, which fit into paper sleeves, bound between hard covers book-style. To play a song you wound up the record player, placed the chosen record on the turntable, turned it on, and carefully placed the needle on the outer rim of the record. I do not remember how many records could be played before it was necessary to rewind the phonograph, but I do remember how the sound slooooowed down, making the voices and music change comically, as the turntable moved slower and slower.

It was a magical thing for a four-year-old.

The scene that popped into my head this morning was in that one-room schoolhouse, with that little record player playing Bing Crosby singing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas."

Rose McLaughlin with her daughters, Terry, Michelle, and Grace, outside Teckla School

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Own Gold Mine

My deck is awash in gold.

This big old cottonwood tree is the kindly donor of all that gold.

Fall has its own beauty, but it always makes me a little sad. I love the light and colors of summer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sky Watching

I find cloudscapes beautiful and fascinating.

I am not a great photographer and I don't have any super equipment, but now and then I grab my camera and try to capture cloud or weather photos. Of course, the photos rarely live up to the reality, but I like these that I took the last week of July.

July 27, 2016--the big thunderheads moving in
No more blue sky.
Uh oh--that summer scourge, hail.
At least the hail was only pea-size.
Hail over, it went back to a lovely rain, which shows up as streaks in the photo.
July 29, 2016