The Return of Winky (formerly known as Lincoln) – 2/23/14

This post is a link for WINKY, PART 3. Don’t read unless you are dying to read a dog story that is 6 years old!

This is the account of getting Winky back after he’d left the night before. this picks up the next morning. If you love animals, you will love it. If you’re indifferent, you might become impatient and want to move to your Words with Friends or the book on your night stand, because it is a long post.  But it’s a long story, 27 hours to be exact. Winky escaped at about 3:30pm on Friday, and at about 6:15pm the next day, we all returned home.  “All” as in Winky, Rocky, and me, along with my good friend, Dori who was instrumental in helping me orchestrate the capture of Winky.

You know the chain of events that occurred on the afternoon/night he escaped.  The next morning I got up at 7 and put on the grubbiest of clothes and went out looking again in the general area where we’d been the night before.  The 6 pieces of meat I’d left on the road were gone. I know that another animal could have gotten it, but it was also a glimmer of hope that I was concentrating my efforts in the right area.  Alex informed me that he had a friend who lived in the area, and that the friend had Facebooked him a message that he’d seen Winky. I don’t know how that association transpired, but I wasn’t concerned with that to probe.  I asked Alex if I could contact the friend, and I did so about 8am. The friend was very supportive and told me exactly where he and his wife had seen Winky, and it was exactly where the meat had been left. Score!

The neighborhood where Winky chose to hide out is interesting.  Winky was covering an area of about a half a square mile and about 6 different streets.  The houses, lots, and landscape are random. There’s no HOA in this neighborhood. Neither do most homeowners concern themselves with considering the view with which their neighbor has to contend.

Some houses are very old and in ill repair.  Curtains are stained, windows are cracked, paint is peeling, and junk laces the yards. It’s difficult to know where one yard begins and another yard ends.  Some homes are simply tired, and others are just old and haven’t been updated. The backside of many homes butt up against a creek with overgrown blackberry bushes, where it’s also been designated as a free dumping zone, and in spots, downright disgusting.  Some of the back yards are no better. And some of the front yards may not be a dumping zone, but they’re definitely a catch all the things with which people can’t part. Dumpsters, campers, cinder blocks, boats that haven’t been in the water in years, Jet Skis, lawn mowers, you name it.  Unfinished projects make me wonder what happened. The wheel barrel left upside down in the front yard looks as if someone was called off in the middle of moving the bark dust pile, years ago. It makes me sad. I’ve lived here (not literally) before, and it makes me grateful. There are also newer homes, and older remodeled homes.   Some whose backyard fence is a gigantic cement wall that separates the yard from the freeway. The homes and yards are varied, but one thing is common. No one is keeping up with the Joneses.

I started out, more brave than I was the previous night.  It was relatively early in the morning, and I felt most people might still be sleeping. If a house looked quiet, I was quiet and walked around the side of the house, quietly calling Winky’s name.  It was a little creepy in some cases. One house in particular was camouflaged with low tree branches and blackberry bushes. I discovered the house was basically a cement cube. The back of the house faced the street, and as I wrapped around to the front, there was a small coal barbeque sitting directly in front of the front door.  The only windows were one on each side of the front door, and through one I could see overgrown plants stuck to the window, and on the other window was a blanket. There was a bike leaning up against the front of the house. I noticed the letter B stuck on the corner of the house. If it weren’t for my objective, I would have skeedattled fast out of there.  But I knew this was the perfect place for little Winky to hide, and I had to give it a good shot. I ventured beyond this yard and into neighboring yards, and then ended up on another street. I went to this house more than once. If I had been a dog who wanted to hide, I would have considered this yard.

I continued this type of search in and out of yards.  I visited the back side of a stretch of homes that contained the small creek.  There was a big tunnel and I looked into it, thinking it would be a place to hide and possibly stay warm.  Two of the yards had chickens and I checked out their coups. I’d visited these backyards the day before and had gotten permission to check things out, then.  I wasn’t sure what they’d think if they saw me prowling around in the morning, but I hoped they’d understand. Once I was finished with that area, I got in the car and drove around to the front of these houses, which was on a different street.  I explored that neighborhood, too, which included some of the same house I’d just searched, but in the front and sides. There was a large wood pile and a garden shed that would have made great hiding places. Across from this house was an open area that was connected to a wooded area, and I checked that area, too.

This search went on for a couple of hours before I decided to return home and get Rocky, a cup of coffee, and check in with Bridgette.  She had a busy day and I wanted to update her and connect before she left for the day. Before she left, we prayed together, asking for God’s hand in Winky’s safety and return.  I loaded Rocky up in the car, and because he doesn’t like car rides, I put him in his kennel.

We headed over again, and I parked in the spot where I’d laid the meat the night before.  I let Rocky out and followed where his nose led him. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I had him smell the blanket Winky had been sleeping with in the kennel Rocky was using on this trip.  I hoped Rocky would understand what I was asking of him. I don’t know if he did, but his nose seemed to lead him to many of the same places I’d been hunting. After about an hour however, I got a little frustrated that there was no sign of Winky and I wondered if Rocky really smelled Winky, me, or just other dogs.  Rocky isn’t a tough animal, and after the initial excitement of this field trip began to wane, his intolerance of surprise noises, car noises, and walking distances greater than a block got the best of him. He would stop and want me to pick him up, and he was getting in the way of productivity. I returned him to the kennel in the back seat of the car, and slowly drove back to the other part of the neighborhood, quietly calling Winky’s name out the window.  There again, I ducked into side streets and stopped people driving out of their driveways. I knocked on doors, talked to people, and left our simple flier that Alex had made the night before. I returned to the front of the houses whose back yards contained the creek. I took Rocky out here, and we checked out the wood pile, the garden shed, and the open area that led to the forresty area. We travelled up and down that road, quietly calling Winky’s name.

After some time, I decided I would return home.  But I got a message from a friend who said she and her daughter wanted to come help for a bit.   Rocky and I drove back to our original spot and met up with my friend. I gave them the run down and talked about strategy.  There was a house that was full of good hiding spots, if one were a dog. They had a camper trailer, a dumpster, a boat, a wood pile, and all sorts of nooks and crannies, perfect for a small dog who wants to be invisible.  I decided I was going to do a little trespassing and snoop around. I suddenly became very aware that 11am was well into morning, and that I could be found out. I emerged from behind the dumpster, that I’d hoped was concealing my hunched body, but I was greeted by a woman.  I began to tell her what I was doing, but she’d interrupted me telling me that she knew about our dog from the flier, and the homeowner behind her had told her that Winky had been in his backyard the night before. She was very nice and supportive and allowed me to continue looking.

I needed to get to a designated post office to pick up a certified letter.  I decided to go to the man’s house who had seen Winky the night before. My friend and her daughter continued to hand out fliers. Again, I drove back to another part of the neighborhood, quietly calling Winky’s name.  I got to what I thought was the man’s house, but it was someone else’s house. I gave him the information, and left to go to the post office. On the way out of the neighborhood I stopped at a dog grooming business and gave them our makeshift flier until a better one could be made.  My friend called shortly after I’d left the neighborhood to tell me that she and her daughter had talked to the man whose back yard Winky had been in. He and his mother were leaving food out for Winky.

That was the message I gave anyone to whom I could talk.  “Don’t call him. Call me” I would say. “If anything, give him food.”  My hope was that it would satiate him until I got to him, and then I would sit and wait for him to come to me, because I knew he would run if anyone made an attempt to capture him, including me.

I went to the post office, drove through McDonalds to get some hot wings (I had hardly taAlex the time to eat much), went home and showered, realizing that Rocky also needed a change of scenery.  I then went to the store to pick up a prescription and a couple of items. On the way home from the store, in spite of having purchased a half gallon of ice cream, I decided to drive slowly through the neighborhood again.  I ran into a woman who was on the outskirts of the neighborhood. I hadn’t stopped at her house before, but she was outside and I decided to give her my number, on the off chance she should see him.

I left for home, with the intent that I would go home, make new improved fliers with a picture and specific instructions on how to manage Winky should anyone see him.  It probably looked like a person who needs to control and micromanage, even on a LOST DOG flier. But I knew the information was crucial to Winky’s successful capture, so I risked humiliation.  Two minutes after I left the neighborhood, I got a call. It was from the woman with whom I had just spoAlex. Winky was in her backyard!

I zipped back to her house (ice cream still in the car) and by that time, Winky had crossed over to the neighbor’s house.  By the time I got permission from that neighbor to go into his backyard (his car was in his driveway, indicating that I’d better ask), Winky was sniffing around in the creek, and as soon as he sensed something was up, he jumped through the blackberry bushes and over the creek, up into the back of some pathetic looking apartments.  This time, not with my grubbies on, but my nice five year old tennis shoes, I too found my way through the blackberry bushes and over the muddy creek. Crawling on my hands and knees, I found my way up the hill and on to the back driveway of the apartments. A man sitting in his car under the carport asked if I was looking for my dog, and pointed in the direction Winky had gone.

I proceeded swiftly, but working hard not to run, when I noticed that I could see the back of the houses that I’d been to a few times already.  Some people were standing in the back yard and I asked them if they’d seen Winky. They told me they hadn’t, but just then they shouted, “He’s in our back yard!”  Winky had crossed the creek again, into their backyard. I tried a yell whisper (I just made that up), telling them not to call him. Right then one of the men started to whistle.  I upped my yell whisper to a plea, “Please, don’t do anything! If you’re going to do anything, give him food.” I couldn’t get to their back yard because of a fence. I ran back to my entry point, crossed back over the creek, ran through the first man’s back yard, over to the woman’s house, got in my car, and drove around the street to the front of the last house, where I was yell whispering. I jumped out, and the man greeted me to tell me Winky didn’t wait for food.  He raced right past them. I stayed in that area for about twenty minutes, sweetly calling his name, and then again, slowly headed back to home, calling his name from the car, and stopping to ask people when I saw them on the road.

I returned home and made the new fancy fliers.  My friend Dori called me from the airport asking if I needed help.  Initially I didn’t think there was much she could do, but I decided it would be more efficient to have her help me hand out the new fliers.  She got to our house about 4:45 and we set out equipped with tape, staple gun, and more meat. My plan was to start from the back of the neighborhood, and work our way back.  We again drove slowly, calling out Winky’s name. We got to the back of the neighborhood and handed out a couple of the fliers to two neighboring houses on the dead end street.  One of those houses was the one with the wood pile and garden shed, among other things. Across the street from that house was the open area that stretched into the forresty area.  I wanted to get the fliers out while it was still light, hoping that Winky was also visible during daylight. But Dori said, “Let’s look over in that area.” I told her I’d been there routinely, and at this point I had no sense of where he was.  With limited daylight left, I didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket, so I felt we should move on. But she said, “Well, let’s just give it a look.” I didn’t protest, and we began to walk softly along the way. The terrain changed from dry grass, into a thick carpet of ivy, tall firs, and dense brush.  Carefully, I lead the way, and then I saw him, in the distance.

I stopped suddenly, and put my hand out to stop Dori.  He was there, stunned for a moment, looking at me. I stopped, and slowly (everything is S-L-O-W) knelt down.  I sweetly called his name. He moved, but he didn’t run. I sat there, and immediately decided what had to be done. I had to wait.  I texted Dori. “Go home and get me a blanket, a hat, and an Ensure (I knew I needed nutrition).” She walked to my car and proceeded to comply.  The text exchanges were numerous. I asked her to bring Rocky. Bring a McDonalds hamburger (he needs to smell beef!). The lunch meat I was holding up wasn’t luring him.  At one point he retreated, but I didn’t react. He came back. Occasionally I said his name, “Hi Winky, want a treat?” It’s our lingo at home. I held up a piece of turkey lunchmeat.  He very slowly, meandering around until he finally was about 10’ from me, and that’s where he stayed until the capture.The man who had put food out for Winky called. He’d seen Winky run through his yard.  I was able to tell him I was looking right at him, and he at me. 

Dori texted me: Where’s Rocky’s leash?  What blanket? Where’s his kennel? Back and forth we went, and she brilliantly did as I asked.  As Dori got closer, I gave her an update, telling her exactly what to do. I had her bring Rocky and the food in first.  I didn’t think I wanted Winky to see her, so I had her stand behind a tree close by, and I went to get Rocky and the food.  She retreated and got the blanket. Once I knew Winky saw Rocky, I felt fairly confident that Winky wouldn’t leave. I met Dori and grabbed the blanket. I laid it down, prepared to stay for a good while if I needed to (yet the thought of Coyotes did cross my mind).  I had thought this is what it would be, a waiting game.

I remembered that Winky came to us when we were loving on Rocky.  So I loved on Rocky and fed him a McDonald’s hamburger. Winky stared.  Then I decided to see if they would like to see each other. With Rocky on his leash, I said, “Rocky, do you want to see Winky?”  I slowly got up, and slowly walked toward Winky. And Winky slowly, with his tail wagging for the first time since we had owned him, walked up to Rocky, and kissed him.  For a split second, I wanted to believe I could let this moment happen, and this wasn’t a capture, but a normal exchange between two old friends. But I snapped out of it, and grabbed his collar, picked him up, wrapped him in the blanket, and walked away.

Oh, how I wish I could get my blog site set up the way I want it. Because it’s not what I envision, I tend not to write, but I have so much to share! It’s not that I think everyone is eager to hear what I have to say. But I do love to express, document, and share what I’ve learned. I have learned a lot. I look forward to a time when I will write regularly.

Much has occurred since my last post in late May. I worked at my Principal Secretary job through the summer. It was good, and it was also hard. The job wasn’t hard (it’s much better than the first many months when everything was new), just working was hard! I know. Many people do it. I’m both grateful and frustrated. I’m grateful for a job. And I’m frustrated that I don’t have more time to accomplish more in my life. But those topics are for another day.

We lost our beloved Rocky two weeks ago. He was sick for three weeks with a bulging disc or slipped disc or both. We don’t know for certain because with my finances, I couldn’t justify surgery, and if we weren’t going to do surgery, I didn’t think  the cost of x-rays made sense. We chose the route of recovery without surgery, which can be successful, but instead we and he endured 3 weeks of pain. The pain got intolerable, so we decided to put him to rest. It was heart wrenching. We loved him immensely, and Bridgette misses him terribly. I can cry at the thought of him, but here’s the truth: Two dogs were hard for me. That also may be a topic for another day.


Rocky is the reddish brown dachshund.

Today I’m writing about death, grief, rejoicing, and peace, all at once. This is unique to the one who looks to God as her savior. It’s unlikely the person who doesn’t know God can relate to the ability to face all emotions at once. The ability to experience all these emotions simultaneously has been a mystery to me.  This morning Bridgette and I laid in bed and we thought about exactly this.

We woke up early to the news that a community member for whom we’ve fought beside in prayer and otherwise, for 6 years, had died. He was 13 (I think). We’ve known him since he was in early grade school. His sister is in my son, Bradley’s class. Sam Day died of Ewing’s sarcoma. Bridgette is home from OSU for the weekend. It’s nice that she can do that for many reasons. It’s really nice when she needs to grieve, as well as cram for an anatomy final. There’s been a lot of grieving lately, and a lot of reconciling emotions.

As  we laid in bed, both acknowledging that our stomachs twisted as we hurt for Sam and his family, we also discussed Nathalie Traller. Nathalie died last year of Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, otherwise known as ASPS. She was another community member who we got to know indirectly because we chose to fight her fight with her.

This last week Nathalie’s dad had written an article about his grief and I hadn’t yet read it,  but Bridgette had. This morning, I read it and wept. I had just cried because of Sam. Not just wet eyes, but tears that accompanied unfamiliar sounds, as if I was  personally losing someone. As much as I know Sam, I did not know Sam. I did not live life with Sam, or his parents. The same was true for Nathalie. Both Bridgette and I (and Bradley has loved on them as well) weren’t what I call a personal friend, but we were committed to these families in prayer. We had personal contact with them, and volunteered on their behalf, in an effort to raise funds that would further medicines that would bring them and others to healing. We had invested in them, and it felt our investment had been taken from us. It hurt.

As we laid in bed, thinking out loud about death, we expressed sincere conviction that we knew Sam and Nathalie were in heaven.  We wondered however, how we could be both so grieved and relieved for them, yet not feel happiness. If heaven is the ultimate goal, shouldn’t we be ecstatic? And if heaven is that wonderful, what’s the point of life here? We’re not the first to have asked these questions. But it was the first time the two of us asked these questions of each other, and in the context of a mother and daughter. As much as I know we were exploring these questions with each other, I am the mom, and I wanted to give my grieving daughter words she could hang on to.

Our grief comes from our investment, and the loss we experience when we don’t get to cash in. Regardless of what the loss is, we have typically invested in the thing we have lost, in some form. Otherwise, it’s not much of a loss. The more we invest, the more pay off we expect.  As good stewards and servants, we contribute in this world. On one hand, we read in Psalm 128:2 “You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” We have instructions to “…‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” in Mathew 22:39. In fact, it’s not instructions; it’s God’s command: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. … in Matthew 22:36-40.

Yet, King Solomon in Ecclesiastes says ““Meaningless! Meaningless!”  says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.”

We invest, yet it’s meaningless? If it’s all meaningless and our ultimate destination is to be with Jesus, why can’t we skip this part? The part where we toil and invest and love, here on earth? Can’t we just do that in heaven?

I don’t have all the answers to that, necessarily. As a mom and a Christian who depends on my relationship with Jesus each day, I had some answers for Bridgette. I knew to tell her that we are here to glorify God and to bring others to know him. And that God’s plan is so intricate, complex, and unique to each of us, that we can’t necessarily understand it, but that we can see its beauty as it’s played out. Beauty, not like rainbows and unicorns and Pinterest quotes, but beauty that is uniquely experienced by us when we are intimate and relational with God and with others.

I assured her that each of us brings something unique to each other, so unique, that without each other, none of us can be the person God intends us to be. That in each moment, we are offering to the other something, and that something is either building the other, or tearing the other. Building the other is living within God’s will. Other than God’s word (the bible), there are few people who can communicate clearly what God’s plan looks like (although, for me, CS Lewis comes very close). I prayed that my words in this moment would resonate with Bridgette, and I’ll leave the rest up to God’s word, and CS Lewis sometime if she chooses.

As Christians, we are able to rejoice in our grief, because we believe that our ultimate destination is to be with our heavenly father, where all things will be good.  Yet we cry when we know someone has gone there! Shouldn’t we be shouting for joy, absent the grief? But we cannot, because of the investment that we have made in this life and given to those we love.

We are placed in this world by our heavenly father. While living within his will, we are to embrace it. We are to glorify him in everything we do. We are to work hard, to love well, to love our neighbor, to parent with wisdom, to teach, to feed the hungry and to give to others. Everything about Jesus is relational. Everything we are asked to do requires heart and grit. But. It can be taken away.

For those who don’t know our heavenly father, they have no insurance. They only have grief. For the person whose car has been stolen and has no insurance, he has only anger. For the person whose beautiful home has burned to the ground, but has not enough insurance to recover his losses, he has only loss and probably torment. But for the person who has vested into this life, according to God’s will, with heart, and faced hard times with grit, our loss means grief, with the insurance of our heavenly father backing us. So, we both grieve and rejoice. And part of that beauty that we can’t explain is promised to us in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thank you, Bridgey and thank you heavenly father for a moment with my daughter to explore sadness and you.



How can so much happiness occur, two days in a row? Again, it has nothing to do with the typical things that produce happiness. Well, that’s not completely true. Food does typically make me pretty happy. But this is about more than food. It’s about using a piece of equipment at will, and achieving success. There’s a theme in these last two posts: use equipment and it works like it should. That makes me happy.


I’ve had a charcoal BBQ for two years. The gas one died, and I didn’t want to deal with propane.  Bradley helped me at first with it, but since he’s moved I haven’t been successful with my attempts. I don’t know what guardian angel decided to tap me three times and grant my wish, but I’m happy about it. I longed to be able to come home, throw some charcoal on the grill, and cook me up some meat. My last birthday request from the kids was to teach me how to do it. My copy cat attempts from You Tube were failing me, so I’d hope my kids would be more successful. They must have decided that buying a gift was easier than figuring out the trick to a charcoal BBQ, because they didn’t come through with my request. I’m not complaining about the gifts I got, though. Bridgette’s got a great gift for gifts.

So, here is my success. And yes, it tasted as good as it looks. See below for my tips that I’m HAPPY to share.


Lighting the Charcoal BBQ

Build the briquettes in a pyramid (got these instructions right off the bag). I purchased a cylinder when I bought the BBQ. It was recommended and I know a lot of people like them. But I wasn’t successful with it so I decided to do what the bag says.

Douse with BBQ fluid, about 10 seconds, placing it all over the briquettes. Don’t ever put the lighter fluid on top of burning briquettes. I’m not just saying this to protect myself from a lawsuit. I really believe it’s not a good idea.

Light the briquettes… light more than one. I lit as many as I could. The flame starts slow, so it’s not a problem to do this.

LEAVE THE LID OFF. The briquettes need oxygen.

Check on it in 15 mins or so. At this point I moved the briquettes around a little bit. I checked in 5 or so minutes, then spread the briquettes in a single layer (again, off the bag), but touching each other. I blew on them, to stimulate some flame. I’m not sure if that helped or not. It was a still night, so I decided to give it a little kick with my breath.

The fire seemed a little slow to get hot, so I placed the lid on, with the vent opened all the way. Remember, it needs oxygen. That seemed to get more flame going. Soon there was smoke, and I removed the lid, placed my chicken on the grill, and let ‘er cook. Flames began to ignite because of the drippings, so I played around with it, flipping the chicken occasionally. When the flames got too big, I returned the lid, and kept the vents open. That seemed to reduce the oxygen, but gave it enough to continue cooking. I really just watched it back and forth with lid on and off. In between I weeded my yard and talked on the phone with Bradley. I love to multi-task, and since I could smell the chicken cooking, I was feeling very accomplished.


I used 5 chicken thighs. I like ALL chicken. Mostly dark, but if white is cooked so it’s not over cooked, I like it, too. I put the pieces in a Zip Lock with about 2 T of olive oil, some garlic mixture (2 T?) I found in my cupboard, and half a lemon squeezed. I rubbed those all together while in the Zip Lock and voila (my computer doesn’t have the French accents), and that was it!


Those words are usually reserved for romance, proud parent moments, or maybe a significant accomplishment in education or a career move. My happiness in this moment comes from none of those. It comes from something more ordinary, yet elusive up until now.  I am sitting on my back deck with a glass of red wine. The deck is clean and pretty, with lights strung from one side of the covered deck to the other. And, the rest of the yard is under control.


I’m not happy because it was I who did it. Yes, I did do it. But I’d have been very happy for someone else to do it. I don’t feel the same satisfaction some people get because they accomplished a task.  I get satisfaction simply because the task is complete. Regardless of whether someone else has done it, or if I have done it, I own it. I own this house, this yard, my children (you know what I mean), these dogs, this life. It was important to me that the yard be functioning, and I wanted it completed.  It was an ongoing project since we’d moved in almost two years ago. It was like looking at an unmade bed each and every day, and I wanted it made!

As I mowed yesterday, I thought, “How long does it take a single woman without lawn mowing knowledge and who is ill equipped to mow a lawn?” The answer in this case would be, “About a month.” I’ll share with you some back story, but this post is mostly about the lawn mowing. It makes some sense as to why a big project like a yard overhaul might be difficult, for anyone. But I thought mowing the lawn would be easy icing on the cake, and when it wasn’t, I was reminded of how the most simplest of tasks aren’t simple if one doesn’t know what they’re doing. I need to remember this lesson when my kids confront me with a similar frustration regarding something I ask of them!

When I bought this house two years ago in August (I cannot believe it’s been that long), the back yard was a mess. The sellers had big dogs that they trained, and they had the run of the back yard. The front yard was decent, but the sprinkler system didn’t work, so it also began to deteriorate. I finally made a hard decision last November to pay for a landscape design and had it installed. I didn’t implement the new design in the front yard because the front yard was good enough. But I had the foundation of the back yard installed. It was flattened, sod was laid, and big concrete squares were positioned into a patio. I saved a lot of money by being responsible for planting the plants (I wish I could say that meant that the project was inexpensive, but it wasn’t). A couple of friends listened to me whine about it, and they helped me with some planting as well as some other yard work. When one is soley responsible for everything in one’s life, a friend who offers to plant a plant or do some trimming, is like an umbrella in a rainstorm. They are a relief and a refuge, and it hugely warms my heart.

The yard has been an ongoing project. It’s been through winter and spring rains (with some sunny relief), weekends and after work that I’ve soldiered through finalizing its completion. It’s consumed me as I raced to beat the seasonal time clock of the harsh summer sun. While others bemoaned the rain, I quietly praised God. When it didn’t rain, I spent an hour most nights watering plants in my desperate effort to save my investment.

So much attention was spent on the digging, moving dirt (clay and rocks), uprooting old shrubs, pruning, and watering, yet one other task was unavoidable; I had to mow the lawn. I procrastinated at this project because I was certain I’d whip it out in no time at all. I have three small patches of lawn. I had a reel mower that I’d not cared for well. In the moves from house to house it got ignored and sat outside. But I was certain that it was good enough for my small job. But I was wrong. It didn’t cut well. I decided to sell it and buy a new one. I assumed the poor cut was due to my lack of good care.

But of course, it wasn’t that simple. First, I tried to get the Fiskars reel mower sharpened. I called two places within 10 miles of my home and neither of them would sharpen a Fiskars reel mower. So, then I decided to sell it, and use the money toward another mower. I Craigslisted it, and fortunately sold it.

Buying a new mower wouldn’t be simple, though. Would I get gas, electric, battery operated or stick with my plan and go with the reel push mower. The latter was appealing on so many levels. No gas, no complications when pulling the start cord, and the biggest was this: I get to work out while mowing my yard (workouts have gotten very low on the priority list). I purchased the store’s recommendation and bought their reel mower.

It met all three objectives. I didn’t have to buy gas, there were no start complications, and I got a workout. Like, I really good upper body workout and not so good lower back workout. And, my grass looked like, crap. Ugh. I do hate that word. But there’s no way around it. The mower was eating it up the lawn. A goat would have given it a better finish. The mower missed large clumps of grass, no matter how many times I went over it.

The grass on the edges fell over, laying flat around the perimeter of the lawn. So, I purchased an edger. I had more decisions to make, but suffice it to say, the options for the edger were the same as for the lawn mower. I purchased an electric edger after work one day. I couldn’t wait to use it, but it sat in the garage for a couple of days like a piece of chocolate cake that had to wait until the big day to be eaten. The lawn taunted me each day I pulled out in the morning and pulled back in for the night, begging me to rid it of its scraggly perimeter, but my schedule wouldn’t allow for it. Since the plants were at risk, I had no choice but to place watering at a higher priority, and let the edge of my lawn hold out like a badly needed haircut until the stylist had an opening.

While the edge waited for attention, the weeds, grass, and blossoms popped up over night and every night. Edging was not the only thing that needed attention. I mowed the lawn first, hoping for improvement over the last attempt, with my brand new shiny reel mower. But there was no improvement! Crap. Crap. Crap. Between each “crap” I asked God to give me a break.  But I eeked out a wee bit of hope. It all rested in my new edger, in a hope that it would compensate for the sub par lawn cut. After assembly (another learning curve), I revved it up with hope beyond hope. But there would be no satisfaction on this night. I hadn’t anticipated yet another learning curve. I didn’t know how to use an edger.

You Tube here I come, again.

By the time I was done, green grass and wet mud spewed onto surfaces that weren’t intended for grass and mud. Bark dust was covered and grass stains smeared my cement squares that make up the patio. I love power wash, but I couldn’t imagine when I would find the time. My handling of the edger carved a new lawn design that looked more like a jig saw puzzle than anything else. I wanted to cry.


The amount of energy I was expending on my yard without success was depressing and I had an overwhelming sense of failure and loss of hope. My work days are full and I have a limited amount of time and money to spend on my home, and I’m tired of the constant effort that produces so little harvest.

I texted three or four friends who knew I’d been working on my yard and showed them some pictures and shared my frustration, to a severe degree. My filter was thin. They encouraged me, and offered help. As much as I like help, I knew that wasn’t the answer. Help would be never ending. My answer would be in new skills. I have to know how to whip out a mowed lawn, so I can still cook dinner or see a friend or pay bills in an evening. It seemed like such a simple task. I’d had the yard designed for easy maintenance, yet it was very hard (for me).

Yesterday my friend and her husband came over so he could show me what I might be doing wrong, and it made all the difference. He determined the brand new shiny reel mower was not cutting the grass (yea, I wasn’t all to blame) and he showed me how to use the edger. After some time, they left and I left too, headed straight to Orchard Supply to purchase a new lawn mower (I knew they were having a 20% off sale, plus they’re super nice and helpful there). As I pondered back and forth, feeling anxious about another wrong decision, a customer in the lawn mower aisle assured me that an electric lawn mower was a good decision. After 2 more stores (stock availability) I drove home with my new Craftsman electric lawn mower and determination to finish my lawn.

Again, a learning curve. I hadn’t considered the abuse by the heavy extension cord my plants would take, nor did I anticipate tripping my circuit breakers. After several trips to the garage I realized I need to turn off all the lights on that circuit when I mow and I need to move the mower forward and back, not in the traditional square or circle we’re used to with a gas mower. This will help with cord management. Oh, the things I’m learning.

Then, I decided to hang the deck lights that I’d purchased from Costco a year ago. Off to Orchard Supply for the fourth time in a day, to purchase eye bolts and quick links (new terms to me), per my instructions from on You Tube. After almost two hours I got them hung. The lights are heavy duty, so they’re weighty. I had a hard time on a ladder matching the hook part of the string to wood that would accept the eye bolt.


All this detail for what seems like the most ordinary basic things. My friend and her husband were so gracious in ensuring that things were in good order before they left. While Blake was playing around with a sprinkler head, he proclaimed that he had broken it. I was a bit alarmed, but I trusted him to make it right. Within twenty minutes he’d muddied himself but it was fixed. That twenty minutes would have taken me hours, days, or weeks, dependent on my schedule, other peoples’ schedules, and their availability. I forgot to add that I had finally got the sprinkler system fixed, after many attempts to connect with sprinkler people. We never did meet in person. We communicated through emails.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese Proverb

Thank you Blake and Sally (OK, Sally was mostly here for support) for showing me what I needed to know, so I can mow my lawn, and cook dinner in the same night. And mostly, so I can enjoy my home. This makes me so happy. And maybe next week I’ll “get to” power wash.

It’s been May 9th since my last post. The one before that was February 22nd. One might assume that I have more to share than a post about my eyebrows. And one would be correct. In fact, I have so much I could share I could write a novel and then a mini series. The events in the last four months or so are involved, personal, mystifying, confusing, and fifty other adjectives. So not only have I not posted because life feels too intimate to share publicly (should I be blessed with a reader or two), but I can’t find the time. I can’t find the time to write, or to design my blog the way I imagine it to be. But a quick post about my missing eyebrows is manageable.

I’m frustrated with my eyebrows. I’m sad, too. It feels good to say I’m sad about something, without concern that that the sadness is going to define me. For that reason, thin or not, I love my eyebrows, because they are a safe topic about which I can openly express my grief. They’ve been disappearing for awhile now. At age 55 (as of April 16th), they’re virtually non-existent. I feel much too young to wear painted on eyebrows, drawn on in a perfect arch. Heaven forbid they would have an orange tint. However, I do use a pencil by Revlon called Brow Fantasy, Dark Blond (no pic). I used to use one by Mary Kay that I loved. It is called Classic Blonde. It was awesome because it was the perfect color for every eyebrow color. Literally, it complimented blonds as well as it did brunettes. It was a good price, but the Revlon is a little less money, and I cut corners where I can. I’m renovating the living room and have some other hopes of home projects that take priority over my eyebrow care.

The brow thing is interesting. They really accentuate the eyes, and I love framing my eyes with my brows, but just when I discovered the affect they have on our beauty, I started losing them! Like most things, we appreciate things more when we don’t have them. Every day, I’m appreciating them more. Each single hair that composes my brows is precious to me. I don’t take one for granted.

We have to laugh at these things. Thinning brows is something about which I can share. I can express myself without concern for anyone else. I suppose that will be the real test of a writer. When I can write hard truths with redemption and without exposing another person’s faults or deficits. My lost brows and the feelings about them is TMI, but that issue is irrelevant in the big scheme of things. I’m almost grateful for this discovery. For 30 seconds each morning I am distracted from things that are more serious. Maybe I can discover more insignificant relatable topics and share them. I need frivolous subject matter so I can improve my writing skills. While that’s not the vision of my blog, until I’m able to refine my site in a way that allows me to write openly, but safely, my substance will likely suffer. Hopefully during this time, I can emote some laughter. I don’t know if I’ll think my eyebrows are funny when they’re completely gone. Until then, I’m getting a good chuckle and I got to write a bit, and there’s value in that.

Happy Summer, this 21st day of June, 2015.