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The Revenge of the Gretorogomus Greeble

Posted by on Jul 14, 2019 in Blog, Double Cousins, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 0 comments

The Revenge of the Gretorogomus Greeble

This morning I was stung by two wasps, four times. It reminded me of a very real incident in my life which I fictionalized into this story several years ago. The names of the innocent were changed, as were those of the guilty.       The Revenge of the Gretorogomus Greeble It was my own fault, I guess.  Mom had told me a couple thousand times to put shoes on before I went outside.  She told me all of the bad things that could happen if I didn’t.  Things like stubbing my toe or cutting my foot on a rock or glass.  I remember lots of things my mother told me before she died, but I sure don’t remember her mentioning the Gretorogomus Greeble. But, despite the warnings I like to go outside without my shoes.  I like being able to wiggle my toes.  I like the cool grass under my feet.  I even like walking on rocks.  Well, maybe not early in the spring but soon my feet “toughen up”. This afternoon dad had gone visiting.  He is a minister so he does that a lot.  My older sister Cathy, who is twelve, was put in charge.  Ha!  If my dad only knew. Cathy was mad at me which happens almost every day.  She thinks she can boss me around.  It’s always something, but today she insisted Dad had said we had to do the dishes. That was the last thing on my agenda.  I was going to enjoy the warm spring weather. “He didn’t tell me to do them.”  I slammed the back door. “Lori Alyssa McKenzie, you get back in here,” she screamed.  “He said WE were supposed to clean up the kitchen. I always get stuck with the work.” “So don’t do it.” I yelled back. I meandered across the yard, the new green grass tickling my feet.  It had rained again the night before and my dad had said, “This is the wettest late spring we have had in years.”  I believe him.  Being ten, I remember a bunch of springs, but none this green. Well, one minute I was thinking on the green, green world around me and the next my foot was on fire.  Not exactly literally.  There weren’t any flames or anything, but there should have been.  I howled in anger and pain, hopped a couple of steps, then plopped down to see what was wrong.  I saw what looked like a splinter, surrounded by a great welt raising right up in what my health teacher called the ball of my foot.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The pain got worse.  I screamed louder. “Cathy, help me!”  The back door banged open and my sister stood there with a dripping dish rag and glared at me. “My foot’s on fire!” I have to admit, the crowd gathered pretty fast.  My little brother, Kent, seven neighbor kids, plus Cathy hovered around; peering anxiously, but rather excitedly, at my foot. “Something attacked me!” “I heard that there are poisonous bugs around this year,” Cathy said, hands on her hips. Everyone’s eyes widened, their faces paled.  I stopped screaming. “Poisonous bugs,” I whimpered.  “What kind?” “Oh,” Cathy said, in her best teacher voice.  “I read about them in a book.  They bite people on the foot and...

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Old Photos, Mount Vernon, and Niblings

Posted by on Feb 27, 2019 in Blog, Double Cousins | Comments Off on Old Photos, Mount Vernon, and Niblings

Old Photos, Mount Vernon, and Niblings

Last week I spent quite a bit of time scanning old photos into my computer. It could have been tedious, but instead it was bittersweet and fun. The pictures were ones I took during the first ten years of Aunt-hood. They were photos of my niblings (the gender neutral term for nieces and nephews—something I learned from a niece just yesterday.)   When my oldest nieces graduated I started a tradition of giving them a scrapbook of their life. It is a lot of work, but definitely worth it. So far I have completed five of the twelve. The most recent to graduate have been waiting two years for theirs. Sigh. So, I decided to get on it.   After all, I can’t fail to follow through on this tradition. That’s the challenge to starting things like this. You have to be fair, now, don’t you? Which brings me to another event from last week, President’s Day. Last summer Bruce and I had the privilege of meeting my Marine nephew in VA and visiting George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. He was state-side for some training and only a few hours from us, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He was almost 22 and as I contemplated the last time I was at Mount Vernon, I realized I had been 22 at the time. Somehow it made it a bit more special. We had a great time, even though it rained ALL DAY LONG. Andrew said, “We are making more memories.” I told him that my goal for this trip was to make the switch from seeing him as an eight year old. After all, there are no eight year old marines.   When the niblings were each eight, or thereabouts, my sister and I would take them on what we ingeniously called “the eight year old trip.” Thankfully, we recently completed the last one ever. We treasured every one of those five trips, but they were a project and like I said before. . . once we started the tradition, it had to be finished! Apparently I wasn’t the only one reminded of those trips. When I was sharing with my parents via phone about our trip with Andrew, my second niece Megan—sitting in my parent’s dining room—chimed in. “I didn’t realize you were offering twenty-two-year-old trips!”   “I’m not,” I said.  “Unless you get deployed overseas and fly in some place within driving distance. Then, I’ll come see you.”   Guess she took it to heart. She is graduating this Spring with an online degree from Liberty University in VA and will be coming out for the ceremony. Yep. Aunt Miriam and Uncle Bruce will be there. But just to be clear, we aren’t offering twenty-four-year-old trips...

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Blessing in a Really Bad Idea

Posted by on Feb 4, 2019 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Blessing in a Really Bad Idea

About two years ago, my sister-in-law Ginny suggested that we make a quilt together. She is a quilter and a friend had given her quite a bit of material with teapots on it and she thought of me. Now, my reaction was not very appreciative, I admit. I think I might have laughed out loud. Not a joyful laugh, a sarcastic “what are you thinking-don’t you know who you are talking to—let me share a little more about myself” laugh. After all, I am not on good terms with sewing machines, material, needles, thread. . . any of those things. My mom and home economics teacher did their best, but it didn’t take.   But I didn’t say no. After my initial negative response, I tried to be interested. She persisted. I resisted. She persisted.   Two years ago this May Bruce had half of his thyroid removed. Ginny, because she is an awesome sister-in-law and because this is what she does when someone is waiting at the hospital, came to sit with me. But she came prepared. She brought several pieces of The Material to show me.   I have to admit I was a bit more enthused and quickly—I know, it’s too late to say quickly—agreed to do it. We set a date to start.   When I arrived and we went to Ginny’s amazing quilt making room upstairs I was like a fish out of water. I was also lost in a brain fog and was having difficulty even coming to terms with what I was about to take part in. She pointed to some material and said that it would need ironed. I could do that. I actually enjoy ironing.   Here are some of the things I learned while working on the quilt.   Ironing is relaxing and helps me get rid of stress.                I enjoy the creativity of choosing different materials to put together in a square.                I would rather pick the materials and iron than actually cut the material.                Sewing machines still don’t like me.                My sister-in-law is a dear friend. So, it took us a year, but we finished it on August 17th. I was really excited to get it done, because I wanted to take it home to SD and to the reunion in NE to show all of my family. We have a lot of seamstresses in our family and several quilt makers. I could just imagine how impressed they were going to be with my tied quilt, even if it was smaller than a twin bed—a throw quilt. Of course, as it happened I got it done just in the nick of time. August 22nd we got the call that Daddy had suffered another stroke and he would be going to heaven soon. So, we quickly packed the car and left the next morning, the quilt in the back seat.   When we arrived at the hospice house we brought the quilt in. I knew I would be spending the night and I wanted my quilt. Besides, I wanted to show my family. It was an instant hit. The air conditioning felt cold that evening and the batting we put in the quilt is very heavy. (Ginny was afraid it would be too heavy...

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Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Over the past few years I’ve experienced an uncomfortable shift. It started when several of my friend’s dads/husbands graduated to heaven. These were men who had a great impact on my life. They were faithful men who loved their families and their God. In the past two years, just among my Jones cousins, we lost three of our parents. Three people who have ALWAYS been in our lives. Just a couple of weeks ago, a cousin’s husband lost his epic battle with MS and last year another cousin’s 9 year old daughter lost her battle with DIPG. Every day I see it on Facebook and in the news. Parents, siblings, grandparents, children. .  . On and on it goes. I know this is life. After all, I am in that uncomfortable middle age where the parents are leaving us and we are left with the realization that the generation between us and death is shrinking. Of course, for me, like a tectonic plate shifting underground leaving big cracks in the earth, the earthquake of my own father’s death on August 30th changed my life forever.And now, I face a question many others before me have asked. We know we must go on. But how? How do we live in a world without them? How is that even possible? One of the difficult things for me is the realization that the future generations of my family will never know my dad. Much like the dismay I often feel when I realize that my husband never met any of my grandparents except Grandma Jones and Grandma Elizabeth, it makes me so sad. Even my youngest niece and nephew won’t have the memories of Daddy that the older ones have. The majority of their memories are of a grandpa unable to talk, struggling to stand, tucked into bed where they would climb up and hug him goodnight. But the Grandpa who at 75 raced his grandson across the picnic ground. . . they don’t remember that. I remember Grandpa McKnight expressing these same feelings. “Susie,” he said to me one day, a wistful tone in his voice. “I sure wish you could have known your Grandma McKnight’s Grandpa Stover. He was a wonderful man.” Then he brightened and said, “But someday in heaven you will!” Then he pumped his fist in the air and shook with unshed tears. I guess this sadness is normal, or at least hereditary. Something happened with my husband and my grandparents, though, that encourages me. It is no secret that I am a storyteller. A talker. A reminiscer. (Yes, I just made up a word.) Bruce has heard me tell the same stories over so many times, and my family has talked about being Grandpa McKnight’s “favorite oldest South Dakota granddaughter” and other Grandpa-isms that Bruce has internalized it. He will say, “Grandpa McKnight would have liked that.” And he is right. I could share similar stories about the things he has learned about my other grandparents. We can keep them alive in the minds of those that come behind with the stories, the memories, their quirks, their strengths, and maybe even their weaknesses. As I was thinking about this today I pulled out an old journal book to use for another purpose. I read the last...

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Comfort Food Without Calories!

Posted by on Oct 25, 2018 in Blog, Double Cousins, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Comfort Food Without Calories!

Yesterday I went to the library. I needed to return books and audio books, some of which were overdue.  I admit it. I am terrible at getting books back to the library on time. But, the way I look at it I’m helping fund the library with the fines. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. One of the books I returned was The Middle Moffat by Eleanor Estes. It is an older book, first published in 1942 and set in Cranberry Connecticut during World War I. When I saw it on the shelf in the children’s section I had to take it home. You see, it was one of my childhood favorites. Janey Moffat is a middle child (like I was) and she lost a parent (like I did). She was imaginative, very brave even though she was a bit insecure. She was kind and generous. She loved to tell stories, imagine stories, and didn’t miss a thing that was going on in the neighborhood. Another big character in the book is The Oldest Inhabitant—a 99 year old Civil War vet who lives in their town. Janey, quite by accident strikes up a friendship with the man and that was one of the highlights of the book for me. I find it interesting to read my favorite childhood books again in adulthood. There is comfort there and it opens my eyes to the reality that the books I read as a child informed who I am today. I found myself laughing several times as I read and laughing feels so good right now. So, this time at the library I went to another favorite set of books, The Trixie Belden Mysteries. I had hoped to find book two there last time I went, but failing that I ordered it on Amazon and now I was ready for book three. So, my current “read in progress” is Trixie Belden –The Gatehouse Mystery by Julie Campbell. Why am I reading children’s books? It isn’t because I don’t have other deeper books sitting in piles around my house waiting for me to pay them some attention. It isn’t even that I am a children’s author and need to do research (although that is an awesome excuse, isn’t it?) No, plain and simple, these books are what I call comfort food in the book world. Since my Daddy went to heaven I haven’t had the focus needed to read a book. But, then I discovered that I could read these favorites from childhood. Not only are they simple plots, easy to read, but they take me back to my childhood. The one where my Daddy lived. What about you? What is your favorite childhood read? Please share here! Maybe you will even want to read it...

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The Things Daddy Taught Me

Posted by on Sep 16, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Things Daddy Taught Me

Marvin B Jones 1932-2018 I wrote this several years ago for my blog, then it was published in my book All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. When I showed it to Daddy he shook his head and said, “I’m not sure I know that guy.” That was Daddy. Humble. On August 30th I stood at his bedside in hospice with my husband, my sister, and niece as he took his last breath and just like that he was with Jesus. We are so thankful his suffering is over and that he is with Jesus. WOW! Daddy is with Jesus! Incredible!!!! But still, how do we live in this world without him? The same way he taught us. . . by the principles in God’s word. I trust this is an encouragement to you. All I can say is I have been blessed “exceeding abundantly above all that I could have asked or thought.” Thank you Jesus for my Daddy. Help me follow his example by keeping my eyes focused on YOU.   Three Things My Dad Taught Me I’ve heard that a girl gets her view of God from her father. For some of us that’s not a good thing. For others, like me it turns out to be a wonderful gift. My daddy has been the most influential person in my life. Without him I wouldn’t be. Without his love I wouldn’t fully understand the love of God. Without the discipline he meted out I wouldn’t know the security of limits or understand the importance of a disciplined life. Almost everything he taught me fits into one of three categories. The first thing he taught me was decision making. To live a successful life we must determine right from wrong, the best from the not-so-good.  By example my dad taught me a simple rule of thumb. Every decision in life should be made based on the absolute principles found in God’s Word, the Bible. That may sound simplistic but it isn’t. Or maybe it is. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” covers a lot of decisions about how to act toward others (more on that later). Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. . . that gives the skinny on what to do if someone hurts you.  “…Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” That one covers all of the bad things we can do to our bodies. What about money decisions? It’s there. There are principles for marriage, for work ethics, for raising children, dealing with employees and employers, friends, enemies—it’s all there. Over and over my dad would point out what was wrong with a situation, why—using the Bible principle—and what would be a better approach. He didn’t focus on a list of do’s and don’ts, just Bible principles. Oh sure, there are definite do’s and don’ts in the Bible but often there are grey areas, things that aren’t so clearly spelled out. My dad taught us—from Bible principles, of course—a few questions you can ask yourself when in a quandary.  First, will it glorify God? If the answer is no, don’t do it. This is found in I Corinthians 10:31, “whether ye eat or drink or whatever you do, do...

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So, Take Your Medicine

Posted by on Aug 15, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

So, Take Your Medicine

In all of the cleaning out we did this past week, I found an old yellow note pad. The top few pages were a hand-written scene from my first book! Next on the pad was this. Since I have been a nurse now for 33 years it is obvious this was written around 15 years ago. But, I have to say, with all the changes in nursing, this has not changed. I hope you enjoy this humorous piece of nursing life. So, Take Your Medicine In eighteen years of nursing I have given a lot of pills. In fact, if I had a dollar for every pill I’ve given, well, that would be a lot of dollars! I have seen many changes in health care, not the least of which is the medications. For instance, the antacid thing. Was Tagamet before or after Pepcid? Wasn’t Pepcid the first “pretty purple pill” or was that Prilosec?   Anyway, in thinking back over all of those pills I can’t help but remember the pill takers, AKA patients. Since I personally observed all of these pills being swallowed—we are supposed to stand there and watch until the pill actually goes down—I have seen it all, and believe me, there are as many different ways to take pills as there are generations of penicillin.   First, of course, and every busy nurses favorite is the chug them all down at once method. You throw the entire cup of pills into your mouth at once, and swallow them down with a huge swig of your favorite liquid. This was my dad’s preferred method until one became lodged sideways in his esophagus providing him with a painfully memorable trip to the emergency room. Now he has joined the camp of the one by one crowd as well as the cut anything bigger than an aspirin in half fans.   Another area of difference is what goes in the mouth first, the pills of the water. Some can’t stand the taste of pills, or the pills stick to their tongue, so they take a drink first, then tip their head back and dump the pill/pills in. I’ve tried this but always ended up either choking or losing all the liquid the minute I opened my mouth. I guess some coordination is required here. The opposite of course is the pill first, then the water to flush it down. This doesn’t work for people with a dry mouth.   Two other variations are particularly interesting, (and if I’m stressed, entertaining.) The first is that group of people who manually “help” the pill on down. Some use their index finger to push the pill to the back of their mouth before trying to swallow. Last week, I had a patient who appeared to assist the pill right on down to her stomach! Amazing to watch. It reminded me of a stork or some other bird. Isn’t there a story in Aesop’s Fables about a stork and a narrow necked jar? But I digress. The hardest for me to watch is the I can’t swallow them so I just chew them up crowd. It makes me shudder to think of the taste of all of those blood pressure, anti-plaque, antacid, thyroid, and “gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right...

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All Our Ducks in a Dumpster

Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 6 comments

All Our Ducks in a Dumpster

  A couple of mornings ago as I sat at my computer researching topics about which I need to know more, I remembered an article I wrote almost twenty years ago. It was never published and I thought it might be something I could spiff up and send out to a magazine. I knew it was somewhere in the files of my computer, but where?   Every time I get a new computer, I have Bruce move my files to the new one. It’s kind of like pulling a moving van up to the house and putting everything in:  trash, junk, things you don’t want—and  of course the ones you do.   So, now you know I’m not a very organized computer person. I do have some folders I’ve developed over the years for my books and speaking, but there is this massive file called “WRITING” that is kind of like the junk drawer in the kitchen or the back bedroom. It gets all the homeless, left-over pieces.   I started looking through the file and came upon documents that obviously belonged in another existing folder. So I moved them. Then I found documents that are clearly no longer necessary to keep, so I deleted them. Yes, I did.   As I worked through the file I couldn’t help but think of the process we are undertaking this week. Yesterday morning a dumpster was deposited at our house by our trash company. I am beyond excited for this grand cleaning out. It’s a big step for us. We are cleaning out the back bedroom, the one that gathered all of the things we didn’t know what to do with. Quilting things that belonged to his mother. Old family items. Some of his brothers’ things. Old blankets. A worn out single mattress. You get the picture.   We’ve even found a few treasures like two antique portable typewriters and a lifetime supply of thread in every color imaginable! Some things, like the treasures, we are finding necessary to keep. Others we will put in the pile to donate to the Salvation Army or give to family. And the rest will go in the dumpster. When we finish in that room we will move on to the basement to clean out the excess storage there. When done we’ll have space for the things we have in a storage unit. At least that’s the plan.   For the first time in our marriage we will have all our stuff in one house. I’m certain we won’t every become minimalists, and I know it doesn’t mean we will have all our ducks in a row, but it’s a start, isn’t it? Isn’t...

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My Right Guard

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

My Right Guard

I was blessed this year to be able to visit Daddy for Father’s Day. I don’t take for granted any opportunity to spend time with him, especially since he suffered those two nasty strokes a few years ago. We are travelling the roads more often these days, but being with him on Father’s Day, that was special. That morning I stood beside the bed helping Mom get Daddy ready for his day. Mostly I stood around and watched because Mom is so good at caring for him, but I tried to be proactive and figure out what came next. I’m telling you, caring for someone at home is much different than hospitals. In hospitals we don’t have clothes. We have hospital gowns, and in case you haven’t been around one lately, I’ll let you in on a secret. They are open in the back. Real clothes are much harder to deal with. Anyway, I stood there and watched as Mom grabbed the deodorant. As the aerosol floated through the air, the scent brought a flood of nostalgia to me. (Did you know that smell is the most nostalgic of all of the senses? It’s true.) Anyway, before even seeing the can, the words “Right Guard” flew into my mind. I glanced over to where Mom was placing the can back on the dresser and sure enough, it was Right Guard. I grinned. Then, as frequently happens my mind took the idea and ran with it. I realized that not only has Daddy used Right Guard for as long as I can remember, he has always been my Right Guard, from the moment I was born. Let me share how. First, he was Right on Guard when I was little to make sure I was safe. He would hold my hand when we crossed the street. When my parents traveled by train from California to Nebraska with two preschoolers, they each took one of us to be in charge of. They were on it. Daddy had rules about where we could ride our bikes . . . to keep us safe. He paid attention to what we said when we came home from school and if something sounded wrong, he marched right in there to talk to the teacher. I always felt safe when Daddy was there. When I was little he told me that they had stopped the Korean War when he was in basic training because they heard he was coming. Of course he was kidding, but I believed him. When we were old enough to drive, he was Right on Guard to make sure we knew how to change a tire; change the oil; never, never, never pick up a hitchhiker; and don’t get in a hurry  to turn into traffic. If you wait you will always have an opportunity to go when it is safe. Not only was he Right on Guard, but he was a Right Guard. His rules had reasons. His policies were based on common sense and Bible principles. Many of them he had learned from his parents and he passed them on to us. And he didn’t expect us to follow rules that he wouldn’t follow. (Unless of course, the rules were there because we were young and immature.) Finally, he was...

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Being A Nurse – What I Like Best

Posted by on Jul 25, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Being A Nurse – What I Like Best

I was thinking the other day about what I would say if someone asked what I liked best about being a nurse. You would think that after thirty-plus years I would have a favorite thing. So I thought about it awhile and this is what I came up with. It isn’t just that I can help people and make a difference in their lives. Oh, don’t get me wrong. That is a big part of why I like nursing, but it isn’t my favorite. After all, I am a caregiver at heart and I do love helping people. There is something so satisfying about knowing that your care has made a difference to somebody. This knowing is a precious gift to the caregiver! It also isn’t just because it is a great career. I didn’t know when I started nursing just how great it was! I thought I might like it, but I had no idea that it would be something with which I could support myself. Not only could I support myself, but I could do it on such a schedule that I could pretty much do anything else I wanted to do in life. There are so many types of nursing that you really can pick your schedule. True, there are the 12 hour shifts, but when you are young that is an advantage in many ways. I loved not being at work five days a week. And, as a “PRN” nurse where I set my own schedule in exchange for not getting benefits/not getting guaranteed hours, I could be at any church or family function I wanted to be.  It worked for me. I have often told people that nursing was a job I absolutely loved doing and it made the rest of my non-work life possible. My favorite part of being a nurse isn’t even that I value being a part of a team. That is a fantastic thing. Teamwork is vital in nursing. I have worked in places where it was perfect, and in other places where it was more challenging. I can tell you that if the teamwork is present, it is a beautiful thing. It is so very rewarding to be part of a team that can care for people and save lives, all while supporting and working as a well-oiled machine. Those moments are golden. So, after sharing several things that are wonderful, but NOT my favorite, let me share what is. It is something I have come to realize over the past few years more and more. My favorite part of being a nurse is the patients. People aren’t at their best when they come to the hospital. They are sick. They are scared. Their minds are often not clear. They depend on the nurse to make sure they are given the best care they can receive. That is a big responsibility, but also a huge privilege. I love asking the older ones what they did before they retired. (I had an 89 year old patient tell me the other day, rather indignantly, that he HADN’T retired yet. His wife rolled her eyes.) It puts a different perspective on the person in the bed if you can relate to who they are outside of the hospital. I also like to...

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