Yaks and Origami

For most of the month of November we’ve been volunteering at a faith-based camp on the Texas gulf. Palacios by the Sea is a lovely little spot in the universe. So low-key and friendly. About 4600 folks call Palacios home. It’s bordered by a lovely bay that connects to the Gulf of Mexico. By the way, for those of you word nerds who need to know how Palacios is pronounced: Puh-lash-us



There is a walking sidewalk that runs a couple miles along the bay. Any given moment you will see locals fishing on the piers or on this path. Or…standing in the water!! Every morning you will see locals walking or jogging along this path as the sun welcomes them to a new day. Every evening, same thing. Always a stunning ”good night” from the creator of sunsets.

We were serving with another couple, friends of ours from years gone by. We built a carport. We served three meals/day the first week for a convention of private school children and their sponsors from Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, etc. (really fun, friendly group). We painted, we repaired ceilings and walls. We varnished starting blocks for swimming competitions. We did what we were asked to do, and it’s such a blessing to serve in such simple behind-the-scenes ways. Serving Jesus by helping others.

And, we had time off. The four of us volunteers visited Port Aransas and surrounding area. And we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon on the beach at Matagorda. By the way, if you’re looking for a quiet absolutely GORGEOUS beach area, Matagorda Beach provides just that. It’s part of the Lower Colorado River Authority. Which as it turns out is just a river in Texas, the Lower Colorado. No connection to THE Colorado River. Anyway, it’s a gorgeous area where the Lower Colorado spills into the Gulf of Mexico.

One of us, unidentifiable due to the wonderful warm bright orb in the sky. Walkable, very long, clean beach. You can drive your vehicle right onto it. But ya need 4 wheel drive to get through the sand dunes. Yes you do.

And, after our work day us two gals, Karen and I, had leisurely time available to do whatever we wanted without the presence of the pesky (but wonderful) men in our lives. We didn’t venture too far from Palacios, and most of the time we just enjoyed the bay that surrounded the camp where we were serving. Very relaxing and the walks burned calories. Between work and walks this old chick burned more calories than I had in quite some time.

Speaking of burning calories, nothing compared to the afternoon we decided to kayak in the bay. Karen has two unique kayaks that she carries with her in their motorhome. They are ”fold up“ Kayaks. Ever heard of such? Well it consists of a flat piece of firm plastic with firm plastic rudders and all the necessary attachments to make it usable. How does that all work? Well I dubbed it as being an Origami kayak. You fold it up here and there and then pull metal hooks onto the appropriate metal things, objects, dealios, I don’t know the exact terminology. But then there are cotter pins or other bungie type cords that hook on to the metal hookages to keep them secure. Do you have ANY idea what I’m talking about? Well, neither do I.

But first we had to get the kayaks in their carrying bags to the beach area. Happily there was a golf cart available and off we went. Parking as close as we could to the beach still required a substantial effort to transport the heavy bags. Karen is younger than me, fitter than me, taller than me, way way way stronger than me. She carried hers. I kind of half carried the bag to the sandy beach area then drug it along to the water’s edge. We assembled them at that point. Karen inspected my work and of course you know already that she had to help me with most of the Origami folding and hooking and on and on. But once they were together I sat myself right down without getting wet and made my way out into the bay just like I knew what I was doing.

What a perfect day to maneuver through the water along the piers and under the piers. The men of our dreams showed up and took pictures from the shoreline. Pretty sure my husband insisted that they check up on …. me. But there I was, kayaking like a big girl. They watched for a bit then went back to work.

Right after they drove off we headed back out toward the open bay. At this point I felt a cool wet sensation under my seat. No worries, we had paddled through some smallish waves. Splash was bound to occur. I paddled on and noticed that soon, very soon, my legs were covered and the seating area had water up to the very edge of the kayak. I’m no rocket scientist but it didn’t take me too long to figure out that my boat was sinking. Karen was ahead of me with her back to me. I kind of voiced a bit of concern that there was a leak. Then I proceeded to leave the kayak. The bay water was only thigh deep on me, so standing up was easier than anticipated. Happily. My swimming skills include one thing: drowning avoidance by way of floating on my back. And yes, I was wearing a life jacket. As it happened all I had to do was just stand up and drag the kayak that was full of water and quite heavy back to the shore. Karen paddled back to shore and we emptied the kayak. In the process we saw that one of the hooks had mysteriously come undone. We put it all back together and she asked me if I wanted to get back in. That would be a fairly firm “no” from me. While I walked to the place where we launched the boat she decided to tow the kayak back to see if it would stay dry after reassembly. And it did.

She asked the “wanna try again” question and this time I thought, well why not? She towed it and it was dry on the inside for that entire distance. So I hopped right on back in and we headed out to sea again, this time along a breakwater rock area. But wouldn’t you know just a short distance away from the breakwater, BAM, I was sinking again. Same mysterious hook issue, same fill-up with water. And, happily, same depth of water to walk through. Once again, I dragged that origami kayak back to shore and proclaimed my kayaking moments were over for the day. So we then proceeded to disassemble the origami kayaks and put them back into the bags. My bag had filled with water and sand. There was sand everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE. The kayaks were covered with sand. Let’s just be honest here, when I say the word ”everywhere” in regard to sand you need to know that even my teeth were covered with sand. It was a massive struggle but we managed to get those kayaks back in the bags. I said ”I’ll drive the golf cart right over to the beach steps and it’ll be easier to load”. But before I could even reach the golf cart Karen had already carried the bagged kayaks off the beach, up the steps and into the parking lot. I’m telling you, that woman is amazing!!!!

If muscle soreness and fatigue are accurate indication, I probably burned more calories in that two hour time than in the previous month.

I’m just going to insert this link to a post I wrote a year and a half ago. https://simplyb.blog/2020/06/29/rising-numbers-rrrrrrip/

If you’ve read this post, you’ll understand the comment my youngest daughter made to me when I was telling her about the Origami Kayaking Experience. ”Mom, do you think perhaps you aren’t designed to kayak?”. Hmmmmph. I will kayak again. I will.

The ”before” picture. There is no ”after” picture. 😂 🤪

While you wait on the Doorkeeper

Do you like to wait?  When we go to restaurants and see more than 10 people in line generally we turn right back around and leave.  That’s how much we like to wait.  Once in south Wichita I was stuck in my car waiting on a train, and it turned into a 45 minute wait.  Then I learned this was the norm for that particular area! I just can’t think of anything I really enjoy waiting for.  Not food, not trains, not telephone calls on hold.  I could go on and on.

But some of the very best things in life require waiting.

Both of my daughters and their husbands were  very eager to become parents. But parenthood isn’t a quick process for every couple.   Between both couples there were eleven years total for me in that stressful waiting room.    With prayerful consideration, adoption was the route they both chose to take.  For both of them, it was a roller coaster of emotions.  Lots of “why” and “hurry up” type prayers. While you wait.  And wait and wait.  I found myself trying to cheer them on from the spectator section. Often it felt like I was right there with them on that wild roller coaster ride. The excitement of our first grandson’s adoption was indescribable.  But the roller coaster continued to operate for my youngest.

One particular morning during our youngest daughter’s wait to adopt, I had a meltdown of epic proportions and found myself sobbing and crying out to God, begging Him to please make my girl a mommy.  Seeing her pain was breaking my heart.   I cried out to God, telling Him that I seriously did not think I would survive if she wasn’t able to be a mother. Her heart was breaking.  My mom heart was breaking.    I cried aloud to Him that I trusted Him as much as I possibly could, but my faith was weak.

Mainly, I just cried.  And cried.  Sobbing to the point I wasn’t sure I could stop.

In an attempt to just get a grip and stop weeping, I opened my devotional book for the day.  It was a healthy living/diet type book with scriptural content.  Surely that would distract me from my despair and stop the waterworks.  A total change of subject to change my focus was what I needed.  Words on dieting and exercise should do the trick, I hoped.

I opened up the devotional book to that day’s message on food and exercise and this is what I read:
The scripture was from Ps 139:13-14.  “…you knit me together in my mother’s womb….” And then the comments for the day:
“Perhaps you are knitting a sweater as you await a grandchild’s birth.  You have not seen his face, but you know he is a boy.  You knit each stitch and pray for your grandson.  You already  love him and know that he will be a delight to his parents…But God is doing much more to prepare.  He is creating this little boy and knitting his cells together in the womb.  He has plans and a purpose for this little life.”   

Well, that stopped my tears.  I had no idea what these words had to do with dieting or a healthy lifestyle, but there was no doubt in my mind Who had intended that I would read them.  I actually looked around the room expecting to see Jesus himself standing by my table, telling me everything was going to be okay.  I couldn’t see Him but HE WAS THERE!!  Yes, He was.  And suddenly I was calm. Composed.  Hopeful.  And I knew I’d received a message from God that He was in control and there would be a baby for my baby girl.  He saw my tears.  He dried my tears.  He held me close.

Feeling more composed I got up to pour myself a glass of water.  Standing there at the sink I looked up to see water running down the outside of the window that is over the sink.  It was February and the outdoor temperature was in the teens.  No snow, no rain, no sleet, just bright sunshine.  I stood there pondering why there would be water running down my window.  I even went outside to see if I could determine the source.  But nothing else was wet.  Everything outside was frozen except that water.  So I went back into my home kind of stunned about what was going on.  You might come up with some scientific reasons or logical explanation.  But the only reason I could think of was that God saw my tears.  And God felt my heartache to the point of tears.  Had I seen the tears of God?  I know that Jesus cried.  He wept deeply over the death of his friend Lazarus.  He cared so deeply that he raised him from the dead.  (John 11: 28-44).  I can’t explain the water on my window, but I know beyond a doubt that the God who created the world and everything in it loves us and hurts when we hurt.

Read on please.  The story gets even better.

A few days later the phone rang.  It was my daughter, telling me that they were meeting their baby boy that very evening.  They brought him  home from the hospital three days later.  He had been in the newborn intensive care unit for three months.  Living in the hospital next door to where I worked, and I had no clue!!  A miracle extreme preemie needing a mommy and daddy.  And a grandma heart just waiting to hug and kiss him.  He was the boy that God was telling me about just a few days earlier.

While we wait….”God is doing much more.”    We can trust the doorkeeper of the waiting room.  He loves us deeply.

I could share a lot more details about the hand of God in regard to this story. So very amazing!!  But I want to leave you with these words of hope that my pastor once shared:

Waiting is never easy
but when there is nothing
you can do, 
it doesn’t mean 
nothing is being done.
 
God is working for you 
in ways
you cannot see.

 

Is there really no place like home?

We were driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas yesterday. Isn’t it beautiful?

Maybe you do this too……read on.

There are homes in this picture. You can’t see them well from this view but I assure you they are there. We drove down several lovely country roads while driving to and from this location. The views were just stunning, I’m not exaggerating. And as usual, I love seeing the homes on these acreages. On absolutely serene looking acreages that just scream “Perfect Life”. Do you know what I’m talking about? I look at these homes and think how awesome it would be to live there.

So….do you dream and imagine and envy a bit on drives like this? Like I do?

Continue reading “Is there really no place like home?”

There’s a Lighthouse….on a (really steep) hillside

After a long period of time with no volunteering trips with our RV, we finally finally are able to get back out there and go. As I mentioned in my blog post titled “Purpose and Plans”, everything kinda stopped in 2020 for us due to Rotten Rona. In 2019 we began the volunteering plan, in 2020 it screeched to a halt. Only two projects total for us and BAM, done.

Continue reading “There’s a Lighthouse….on a (really steep) hillside”

The Morels of Campgrounds

Against my better judgment I’m fixing to tell you a camping story. With details I’d prefer not to share. Go ahead and read, but I may need you to sign a waiver first promising you won’t share info. Reality check, Simply B, that can’t happen. They’re going to read it anyway. Well, okay, here goes.

Every single year the hubby and I take at least one camping trip to Colorado. Every year we are joined by at least one of our daughters and her family, often there are three families involved. This year our trip included seven (7!!) families from my branch of the family tree. For a full week in the mountains.

** Spoiler alert** we all love each other. No dysfunctional family drama involved. That’s not the forbidden info.

Continue reading “The Morels of Campgrounds”

The Eyes Have It

Again, I have been given the opportunity to reminisce about my mother. Several days ago I had cataract surgery. Soon I will have cataract surgery on my other eye. Just a short appointment, quick recovery, and voila, good eyesight. Maybe even no prescription eye glasses needed once my other eye is done. Just that simple.

Mom’s eyes developed cataracts at a pretty young age. I was ten when she had surgery, which would have made her 50 years old. 1965 was the year. This surgery wasn’t simple and my mom wasn’t particularly enthused about the whole process.

Continue reading “The Eyes Have It”

Traveling south; Gene, Blake, and Olive Ann

Did you know there is a national park in south central Oklahoma? Well there is! Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

We decided to take a little four day camping trip to this park, sight unseen, no idea what to expect. Sense of adventure kicked in while googling Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Our trip was delayed one year because our initial reservation was in March of 2020. Need I say more? ‘Rona ruined that plan.

Fast forward to 2021 and life is kind of good-ish again. Things are opening up, so we rebooked some campsites and hit the road with my sister and brother-in-law.

Continue reading “Traveling south; Gene, Blake, and Olive Ann”

Shakedown Shakes

We camp in a fifth wheel. We winterize our 5th wheel late fall every stinking year. Always with a sad face. Because we love to camp and the winter feels like an eternity when we can’t go camping.

Our part of the world experienced record breaking cold temperatures this past winter. And they lasted for a record breaking fourteen day period. Why does this matter? Well, it can mean winterization fails. AKA, cracks and leaks. Ugh.

Thus, our annual spring shakedown camping trip was taken with trepidation. Actually, for more reasons than winterization fails.

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Significance

1963. If you were alive and above the age of 4 or so in 1963 you undoubtedly recall the day in November.

In February of last year we visited the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas. Dallas is huge, 7 million people live in the metro area. There are many buildings with six floors. But only one building houses the location where a gunman shot and killed President John Kennedy from a window on the sixth floor.

While walking through the museum and listening to the audio headphones tell the story I was taken back to that day in November. My 3rd grade classroom in Minneapolis Grade School. We listened to the news over the loudspeaker while our teacher, Mrs. Warren, wept. The only sound was the voice on the speaker and the weeping of our teacher. While a room full of eight year olds tried to process what was happening.

Continue reading “Significance”

Embracing embraces. And the number 28.

Are you a hugger? I wasn’t as a child. It wasn’t our family’s “thing”. That’s okay, I suppose. Pretty sure all you non-huggers are tolerating the COVID-19 restriction policies better than us huggers. Though I’ve grown into being a hugger (with a few limits), during these pandemic days I truly treasure all the human interaction I can get. Smiles (that you can actually see on an unmasked face), hugs, elbow bumps, conversation. Anything, I tell ya. Growl at me even.

Continue reading “Embracing embraces. And the number 28.”

Purpose and Plans.

We’re retired. It’s been two years now. Since we love to travel and have a fifth wheel, we looked into ways we could incorporate both of those into our life plan. Doors opened for us to volunteer at faith based camps while living part-time in our fifth wheel and in the fall of 2019 we had our first stint in eastern Oklahoma. After the first month we loved it so much that we quickly signed up for another month.

And it seemed we’d found our purpose.

Continue reading “Purpose and Plans.”

Let go of my Legos

Fifteen years ago I became a grandmother.

About eleven years ago, I bought my first ever Lego set for the boy who made me a grandma.

About eleven years and one minute ago, I became just a little obsessed with the delightfulness of Legos. So did said grandboy. We spent many hours building one thing after another, as the coins rapidly left our bank account.

Continue reading “Let go of my Legos”

Ebay lessons and Cabbage.

(Originally posted back in 2017….needed the recipe contained in this so I republished it. )

It’s been a week of education for Simply B in the fine art of using Ebay to purchase stuff.  I’m a relative newby, just mainly buying stuff outright and not bidding on it.  But this week I decided to bid on Castillian plates to add to the 2 that were given to me from my mom’s kitchen.   And I learned a vital lesson.   Once you place a bid on an Ebay item, you may well win that bid.  And once you win that bid….well….you pay for the item and it’s yours.  It’s a contract of sorts.  I guess I thought I’d win the bid then be able to decide if I really wanted them.  So far I have 10 Castillian plates.  There may be more on the way, who knows.  I kind of got carried away once the bidding started.  Wow.  No biggie.  I guess.  Haven’t checked our bank account balance.  Perhaps I should.  😅 Continue reading “Ebay lessons and Cabbage.”

Pep And Petrol

Small town America loves their school activities. That was certainly the case in my very small hometown high school during the 60’s and 70’s. Friday night football and Tues/Friday basketball would bring every loyal citizen who could still breathe and walk out to watch “their kids” play.

And for students, even if you weren’t part of the team, you were still part of the team. Some were in marching band. Some were cheerleaders. Some took turns working the concession stands. Some dressed up as the Lion Mascot. And the rest of us? Well we were part of the team too. Thanks to Pep Club.

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The rest of the story….

Percival and Augusta**.    Long ago they lived across the street from my family in a small super-modest old home with peeling paint and many many many cats.  And one little dog.   There was a front porch.  There was a back porch.  There’s no trace left of where Percival and Augusta spent their sad life.  But my mind will never lose the image of that home and the couple who lived there. Continue reading “The rest of the story….”

Through

I was the last chance.

My folks were the parents of three teenage daughters when, out of the blue (or pink?) I came along. Another stinking girl. I have mental pictures of my dad, age 47, going from the hope of hearing “it’s a boy!!” to “oh, well”.

I was the last chance for him to have a boy to hang out with and enjoy time together. A son, a kindred spirit, a little Benton. He had three teenage girls. Just wrap your brain around that fact for one moment. At least once a month you KNOW my dad wished he had sons.

Continue reading “Through”