But I said “No!”

I did not want to get back into the music industry. “No!” I had told my son that repeatedly, and yet every time he would come to see me, he would question why I wouldn’t do something in music. I have a best friend, who was also questioning why I would not get back into the music industry. I explained, to both of them, that I had seen what the music industry could do to people. I had seen it destroy families, friends, and ruin people’s lives. Then last winter my friend told me “But it wouldn’t be like that this time.”

Continue reading

Serenity 

I saw a feather drop from the sky today!

I was sitting here thanking the Lord for all He has done in my life. I was thanking Him for my son being able to come and help me for the last couple of months. With all the changes in my world, Charles being here to help, has been an extraordinary blessing! I was also thankful that my son was able to see, and stay, at my favorite place to camp, Empire Ranch! Continue reading

Changing of the Guard

Perhaps I should say Changing of the VanGuard? They usually lead the way.  Yup! I Bet you guessed it! I have a new vehicle! 

I went around that proverbial mulberrybush a few times, as far as vehicles go. As most of you know, I am Allergic to the 21st Century and have to be careful to stay away from just about every man-made chemical. That means, I have to have a vehicle that’s a 1994 or older because ever since 1995, by law, they have had to spray all of the materials inside of every vehicle with fire retardant, and I react very badly to that nasty stuff! Since fire retardant doesn’t seem to dissipate enough for me to tolerate it for long, I had my son, Charles, looking at old vehicles of every kind.  Even Volkswagens. That’s right, even paid to get one Bug inspected. It sounded great, and it still does, the thought of having all of those engine smells behind me.  Instead, in most vehicles, they’re curling up from under the dash, as I’m going down the highway! All that gas and oil being heated so the fumes are really strong. You’d think they were specifically designed to work on adding to my toxic load. Well, maybe not specifically. 😉  But, Volkswagens have become collector’s items. Oh my, the price tags on some of those! If you want to have sticker shock, look up a few of those old Bugs, or worse yet, a few VW busses!  I  thought of Pickup’s, but trying to get into the back would be tough for me.  I even thought of tiny pick-ups, but I’m not too sure I would fit in the front! Besides, anything too different, and I’d have to make some radical changes in my solar rack design, and go even more minimalist with how much stuff I can carry. Even changing to a Dodge or a Chevy van would mean revisions, but we looked for those too. What would be best was another old Ford van, but we just hadn’t found anything even remotely usable. 

But guess what happened? 

I’m glad you asked!

I am so grateful that we found this new van!

Ain’t she purdy!

Okay, can you hear me chuckling? How about a Little newer van. She’s a 1983 Ford E150. Yes, she’s been around for awhile, 183,00 miles around, and she’s only a half ton, but believe it or not, she’s in far better shape than my old 1977 Ford E250, Jehosheba, with well over 270,000 miles to her credit. 

A face lift in progress! Okay, maybe not a facelift, but new kingpins, tierods, a tranny flush and an oil change should give her quite a boostI. I found a great shop in Sierra Vista. Arizona Auto & Radiator Repair. If you’re in need, and any where close, I would highly recommend them and so would a lot of other people. Check out their Google reviews! Five stars!

 When you consider that her tires looked like this, 

She has been riding on the very outside of both front tires for awhile.

before we put the new ones on, that show how bad the tread was on the old ones.  Of course, it really shows that the front end is in bad condition!

 Now she looks like this! Standing tall and proud, with her wheels standing up straight. 

 Now that the work is done, I think you could call it a face lift!  

This van still needs a lot of work, but I’m hoping and praying she will last for a long time to come.  Some of her issues are pretty expensive, (understatement of the decade!) but there is so much, that is so right, about this van for me, that I’m hoping she is worth the investment. Thank the good Lord, I have amazing and, obviously, crazy friends, who helped me with loans and gifts, for both the purchase and the repairs! Well, most of the repairs. Alright, maybe some of the repairs, would be more accurate. I will be working on her, as I can, over the years to come, but at least the most vital needs are being taken care of today!  

Fortunately, the hitch transferred with no trouble, and because it was a U-Haul installation, they did that for free! I did have to buy an extension, so I could keep Little Gypsy’s mighty prow from being crushed by the spare tire hanging off the back door.  Unfortunately, as I’ve been writing, the shop has already found some new issues. I knew we had some kind of major leak, because we went from a full tank to a half tank in just 20 miles!  Boy, did she stink on the way into the shop! I was praying we didn’t have the kind of problems with her, that we have with Jehosheba.  Thank goodness, it was just some fuel lines leaking.  Some just needed the clamps tightened, some the hoses replaced.  The rear brakes are fine, but unfortunately, the brake shoes in the front were down to the metal. Those are being handled today. The emergency brake assembly will have to wait til next month.   

However. 

Right now, I’m  taking a big breath and offering a fervent prayer. If you are a praying person, I would ask for yours as well!

There is one very serious issue, about which, I can only pray it will take a while, before it has to be addressed. Does the word “Transmission”, when uttered by a mechanic, send a chill up your wallets spine?  Yes, they found bits of metal in the tranny pan, when they pulled it to do the transmission flush. That made me shudder and made me review. She was hesitant, going up those steep little hills, while she was hauling the trailer out to my new camp site out in the forest, a few days ago. But she was low on tranny fluid, and it was dark. Being so old, I’m sure it wasn’t much help. Hopefully, the flush, new fluid, and sealed leaks, will keep her going for awhile.  A long while!

The important thing is, she’s shifting fine, and she is relatively safe for me, chemically.  Certainly much better than Jehosheba! What is causing my old beauty to smell so badly of gasoline, is that her carburetor needs to be rebuilt, and that’s what has been making me so ill lately. My old Jehosheba will end up retired, parked at a friend’s place, and be a parts van when she can.  With an engine that’s slowly going out, doors that won’t close, a gear shift that is welded to the steering column, and a host of other issues, continued repairs on my old van would be unwise, but she could still be useful in the years to come.  

My newer van will be even safer to drive, after the front end is repaired today. In fact, with what she’s had done today, she will be worth the continued investment, by default, if for no other reason. But I’m so grateful that I can open and close the doors so easily. The doors even lock. All of them! First time in over three years that I could say that. The fact that she’s lower and has those wonderful side steps, has also made it much easier for this ole gal to get in and out, it doesn’t hurt, and that’s a huge relief!  Although, they do limit where I can take her. Those two aspects will definitely cut down on some of my “Adventures”! Do ask my son how he feels about that! You will, no doubt, get a sly, but relieved, grin.  😉 You can just see him, starting to give me a little wave, driving Jehosheba, as we leave the shop. I was so relieved that Charles was able, and willing, to come help me when I was so ill.  I’m also grateful that he can stay to help me get everything transferred from my old van to the new one. I have an amazing son, but don’t tell him I told you!

It has been strange to see someone else, even Charles, driving my beautiful Jehosheba.

I’m going to start a new savings account, just for repairs. I’ll only be able to add a little at a time, and I’m going to have to leave it in the good Lord’s hands, as to just when those additional repairs will need to be done. Hopefully, not for a few years, when my wallet can stand it, or at least, after I have the current big loan paid off! Please Lord! 

The visit to the shop was Friday and I’m finally getting a chance to finish this post. She is steering so much better! No more jerking back and forth. I certainly feel more confident about driving her around. The emergency brake assembly, and a full tune up, are next on the list of repairs. Ouch, and, Oh Dear! Unless, disaster strikes, then it will get downright interesting!

But as the shop owner said, these old Ford E series vans are built like Sherman tanks, so for now, let’s talk of the Naming! 

Yes, every vehicle I have ever owned, gets a name. Sometimes, I know right away. Usually, as in this case, I have to get to know the vehicle a little bit first.

Here you can see her getting some last minute advice from Jehosheba, as she is hooked up to the trailer for the first time.

She looks so little compared to Jehosheba. Perhaps it’s the smaller tires? The color? Maybe it’s the step rails? It could be because of all the gear my old van is carrying, that Jehosheba just looks a lot bigger? Perhaps it the combination of all the differences? Whatever the reason, I thought she seemed like a cute little filly, when compared to my old gray mare. 🙂  I thought of naming her Little Filly to go with my trailer Little Gypsy, but even a Filly needs a name. While she may be cute and seem little, or even delicate, when compared to my old van, she still looks like she has a bit of an attitude.  When I mentioned that to a new friend of mine, she agreed and said she looked a little sassy. I laughed and said I thought that fit her just right.  So that’s what I’ve named her.  

Sassy!

He Makes Me…

I think I’m in terrible trouble!  I’ve just realized! The good Lord is using my penny pinching ways against me! Lol.

It has been, kind of, a challenging few days.  After three visits to the repair shop, in one day! Yes. I’m afraid my poor old van is fading on me. I’m looking for a 1991 or older Ford E250 or E350, because it will make the change over so much easier.  As you can see, my beautiful Jehosheba has new, to me, solar panels and a new solar rack,  designed by yours truly, and built with the help of a neighbor. 

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But more on that later.  Continue reading

George “Mick” Leon Smith ~ Arlington National Cemetery

I didn’t take a single picture.  I brought my camera.  I even brought extra batteries.  I just could not take a single picture.  I am still not entirely sure why. A friend suggested that it could be because this trip was so grim.  I’ve thought about that.  Yes, my son and I were going to bury my husband and his father. But Grim? I don’t know that I looked at it that way.  My son and I were going to pay our final respects to Mick, in the best way we could.   Perhaps I knew instinctively that no photograph would ever be able to capture this journey.  I am not sure.  What I do know, is that this trip was as much for me, as it was for my husband.  I needed to know that I had done my best for him.  From things he has said and done, since Mick passed away, I believe my son felt the same way.  I did not even have a desire to write about this.  It seemed too personal.  Too hard to express in mere words.  Something that had to be experienced to be able to truly understand. But something happened that changed that.

I had been trying, all year, to find some one.  Anyone, who could come to the funeral to be there for my son and I.  We were traveling from Arizona and no one was going to be able to come to Washington D.C. with us.  I had called the Marine Corps, The Mickey Finn Group, even local Veteran centers to see if anyone could attend.  Everyone said they wished they could attend.  That they hoped it would go well.  That they were sorry for our loss. But no one was able to come. As it turns out, it was good no one could be there.  I realize now, it would have seemed like an intrusion. The people who were supposed to be there were able to come.  Pastor Walt and his friend, whose dad is buried at Arlington.  Mick’s daughter and her husband, who I am delighted to claim as family, and of course, Charles and I.

One of the Marines that had been trying so hard to find veterans who would be available to be there for my son and I, sent me an email a few hours after the funeral.  He had wanted to be there to support my son and I, since he too was a retired Marine who had been in Vietnam, but he was also unable to attend.  I received his email just after we got on the train to go home.

He said he hoped that it all went the way I wished it would.  He also mentioned that he had had a word with the Honor Guard that was going to be handling my husbands funeral.  Letting them know that my son and I were going to be there alone, and he wanted them to give us their very best.  He was writing me to make sure that they did okay. I remember thinking in disbelief, “Okay?” They were so far beyond ‘okay’. Below is what I wrote back to him. I wanted others to see this, out of gratitude.

Dear Mac,

They were the finest Honor Guard escort that I have ever seen. By far.

The burial detail. They were so precise, so measured, so careful. Each motion in its time and place, each performed with accuracy and grace. There was exquisite beauty in the exacting nature of their stately movements. The flag folded, with such attention to detail. Each fold and step given such care. I held it for hours after we left and it has not left my side yet. A case and a place of honor will be made for it at home.

The rifle detail. Standing, at attention, waiting, quietly waiting, to honor a fallen Marine. Fallen, but not forgotten.  It did not matter that he had not fallen in battle. Nor did it matter that he had retired from the Corps. What mattered is that he had served his country and served her well.
Semper Fidelis.

For the salute, they used the older rifles, that have that loud crack when they fire. The ones I hoped they would use. Again, precise, exact, together. In perfect timing. There was a comfort in that jolt, when they fired. Almost as though it was easing, or pulling out, the pain of our loss. Waiting as each volley rang out over the resting places of other military men and women. Then again, that crack, fired as one shot. You can hear it for miles.  That final volley. Twenty-one. The twenty-one gun salute of honor.

Taps. The bugler was excellent. Each note in perfect pitch. Full and rich in sound. Played slowly, solemn, as befitting the occasion but also with a feeling of pride. That last note held so long until it faded away. It reminded me of the words to that song. The sun fading from the sky, and yet, God is nigh.

The young marine in charge of the Honor Guard. The one who handed me the flag, was so touching in what he said, but moved me even more by the sincerity in his eyes when he thanked me for my husbands service. Then he surprised me with the shell casings. I had forgotten they were part of the ceremony.  I have given one to our son and one to Mick’s daughter, who I would gladly claim as my own. Something for them to hold onto, something to help them remember.

Pastor Walt.  He never ceases to amaze me.  He can capture exactly what needs to be said, but of course he is so in tune with the good Lord. I know that He was speaking through Pastor Walt today. The things that he said, the passage he read, they were exactly what I needed to hear. That while Mick did his best to be a good provider and protector, it is the Good Lord who does it right, every single time.

I will hold that service for my husband in a special place in my mind and my heart. I will remember and use it as a calming balm, when the pain of loss and regret tries, once again, to capture me.

I wish I could write or find some way to thank them all. To let them each know that the beauty touched my soul. That their care in doing it right, their dedication to duty, eased my pain. Perhaps I can send this to our cemetery representative. So that he can share it with each of them. Perhaps I can post it where others can read and appreciate the care and dedication we received.

I will not forget our cemetery representative.  Gracious, gentle, attentive. So focused, yet understanding and kind. Quiet, gentlemanly and knew just what to say. Walking us through each step of the way. Turning what seemed like a hard and unwanted fall, into a gentle journey of acceptance.

It was done right, Mac, it was done right. Dress right, dress.

Thank you.

A Marine’s wife,

Day is done,
Gone the sun,
From the land,
From the sea,
From the sky.
All is well,
Rest in peace,
God is nigh.

Rest in peace Mick. I’ll see you by and by.

A Rainbow!

A Rainbow!

I have been wanting to post. There are so many drafts, sitting, waiting to be finished and I have just not had the time or the wherewithal to make it happen. Mostly, because I have so much I want to say! I was praying about it today, because posting about the beauty that I see around me is very important to me.

Then I turned around and there was this incredible double rainbow. It stayed in the sky for 20 minutes or more and was so incredibly brilliant in color! I took some pictures so that I could share them with you. I know these pictures aren’t great in quality but they certainly do show the glory of the heavens!

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It is hard to tell in these pictures but that second rainbow was all the way across the sky as well.

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You can see more of that double rainbow here.  At one point, it was almost as brilliant as the first rainbow!  image

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This rainbow was almost over top of me so I could not capture the whole thing and then I remembered that my little phone has a fancy setting so I made a few attempts with that function. The last one is the best one, I think.

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The Lord’s promise to us, to never again destroy the earth by flood, is, to me, one of the most beautiful sights displayed in the heavens!

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I love sunrises and sunsets, and we do get some spectacular ones out here in Arizona.  I love to be out Boondocking in the dark, far from the lights of a city, on a clear night and watch the stars go by. Then have the moon come up so bright, rich and full. But a rainbow is an incredible moment of promise directly from the Lord! When it fills the sky, the way this one did, it makes me cry.  Its not just the sheer brilliance of the glorious colors of the rainbow. For me, it is a reminder that true beauty is in the promise of His love.

Beautiful!

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